I've been trying to ignore the urge to write this ever since I got the idea. I'm usually an OQ shipper, but given their current state...well, screw it, here it goes:
This plot picks up six months after the "Birth" episode, but this is what happened in those six months: Regina, avoiding the situation with Robin and Zelena, channels her focus into ridding the darkness from Emma and Hook. She manages to replicate a similar spell to the one Emma was about to do to transport and tether the darkness into another vessel. To avoid having to kill someone, she summons Cora in order to tether the darkness to her and essentially vanquish it for good when she releases Cora back to the underworld. The Charmings bait Emma and Hook in and Regina summons Cora, and begins the transporting spell. Complications arise when the darkness tethering to Cora gives her strength that she harnesses into stealing the life from Snow in revenge for murdering her. Both Regina and Emma are unable to stop it and the portal closes. Cora, the new Dark One, is cast back to the underworld, the darkness gone in theory. David is widowed and now a single father to Neal. Emma and Hook are rid of the darkness and reconciled their relationship. Regina and Robin are unable to make it work with the Zelena and the new baby, and break up only months later. Regina is once again alone and unhappy, and trying desperately not to show it.
"Do you ever stop and take a break anymore?" Emma raises an eyebrow as she saunters into the Mayor's office, finding the brunette at her desk, brows furrowed in concentration as she looks over blueprints for Storybrooke's town hall remodel.
Regina looks up, a disgruntled sigh falling from her lips as she arches an eyebrow at the sheriff, "You wouldn't have time either if you had a crew of incapable dwarves under your instruction," She quips, marking her last note of correction on the papers before setting them to the side, "What are we having for lunch today?" She manages a small smile at the blonde who she'd grown rather accustomed to seeing around this time of day.
Since Snow's death, Emma had been showing up at Regina's more, talking to her about more personal things in her usual roundabout way. Although Regina wasn't much older than Emma, she supposed Emma was trying to fill the void of losing her mother, much like Snow had done with her back in the Enchanted Forest. She had to admit that Emma's distant and emotionally stunted approach was much easier to handle than Snow's heart-on-her-sleeve attitude, even if she did miss her and her warmhearted optimism.
Regina understood Emma more, could relate to her. They both had rough childhoods and starts to life that made them hesitant to trust and confused when it came to displays of vulnerability, which was something most didn't understand. They were both hot tempered and strong headed, and kept their feelings hidden behind a tough exterior. They had both experienced the dark side and struggled with the tendency to gravitate towards that power. Friendship felt more natural between them than with most because of these similarities, and they shared many unspoken understandings because of this.
"Well, I got you a grilled chicken Caesar and I got myself a burger," Emma nodded confidently, pleased with her choices as she pulled up the chair closer to Regina's desk, noting the flicker of irritation on Regina's face at the disruption of her furniture arrangement.
"A burger? I thought you were trying to eat healthy?" Regina raised a dark eyebrow, amusement in her eyes as she reached for the container of salad Emma had unceremoniously plopped on the dark wood of her desk.
"Yeah, I got it without bacon OR cheese," Emma's eyes widened as if she was making the sacrifice of the century.
Regina chuckled, rolling her eyes at the young blonde as she opened the bottled water Emma had brought for them, "Well be prepared on Wednesday because I'm going to teach Henry AND you how to fix a proper meal and a little bit about nutrition," She added in a motherly and firm tone.
Emma smiled at the mention of their usual Wednesday evening dinners together, something that had become a regular thing shortly after Regina and Robin had broken up. Regina protested in the beginning, of course, but Henry and Emma had persisted that they all spend at least one evening a week together, both knowing it would be one less day the mayor would spend brooding.
"What? You mean no pizza this week?" She goads her, taking a big bite out of her burger before continuing with a half full mouth, "Hey would you care if I brought dad? It's just I'm trying to get him out more."
They shared a knowing look before Regina forced a smile, nodding once, "Of course. How is he?"
"He's doing better, still has moments when I can tell he's thinking about her but I think we all do," Emma averts her gaze at the last few words, not being able to look Regina in the eyes.
