A/N: Written as a combination of two prompts on tumblr from kjtgp1 and carnival-flux
Thank you VERY MUCH to the wonderful barbaraswife for beta reading
Emma sat in Granny's diner, watching the steady fall of rain outside. The water was collecting on the ground in puddles and muddying the small town in Maine containing one resident that was actually born in America.
Emma turned away from the window and rested her gaze on the cup of hot chocolate – cinnamon and whipped cream included. She sighed slightly and tilted her head from side to side, rubbing her neck in an attempt to relieve the tension. The stress of the past week was beginning to get to her.
If she was honest with herself, which Emma rarely ever was, it has been getting to her for a lot longer than she'd ever admit. It was only now that she was accepting the fact that she had to do something about it, at least for Henry's sake if not her own. She couldn't look after him if she wasn't thinking straight and judging by the events of the past week she most certainly was not. She'd saved Regina from an insane mob out for her blood, she'd provided comfort after a dementor – wraith – thing had attacked her, andEmma had shoved Regina out of the way of said thing. Ergo saving her life, and not for the first time.
The thing that confused her most, however, was what happened immediately afterwards. The wraith had grabbed her by the leg, dragging her toward the portal opened by the hat and, Emma assumed, certain death. But she was saved by a pair of hands tugging her none too gently. Hands that belonged to Regina.
Emma groaned, running her fingers through her dishevelled blonde locks. Regina had saved her life. She had saved Regina's life. They saved each other.
She was, quite literally, Regina's saviour.
If that wasn't confusing and stressful enough on its own, add unresolved feelings and copious amounts of sexual tension to create the cocktail that is Emma's mental state; shaken, not stirred.
Oh, and let's not forget that she's been fucking Ruby for the past 3 months to relieve some tension. Slightly awkward when she turns out to be your mother's best friend.
Herein lies another issue and another source of stress. Emma Swan, orphan and professional loner, had a mother. Not only a mother but a father too – actual, real, physical parents that care about her and want to know her. A woman that gave birth to her and only gave her up because she loved her. A Queen. Emma was a princess. She was living the fantasy of every little girl she had ever known in the families she had stayed with over the years. They all wished for their mother and father to come pick them up one day, smiles on their faces, to take those little girls away to a fairytale land where they would be princesses loved by everyone. They wanted to grow up and find their one true love, (to) get married to their prince and settle down to have a family. They wanted their happy ending.
Emma had wanted that when she was a child, too. Of course she could never seem to do things the way it was expected. She found her so-called prince when she was 18, but he was no true love. He wasn't the best man she'd ever known and because of him she ended up with a family – there was no 'settling' about it. She then gave up that one person who made up her family. Of course it wasn't until she was 28 that her son came back to give her the loving, fairytale family she'd dreamt of until she turned twelve and learned the phrase "old enough to bleed, old enough to breed". However, she had yet to gain the true love and happy ending.
Thinking back through her time spent in Storybrooke, Emma vaguely wondered whether she was ever going to find that true love. The one person that would know her better than anyone else, that would accept her for all her flaws. The person she could love without fear of rejection. Emma wondered whether she could feel that, or if she was as cold-hearted as she had always suspected. Instead she took a sip of her hot chocolate. It was too hot; she burned herself.
Emma loved her son, of course. If no-one else, she loved Henry – and it was quite possible that this was what prevented her from hating Regina. She understood the illustrious Mayor better than most. As Mr Gold had once told her "I know how to recognise a desperate soul", she too knew how to recognise the damaged. She had grown up with people who were hurt, she lived with them, she was one of them. And so was Regina.
They had more in common than either of them truly realised, but first and foremost was their love of their son. Emma and Regina would tear the very world apart before they let anything happen to him, sacrificing anyone that got in their way.
Once Emma had understood this about Regina, it prevented hatred forming. Over time, the simple lack of hatred had changed. Emma started noticing things about Regina, from the way she walked to the inflection in her tone. Regina said so many things without even speaking and Emma began to pick up on it. She started feeling things for Regina, things that her brain was telling her she absolutely cannot feel. She felt them regardless, slowly realising how deep it ran and wondering, just once or twice, if this was what love felt like. Actual, real love. True love.
