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Precious Illusions

Chapter Text

Precious Illusions



But this won't work as well as the way it once did
Cuz I want to decide between survival and bliss
And though I know who I'm not I still don't know who I am
But I know I won't keep on playing the victim



The rain continued on through the whole next day. By the time Emma could leave the station she was getting pretty tired of this dreary New England weather. To top it all off, she and Henry were expected at her parents house for dinner that evening.

Emma pulled on her coat and trekked out into the rain. She hoped Henry remembered their plans. She wasn't really interested in tracking her son down at his girlfriend's house or something. Actually, she wasn't really sure if he had a girlfriend, but there was a girl he spent a lot of time with.

Luckily she heard the sounds of a video game blaring from the TV as she unlocked the door. She kicked her wet shoes off and headed into the living room. Henry was perched on the edge of the couch, a pretty girl beside him.

"Hey ma," Henry said without looking up.

"Hey kid, we have to be at your grandparents in half an hour," Emma reminded.

"Okay, I'll get ready as soon as Gemma and I finish this level," Henry replied.

Emma nodded, even though neither teen was looking at her. She headed to her room, eager to get out of her soggy work clothes. As soon as the door closed behind her, she pulled off her wet clothes and tossed them in the general direction of her clothes hamper. She was tired and annoyed and wasn't really that interested in dinner with her parents. But she knew it would be much worse to bail so she would simply have to suffer through it.

She dug a nicer pair of jeans out of her closet and pulled them on. She rooted around in her dresser until she found her favorite worn henley. It was a deep red and the sleeves were a bit frayed, there were a few bleach spots near the hem, but it was warm and comfortable.

It was kind of her safety blanket. It was one of the first things she'd bought with her own money after she got out of jail. It hadn't been nicked from a shop or paid for with stolen money. It was hers, paid for with hard earned money. Sure, it was cheap, she'd gotten it at a second hand shop, but it was all hers.

Emma pulled the shirt over her torso and flopped on to her bed. She really needed to get a handle on her feelings. She was trying so hard to keep everything together and help Regina. And she was a hundred percent sure that jumping Regina wouldn't help her. Not that she wanted to jump Regina, but Emma supposed it wouldn't be the worst thing ever. But Regina needed someone to trust, not someone else who would take advantage of her.

"Ma? Can we drop Gemma off on the way to Grandma's?" Henry called.

Emma pushed herself up, "Sure, we'd better get going."

Henry was pulling on his shoes when Emma exited her bedroom. Gemma was waiting patiently by the door.

"Who won?" Emma asked.

"Nobody, we were playing co-op," Henry explained.

Emma certainly wasn't technology illiterate, but she didn't know much about current gaming. Give her Sonic or Super Mario any day. She didn't know anything about co-op or achievement hunting or all this online gaming stuff. She knew she'd spent quite a bit of money on some wireless headset for Henry to shout at people in other country while shooting things.

"Take an umbrella kid," Emma said as she pulled her boots on.

Henry grabbed an umbrella and the trio headed out the door. The overcast sky still loomed over the whole town. It matched Emma's mood. She briefly wondered if that was a coincidence or if her magical voodoo shit was controlling the weather. She should probably ask Regina about that, if she could get Regina to talk to her ever again.

Everyone loaded into Emma's bug and they headed out. A quick pit stop later and they were pulling up in front of the house Snow and Charming had purchased. It was almost a thing of fairy tales and bedtime stories. Complete with white picket fences and impeccably manicured bushes. It kind of made Emma want to puke.

Henry jumped out of the car and darted for the dry front porch while Emma took her time. She didn't care if she got wet. It wasn't like the day could get much worse. Being soggy couldn't make her mood worse.

Snow greeted them at the door, quickly hanging their wet coats on the rack so they could dry. David and baby James were playing on the living room floor and the smell of marinara float through the house.

"Mmm, lasagna!" Henry smiled.

Emma half smiled, she was sure it would be good, but it wouldn't have that extra kick. She kicked off her boots and quickly hugged her mother. Henry wasted no time headed for James. Henry and the toddler loved to play together.

