Figured we could all use an update after tonight's last episode.

Some of you have asked, and I'd like y'all to know that yes, I will continue writing. This isn't the end of the fandom, guys, we've been at this pretty much on our own for two years, no reason to stop now =)

Hope you guys enjoy.


Five days before the merge, right as they're leaving the apartment to head to Storybrooke, she hears him.

It's a whisper, so low and distant she's half inclined to believe she's imagined it, but it's her name, uttered softly, reverently, and she knows, she just knows it's real, that it's him, probably reading one of her letters. She wonders which one it was, assumes it must be one of their first few racy ones, because the only other times she's heard him say her name like that are when he's buried inside her and gasps a devoted Regina into her ear.

She says nothing of it, but her teeth sink into her bottom lip in a private smile as she reminisces their steamy nights in Camelot. God, she misses him. Thinking of him like this is a bad idea.

It becomes an even worse idea when she can't stop thinking of him throughout the drive (thank god Henry and Bess sleep in the backseat throughout the whole thing), and when they're finally in Storybrooke, she's too pent up and riled to socialize. Roland is off camping with his uncles until tomorrow, the Charmings tell her, so as soon as Snow comes to pick up Henry and the baby for a sleepover at her place (apparently little Neal insisted that Bess was invited, too), Regina takes full advantage of having an empty house, and sets her trusty vibrator to good use.

She looks at the few naked photos Robin has sent her, reads his sensual letters over and over as the wetness builds between her legs. He's told her in plenty of their exchanges that he wants to use the vibrator on her, that he wants to taste every inch of her, and she thinks of that now, creates mental pictures based on memories of their past dalliances, and surrenders to them.

It's nowhere near as good as it would be with him there, but it does the trick, has her undulating her hips, seeking more of the incredible vibrations as they send a current of pleasure through her...

"Robin," she gasps as her back arches on a particularly sharp wave of that tingling bliss, the vibrations bringing her closer and closer as her mind conjures more and more images of Robin, naked and glorious above her, his mouth descending on her nipples and sucking hard as she rakes her nails over his back and pulls him flush against her...

She comes with a little whine, overwhelmed by sensation. Five days, she tells herself, just five days and she can feel him again.

Her limbs feel like jelly. Relaxed. And after a quick shower, she changes into the T-shirt and sleep shorts that Robin would wear when he spent his nights here.

Regina sinks into her bed and stretches like a cat over the soft sheets, until the fresh pine scent of Robin's clothes soothes her enough to sleep, her breaths even and deep as she gives into her exhaustion from today's trip.


Roland arrives promptly for an early breakfast, jumping into her arms and screaming his delight when Regina hands him the very last letter his father has sent him before they meet. She lets him read this one out loud all on his own, at that slow, measured pace he's built up to in his weeks of learning, and she smiles proudly when he gets through the entire thing with only a few pauses in between words.

"Dear Roland," he reads, "Can you be—lieve— the wait is al—most over? I can't wait to... see you.

Regina says you've— been taking very good care of her, and that you and Henry have b— both been great big brothers to Bess... so I wanted to tell you that I am very pro— proud of you.

I'm ex— ess— exs—"

"Excited," Regina supplies patiently, her arm wrapping just a little tighter around his shoulders as he mimics the sound.

"I'm ex-ci-ted to see you," he continues, turning to smile at Regina when he gets the word right. "We are going to have so— much fun being together again.

Tell Uncle John that— he can ha— have my bed at camp, because we will be sta— staying in Regina's house..."

He pauses at that, looks up at her with wonder in his eyes. "Is that true?!"

It makes her happy beyond belief when she's able to reply, "Yes, sweetheart, your father and I discussed it and we agreed that we want to all live together here, as a family. That is..." she pauses, suddenly nervous, "if... if you want to?"

For a moment he just looks at her, and then his face breaks out in the biggest, most dazzling smile.

"I want to! I want to!" he shouts, and she's not expecting the hug he gives her, but appreciates it all the same when he climbs into her lap and throws his arms around her. She hugs him back tightly and returns his quiet "Love you, Regina," with a simple, I love you too, Roland.

Silence stretches on for a few minutes, until Regina prompts him to continue his reading, and Roland happily remains in her lap as he goes over the last few words on the page.

"I'm so— very happy that I get to— be with— you all soon. Save your biggs— bigss—"

"Biggest," Regina corrects gently.

"Biggest," Roland mimics, "Save your biggest hug for— me. I love you. Your Papa."

They sigh together as he finishes, and then, as always, he hugs the letter to his chest for a moment and asks, "Are you sure I can't come with you?"

He knows he can't, has been told over and over again that 'the magic won't let him,' and still he tries, because he's only a child, and all he wants is to see his Papa again, grows more desperate to do so as the days draw closer.

It breaks her every time, but once again she gives him a sad smile and says, "You can't, sweetheart, I'm sorry."

