Title: Gratitude (ch.1)

Pairing: Regina/Emma
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters are not my creative property

Summary: Emma rescues Regina & Henry and wants a bit of gratitude

Emma stood sheepishly in front of the rather large crowd of citizens that had gathered near the harbor. She was dripping wet, cold, smelly and uncomfortable. She pulled a stray piece of seaweed out of her tangled hair, and huffed in frustration. Regina had better show her some gratitude this time.

When asked how she knew Regina and Henry were in trouble, Emma would maintain that she hadn't been stalking them. (Well, maybe a little bit as Mary Margaret would say.) She was simply patrolling, doing her duty, and happened to notice that Regina and Henry were going somewhere, and yes, she had followed them, but that was neither here nor there.

The point, it would seem, was it was a damn good thing she had followed…stalked…patrolled, as what transpired moments after her arrival would have meant certain death for both mayor and son had Emma not come to their rescue…again.

Sure she had hauled Henry up from a collapsed mine and carried Regina out of a burning building. Now she could add that she saved the Mills family from drowning. But more than simply getting Henry and Regina out of the water, she had saved them from something that had tried to drag them in.

A sea creature, (maybe a squid), Emma didn't get a good look at it. All she could tell from its submerged form was that it was large and had glowing tentacles that wrapped around Henry like it was the candy crane at the arcade and he was a tasty twizzler. Emma heard Regina yell and watched her run frantically into the ocean after him, as her black sun dress billowed in the sea breeze. Emma had sprinted down the dune, kicking off her boots and throwing off her jacket before stomping out into the bubbling water.

There was no wrestling with the monster, although it appeared Regina was attempting to- (shouting at it like a crazy person.) Emma took action, she shot the son-of-a-bitching thing square in the slimy tentacle that was wrapped around Henry, forcing it to let go. Henry swam back to shore, and Emma went after Regina who was being pulled under by another of the creature's limbs. Emma swam out further and dove down into the murky water, barely catching Regina's hands, pulling with all her strength, trying to get Regina above water so she could breathe.

Emma felt the creature release its grip for just a second, but Regina had already fallen unconscious. Emma wrapped her arms around the lifeless mayor, and helped her back to shore as the creature retreated.

As soon as they crossed onto the beach, Emma set Regina on her back, and without hesitation, Emma began mouth to mouth resuscitation and started chest compressions. She was glad she had taken that class in safety training as it came in handy. Despite his resentment toward his mother, Henry looked panicked at the sight of her blue lips and unresponsive body. It took a few tries, but Regina's eyes opened wide and she coughed up the sea water from her lungs. Emma and Henry kneeled over her as she came back to life, gulping fresh air.

When Regina's vision cleared she found herself staring into a beautiful pair of concerned blue-green eyes. Regina blinked and shook her head, remembering the recent events; she sat up and pulled Henry into her arms, checking him over and making sure he was safe. Emma called the paramedics to come and check out both Regina and Henry.

News of the near drowning spread through town like wildfire and that's when Emma discovered she was once again the center of attention, as everyone came out to the beach and asked what had happened. Emma had no words to explain it exactly without sounding nuts, and she just wanted to go home and shower. She felt relief that she and been there and that no one had died.

Regina was wet, wrapped in a blanket. She had recovered surprisingly quickly. Emma knew Regina was a strong woman, but she looked on in awe as she dismissed the paramedics and refused to go to the hospital.

Regina pulled Emma to the side of the beach, out of hearing range of the crowd. Emma set her jaw, attempting to bite her tongue to prevent her from lashing out at Regina. She just knew she would be ungrateful for Emma saving her and Henry lives, and would probably have something nasty to complain about. She was surprised when Regina thanked her. She even sounded sincere, and offered a token of her appreciation: anything Emma wanted.

Emma quipped that she should get a punch card or something since this was the third time she had saved the immediate Mills family. She wondered if Regina knew exactly what that creature was or why it would attack. Regina whispered that she did, but she couldn't explain it to Emma and she should just forget the encounter. This news, of course, intrigued Emma even more.

Regina rethought what she had just promised her nemesis: anything she wanted. That wasn't a wise offer, so she asked with hesitation exactly what Emma would like from her. Emma sighed and rolled her eyes, and then asked for the one thing Regina would bristle at. Emma wanted to work on their relationship, for Henry's sake.

Wondering what that would entail exactly, Regina slowly nodded, but Emma didn't miss her deep breath and the hard swallow that signaled she was none too happy about this request. In an effort, of what Emma thought would assuage her fear, she mentioned that she wanted them to hang out a bit, have dinner, a drink, a movie. Just get to know each other, so they could understand where each of them was coming from.

Regina balked at the suggestion, but acquiesced and offered to make Emma dinner, just as soon as she went home and showered. Emma nodded, shocked that Regina had been so quick to agree, and rejoined the crowd of Storybrooke citizens vying for her attention.

