Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters.
AN: Because I'm still not over Sunday. Also, big thank you to Korderoo who went over this. Much appreciated! Much thanks to marynesq over on Tumblr for the fantastic cover art :)
"Funny seeing you here."
"I could say the same for you, Miss Swan."
Emma slipped off from the hood of her car when she saw headlights in the distance. On clear nights like tonight, the Saviour found herself driving to the edge of the town line just sitting on her car, glaring at the orange painted line. The precarious nature of the deal enacted over a year ago prevented outsiders from coming in, simultaneously meaning that those on the inside couldn't leave the town.
It seemed like a solid deal at first, the old protection of the curse while casting the Evil Queen out, but as the weeks progressed and the confines of the small town enclosed in, Emma felt the cabin fever settle in. More than once she poked a finger over the town line only to whip her hand back from a furious shock.
So she sat and stared at what was out there, wondering if this was all worth it, only to be trapped in a simple town for the rest of her life. She had a family back home, parents and a son, everything she wanted. Then why was she feeling this unexplainable emptiness in her heart? Perhaps she was used to it. Perhaps it was what she was familiar with, and the sheer idea of Emma Swan being complete was too unnerving that she looked for ways to feel empty.
But when she saw headlights pull in, headlights that shouldn't have found their way to the secluded town, Emma felt her heart beat faster in anticipation. Maybe the spell was faltering. Maybe she could leave. It wasn't until the car slowed to the edge of the line did she recognize the Benz.
The two shifted awkwardly, the divide of the line separating them as they stood by their cars less than ten feet away from middle ground.
"What are you doing here?" Emma asked.
"I wasn't aware they had the Saviour keep watch over unwanted intruders," Regina replied smartly, tugging her trench coat tighter around her bodice.
"They don't. Nothing gets in."
Neither could deny the sadness in Emma's tone, how trapped the wanderer felt, but the harshness that Regina spoke only mirrored the blonde's emotions.
"So what are you doing here?" The Sheriff asked again.
Regina glared at the orange line before directing it to the woman on the other side. "Nothing. Good night, Ms. Swan."
Emma didn't stop her when she turned and sat back in her car, watching the red of her tail lights fade into the distance.
Three nights later, Regina returned to the border and just sat in the nippy chill that her Benz was becoming when she shut her engine off half an hour ago. Her fingers clutched the steering wheel so hard she was sure she had indented the tough leather.
How did it become like this? She wanted this. She wanted a fresh start, and what better way to do it than to get away from the people who had wanted her head on a pike. She still had an open connection with Henry, phone calls and letters exchanged between the two regularly over the year, but it wasn't the same. It was never the same as soon as she drove over the town line.
Her magic was stripped, her memory intact, but when she saw Henry peaking his head from the backseat of Emma's cruiser with wide eyes, she knew she couldn't leave him, even if it was the best for him. The spell cloaking the New England town had two purposes: keeping its location a secret, and keeping the Evil Queen out.
Sometimes Regina wished they put her head on a pike.
She had stopped crying months ago when the reality that she could never set foot inside Storybrooke again settled in. She wasn't angry, she wasn't scared. All she felt was that void in her heart grow bigger and bigger, consuming her in the emptiness that she was banished to.
Her head whipped up as the sound of an exhaust backfiring cut through the once silent night as two small circular lights shone in the distance, one brighter than the other and less skewed. She sighed heavily when she noticed who had arrived and promptly stepped out of her car.
"Again, Ms. Swan?"
"I could say the same for you." Emma slammed her door shut, hip checking it when it protested with a rusty creak. "Plotting ways to invade?"
Regina scoffed and held her head high. "As you may be aware, my magic was taken from me, and I'm not one to go back on my deals. What brings you here again, Sheriff?"
Emma stuffed her hands deep into her jean pockets, kicking rocks as she inched away from her bug but still kept a healthy distance away from the border. "Stuff."
"Am I interrupting a drug exchange or a romantic affair?"
Emma rolled her eyes and stopped in her place. "Neither." She looked as if she had more to say but shook her head. "Night, Regina."
As soon as the blonde turned, Regina pushed off from the bumper of her Benz and lifted a hand as if she could pull Emma back. "Wait."
The Sheriff stilled and turned slowly, her features softened in questioning.
The brunette cleared her throat and ran her hands through her hair, tucking the errant strands behind her ears. "How's Henry?"
