Chapter 1: The incident with Henry
“Oh no, no, no, no, no, Sandra, don’t die on me now, babe. We still have a long way to go. You can’t die on me in this little town, who’s going to help us here, my love?” Emma Swan pleaded with her car, as it sputtered and came to a halt in the middle of a residential street. The wind was gusting, as big heavy drops of rain started falling on the hood of the car.
The darkness of the evening was already in full force and as she looked around, she found that a big white mansion was the closest house to her car, so she left it in a hurry, opened the little white gate and ran straight to the door, trying in vain not to get drenched. She rang the bell twice and sent a prayer to whichever deity was there, to let her get help for her car so she could get to the hotel and have a good night’s sleep for her job interview the following morning.
The moment the bell rang, she heard a baby start crying and cursed her luck. No parent who lived in that house would help her now. As she turned to leave, the front door was opened furiously and revealed a brunette woman with her chocolate hair dishevelled, wearing a gray cardigan and jeans, her eyes red of exhaustion and looking murderously at her.
“YOU BETTER BE ILLITERATE OR BLIND. HAVEN’T YOU SEEN THE EXPLICIT MESSAGE TO DO NOT RING MY BELL? I HAVE A THREE-MONTH-OLD BABY WHO’S NOW SCREAMING! I JUST PUT HIM TO SLEEP, YOU HEARTLESS STRANGER!”
Emma could feel the anger pouring from every pore of the woman and tried to formulate an apology, but the woman never gave her a chance to.
“IF YOU THINK YOU CAN WAKE MY BABY, THEN YOU CAN PUT HIM BACK TO SLEEP!”
She grabbed Emma’s arm and made her enter the mansion, slammed the door behind her - the damage was done already - and dragged Emma upstairs. She only let her arm go once they were in the baby’s room, who was still screaming at the top of his youthful lungs.
“His name is Henry, and you’ll only leave this room once he is sleeping again. No funny business, or I will call the police on you. Now get on with it!” The brunette closed the door on her way out, leaving Emma alone with the three-month-old screaming baby.
Emma remembered the nuns used to sing her lullabies and she tried to remember the lyrics of her favorite one. She took a deep breath and remembered the techniques she learned from her childhood. She then grabbed Henry. “Hey little man! What’s wrong with you? Did I wake you ringing that stu.... horrible bell? I’m really sorry!” Henry continued to scream, fussing his little legs and scrunching his chubby face, in a clear demonstration of pain. Emma turned him on his belly, his pink cheek resting on her right forearm, while her left hand made circular movements on his back, as she started to sing the lullaby.
Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Baby is drowsing, cozy and fair
Nun Beth sits near in her rocking chair
Forward and back, the cradle she swings
Though baby sleeps, he hears what she sings.
Rock-a-baby, do not you fear
Never mind, baby, Nun Mary is near.
Wee little fingers, eyes are shut tight
Now sound asleep until morning light.
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Henry seemed to accept well the lullaby and stopped screaming at once, however, he didn’t stop moving uncomfortably. Emma continued to make circular movements on his lower back, as she supposed he may have been colicky. She didn’t dare to change his position on her arms, not until she was certain he was deep asleep, so she started walking very slowly around the room, as if showing the kid his own bedroom. Looking around, she confirmed what she knew the moment she stepped foot on the house: the family was wealthy, and she felt happy for the kid, who wouldn’t ever face what she had gone through as a child. Emma took a deep breath and tried to clear her thoughts. It was not the moment and most definitely not the place to mull over the past.
As she walked around, still humming the lullaby, she could see the beautiful furniture, the elegant baby blue wallpaper, a few stuffed animals and a shelf with some books, which, judging by the colors, were for children. As she walked, she stepped into a rubber duck and it squeaked, startling Henry into crying.
Emma groaned and started singing the same lullaby again. She couldn’t really understand how Henry’s mother left her with him and didn’t come back. Maybe she was tired, but where would his father be to help her take care of the baby? It was none of her business, but she couldn’t help feeling a little for the woman.
A few moments later, Henry seemed calm enough to sleep on his cradle and very slowly, she laid him down. Taking care to not step into anything else, Emma walked out of the room, and closed the door quietly.
She found Henry’s mom in the kitchen, waiting for her with two cups of tea on the island.
“I’m so sorry I disturbed Henry. I just needed…”
“I am sorry for screaming at you. I went outside and I found the message on the floor, it was impossible for you to have known.”
“That’s completely understandable. I’m Emma, by the way.”
“Regina. Nice to meet you.” Regina said offering her hand.
Emma gave a chuckle, but took Regina’s hand. “It’s ironic to say you’re pleased to meet me after I woke your baby.” The brunette laughed and pointed to the cooling cup of tea.
“I can offer you my apology with some tea. This rain isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Wait. You were saying you needed something.” Regina looked at Emma, finally observing the blonde in front of her. High boots, a skinny pair of jeans, a white wife beater and the most atrocious faux leather jacket she had ever laid her eyes on.
Emma felt Regina’s eyes on her, and blushed a little. “Yes, I just arrived in town and I was on my way to the bed and breakfast when Sandra died on me.”
“Who’s Sandra? What do you mean she died? Should I call the police after all?”
Emma laughed lightly at the brunette’s reaction. “Relax, Sandra is my car. She’s outside your gate. I’ve been meaning to get her fixed up, she’s been through a lot.”
“Oh, Sandra is your car ?” Regina was amused. “You’re going to have to wait for the storm to pass if you want to stay dry and warm.” Regina pointed to the window, the rain was falling hard on the panels. “Why don’t we wait for it to be over and I’ll call Mr. Tillman, the town mechanic, I’m sure he will be able to ‘fix up’ whatever is wrong with Sandra .”
Emma accepted the invitation and sat on the high chair.
“So, Emma. What brings you to Storybrooke?” Regina asked as she served herself another cup of tea.
“I got a job interview with the Sheriff department. I live in Portland, but I’m tired of the city. I know it doesn’t compare to Boston, but I’m looking for a more relaxed life. I work with the Police Department in Portland and I’ve informed my superiors I’m looking for a new job, so Captain Jones referred me to Sheriff Graham, and here I am.” Emma finished talking, and drank some more tea.
“And when is your interview? More tea?”
