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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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Had Emma been freaking out at the prospect of having an actual date with Regina tonight?

Yes. Definitely.

Had she pulled herself together and put on the tight, pink (and only) dress she had selected last night?

Yes, she had.

Had she then been standing in front of the mirror and tried to figure out whether this dress was too much or not?

Absolutely.

Had she changed out of it, put on a pair of jeans and a nice top in a silky material only to decide that it didn’t match the occasion?

Yes, she had.

Had she changed back into the dress and immediately felt uncomfortable?

Yep.

And had she then changed back into her nice pair of jeans the silky top?

Yes, she had. And she was still standing by the decision now. Dresses made her feel awkward. She had too long legs. It felt as though she was completely exposed when she wore a dress. It affected her confidence. And confident was exactly what Emma wanted to be tonight. And so she had found that the jeans and silky top worked just as well as the dress. She looked nice without looking like she was trying too hard. She looked casual without looking slobby. It was perfect. She looked good. Emma had chosen to intensify her makeup just a little. Her eyelashes were thicker and fuller than normally. The shade on her eyelids a bit darker than her everyday look, and her lipstick was just a teeny tiny bit more red. Not bright red, obviously. That wouldn’t have suited her. But this worked. This definitely worked. Emma felt good. She had butterflies in her stomach, but she was determined not to connect it with anything negative. It was totally normal to have butterflies in her stomach right before a date.

And especially a date she had wanted so long as she had wanted this one. Once again, Emma and Regina had agreed to meet on the square. Just like they had done at the harvest festival. But this time they wouldn’t be going out and mingling with everybody else. They were going to a restaurant. Just the two of them. Emma felt those metaphorical butterflies flutter somewhere behind her navel. It had been a while since she last had been on a date. And it had definitely been an even longer while since she had been on a date that was as important as this one.

Emma’s breath quickened as she sat on her bed and waited until it was time to leave. This was not like grabbing a bite to eat in the dining area on a train. This was a d-a-t-e. An actual, proper date. Shit. What if she messed up?

Emma reminded herself to breathe. She was a grown woman for fucks sake. She wasn’t an awkward seventeen year old with a crush. She could handle this. Of course she could. Everything would be fine.

She was sure of that. She and Regina had had such a good time at the harvest festival. Emma saw no reason as to why they shouldn’t be having a good time tonight as well. As long as Emma made sure to take things as they came and not think disaster-thoughts. She straightened her posture just a little and checked her phone again. No messages. No cancellations. Regina was on her way. Just like they had decided. Everything was fine. Emma fiddled with a lock of blonde hair. Maybe it had been dumb to get ready this early. Now all she could do was sit here and overthink.
It would have been pretty fucking sweet if all Emma could think about was Regina. But unfortunately, there were other things on her mind as well. Like the two phone calls she has received last night. She had been too tired to actually be bothered by it last night, but now that she was wide awake, she was actually pretty fucking freaked out. And confused too because this wasn’t Mary Margaret’s normal modus operandi. When Mary Margaret called, she always talked like a goddamn waterfall. Complains would always be spilling from her like an unstoppable force until Emma hung up on her. This was completely different. Mary Margaret had never practiced silent calls before. And honest to god, it freaked Emma out. Her adoptive mother calling and spewing out venom was one thing. She had sort of gotten used to that. But Mary Margaret calling her and not saying a word was something entirely different. It was something Emma wasn’t quite sure what to do with, to be honest. In many ways it was way more creepy than her usual calls. Especially because this had taken place at night. Emma considered it. This was so unlike Mary Margaret. The blonde frowned. Was it possible that this wasn’t Mary Margaret? Emma fidgeted with a lock of her hair. Could this be David? Emma’s first thought was no. David had always supported Mary Margaret’s ideas, however crazy they were. Hell, when Mary Margaret had kicked Emma out for being gay, David had come to Emma a few days later, but not to apologize on behalf of his wife. But to ask Emma to “stop being gay”. Literally. He had begged Emma to never mention her sexuality and then come home. As long as she never mentioned anything about being gay, Mary Margaret would forgive her, and everything would be fine.

Emma had laughed hysterically at that, and then she had asked David to get the fuck out of here. David had left, but not until later he had informed Emma that this was killing Mary Margaret. Emma had laughed even harder at that.

She hadn’t seen David since, but she knew that he knew everything Mary Margaret was doing. The phone calls, the letters, and most likely also how she had made the janitor open the door to Emma’s old apartment in Toronto. David knew everything, and yet he didn’t do anything about it. Sometimes Emma had sort of wished that she had studied psychology instead of literature, because it would have been really interesting to know exactly what the fucking hell was going on her adoptive parents’ brains. If something even WAS going on, that was. Over the years, Emma had seriously started to doubt it.