Roland deflates at that, his eyes shining with unshed tears, and Regina rushes to reassure him, "But I promise you I will bring him to you very soon, okay?"

He nods, still pouting as his finger plays with the corner of the paper in his lap.

"How about I have him call you from New York when he arrives?" she offers then. "We can do a video call like the ones Henry and I do with you, but this time your father will be there. Would you like that?"

He perks up then, nods and tells her "You promise? As soon as you find him?"

She nods, smiles and confirms, "I promise."


When Sunday rolls around and it's time for her to leave, it feels heavier, a charged kind of energy coursing through her as she packs the last of her things into her bag and brings it out to the car, where Henry waits with Roland and the Merry Men.

Her son looks anxious, though, a little awkward as he stutters around a low "So, Mom, I... I think the baby and I should stay here this time."

"What? What are you talking about?" Regina asks, confused.

"I just... think it's better if we stay," he insists, blushing as he speaks. "That way you and Robin can, erm... be alone and, um... stuff."

"Stuff? Henry, what's wrong? Did something happen while you were camping?"

"Nothing's wrong, Mom, please just... I already talked to Grandma about it, she said she and Grandpa will take Bess and I can stay with Emma, and we'll see you when you and Robin get back, okay?"

He doesn't wait for her answer, running back into the house and ignoring her when she calls back "Henry Daniel Mills, come back here and tell me why you're acting so strange!"

"Safe drive, Mom!" he shouts from somewhere inside, and Regina then trains her eyes on the Merry Men, stabbing John with a particularly sharp glare, until he sighs and gives up.

"We were having a few pints by the fire yesterday and, um... I got a little chatty."

"Chatty?" she pushes, glaring at him still.

"Henry may have... overheard me telling Alan that, uh..."

"That what?!" Regina snaps, unable to take his hesitation any longer.

"I said you and Robin would break the bed when he came back, alright?!" John finally confesses, his voice dropping along with his gaze as he mutters, "It was a stupid joke, but Henry heard us. I'm sorry."

An exasperated huff breaks out of her. "You're an idiot," she fumes, and John rolls his eyes, repeats that it was a simple joke.

"And besides, he'd gone to bed like an hour before, how was I supposed to know he was awake and roaming the camp?!"

"You shouldn't have been talking about our sex life in the first place!" Regina throws back, and at that, John looks properly chastised. Good.

"I'm sorry," he says again, more sincerely this time.

Regina sighs, her frustration showing once more as she says, "Just... stop talking about sex in front of my children, and get out of my sight before I maim you."

The Merry Men scatter at once, still fearing what is left of the Evil Queen in her, and only John remains, giving her one last "I'm sorry. I promise it won't happen again," before he joins his comrades.

She's too mortified to go back to Henry, too embarrassed by John's comments to even try to convince her son to come back with her. And, well, it's only a couple of days, right? She and Robin will be back the second they find each other. Henry has already said his goodbyes to his friends in New York, she'd heard him on the phone with some of them, telling them he'd be moving back "home" soon and promising they'd keep in touch. But still, it irks her that her teenage son now has a very inappropriate mental image of how her reunion with Robin will go, and she has Little John to thank for that.

Emma's yellow bug is approaching, turning the corner onto Main Street, and so Regina grits her teeth, fists clenched, and gets into the Benz, driving off without trying to dissuade Henry again from staying home, hoping he won't tell Emma what he heard last night at the Merry Men's camp.

As soon as she arrives at the farmhouse, where Snow and David have now taken up residence (and cheesily decorated with way too many birdhouses and a field of sunflowers where corn used to be), she cringes, seeing that familiar glint in Snow's eye.

"So," she starts, "Henry said you and Robin will be needing some time alone?"

"Oh, god, not you, too," Regina answers with a roll of her eyes. Bess is in Snow's arms, and Regina takes her, focuses on bouncing and making her laugh rather than address her stepdaughter's curious gaze.

"John traumatized my son," she gives, and Snow giggles, prompting Regina to grouse, "Shut up."

"You have to admit he had a point, though," Snow presses on. "You've been apart for a year, things are bound to get... raunchy."

"Excuse me?!"

"Oh, come on, Regina, you and Robin together again after so long? It won't be just the headboard, that whole damn apartment will rattle," Snow presses on.

"Quite the princessy vocabulary you got there," Regina chides, ignoring the actual comment and bouncing Bess in her arms, looking straight into those big blue eyes as she says, "I'm off to collect your Papa, baby girl, and I will see you again very soon."

It's like she understands, like she knows how important this is, because she smiles, and babbles, then waves her bye-bye when she's transferred back into Snow's arms.

"We'll take good care of her, and she'll be right here waiting for you to come home," the princess insists, dropping her teasing and giving her a heartfelt, "Go get your soulmate back, Regina."

And so she goes.

