Written for OQAdvent 2017. This ended up working better as a multichapter instead of one giant verse so i'm posting it as such. Enjoy :)

It's the absolute worst time to get this phone call.

There have been plenty of moments over the past four years where Regina would be in the right headspace to get such a call, she'd be thrilled, relieved, as if the gods had answered her prayers from up above.

But the call comes in that hazy afterglow of a well-spent session of sex with her fiancé, while their limbs are tangled in one another and breath is coming out in pants against each other's skin.

She's feeling something she might call content, she might call cheerful (rare for her, since her happily-ever-after was taken from her forever). It's post-orgasm fog, but it's nice, her mind is blissfully blank of the pain and longing and mourning that can creep up and cloud her thoughts before she goes to bed.

And then her cell phone rings. Something tells her she should answer. It's rather late, and her children are safely in bed, but… she gets this eerie feeling that the phone call may be important.

So she stretches, reaches towards her night stand and answers.

"Mrs. Locksley?" A monotone voice answers.

Pain bursts behind her eyes, erupts in her heart, and it's sweet, even now, to hear his name.

"Miss," she corrects, just above a whisper, "My husband, he passed, I go by—"

"Ma'am, I'm with General Gold, head of National Security, and we have something sensitive to discuss with you. It pertains to your husband. Are you alone?"

"I'm… I'm with my fiancé…" she chokes. "Whatever this is about you can say in front of him."

There's a sucking of air audible on the other line, and the pause seems infinite, until the silence is broken with a sigh.

"Ma'am, if you're not already doing so, you're going to want to sit for this," the voice dictates.

"I'm sitting," she stutters. "What is it? Are we in danger? Are Roland and Henry, are they—"

That spurs David, has him turning to her perplexed, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder and mouthing a What?

She shrugs and points to the phone, confused.

"No one's in danger." Assures the voice, and she breathes a sigh of relief. "Not anymore. Mrs. Locksley, your husband is alive. He's in our custody. We're taking him home."

There are more words that follow, a carefully crafted explanation, but the world goes black, and she's falling and spinning into an endless pit.

This can't be happening.

They told her he died. She held a funeral for him, where she cloaked her pregnant body in black and stood stunned and afraid and alone.

She mourned him, she cried over him countless nights and begged for this to all be a bad dream.

And she finally — finally came to terms with the sad reality of this, tried to make the most of her family's new life and now...

Robin is alive. He survived, he's come back from the dead. The man they executed wasn't him after all.

It was just a man wearing his press badges.

It's all she's ever wanted since the moment they told her he was killed, to hear it was some mistake, that he's alive, and coming home to her and their Henry and the son he's never met.

But now she tastes bile on her tongue, as guilt eats her like a cancer from the inside out. Because she can't remember the last time she has cried over Robin, and she doesn't believe she's even thought of him all day, and for fuck's sake she was just riding one of his friends into the ground, fucking him like there's no tomorrow.

It's a dream come true and a nightmare all at once.

The feelings battle inside her until pure elation and shock win out.

"Ma'am?" the man asks, "The governor wants to speak with you, he—"

"Please, is this a joke?" she asks dumbly, "If this is some cruel prank I swear to god—"

"No prank. Robin Locksley is alive and on a plane to Washington as we speak."

"I… when can I see him?" she asks. "Is he badly hurt? How did he escape, how did he—"

"I don't know too many of the details, Mrs. Locksley. But yes, your husband is alive. The plane will land in a few hours, and I figured you'd like to know before the press get to this— which, I expect will happen any minute. And I know it's late, but we wanted to pick you up, if your children can be looked after, just to talk more about this, to tell you what to expect, and—"

He tells her where and when they will go to meet her husband, her Robin, the man who was apparently beheaded on live television nearly five years ago. She's giving them the address of her home in the fog somewhere, but she can't remember why. She still doesn't understand, everything spins and swirls as she realizes the love of her life will get to hold Roland for the first time. She will be able to touch him again, hold him, be held by him, she will look into those eyes and hear that voice she still dreams about and—

"Regina?" David asks, dipping to plant a kiss to her shoulder. "What's going on, beautiful, who was tha—"

It's when he moves to put his hand around her that she snaps as a reflex. "Don't touch me!" She orders, staring at him as if he's just tried to strip her nude and fuck her in public. And then she gets up and says, "I… I need to get dressed."

"Who was that on the phone?" he asks "And what is going on? What did I—"

"Robin is alive," she says plainly, shimmying into some old jeans and looking for a tee shirt in her drawer. "He's alive, David, it was some sort of mistake, he switched IDs with Chuck Adams, so—"

"Oh, Regina…" he looks at her with such pity. "I want him to be alive too, I do, but you can't—"

"It's true, David!" she whispers harshly, "I can tell the difference between a prank call and a real one, and this was real." Was it though? It's late and she's full of guilt and self-loathing and she's so desperate for her children's father, she has such vivid dreams sometimes...

Oh god, is she picking out the outfit she will wear when she sees her husband for the first time in nearly half a decade?

Oh fuck, she's aged fifteen years in the last five, they've been so rough on her, and it shows in her wrinkled skin, her weathered hands, Jesus, will he even recognize her? Of course he will, but will he still find her attractive? That's a different story. Fuck, she needs a better outfit, and she better do her hair and makeup, she still has that red dress he likes (couldn't bear to throw it out), with the little keyhole neckline, it's a bit too summery for this late autumn weather, and it might not fit as well as it once did, but it will do, and—

"Regina, darling, come back to bed."

Fuck, that's right. David, she's with David now, she is practically thinking about what her late (no longer late) husband would most like to fuck her in, which she has no right to do because there won't be any fucking, he died, he left her against her wishes, took that job in a war torn country when she was four months pregnant. He did that, got himself captured and killed, even though he promised he'd come back to her, promised her….

And David has been so good to her, he's held her while she cried, cared for Henry when she couldn't, he helped her through the tough moments of pregnancy when she thought she'd lose Roland in her grief. He reminded her to eat, soothed her into sleep when nothing else worked, he took the bloody broken pieces of her soul and nursed her back to life and she owes him everything.

"David, I…" Tears form behind her eyes and her stomach twists and turns.

And then bright lights flood their bedroom, and David frowns and jumps to the window, peering behind the curtain.

He doesn't doubt that phone call anymore, it seems, because he looks white as a ghost as he announces. "There's a military vehicle parked in our driveway."