Emma nodded in understanding. "He's okay. Haven't you been talking to him?"
"Of course, but I only know what he tells me," reasoned the older woman.
"David, my dad, he's been teaching him how to wield a sword."
A moment of concern brushed over Regina's face, a moment that Emma inevitably caught. "He's good though. No sliced off hands. He's a little clumsy, but he gets that from me."
The unspoken heritage issue hung in the air between them. The silence stretched on making the blonde uncomfortable as she shifted from foot-to-foot. She pointed to the bug behind her. "I should go."
"Right." Regina nodded, making her way to her own car.
The nights were beginning to warm up for the upcoming Spring season, but that didn't stop the random drops in temperature occurring in Storybrooke, Maine. It also didn't stop the town from feeling smaller and smaller, and it sure as hell didn't stop Emma from waking up from yet another restless sleep and getting into her bug to drive to the town line.
This time she wasn't surprised to see Regina's Benz on the opposite side of the line. She was surprised, however, to find the brunette sitting on top of the hood of her car in the chilly temperature just staring up at the sky above her. Regina didn't move from her spot when Emma pulled her car up. Instead, Emma grabbed a blanket from the backseat of her car, wrapped herself in a tight bundle and sat on her hood, staring at the stars.
No words were spoken. No 'hellos', 'what are you doing here?' or accusations. They just sat on their hoods for hours in the cold, dark night watching the stars brighten then fade as dawn approached.
"Ms. Swan," Regina greeted politely as she pulled up to the town line. She furrowed her brow when she found the blonde Sheriff lying length-wise along the line, her hands clasp over her stomach as she stared up above her. "What on earth are you doing?"
"What's it like?" Emma asked in a hushed tone.
"I beg your pardon?" After months of moving from sitting in her car to on her hood, Regina finally had the sense to bring a collapsible chair which she opened five feet away from the blonde.
"The outside world. What's going on out there?" Emma was positioned so close to the line that one wrong move would send her flying back.
Regina smirked amused. "Global warming is still an issue, we now eat our food in capsules, and the zombies are sprouting up one by one."
Emma chuckled despite herself. "Seriously. What's in the news?"
"You would like an update in current events, Ms. Swan?"
"It's suffocating, you know? Knowing that there are six billion people in this world, and I'm going to interact with a thousand of them, tops." Emma shifted her head to the side to look at Regina.
"I didn't peg you as one who enjoyed the vivacious lifestyle of a social butterfly," Regina pointed out dryly.
"Well, I didn't sign up to live in the Twilight Zone, either," Emma argued.
"But, princess," Regina enunciated her title, "you did."
"Not like this. I didn't know it would be like this." The blonde returned to staring up at the stars. "You got the good end of the deal, you know?"
Regina laughed. She truly laughed. Emma thought she might have gone crazy and sat up on her elbows, wincing and scooting away when her arm skimmed the boundary.
"I came out the victor in this situation?" Regina pressed a hand to her chest as her voice rose. "My son is on the other side of this line, and I can't see him. I can't hug him, I can't kiss him good night. Everything I did, everything I worked for, I did it to find my own happiness, and I thought I found it with him."
She shook her head, a grimace appearing on her face. "But no. Once again, the Evil Queen gets her comeuppance, and the only thing I care about, the only thing I love, is a line away from me."
Emma stared wide-eyed at the panting woman, scurrying to stand when Regina shook her head again and folded her chair. Without thinking, Emma stepped forward to chase the brunette, to prevent her from leaving, but the spell kept her from doing such and flung the blonde back fifteen feet. The last she saw of Regina when she lifted her dizzying head was the screech of Regina's tires as she sped back to the interstate.
Emma wasn't surprised when Regina hadn't returned the next night, or the night after that. Still, Emma returned to the borderline, not necessarily waiting for the hum of Regina's Mercedes, but deciding she wouldn't be opposed to some company.
She heard it again a week later, sliding off the hood of her car to walk to the edge of town and waited for the brunette to exit.
"Hi," Emma said sheepishly.
"Ms. Swan," Regina greeted.
"About the other night –"
"No need for apologies," the brunette dismissed as she brought her chair closer to the edge of town, the closest she'd ever been other than to test the effectiveness of the curse. She sat down with a hard thud and stared off into the distance.