“Yes, please. It’s tomorrow. I came today so I could get a room at the B&B and get to know the town a little better. Judging by what I saw on the way, Storybrooke is exactly the place I’ve been dreaming to live in.” Emma smiled as she saw the proud look in Regina’s eyes.
“Ah yes, Storybrooke really is a great place to lead a quiet and peaceful life, especially for families and kids.”
“Yeah, well… I don’t think I will have to worry about that. I’m a bit of a … lone wolf.” Emma’s posture changed a little and Regina noticed it probably was a sore subject for her.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you can forgive me.”
They fell into an awkward silence, and the sound of the rain outside distracted them for a moment.
“Henry is a beautiful baby. Congratulations.” Emma said.
“Thank you. He’s very colicky, I don’t know what else to do to make him sleep. That’s why I was so furious when you rang the bell. I had just managed to get him to fall asleep. I apologize once again for my behavior.”
“That’s okay, seriously. I always saw colicky kids being comforted by sleeping on their bellies. That’s how I could put him to sleep.”
“Have you taken care of kids before?”
“Yeah. I’ve taken care of a few in my time.” Emma smiled and drank more tea, to busy herself and possibly change the subject. The storm seemed to be calming down. “Do you think Mr. Tillman would be able to tow Sandra now?”
Regina looked outside and stood up. “I’ll get him on the line for you.” She called him on her cell phone and Emma listened for the one-sided conversation.
“Hello Michael, how are you?... Oh we’re great, thanks for asking. How are the twins? Oh I see. I can imagine. Sure. Anytime. Michael, I’m sorry to call you at this time, but I have a visitor form outside and her car broke down in front of my house. Can you tow her car to your garage now? No, no, she’s staying at Granny’s. Yeah, she was lucky it broke down before the storm. Yeah, she’s here with me. Her name is Emma….” Regina looked at Emma, her tone of voice giving away she didn’t know Emma’s last name.
“Swan, Michael. Perfect. We’ll wait for you. Bye.”
“Thank you so much for making the call. So, you mentioned Granny’s, is that the B&B?”
“Yes, and you’ll want to request a room with a view of the street. You’ll be able to overlook Main Street and the Library tower. Also, Granny’s pancakes are divine.”
“Wow, thank you again, Regina.”
“Would you like to check on Henry before Michael is here?”
“Yes.” Emma finished her tea and put the cup in the sink, beside Regina’s.
They went upstairs and Regina was pleased to see her son sleeping comfortably. A few minutes later, they heard Michael’s tow truck park. Emma and Regina left the house and watched Michael work, as he hooked up the old bug to the truck.
Emma thanked Regina once more and got a ride with Michael, who offered to drop her at Granny’s, with a promise to take a look at her car in the morning.
As the truck turned at the corner, Regina got her cell phone, checked the time, and called the Sheriff.
“Graham, I ran into your prospective Deputy. You’re authorized to hire her.”
“She has good recommendations and a good background on the force, Madam Mayor. I’m glad you approve of her.”
“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow in the afternoon, after your interview with her.”
At Granny’s reception, Emma was led to her room, with a view for the street as requested, and was informed about the breakfast times at the diner. As the old lady left, Emma changed into her pajamas, a faded police academy t-shirt and flannel bottoms, and looked through the window. At night, Storybrooke didn’t offer much illumination or noises, and Emma couldn’t be happier with that. She smiled, thinking about a new chapter in her life that could become a reality if she did well in the interview.
Sat in her bed with the cellphone in her hands, she couldn’t stop thinking about Regina and baby Henry. She hoped he kept on sleeping a few more hours, to give his mom a break.
Chapter 2: Daffodils, Tulips and Toys
Chapter 2 - Daffodils, Tulips and Toys
Being the Mayor isn’t easy. Even if you’re the Mayor of a small town like Storybrooke, where nothing ever happens. Regina had many responsibilities to meet, such as to organize the town budget for the winter, host council meetings regarding the community projects, ensure Graham was enforcing the rules of the liquor licence on Granny’s and The Rabbit Hole and also work on the Sheriff department’s budget, especially now Graham was about to interview a prospective Deputy. They would absolutely need more hands on deck once the winter started and Emma seemed like a good person for the job. Regina couldn’t say much about her personality to work as a Deputy, but she could evaluate the good job Emma had done putting Henry to sleep.
As she sat down on her bed, listening to Henry’s sleepy breaths on the baby monitor, Regina couldn’t help but think about Daniel. How he would have loved to see and listen to this perfect tiny life they had made together. She smiled sweetly at his portrait on her bedside table, a photo they took a few days before he went to the south, to visit a farm in Tennessee, to never return.
On the photo, they were smiling at the camera, in front of a shiny new car. Regina had just bought him the car, as a gift for closing a new deal on his job. Daniel was an investor, he worked in the racing horses industry, and he was constantly traveling, visiting farms and breeders. The new deal not only proved to be a very lucrative one, but also opened him the market in Tennessee, where a new breeder was being successful with fast and strong Thoroughbreds and majestic Clydesdales. Daniel had a meeting with some farmers the next day, so the photo was to register their celebration for the new deal. She had only found out about her pregnancy a few weeks after that photo was taken.
Thinking of Daniel reminded her to set another appointment with Archie, her psychologist. She checked the time. 6:56 p.m., it was a good time to call her parents.
Cora answered the phone on the third ring.
“Regina, dear! I thought you’ve forgotten my number!”
“Hello mother. You know, I haven’t, I’m just late on my weekly call, that’s all. How are things?”
“Everything is okay, darling. Your father and I just finished dinner, and we’re thinking about going to a wine tasting event we were invited to.”
“That sounds like a great idea, mother, good for you and dad for socializing!” Regina felt happy listening to the news. Her parents seemed to never mingle with the people from the other farms neighboring them. They had some horses for showjumping and they took care of Regina’s own horse, Rocinante. Her parents only managed the farm, with Daniel being responsible for all the bureaucratic work.
“But enough about us, dear.” Cora said on the phone. “How is Henry? How are things in Storybrooke?”
“Things are going okay, mother. Henry’s been having some problems going to sleep, he feels colicky and I’ve struggled to put him down. I’ve been trying to make him sleep in different positions, to see if he can feel more comfortable.”
“You were just like him as a baby, Regina. Nothing is out of the ordinary. Are you still breastfeeding him?”