After washing her hair and scrubbing the smell of the ocean out off of her body, Emma started to feel a bit nervous about going over for dinner. She thought about calling to cancel, feeling bad that she was making the woman who almost died cook for her. She suppressed her fear, figuring that Regina had already started cooking by now, and knowing the kind of woman she was, if she didn't want to do it, she wouldn't have agreed to it in the first place. So Emma got dressed, feeling less uneasy about the afternoon's events after cleaning up and putting some time behind her. She headed over to Regina's home. She knocked and stood with her hands in pockets and head bowed, until Henry threw open the door and welcomed her inside.

The familiar smell of something distinctly Italian wafted through the house, and set Emma's appetite front and center. Henry took her by the hand and led her to the kitchen where Regina already had the table set and a huge sprawl of salad, bread and appetizers laying out waiting to be devoured.

Emma asked by way of greeting if she was feeling well, but Regina just shot her with a look and motioned to her to sit down.

Henry sat right next to her, stroking her ego about the rescue, asking her if she had been scared like he was, and gloating on about her bravery. Emma demurred with a blush, her eyes watching Regina's every reaction. She had just reacted to the danger, as had Regina, and she really didn't need to rehash it.

Emma tried to offer Regina help with dinner, but she refused. Shortly after a huge pan of lasagna was delivered from the oven and Regina began serving it in huge portions onto the plates. She set a plate down in front of Emma, encouraging her to take some bread and salad and poured her a huge glass of red wine. Emma didn't know where to look. She stared at the delicious looking, steaming lasagna, and then up at Regina's face. She looked really good ;( and not just because hours earlier she was blue) she must enjoy cooking as her eyes were sparkling and her smile was genuine.

Emma had been sadly deprived of almost any semblance of home-cooking due to her transient upbringing. She had never been able to share a "family" recipe. Most of her childhood dinners consisted of boxed mac and cheese, fast food, or sometimes nothing at all. She had learned to get seconds at school lunch or squirrel something away, because certain sets of foster parents didn't provide her with a substantial dinner.

Regina. raising her glass of wine, brought Emma out of her sad reverie, and she automatically raised her wine glass as Henry raised his juice. Regina gracefully thanked her, toasting her for saving them. Emma blushed once again, afraid she had underestimated Regina's depth of gratitude.

Regina encouraged them to dig in and eat before the food cooled. Emma honestly had never had such delicious lasagna and expressed her appreciation through non-verbal moans of approval. Regina looked very pleased and Henry's eyes darted between his two mothers, feeling content to see them getting along.

Dinner passed pleasantly and Emma ate until she was stuffed. She finally sat back unable to take one more bite, despite Regina trying to force feed her more. Henry asked if he and Emma could play after dinner and Regina agreed so long as it was okay with Emma. Emma offered to help clean up, but somehow Regina was a kitchen wizard and there was barely any cleaning up to do besides loading the dishwasher. Topping off her wine, Regina sent Henry upstairs to put on his PJs, and then Emma and Henry went into the den to start a movie. Emma perused the DVDs, noticing with fascination that Regina had the entirety of the Disney vault in her collection. They decided wisely to skip 'Snow White' and watch the 'Jungle Book,' which had always been one of Emma's favorites, and also kept Henry from any mention of Operation Cobra.

Regina came in shortly after the film started, automatically pouring Emma and herself more wine, and sitting right next to Emma on the couch. Emma lost herself in the film and was surprised at how comfortable she felt and how lovely it was to spend a low key evening at the mayor's house. Emma was feeling a little drunk herself, and noticed Regina stifle a yawn and sink deeper into the couch, almost looking serene and ever more beautiful with her makeup scrubbed clean and fatigue softening her features. Looking at her watch, it was almost 10pm. The time had flown by and Emma asked Regina if she should go.

Regina waved her hand as if the question was preposterous and explained that she wasn't going to allow Emma to drive after drinking. When she looked over at Henry she saw his eyes had closed and he had fallen into a peaceful slumber at her side. She couldn't resist the maternal urge to smooth his hair, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by Regina. She simply smiled and took another sip of her wine, explaining he's gotten too big for her to carry up the stairs like she used to do.

Regina gently shook him awake and he rubbed his eyes, as she helped him up and motioned to Emma to follow to help put him to bed. Emma followed dumbly, the thought that Regina must have hit or head or lost oxygen for too long crossed her mind, because this version of what she knew of Regina was far more kind and loving then her usual claws-out persona.

When Henry was safely tucked into bed, Emma again tried to excuse herself, but Regina wouldn't hear of it, and invited her into her study to sit by the fire for a bit. Emma shrugged as she didn't have anywhere else to be and was honestly enjoying Regina's company. They sat quietly for a few minutes, sipping wine and listening to the crackle of the fire. Before long, Regina looked up revealing unshed tears in her eyes.