As she sat here on the edge of her bed, Emma started to think about the little boy Mary Margaret and David had adopted. Neal. That poor kid. He had to be a month old now. He would literally be bottled fed with insanity. Emma felt so sorry for the little tyke, but there was nothing she could do about it. She didn’t have the power to take Neal away from them. She couldn’t proof that Mary Margaret and David were unfit to be parents. She knew that Mary Margaret would bat her big green eyes and manipulate any judge there was. Knowing her adoptive mother, she would put on her cutest flowery dress and apron and show up in the court telling a long sob story about what a difficult child Emma was. How many tantrums she knew, and how her heart had been broken when Emma chose to run away at seventeen. Emma knew it would be her word against Mary Margaret’s. David would support his wife, and that would be the end of it. Everyone would believe Mary Margaret and not Emma. That was how things were. That was how things always were. Nothing to be done about it. Emma sighed a little as she shifted on the edge of the bed. Then she shook her head firmly. She didn’t want to think about Mary Margaret and David right now. There was nothing she could do anyway. Thinking about it would be completely fruitless. The only purpose it would serve, was to make her in a bad mood. And Emma didn’t want to be in a bad mood tonight. Not when she was having a date with Regina. Emma perked up a bit as she started to think about the beautiful brunette instead. That definitely lifted her spirit.

She couldn’t wait to spend the evening with Regina. She hoped that she could coax Regina out on a little walk afterwards. Maybe they could take a stroll in the park. That would be a very normal date thing to do, right? Emma was eighty nine percent sure it would. It was a bit strange really, but Emma had never been on a traditional date. Not one with candles and white tablecloths. Her meet-ups had mostly consisted of “hi, can I buy you a drink” and drunken stumble back to some random woman’s apartment for a fumbling one night stand. Not even she and Lily had been going out to fancy restaurants. They had settled for takeout and visits to the nearest McDonald’s.

Emma’s head snapped up when she heard voices coming from downstairs. It sounded like Ruby and Eugenia were arguing again. It brought Emma out of her thoughts, and she remembered that she had places to be tonight. She rose from the bed, fetched her jacket, grabbed her phone and room key and then walked out of the door. She carefully locked the door, slipped the key into the pocket of her jeans, and the phone into the pocket of her leather jacket. Then she walked down the wooden staircase.

Eugenia was standing near the counter. She too was dressed up and ready to go. She was wearing a green coat and looked quite fancy. The grey-haired woman was looking anxiously at her watch, and after having muttered a bit under her breath, she turned around and yelled into the backroom: “didn’t you say seven o’clock?!”

“I did,” Ruby confirmed as she emerged from the backroom. She too was dressed up. In a minidress and tall boots. “And it’s not seven o’clock yet, gran. So relax.”

Eugenia huffed a bit under her breath. “If she’s late, I swear to god I’ll murder her!”

Emma chuckled at the elderly woman’s obvious annoyance. “Fancy plans?” she asked and brushed something away from the sleeve of her jacket.

“Family visit,” Ruby said. “And granny is currently freaking out because the waitress who’s supposed to be watching the place hasn’t shown up yet.”

“Oh,” Emma nodded understandingly.

“She said she would be here early!” Eugenia hissed. “I never should have asked her! You can’t trust anyone these days! If you want something done, you have to do it yourse-“

“Bla, bla, bla,” Ruby interrupted and rolled her eyes at her impatient grandmother. “She’ll be here in a second, gran.”

“We barely know her!” Eugenia stated and wringed her hands. “She’s only been working here for a month!”

“Well, it was pretty short notice,” Ruby said patiently. “None of the other waitresses had time, so really you should thank Suzie when she gets here. Not be irritated at her.”

“Do not lecture me, young lady!” Eugenia warned.

Ruby turned to Emma. “Do you think she’s noticed that I’m twenty three and not thirteen?”

Emma chuckled lightly.

Ruby eyed her curiously. “Got fancy plans yourself, Ems?”

“Maybe,” Emma teased.

“Tell me more,” Ruby said plainly.

“You’re nosy,” Emma deadpanned.

“Yes, I am. Now tell me more.”

“Suzie!” Eugenia interrupted, sounding utterly relieved as she looked at a young blonde coming through the door.

“Sorry for the delay,” the young blonde said. “My cat was-“

“Yes, yes, never mind that now,” Eugenia said impatiently. “You know where everything are?”

“Yeah,” Suzie nodded.

“You know what to say if someone calls and asks for a room?”

“Yes,” Suzie confirmed.

“And you know how-“

“Granny. She gets it,” Ruby interrupted. “We were in a hurry, remember?”

That reminded Emma that so was she. She sort of wanted to stick around and watch this humorous exchange, but there was no way she wanted to be late for her date with Regina. No humorous exchange was worth that. The blonde said goodbye to Eugenia and Ruby, wished them a good time and then she left the diner. Eugenia’s lecture about the master key to all the rooms followed all the way out on the street.

It was another nippy night in Steveston. Emma pulled the leather jacket tighter around herself. One of these days she would have to buy a more appropriate coat. It was too cold to prance around in just her leather jacket. She was looking forward to going into the warm restaurant and enjoy a nice meal.

Emma walked down the street, and it didn’t take long before she reached Tony’s. The restaurant was very cozy with candle lights on the table and soft, Italian music playing on the radio. Emma had carefully studied the menu online before finally having called and booked a table. A table in the corner. Emma hated sitting in the middle of the room. She saw no reason to let everyone know that she was on a date. It wasn’t anybody’s business but her and Regina’s. Emma wanted privacy, and especially because this was the first date. And she had a feeling that Regina felt the same. Emma already knew how private the brunette was.