The drive to New York feels longer, and the silence has Regina feeling almost manic, impatient, desperate to get to her destination and out of the confinements of her car.

She misses Henry, and Roland and Bess. Misses their laughter, the boys' long winded rambles about whatever they're into in that moment, the baby's gurgling and babbling, her little giggles when Regina tickles her belly. She misses the way the three of them interact together, too, how the boys are such good big brothers to the little dimpled girl, and it's silly, Regina thinks, she just saw them, will see them again in a couple of days, she shouldn't be feeling so nostalgic.

It's the anticipation, she tells herself, the shortening of time messing with her nerves and making her anxiety flare up as she waits for the final day of the countdown to come. She tries to distract herself, to put it off her mind by turning on the radio and playing some random song, but all it does is create unwanted noise in the small space of her Benz, so the attempt at such a distraction is short lived.

In the end, she opts for rolling her window down, letting the strong gusting of the wind drown out the sound of the voices in her head, voices that tell her that something will go wrong, that surely now that she's so close to what she wants, the universe will find a way to keep it from her.

Her phone rings then, and she's relieved for the diversion from her somber thoughts, rolling the window back up tapping the button to pick up almost immediately.

"It's gonna be fine, Mom," her son's voice says over the car speakers, and Regina sighs, her eyes watering at the same time she smiles.

"How did you know?" she asks, swallowing the warbly timbre of her voice.

"I can hear you thinking all the way from here," Henry quips. "You deserve this, Mom. Now more than ever. Just embrace it, okay? You're going to be okay, and Robin will be back and everything will be good again."

"I wish I was as brave as you," she remarks. "But I'm too scared that something will go wrong."

"It's okay, Mom, I have plenty of belief for both of us, I got you covered," her son tells her, sounding so much the adult he's becoming, rather than the child she still sees in him.

"Thank you, sweetheart," she breathes. And then, because it needs to be addressed, she swallows her embarrassment and tells him, "And I'm sorry about what John said, you really didn't have to stay, though, it wasn't— we weren't— I wasn't planning on—"

"Mom, stop," Henry implores, "please, stop. I'd rather not know." He sounds so embarrassed, so squeamish about the whole thing, and well, it makes sense that he would be.

Still, she tries, "I just wanted you to know that we never said we would—"

"Mom!" he stops her again. "I get it, please stop talking."

"Okay, okay," she placates. "I'm sorry."

Henry sighs on the other end of the line, and assures her, "I'm actually glad we stayed, Roland will need one of us to be here for him during the wait, and now he'll have me. We'll be alright, you just be careful and bring Robin home, okay?"

Regina sighs, moved by his words, and answers him the only way she can: "I love you, Henry."

"Love you, too, Mom," he returns. "I'll see you in a few days, okay? And stop overthinking!"

That makes her giggle despite the few traitorous tears that have spilled down her cheeks, and she tells him honestly, "I'll try," before she hangs up the phone.

She arrives to an empty apartment, to the faint scent of pine that echoes from his timeline and embeds itself in every space, teasing her, reminding her, soothing her until she falls asleep with one of his photos clutched against her chest.


Monday comes and goes at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Regina goes through the motions, cleans and packs and eats and packs some more, then takes a break and occupies her time with books and TV, only to look at the clock and find that barely half the day has passed.

At some point, she realizes even the typical sounds of this constantly active city have disappeared. Ironic, that she would miss the noise of New York, noise she has complained about from the second she got here, but she's come to associate it with Robin, with waiting for him, and so yes, she misses it now.

However, the noise doesn't come. Instead, she hears her own breathing, anxious exhales echoing on the walls of the apartment as if floating through an abyss, carrying back to her and drowning out the bustling crowds, the honking and the ambulance sirens she'd often find so annoying. Regina doesn't welcome the silence, not in the least, keeps wanting to hear Henry's laugh, or even Elizabeth's cry, something that will distract her from all this waiting, but finds nothing except the overwhelming quiet that grows worse the more anxious she becomes.

By the time the sun sinks in golds and oranges back into the horizon, she's tried everything to tame her apprehension, but can't really figure out how to do anything other than fret.

When the clock strikes ten, she decides she should really just go to bed. Sleep and forget until tomorrow, when it's time. But she's changed into her pajamas and drank her tea, read page after page of her current book (not that she retained any of it), even watched some dull TV program, and still, sleep will not come.

It's tomorrow. Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of her battle with the chalice. Tomorrow, if everything goes right and fate doesn't seek to destroy her hope again, she'll be reunited with Robin.

What will it be like, she wonders, when the barriers of time finally fall, and she's able to feel his touch again?

The thought of seeing him, of being held in his arms after she thought them gone forever, it's all too much, and nostalgia mixes with fear, with dread, with the feeling of paranoid cautiousness that tends to overwhelm her when she's on the verge of happiness.