Regina shifts uncomfortably at the heavy silence between them for a moment, trying to swallow down the guilt she felt over Mary Margaret's death. The guilt that they all, in some way or another, felt for not being able to stop Cora. David had spent two solid months after that night in their apartment, mourning his wife before showing his face in town. Although she never saw him once those two months, Regina's heart ached for him because she knew what he was going through, knew what it felt like to watch someone you love die in front of you. So she stayed away, just like she would've wanted people to do during her own grieving process, had she been given that privilege after Daniel. Besides, she didn't want to be a reminder of that night and she didn't know what she would say to him, feeling partially responsible for the whole thing. She hadn't seen much of him since, even after he started appearing in public after the first two months. Then again, he didn't see much of anyone and everyone's conversations with him had been brief before he'd make up an excuse as to why he needed to get home.
Regina glanced up from her own thoughts after a few moments, "You should definitely bring him with you on Wednesday, Henry will love it," She mentioned their son in hope to lighten the mood, relieved when she saw a genuine smile and nod come from Emma.
"Who's that?" Emma raises an eyebrow, noticing Regina's phone buzz on the desk and her quick dismissal of it after glancing to the screen for a preview of the message, "Don't tell me he's still texting you…Regina-"
"It's nothing, he's just asking parenting questions for the baby, that's all," Regina shrugged, looking up at Emma with wide-eyes as if to affirm the innocence of the conversation.
"You're not still screwing him are you?" Emma asked frankly, a deep frown set over her features.
"What? Walking in on you two going at it in your foyer is not something I will forget quickly," Emma's eyes widen, pushing her burger away, "You aren't, right? You deserve better than that, Regina…" She added, her eyes getting softer as she manages to catch the brunette's gaze.
"No, I…No, he hasn't come over in a while," Regina glanced down towards the desk, her appetite diminishing, "He's really busy with his kids and the Merry Men and he and Zelena are trying to find a good pediatrician-"
"Why do you know so much about what's going on with his life? Damn it, Regina," Emma rolled her eyes a little, "You're never going to get over him if you don't quit talking to his lame ass."
"We parted on amicable terms," She argued, shrugging innocently, "I don't see the harm in a casual conversation every now and then, we're...friends."
"He's a prick, and he's only asking you for parenting advice so he has an excuse to text you and keep tabs on you because he doesn't want you to move on."
Regina crossed her arms over her chest, her eyes glistening over no matter how much she steeled, "Is that such a bad thing? It shows he still cares…"
"It shows that he's a coward who won't fight for you or tell Zelena to shove it and stay out of your lives," Emma raised an eyebrow at her, "I mean I was with you when he left with Marian, Regina. You were driving yourself crazy trying to find that author, to find a way to rewrite your story and be with Robin again and he was already in bed with someone else," She paused when Regina winced at her words, softening her tone, "I'm sorry, but it's true. And you deserve so much more than that, you've come too far to settle just because some pixie dust says so."
Regina swallowed hard, nodding once before reaching for her phone and bringing up Robin's contact, taking a deep breath before deleting it and sliding her phone toward Emma, "There, are you happy? Now you owe me shots at Granny's tonight." She arched an eyebrow in warning, though she surprisingly felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders after making the decision to end casual communication with her ex.
"That's the Regina I know," Emma smirked deviously, "I'll text Killian and tell him he's entertaining Henry tonight."
"You and Guyliner, I swear," Regina mused, rolling her eyes, "He's wrapped around your finger."
"Eh, he's alright I guess," Emma shrugged humorously, not wanting to come off too giddy about her own relationship knowing Regina was lonely, "Anyways, meet you at Granny's about 8?"
"See you there, Swan."
"David, how are you mate?" Robin glanced up when David came into the diner and approached the end of the bar where he sat.
"Good Robin, you?" David forced a casual smile as he got his wallet out of his back pocket, waiting for Ruby to bring his takeout that he ordered. He hated coming into town now, always bombarded with pity stares and questions about how he was. Ironic, people always asked how he was just to appease their own minds when he responded positively. No one ever had anything truthful or meaningful to say, but he supposed the thought was what mattered.
"I've seen better days, to be honest," Robin gave him a wry smile, nodding slightly towards Regina and Emma in the booth across the restaurant, drunk and laughing, oblivious to their observations.
"Oh yeah, uh, Emma mentioned to me that you and Regina split up," David said vaguely, glancing towards the back of the kitchen for any sign of Granny or Ruby. Emma had more than mentioned it, Jesus, Emma had rattled on about the entire thing to David. Where in the hell was his food?
"To tell you the truth I'm hoping it doesn't bloody last," Robin chuckles, though there was no humor behind his statement, "I miss her, she's quit texting me back, and seeing her over there with her inhibitions down makes it hard for me to stay away."
