AN: Hi all! I know there are other stories I need to update but this one came to me and wouldn't let me write anything else until I got this one out. It's a complete AU so there is no curse, no fairytale characters and especially no parents who look like they could be their own childrens' siblings. I changed the ages of our favorite ladies to accommodate this change in aging. Hope I don't disappoint anyone. On with the show. Also, in this chapter Regina is 24.
Prologue: Meet Regina
Valentine's Day 2002, New York City
"Regina Mills, will you marry me?" Daniel James Stableman was down on one knee in the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan asking his girlfriend of two and a half years the most important question he had ever or would ever ask…and waiting for her answer.
Regina's eyes were darting from Daniel's clear, expressive blue eyes to the ring he held, an emerald cut ½ carat diamond flanked by smaller ¼ carat chocolate diamonds on a platinum band, not quite believing what she was being asked. It took her a moment to process that this was really happening and Daniel was really proposing. When it finally sank in, Regina wrapped her arms around his neck as she murmured into his ear, "yes, yes a thousand times yes Daniel!"
The relief he felt at hearing Regina say yes, made Daniel glad he was already on his knees. After a moment of holding Regina close, he pulled away and slowly, reverently, slipped the ring onto her finger, smiling at the sight of it on her hand.
He looked up and saw his fiance smiling through tears of joy and knew he'd never in his life seen anything as beautiful as Regina in his entire life…and he probably never would.
That night, as they entered the apartment they shared in Manhattan's Chelsea district, they barely made it through the door before they were tearing at each other's clothes, determined to continue the celebration of their engagement well into the next day.
Two months later…
Regina was at home, having called in sick from the DA's office where she had been working as a junior Assistant District Attorney for the past year. Regina hadn't been feeling too well the last few days and so she had taken the sick day to test a theory. She'd missed her last two periods and she was starting to feel like a defective type writer. So the night before she had gone out and purchased an at home pregnancy test, knowing Daniel would be working for the next 24 hours so he wouldn't be home to know what she up to. If she was pregnant, she wanted to find a way to surprise him with it. If she wasn't, then she didn't want to get his hopes up only to let him down.
The wedding was scheduled for September, so there was still plenty of time to have her dress altered if she needed to. Honestly, Regina didn't know which outcome she was hoping for, pregnant or not…either way things were going to be different.
Regina sat on the edge of the tub in the bathroom as she waited for the five minutes to pass so she could find out if she's pregnant or not. When the timer finally dinged, Regina took a deep breath then reached for the test stick that was sitting on the sink.
She closed her eyes as she brought it closer and then counted to three before she opened her eyes. The little pink plus sign stared back at her and she let out the breath she'd been holding. She was pregnant.
Regina wasn't sure how to react to that, so she simply left the bathroom and threw herself down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. A million thoughts were running through her head and each one was more confusing than the last…but the one clear thought she had was that she had to tell Daniel.
Daniel was a firefighter for the FDNY and he was on a 24 hour shift that had only started five hours ago. Regina began planning how she would tell him. She'd make his favorite meal, have his favorite beer and then…when the moment was right, she'd tell him. She knew he would be happy, they'd talked about having kids. She just knew that his Catholic mother would prefer her grandchild be born in wedlock but…maybe they could have a quickie civil ceremony with a judge, before the baby came and then have the big Catholic wedding his mother had her heart set on later.
Regina's own mother wouldn't care either way, she wasn't very religious and would welcome her grandchild with open arms. Regina started to feel better about the situation the more she thought about it and she was soon up and out of the house, heading to the corner store to buy the ingredients for Daniel's favorite meal and to stock up on his favorite beer. She wanted everything to be perfect for tomorrow night when he'd be home and she could tell him the news.
Twelve hours later, Regina was back at home and just relaxing in front of the television, missing Daniel but knowing she would see him the next morning. She had grown accustomed to the nights he had to spend at the station house, but it didn't make those nights any less lonely.
She was about to grab a glass of apple juice when there was a knock on the door. Frowning, she wasn't expecting anyone today, she walked over to the door and checked the peephole. She saw Daniel's boss standing on the other side of the door. With a strange sense of foreboding, Regina opened the door.