Emma watched her for a few moments before retreating to her trunk and pulling out her own chair and blanket, seating herself adjacent to the former Mayor. "Aren't you cold?"
"No," Regina answered. "I've lived in Maine far longer than you have."
They allowed the few moments of silence to settle between them before Emma broke through it. "Henry's on his horse now."
That caught the brunette's attention as her eyebrows rose signalling the blonde to continue. "My dad, me, and Henry went riding a couple of days ago. I couldn't even get up on the thing, but the kid's a natural. It shook him a few times, but he kept getting back on it."
"He's persistent," Regina grinned with pride.
"He did not get his work ethics from me," Emma chuckled. "Thank god you taught him that."
Regina's eyes flashed to the blonde who continued to chuckle. "And then David stepped into this giant pile of dung. It was disgusting."
The brunette's lip tilted upwards in a smile, betraying her attempt to hide her disdain.
"Mary Margaret wouldn't let him in the apartment, so I had to take him to the station to hose him down."
"You would think the shepherd would be used to smelling like animals," Regina quipped.
The two laughed together in the quiet of the night until slowly their laughter died down.
"The town's boring without you," Emma admitted.
"I assume there's been a decline of mobs carrying torches and pitchforks," Regina responded.
"That too," Emma smirked. "You were fun to tease. Snow, she's too serious."
"Tease?" Regina turned to face the blonde. "You were an annoying mosquito that wouldn't die."
"Literally," Emma pointed out ignoring the eye roll of the older woman. "It beats the monotonous routine I find myself in."
"Is that what these late night excursions are for?" Regina asked. "An attempt to run away from the life that you once wished on every star for?"
"I stopped wishing to find my family a long time ago, Regina," Emma said quietly, glancing at the stars. "I mean, I used to wish I wasn't alone, but finding my parents? Henry finding me? I gave up on those before I was done grade school."
"You're clearly not alone now," the older woman pointed out softly.
Emma's hand shifted, the hand closest to Regina. It could have simply been the blonde adjusting her position, but her hand moved just the same as she made eye contact with the woman she had agreed to banish from the town. "Yeah. I'm not alone."
Emma pulled out her blanket and laid it down beside the border, sitting cross-legged and leaning back on her palms. "That's one thing I don't miss about Boston."
"I do find myself craving Granny's fresh scones in the morning. The bakery by my apartment just doesn't live up to par," Regina admitted unfolding her chair. "Why are you on a blanket?"
"It's nice out. Lie down with me." Emma patted the spot beside her.
"There's the simple matter of the invisible electrical fence barring me from your side of the road," Regina reminded the Sheriff.
"Sit on your side," Emma said obviously.
"On the road?" Regina gasped at the audacity of such an idea, clutching the back of her chair firmly.
"No one around for miles to see the former hard ass Mayor sitting on the ground," the blonde teased.
"No one around for miles to hear me scream either?" Regina asked pointedly.
Emma smirked sitting up straighter with a goofy grin on her face. "Now why would you be screaming, Regina?"
The brunette's cheeks flushed at Emma's implication, the blonde obviously misconstruing her statement.
"And like you said," Emma pointed to the line, "invisible electrical fence."
Rolling her eyes, Regina dropped herself into her chair with an petulant glare at the blonde.
"So," Emma leaned back, "tell me about Boston."
"I brought you something." The next night found Emma in nearly the same location as she reached over to the bag beside the blanket pulling out a thermos and pouring herself a cup of hot chocolate into the lid.
"Excuse me?" Regina questioned, eyeing the thermos. "I don't like cinnamon."
"This is mine," Emma gulped the chocolate brew then reached into her bag again.
Regina's eyes widened at the familiar white Granny's take-out bag.
"I got you a scone." The blonde retrieved the pastry. "It's kind of cold now, but it was fresh this morning."
Regina stared at Emma for a long while, squinting at the gesture. "Invisible fence, Ms. Swan."
"I know," Emma replied obviously. "I was gonna be mean and eat it in front of you."
"That I believe you would do."
The Sheriff put the scone back in its bag. "You can have it spiritually."
Regina narrowed her eyes and rubbed her stomach in mockery. "Mm, quite delicious."
"I knew you would like it." She replaced the take-out back in her bag and took another sip of her hot drink before smacking her lips. "So what do you do? Did you get a job or something?"
The brunette shook her head. "I still have my wealth from the curse."