Dawn finds her in the living room, using her coat as a blanket as she sits on the couch, staring out into the street. And when her alarm goes off, she hasn't slept a wink.

Exhaustion weighs down her body, makes her movements sluggish, fruitless. She should really make some coffee, preoccupy herself with the practiced maneuvering of the machine, let the smell of dark roast distract her nose from searching for the scent of forest again... But then even something as mundane as making coffee feels like a task too difficult to achieve right now, tired and emotionally drained as she is.

Her eyes are drooping, but it's more out of the need to clear the scratchy feeling in them than because she's sleepy... or so she tells herself, anyway.

Her body isn't too keen to listen.

Little by little, she relaxes under her coat. It's a little chilly, with the full blast of the AC so close to her, but she's too lazy to grab the blanket on the nearby chair, her body finally finding a comfortable position, one that has her sighing as she slowly, so slowly, closes her eyes and rests.


...::...

They've agreed not to discuss it, not to set expectations they don't know they'll be able to meet, but that doesn't mean Robin hasn't imagined the moment a million times over. He'd be a fool not to, with how much he's missed her.

However, of all the scenarios his lovesick mind has concocted, waking up with his face pressed flat into the book while dawn has yet to break was not one of them.

His neck aches, his spine cracking and popping as he rises from the stiff chair and stretches. It's not time yet, he knows, but the anticipation is too much for him to go back to sleep. And besides, Perdita's already up, whining and pawing at the front door.

The first rays of morning light begin to peek through the curtained window when Robin comes out of his shower, and it takes him a good thirty minutes to choose an outfit, torn as he is between wanting to look good for Regina and keeping to their agreement of not overdoing or overthinking anything. He settles for dark jeans and a charcoal V-neck tee, and remains barefoot as he walks around the kitchen to get his coffee started.

Leash in hand, he leaves the machine to brew while he puts on his shoes and takes Perdita for a walk; and he can't help but marvel at how much more everything appears to be. It's like the world had been duller before and he hadn't truly noticed. Colors look brighter, noises seem louder, the sun warmer, the air fresher, everything becomes more... alive as he strolls through the park.

Perdita seems more excited than usual, as well. As if she knows this day is important.

"You get to meet her today," Robin tells her, and she wags her tail like she understands what he's saying.

Just the thought of that, of their lives finally merging back together, has him eager to return to the apartment. He makes the walk a short, brisk one, and Perdita doesn't complain, rather skips happily back home with him and sits patiently beside him while he gets his keys out.

What awaits him on the other side of the door takes his breath away.

There, on the couch, with sunlight reflecting the chocolate undertones of her hair, is his Regina.

She's asleep, lying sideways with her head on a cushion. Her hand is resting under her face, pressed between cheek and fabric, her breathing profound and slow.

The children are nowhere to be seen, and he concludes they must've stayed in Storybrooke, waiting for this to all be over so that Robin can come home to them. It's just him and Regina, then, it seems, and he wants to run to her, wants to drag a hand over her skin to see if it's as soft as he remembers, wants to hold her in his arms and never again let her go.

But he can't, not right now, not when she's asleep and he finds himself arrested by her beauty, his eyes drinking her in greedily as he quietly walks closer.

She looks tired, perhaps from lack of sleep the night before. He can see the little purple bags under her eyes as he draws closer, can see her chest rise and fall as she rests, relaxing after what was probably a stressful night.

And all Robin can do is stand there, mesmerized and unable to truly grasp that this is finally happening.

He doesn't know how long he stays there, frozen on the spot, letting the rhythm of her breathing calm his own frantic heart. He can't get enough of the sight of her, the sound of her, all cozy and huddled under her coat as she breathes deeply, lost to her slumber.

All these months of yearning, of desiring nothing but her touch and the gorgeous, live image of her smile, and he's come to find her asleep, peaceful and stunning beyond everything he'd ever imagined.

Perdita's wet nose touches his palm, bringing him out of his reverie.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" he asks in a low voice, and he could swear the dog nods, but attributes it to his own wishful thinking. Perdita stares at Regina, though, not going near enough to touch, but rather surveying her, as if she's been searching for a second human companion and deciding whether the stunning woman sleeping on the couch will do.

Once she's made her choice (a favorable one, from what Robin can see), she turns to look at him and waits. Again, she seems to know how important of a moment this is, so she doesn't intrude when he kneels on the floor so that he's eye level with Regina, watching her.

As much as he wants to touch her, to wake her and cover her in loving kisses, there's a sense of calm about the way she sleeps, a reverent silence in the room that he suddenly doesn't want to disturb. So he lets her sleep, gives her a few more minutes of this strange, merging, borrowed time they have while he removes his shoes and socks and putters quietly around the apartment.