"Hi sweetie, come help me finish dinner," Snow smiled.

Emma laughed, "Are you sure? I wouldn't want to burn down your nice, new house."

"You can do the salad. If you manage to burn the place down making salad I'll be very impressed," Snow replied.

She quickly set Emma up with some lettuce, carrots and tomatoes to be chopped. Emma absentmindedly tore up the lettuce and tossed it in the bowl. She grabbed the knife and placed the first carrot in the center of the cutting board. It wasn't until the third carrot that she let her mind really wander.

She wondered if Regina made dinner for Robin and Reuben every night. Emma was sure she did, because Regina was good at that sort of stuff. She cared. She knew what kind of food to make when a kid was sick or had a bad day. She made it all look so easy while Emma just made a mess.

Hell, Regina had perfected her image so well, it had taken the trained eye of someone who had been abused and weeks carefully peeling back layers for Emma to suspect something was wrong. People like Emma and Regina knew how to put on masks, to hide their real feelings from everyone around them. But Emma could feel hers slipping. She didn't have the energy to hold it up anymore. Regina was a hell of a lot stronger than Emma had ever been.

A sharp pain in Emma's finger jolted her back to reality.

"Fuck," Emma whispered sharply.

There was blood rushing form her finger. There was no way that particular carrot would be making it into the salad.

"Are you okay?" Snow asked, turning away from the stove.

"Uh, I might need a bandaid," Emma mumbled.

Snow turned away fully and noticed the blood. She quickly snatched Emma's hand to inspect the wound. Emma's finger throbbed.

"David, get me the first aid kit from the bathroom," Snow ordered.

David jumped up and headed for the bathroom. Henry stayed near James but stared at his mother with concern in his eyes. David returned quickly and Snow set to work bandaging Emma up.

"Guys, I feel like this is a little unnecessary, it's just a little cut," Emma complained as Snow disinfected her wound.

"Oh sure, it's a little cut now, but tomorrow your whole hand could be infected. And then they'd have to cut it off," Snow shot back.

"Drama much?" Emma mumbled, but let Snow continue.

After Snow finished bandaging Emma's wound, she was banished to the living room. David took over salad duties while Emma sulked on the couch.


The rest of dinner had gone smoothly, James had even enjoyed the lasagna, maybe a bit too much. Emma was pretty sure Snow's hair had more lasagna than James did. They'd settled in the living room and chatted until James became cranky. They'd hugged and said their goodbyes for the evening. The rain had finally stopped by the time Emma and Henry reached the apartment.

Henry had gone to his room immediately to finish up some homework that was due the next day and Emma had settled on the couch, reality TV playing quietly in the background.

She wondered if she should bother going for a run tonight. Would Regina really show up at the pier after last night? Emma doubted it. But what if she did? What if Regina showed up and Emma didn't? She wanted Regina to believe she was stable, someone she could trust, even when every fiber of her being said she couldn't. Hell, Emma didn't even trust herself half the time.

Emma closed her eyes and sighed. Maybe she could get a bit of sleep before deciding what she should do.

Emma was pulled from her dreams by an overly loud infomercial for some glorified lint roller. She glanced at the time on her phone and noticed it was nearly 3 in the morning. She quickly and quietly climbed off the couch and headed to her room. She pulled on some running shorts and socks. She laced up her sneakers and made her way to the front door.

"Ma? Where are you going?"

Emma's head snapped around. Henry was seated in the kitchen with a glass of milk.

"Oh, hey kid, uh, I was just going for a run," Emma said.

"At 3 in the morning?" Henry asked skeptically.

"Yeah, well, I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I figured I'd take a quick jog around the block to tire myself out," Emma tried to explain.

"Okay, I guess," Henry said.

He quickly finished his milk and put the glass in the sink.

"I'll be back soon, no need to worry," Emma said.

"Whatever, I'm going back to sleep."

Emma waited until Henry was back in his room before pulling the front door open. The rain had cooled the night air, Emma shivered as she made her way to the street. She hoped this wasn't a waste of time.


"I was starting to think you wouldn't show up," Regina said as soon as Emma was within earshot.