"So you sit at home doing nothing all day long?"
"I wouldn't call it home," Regina said quietly, playing with the ring on her finger.
Emma watched the brunette's movements, fascinated by the raw honesty of such a simple statement. "Yeah. I know that feeling."
Shaking it off, Regina shrugged out of her coat and placed it delicately across her lap. "So what has the mighty Saviour been doing to keep herself busy? Any more dragons to slay?"
Emma snorted. "Just Leroy. As usual. Nothing to report."
"Seriously," Emma said sitting up straighter. "Listen to my day. Wake up. Get Henry food. If we're feeling exciting, we'll stop by Granny's. He goes to school. I go to work. Nothing happens! I pick him up. Mary Margaret calls us over for dinner. I watch re-runs. And then I come here."
"No one tells you to come here," Regina said defensively.
"I know," Emma said obviously. "It's the one thing that I do for me."
Regina stared intently at the blonde, wondering her motive. "So you try to run away every night only to be stopped?" She motioned to the line between them.
Emma shook her head. "No. Not anymore at least."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
The Sheriff shrugged. "You know we've been coming here for a while and we haven't really fought?"
Regina looked taken aback before she thought about it. "I suppose you're right."
The blonde grinned before stretching out on her blanket. "Don't be surprised."
"And yet I am." Regina leaned her head in a fraction of an inch. "Let's just attribute that to the fact that there's a barrier between us."
"Are you saying that you'd rather there not be?" Emma tilted her head in amused questioning.
"If there wasn't and we fought I may be inclined add another bruise to your pretty little face."
"You think my face is pretty?"
Regina rolled her eyes and huffed. "It's an expression, Ms. Swan."
"Yeah, a complimenting one. What's in the water in Boston?"
"I don't want to know," groaned Regina.
Emma grinned, bringing her knees up and resting her elbows on them. Before she could continue any further, her phone rang. Throwing an apologetic look Regina's way, Emma scurried over to her phone and answered. "Sheriff." She sighed. "I'll be right there."
"Dragon?" Regina asked.
"The drunkest." Emma replaced her phone and stood. She looked from her spot on the ground to the woman on the other side of the line still nestled comfortably in her chair. She finally rested her gaze on the brunette before shaking her head and began gathering her belongings. Holding the awkward bundle in her arms, Emma nodded. "See you later?"
Regina offered a tight smile, but a smile nonetheless, and nodded in return.
Emma had returned to the spot two hours later hoping that Regina would still be there. She couldn't understand why she felt so disappointed that she wasn't.
Right around ten, Regina returned to the boundary line, finding Emma already spread out on her blanket, right against the edge. Her phone was beside her head playing soft music as the blonde sung along under her breath. She lifted her head when Regina flapped out her own blanket and let it lie along the edge of the line. Without a word, the older woman removed her coat from the warm weather, protected by a fitted woolen sweater and laid down on top, her head opposite the blonde's. Emma just smirked and went back down, continuing to hum to her music.
Three songs played before Regina broke the comfortable silence. "I paint."
"Hmm?" Emma tilted her head to the side, staring at the profile of the older woman's face.
"I paint. In my apartment," Regina explained. "It passes the time."
"What do you paint?"
"Just makes you get lost in them, huh?" Emma commented casually, not quite comprehending the slight intake of breath coming from the woman beside her.
"Like running," the brunette replied turning her head to face the blonde who still remained staring.
"Yeah, except better," Emma nodded minutely. Another song filled the air until Emma pointed up at the sky. "See that?"
"The stars?" Regina questioned obviously.
"Not all of them," the blonde huffed impatiently at Regina's attempt to make her look stupid. She traced the sky with her finger, inching as close as she could for the brunette to follow. "Those stars right there. Kind of looks like a house?"
Against her better judgment, Regina squinted and raised her own hand to trace what she saw. "Right there?"
"Yeah." They both brought their hands down as Emma continued to speak. "That's Libra. The Scales."
"Your sign, I presume?"
The blonde shook her head. "I'm an Aquarius."
"What's your point then?" Both women remained looking up at the constellation.
"It's the scales, represents justice," Emma explained, gesturing scales with her hands. "The Greeks say that when a person dies, their heart gets weighed, and if it's light, they go up with the gods and become part of the sky."
"And if it's heavy?" Regina asked ominously.