David didn't know why but he didn't like what Robin was implying. Sure, Regina was drunk, but Robin wasn't too far behind her. They were both adults and if they wanted to have a drunk hookup, what the hell did it matter to him? "I know it's hard but it's probably best to just leave her alone tonight, hm?" He found himself discouraging Robin before he even made a conscious effort to.
The truth was, he knew too much about the situation thanks to Emma and he didn't want to see Regina hurt anymore. He'd known her for years and while she always acted tough and callous, he knew it was only to cover up years of hurt and her fear of vulnerability. Allowing herself to let Robin in had took a lot of nerve on Regina's part and David knew she had to feel foolish for how things had turned out, even though it wasn't her fault. She was prideful, and he knew having the whole town see her relationship fail after falling so hard had to sting a little.
"You're probably right," Robin agreed, his voice low and his accent extra thick thanks to the whiskey. Boy, did this man know how to wallow. At least David had kept it to himself and in the privacy of his own apartment.
For some reason Robin's answer still didn't settle well with David as he saw Ruby bring him the bag of takeout, thanking her and telling her to keep the change as he handed over the ten dollar bill. He glanced at the clock, knowing Granny's would be closing soon. Looking between the thief and his daughter with the queen, he hesitated for a moment. Damn it, he didn't want to get involved, but he sure as hell didn't need Emma stumbling home drunk and Regina ending up in Robin's bed tonight. No, then he'd just have to hear Emma rant and rave for a week about the whole mess between the worst soulmates in the world.
"Catch you later Robin," David nodded, patting his shoulder as he made his decision, grabbing his takeout bag and making his way over to the booth housing the slurring ladies, "Having a good time?" He couldn't help but smirk.
"SH, she's almost got it," Regina slurred, holding a hand up towards David to silence him, "Concentrate Emma!" She said loudly, leaning over the table intensely.
David watched in amusement as Emma stared down the empty shot glasses in concentration, obviously in the middle of a magical training session with the Mayor, "Holy shit, I did it!" She exclaimed after the glasses suddenly refilled with amber liquid in front of all of their eyes.
"See!" Regina laughed a whole hearted laugh that David didn't know if he'd ever heard come from her, "I told you I could teach you how to make good use of your abilities," She grinned.
"And just how am I supposed to run a business like this?" Granny called out from behind the counter, looking over her glasses scoldingly breaking up their mischief, "I said no magic after happy hour, girls."
"Sorry Wo- Granny," Regina replied with an eye roll and David could tell she caught herself before unnecessarily hurling an insult at Granny by bringing up her canine past. It was little moments like this that not many caught, but proved just how much the Mayor had changed.
"Dad! Did you see what I did?" Emma asked as if she just realized he was standing there, beaming over her accomplishment.
"I did - a real proud father moment," He quipped playfully, winking at her as he put a hand on her shoulder, "You girls need a ride home?"
"Oh shit," Emma blurted out when she glanced at her watch, "It is late. I can walk from here, but I should get going."
"Regina? Your house is a little further out," David offered, turning to her to find her glancing towards Robin's direction.
"I'm fine Charming," She gave a swift shake of her head, "You two go ahead."
He knew her intent to stay was because of Robin, and he knew no good would come of it. If Regina ended up going home with the thief tonight she'd hate herself tomorrow, and their disastrous relationship would just string on. "I insist, let me give you a ride," David pushed, seeing the wheels turning in Regina's head. She glanced once more at Robin before looking up at him, a hint of a wicked grin tugging at the corners of her lips. Ah, so she wanted to use him to make Robin jealous by making him think they were leaving together. It amused, and though he knew it meant nothing, flattered David. No, he didn't want to be involved but hell, Regina at least deserved the right to make her ex jealous.
"Alright Charming," She shrugged, grabbing her coat as she and Emma both stood none to steadily from their booth.
"Lunch tomorrow?" Emma asked, shrugging her own jacket on as Regina agreed.
"Like I have a say in the matter, Swan," The brunette gave another toothy grin and David noticed she was much more generous with her smiles when liquored up.
The blonde laughed, hugging her dad, "Night pop, night Regina," She chirped before making her way out of Granny's with a walk that only drunk confidence could bring.
David chuckled to himself before glancing at Regina, holding out his arm for her when she seemed to sway a little, "Ready, your majesty?"