Ignoring the lights and soft laughter coming from the restaurant, Emma settled down on a bench outside. She preferred waiting for Regina there instead of inside the restaurant. That way she could easily spot when Regina was coming walking down the pavement.

Emma crossed her legs and rubbed her hands together like she had done when she was waiting for Regina and Henry at the harvest festival. And much like last time, she had indeed forgotten her gloves. And she had forgotten to buy a spare pair she could leave in her jacket pockets. It was cold tonight. Emma would have worn a hat, but she had been afraid it would ruin her hair, so she had chosen vanity over sensibility. She was regretting that just a little bit now though. She hoped that she wasn’t gonna sit here and wait for too long. Maybe that would make her turn into a popsicle. Emma chuckled slightly to herself. She was so looking forward till tonight. She hoped Regina felt the same and wasn’t nervous. Emma had thought a lot about how the brunette’s dark eyes had flickered anxiously when
Emma had suggested a date. She wondered why that was. Maybe it had been a while since Regina was on a date. Emma shook her head. That seemed absurd. And unfair. Emma hoped that tonight would be a success. She would love to take Regina out on more dates in the very near future.

Emma reached within her pocket and checked her phone just to kill some time. She sighed. There was a text from August wishing her good luck on tonight’s date with “The beautiful lady”. Emma rolled her eyes. She never should have told him about the date. He was so curious. And obviously living his life through her because he hadn’t had a date for a while. Emma chuckled a bit now. She would throw that in this face the next time he dared asking her about the date. He would probably be asking about how the date went when she came to work on Monday. Emma decided right then and there that she wouldn’t tell him a single thing. She liked August, but this wasn’t any of his business.

Emma whistled quietly to herself as she looked out at the square. There weren’t many people on the street today. It was probably because of the cold weather. She wondered when they could expect the first snow. It was definitely cold enough for that already. She rubbed her hands together. She really should have brought her gloves with her. Then her phone beeped, and for a second Emma was afraid that it was August again, but it wasn’t. It was Ella, wishing her good luck with tonight’s date. Emma wittily asked her friend if she really thought that Emma needed a “good luck”, and Ella texted her back, informing her that she was a moron. Emma chuckled loudly at that. She missed Ella. She hoped that her friend would make come and visit her in Steveston soon. Emma grinned as she thought about how Ella undoubtedly would fall in love with Steveston and the town’s charm. Who knew, maybe Ella would love the town so much she would decide to move here.
Emma knew it was unlikely, but she was allowed to dream, right?

She leaned back on the bench and rubbed a palm over her jean clad thigh. She should have worn stockings underneath her jeans. That was how bloody cold it was tonight. Isabelle Gold crossed the street, and Emma smiled when the brunette librarian lifted a hand in greeting. Emma was quick to wave back. Out of all the people she had met in Steveston, Isabelle had to be the one she connected best with. The librarian had been so sweet and helpful when Emma had come to the library and asked for books about sign language. Emma already had a standing coffee invitation, and she was counting on going sometimes next week. If she could find the time between all her work, obviously. Things were always pretty busy at Dragon Publishing, but Emma had absolutely nothing against that. She loved it. She loved the atmosphere, and she loved how books were the main subject of all conversation. There she didn’t have to be afraid to geek out about books. It was completely acceptable.

Emma raised her head when she spotted the familiar, black Mercedes pulling up. The blonde straightened her posture just a little and noted how her heart started to thud pleasantly in her chest. It definitely looked like her date was here. Emma grinned broadly.

A moment later she saw the car door being opened. The first thing Emma saw was a pair of high heels hitting the ground, and then the rest of Regina Mills came into view. Emma felt tempted to leap from the bench and jog over there to greet Regina immediately, but she forced herself to remain sitting as she watched Regina come towards her. The brunette was once again wearing her black coat with the big fur collar. Her hair looked as shiny and silky as ever, and her lips had been painted red. God, she looked good! Emma’s heart skipped a beat. Her palms went a little sweaty, and her cheeks flushed slightly. To think that she could get so affected by Regina already. It was a little silly.

Finally, Regina was standing right by the bench, and Emma immediately jumped to her feet and flashed the brunette a huge smile. She was certain she looked positively ridiculous like that, but she couldn’t help it.

“Hi,” she grinned and tugged a strand of hair behind her ear.

Regina returned the smile and then reached inside the pocket of her coat. She gave Emma a note, and Emma chuckled as she read: ‘hello’.

“I’m really starving,” Emma said. “I hope you’re hungry too.”

Regina nodded in a way that clearly showed that she was starving as well.

“Are you ready to head inside?” Emma asked.

Regina nodded again.

“Cool,” Emma said.

They walked towards the restaurant, and once inside, Regina turned her attention to the coat hanger. She loosened the belt in her black coat and then unbuttoned it.