"They were sent to Hades."
Regina turned her head slowly to face the blonde who returned the gesture. "Hades isn't so bad."
"He's the King of the Underworld."
Emma pointed up at Libra again. "It also represents Hades' chariot, the one that kidnapped Persephone when he brought her to the Underworld."
"You're not exactly selling me on visiting the Underworld, Ms. Swan," the brunette quipped.
Emma playfully glared, making a face telling the older woman to hush. "I don't think he's a bad guy. People just think that because he rules the dead."
"What makes you think he's a good guy?"
"Because out of all the gods he was the only one to be married to one woman," the Sheriff reasoned. "And she became Queen. I mean, do you hear people calling Hera Queen of the Gods?"
"He kidnapped her," the former Mayor pointed out.
"She only screamed when she couldn't see the light anymore," Emma said. "Up until then she was fine."
"So what you're saying is that Hades, King of the Underworld, God of death, has the best marriage and is just misunderstood?" Regina raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, her lip twitching in amusement.
Emma just shrugged and turned back towards the sky. "I used to think he had it right."
Regina glanced at her watch. It was already quarter to eleven, and she wasn't entirely sure why she felt so anxious. It wasn't like she and Emma made plans out of these meetings. They were purely coincidental. She huffed and stood from her chair, preparing to fold it. Glancing up across the boundary one more time, she saw a small speck in the distance fast approaching. She squinted and edged her way to the border.
Sure enough, a mane of wild blonde hair flew in the distance as the Sheriff sprinted towards the boundary.
"Emma?" Regina said to herself as the blonde got closer and closer.
Finally she arrived, panting and out of breath and doubled over with her hands on her knees to catch her breath. "Sorry," Emma gasped out. "No." She breathed in deeply. "Car."
Regina could almost laugh with how disheveled the blonde looked, her hair a mess and her stuffed satchel hanging limply around her front.
Finally processing Emma's presence, Regina's eyes widened. "You walked here?"
Emma just nodded, putting her hands on her hips and pacing back and forth to open her airways.
"That's over five miles."
"Yeah?" Emma asked not really caring.
"Why on earth would you do that?" Regina asked appalled.
Her breathing had finally settled. "Told you. My time."
"Where is your car?" Regina asked with too much concern in her tone for her liking.
"Yeah, about that. . ."
Regina crossed her arms knowing for sure this would be an interesting story.
Emma scratched her head and mumbled. "I kind of set it on fire?"
"Is that a question?" Regina asked amused and astounded.
"No, no I did," the blonde conceded.
"And how, may I ask, did you manage such a feat?"
"I've been practicing my magic," Emma explained with wild hand gestures. "And then it kind of just. ." She opened her fists suddenly mimicking an explosion. "Lit up."
Regina threw her head back an inch in laughter.
"It's not funny!"
"Forgive me," Regina smirked. "It's about time that car retired."
Emma shook her head and removed her bag, pulling out the blanket and setting it on the ground. "You staying?"
Regina hesitated a moment, watching the blonde set up before opening her chair.
Regina waited in the headlights of her Benz, sitting cross-legged on a blanket as she watched the seconds of her wristwatch tick away.
11:30. Where was Emma?
The brunette crossed her arms over her eyes and groaned. Why did she even care? All she wanted when she began coming to Storybrooke's town border was to get as close as possible to Henry, not to meet up with the woman whose family ruined everything. She was not disappointed. No. Not in the slightest. She looked at her watch again. 11:33.
Regina waited well past midnight, but Emma never showed.
By the time the former Mayor returned to the town line the next night, the cruiser was already parked on Storybrooke's side of the line with Emma leaning against the hood, her hands stuffed in her pockets and her head down.
Concerned, though Regina would attest that she was merely curiously, the brunette pulled up as close as possible and walked just a little faster to the edge of the line. "Ms. Swan?"
Emma looked up, her right eye a distended colour of purple and green. "Hi."
"Dear god, what happened?" Regina stepped forward, only to whip herself back at the shock of the magic. She growled but stepped closer again, watching her footing this time.
Emma shrugged and removed her hands from her pockets, lifting a duffel bag she had left on the ground. "Just had to break up a fight last night. Spent the night getting looked at. Hazards of the job, you know?"
