Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters
AN: This is inspired from a Tumblr prompt which I'll reveal at the end of the fic for suspense's sake. I'm actually very excited to be writing this, so for the anon who gave me the prompt, thank you! For those of you reading Some Hope After All (if you haven't check it out!), my midterms are officially done tomorrow, so the fourth chapter will be up hopefully by next week. Happy reading!
Regina woke up, surprisingly well-rested. She had been sleeping well for over a month now, and it was all thanks to the blonde woman lying on her stomach beside her. It had been a long, painstakingly difficult journey during the month the blonde and her mother were trapped in the Enchanted Forest with no means of return. It was during this time where the absence Regina and Emma both felt for the other became more pronounced.
Upon Emma's return, the two women discussed, almost awkwardly, what occurred in their respective realms during their time spent apart. It was here they realized that they missed the other's presence almost ridiculously so. Missing turned to longing, with longing turning to loving, and loving evolved into determination to return home. As they shared in their first tender and still hesitant kiss that night, they knew it was true when they said absence makes the heart grow fonder.
The Charmings were not pleased, to say the least, when they accidentally stumbled upon the couple sneaking a kiss a couple weeks later, and it made Mary Margaret cringe to realize that it was Regina Emma was sneaking out in the middle of the night to see. They still didn't trust the brunette, despite her path to redemption, but after their daughter gave them hell about not caring whether they liked her or not, David and Mary Margaret learned to tolerate her.
Despite their tolerance, they refused to allow Henry, or Emma for that matter, to move back in with Regina. They couldn't stop their daughter from leaving in the middle of the night and returning just before the crack of dawn, but they could prevent her from moving her belongings into the house of the woman that ruined their happy ending.
Although it angered Mary Margaret when she didn't bother coming home in the morning, Emma couldn't care less and continued spending most nights in Regina's bed.
Regina grinned when the blonde moved closer to her in her sleep and wrapped an arm around her middle, unconsciously nuzzling her face against Regina's torso. She brushed stray hairs from her lover's face as the blonde's eyes slowly opened. "Morning."
Emma groaned into her neck. "Easy for you to say. You don't have to work anymore."
"I imagine your job is much more appealing than being home alone all day," Regina teased.
Emma smirked and leaned up to kiss her full lips. "Should I call in sick?"
"Your mother will have your head," the brunette reminded and slipped out of the bed.
At the mention of her mother, Emma rolled over to check her phone, expecting a million and one messages from Mary Margaret expressing her annoyance and concern. She wasn't disappointed in finding the numerous missed calls, but she was surprised when she saw a message from August. According to various residents, Marco included, he was nowhere to be found since the curse broke. That had been nearly two months ago. But here he was now, just as mysterious as when he first arrived to Storybrooke, with a seemingly urgent text message.
We need to talk.
She sat up in the bed and eyed the message with a confused expression.
"What is it?" Regina asked when she noticed the blonde's face.
"It's August," Emma said almost making the statement sound like a question.
"What does he want?" Neither woman could deny the venom in Regina's voice. The older woman was all too aware of the flirtatious advances the man had thrust upon Emma months before.
Emma got out of bed with a shrug. "He wants to talk."
Emma laughed and made her way over to the brunette. She leaned over Regina where she sat at her vanity and caught her attention through the mirror. "If I knew that he would have said it."
Regina glared at the blonde's amusement and finished brushing her hair, purposely whipping strands in Emma's face. Emma smirked and pried Regina's fingers away from the brush and set it on the table. "When I find out, you'll be the first to know."
Not even an hour after Emma left to go to work, she returned to the mansion, slamming the door enough to shake the house.
Regina, who was in the parlor reading Addiction and Recovery for Dummies as requested by Archie, lowered the book in time to see Emma walk by the open concept, wringing her hands and muttering. By the sound of glasses tinkering, she had gone directly to Regina's liquor cabinet.
The brunette marked her place in the book and replaced it on the bookshelf before leaving to find the Sheriff.
She caught Emma draining a glass of bourbon and already moving to pour herself another one. Striding purposefully, she halted the blonde's movement of pouring a drink and forced her to meet her gaze. "What's wrong?"
The fire behind Emma's green eyes was still present, but it was evident the blonde was doing her best not to misdirect her anger. She unconsciously took a step closer to Regina, shaking her head in an attempt to ease her mind. "August."
"What did he do?" The threat in Regina's tone didn't go unnoticed.
"He, apparently, knows a lot more about me than he cared to share," Emma huffed and began pacing in front of Regina. The older woman waited until Emma stopped her pacing and watched uncertainly as Emma looked pained and confused. The blonde closed her eyes and exhaled. "He knows Henry's dad."
