A/N: This is the first story I have ever written even though I've been reading fics for the past 14 years. Many thanks to 100eSQuses for being an awesome beta. Also to Angela ( SwanQueenSwen) for being an awesome friend and helping me navigate this weird world of at 2am. I'm a firm believer in no H00s unless absolutely necessary and they're not necessary in this fic or, if you ask me, in the show. Leave a review (even a smiley) if you like what you're reading.
Emma glances at the clock for the 100th time that day. Two more hours and she can go home to her wife and son. She's alone at the sheriff station. She's taken the night shift since David wanted to spend some time with Snow and baby Neal.
Emma grabs the chain around her neck and pulls out the wedding ring that hides at the end of it. She's been married to Regina now for over a year, and so far they've done a good job at keeping this a secret. Well, their son knows, but that's about it, no one else in town knows about this little development between their mayor and sheriff. If Emma is honest with herself, it's really not hard to keep this a secret because the town is really backwards in their mentality. She wouldn't go as far as to call them raging homophobes, but they're not too accommodating to the idea of same sex relationships. She can see it in the way the town treats Mulan. No one is hostile, no that's not an issue, they just ignore her as if she is not even there. That is if they don't throw pitying looks her way or make snide comments of "she just didn't find the right man" or "there's a reason why fairy tales don't have her type of story written. It never ends well."
So, they decided to keep the relationship a secret. After all, if the town doesn't take it too well with Mulan, who's basically a hero, how will they react when they find out the former Evil Queen, who cursed them to a life of misery, is married to the sheriff? A sheriff who at one point was the Dark One and caused her family to live weeks in misery and even dragged them to hell on some stupid heroic gig. No, they're safer keeping it all a secret.
The only perk in having a narrow minded town is that it helps them keep their relationship a secret. There's no way anyone in town would assume that 2 women who share a son and live together would in any way be together romantically. They're fairy tales and there are no gay fairy tales. Not even Disney here in the real world made a LGBT princess, although maybe in a few years they will and who knows, maybe it will be a blockbuster.
However, she's not sure she wants a fairy tale anymore. Not if having that fairy tale story means she doesn't get Regina. She's tried really hard to get that fairy-tale love story and it was a disaster. Both she and Regina attempted to live the classic fairy tale and it made them and their son utterly miserable. Their relationships were more out of a badly written drama than anything resembling a happy ending. They were just too stubborn, too stupid, too influenced by the classic fairy tale mentality to realise they were literally destroying themselves. Because really, Romeo and Juliet is not romantic, it's fucking stupid, and so are most fairy tales. Those notions of love are nothing but destructive in the long term. In a bid to be the good kid her parents wanted her to be, she nearly destroyed her family trying to copy them. Because really how are you a healthy parent if you drag your son to hell to save someone who tried to kill your family just minutes earlier? And really, she's hurt her son so much during that time, she's actually amazed he still loves her and shows her respect. And to think she thought Regina was a bad mother when she came to Storybrooke. She sometimes thinks that if she could travel back in time to a place of choice she would go back to Camelot and slap some sense into herself. But at least she saw sense and broke the chain of abuse. It was painful and she was oh so fearful, but then again she guessed that's what most women go through when they come out of abusive relationships.
Emma checks the clock again. Only 10 minutes passed, so much longer to go, and she's so bored. Though she supposes she could waste some time on the internet because - why not? Finally, Regina upgraded the sheriff station IT system and they have modern equipment. This also makes it more enjoyable for Emma to pass time online. She's not complaining, and neither is Regina. Besides, why would Regina complain when Emma wasting time online means holidays and weekends across the town border? Now that its summer there are all sort of events in the towns surrounding Storybrooke, so they always visit those. It's nice to be able to leave the town and she knows most people in town resent them for that, but it's not like she cares. Why would she? It's not like she's free in this town. She uses the weekly getaways as an escape. The three of them go to places where they can just be a family, where she can hold hands with Regina and kiss Regina and put her arms around Regina. It's so nice to be able to act freely as a couple and enjoy one another. Out there in the real world they're just Regina and Emma and they're married and it's so beautiful. She can have her wedding ring in its rightful place on her left hand to show everyone she's truly committed to this life she has with Regina.
She's longing for a sense of normalcy and acceptance. With this thought in mind, she goes ahead to browse a job search website to see what's out there for her. She's been doing this for the past 2 weeks when she is alone in the sheriff station. While holidays and weekend getaways are ok, they're not that healthy in the long run. They need stability, normalcy, and acceptance. But she knows Regina's not one to just go, they need to think of their next move. They need to plan. If she ever brings this up with Regina, she needs to show her she's serious and that she has thought about it and it's not just a spur of the moment. She has plenty of time to just look at things, read reviews and various articles about the places she considers.
