Emma Swan was no stranger to how much things could change in a small bit of time. When she had first come to Storybrooke, things changed so quickly for her, she could hardly even remember what life was like before. And now, it happened again.
Five years after giving birth to two new additions to her and Regina's family, things had changed so quickly, Emma was hardly noticing the time going by. It felt like almost yesterday when Elsa had gotten her first fever, which Emma reacted to by taking her daughter to the ER at three in the morning. Or when Alexander, whom Emma calls Alex when Regina isn't around, took his first steps. Or when Elsa said her first word and Henry swore up and down that it was his name. There was even a rare moment where Regina let Grace babysit the twins for a weekend while they started visiting colleges for Henry.
The passage of time seemed to become all too real for Emma a month ago when she and Regina signed the twins up for their first day of kindergarten. It was then that the blonde sheriff completely realized just how much time had passed. Her children, now five, were going to start kindergarten. Gone were the days of the four of them would skip a day of work and daycare to lay in bed until noon, Regina's arms protectively wrapped around the twins while Emma played with her hair and pressed soft, innocent kisses to her neck. Now, it became all too apparent that her children were growing up, too quickly for her liking.
Henry was a sophomore in college now, going to Boston University as a psychology major and was currently only back at the mansion to pack up his remaining items while he moved into the apartment he and Grace were now sharing. The thought alone was enough to make Emma chuckle with the image of the throbbing vein in Regina's forehead becoming so vibrant in the moment that Henry informed his parents of him and Grace moving their relationship to a new level.
Still, time had passed, quickly. So quickly, it was almost exhausting, but that could just be that fact that Emma and Regina were getting older and could only keep up with two wired five year olds so well. It was why Emma was thankful for the one day a week she got to sleep in finally arriving after what she could only describe as the longest weekend in Storybrooke history.
With Ruby having to take her own maternity leave for her newborn, and with David having to stay home with his own sick child, Emma had to run the station by herself. While that never had been a problem in the past, this weekend it apparently was. With Leroy being more drunk than usual, the lost boys setting off illegal fireworks, Pongo managing to get loose from Archie again, and more than just two cats being stuck in a tree, Emma was more than worn down to the bone with exhaustion. Throw in helping her son pack and trying to catch two twins for bath time and it was apparent why Emma was currently out like a light.
It was amazing that, despite the fact that Emma had two children running around, she was able to still be out like a light. Granted, that probably wouldn't last for very long, but it was still better than nothing. Regina claimed that it was because Emma was beginning to lose her hearing all together. While Emma disagreed, the fact remained that Emma was usually down and out and would not be woken up very easily, if at all, until her body truly felt it was necessary to wake up.
Or, hypothetically speaking, two children came running into the bedroom and starting jumping on the bed in protest of her sleeping to begin with.
As the patter of four feet began sounding outside the door, Emma was already beginning to stir. It was becoming a sixth sense, knowing where the children were and when to brace for impact. So when the door was loudly opened and two small beings began climbing on the bed, Emma was already pulling the comforter higher and over her head as if that would be enough to protect her.
As soon as the twins were on their feet on the bed, they began to jump around their blonde mother, their sweet, young voices chanting "First day of school, first day of school" as loud as they possibly could while Emma groaned in response.
"Five more minutes," Emma grumbled in reply, wincing as the curtains were opened and sunlight came pouring into the once dark bedroom.
Chuckling, Regina shook her head, turning away from the window to face her wife as Elsa and Alexander sat on the bed, tiny fingers attempting to poke Emma awake and out of bed. "Remind me again, who're the five year olds here?"
"Me," the twins and their blonde mother said in unison, causing the twins to giggle.
"No Mama, you're too old," Elsa giggled out, poking her mother's arm.
Scoffing, Emma wrapped her arm around Elsa, pulling her closer to her. "Old? Mama isn't old!"
Elsa and Alexander just giggled until Regina cleared her throat, raising an eyebrow. "I think two of you need to get ready for school."