Emma could have swallowed her tongue when she saw the black dress Regina had chosen for the occasion. It was the classic little black dress Emma always had admired on other women, but never had been able to pull off herself. But oh boy, how Regina could pull it off! She looked stunning. The dress ended just a little bit above her knees. A belt with gold buckle accentuated her waistline. Emma looked down and eyed the brunette’s footwear. High heels. At least six inches. So maybe a walk in the park afterwards was out of the question. Emma reminded herself that she was staring and snapped out of it as she unzipped her own jacket. She felt underdressed. Everything about Regina radiated perfection. From her high heels to the cream colored silk scarf she had tied in a bow around her neck.

They walked towards the front desk and were immediately greeted by a perky young waitress who flashed them a toothpaste smile.

“Reservation for Emma Swan?” Emma asked after having gone over the mandatory good evening.

The waitress nodded and smiled again. “Sure, just follow me, ladies.”

They followed her through the restaurant, and Emma felt every bit satisfied when they were guided towards a table in the corner. Exactly like she had requested.

“Your table is right here,” the waitress said. She was still smiling idiotically. “Nice and private. Plenty of opportunity to talk in peace.”

Regina made a very slight sound, and Emma quickly turned her head to see what that was about. The brunette looked amused and shook her head slightly. It didn’t take long for Emma to realize what the waitress had just said. Talk in peace. Now Emma shook her head a little bit too.

“Thank you,” Emma said to the waitress.

“I’ll be right here to take your orders,” the waitress assured as she walked away from the table.

Emma and Regina sat down at the table. Emma had felt pretty tempted to pull out Regina’s chair for her, but she was sort of afraid it would have been more silly than a gallant gesture. So Emma settled for smiling at the brunette as she glanced at her over the menu. This was a very nice restaurant. Dimmed lights. White tablecloths. Lit candles. Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” playing on the radio. Okay, maybe the last part was a bit tacky, but still Emma liked it. It only added to the mood.

“Do you want a starter or anything?” Emma asked Regina and looked up.

The brunette shook her head and smiled.

“Straight to the main course then?” Emma asked.

Now Regina nodded in confirmation.

“Great,” Emma said, secretly pleased. She had always preferred going straight to the main course. She looked at the menu again. Everything looked so delicious. It was gonna be hard to chose something.

“Okay, but we’re definitely having dessert!” the blonde exclaimed. “They have tiramisu!” she looked up at Regina again. “Do you like tiramisu?”

Regina nodded again and smiled.

“Awesome,” Emma said, glancing at the menu again. “I think I’ll have Fettucine Alfredo. That sounds really delicious. Have you decided on anything?” she looked up at Regina once more.

The brunette reached within her purse and found a post-it note and a pencil. The pencil scratched against the paper for a moment, and then Regina pushed a note towards Emma.

Emma was quick to pick the note up and squinted a bit as she read it in the dimmed light: ‘I’d like to have the tomato soup. But would you mind ordering for me? I do so dislike pointing and writing it down is a bit awkward especially when it’s a restaurant I haven’t visited before.’

“Sure,” Emma said quickly. “No problem.”

Regina smiled a little.

It didn’t take long before the perky waitress came back to their table, and she first asked what they wanted to drink.

“Water for both of us?” Emma asked and glanced at Regina.

Regina nodded in confirmation.

“Water for both of us,” Emma said to the waitress. “And I’d like the Fettuccini Alfredo, and-“

“Okay,” the waitress interrupted, scribbled down and then turned to Regina. “And what can I get for you?”

“She’d like the tomato soup,” Emma said quickly.

“Okay,” the waitress said, looking a bit confused, but quickly sobering up: “I’ll be right there with your drinks.”

“Thanks,” Emma said.

The waitress walked off, and Emma turned her attention back to Regina. “So. This is a bit different from the dining area in the train.”

Regina looked amused as she nodded in agreement.

“I’m glad we’re doing this,” Emma continued softly and smiled herself.

Regina nodded again, but now she looked a bit worried.

Emma raised an eyebrow and gently asked: “what?”

Regina just shrugged slightly.

“No, what is it?” Emma insisted. “Tell me.”

Regina reached within her purse again and found a new post-it note. She scribbled for a moment, and then Emma was presented with another note. She quickly grasped the note and read it: ‘this is hardly the kind of date you’re used to. The foundation for a successful date is conversation, and that’s pretty difficult in my case. Are you sure you don’t mind this? The one sided conversation. Post-it notes all over the table.’

Emma shook her head firmly. “You have nothing to worry about, Regina. I’m not used to anything when it comes to dates. This is actually already shaping up to being one of the best dates I’ve ever been on.”

Regina raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

“I’m serious,” Emma said firmly.

Regina shook her head slightly, but she didn’t seem to have anything further to add, and Emma considered herself to be victorious. She grinned a little.

Regina returned the smile, and Emma became mesmerized with the way her brown eyes gleamed in the candle lights.

“You’re beautiful,” Emma blurted out. She didn’t have any control over what was coming out of her mouth right now, and she immediately flushed and tugged a strand of hair behind her ear.

Regina flashed her another beautiful smile and shook her head ever so slightly once more.