"Captain Johnson, what brings you here? Is Daniel okay?" Regina was now starting to get worried. Captain Ronald Johnson was always smiling…today he looked as serious as a heart attack.
Ron Johnson hated having to be the one who had to do this, it was one of the parts of his job he truly despised. He cleared his throat, "Regina, may I come in?"
"Yes of course Ron." Regina moved aside and let the man walk past her. He was over 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and caramel colored skin. He was clean shaven and had the most compassionate light green eyes (a gift from his Hispanic mother). "What's going on? You're starting to scare me."
He turned to face her. "I'm so sorry Regina. There was a fire at an abandoned warehouse in the Bronx, it was massive and all available units were called to help." He paused a moment, "Daniel was rescuing a little girl whose family was squatting in the building, he managed to push her towards the exit but before he could get out, the roof collapsed on him. I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you Regina, but…he didn't make it. The coroner pronounced him an hour ago. As his next of kin, we need you to come down to the morgue to make an identification." He stopped talking then, as he stepped close enough to catch Regina as she collapsed from the news.
He held her as she cried and did his best to soothe her as she wailed and basically broke down.
Regina was in shock. She was in denial…until she stepped into the morgue and had to see Daniel on the stainless steel table under a sheet. He looked like he was sleeping but she knew better. There was a massive injury to his head and the right side of his shoulder, from where the building's roof had made impact she was told, as well as smudges of soot on his face.
Regina just nodded silently, confirming it was indeed Daniel James Stableman, her fiance of two months and the only man she'd ever loved.
Regina left the morgue and Captain Johnson drove her back home. That night…was the night Regina's whole world was irrevocably changed forever.
Three months later…
At five months pregnant, Regina sat in the back seat of the cab that brought her from the local airport in Portland to the small town of Storybrook, Maine. After Daniel's body had been released, she had arranged his funeral, his mother had offered her input but for the most part it was all Regina.
She had stood there as the FDNY had done their tribute to their fallen brother. She had stood stoically as the priest said the final prayers over the coffin and as the gleaming mahogany box was lowered into the ground, Regina simply placed her hand on her belly where Daniel's baby was growing and offered up a silent apology to the little fetus that he would never know his father.
Regina had told Daniel's mom she was pregnant, not wanting to keep the knowledge of a grandchild from the woman who had already lost her husband and now, her son. His mom explained that she would help Regina in any way she needed but Regina had informed her that she was going to be moving back home to Maine as soon as she could arrange it with her job. New York held too many memories of Daniel and their time together.
She had understood but had also expressed a desire to know her grandchild. Regina agreed that she would always be a part of the baby's life and that she would keep her updated on the pregnancy and send plenty of pictures once the baby was born.
Two months after the funeral, Regina was on a plane to Portland then in a cab to Storybrook. She felt the need to be home, to be near her family and the things she grew up around.
Regina stepped out of the cab in front of the big white house on Mifflin Street and paid the cab driver. He helped her remove her luggage from the trunk and left them on the curb. She watched as he drove away then turned to face the house she'd grown up in.
The door opened and her mother, Cora Mills, stepped out with a smile on her face. She walked up to Regina and hugged her close. "Welcome home Regina."
Before Regina knew it, she was sitting on the bed in her old room, looking around at the posters on the wall and smiling as she remembered her teen years in this room before she left for college in New York. Regina took a deep breath before she placed her hand on her growing belly, "Well baby…we're home, I guess." Regina looked down at her belly then, "I promise I am going to do everything I can to be a great mom to you. And I'm going to tell you everything about your daddy, he was a hero you know, and it's just going to be you and me at first, but we'll make it. I promise."
Regina laid back on the bed and smiled for the first time in almost three months. This was the start of her new life and she was determined to make the best of this not so great situation. She just wished Daniel was here to share it with her.
AN2: So there it is. If there's interest in reading more I'll post the next chapter otherwise, it'll stop now. I decided just for this story, to forego the bold dialogue to see how it would look. If any of my usual readers miss the bolding, let me know and I'll change it.