“Yes, mother. Doctor Potts said to exclusively breastfeed him until he turns at least six months and that’s what I’m doing.”
“Excellent. Remember I exclusively breastfed you until you were one year old.” Cora said and Regina laughed.
“Yes mother, I remember you mentioned that before.” Regina laughed. “About the city, Graham is interviewing a prospect Deputy, you know how much we need workforce once winter comes, and I hope the person is a good choice. Also, I was meaning to tell you, Eugenia Lucas is trying to implement new recipes to her menu, so whenever you feel like visiting, we will take you and dad to eat there.”
“That’s good news, the woman has been running the same menu for ages!” Cora said and paused for a few seconds. Changing her tone of voice she asked, “Regina, are you going to your sessions with Dr. Hopper?”
“Yes, mother. I will see him tomorrow in the afternoon and set the next week’s session. I’m trying to do that on a weekly basis, to be able to accommodate the sessions on my schedule.” Regina answered, while scribbling on a piece of paper she was mindlessly drawing, trying to not think too deeply about the subject.
“That’s excellent, Regina. You know you should also be open to going out some day. Call Kathryn, I’m sure she would love to entertain you.”
“Mother, Kathryn is single and I doubt she would like to go out with me just to entertain me.” Regina dismissed Cora’s idea. She hadn’t spent time with her friend in a very long time, between taking care of Henry, the Town Hall and Archie’s sessions, she hardly ever made time for herself or her friend anymore.
“You’d be surprised how willing she would be, Regina. Anyways, your father is here, goodbye dear!”
“Good bye, mother!”
Regina heard the phone being transferred.
“ ¿Hola m’ija, cómo estás?”
“Estoy bien papá, ¿y tú?
“I’m great as well, dear. Your mother and I are going out tonight.”
“That’s excellent news, daddy! I’m happy for you both!”
“And how’s m’ijo? ”
“He’s excellent. Just a little colicky, but other than that, he’s great! Yesterday he sat up in my lap!”
“That’s fantastic. Your mother and I miss him deeply, we want to visit you two soon. Do you think you’ll make some time to host your old folks?”
“I will always make time for you, daddy. Just let me know when you’re planning to come and I will organize my schedule around you.”
“Good. Now, tell me about your problems at the town hall, dear. How are you working them out?”
“I’ll tell you all about it next week, now you and mother go have fun! The town’s problems will get solved when the time for them comes.”
“You know I want you to call me anytime, right m’ija?”
“Yes, daddy, I know, and whenever I need your help, I do call you, you know that! Now please, go and have fun with mother at the wine tasting!”
“All right! You sleep tight, and tell baby Henry his grandparents love him!”
“You know I will! Te quiero, papá. “
“Te quiero, m’ija!”
Regina always feels better after calling her parents. They give her the confidence she needs to take care of the baby. After Daniel’s death, Cora and Henry came from their farm to stay some months with her, throughout her pregnancy, making sure she went to all her doctor’s appointments, as well to her appointments with Archie.
The day little Henry was born, Cora and Henry Sr. were with her at the hospital and once they went back home, her parents helped her for the first weeks, teaching her how to breastfeed, change his diapers and how to bathe him. Regina was thankful for their support.
After talking to her parents, Regina went to Henry’s room to check on him, and then downstairs to prepare her own dinner. She had some salad and a tiny piece of bread.
After putting away all the dishes into the dishwasher, Regina decided to check her schedule for the next week and moved to her office, where she could still hear Henry’s breathing through the baby monitor. Turning on the computer, she confirmed some of the meeting’s invitations on her calendar, added her appointment with Archie and also a new meeting with Graham for the next day to check on him about Emma Swan.
She also had to analyze the hospital’s request for a new wing, Storybrooke’s High School Football team request for funds to play the state’s championship - for the first time ever, she couldn’t be more proud of the boys - and also the marching band’s permission for their rehearsals at City Hall grounds every Saturday morning.
Regina put everything into her calendar for the next day, sent some emails to her secretary and closed her laptop, leaving her office after a few moments. She checked on Henry again, making sure all was well with him and headed to her bedroom, where she took a quick shower and put on her pajamas.
Across town, Emma laid on the comfortable bed, imagining what she could do to repay Regina the favor. She couldn’t stop thinking about Regina’s chocolate eyes, and her dark chocolate hair. Emma was a sucker for brunettes and Regina was just the type of woman Emma loved. She was aware that she knew next to nothing about Regina, other than she had a few months old son and a big house on the richer side of town. She checked online for the local shops, thinking about a bouquet of flowers and something for the baby as an excuse to see them again in the morning.
The following day Emma woke up early, with a plan in her mind. She changed into a nice pair of jeans and a silky navy blue shirt and went downstairs to have breakfast. Emma didn’t spend much time on her food, she only had a cup of hot cocoa with cinnamon and a bear claw. After that, she left and walking on Main Street, she found the store she was looking for: Game of Thorns; she entered at once to talk to the attendant, who was behind the balcony organizing a nice bouquet of red roses.
“Good morning, I’m Luce how may I help you?” She looked no older than 35 and had beautiful green eyes and a wavy light brown hair, her smile reached her eyes and Emma immediately had a good feeling about her.
“Hi Luce, I’m Emma and I’m new in town… I’m looking for some flowers I can give as a way to say ‘I’m sorry.’”
“Well, you’re in luck, Emma. I have just received this morning some Daffodils, and they’re perfect to express your sorrow, just as the white Tulips. The situation you’re sorry for… is it bad?”
“Well, no, not really. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for waking up their baby and also… it’s an excuse to visit them again. “ Emma got flustered to admit out loud the flowers were only an excuse to see Regina and Henry again.
“Oh, I see. Well, Daffodils and Tulips are a beautiful visual combination, I think you’ll be communicating enough sorrow between the two flowers.”
“Yeah? Can you tell me more about them?”
“Absolutely. You see, a white tulip symbolizes forgiveness, purity and serenity. Tulips are grown from bulbs and bloom in the spring. Mine arrived from Johnston, Rhode Island. They are identified by a cup-shape of pointed petals atop a tall, green stem, see?” Luce showed the flower to Emma, who thought it was a fantastic flower.
“White tulips denote a new beginning and a sense of worthiness. Giving someone white tulips tells them that you wish for them to forgive you and that you want a fresh start. It denotes that you want your relationship and events to be pure and seen as worthy, with any mistakes in the past forgiven and forgotten. So, whatcha think?”