Emma was just about to protest, but then the waitress returned with their drinks. She smiled a little as she placed the drinks in front of them and then walked away once more.

Emma lifted her glass. “Cheers.”

Regina raised her glass as well and smiled.

Emma took a sip of the cold water and watched over the rim as Regina did the same. The brunette took a small sip of water, then frowned a bit. She sat the glass down and reached within her purse. It didn’t take long before Emma saw the familiar white bottle of pills. She tried not to watch as Regina popped the lid off, tilted the bottle slightly and then let a pill slide into her hand. But it was impossible not to notice it when Regina swallowed the pill with lots of water and then immediately cringed as soon as she had done it. A hand came up to rub at her throat above the scarf.

“Are you okay?” Emma asked. She still couldn’t stop herself from blurting out things.

Regina nodded a bit and then she found a new post-it note and began to scribble. Emma took the time to take another gulp of water, and just as she had swallowed, she was presented with a new note. ‘Sometimes swallowing hurts. The muscles cramps and makes it difficult. The pills I take relaxes the muscles and makes it easier to swallow.’

“Oh, I see,” Emma said. “Are you... Is it okay for you to eat?”

Regina nodded and smiled reassuringly.

And Emma suddenly thought to herself that soup probably hadn’t been a completely random choice on Regina’s behalf. There had probably been a damn good reason why she had opted for soup.

“Is it... Is it always like that?” Emma asked shyly, unsure how much she could ask about this.

Regina seemed calm as ever as she found another post-it note and began scribbling. Emma took another sip of her water and noted that her stomach was growling slightly. She was getting pretty hungry.
She hoped that their dinner soon would be here. She took another sip of her water just to keep the hunger at bay. Her stomach growled again. Emma cringed. She hoped Regina didn’t pick up on it.

And then another note was pushed across the table. This time Emma leaned in to read it: ‘no, not all the time. It variates a lot. Depends on how tired I am, etc.’

Emma quickly looked up at the brunette. “Does that mean tonight is a bad night?”

Regina smiled and shook her head. Scribbled underneath: ‘no, not at all.’

“Oh. Good,” Emma said, reminding herself that this was a date. Regina was probably not interested in conversing about her health problems all night. It was time to change the subject.

“How is the house hunting going?” she asked and took another sip of her water.

Regina was quick to find another post-it note and scribbled eagerly for a moment. Then she gave Emma the note: ‘it’s going rather well. I think we might have found something suitable. An apartment not too far away from my sister’s, but we can’t move in until in six months.’

“Six months? Ugh, that sucks,” Emma said.

Regina nodded gravely and then wrote underneath for a moment. When she removed the pencil, Emma could read: ‘how about you? Have you found something you’d want to live in?’

“Well, there is this one place,” Emma replied and folded her hands lightly. “It’s really amazing. It’s a house, not an apartment, but its like, crazy expensive. I’d have to work nonstop for about a hundredth years to be able to afford a place like that. I’ll probably try and find an apartment instead. I think that’s more sensible. Don’t you?”

Regina nodded thoughtfully and then scribbled a new question for Emma to read: ‘And how is the job going?’

“Oh, it’s going super well,” Emma beamed. “I love it more and more each day. I’ve started to edit manuscripts as well as reading them now! Isn’t that awesome? And I might even get my own office soon. I mean, a better office. I technically have an office already, but it’s not very big, and it gets cluttered super easily, so I’m really looking forward to hopefully get a bigger workspace.” The blonde took a gulp of her water and reminded herself to slow down. She was rambling. She knew she was.

But Regina didn’t look like she found Emma’s “rambling” to be annoying. Quite the reverse actually, and she smiled a little as she scribbled on a new post-it.

Emma cleared her throat slightly, took another sip of water. Her stomach rumbled again. God, she was hungry! Where was the food?

But all thoughts of food was oh so quickly forgotten when Regina presented her with a new note: ‘that is excellent news. I am happy to hear that you are thriving. You deserve to work with something you love.’

Emma flushed a bit; that was very sweet. She sternly told herself to stop blushing as she watched Regina scribble another message. Soon another message was ready to be read by the blonde: ‘I’ve been given the opportunity to get a job as well. Online classes in literature at the University of British Columbia. I’d both be deciding the subjects, set up modules and help the students via email.’

“Really?” Emma said as she looked up at Regina. “That’s awesome news! You’re going to say yes, aren’t you?”

Regina offered a light “we’ll see”-shrug.

“What? You have to!” Emma said. “It sounds like an amazing opportunity.”

Regina smiled a little as she scribbled anew. Emma waited eagerly, and out of the corner of her eye she saw the waitress coming towards their table with the food. Regina beat the waitress, though, and before she had made it to their table, Emma could read a new message: ‘there’s a good chance I’ll say yes. I would be able to work from home and be there for Henry at all times. I think he’d love that. Though he’d probably see it as an opportunity to have me respond to his every summon.’

Emma chuckled. “I doubt that.”

Regina didn’t seem to completely agree with that, but before they could discuss the topic further, the waitress served them their food. One Fettuccine Alfredo, and one creamy tomato soup. Both meals looked absolutely delicious. Emma’s mouth was almost watering.