Regina began to move over to them before Henry walked in, smiling widely. His jaw seemed to grow sharper within the last few years, and he was starting to let a bit of scruff form on his cheeks and chin. Every day he seemed to look more and more like his deceased father, Emma thought, letting a smile fill her features.
"I'll take the twins," he said simply, walking over and throwing Alexander over his shoulder and the small boy laughed and squealed in reply. "I haven't seen my baby brother and sister in too long!"
"Not babies!" Alexander said sternly, but it was hard to take someone seriously when they were thrown over a grown man's shoulder.
Shrugging, Regina waved the three of them off as Henry carried Alexander out of the room, Elsa following in quick tow behind them.
When the trio was gone, Regina moved to shut the door, raising an eyebrow to her wife who still remained in bed. "Emma, dear, you still have to get up."
Sighing, Emma rolled over to face her wife, frowning and extending her arms out to her. "Help me up?"
Rolling her eyes, Regina moved over to her wife, taking a gentle hold of her hands. "Honestly, I don't know how you managed to sleep through my alarm. I told you we needed to-" a squeal interrupted her midsentence as Emma pulled her down on top of her, grinning in accomplishment.
"Emma!" Regina exclaimed, attempting to get up but a firm arm wrapped around Regina's waist, making it hard for her to get up. "What on Earth are you-"
She was cut off again, Emma's mouth connecting to hers in a gentle, sweet kiss. Regina responded instantly, cupping the blonde's cheek as her thoughts melted away and into Emma's lips.
Pulling back slowly, Emma grinned, shrugging her shoulders as she loosened her grip on Regina's hips. "I wanted my good morning kiss in bed from my beautiful wife."
Rolling her eyes, Regina placed her hands on either side of Emma's head. "Yes, very funny, dear. You still have to get up."
Sighing, Emma shifted the pair of them so she was on top, causing Regina to squeal in shock and she was pinned down to the mattress. "But this is so much more fun," the blonde whimpered, nuzzling her face into Regina's neck.
Regina hummed in agreement eyes falling shut as the blonde placed gentle kisses on the spot that her neck and shoulder met.
This was rare for them, a moment of peace and quiet. The last time it was this quiet in the house was when Snow and David had taken the twins for the previous weekend to give Emma and Regina much needed alone time. While images of rose pelt covered floors and never ending kisses had been what initially prevailed in the couple's mind, which was quickly shut down by the fact that they slept their weekend away. So, this brief moment of intimacy, it was something to be savored.
Moving her head slightly, Regina caught Emma's lips once more, a soft moan escaping them when Emma's tongue raced out across her bottom lip. What began as a sweet and innocent kiss quickly escalated. The kisses became desperate, the pair gasping for air when their lips were separated for mere moments. Regina's hand slid up Emma's exposed leg, chuckling as every muscle in her high responded as her fingers trailed over it. Emma's own hand untucked the blouse from Regina's skirt, hands slipping across the smooth expanse of stomach as she bit down on the former queen's bottom lip.
As quickly as it escalated though, it ended, Regina turning her face away and dropping the hand from Emma's thigh as Emma whimpered to the loss of contact. "You need to get dressed, Emma."
Sighing, Emma pulled back, letting either leg rest on each side of Regina. "I know, I know. Just… Postponing the inevitable."
Furrowing her brow in confusion, Emma rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm postponing the fact that right now, this moment, is the last bit of freedom our children will have before school takes over the next twenty four years of their life."
Smiling, Regina shook her head. "I think you're just upset you won't have your cuddle buddies anymore."
"Yes well, that's also a major bummer."
"It's only until three, Emma. I'm sure you'll be just fine."
Sighing in defeat, Emma moved from Regina, smiling slightly when a kiss was placed to her cheek before her wife stood and walked towards the mirror.
"Henry has been up for a while so you should have warm water," Regina said nonchalantly as she began to fix the mess Emma had managed to make of her hair within a matter of seconds.
"Oh, cool." Standing, Emma moved towards the shower, stretching her arms above her head. "You could always join me, you know."
"You can't stall forever."