“I think they’re truly amazing! How about the daffodils?”
“Ah… yes, the daffodils… they represent forgiveness, new beginnings and rebirth. They are identified by a trumpet-shaped center surrounded by petals that create a star shape, see?” Luce showed the flower to Emma, who analysed it and nodded, as Luce continued to explain about the flower. “Daffodils are grown from bulbs and readily return each spring, signifying the end of winter and a new season beginning. They also represent happiness and are meant to be given in a bouquet, as giving a single daffodil denotes misfortune, and we don’t want that, do we?”
“No, no, absolutely not!” Emma answered.
“So, in order to tell someone "I'm sorry" or "Please forgive me," give them a bouquet of daffodils. In doing so, you are telling them that you wish to put away the past and begin a new season that is full of happiness.” Luce smiled as she looked at Emma.
“You know what, can you make a bouquet half tulips and half daffodils?”
“Yes, I can. Give me a few minutes.”
“Okay, I will check the store across the street and I will be back for those. How much for the bouquet?
Emma opened her wallet and gave the money to her.
Next she entered the children’s store. “What can I give a kid who lives in a mansion?” she wondered silently, “probably a book.” And so she browsed the store, and with the help of Rachel, the attendant, she picked the story of Snow White and the seven dwarves.
After having the book gift wrapped, she went back to the florist, and Luce was already expecting her with the elegant bouquet done. “Would you like to write a card to go with it?” She asked Emma.
“Yeah, sure. It’s a nice touch.”
Happily, Emma walked to Regina’s house with the bouquet in her hands and Henry’s book in a plastic bag. It was not a long walk, but she could’ve done the distance in two minutes, if Sandra hadn’t died on her the day before. Nonetheless, Emma didn’t mind it for it gave her another chance to observe the town. A Pawn shop down the street, a woodworker with beautiful pieces of art, and lots of trees, giving the houses plenty of privacy. She really wished she could get the job to move to the town and start a new chapter of her life. As she approached the mansion, she took care to not make any noises with the low gate, and walked the distance to the porch. This morning she could see the warning, elegantly written in Regina’s handwriting: “ Don’t wake the baby, please knock. ” by the doorbell. With a huge grin on her face, and stopping the impulse to ring the tantalizing doorbell, she knocked lightly on the white door and waited.
Chapter 3: A Beacon of Hope and Happiness
Chapter 3 - A Beacon of Hope and Happiness
Regina was holding Henry, trying to make him calm down from another round against the cramps when she heard the light knock on the door. Sighing and asking herself who could it possibly be so early in the day, she slowly made her way to the door, opening it just enough to see who was on the other side.
“Hi!” Emma Swan said, tentatively smiling at Regina, suddenly not so sure her impromptu visit was such a good idea.
“Emma Swan… what brings you here at this time?” Regina answered, wondering if she should invite Emma in.
“I don’t wanna bother you or Henry, I just wanted to drop by these flowers as an apology and also give Henry this, for future bedtime stories.” Emma smiled and offered the gifts. Regina sighed and opened the door, indicating that Emma could come into the house.
“I’m sorry I’m unable to offer you a cup of coffee. Henry woke up before daybreak, so I haven’t had time to make some yet. I don’t know what else to do to help him fight off the cramps.” Regina said as she walked back to the living room, rubbing Henry’s belly with her right hand.
“That’s okay. I had breakfast at Granny’s. These flowers are for you, do you want me to put them somewhere in specific?” Emma asked looking around for an empty vase, and Regina led her to the kitchen.
“You may put them in that jar, they are beautiful, by the way.” Regina commented.
“Those are daffodils, and the white ones are tulips.” Emma smiled. “I’m glad you liked them. If it isn’t too forward, I’d gladly hold him while you have breakfast.” Emma offered.
“That’s very nice of you, Miss Swan. I will make a concession and accept your help, just because I’m starving.” Regina smiled to Emma, as she passed baby Henry to the blonde’s extended arms and with the movement, Emma noticed Regina wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.
“Do you have anybody to help you take care of him?” she asked innocently.
“Why? Do you wanna forego the Sheriff's Deputy position?” Regina retorted teasingly, and Emma laughed.
“No, not really.” Emma said as she rubbed Henry’s belly. He was no longer crying, but his discomfort was visible as he moved his legs on her arms. “Well, if everything goes as planned, I can offer you my friendship.”
“That’s really sweet of you, Emma. But let’s see how that interview of yours goes, okay?”
Emma understood Regina’s words. She also struggled opening up to other people. And she was right. She needed, first of all, to be accepted as a Deputy, to be able to move to Storybrooke.
They had a coffee together, and then Emma left the mansion, after all, she needed to check on Sandra, at Michael’s.
Emma walked through the town again, noticing all the details she had missed the night before. It was indeed a beautiful place to live, with few people who apparently knew one another. The town seemed very cozy and calm. It was August and the foliage in Maine never ceased to amaze her. The red and brown color of the trees made her smile. It wasn’t cold enough to wear a coat yet, so her red jacket did the job perfectly.
As she approached Mr. Tillman’s house, Emma could see her car with the back hood opened and the man working on it.
“Good morning!” Michael said as he stood up, seeing her there.
“Good morning! How’s Sandra?”
“She’s okay. Just some adjustments needed on the engine. The beauty of the VW bug engine is everything is connected. So, if there’s something not working properly, all you gotta do is follow the straps. My father had one of those when I was a kid, he taught me how to fix it.
“Great! Is the problem easy to fix?”
“Yes, actually, I’ve just finished it. All I gotta do now is change the oil and she’s good as new! She’s a beauty, Miss Swan.”
“Please, call me Emma.”
“So, how much is this going to cost?”
“Two-fifty should cover it all.”
Emma was short on money, but she would have to make do, she needed the car to get back to Portland. “May I transfer it to you?”
“Absolutely, as soon as I finish the job, I’ll give you all the info. You can come back in a couple of hours, all will be done by then.” Michael said, and Emma nodded.
“Okay, I actually have an interview with the Sheriff, so once that is done I can pick her up.”
“Excellent! Good luck with the interview!”