Then there was Ruby.
Ruby threw the proverbial spanner in the works, because while she had these confusing, conflicting emotions regarding Regina, Emma wanted Ruby. Not just because of her body – although that was how it had started. Too much stress, too much alcohol, too much skin on show made for a one night stand that would have been unforgettable if either of them could remember it – but her personality. Up until now, Ruby had been an amazing friend and an incredible fuck buddy. Then comparing h h her to Regina, it was laughable how simple their relationship was.
But how did Emma feel about her? She liked her, of course. Ruby was a dear friend; probably Emma's closest, seeing as her roommate was her mother. Jesus, what a mess.
But, Emma asked herself, Could I love her?
As Emma sat quietly in her corner of the abandoned diner, rain falling in sheets outside, she decided to do something about this stress. She needed someone to help relieve her tension in one form or the other, so she came to a very simple conclusion; whoever she saw next, Ruby or Regina, she would confess her feelings to.
At that moment the door to the diner swung open. Regina stepped through as Ruby appeared in the doorway at the opposite end of the room.
Regina glanced around the diner, pausing as she noticed Emma sitting by herself. For a moment Emma thought that Regina was going to walk over and join her, but the moment passed. Regina selected a table in the middle of the diner, facing the door that she'd entered throughand subsequently Emma herself. Ruby walked over to the former Evil Queen, her heels clicking against the tiled floor, and quietly handed Regina a menu. She waved it away, reeling off an order she had obviously placed many times before.
The thought crossed Emma's mind as to how many times Regina had ordered that in the 28 years she had lived in this little town of her own creation.
The diner was silent but for the ticking of a clock, the heavy beat of rain on concrete, and the click of Ruby's heels as she headed over to place Regina's order. Emma glanced across to see Regina staring at her with a blank expression. Emma stared straight back, almost daring Regina to come over and talk to her. It looked like Regina was going to acquiesce, but Ruby passed her table heading for Emma before she could move.
Emma nearly growled, but plastered on a smile as Ruby slid into the seat in front of her, crossing one leg over the other and giving a flirtatious smile.
"Hey," Ruby said with a grin.
"Hey yourself," Emma shot back, lifting the cup to her lips for another sip. It was still hot.
"So, we haven't gotten together in a while," Ruby murmured, glancing across to make sure Regina wasn't watching and winking slyly at Emma. Emma felt her lips tugging into a smile, "What do you say?"
Over Ruby's shoulder, Emma could see Regina staring intently at the book that she had produced, seemingly (and quite possibly) from nowhere. Emma knew, however, that Regina was listening as hard as she could to their conversation.
"Wouldn't that… I don't know. Feel a bit weird now? I mean, aren't you best friends with Mary Margaret?" Emma replied, dropping to a whisper and watching Regina lean forward slightly.
The smile faded from Ruby's face, "Oh… would that bother you? I mean, it's not like we're in a relationship, so Snow- Mary Margaret doesn't really need to know about it."
Emma's expression faltered as Ruby said Snow. Reality crashed in around her as she was once again remembered that she wasn't talking to the same woman she had been sleeping with for the past 3 months. Yes, it was Ruby, but it was also Red. The woman before her was some strange combination of the two and Emma had no idea how that would change things.
"Oh, Emma… I'm sorry, I didn't even think about what you must be going through!" Ruby exclaimed as she watched Emma's eyes fill with tears. Regina glanced up at them, frowning at the sight of Emma growing upset before glancing back down before she could be caught. "It must be so hard, finally finding your parents after 28 years and they turn out to be not quite what you've expected. And I can't be making it any easier, propositioning you like this! But I just want you to know, I'm the same Ruby (that) this all started with."