Emma smirked, grateful that the brunette had shown up at all.

"You know me, I'm late to everything," Emma shot back.

"I suppose that's true. Of course, I've taken to lying about the time, so you're usually early."

Emma's jaw dropped, "Are you serious?"

Regina merely smirked while Emma sank onto the bench. She dropped her head back and looked up at the stars. All the clouds from earlier in the day had cleared and the stars were twinkling overhead.

"You know, one of the first things I did when I created Storybrooke was look at the stars, learn the names of the constellations," Regina said.

"I used to love looking up at them when I was younger. Most of the time I didn't have video games or TV, so I'd look at the stars and make my own constellations up," Emma smiled.

"Oh really?" Regina said, "Care to share any?"

Emma laughed, "I'm not sure I remember any now, it was a long time ago."

"I assure, it's been much longer since I was a girl, staring up at the stars," Regina replied.

"Right. You're kinda old. I suppose you're pretty hot for a grandma though," Emma joked.

"Excuse you, I am no one's grandma, unless Henry's gotten into some sort of situation I'm not aware of," Regina replied, ignoring the comment about her hotness.

"God, no. I'm not ready to be a grandma either, the kid's only 14," Emma said.

"How old were you again dear?" Regina smirked.

"Not old enough," Emma replied somewhat more seriously, "Sometimes I don't think I'll ever be old enough. Which is ridiculous, because I'm in my 30s, I should be able to deal with this stuff, I should be a good mom by now, but I always feel like I'm letting everyone down."

"You could never let anyone down. Hell, you could probably go rob the diner right now and your family and this town would still support you. You're the savior, dear."

Emma let out a short laugh, "I'm not sure I could get away with robbery, I think that's against Snow's moral code or something."

"I wouldn't put it past her, she was a thief for a bit, though I suppose that was my fault," Regina replied, "I suppose I'm also responsible for your little stint in jail as well."

"What?" Emma asked incredulously, "How?"

"If it weren't for me, you'd have had loving parents and everything you ever need. You wouldn't have had to steal simply to survive."

"Regina, that's ridiculous. It's not your fault I became a thief. I had other choices, I was just a stupid, pigheaded kid, hell bent on doing what was worst for me. I probably would have done stupid shit if I'd been raised in the Enchanted Forest as well, but I would have had the added pressure of being a princess, being expected to be perfect all the time, it would have driven me crazy. At least in foster care nobody expected much outta me. The fact that I'm not dead or addicted to drugs is kind of an accomplishment," Emma explained.

"That's certainly very optimistic of you. You certainly are Snow White's daughter," Regina laughed, "Next thing you know you'll be talking to birds."

"Ugh, god. If you ever catch me talking to a bird, have me locked up," Emma said.

"You have my word."

Emma laughed and gently nudged Regina with her shoulder. Regina smiled back at the blonde. Her smile quickly faded.

"Miss...Emma, I...uh...I wanted to apologize," Regina said.

"Apologize? For what?" Emma asked.

"You invited me into your home and treated me with kindness, and I'm afraid I was very rude," Regina offered.

"Rude? That's kind of your default when it comes to me, Regina. You don't have to apologize. In fact, I should be apologizing. I pushed you to talk about things you didn't want to and I shouldn't have. I was being a crappy friend and I don't blame you for the way you acted," Emma said.

Regina smiled, "Look at us, having an adult conversation and apologizing to each other with minimal drama."

"No curses, no crazy magical islands or any other shit. It's almost like we're normal people," Emma smiled.

"At least as normal as we can be," Regina agreed.

Emma glanced at Regina's attire and noticed she was wearing jogging pants and sneakers.

"Well, now that we're done being adults, do you want to race?" Emma laughed.

"I don't know about a race, but I would be amenable to a jog," Regina replied.

"Alright, let's go," Emma jumped off the bench.

She extended her hand to the brunette and pulled her up as well. They set off on a slow jog away from the pier. They were both too caught up in gentle shoves and bad jokes to notice a man in the shadows. He may not have been in tights, but they certainly should have recognized Robin Hood.