Emma walked into the Sheriff station next, fifteen minutes before her scheduled time with Graham. As there was nothing going on, he invited her to his office and they got to know each other before getting to the interview over a cup of coffee. Graham mentioned the need of a Deputy due to the severe winters, showed her some maps of the town perimeter and just talked about places to go and things to do in Storybrooke.
Emma talked about her wish to move away from Portland to a smaller, calmer town. “I’ve lived there for over five years, and I’m looking for a quieter life. I know small towns are calmer and tend to be a bit boring, but it is a routine that I’m actually looking forward to.” She mentioned her accommodations in Portland -a small apartment near the harbor- and asked for some advice on how to find a place like that, or something better, if she got the job.
“I talked to your superior, Captain Jones, and he gave an excellent reference for you.” Graham mentioned, as the interview started. “He said you’re quite the traveller, would you mind telling me more about that?”
“No, that’s fine. I grew up in the system, so I moved a lot, going to different group homes or foster families, once I turned 18 I found a job as a bounty hunter and stuck to it for a couple of years, until I had my own place in Southie, and was able to get into the Boston PD training. I was a beat cop for a couple years there and later, requested for a transfer to Portland. I worked for five years under Captain Jones’ command, and now I’m here.”
“Do you believe you’ll adapt yourself to the quietness of Storybrooke? When I tell you nothing ever happens in the town, I am not lying, Miss Swan. The most exciting things we do here is run after Pongo, Dr. Hopper’s dog, and sometimes rescue Lord Lucius, Miss Stone’s cat, from the trees.” Graham said, and Emma just smiled happily.
“You see, when you grow up trying to survive in the system, having to fight for a decent meal and having to sleep hugging your toys, rescuing animals is a beacon of hope and happiness.”
Graham was a little touched by the abridged story of her life, but understood what she meant. “Well, Emma, since we have no other applicants for the position, I would like to formally offer you the Deputy position right now, and show you the ropes of our department.”
Emma felt happily surprised, and accepted straight away. Graham then proceeded to show her the department, informed her they usually had a guest on the weekends, Leroy, the resident drunk-yet-inoffensive miner who had a major crush on one of the nuns. Apparently Granny and Alice, the owner of the dive bar in town -The Rabbit Hole- always called the station whenever Leroy had a little too much to drink and started whining about sister Astrid. He would then spend the night in one of the cells to sleep off the alcohol and then would be released.
“Why does he have to spend the night in the cell?” Emma asked. “We get a phone call from the bar as soon as he starts talking about Sister Astrid. It happens because once Leroy tried to approach her when the nuns were hosting an activity in the morning for the kids in the kindergarten and Leroy, still drunk as a pig, sat down in front of the school yard and started talking to her. He never said anything obscene, but it made the kids and the sisters uncomfortable, so Mother Superior called him in and ever since, I just issued a notice to the bars to let us know about him as soon as he had one too many drinks.” Graham explained, and upon seeing Emma’s expression, he completed, “Leroy is a good man, Emma. He just developed feelings for an unattainable person and is having a hard time letting go.”
“How long has it been?”
“As long as I can remember.” He shrugged. “Anyways, do you have a car?”
“I do. I’m supposed to pick her up from Mr. Tillman after our meeting.”
“Excellent. You won’t use it for work, as we have our patrol car, but it is good to know you can get to places fast if need be. Emma, before I let you go, there is one thing you need to do.”
“Sure, whatever you need, Sheriff.”
“You need to go to Town Hall, the Mayor is waiting for you to sign your contract and get your payment information. I can drop you off if you need a ride.”
“That would be really helpful, I still don’t know where things are around here.”
In the car, Graham showed her the most important spots of the town and then went on his way.
Chapter 4: A New Home
Chapter 4 - A New Home
Emma entered the building and greeted the secretary, a young man who looked like he had just graduated high school. “Hi, I’m Emma Swan, the new Deputy of the Sheriff Department, I believe the Mayor is expecting me?”
“Hello Miss Swan, I’m Phillip. I’ll let the Mayor know you’re here, there is coffee, tea and water in the kitchen to your left, please help yourself to some and I’ll call you as soon as she’s free.” He told her and started quickly typing a message on his laptop.
“Okay, thank you.” Emma went to the kitchen, more out of curiosity than in a need to drink something. Suddenly Emma wished she had googled the Mayor or something, she had not been prepared to meet with some old bureaucrat today.
A few minutes later, Phillip called her, and showed her the door to the Mayor’s office. Emma entered the office and blushed to a dark shade of purple.
“Hello Emma, it’s good to see you again.” Regina smiled, taking off the reading glasses, noticing the bright color in her cheeks. ”You… you’re the Mayor?”
“Is that a bad surprise?” Regina smiled.
“No, no, absolutely not. I just… I think I just gave flowers to the Mayor before being hired to work under her.” Emma smiled sheepishly. “It just feels like I was trying to bribe you.”
“Well, given the fact you got flustered and surprised to know I’m the Mayor, I’m assuming our previous interactions weren’t an attempt to bribe me.” They laughed, as Emma shook her head negatively.
“Excellent. I had a feeling that you're a good, honest person and wouldn’t try to get a job in the law enforcement department by trying to do something illegal.” Regina said, showing Emma the chair in front of her big desk.
“How’s Henry?” Emma asked as she sat down.
“I hope he’s not giving Ashley a hard time. Have you seen how young my secretary is? Phillip and Ashley are coming of age, and they need to have stable jobs in order to continue living in the group home the town maintains, so they work for the Town Hall. Your work as a Deputy will be to assist the Sheriff in any form, but also to work with the children at the group home. You’ll soon discover Storybrooke doesn’t have many things going on, so we try to help the population as best as we can. Well spent public money and all. So, what do you say?”
“I say yes. I’ve said so to Graham, he told me you’d need my information and have me sign the contract. I’m ready to work with anything else. Just tell me when and where.” Emma looked at Regina and smiled.
“That’s good to know, Miss Swan. Welcome to Storybrooke, now officially as part of the public service. I’ll have Phillip collect your personal information, print your contract and then you’re free to go. I’m assuming you’ll have to find a place to stay and all that.” Regina said, clearly dismissing her while typing. Emma got the hint, and stood up.
“Thank you so much, Madame Mayor, it will be a pleasure working under you.” Emma said, and Regina gave her a curious look. “... and Sheriff Graham.” Emma completed, the blush coming back to her cheeks. She left the office, helped Philip with her personal information, he printed the contract and she signed it.