Regina raised an eyebrow not entirely believing the blonde's words. It wasn't until Emma fluffed out her blanket did she notice the Sheriff's right hand was wrapped up. The brunette set her own blanket on the ground and motioned to Emma's hand. "I suppose that's part of your job description as well?"
Emma looked to where Regina was pointing and held up the hand. "Beats doing paperwork."
"Nothing. So you planning on showing me one of your paintings one day?"
"If it was nothing you wouldn't have a problem boasting about your fight," the older woman pointed out. "Or did you lose?"
Emma smirked bringing her knees up and resting her arms on them. "No, you should see the other guy."
"Who was it?"
"No one you know."
Regina gave the blonde a condescending stare.
Emma sighed. "Jefferson."
Regina automatically tensed but narrowed her eyes in confusion. "What did he do? He has his daughter back."
"Pretty sure Henry has a crush on her," the Sheriff noted in an attempt to change the subject. Emma held for a good minute under Regina's scrutinizing gaze before finally breaking. "He said some things I didn't agree with."
She made eye contact with the older woman on the other side of the line. "Not very nice things about you."
Emma was sure that some sort of freezing spell was placed on the brunette for Regina didn't move after Emma's admission. "Look, I kind of lost my temper with him, he did kidnap me, so it was probably due to that but –"
"Why would you do that?" Regina questioned, her tone harsh and her voice higher.
"What are you getting at?" Regina stood, her heels planted firmly in the ground as she glared menacingly at the blonde who scurried to stand.
"Why the hell are you mad? I stood up for you," Emma pointed out.
"You're about a year too late for defending me, Ms. Swan."
"Come on, I'm suffering from this stupid curse just as much as the next guy. What, I'm just supposed to let people run their mouth about you?"
"Just because you're the Saviour does not mean you can interfere with my life!" Regina's sudden burst of anger had Emma's head reeling. "I can protect myself."
Emma stood to the side and motioned to the stretch of road behind her. "Then come over here and kick Jefferson's ass."
The brunette growled. "Ms. Swan, I believe you're confusing these meetings as something of a friendship, and rest assured, you will not need to 'protect' me any further."
If Emma wasn't so confused and angry at Regina being angry, she would have laughed as the brunette grumbled under her breath, whipping up the blanket in her arms and stalking towards her car. Just before she got in, Emma called after her. "Just because you can protect yourself doesn't mean you should stop other people from trying."
Regina whipped her head back at Emma, and for a brief moment, Emma thought she saw something reflected in brown eyes. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light, but she was pretty sure she saw real emotion from Regina Mills.
Two days later, Regina returned close to midnight. She knew she overreacted, but there was only so long she could be in the presence of Emma Swan before fires started. She was almost surprised when she saw the cruiser on the edge of the line, Emma lying down on the roof.
She saw Emma sit up as she approached, positioning her car in a similar fashion as Emma's. When she got out, she stared up on the roof.
"Thinking about it?" Emma smirked.
"I am not climbing up there," Regina decided and hopped up on her hood.
The blonde lay back down. "Suit yourself."
After Emma's story about the constellation, Regina found herself searching up more legends and myths about them, fascinated at their tale. She imagined Orion, easily found the Big Dipper and almost kicked herself in the head at being unable to locate Cassiopeia.
For hours they sat in silence, and by the time Regina processed the fact, she looked over to see that Emma had fallen asleep on the roof of her car. The blonde was curled up, knees to her chest, atrocious red leather jacket draped over her as a blanket and on her side facing Regina.
How long had Emma been staring at her before she fell asleep?
Shaking it off, Regina slid off her hood and inched her car back toward the interstate until she put it in brake and stepped out again. She found a rock and began to draw in the road just off of the border. Wiping off her hands from the gravel, she drove back to Boston leaving the Sheriff who would wake up in two hours by almost rolling off of her car and would see the message on the road.
"I wanted to show you something."
The two women lay on the road before Regina sat up slightly and rummaged in her tote bag. She pulled out an 8x11 canvas before lying back down and held it up for the blonde to see.
"You painted that?" Emma raised her hand to touch the canvas, a scene of a long winding road and just off into the distance almost imperceptibly so did the road split into two, but realised her error just in time, bringing her hand back dejectedly. "That's really good."
"Thank you," Regina whispered with a hint of pride in her voice. She sat up and replaced the painting, pulling out another one. "Here's another."