When his hand touches the door of the fridge, the assortment of Roland's drawings that he keeps there, held by ABC magnets against the metal, rattle a little, like wind is blowing through the paper, despite the windows being closed. When Robin turns to look at the coffee table, a vase sits on it, filled with all the flowers he's sent to Regina over the course of their time apart, magically preserved just as she'd said they were. Roland's room is mostly empty, but some of Henry's belongings still sit on the shelves, evidence that they're here, have been here all this time.

Quietly, Robin slips into the master bedroom, Perdita following and making herself at home on the doggy bed Robin keeps by the night stand, as if nothing has changed.

Except everything has changed.

Robin finds the room just as he left it last night, but with a certain lively quality to it he doesn't think he'd noticed before. It's because it smells like Regina, he realizes; the sweetness of roses fills the air, gives life to the neutral colors of the linens, brightens the space despite the blinds being closed over the window...

Her clothes, he notices, are folded and piled neatly into a suitcase that lays open on a chair by the closet. There's another suitcase there, too, an empty one that he assumes she's brought for him, and the gesture touches something deep in his heart, has tears springing to his eyes because finally, they get to go home to their children together.

Not all her garments are packed yet, though. The second drawer of the dresser is open and showcasing some of her tops, and he takes his time running his hand over them, reacquainting himself with the shirts that are familiar to him, imagining the tight, glorious fit of the ones that are not.

A rectangular tin catches his eye, nestled into the corner of the drawer. There's no lid on it, and he can see now the countless letters he's sent her, all placed neatly inside. He'd be willing to bet she's organized them chronologically, catalogued every single one after reading it and placed it in this little box like a treasure.

He may as well put his heart in there, too, for it is hers. His very soul belongs to her, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Perdita is now snoring on her doggy bed, napping away while Robin explores the cog piece that is his life finally merging into place where it belongs. His own clothes have appeared now, too, shirts, trousers and the like, magically placed right beside Regina's in that drawer, filling part of the dresser, the closet. Even his towel is now next to hers in the bathroom, their toothbrushes sitting together by the sink. From looking at it all, you'd never be able to tell that they've spent an entire year apart. It seems even the apartment is keen on keeping them together now.

When he walks back into the living room, she's still asleep, in the very same position he'd left her a few minutes ago, deep breaths still rhythmic and constant.

The pitter patter of Perdita's paws against the floor doesn't come, and he knows then that she's chosen to stay in her doggy bed and sleep, while Robin explores and appraises his new reality.

The kitchen is clean, everything in its proper place, cabinets and pantry emptied save for a few leftover things. He wants to make her some food, she's been nervous and he knows how little she eats when her anxiety gets in the way, but cooking right now would wake her, and he needs time for his pulse to stop racing before that happens.

There are a few photos placed in little silver frames around the place, and Robin stops at each one, runs tentative fingers over the images as he yearns for the moments he lost in this long year apart. Most of the photos are familiar, yet somewhat different versions of ones he already owns (slightly different angles in some, a few minor differences in facial expressions on others, each one a complement to the ones he keeps in his box with the letters), but there are a few that are new to him, and that joy that he'd feel whenever a new set of pictures arrived through the book now shoots through him like a lightning bolt, burning away the sense of ennui that's been residing in his heart.

Because he's here now, and he gets to see his children, hold them and kiss them and play with them very, very soon, for as long as life allows it.

The bed is unmade when he walks into the bedroom, sheets twisted and bunched up, the comforter rolled up awkwardly to the side, pillows scattered everywhere. It seems Regina really did have as bad a night as he did. And what a pair they make, both sleep deprived and anxious for what today will bring.

Walking back into the living room, he sits down atop the coffee table, leaning in close and watching her sleep for a few more minutes before he finally, slowly, moves his hand to her face.

The first contact is feather-light, the pads of his fingers ghosting over her cheek, and just that, just that tiny hint of the peachy softness of her skin has him tearing up again, the punch of emotion catching him off guard. He retracts his hand, moving it to wipe the moisture now falling down his cheeks. This is silly, he tells himself, he's been in her presence for almost an hour at this point, why is his heart playing these tricks on him now?

Because she's real, his own voice says in his head, and the truth of that sinks in yet again as he moves that hand back, letting it caress that same cheek a bit more firmly, his skin tingling where it makes contact with hers.

He's thrilled by the way she leans into the touch, the way she chases the warmth of his hand as if on instinct even when he moves it away. Her eyes remain closed, but a smile pulls at her lips even in sleep, her acknowledgement coming out in a low, satisfied hum as she huddles further into the cushions, sighing deeply when she's comfy enough.

Robin can't help the fond chuckle that leaves him, and the sound finally has Regina stirring.


...::...

It smells like pine. Like fresh laundry and grass and rain and everything that is soothing in the world, and in the midst of waking up she tries to hold onto that, to the comfort she's still dreaming of. Her eyelids are heavy, but she can feel the sunlight shining on her face. Her body is still curled under her coat, the cocoon of heavy fabric providing warmth in the artificial chill of the AC. She's in that limbo, that place between sleeping and waking where dreams take life and taunt her with pictures of Robin's face, with images of his smile.