Emma went back to Michael’s and retrieved her beloved Sandra. The engine was good as new and he promised her she wouldn’t have to worry about it for a couple of years (though she was absolutely sure Sandra would cause her trouble way before that). She made the transfer to his bank account and tried to not think too much about her own. She had just signed a contract and was sure to receive some money by the end of the month. She was now on the clock to get her things from the old basement in Portland and make the journey back to Granny’s, while also looking for a permanent residence in town.
As she arrived at Granny’s, she saw the beautiful waitress idle. She parked the car and went to talk to her. “Hi there, I’m Emma!”
“Hi Emma. I’m Ruby. How can I help you?”
“I’m staying at Granny’s, but I must find a more permanent place. Do you know where or who could help me with that?” Emma asked her and couldn’t help noticing Ruby’s gorgeous legs on display. The waitress noticed her appraisal and smirked. “Well, once you stop ogling me, I can certainly refer you to a friend who’s in need of a roommate.” Emma shook her head and apologized. Ruby just laughed and said it was okay, “If you've got it, flaunt it, right?” The red headed waitress winked at her, opening the diner’s door to her. “Why don’t you come in, Emma and have lunch, while I get in touch with my friend. Her name is Mary Margaret and she owns a studio nearby. Her last roommate just left to go to school in Boston.”
“Lucky me.” Emma said as they entered the diner. Emma got a sandwich and a glass of soda. Ruby went to the kitchen, and Emma was left in the table with her lunch.
That afternoon, Emma called the Sheriff, letting him know she was going to travel back to Portland in order to get her belongings and should probably be back in town the following day, a Saturday.
On the road, Emma thought about the new chapter in her life that was about to begin. She thought about a certain beautiful Mayor, how she was utterly and irrevocably out of her league, not only because of the clear difference in status, afterall she was the Mayor of the town -her boss!-, lived in a mansion and had poise, education and obviously a ton of money to afford the house and all the taxes it certainly came with, but also because she was the mother of a three-month-old baby. Emma wondered about the whereabouts of the father, but hadn’t asked out of respect.
The trip to Portland was short and busy. As soon as she arrived in the city, she went to the Department to sign her dismissal and the documents for her two weeks notice. She thanked Captain Jones for the reference, and then went to her house to organize her belongings. She didn’t have a lot, just enough clothes to live by, very few books, her old blanket, the small piggy bank that resided under her bed and nothing more. It was kind of sad for her to realize she never had enough time in her life to collect relics of places she’d been to. She hoped she could change that now, in Storybrooke. She slept in her old uncomfortable bed for one last night.
The following morning, after moving her things to the Bug, she talked to her landlord, saying the move was on short notice because the new job was in another city, and she wouldn’t be able to come back later. She paid him what she owed for the month, left the building, stopped at the gas station, used the small amount she still had in her bank account and hit the road, back to Storybrooke. The money inside the piggy bank was used then to pay for the weekend rent at Granny’s and a big grocery purchase, since she would have no money to pay for the food in the diner. Two more weeks until payday. She kept saying to herself as she realized there was no more money in her possession.
After putting her things in her room, Emma went down to have her complimentary breakfast when Ruby approached her, with a pixie cut haired woman.
“Hi Emma, this is Mary Margaret. MM, she’s Graham’s new Deputy.”
Mary Margaret extended her hand to Emma, who took it, greeting her. “Nice to meet you Emma. Ruby has told me about your need for a place. Would you like to go visit the place after eating?” She said already getting comfortable in the chair next to Emma.
“Sure, absolutely. Wow, I can’t thank you enough, Ruby.” Emma said, gratitude showing in her eyes. Ruby smiled and replied, “Go out with me tonight to The Rabbit Hole, and we'll call it square .” Ruby smiled and before she could leave the two, Emma stood up. “Yeah, about that, can I get a raincheck until my next paycheck? I’m a bit short on funds at the moment.”
“Girl, what are you talking about? I invited you, I’m paying. Don’t worry about money. You’re working for my boyfriend, consider that my Welcome to Storybrooke gift. I’ll see you tonight at nine.” Ruby left them and Emma was left speechless.
“Get used to it, Emma, Ruby is like that. Big heart and short skirts.” Mary Margaret said and smiled as Emma sat down. “So, let’s get to know each other, Emma. I’m a teacher at Storybrooke elementary school, I’m dating a real prince Charming, his name is David, you’ll meet him soon, we usually spend time together in the living room, but don’t worry, we’re well behaved! I love animals, especially birds, I enjoy having tea at night before going to bed, I hardly ever go out, only when Ruby makes me go out with her, just like she did with you, I have a distaste for apples, don’t ask me why, I just never liked them. Oh, and also, David taught me the rules of Football, so now I love going to the high school games. They’ve been training so hard this past summer, I’m sure they’ll be excellent in the next season. Do you like sports, Emma?”
Emma was a little overwhelmed with the quantity of subjects Mary Margaret had talked about in less than 3 minutes. The brunette had a fascinating happiness that could probably be contagious, weren’t Emma so immune to other people’s happiness. Sharing a home with Mary Margaret could be an enormous step for Emma, but she didn’t know where else to go. Her money was gone, she would only be able to pay her due after payday, and she was over her days of sleeping in the car.
“Well, where should I begin…” Emma said looking at Mary Margaret, and saw pure interest in her as a person, and not the usual malice she was accustomed to seeing. She decided to take a leap of faith and give Mary Margaret her unadulterated life story. “I was abandoned hours-old on the side of a road. Somebody found me and took me to the closest orphanage. I was adopted by a family when I was three, and then returned to the orphanage weeks before Christmas, when they discovered the woman was pregnant. They gave me the Swan surname. I spent my childhood being shunned by the kids at every group home I was placed, or worse, the foster families only used me for the government’s money and I would get beat up by drunk adults. When I was 16 I finally decided to run away and lived on the streets. I would steal from people and stores to eat, but I’ve never done drugs. At 17, I was arrested for stealing some watches, spent eighteen months at juvie and when I left, I decided to try my luck at the Boston PD academy and became a cop, then I moved to Portland, and now I’m here. Oh, and I’m a lesbian, but you have nothing to worry about because I’m well behaved and won’t take anyone to your apartment, should I meet somebody.” Emma stopped talking and smiled at Mary Margaret, who was stunned.