This one was a meadow filled with wild flowers of all sorts of colours. This time Emma couldn't help herself when she tried to touch a particularly detailed daffodil in the forefront of the painting before electricity shot through her, making her yelp and skid back a few feet.
"Emma!" Regina scurried up and yelled. She made a movement to go after her, but the buzz of magic on the borderline reminded her she would meet the same fate. "Emma!"
The blonde groaned and picked herself up slowly. "I'm okay. Stupid move."
The brunette shook her head. "How do you keep doing that?"
Emma limped back towards the line. "I wanted to see, so sue me." Gently, Emma raised her hand to the invisible barrier. She winced when it tingled through her palm. "Damn."
"Perhaps one day your magic will be enough to break it down," Regina joked.
Their eyes met meaningfully.
"Did you bring a flashlight?"
"Yes, though I don't see the point."
Emma walked towards Regina with her own flashlight in her hand when she turned it on and shone it into the forest. "I thought we could take a walk. Road's breaking my back."
The brunette tilted her head to the side, gawking at the blonde then at the darkness that was Storybrooke's forest. She huffed when Emma didn't wait for an answer, instead just proceeded to walk towards the thick brushes of trees, keeping to her side of the line. Sighing, Regina followed, turning on her light creating enough glow ahead of them with the help of Emma's Sheriff-issued lamp.
Emma picked up a stick as they entered the wood and let it drag on the ground, creating a line that extended from the orange painted boundary. The only sound that surfaced was the rustling of the trees and the soft snap of twigs underneath their feet.
"I am not wearing the proper footwear for this excursion," Regina bemoaned the fact that her heels were now ruined.
"What are you doing wearing heels for? You paint, isn't it law to have paint all over your clothes and to be a struggling artist?" Emma teased.
Regina glared as they got to a clearing. "Why did you want to walk?"
"No one to hear you scream," the blonde smirked. She laughed but moved quickly when it looked like Regina was about to turn back. "Come on, it's nice."
Biting her lip, the brunette relented as they continued their walk in the woods, talking of mundane yet meaningful topics as the minutes ticked by.
"So I was thinking," Emma began when they made their way back to the road.
The Sheriff stopped her track and dug her boot into the dirt. "I was thinking, maybe you'd like to meet up tomorrow."
Regina furrowed her brow in confusion, not wanting to admit that it was a given. The only possible conclusion she could come up with made her eyebrows shoot up. "Like a date?"
Emma whipped her head up wide eyed. "What? No – I mean, wait? You would? I was gonna ask something else, but yeah?"
The brunette flushed red, grateful for the darkness of the forest when she realized her mistake. "What were you going to ask?"
"During the day, meet me at the line. I'll have a surprise," Emma answered.
It was clear neither woman wanted to bring up the mis-communication nor had any sense to realize how much they both wanted it.
Regina nodded. "I'll be here."
At noon the next day, Regina drove up to the boundary line feeling rather nervous. It was the first time she would be meeting Emma in broad daylight, and though she always looked more than presentable, the brunette found herself to be self-conscious about what to wear for the day.
As soon as she pulled up and watched the Sheriff step out of the cruiser, she gasped when the passenger door opened up and her little, well not so little anymore, boy slid out of the passenger seat. She pushed the brakes suddenly when she saw Henry, now thirteen and puberty hitting him hard. He had grown at least a foot, his face sporting a few unfortunate pimples and he seemed to be tripping over his ever growing feet. She rushed out but paused by her door.
"Mom?" His voice had broken, but he was still her little boy.
She took tentative steps toward him. Their relationship had grown over the phone and through letters, but she hadn't seen him in close to two years. "Henry?"
The boy ran before Emma yelled at him not to get too close to the line. He stopped right on the line, grinning as Regina approached with moisture in her eyes. "I missed you."
The brunette brushed the water from under her lids and laughed happily, holding herself in an effort to contain her joy. "I miss you too."
"Thank you," Regina whispered quietly when she and Emma returned to their spot that night, both lying down on the ground. Neither would say out loud that lying beside each other was their favourite spot. "I cannot thank you enough for that."
The brunette mother and her son had spent hours talking, about Henry's sword fighting, his horse riding, which Regina was all too eager to help him with, his schoolwork, everything. It wasn't until Emma brought up Paige did the boy shut his trap, his ears burning bright red. Regina scolded Emma for embarrassing him, but that made the blonde laugh even harder.
