AN: this is just a one shot that i had to get out. I promise I am working on the next chapter of Once Upon a Zombie. it's just proving more difficult that i would like.
It's raining outside, and she's gotten soaked already from walking- okay, running- Henry up the long walkway to Regina's house. No one answers the door, but the lights are on and Emma has a key anyway. For emergencies, Regina had said, her body just stiff enough for Emma to know that it was something more than that.
She tells Henry to go to his room because Regina isn't in the study or the kitchen or the parlor with the piano. Emma has had the pleasure of walking into the house and hearing Regina play, though the older woman refuses to do so when she knows someone is listening. Henry bounds up the stair, and Emma searches the rest of the house, doing her best not to drip on the expensive rugs and promising herself that she'll volunteer to mop up the hardwood floors. It's not until she ventures upstairs to check Regina's bedroom that she begins to really worry. She knows that Regina would never just up and leave. Not without saying goodbye to Henry, and definitely not without turning off all the lights in the house and unloading the dishwasher.
She's about to call David because there is no one else who would care enough to help her look for Regina, when she glances out the window and sees the former Queen (Emma refuses to think of her as Evil, not after knowing how she got that way) sitting cross legged in the middle of the back yard, face turned up at the pouring sky. She's dressed in a t-shirt that Emma recognizes as one of her own—she must have left it there one of the many times she's crashed in the guest room because she just can't go back home to her parents—and what look like sweat pants. Emma had no even known that Regina owned sweat pants. This is almost more disturbing that it had been to learn that Regina could pull people's hearts right out of their chests. That was something that fit. This….Well, Emma didn't know what to do with this.
Carefully, cautiously—it's not that she doesn't trust Regina, it's that…she doesn't trust her—Emma walks back out into the rain. She's already soaked through, so what's the harm? Regina either does not hear her, or does not care. She doesn't look up at Emma, even when the Sheriff is standing almost directly over her.
"Is it Friday already?" As if she did not already know. Regina has had many low points in the previous few months, but never once has she been anything short of perfectly put together when Emma brings Henry to her house for the weekend. It is an arrangement that Emma somehow feels guilty about. Because whatever else she is, Regina is a good mom. Better than Emma, at least.
"Are you drunk?" She doesn't mean to ask that, but it slips out anyway. It's the only explanation Emma can come up with because this is so very out of character for Regina.
"If only." Regina opens her eyes then, and Emma is struck by how lovely she looks with rain dripping down her face and her hair slicked back and her wide brown eyes full of some deep pain that Emma cannot even begin to fathom. She knows that she understands Regina better than anyone else in the town, but she also knows she would have to suffer a hell of a lot more to reach the places of darkness that Regina calls home.
"Are you…okay?" Emma has grown more comfortable with Regina since things settled, but she still has a hard time whenever they accidentally step out of the safe boxes of talking about work, or Henry, or what idiots her parents can be sometimes. Emma feels a responsibility to Regina. Maybe because she can pinpoint the exact moment where she let Regina down and set her on the downward spiral that ended with Snow killing Cora. She remembers distinctly the hurt in Regina's eye when she realized that Emma didn't believe she was innocent of killing Archie. She still remembers the words she said. "Who you will always be." Sometimes, if she thinks about it too much, she wants to down enough whiskey to make her forget her own name. Snow keeps telling her that she doesn't owe Regina anything, but Emma doesn't care if she owes Regina anything or not. The woman needs saving. And Emma made her a promise what seems like a lifetime ago that she would always save her. Emma intends on keeping that promise. Especially now.
"Am I okay." Regina's bow lifts elegantly, and if not for where they are and what they are doing, Emma would have thought she was again talking to Mayor Mills, about to receive a verbal thrashing.
"Yeah. Uh…because you know…it's raining and you're sitting outside and…are you even wearing makeup?" Emma leans in closer, and decides that no, she's not. Otherwise it would have been runny with the rain. "I've never seen you not wearing makeup."
"Forgive me if I didn't take the time to pretty myself up today," Regina says. Emma thinks it's supposed to sound bitter, but it just sounds so incredibly tired instead. She doesn't know what to say, so she plops down in the wet grass next to Regina, not caring that her ass will probably get mud on it.
"You wanna talk about it?"
Regina doesn't answer immediately, and Emma thinks that means 'no' but the Regina leans forward and there's water dripping down her nose ad her hair's in her face and Emma wants suddenly to kiss her. Like really really wants to. Like more than she's ever wanted to kiss someone before. And she has to look away because if she keeps staring, she's going to do it and that would ruin everything.
"Why do you do it?"
"Why do you make excuses to stay around after dinner? Why do you call in the middle of the week and say that I should meet you and Henry at the diner?" Regina is looking right at her now, and Emma knows the answer but she also knows that Regina's not ready to hear it. Neither of them are. "Why don't you hate me?"
"Well, first off, you're the only one here who doesn't have this gross super sugary idea of what life is supposed to be like." Emma rests her arms on her knees. She's starting to get cold and wonders if she's going to get sick because of this. "Second off, I mean, you know my parents. Sometimes I just…need to get away from them. You don't expect anything from me like everyone else does. Even Henry expects me to be the Savior." Regina might have flinched at that, but Emma can't be sure. "Plus, if it hadn't been for you, we wouldn't have gotten him, anyway." It's easy and natural now for her to refer to Henry as 'theirs' and to refer to herself and Regina as a 'we.' They are a somewhat functioning parental unit now. They make decisions together, and Emma makes sure that Regina gets to be the fun parent sometimes. Which has done wonders for her relationship with Henry. "And…I know how a person gets to places like the one you were at. Maybe I never got that far, but…I could have."
They've talked enough, tentatively and haltingly, about their pasts that Regina must know she is telling the truth. The older woman nods and stands up. The shirt is clinging to her and Emma wonders if she's ever seen anyone able to look so naturally regal in a wet t shirt and sweatpants with a bare face.
"I should change clothes. Henry…." She swallows and glances back at the house. "You're welcome to stay for dinner." Regina always offer, and Emma does not always accept. She does not want to intrude on Regina's time with Henry. But they are slowly getting to the point where Henry's time does not have to be split so cleanly between them.
Sometimes, Regina and Henry feel like more of a family to her than Snow and David ever will.
"Yeah, I'd like that." She gives a small smile, and follows Regina into the house where she first goes and changes clothes and then does mop up the water that they've both left. Regina is all made up by the time Henry comes down, and they work on making dinner together. Archie has suggested that Regina teach Henry how to cook as a way of bonding, and it seems to be working. Emma has been banned from touching anything in the kitchen unless it is one of the rare, rare times Regina allows them to eat tacos.
She finds, as she watches Regina and Henry, that she does not want to go back to the apartment. She calls it home, but it does not feel like it. Here, in this ridiculously clean kitchen, in this ridiculously kept house, with its pristine yard, perfectly vacuumed carpets, and magazine worthy color schemes—this is where she feels at home.