When Emma gets home 2 hours later all lights are off, except for their bedroom. Regina's waiting for her again. She always does when Emma's on the night shift. Although she knows Regina should probably sleep since she has to wake up early, Emma can't help but feel so loved that Regina always stays up and waits for her. Early in their relationship, Emma insisted that Regina should not wait for her, but Regina just told her "can't sleep without you next to me, Emma, so why torture myself?" So, Emma dropped the subject partially because there was no use fighting Regina on this and partially because she secretly loved it.
When she entered the bedroom, she saw Regina tucked in their bed, looking at something on her laptop.
"Hey," Emma said with a tired smile.
Regina looked up from her laptop and smiled that happy smile she always had when Emma came home.
"Hey, you," she leans up to get a kiss from Emma and then asks, "How was your day? Rescue any cats from trees today?"
"No. Today they were all well behaved," Emma said, heading into the bathroom to prepare for bed. "What are you up to?"
"Oh, you know, just looking at stuff. They have a market fair in Ellsworth this weekend. Do you want to go?"
"Yeah, of course I do."
Ten minutes later Emma comes out of the bathroom. Regina closes the laptop and puts it away
"We will ask Henry if he wants to come with us, and I was thinking maybe we could look at staying there overnight."
Emma slides in bed with Regina, and kisses her again.
"That sounds like a plan. Now come here, I've missed you. Haven't seen you since lunchtime and I really missed you."
The weekend found Emma and Regina in Ellsworth browsing the various stands in the farmers market. Regina compared this to "miner's day" in Storybrooke, but they didn't care too much about the choices anyway. The market was just an excuse for them to get out of Storybrooke.
Although Emma figured they really didn't need excuses to go out, it felt good to do something at least, rather than just wonder aimlessly through a shopping district. Emma always enjoyed being able to show a fair amount of PDA with Regina. Well, fair in her opinion seeing as there was zero PDA in Storybrooke. Not that Regina minded the PDA. Regina loved not having to hide their relationship.
The ride back home was silent, just the radio playing some soft tunes in the background. Emma thought about the weekend getaway and how she wanted the freedom, but she wasn't even sure how to bring up the subject or when, because when is it the right time to tell your wife that you're sick of the life you currently have and you want to move your family somewhere else, and so you both need to find jobs and a home and a good school for the kid, and basically start over. Yeah no, that's...well there's never a good time for that, but the subject must be brought up.
"You seem to be deep in thought. Sharing is caring," Regina says, breaking the silence.
Emma starts to laugh.
"I'm pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to use that phrase."
"I know. So? Care to share?"
It seems that there's no time like the present, and for Emma this looks like a good enough opportunity to share. The mood might be right for this discussion as well, so why not try?
"I've been thinking about us."
Regina tenses just a tiny bit.
"What about in particular?" Regina asks, still staring at the road ahead.
"That I really liked this getaway. I liked the fact that I could hold your hand, that I could kiss you, that we could just be us, Regina and Emma, who are married, who have been married for 2 years now. I loved the fact that I didn't have to hide who I love for fear of judgement."
Regina doesn't say anything. She just grabs Emma's hand and brings it to her lips and gently kisses it.
"I know, Emma," she finally says with a sigh. "I know, but all three of us agreed that this would be for the best, to keep it all a secret, and frankly I don't know if we should come out to the town. I don't think ... I don't know. There's more to this, isn't it?"
"I know. I know we can't. I can't even imagine their reaction when we tell them. They'll think that you either put a spell on me to get your revenge, or that it's a side effect from being the dark one. The thing is, every time I don't meet someone's expectations they think I'm doing it because I was the dark one and I must have some residual darkness in me. Then we both know how they look at Mulan. They accept her because she's not their hero or anything, she's just another person, but oh goodness they have so many high expectations of me, of us."
"Emma, it's ok. We will manage somehow, like we always do. Together. As a family," and Regina's voice is trembling a bit, as if she's afraid. Why is she afraid? Afraid that Emma is sick of this and will look at breaking up to make it all easier? Afraid that they will somehow slip and give it away and ruin it? A bit of both?
Emma starts to feel her courage slip away for a moment. Regina still holds onto Emma's hand and as she says that she squeezes Emma's hand and Emma just feels like she has to say it now. It's now or never.
"I've been looking at jobs online."
They pull over, because suddenly they sense that they shouldn't have this discussion while one is distracted with driving.
"You looked at what?" Regina asks, just a bit confused after they manage to park the car safely on the side of the road.
"At jobs. Jobs in law enforcement in other cities around the country. I even looked at the opportunities I would have as a bail bonds person in various locations like Washington, LA, Miami."
"Here's the thing. We can't be us in Storybrooke. You know this. They will always judge us so badly. Every misstep will be harshly judged and we always have to walk on eggshells. It's so exhausting. The only time I feel I can be myself and be free is when I'm at home with you and Henry or when we leave town. So, then I thought, why can't we leave for good you know? I started looking at what options we might have. We can't just up and go. I know you wouldn't like it. We are way past eloping anyway, since I already married you and we have a kid."