"BUT YOU'RE NOT!" Emma exploded. Regina looked up at her in shock, mouth hanging open comically. Emma lowered her voice but her anger didn't dissipate, "You're not her! You're Red Riding Hood, the best friend of Snow White and a fairytale character. Sure, Ruby's still in there somewhere, but I'm struggling to see her all that clearly. Everyone's changed, I feel like I don't know anyone, like I don't have a place. Henry's loving every second of it – he's been proven right and he's acting like the prince he was born to be. But me? I'm stuck with these people that know me and I have no idea how to act! You know what the best part is, though?" Emma lowered her voice even further, "The best part is, the only person in this whole town that I can connect with is Regina! She is the only one that's making any damn sense right now, and I shouldn't be talking to her because everyone hates here! Well I don't, because she's the only sane person here!"
A bell rang from the kitchen and Ruby gave a small apologetic smile before standing up from the table. Emma closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration and exhaling. When she opened her eyes, Regina has appeared in Ruby's abandoned seat as though by magic.
Emma stayed silent, eyeing Regina warily. Her face was blank.
"I never thought I'd see the day that someone said I was the only sane one," Regina said with a quirk of a smile. Emma let out a small, choking laugh and shook her head in amazement.
"You're not the only one, Regina, believe me," Emma quipped back and was rewarded with a rich laugh that tumbled from full lips. Ruby's head popped out of the doorway, shock on her face. Emma didn't notice, to busy staring at the beauty in front of her.
Regina smiled softly at Emma and after a moment spoke again, "How's Henry doing?"
Emma glanced to the side before answering, "He's fine. Adjusting well, mostly happy that he was right. He's with Mary Margaret and David at the moment. I needed to be alone for a while." Emma didn't know why she was telling Regina so much; after all, she'd only enquired after Henry's wellbeing and likely didn't want to hear about Emma's personal issues.
Regina raised an eyebrow, "Really? I was so certain that the crown princess would be wanting to spend as much time with Mommy dearest as possible."
Emma stiffened at the sudden change in tone of the conversation. She shifted uncomfortably as Regina plucked invisible lint off of her jacket sleeve, "It can get a bit overwhelming. After all, I've never had a mother before. Or did you forget about that? You know, that whole curse thing where I was sent away to be completely alone for 28 years of my life."
Regina's eyes flashed dangerously. "You seem to be forgetting, Miss Swan," she hissed, "That it was the decision made by your parents that resulted in you being abandoned. I had nothing to do with that."
"Of course!" Emma exclaimed, "I mean, if you'd never come up with that delightful curse, they still would have sent me away anyway, right?"
Regina stayed silent.
"Wait, that doesn't seem right. Oh yeah! They sent me away because if they didn't you would have killed me when I was a baby! That's right, isn't it? You would have slit my throat before I ever got old enough to harm you."
"No," Regina repeated, "I wouldn't have murdered you. As the curse was being enacting, I tried to get to the castle before they sent you away. I wanted you… for myself. I wanted to raise you as my daughter."
Emma was speechless. "You… wanted to raise me? As your daughter?" Regina nodded. Emma snorted, "Well, I guess I don't need to bother with telling you how I feel then!"
"What on earth are you talking about, Miss Swan?" Regina interrupted testily.
"My feelings. For you." Emma explained with a shrug, "I guess it doesn't matter anyway, but… They're romantic. I have romantic feelings for you."
Although outwardly she seemed calm and uncaring, inside Emma was falling apart. She was desperately waiting for a response, for any indication of how Regina was coping with this news. If she felt the same.
Regina laughed, but it didn't fill Emma with the warmth she had experienced the first time. This laugh was cold and cruel, making Emma want to run and hide.
"Miss Swan, how touching!" Regina exclaimed, every inch the queen, "But you'd have to be delirious if you would even consider me returning these feelings, dear."
She leant across the table, a cruel smirk on her lips, "You're pathetic." Emma visibly recoiled, hurt crossing her features. Regina's eyes widened marginally and for a fraction of a second, Emma thought she saw an expression of regret. They were interrupted as Ruby approached the table warily, a plate in her hand and a wobbly smile on her lips. "Madam Mayor?" she addressed Regina, mostly out of habit, "Are you eating here, or…?"
