"She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here." – Neil Gaiman

The cupcakes were already baked, cooled and frosted orange. Regina had carefully placed a plastic spider ring on each one, while Emma stuffed little treat bags and tied them with ribbon. She had flinched when Regina stood behind her with a sharp pair of scissors, but relaxed when she realized she was just curling the ribbons to make them more festive. Emma's domestic skills were certainly lacking, but Regina showed a surprising amount of patience these days. Months had flown by and Emma's trips to the Mayor's house had become more and more frequent. They had slowly come to an understanding.

Making the decision to let Emma into Henry's life in a more substantial way then just short walks after school or ice cream outings was difficult at first, but Emma wasn't going anywhere. Regina still needed her to prove she could handle the responsibility of being a parent, and tested her in various ways. They still bickered, but more often than not they felt comfortable together. Emma would dare to say they were actually enjoying each other's company.

Now as the midnight oil burned, they sat side by side, thighs touching, at the dining room table sewing Henry's 'Captain America' costume. Regina had already purchased him an 'Iron Man' suit, but the brat changed his mind last minute and decided he wanted to be Captain America instead.

"I prefer he dress up as Captain America. He's a gentleman with traditional values. Iron Man's a playboy," Regina reasoned when Emma expressed her annoyance that she was giving in to Henry's whim.

"Ow! Shit, I'm bleeding this time," Emma dropped her needle and shook her finger to relieve the pain. Regina grabbed her hand and pulled it towards her to inspect.

"Hmm, I don't think you'll survive. I'd better call an ambulance," she deadpanned and then smiled squeezing Emma's hand before releasing it.

This, staying up late into the night to bake cupcakes and make costumes for your child's benefit, was what being a mom was all about. This is what she wanted to show Emma. The behind the scenes work, not just the finished product. Emma was living up to the challenge surprisingly well. She had even canceled drinks with her friends and rushed over right after work to help. Regina didn't quite know exactly when she had gone from wishing Emma away to wishing she'd stay, but their relationship had improved when Regina finally believed that Emma no longer wanted to take Henry from her. Emma understood the fierce protectiveness Regina felt for him.

Regina was even impressed with Emma's adaptability at learning how to bake and sew. It wasn't as if she really needed Emma's help. She would never admit it even if she did. In fact, it took more time to instruct Emma than it would have taken Regina on her own, but just having her there was worth it.

Regina and Emma had their own costumes to wear while accompanying Henry to go trick or treating. Regina had put hers on before Emma arrived, partly to make sure it fit, and partly for Emma's reaction. The tight corset enhanced her assets considerably, and she had grown somewhat dependent on Emma's attention. She'd never admit that either.

As Regina expected, after she opened the door and revealed herself, it took Emma a full minute for her eyes to become unglued from her cleavage and look at her face.

"That outfit is…" Emma trailed off, getting her first glimpse of the leather pants.

"I'm a witch," Regina wrinkled her nose, playfully.

"Yes, but what is the costume for?" Emma smiled good-naturedly. This is how they teased each other and in other ways too. Later, when Emma overfilled the cupcake papers with batter, Regina stood right behind her, hands on either side of her hips, gentle breaths on her neck, scooping out the excess and evening it out. Emma never knew cupcakes baking could be so erotic until she did it with Regina.

Now, with two cold cups of coffee sitting untouched. Emma worked a bit faster, stitching on the big white star.

"Smaller stiches, dear, take your time."

Regina felt her own fatigue pressing down on her chest like a weight. She stopped and looked at Emma, feeling the little prickles of desire swarming like buzzing bumble bees in her stomach. She looked so cute, deep in concentration, sleepy but willing to make it perfect for Henry.

Regina, noticed that Emma's hair, loose and falling down on her shoulders, kept getting in the way of her work. Without even thinking about it she took a piece of ribbon and stood behind Emma's chair. She gathered her hair into a pony tail, letting her blunt tails scratch softly against Emma's scalp. The action was so relaxing and comforting that Emma moaned in appreciation. She titled her head all the way back until she was resting it on the back of the chair and looking up at Regina.

Half-lidded eyes and a sweet smile met Regina's taken gaze.

"That feels so good, I could kiss you," Emma murmured as Regina's fingers kept massaging her scalp.

Eyes locked together, Regina's mask slipping as she hovered over Emma, she pressed her top lip gently to Emma's bottom like their own version of Spiderman and Mary Jane. It was soft and perfect, and blood rushed in Emma's ears. She was overwhelmed with a myriad of emotion. Regina pulled away with a pop, their lips sticking sweetly together. She stayed there- a hairsbreadth from Emma's lips and whispered in a tone of complete wonder, "I love you."

Bristling as she heard the words that seemingly left her mouth of their own accord, Regina stood straight up, and turned around- she had to get away. Unable to believe that she let her mask slip so far, dropping all contention and being so honest and exposed. It hurt in her chest. The intimacy of the moment replaced instantly by a drowning pool of panic. Willing her body to get back under her control, she ran to the kitchen, blindly looking around for something to clean or polish: a mindless task to occupy her hands, while her mind reeled in embarrassment. Her mother's voice echoed in her brain, deafening, "Love is weakness, Regina."

Weakness.

Before she could fully bask in shame, Emma was on her. Wrapping her strong arms around her torso, pulling her close, and rocking her gently, "I love you too."

Regina let the tears fall guilelessly. Her once protective mask irrevocably shattered by three short words.