Speaking of, there he is now, smiling at her as the sun turns his hair into gold, warms the tone of his skin and deepens those dimples as he whispers, "Good morning."

She smiles, because she loves when he does that, even if it's only in her dreams for now; when he greets her with that reverence that was unique in him, that love she's sure no one else has ever shown her. Regina basks in it, breathes in deep and exhales slowly, allowing her body to relax as she feels his finger trail down her cheek...

Wait.

That's... that's not right. He's never touched her before, or at least not in a way that felt so...

Her eyes are open, she realizes. Not closed under the veil of sleep, and the figure before her isn't a figment of her imagination at all.

No. No, no, it must definitely be her imagination, because nothing has happened, no flashing lights, no wave of magic to signal the merge, nothing. She'd been expecting a sign, a definitive mark made by this strange spell as it united both timelines, this can't— this isn't... but it is. It's over. The wait is over.

He's patient with her, trails that finger down her cheek again, and this time she shivers, understanding the importance of this moment as she shoots up from her position, rubbing sleep from her eyes and sitting upright as she stares at him, sitting there on the coffee table and looking at her like she's his reason for living.

"Robin?" her voice is raspy, breaks under the pressure of the storm raging inside her, because she hasn't uttered his name out loud like this in so long. Has spent more than a year without the tangible image of his eyes softening at the mention the way they're doing now.

"Hello, my love," he whispers, his hand cradling her cheek now, thumb rubbing over the apple of it in that loving way she never thought she'd feel again.

In an instant, she's bawling. Tears well and brim and roll down her cheeks in fat, salty droplets as her breath catches, her hands trembling as she raises them to his shoulders, running them over the very solid, very real frame of him and up to his face, thumbs rubbing over his jaw as her eyes drink in the sight of him.

"It's you," she blubbers, because she can't believe it. After so long, after so much pain and uncertainty, he's right here in front of her, eyes shining with his own tears as he confirms, It's me.

He crushes her body to him then, wraps his arms around her and brings her in with bone-crushing grip while he stands them both up. And that's good, that's fine, she wants it, wants to have him so close that her broken soul will repair itself with the feel of him, the reality of his presence, the unrelenting devotion he shows her when he tells her, "I'm never leaving you again."

She's overwhelmed, trying and failing to catch her breath as she sobs into his shirt, hands fisting in the fabric and holding there, holding hard, until her nails hurt and her body shakes with the tension. She feels him breathing, feels him alive, and it's almost too much for her fragile heart to bear.

Robin loosens his grasp for just a minute, just enough to bring a hand under her chin and tip her head up, his eyes locking with hers for a brief moment before they close and he leans in. He doesn't kiss her right away, rather runs the tip of his nose down the bridge of hers, in that way he used to do when he just wanted to hold her close and ground himself in her. His breath hitches, and so does hers, Regina can feel her heart beating so fast she fears it might jump out of her chest if he lets her go. He anchors her, keeps her in the here and now with those slow passes of his nose against hers, with the warmth of his breath washing over her cheek, the tickle of his stubble on her chin, the smell of forest easing away her anxiety as his hand delves into her hair.

"God, I've missed you so," he whispers brokenly, running fingers through the roots and giving them a gentle tug. Regina sighs at the feel of it, lets it soothe her racing heart as she finally, finally, brings her lips to his.

She's lost count of how many times she's kissed him in the past, and still she's nervous to do it, especially now, with her mind taunting her with the idea that he will probably disappear, that this all really is a dream and she'll wake up alone again.

But when she pulls away, he's still there, gasping and gorgeous and real, looking at her with all this... reverence, all this raw emotion that it kicks something inside her, drives home the fact that, just as he'd told her once before, months and months ago, they're here now, and this is true.

They gaze at each other for one, two, three seconds of heat, of clarity that this is real, and then he's all but smacking her into him for another kiss, longer this time, hungrier, like he's reaffirming the notion that their nightmare is over, that they can touch and feel and savor and kiss for as long as they want, with no interruptions from this crazy, strange, wonderful universe in which they've found each other at last.

He kisses her again, his lips meeting hers in a frenzy as he inhales sharply and moans. His fingers press against her head urgently, and Regina goes willingly, angling to the side, their teeth clashing and tongues tangling desperately. Those fingers in her hair tighten their grip, pulling just slightly, just enough to make her whimper and deepen the exchange, her tongue exploring him, reacquainting itself with the flavor of him. He tastes like rain, like comfort and purity and every bit of that fervent affection she'd thought lost to her forever, and Regina can't help but take and take, revel in the way his fingers dig into her back now, how his whole body trembles with the weight of this long-awaited moment, his tongue seeking out more and more of her. Her mouth is ravenous, sucking at his lower lip and moaning at the feel of it trapped between hers, her arms wrapping around him tighter, tighter, until she's not sure where she ends and he begins, too wrapped up in the moment to care.