The waitress said “bon Appetit!” and left, and both Emma and Regina looked amused at the callback to their train ride.

“Oh my god, that looks awesome,” Emma said earnestly, and completely without hiding how much she loved food.

Regina nodded her head in agreement and traded her pencil for the spoon.

“Bon Appetit,” Emma quipped. And unable to wait any longer, she speared a pasta on her fork and stuffed it into her mouth. It tasted goddamn amazing!

She looked up just in time to see that her little quip had earned her a headshake and a slight roll of dark eyes.

That was about the only thing that could take Emma’s attention away from the deliciously smelling food in front of her. Regina looked so fucking attractive when she rolled her eyes. Sexy. Alluring. Emma reminded herself to swallow her food and not sit with her mouth hanging open. That was NOT very attractive. But nevertheless a very tempting thing to do. Watching Regina was by far the most interesting thing to do. She made everything look attractive. Hell, she could even eat soup without slurping. Emma almost rolled her eyes at herself. Of course she could. Regina was a lady.

“Does it taste as good as it looks?” Emma asked to distract herself.

Regina looked up and nodded. Her lips moved as she silently formed a word.

“Awe... Awesome?” Emma asked with a chuckle. Was the brunette mocking her?

Yes, clearly a little bit, because Regina nodded once, and her dark eyes sparkled with amusement as she did so.

That didn’t lessen Emma’s problems with concentrating on eating her food.

The rest of the date was awesome. Pure and simple.

The food was incredible. The conversation flowed. They discussed books (Regina had just finished Madame Bovary for the third time), and then they conversed about the harvest festival. Regina revealed that Henry was still talking about how awesome everything had been, and how he wanted to come back to Steveston again. Emma laughed and said that that could be nice.

Once they had finished their meals and sat for a while, Emma suggested desert. Regina first raised an eyebrow and looked like she was about to decline, but Emma insisted and said firmly that she refused to sit an eat tiramisu all on her own. Regina simply HAD to say yes.

Regina had looked quite amused at that and then nodded.

Emma had ordered tiramisu for both of them, and it quickly turned out that Regina clearly loved tiramisu. The brunette happily ate. She was almost as fast as Emma was, and the blonde was rather impressed at that. It looked like she had found a match. Emma was quick to add this to the list over things she knew about Regina. She liked tiramisu. And pie. Check. The blonde found that to be absolutely adorable for some reason. Maybe because Regina did not look like the type who ate tiramisu and pie. Ever. And after a bit of prodding, Regina did indeed reveal that it wasn’t very often she indulged in sweets. Obviously, Emma found that to be a minor disaster, and she made a vow to buy the brunette lots of pies and tiramisu in the very near future.

Regina had looked rather amused at that, and then she had rolled her eyes again. That had bluescreened Emma’s mind sufficiently for a moment. Apparently, she had a weakness for seeing Regina roll her eyes. Right then.

 

It was getting darker outside. Emma knew what that meant. That this date was coming to an end. She didn’t want it to end. She didn’t want Regina to drive home. It was a damn shame the brunette didn’t live right here in Steveston. That would have made things so much easier. That way she could have seen Regina every day. Emma scoffed quietly. She was getting ahead of herself. Again. This was only the first date. She had to remember that all the time. There would be other occasions. More dates with Regina. That was at least what Emma hoped.

The blonde drank the last of her water. She didn’t want this night to end, but she had to remember that Regina had to get back to Henry. The brunette had commitments. She couldn’t stay out all night long, even though Emma would have applauded it. She flashed the brunette a little smile. Regina returned the smile and looked at the table and pursed her lips slightly. Their table was full of post-its, and
Emma wouldn’t have it any other way. Lots of post-its meant a flowing conversation. A table filled with post-its was a very good thing.

“Do you think we should...?” Emma gestured towards the door.

Regina nodded.

Both women rose from their chairs. Regina scowled a bit as she grabbed the many post-its and stuffed them into her purse. While she did that, Emma went up to the counter and paid for their dinner and dessert. It had been a bit of an expensive dinner, but Emma didn’t care. It had been entirely worth it. She would happily do it again. And again. And again.

The two women found their coats and then left the restaurant. The weather was even colder now, and Emma shivered slightly in her leather jacket. She really needed a better coat. And preferably before it would be actual winter.

“So, is Zelena watching the little guy tonight?” Emma asked to distract herself from the cold.

Regina nodded.

“Do you think he’d fancy another trip to Steveston?” Emma asked. “It was really fun to hang out with him. With both of you.”

Regina smiled and then nodded again. She found her phone in her pocket, typed for a moment and then turned the screen towards Emma.

Emma smiled as she read: ‘yes, I believe he’d absolutely love that. He’s been begging to have a cup of Eugenia’s cocoa just like in the good old days.’

“Ruby mentioned that you used to come here on holiday?” Emma said and tried to sound as nonchalant as possible.

Regina nodded, typed and then turned the screen: ‘yes, that’s right.’

“But then you stopped?” Emma asked, still completely nonchalant.

Regina simply nodded.