Groaning, Emma made her way into the bathroom, turning on the shower and letting the water run to get warm before poking her head out the door. "Regina?"
Humming in response, Regina grabbed her lipstick, fixing the bit that had been smudged in the impromptu make out session.
"I'm not old… Right? Elsa was just being five but I'm not old, right?"
Looking to her wife, Regina tapped a finger to her chin, as though contemplating the thought. "Well, I do think I saw a gray hair just now."
Narrowing her eyes, Emma waved her off, shutting the door and stripping off her clothes. "At least I'm not secretly in my seventies."
"I heard that!"
A ball of paper was sent flying from Emma's hands, a sigh soon following as the ball managed to miss the trashcan on the opposite side of the room. Again.
Bored could not even begin to cover Emma's current emotion at this point. She was stir crazy, spinning around and playing trash can basketball in some failing attempt to keep her amused.
The station was quiet today. Since Ruby and David were both out for their own needed leaves of absence, the station was empty. There hadn't been one phone call to the station since Emma had arrived, not even a light blinking on the phone to notify her of a message. Everything was silent, everything was peaceful, and thus, everything was boring.
This probably had to do with the fact that school had begun and students – even the lost boys – were making an attempt at being present. So there was no worries in Storybrooke, no cats to be saved, and it made Emma wish all the more than time would go faster.
A soft knock at the door caught her attention, Emma turning and smiling widely at the person in the door. "Rubes! Shouldn't you be… You know…"
"Resting?" Ruby shook her head, making her way into the station, baby carrier in hand and baby bag slung over one shoulder.
"Yeah," Emma replied, moving swiftly over to her to take the baby carrier, setting it down on her desk. "That's kind of the point of maternity leave."
Nodding, Ruby pursed her lips, crossing her arms over her chest. "Yes, but Killian is on shift and I've gone through my queue on Netflix and figured you'd enjoy some company for lunch," she said simply, reaching into the oversized baby bag and pulling out two paper bags with bits of grease on the bottoms of them.
Smiling crookedly, Emma nodded, taking the bag from her before taking her seat once more, leaning back into her chair. It was not a moment before Ruby was about to join her that a soft cry was filled the room. As though second nature, Ruby carefully reached into the carrier, pulling her son out of it, a bright smile playing on her lips as she wrapped an arm underneath him.
Emma had to admit, motherhood looked good on Ruby. She seemed happy, at peace, and not really worrying anymore about when a full moon would hang over head and the change that would come with it. Then again, that began when she and Killian got married. Granted, Emma could not have been more thankful to be selected as Killian's best woman so she didn't have to see the craziness Snow would inflict on the bridal party, but it was as though at the moment Ruby changed. She glowed, and whether that be independence, happiness, or something else entirely, it radiated from her.
When Ruby had been pregnant, she was the same way. And now, with a small baby in her arms, it was hard to imagine when Emma had first arrived in Storybrooke this same woman was in the smallest shorts the blonde had ever seen while also displaying a gracious amount of midriff. Now, that woman was settled, happy, and holding her own slice of happy ending in her arms.
"Sorry," Ruby apologized, shrugging sheepishly. "Liam has been really fussy. First time we've been able to get out of the house in a long time."
Waving her off, Emma chuckled, opening her greased bag and pulling out a single fry. "It's fine. I'm pretty sure it was the same when Elsa and Alex were his age."
Humming in reply, Ruby bounced her son gently in her arms, looking to Emma with a raised eyebrow. "How're you feeling, by the way? Regina mentioned you had been anxious when dropping off the twins."
Furrowing her brows, Emma pulled out her burger, taking a bite from it. "Since when are you two friends?" she asks around her food before swallowing. "I recall you two not getting along about four months ago."
"I ask her for advice sometimes," the wolf replies nonchalantly, reaching into her own bag of food with a spare hand and eating a fry.
Frowning slightly, Emma takes another bite. "You don't ask me advice."
"Because you've been having a breakdown about your twins starting school and Henry moving in with Grace, you seemed a bit… Preoccupied."