“Wow Emma.” The brunette answered with a beautiful smile and tears in her eyes. “Thank you so much for telling me all that. I truly appreciate your honesty and hope I’m worth your friendship. Would you like to go and see the apartment?”
“Yes. Also, you must know I will only have the money to pay my share after I earn it next month, so… are you going to reconsider the offer?”
“Absolutely not, Emma. You’re more than welcome and pay whenever you can! Don’t worry about that right now.”
Chapter 5: One Therapist to Help Them All
Chapter 5- One Therapist to Help Them All
Emma and Mary Margaret went to the studio, and the spacious location won Emma’s heart. She would have a bedroom for herself, with a window for the street, sunlight and a big bed. Although she didn’t have many things, it was nice to have the space. Mary Margaret informed Emma of her hours, early breakfast, school until mid-afternoon, paper work until 5 pm and then dinner and David-time.
Emma accepted that and they agreed she would move in on Monday, when her rent for the B&B was up. They parted ways and Emma decided to hang around the city. She walked down the main street, and saw Luce and Rachel talking in front of the flower shop. They were smiling sheepishly at each other and Emma just shook her head and smiled. It looked like she wasn’t the only lady lover in town then. This town kept getting better and better.
Regina left the town hall at 4 pm. Her usual times were until 5 pm, but that Friday, she had her session with Dr. Hopper. Ashley would stay with Henry until six, so she had time to talk freely. Dr. Hopper opened the door to Regina at the top of the hour, and she walked to her favorite sitting place: a comfortable blue chaise, where she could face the man and at the same time feel safe with herself.
“Regina, how are you today?”
“I’ve been good, Archie.” She answered with a small smile on her face. “Henry has been struggling to sleep, but I believe I’m dealing as best as I can with the situation.” Although her tone of voice was calm, Archie saw she was feeling tired.
“How tired have you been lately with Henry’s indispositions and your work?”
“Quite tired, actually. The other day I screamed at a poor soul who needed help with her car because of it.” She chuckled, remembering Emma Swan’s face while she screamed at her.
“How did that happen?” Archie asked concerned, but sensed Regina didn’t actually feel bad about it.
“Henry was struggling to sleep, because he’s been colicky lately, and I was tired, I had arrived from work, Ashley had just left, and he wouldn’t stop crying. I decided to put a warning on my door, so people wouldn’t ring the bell. Apparently, the paper fell off, because as soon as I put Henry in his crib, finally sleeping, this person rang it and Henry started crying all over. I was livid. I opened the door screaming and demanded the perpetrator to put him back to sleep.” Regina said with a satisfied smile on her face. Archie had to smile too.
“And then what?”
“Well, I latched onto her arm and pulled her into Henry’s bedroom. She stayed there for at least one hour with him crying. I was just so exhausted I didn’t think about having a strange woman in my home with my baby. I sat down on the sofa and cried a little.” She confessed. “Sometimes it is just so difficult to be the only one with him at night and then go to work in the morning. So when this stranger was there, comforting him and singing to him, I just wept, and then recompose myself when he stopped crying. She stayed there for a few minutes before putting him in his crib. As she came down the stairs, I offered her my apologies and she introduced herself.”
“And who was she?” Archie took notes of Regina’s story and also her posture as she talked about this woman.
“Turns out she was Graham’s interview for the Deputy position. We talked a little. Her name’s Emma Swan and she has a beautiful smile and deep green eyes, full of stories herself. She told me she’s a “lone wolf”. I never told her I was the Mayor, didn’t want to bias her interview, so it was nice to see her being all cool and collected.”
“Why did she ring the bell to begin with?”
“Her car had broken down and it was beginning to rain. I let her stay while the rain fell and then I called Tillman. He came to tow her car and give her a ride to Granny’s.”
“And what did you think of this Emma Swan?”
“Beautiful woman. Compassionate. She actually brought me flowers yesterday, as a way to apologize for waking the baby.”
“Regina, that’s really sweet of her.”
“It was. I don’t really know what to make of it, but I sensed she was trying to hit on me.”
Archie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “And how did that make you feel?”
“Flattered. Considering I had Henry only three months ago, and I am still breastfeeding, and sleep deprived and overworked. It’s good to feel like someone saw something they liked behind all that.”
“This is a nice surprise.” Archie smiled. “You talking about romantic feelings.”
“Oh please, Archibald. Daniel died only a year ago. I’m nowhere near ready to talk about romantic feelings. I just said I was flattered.” Regina sat down rigidly, and changed subjects. “I called my mother last night, my parents are enjoying their life better than you and me. They were going to a wine tasting in the nearby winery.”
Archie allowed her to change subjects and did not mention Emma Swan again until the end of their session. Regina talked about her parents and Kathryn, and her plans for the week. They settled a date for next week and as she was ready to leave, he said: “Regina, please don’t ignore whatever you felt about this Emma Swan. She doesn’t have to be anything more than a way for you to feel comfortable about your sexuality, even after Daniel’s death. You have the right to move on with your life.”
“I’m not moving on, neither feeling anything about this woman, Archie.” She answered and left without a farewell. Archie shook his head and closed the door behind her.
At night, Ruby knocked on Emma’s bedroom and they left together to The Rabbit Hole in Ruby’s car. It was a short drive and Ruby talked all the way to the bar. She told her about the town history and the people she should stay away from “Dr. Whale is a real sleazy bag of a man. Good professional tough, I can trust my grandma to his care, but not a dude to date. Been there, done that, don’t recommend him to anyone else.” Emma laughed as she answered: “Not a problem for me, since I prefer brunette women.”
“Good for you, Ems. I sometimes drink from that water.” Ruby said and they both laughed as they entered the bar.
Emma got to know quite a few people, with Ruby as a buffer, her name was going around the bar, as the new Deputy Sheriff, and not someone to be messed with. Ruby even made sure to warn off some of the men that Emma wouldn’t be interested in them. Due to her lack of money, Emma was at Ruby’s mercy on the drinking area, so of course, they started with shots, and immediately after, they were drinking beers. Emma made sure she wouldn’t drink more than that, after all, she was the new law enforcement officer of town, so she busied herself to observe people.