"What?" Regina demanded with wide eyes, politeness completely thrown out the window.
Words escaped the usually quick-witted woman. Instead, she stared blankly at Emma before finding her voice. "You mean, he's here?"
Emma nodded, pressing a palm to her forehead in an attempt to keep the imminent headache at bay. "In Storybrooke. I went to go see what August wanted, and when I got to Granny's, there he was with him."
"What did you say?" Regina questioned.
"Nothing," Emma admitted. "As soon as I saw him I left."
Regina nodded before an idea came to fruition. "Invite him over."
Emma did a double take. "I'm sorry?"
"You heard me. Invite him over."
"Why?" Emma looked at Regina like she was crazy, which currently, she was.
"Dear, I've been the Mayor for twenty-eight years. If there's one thing I know how to do, it's work people," Regina grinned with a politician's smile. "We'll meet with him on our terms."
"We will?" Emma's dumbfounded grin appeared on her face.
"Yes. We will."
Regina was just as nervous and agitated as Emma was. While the blonde fidgeted with the hem of her shirt fighting the urge for a drink - she needed to remain as sober as possible for this exchange - Regina sat poised and calm despite the frantic 'what ifs' running through her mind.
It was only yesterday Regina had proposed the idea of inviting the other half of Henry's gene pool over to discuss some things, and simply by watching the range of emotions Emma was currently employing, shifting from nervousness to anger to anxiousness, did she begin to doubt herself.
But she had to make sure. She had to be sure that this man wasn't here to take away the only two things that brought her any happiness.
The knock on the door jarred the couple from their thoughts. Catching the other's eyes briefly, Regina stood, straightened her slacks and made her way to the door.
The man standing on the other side of the door gave her a dumbfounded look as if lost. "Sorry, does Emma Swan live here?"
"Yes," Regina said finding no need to clarify the situation. She extended her hand professionally. "Regina Mills."
"Neal Cassidy." He shook the proffered hand, surprised at the strength the woman had behind it.
Regina gave a curt smile, mentally sizing up the man before her. He was well-dressed, she'd give him that. Wearing a pressed white dress shirt, grey slacks and leather loafers, he looked like a worthy adversary if it weren't for his lack of haircut and the scruff on his jaw. There was a crinkle to his eyes when he smiled that reminded the brunette so much of Henry. The reality of the situation struck Regina hard. She inclined her head motioning for the man to follow.
"Emma lives here?" He asked, looking up at the vast ceilings and rooms so pristine they looked like they came out of a catalogue.
"Yes," Emma answered from the parlor, leaning against the frame of the entrance with her arms crossed.
Regina made her way to stand beside the blonde. She watched Neal carefully when he smiled, soaking in what the past ten years had done to the woman before him. It unnerved her to no end.
"Emma," Neal grinned, stepping towards her. "You look. . .wow."
Emma uncrossed her arms. "You look wow? That's what you have to say for yourself."
Regina smirked proud at Emma's tone which caused the grin to be wiped off the man's face in an instant.
"You left me to take the wrap for you so you can go off and escape to Canada and live your perfect happy life!" Emma yelled, advancing with each step. "Was that your plan all along? String along a stupid 17-year old girl and leave her waiting for you like an idiot?"
"No, that wasn't it," Neal said exasperated, holding Emma's arms as if to make her understand.
She ripped herself out of his grasp and pushed him away. "That's exactly what you did. I was alone, in jail, and I was pregnant."
The words left Emma's mouth before she had the sense of mind to hold onto them. She hadn't meant to reveal that bit of information until she knew for sure what Neal was up to.
The news made him freeze. "What? You were- we were gonna have a baby?" He stepped closer, his hands stretching out to Emma's stomach as if she was still carrying.
Emma stepped away from him, closer to Regina. "No. We weren't."
Regina could see the blonde shaking. The tell-tale sign of her clutching her arms around herself and profusely shaking her head had Regina stepping forward to clutch Emma's arm reassuringly.
Neal looked to Regina and asked as polite as possible. "Can you give us a minute?"
Regina opened her mouth to scoff at him when Emma turned. Her eyes were sad and pleading. "Please?"
The brunette searched Emma's eyes for any sign of reluctance, but all she saw was a desperate cry for a moment alone. Regina nodded minutely, squeezing Emma's palms in her hands and briefly contemplated kissing the blonde just to prove to this Neal Cassidy that Emma was already spoken for, but instead she gave a quick glare to the man and headed upstairs.
"Who's she?" Neal asked, following Emma into the parlor where she sat on the furthest possible couch.