"Regina offered," Ruby says with a shrug, looking down to her son and laughing. "Your Auntie Emma is taking things way too personally."
Scoffing, Emma put her feet up on the desk, rolling her eyes as she finished her burger. "Yes, very funny. You best be glad you have a baby in your arms."
"I think I came here for your benefit."
"There's only so much you can watch on Netflix before you begin to truly question your sanity."
Emma opened her mouth to reply, but quickly shut it, remembering her own battles with Netflix when she was stuck home alone with the twins. "Touché, my clever friend."
Nodding, Ruby leaned back into her chair, Liam fast asleep in her arms. "Now stop dodging my question. Are you alright? With the kids being away from you for eight hours straight?"
Letting out a puff of air, Emma crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm just so bored without them around, you know? They'd probably be with me here at the station right now if they weren't in school. I don't know, I just-"
Nodding, the sheriff licked her lips. "I'm not used to being away from them for so long. I mean, yeah, my parents have taken them for weekends but that hardly counts."
Raising an eyebrow, Ruby laughed. "How does that not count? It's the same thing… Except they're with kids their own age."
"Yeah but… What if Elsa gets pick on? Or Alex gets cut and the teacher doesn't have bandages? Or what if someone gives them shit because they have two moms? Or, oh man, what if-"
"Emma," Ruby interrupts, reaching out her free hand for Emma's own. "Calm down, seriously. You're making me go crazy now." Squeezing Emma's hand as she let it slip into Ruby's, the wolf smiled slightly. "They're fine. Seriously. They're in good hands and if anything does happen, Kathryn will call because she's the principal and that's her job."
"Also because Regina would scream at her if she didn't."
"That too." Squeezing the hand once more before pulling back, Ruby let her fingers trace her son's cheek. "They're fine. And in three more hours, you get to pick them up and listen to them talk about how many friends they made and how awesome arts and crafts are."
Smiling, Emma nodded, letting her arms come to rest on the desk as she let her feet fall back to the ground. "Yeah… I guess you're right."
"Plus… They'll be so exhausted from their exciting first day that they'll be out like lights. Which means, maybe you and Regina can be alone and-"
"Stop," Emma says, holding a hand up. "Not in front of Liam. I'm half terrified your son will be a werewolf too and therefore will remember this."
Laughing, Ruby shook her head. "Emma, I'm a wolf, not an elephant."
Boredom was making time go even slower in Emma's mind. It wasn't even two yet and she felt as though her head might explode waiting for school to let out.
Half of her thought of going to the school and pulling the kids out early, but Emma knew the consequences of that. She would not enjoy being put on the couch by Regina. Still, even the couch seemed like an okay punishment at this point. She was certain boredom would kill her at this point.
Stakeouts are more exciting than this, Emma thought, fingers drumming angrily on the table at Granny's.
She had come here in hopes that it would alleviate some of the boredom she felt, to be around those that she knew and maybe have a conversation or two. However, she and Granny were currently the only two in the establishment. The lunch rush had come and gone, leaving Emma alone and staring at her now cold cup of hot cocoa.
"Staring at it won't make it disappear, Sheriff."
Looking up, Emma smiled slightly at the older woman. While most of their conversations were fleeting and about Ruby or food, she could not help but feel a special sort of comfort when Granny was around.
"I don't know, maybe it will. Regina says I still have magic so who knows. Maybe I could make it disappear."
"Very funny." Taking the cup from her, Granny walked back over towards the counter to pour the blonde another. "Why are you moping around in my diner?"
Shrugging, Emma leaned back into the seat, letting out a sigh. "I'm bored."
Nodding, Granny turned back towards her. "Being without your kids for more than eight hours does that to you."
Pursing her lips and dumping the hot cocoa from the mug into a to-go cup, she walked back over to Emma, placing it on the table. "Why not just go see Regina? That'd probably better. Plus, you're driving away all my customers with your sad face."
"Everyone's at work-"
"Go to Regina," Granny said firmly, turning and walking back into the kitchen.