She's crying, they both are, the salt of their tears mixing with the spice of his tongue on hers, igniting that delicious fire that her body has only ever felt with him. They are soulmates, after all, held together by the invisible thread of destiny, and it's never felt more true than right now, when their bodies meld together like they never parted to begin with.

God, she thought this day would never come.

They grow more and more desperate as they try to sate their hunger for each other, but it seems it's never ending. And how could it not be? With how long it's been since they've touched, since she's felt the heat of his breath on her skin, the way he slants his head just so to deepen their kiss, fingers pressing into her scalp, playing with her hair again as he moans her name against her lips and uses the arm he still has around her waist to keep her flush against him.

For a moment after that, they stop, parting only to take the other in. His lips are swollen already, and she imagines her own must look quite similar. He's panting, looking at her frantically, like his eyes don't know what part of her to focus on first. His hands have now moved to her face, fingers running over her cheeks, down her neck, chasing a shiver down her spine until they settle on her ass, resting there as he breathes deep.

"I should take you home," she says breathlessly, reminding herself that they have no time for this, they have a family to go back to. But he's smiling at her in that way he does, with dark eyes and deep dimples that invite her in as he laces his fingers on the small of her back and squeezes.

"I am home," he whispers, and Regina can't help but surrender to the carnal need that burns within her.

Her mouth is back on his in an instant, claiming him as hers, the way he's always been. He returns the kiss eagerly, plunges his tongue into her mouth and desperately devours her. Regina moans, standing on her tiptoes and pressing closer, running fingers through his hair and gripping it at the roots, and she doesn't pull, but her grasp tugs at it just enough to make him moan, to make him bring both hands down the backs of her thighs as he crouches just slightly and picks her up, walking them both towards the bookshelf.

He undresses her desperately, pins her against the wall there and pulls at her clothes, ripping off buttons and tearing up fabric without hesitation, his mouth trailing a path of urgent kisses over every patch of skin revealed. His hands are greedy, grabbing and kneading at her thighs, her breasts, her ass, fingers moving to get rid of her pants, her underwear, and she hadn't intended to welcome him in day-old clothes, or for their first time together after everything to be a quick fuck in the living room, with nothing to show him but simple cotton undergarments. No, she'd thought of a proper bed, and lingerie, and taking their time to learn each other's bodies again, but his desperation fuels her desire, her own raw need for him, and Regina can't bring herself to care about her simple nude panties, or the matching bra now left askew from Robin's fondling, her breasts spilling out of the cups with no lace or silk to frame them.

She doesn't need the trimmings right now, she just needs him. Hard and deep inside her, the way she never thought she'd have him again. They'll go nice and slow later, they have all the time in the world now.

That thought has her gasping with unbelievable joy, and she kisses faster, pulls him in closer, claws at his shoulders as she rakes up the fabric of his shirt, tugging until it's over his head and off on the floor, joined in seconds by his jeans and boxers, until he's naked and hers for the taking.

He puts a hand between her thighs without preamble, thumb rubbing quick circles over her clit, and the strangled Regina he all but sighs in response has her pulse quickening, a little cry escaping her when his mouth moves to her nipples, sucking hard at one and then the other, his free hand joining those efforts and kneading at the swells. But her bra is still on, still haphazardly restraining her breasts, and so that hand of his moves back, pulling almost violently at the clasp until the bra falls off, his face instantly burying itself in the valley it uncovers, tongue trailing a wet path up and around to her left breast, back down to her nipple where he sucks again, those two fingers on her clit pressing more firmly now, riling her up until she's panting and begging him to fuck her.

"Please," she implores, her voice high-pitched and breathy. "Need— I'm— oh, god, yes!— Need you inside me."

Her words only seem to spur on his need to make her come, his hand shifting so he can push two fingers up into her, his thumb taking up the little frantic circles on her clit, and So good, she tells him, encourages him to go quicker, deeper, grinding her hips down onto his hand as her mouth resumes its hungry kissing of every bit of him it can reach, nails digging into the back of his shoulders possessively as she holds onto him for purchase.

"Need you," he gasps, almost inaudibly into her neck when he rests his head there, his hips bucking against hers, erection pressing intermittently into her thigh as those fingers keep moving, plunging hard and deep, crooking just so to instantly reach that sweet spot, playing that melody of arousal along her body like he never stopped.

"You remember," she says deliriously, moaning out a "Robin!" when he hits that spot a little harder.

"I remember everything," Robin rasps back. "Been dreaming of this all year. Of making you— fuuuck, yes, that's it," he derails his speech when her hand wedges between them to wrap around him, adding pressure as she pulls, thumb rubbing at his tip. "...making you come for me. Again and again."