Regina stood abruptly, walking back to her previous table. Ruby glanced at Emma before following dutifully and setting the plate down. Emma flopped backwards in the seat, emotionally drained. Ruby sat back down across from her.
"Hey, Rubes… about that relationship thing…"
"Oh!" Ruby exclaimed, "It doesn't have to be a relationship, Mary Margaret doesn't have to know! Unless you want it to be, and that's the problem. Because I'd totally be fine with that! A relationship, I mean. Because the sex is, well, amazing and I really like you Emma, so if you did want to… it's fine if you don't too, we can keep it like it is, or- I'm rambling. So, uh, what do you think?"
Emma bit her lip slightly in thought, Ruby's nervous laughter filling the diner. She looked up to see a strange expression on Regina's face.
She couldn't be thinking… No, Regina's not jealous. That's ridiculous. What she just said, she meant every word. She could never feel that way about me.
Emma tore her gaze away from Regina and back to Ruby's hopeful expression. A relationship with Ruby? She was right, the sex was pretty amazing, but again Emma wondered if she could ever love Ruby like she may love Regina.
Of course, who's to say she loves either of them? It could be nothing more than an infatuation where Regina's concerned and she could have a good thing with Ruby…
Emma decided then and there; she would try it.
"I said okay. Let's try it," Emma smiled tentatively, "I want to try being with you, officially. So, how about a date? Next Friday?"
Ruby was stunned, her lips slightly parted. She nodded dumbly.
Emma gave her a tight smile and muttered "Great." She quickly made her excuses and stood up. Chancing one more look at Regina, green met brown eyes and Emma felt her heart skip a beat.
Opening the door of the diner Emma stepped out into the night rain. Her bug was parked halfway down the road but she didn't hurry. Instead she walked slower than usual, contemplating what had just happened.
Deep down, Emma knew that she didn't feel the same way that Ruby seemed to. She was a friend, the casual sex worked, but a relationship? Glancing back towards the diner sent a pang of hurt through her as she thought of Regina. Regina had laughed at her, called her pathetic. She shouldn't want to be going out on a date with Regina, the woman is pure evil. And yet she couldn't help herself.
Shaking her head, Emma trudged towards the car. The sound of heels on wet pavement made her pause. Turning on her heel she was completely unprepared for Regina Mills to fling herself into Emma's arms, planting her lips on Emma's sloppily. For a long moment Emma didn't react. She was stunned and somewhat unable to believe what was happening. As her heart thundered in her chest Emma pulled herself together enough to return this kiss.
Eventually Regina pulled her away. Her chest was heaving and her hair was starting to stick to her face thanks to the downpour they were stood in.
"I didn't mean it." Regina said.
"What I said – I didn't mean it. You're not pathetic and I do return your feelings. I want to be with you. I heard you conversation with Ruby, about the date, and I want you to break it off with her and be with me." Regina stated, trying to inject some level of authority into her voice. It ended up sounding like a question.
Emma hugged herself slightly. She felt… nothing. Regina had told her how she felt, and Emma felt nothing. After the kiss it was like she had become numb. She got what she wanted and now she didn't need anything else.
"It doesn't work like that, Regina. I care about Ruby. First and foremost, she's my friend, while you-"
"You don't have feelings for her," Regina jutted her chin out confidently, "but you do for me."
Emma remained silent, neither confirming nor denying Regina's accusation. She couldn't have spoken then if her life depended on it.
"Emma," Regina murmured, "You don't need to break up with her. Be with me just once, have an affair, whatever you want. Eventually you'll get tired of her and come to be with me exclusively. I'm happy to wait."
As Regina turned and strutted back into the diner, Emma glanced at her bug. She walked home, thinking of her upcoming date with Ruby and the mind-blowing kiss with Regina. When she was back at the apartment, she was soaked to the bone and heavy with the knowledge that she didn't feel anything for either of them.
In the diner, a cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon and whipped cream sat on a table. It was already cold.