Biting her bottom lip, Emma walked into city hall, smiling slightly as she saw Regina's secretary. "Hey, uhm… Would you mind telling Regina I'm here?"
Eyeing her up and down, the secretary sighed, pressing the button for the intercom as he spoke, "Regina, she's here."
Furrowing her brows, she followed the secretary to the doors of the mayoral office, slipping inside as he opened the door. Turning to face the desk, Emma rose an eyebrow when she saw Regina. "How'd you know I was coming?"
"Wife's intuition, dear." Regina came around the desk, sitting on the edge, smirking slightly. "I'm actually shocked it took you this long."
Letting out a sigh, Emma moved across the room, sitting next to Regina on the desk. "How long did you think it would take?"
"I figured maybe thirty minutes after Miss Lucas left you, but it appears you held out longer than expected." Licking her lips, she turned her head to face Emma. "I know how bored you can get, it's not bad. Just… Predictable."
Chuckling, Emma shrugged. "I guess. I just… Ugh, I never knew waiting this long for the kids would be such a nightmare."
Smiling, Regina nodded, letting her hand come down to the desk to grip Emma's. "Yes, well, if it makes you feel any better, I was the same way with Henry on his first day of school."
Raising an eyebrow and turning to meet Regina's eyes, Emma looked unconvinced. "Really? The great and powerful Mayor Mill was bored and didn't know what to do with herself? I can't believe that one."
"Well, believe it dear." Moving off the desk and coming between Emma's legs, she felt herself relax as Emma's hands automatically wrapped around her waist. "Henry used to always come with me to the office. I had a babysitter for him maybe twice, and when he was ill, but he behaved so well it was easier just to have him here. He would draw on printer paper, ask questions about my job, and we'd eat lunch together on the leather couches.
"Anyway, when he began school, I wasn't used to how quiet it was. Henry wasn't there, running over to me with a drawing and telling me how amazing it was. He was on my lap while I budgeted, asking me what I was doing. No more lunches of peanut butter and jelly with apple slices, just silence.
"You grow used to the silence though, knowing that… In eight hours, you get to see them and they will be twice as wired as they were before."
"You never told me that story before," Emma replied, a wide smile on her lips and her arms wrapped tighter around Regina's waist, pulling her closer.
"Yes well, I figured I'd save it."
Emma nodded, biting her bottom lip to keep a chuckle from falling from her lips. "So, you used to eat peanut butter and jelly, huh?"
Rolling her eyes, Regina cupper Emma's cheeks. "That's what you got out of the story?"
"I'm just saying, you never eat peanut butter and jelly when I make it for the twins, Henry, and myself. Allow me to be shocked."
"There are many things I used to eat that I don't eat anymore."
"I know one thing you'll eat," Emma said with a grin, waggling her eyebrows suggestively as Regina slapped her shoulder.
"Don't be crass."
Shrugging, Emma loosened her grip on Regina's waist. "Now I'm curious, did you eat cheeseburgers?"
"Let's leave distasteful food in the past, dear."
"You did! You ate cheeseburgers! I knew it!"
Chuckling, Regina leaned forward, pressing a gentle kiss to Emma's lips. "See, waiting isn't so terrible, now is it?"
Nodding, Emma traced small patterns on the small of Regina's back. "No I guess not," she said softly, leaning back in for another kiss.
As the children came out of the school, running like a mass group, Emma felt her foot unconsciously tapping against the concrete of the sidewalk as her eyes moved around rapidly for Alex and Elsa.
"Don't worry so much, Ma. They'll be out before you know it," Henry says simply, patting his blonde mother on the back.
"I know, I know. I just-"
"Mama!" came two voices in almost perfect harmony before two bodies collided with Emma's legs, almost causing her to lose her balance.
"Hey kiddos!" Emma said excitedly, reaching down to pick up Elsa, placing her on her hip and she held Alex's hand. "How was your first day?"
"So cool!" Alex replied quickly, jumping up and down as Emma and Henry began walking them toward the house. "We have a class pet and she's really cool and-"
"And our teacher is super nice and she taught us math and we played a game to learn everyone's names!" Elsa interrupted, arms wrapped around her mother's neck to keep herself upright.