“Found other holiday destinations?” Emma asked casually. “Something a bit more interesting?”

The shift in Regina was immediate. Subtle, but still very much noticeable to Emma. The brunette’s gaze started flickering slightly, and she drew a lock of dark hair behind her ear. Her eyes were still flickering as she typed on her phone again.

Emma could instantly that she somehow had hit a nerve, and now she felt bad about having asked. This was tricky. She wanted to know more. God, she wanted to know more, but she wasn’t sure what the right way was to find out more about Regina. She wasn’t sure which questions were loaded questions.

The phone screen was turned towards her again, and Emma read: ‘no, not quite. I’m afraid I lost interest in going places. I wasn’t in a very good place.’

“Oh,” Emma said. Now she felt really bad about asking. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Regina offered a light shrug at that.

“Are you... Are you feeling better now?” Emma asked carefully.

Regina turned her head, made eye contact with Emma as she smiled and nodded. Then she typed and turned the screen towards the blonde once more: ‘it gets better every day.’

“That’s good to hear,” Emma said and returned the smile.

Regina nodded once and then her gaze flickered down to Emma’s slightly blue hands. The brunette frowned slightly.

“I forgot my gloves. Again.” Emma admitted almost sheepishly.

That made Regina sigh and shake her head.

“And now I feel like I’m being scolded by my teacher,” Emma muttered, saying the first thing that came to mind. Now she could really see Professor Mills.

Regina looked highly amused at that, and her shoulders rose and fell as though she was silently laughing at Emma. She probably was.

 

While they didn’t go to the park, they actually ended up walking around in Steveston for a little while. Regina was very interested in seeing the town again, and she pointed out at least three stores that hadn’t been there all the time. Emma lapped it up. She lapped up everything Regina informed her about. Even the tiniest little detail. Suddenly, Regina’s cellphone beeped, and upon checking the message, the brunette sighed slightly.

“Bad news?” Emma asked slightly concerned.

Regina shrugged in an “yes and no”-manner and then she turned the screen towards Emma.

“Oh,” Emma spluttered when she saw what it was. It was a picture of Henry sitting on a couch with a massive bowl of popcorn in his lap. He was smiling brightly and giving thumbs up. Underneath the picture was written: ‘look what auntie Zelena made for me! She’s the best aunt ever!’

“Is she bribing him to write that or something?” Emma chuckled.

Regina nodded eagerly, flipped the screen, tapped a few buttons and then tapped a new message. Emma laughed when she read: ‘yes, definitely! No doubt about it.’

“So, I’m guessing you’d want to go home and make sure he doesn’t eat all the popcorns at once?” Emma said, tugging a lock of hair behind her ear.

Regina nodded, typed and then turned the screen: ‘yes, I think that might be best.’

“Okay. Let’s head back to the restaurant then,” Emma suggested.

Regina nodded once.

They walked back towards the restaurant were Regina had parked her car. Emma couldn’t help but feel a little sad that their date was coming to an end. She didn’t want it to end yet, damnit! She was having a way too good time.

But there was nothing she could do about it. Soon they reached the restaurant and Regina’s car, and Regina found her car keys in her purse.

“Well...” Emma said, shifting slightly on her feet.

Regina flashed her a smile.

“I’ve.... I’ve had a really awesome time tonight,” Emma said earnestly.

Regina nodded, her lips moved, forming the words ‘me, too’.

Emma grinned broadly. This was usually the moment where she would have leaned in and “sealed the deal” with a kiss. But something was holding her back. She couldn’t quite pinpoint what, but something in her gut told her that Regina wasn’t ready to be kissed just yet. So instead she gently reached out and lightly put her hand on Regina’s forearm.

Once again, something seemed a bit off. Emma could feel it. She could feel how Regina flinched and then froze for a millisecond. A look that could have been one of panic flickered in Regina’s eyes, but it was all so brief she didn’t get the chance to fully wonder about it. The warmth returned to Regina’s eyes as she lightly put her hand over Emma’s for a moment and then moved it away again.

“Would you like to do this again sometimes?” Emma asked as she moved her hand away from Regina’s arm.

Regina smiled and nodded and then tapped her phone once.

Emma immediately understood, and she grinned. “Yeah. Sure, I’ll text you.”

Regina nodded slightly.

“Well....” Emma moved a few steps backwards. “I’ll see you soon?”

Regina nodded again and smiled a little as she tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear. Emma felt herself staring at the brunette’s hand. Regina had beautiful hands. This wasn’t a surprise, really. Every part of Regina was beautiful.

“Drive safely,” Emma half-quipped. “Don’t speed. Even though you’re eager to come home and rescue Henry from the popcorns.”

Regina shook her head and her dark eyes sparkled with amusement. Then she offered Emma one last nod, her lips moved as she wordlessly formed the word “goodbye”.

“Bye,” Emma said and returned the smile.

Regina turned around and walked towards her car.

Emma watched as the brunette walked away. She simply couldn’t help it. She had to linger. She watched as Regina climbed into the Mercedes, adjusted the rearview mirror, and then switched the engine on. Emma almost wished that Regina would look out of the side window. Emma had a silly urge to wave her off.