"Regina. She's. . ." the title died on Emma's lips. Despite being together for a month, Emma and Regina hadn't talked about their relationship status. They basically lived together as girlfriends, raised Henry together as mothers, but she wasn't sure if Regina was ready to call themselves an exclusive couple regardless of the entire town knowing of their relationship.
Neal's eyes widened in understanding. "Oh. It really has been a long time, huh?"
Emma rolled her eyes, pulling her legs to her chest.
"So this kid," Neal began.
"Henry," Emma corrected.
"Henry?" Neal asked.
"Regina named him after her father," Emma explained.
Neal furrowed his brow in confusion.
"It's complicated," Emma dismissed with a wave of her hand. "What are you doing here?"
"I know," Neal said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "I know about everything." He extended his arms in a shrug. "Well almost everything."
"What are you talking about?"
"The curse, Emma," Neal explained. "Magic."
Emma gaped at her ex-boyfriend.
"Listen," Neal spoke softly, getting up from his chair to sit at the other end of Emma's couch. "I had to leave you back then. If I didn't, you wouldn't have come here and you wouldn't have broken the curse. It was your destiny."
"You had to?" Emma scoffed. "You had to control my life and dictate how I'd end up. I gave birth in a jail cell, Neal."
He ran his hand through his hair and looked to the ground. His biggest regret in leaving Emma felt heavier on his shoulders just imagining what she had gone through for the past ten years. He looked up and spoke, his voice raspy and hesitant. "I never stopped loving you."
"Don't." Emma stood abruptly. "You do not get to come waltzing back into my life like nothing's changed."
Neal watched as she stomped over to the front door and held it open for him. He sighed and walked over. Lingering by Emma in the open doorway, he dared to put his palm against her cheek but wasn't surprised when she moved it away. "Call me? Just to talk or whatever. I really want to catch up. And meet Henry."
Emma made a noise of acknowledgment before shutting the door on her past.
Neal shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked down the sidewalk and away from the mansion. He sighed and watched his footsteps, millions of questions running through his mind. Emma plays for the other team now? We have a son? Is she happier?
The questions rotated in his mind when he heard a crash and a yelp. He looked up, running towards a boy toppled over by his bike.
"Hey, kid," Neal said and lifted the bike off of him. "You all right? That was a bad fall there, bud. What's your name?"
The boy looked up at him with familiar brown eyes. "Henry."
Every Wednesday, Regina and Emma would meet Henry at Granny's diner for dinner. Snow insisted that they be in public because who knew what kind of spell the brunette would put on the Savior and her son.
This particular Wednesday, Emma and Regina needed to get out of the house. Emma knew Regina wasn't happy that she had sent her away in order to talk privately with Neal, and Regina knew Emma was still shaken up by his arrival. So as soon as the couple had calmed to the best of their abilities, they left the mansion and walked towards the diner.
They waited a good fifteen minutes for their son to arrive. He had been spending so much time at the stables that sometimes time escaped him. While it unnerved Regina whenever Henry was late, she had to admit that she was quite proud of the fact that she and Henry shared a passion together. They'd discuss horses for hours on end whenever they were lucky enough to get time or phone calls together, and it lightened Regina's heart to know that this was the one thing Henry could come to her for.
The couple sat in their usual booth waiting for the pre-teen when the familiar ding of the door opening caught their attention. Henry immediately found his mothers and walked over to them as if being late was a natural occurrence. They, however, took in his scraped knees and bandaged hands with parted lips.
"Dear, God, what happened to you?" Regina asked, pushing against Emma to be let out of the booth. She bent in front of her son and inspected his shallow abrasions.
"The other guy better be worse," Emma said in an attempt not to coddle him.
Regina glared at her joke.
"I fell off my bike," Henry explained. "I'm okay though. Neal helped me."
Both women halted their movements at the name.
"Neal?" Emma asked cautiously.
As if on cue, the man in question entered the diner. His once pristine dress shirt was ripped at the cuffs, and it was then Emma noticed the bandages wrapped around Henry's hand were once part of the man's shirt. Neal walked up to the family, his hands already up in a sign of peace. "I saw him fall. Thought I could help."
Regina straightened and held her son against her. Henry didn't need to look up to know his brunette mother was glaring at the man. "Thank you for the help, Mr. Cassidy. I'll be sure to reimburse you for your shirt."
Neal grinned and ruffled Henry's hair. "Don't worry about it. It's just a shirt."
Emma stepped forward, putting herself between her past and her present. "Whatever you told him, you do not get a right to him."
"Tell me what?" Henry piped up from Regina's grasp.
All the adults looked at the young boy, his eyes confused and inquisitive. Neal took a knee in front of the boy and put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm your father."
Let me know what you guys think so far! Critiques and comments are always welcome!