She's gasping, scratching at the bare skin of his shoulders with her free hand, asking him to please go deeper, harder, faster, she's so close, can feel it building and building, Robin's fingers spreading wetness along her clit before they push back in and circle inside her, reaching that spot one more time, another, and another, a never-ending stream of pleasure that shakes through her whole body, has her falling slack against the wall as her hips grind down into his hand, her mouth greedy and desperate against his.

Her hand has stopped playing with his cock, distracted as she is by everything else, but she resumes her actions now, pumps him long and firm, her forehead hitting his shoulder and resting there as she looks down at his hand against her, fucking her while she gives him another teasing little tug, making him moan her name on the next pass.

She loses her grip then, and opens her eyes to find him going down, bending his knees enough to grab her around the backs of her thighs and lift, half-slamming her against the wall for purchase. Her legs open and wrap themselves around him, and she can feel the tip of his cock brushing her entrance, her own moans echoing his at the feeling.

He's as tender as she remembers, but famished now, desperate, his mouth pulling at her lower lip as his cock finally enters her, filling her in the most pleasant way while he moves his mouth to her neck and sucks.

"Yes!" Regina cries out, unashamed of her pleasure, and then brings her lips to his in another wild kiss, her hips undulating to take him in deeper, loving the way he reacts to the movement. He's grasping her harder, fingers digging into her thighs as he presses her yet tighter against the wall and starts thrusting. It's choppy and hard, and her back might bruise a bit from the way she slams against the unforgiving surface on his every thrust, but it's worth it, it feels so good, so fucking good. She's been waiting so long for this, to feel him this way, and now she has him, hard and fast and needy, and she can't get enough.

Robin tilts his head downward then, and Regina lets hers fall back, so that his lips can reach her neck, and Ooohhh she has missed that, those little sucking kisses along her overheated skin while he fucks her. He shifts them there, hiking her knee over the crook of his elbow and holding her leg up while the other drops to the floor, freeing his other hand so he can toy with her breast, giving her nipple a little roll before he moves that arm back, his hand kneading her ass as he kisses her.

She shoves a hand down between them, rubbing over her clit, and all the while his cock is pounding into her, mounting in speed and force as his breathing becomes more shallow, and it takes him a few thrusts, but he finds that sweet spot again, shifts the angle of his hips and moves his hand from her ass to the wall for leverage, so that every drive into her now hits that little dot of unbelievable sensation, and Regina gasps and mewls and cries out his name as she feels it, her own fingers rubbing faster over sensitive flesh.

His eyes dark and intent on her as he moves, and she can barely keep hers open, what with the exquisite tingling he keeps releasing inside her with every push of his cock. He knows it too, knows exactly how much he's affecting her; she can feel it in the way he moans her name, in the way he tells her how beautiful she is, in the little gasp that leaves him when he hits that spot again and she bucks her hips in response. His voice is a low, guttural thing, peppering words of encouragement into her neck when he buries his face there, little Yes, my loves and Fucks and Missed yous that have Regina whimpering, the one knee she has upright almost giving out under the shaky currents of bliss that slither through her.

The bend of her other leg over his arm allows them to stand closer together, and she can feel the heat from his body, basks in it, loses herself in the exquisite mix of stimulation, her body trembling as it climbs higher and higher, until he hits her G-spot just a little bit harder, urges her fingers to move over her clit a little bit quicker, and unleashes the electric tidal wave of sensation that's been pent up all this time inside her, waiting for him.

Regina whimpers, and lets out a loud Robin as she comes and comes and comes on his cock, her limbs trembling with the force of it, her voice hoarse as she begs him not to stop.

"Never," he whispers, gasping for breath as he pumps himself inside her faster, harder, until he, too, is moaning loudly as he falls over the edge right along with her.

Her body is shaking, still riding her own orgasm, and Robin doesn't let up, keeps pumping himself into her, coming deep and hard inside her. He slows down a bit after a few erratic thrusts, enough to prolong the delicious feeling and keep her on that high as he comes down from his.

Regina has already moved her hand away from her clit, but his cock remains inside her, her leg still thrown over his arm as he brings his forehead down to hers and breathes. She does the same, takes in the smell of forest, of sweat and sex and Robin that she has missed so much.

"I can't believe we're finally here," he rasps in the scant space between them, and the sheer astonishment in his voice has her smiling.

"Neither can I," she gasps back, and then he's letting go of her leg, moving it down gently until she can stand —albeit unsteadily— on both feet, his arms then wrapping around her waist and holding her to him.

It's there, when they're naked and sweaty and breathing each other in, that tears build and spill yet again down her cheeks, her own incredulous laughter complementing the disbelieving shake of his head as he pulls back and looks at her.

"I love you, Regina Mills," he tells her, the words simple, and soft, and perfect, made all the more wonderful by the way he beams when she whispers I love you, too.