They both smile at this, because, yes, Regina was ready to elope about twice in her life and thank goodness she didn't because then she would not have Emma and Henry and oh it was all so worth it just to have the 2 of them.
"And, do you have any specific place in mind?"
"Well, I haven't really settled on anything, not really. Although I did prefer to look LA or Washington."
"Interesting. I would have thought you would pick Boston or New York. After all, you and Henry lived in New York and still have friends there."
"I did think about it, but personally I'm so over New York, you have no idea. Every time someone leaves Storybrooke they go to New York and frankly I don't want that. I don't want to continue the cycle. Boston kind of feels the same."
Regina just stares at her and then lets out a small laugh.
"I guess you are right. Never thought about it but there is some kind of pattern and I really don't want it repeated. Not if we want to move on."
Emma just stares at her wife, surprise clear on her face.
"Wait, so are you entertaining the idea or are you just humouring me?"
"I'm entertaining the idea. Or I should say I have entertained the idea."
"Why didn't you say anything? Is this recent, or have you thought about it for a while? It's just..."
"I've thought about it for a long time, but I quickly dismissed the idea."
"Because, Emma, you just found your family after being alone for 28 years and I couldn't take this away from you. I couldn't be the cause of you being away from your family again. I was, and am, very happy that we are together. It's enough for me, Emma. It's better than I've ever had if I'm being honest. I have two people that love me very much in you and Henry, and it's more that I could dream of. Sure, we have to hide what we have, but for me what we have…its better than I could have ever imagined, even if only the three of us know about it."
"Oh." It's all Emma can say as she tries to sort out her thoughts and her feelings on this matter. Yes, there is the issue of her parents and that seemed complicated.
Finally, she looks at Regina and says in a very uncertain voice, "I thought about it as well, what it would mean to my relationship with my parents and brother if I were to leave town for good. I would like to think they would understand I can't stay here. I would like to think that, but I know it's not the case. They won't understand and I know this for certain. They have these notions of what family should be like and what I should do with my life, and they don't like what they see now. I feel like I'm failing them and disappointing them everyday. You know that everything I did before we got together was to please them and be their little perfect princess and show them that yes, you can love me. Snow has these ideas in her head of who I should love, or how my love life should look like and I don't like her ideas. They're not healthy."
Regina just squeezes Emma's hand and softly kisses Emma's lips.
"Oh, Emma, I know better than anyone what it means to live on someone's expectations of who I should be with. I agree with you, Snow's idea of what makes a good partner is really not healthy. She's just lucky your father is a gentleman and really, really loves her because otherwise she would be living in real hell right now. After all, we both did, didn't we?"
"Yeah, you're right."
"So…." Regina just trails off and leaves matters in Emma's hands, because they still need to continue with the subject of moving away.
"So… yeah. After some thought I decided I can't live up to her expectations of me. I'm not some blonde haired dumb bimbo princess who makes big gestures out of love for some guy just because it would look epic. Snow is very enamoured with the idea of epic like "it sounds great on paper so it must be great" and I nearly ruined my life and Henry's because of it. So, I decided her opinion on my life no longer matters. She's had her say on it since Neverland. Even then, she tried to get me on dates with people I never actually wanted to date in the first place. So really I've decided she can no longer have a say. It's not healthy for us as a family to let my mother dictate our relationship and what we do as a family."
They just look at one another, a determined look in Emma's eyes, and a look full of love and care in Regina's.
"That's my girl," Regina says, trying to lighten up the mood just a bit.
"Yeah, so anyway I've been looking at a few places. I thought Washington would be a really good place if you want to stay in politics. Although I guess you could also go for politics in California. I mean they're pretty progressive and it's a warm state and I would prefer somewhere warm. So, what do you think?"
"I think this is a wonderful idea but…"
Emma looks a bit crestfallen.
"But we need to talk to Henry. We need to tell him of our plans and involve him in this decision as well. We need to discuss this as a family. We will do this tomorrow after dinner. We'll all sit down and discuss it together. How does that sound?"
"It sounds great!" Emma just looks so, so happy, and Regina looks relieved. They kiss again for a few minutes until they are out of breath.
"We should get going. I want to get home and soak in the bath tub for an hour at least. Maybe you can join me and we can continue this in there," Regina says in that sexy voice of hers that always make Emma melt.
"You have no idea how tempting that sounds. Let's go." They pull the car off the side of the road and head out towards Storybrooke again. Emma finally feels so much lighter and happier than she has in weeks. Part of it could be because of the promise of things that await for her tonight, but she knows mostly she's happy about what the future has in store for her, and for the first time in a long time she feels alive again.