"You can show me more of your paintings," Emma grinned looking at Regina who returned a watery smile before looking back at the stars, regaling the older woman in more tales about the Greek myths.
If Regina had looked from her position, she would have seen Emma inching her hand next to Regina's, pulling back ever so slightly when shock ran through her. If Emma hadn't been looking at the stars, she would have seen a whole new emotion in the brunette's eyes, one that hadn't been there since Daniel.
"I've been working on my magic."
"I've been working on my art."
The blonde and brunette sat nearly on top of the line, as close as they could possibly get. Regina could practically feel the blonde's warmth radiating off of her. In the summer nights, Emma had returned to wearing her simple tank top and skinnies, while the blonde was blessed with seeing Regina in a loose plain t-shirt and very expensive jeans over real leather boots. Even in simplicity, the brunette looked like a million dollars.
"You go first," Emma nodded towards the brunette.
Regina bit her lip, missing Emma's pleased smile at the action, before scurrying to her bag and pulling out a sketchbook. She held it to her chest before pointing a stern finger to the younger woman. "You can't say anything."
Emma's eyebrows raised in intrigue. "Okay."
Biting her lip again, Regina flipped through her book. Sketched scenes of landscape flew through the pages before she stopped at her latest drawing. She held it open in her lap, forcing the blonde to lean closer, their heads almost touching as she tilted her head to the side to take in the drawing.
It wasn't a landscape drawing. It was Emma.
Regina held her breath, watching Emma study the drawn figure of herself, staring out the window of a Boston city apartment. If Emma hadn't known it was impossible for her to leave Storybrooke, she would have sworn she had posed for that sketch for Regina.
"Wow," Emma breathed out. "That's amazing."
Regina looked up at her with wide hopeful eyes which Emma met with a smile. "Can I –Never mind."
"Can you what?" Regina asked, leaning forward from her spot.
Emma looked at her sadly then glanced down the length of the borderline. "I was gonna ask if I could keep it."
"Oh," Regina said softly glaring at the line herself. She caught Emma's glance again. "Yes, you can."
The blonde grinned. "Thanks."
Regina blushed putting the book away when she heard Emma clear her throat.
"Can I try something?"
The brunette made a motion with her hand to allow the blonde free reign.
Emma went up on her knees, ridiculously close to the line that the magic buzzed between them. She made a motion with her finger for Regina to come closer, to mimic Emma's position. Wary, Regina did so, only an inch separating them. The blonde held her hand up feeling the tingling of the border course through her body.
Emma didn't have to ask. Regina willingly and carefully placed her hand against Emma's, preparing herself to be whipped back full force. It didn't happen. For the first time in nearly two years, Regina felt Emma's hand against hers, a thin layer of magic buzzing through them, not quite pleasant but harmless all the same.
Both women stared at their touching palms wide eyed, their breathing quickened at feeling each other, feeling the other's warmth. "Well," Regina whispered breathless and amazed.
Their hands touched far longer than what would be deemed acceptable but neither woman cared. Regina looked up at Emma after cutting off her trance at their hands. She noticed the blonde eye Regina's lips before green averted back to brown.
The brunette gulped. "Can I try something?"
Slowly, cautiously, as if drawn together by a magnet, they leaned their heads in, lips closer, the hot breath between them being shared as they inched closer.
Electricity shot between them, making the women yell out in shock as the force knocked them back ten feet. Emma, used to it by now, was the first to get up, wiping off her scraped arms to rush to the border and saw that Regina was just picking herself up off the ground. "Regina!"
The brunette picked herself up off the ground, the vulnerability in her eyes disappeared and replaced with anger. Her hands were scraped and bloody, Emma noticed. Clenching her hands shut, Regina steeled her jaw. "I think I'll be going."
Before giving her the chance to turn, Emma called out. "Regina!"
She turned, almost fighting with herself to do so, and it was there that the brunette saw the regret in her eyes as she stared at the orange painted line. Emma simply held her hand back up, pleading. Without hesitation, Regina walked back to the line, placing her hand against Emma's confident this time. The magic buzzed between their palms again, the warmth spreading, the feeling of being alone diminished.
Emma watched Regina stare at their hands again, wanting to intertwine their fingers together but knew if she did so, she would send them flying back again. She caught her eyes, her desperate, sad eyes matching her own.