"That's so cool," Henry replied, bending down in front of Alex so his younger brother could hop on his back. When he did, Henry began walking next to his mother again. "What kind of pet do you guys have in your class?"
"Hamster," Elsa replied simply, her head resting on Emma's shoulder.
"We even got to name her," Alex said excitedly, arms tightly wrapped around his brother's neck.
"Oh?" Emma grinned, looking to Henry with a small grin before they began walking up the driveway of the mansion. "And what did you all name her?"
"Peanut," Alex replied, arms loosening as Henry placed him back down on the ground, the boy running straight for the door.
Reaching the door, Emma placed Elsa down before putting the key in the lock, opening the door as the twins went running inside. Sighing happily, the sheriff moved inside, watching her oldest son run into the room with Elsa and Alex, a smile playing on her lips as the twins continued to talk to their older brother about their day.
Her wife was right, perhaps she would get used to the silence before the storm.
That night it was quiet. The twins had fallen asleep quickly, exhausted from their day and excited for the next. Even Henry had passed out quickly, but that was probably more so due to him moving heavy boxes all day into the moving van that would be taking off tomorrow.
The room was dark and it was late, and even though Regina would usually be reading a book right now, even she was quiet.
Emma rolled over in the bed, turning to face her wife, smiling softly as their eyes met. "Hey."
Reaching out, Emma brushed a few stray strands of hair from Regina's face, sighing in content as Regina placed gently kisses to the palm of Emma's hand. They were quiet, content. Though exhausted, Emma just couldn't seem to let herself sleep, not yet.
"I think you were right, you know."
Even in the darkness, Emma could see Regina's brows furrow in confusion. "I usually am, but what about?"
Letting herself fall onto her back as Regina moved closer and rested her head on Emma's chest, she chuckled. "Do you remember, it was like… A week after the twins were born. We hadn't had much sleep, we were exhausted, and we had Henry staying with my parents so he could sleep because he still had school."
Regina hummed in reply, still slightly lost, but content just listening to her wife's heartbeat and voice.
"The twins kept crying nonstop. We were lucky if we had gotten more than two hours of sleep, and it got so bad one night that I just started crying.
"You came into the nursery and saw me basically sobbing my eyes out while holding Alex. He wasn't hungry, he didn't need a diaper change, but he just kept crying. So you took him from my arms and held him until he finally calmed down and fell back asleep. I got so jealous I stormed out of the room."
Leaning up slightly, Regina looked to Emma's face, her mind slowly beginning to recall the scene.
"Anyway, so you come out afterward and I was in our room still crying. You said that it was okay and that we're both just tired and needed some sleep and I told you I couldn't do this. I couldn't be a mother. I wasn't cut out for it."
Reaching up, Regina ran her thumb across Emma's cheek, a frown on her lips. "But Emma, you-"
"Hey, my story," Emma replied, smiling as she ran her fingers through Regina's hair. "You tried to get me to calm down but I kept saying over and over again how I wasn't cut out for this mother stuff, how I was failing the twins and you and Henry. But you know what you said? You told me I could do it. You told me we were just too tired and stressed and even the twins knew it so it stressed them out. You told me I was a great mother, that I could do anything."
"And you can."
"I know," Emma said simply, leaning forward and pressing her lips to Regina's before letting her head rest on the pillow again. "What I mean is, you were right back then. I really do think I can do this. As long as you're with me, I know I can do this."
Smiling, Regina nodded, pressing her forehead against Emma's as she sighed. "We're always stronger together."
"Always." Pressing a gentle kiss to Regina's lips, Emma relaxed back into the bed.
As Regina let her head rest back on Emma's chest and her breathing evened out, Emma let her fingers run through Emma's hair, a small smile playing on her lips. She always doubted herself, had done so for a very long time. She doubted herself with Henry, with her family, and with her newborns once. But with Regina, she couldn't ever doubt herself. Because with Regina, she was strong, she was happy, she was put together, and she was whole.
Emma was home.