But Regina didn’t look out of the side window. Instead she kept her eyes on the road as she maneuvered the car out of the parking lot. Emma kept hovering until she couldn’t see the black Mercedes anymore. Then she sighed a little. Shook her head. What a woman. If there had been a sliver of doubt left in Emma’s mind before, that sliver was definitely gone now. She was most definitely head over heels for Regina. No question about it. Enchanted. Enamored. Charmed. Smitten. Besotted.

Emma chuckled slightly as she finally turned around and walked back towards the square. She couldn’t wait to tell Ella all about the date. And she couldn’t wait to go out on another date with Regina.

Emma hoped that could happen relatively soon. She wanted to go out for dinner with Regina again. And she couldn’t wait to spend more time with Henry either. Normally, Emma wasn’t all that big on kids, but Henry was different. He was a great kid. Very funny. Emma felt as though they really had it off at the harvest festival. She hoped that it would be possible for her to see Henry again. The blonde chuckled a little. She had gone from sort of disliking children to voluntarily wanting to spend time with a kid. What had happened to her?

It was Regina’s fault. Of course it was. Emma stuffed her hands into her pockets in an attempt to keep them warm as she walked back. She was regretting that she hadn’t kissed Regina tonight, but there had just been something that had stopped her. Emma couldn’t quite explain what it was. A gut instinct. A feeling. Something.

Emma felt relived when she spotted the lights from Eugenia’s Inn. For a moment she foolishly wondered why Ruby’s car wasn’t there, but then she remembered that Ruby and Eugenia was away on a family visit tonight. The timing couldn’t be better. Emma was the only one currently renting a room, and there weren’t that many visitors in the diner. Emma could imagine how the place would be bustling with life come summer. She was looking forward to experiencing that. And she was looking forward to seeing Elsa’s little ice cream store flourish and become a big deal. Emma was certain that people would come in flocks to Elsa’s ice cream store in the summer. And Emma would be the first customer. First in line for rocky road. Emma chuckled a little. She briefly wondered if Regina liked rocky road?

Did the brunette like ice cream? Possibly. If she liked pie, then why not ice cream too? Emma would have to ask her about that the next time they saw each other. The next time. Emma could hardly wait until that was, and she felt incredibly tempted to text Regina right now and ask when they could have their second date, but Emma quickly reminded herself to not be silly. Regina was driving right now.

They could text later. There would be plenty of time later. Tomorrow was Sunday. The only plan Emma had was to write on her fairytales. She could easily find the time to text Regina. The brunette probably didn’t have big plans for tomorrow. Emma knew that Regina preferred to kick back and do nothing on Sundays. Some days she and Henry spend the time playing video games, and Emma found that to be positively adorable. And a little funny. She couldn’t really imagine Regina Mills playing video games. But according to Regina she was quite good at it. Even though Henry was better. Obviously.

Emma had laughed when Regina had pointed that out.

The blonde opened the door to Eugenia’s Inn and stepped inside, grateful to finally have found shelter from the cold.

The diner was pretty quiet though, but Emma could hear rustling and bustling from the backroom. Suzie was probably in there. Had Eugenia asked her to finish tidying up in there? Poor girl. Emma chuckled to herself as she ascended the stairs. She almost felt tempted to take a peek inside that infamous backroom. The way Eugenia described it made it sound as though World War II had taken place in there. Emma seriously doubted it could be THAT bad, though. Eugenia was probably just exaggerating. According to Ruby, she was good at that. VERY good. Emma chuckled to herself as she reached the top of the stairs and walked down the long hallway. She felt pretty lucky that she was living here all on her own. There was no one around to bother her by making noise at night. Emma was extremely grateful for that. She had a feeling that the walls separating the rooms were very thin, and she still had nightmares about her thin-walled apartment in Toronto. And the sex crazy couple living right next door. Seriously, they had been at it every night. Emma had felt every bit like some grumpy grandma when she had been forced to bang on the wall and ask them to keep quiet, damnit! I wonder what happened to that couple? Are they still living there? Yeah, they probably are. Oh my god, I feel so sorry for whoever moved into my old apartment! I should have left a note explaining the situation to them. I should have given them some sort of warning! That would have been the only right thing to d-.......

Emma stopped abruptly and her train of thoughts dissolved into nothing when she reached the door to her room. All the pleasant thoughts about her date with Regina had suddenly disappeared.

Vanished in thin air.

Emma reached within the pocket of her leather jacket. The key to her room door was still lying safely nestled between her spare chains and the bill from the restaurant. And Emma was absolutely certain that she had locked the door before leaving. In fact she saw a flashback of herself stepping out of the door and carefully locking it behind her before she had gone downstairs and been amused over Eugenia and Ruby’s little slanging match.

She hadn’t asked for housekeeping or anything before leaving. And she had abso-freaking-lutely locked the door behind her. She could remember that. She could remember the creak and squeak the door made whenever it had been locked.

Emma hands curled into fists in her pockets.

Now the door to her room was ever so slightly pushed ajar...

 

 

To Be Continued............