Leroy was drinking his beer on the bar, by himself. People were either playing pool, or attempting to dance on the makeshift floor. Some were using the tables to have conversations and Emma was focused in two people in particular: Luce, the florist and Rachel, the owner of the toy store. They were entertained as if nothing else happened around them. Ruby, coming back from the pool tables, noticed who Emma was looking at and said “Ah, the two blind love-birds,” and smirked.
“What do you mean “blind love-birds?”
“Emma, those two have been in love for years, but neither of them are brave enough to say it out loud. I’ve been observing them ever since they met, a couple years ago. Rachel was engaged to Frederick, the P.E. teacher when Luce came to town. She moved here from Arizona, and they became friends, because of the location of their stores. Two years after Luce’s arrival, nobody knows what happened to Rachel and Fred’s engagement, all we know is that he moved away from her house, went through a bad mood of half a year and Rachel and Luce became closer and closer, but nothing ever happened. I once asked Luce about Rachel, she blushed furiously and said they’re good friends, and was sad to see Rachel feeling bad about ending things with Fred, but that’s what Rachel wanted, so all she did was respect her decision and offer her shoulder as support. Months later, Rachel told me she didn’t feel bad about Fred, because she was honest with him and said it was best for them to continue being friends, but that she didn’t love him anymore.”
“Wow, that’s hard.” Emma said, observing how the two ladies laughed together and how Luce’s hand would linger in Rachel’s arm.
“Yeah, but you can’t say Rachel was dishonest with Fred.” Ruby pointed out. “One look at her face while she looks at Luce and you know exactly why she broke up with him.”
“Everybody knows it, but them, right?” Emma said. “What about Leroy?” she pointed in his direction. “What’s up with him? Graham told me he’s got a crush on a nun?”
“Poor Leroy. Can’t go out with anybody, has been stuck on Astrid for over a decade. That’s sad, you know?” Ruby said, taking a swing on her bottle.
“What’s the story?” Emma asked. She had finished her beer and ordered a bottle of water.
“Long story short, Sister Astrid came to Storybrooke convent ten years ago. It was love at first sight, you know? No matter what we told him, he knows they can’t be, just can’t get over her. So we simply started managing him after the kindergarten incident. She was a little scared, but he never meant to be a creep, he was just drunk.”
“Like today?” Emma asked and saw him stumble on his feet, as he dropped some bills to cover his drinks.
“Yeah, about that, I’m gonna call Graham to pick him up, Leroy cannot drive like that. By the way, that is a great opportunity to see him in action.” Ruby winked at Emma as she retrieved her phone from her back pocket.
“Hey Hot Stuff, can you come pick our big guy at The Rabbit? He’s ready to go. Yeah, I’m with Emma, you can show her how to handle him. Sure. Bye.” Pocketing her phone, Ruby warned Emma. “He’s coming over, asked if you could follow him with Leroy’s car.”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
A few minutes later, Sheriff Graham arrived at the bar and Leroy greeted him. “Hey there, chauffeur, I’m good to go, who’s driving mah cah ?”
“How’s it going, Leroy? I want to introduce Emma to you, she’s my new Deputy.” Graham said as Emma approached them, ready to shake Leroy’s hand. He forwent her hand and hugged her. “Come heah , sistah lemme give yah a hug.” As Emma broke the hug, Graham put his arm around Leroy, and steered him to the door, with Emma on their track. “You listen to me, my friend,” he said nicely, “I’ll take you to the station and Emma will leave your car in the parking lot, all right? Tomorrow morning after you’ve had your breakfast, you can go home, is that good?”
“Sure, brothah , I know the drill. Hey, Emma girl, yah take care of mah cah !”
They drove to the department and Leroy was led to “his” cell. There was a nice, comfortable bed inside, some aspirin and a bottle of water beside the bed. He went inside and laid down, without a single word. Graham locked the cell and pointed to his office. Emma followed him and watched as he fired up the computer and opened a document named Leroy Spinel . “We booked him the first time. Now whenever we pick him up, I just record it into this document, with the date and hour he’s arrived, and where he has been.” She saw him type: ‘ August 8th, 2017. 10:18pm, The Rabbit Hole. - H. Graham.’ “Okay.” Emma said and looked back at Leroy, who wasn’t sleeping yet, but was quiet. “May I ask what’s the arrangement with the comfortable bed and stuff?”
“Sure, Deputy. He bought the bed himself a few years ago, when he started sleeping almost daily here. Dr. Hopper talks to him sometimes, trying to get him into therapy. One of these days he’s going to accept it. Mayor Mills approved the bed, saying that he at least bought with his own money, so no use of public money, nothing wrong with that.”
“Look Emma, I know this is completely strange to you, especially for you coming from Boston and Portland, but we are a small community and we take care of each other - as best as we can - so, try to understand his condition.” Graham said trying to make her feel more at ease.
“Sheriff, I have nothing against the man. It’s just sad to see his situation. But I understand why you do it, for his own safety and the community’s. It’s a nice thing you taking care of everyone like that.”
“Thanks, Emma. You can go now, have a good weekend, I’ll see you at 800 hours on Monday.”
The next morning, Archie arrived at the station before Leroy was up. He brought him coffee and a bagel. Mulan, the firefighter, unlocked the cell and left for her station. Archie then put the food on the table and waited a few minutes. Sure enough, Leroy woke up and greeted the psychologist before going to the restroom. Afterwards, he went back to the cell, to drink his coffee and listen to the man.
“How are we today, Leroy?”
“Doing okay, Doc. I had a little too much yesterday.”
“I know, that’s why I am here. Do you want to talk about it? Was it because of Sister Astrid again?”
“Is there any other cause, Doc?”
“You tell me.”
“So how are you feeling right now?”
“And besides that?”
“What do yah want me to say, doc? I ain’t feeling happy about it.” Leroy sighed and started walking around the cell.
“I understand your frustration, my friend. But you must be the one to take the first step into changing it.” Archie sat back in his chair, observing the man in front of him, who had frustration and anger all over his face. “What have you done lately?”
“Worked, helped the kids in the kindergarten as the Mayor ordered, drank some beers, read the books yah gave me.” Leroy answered as he sat on the bed and drank his coffee.
“That is a good sequence of things, my friend. What do you intend to do next?”
“I know I must stop drinking, doc. It’s just so difficult, ‘cause when I drink, I forget abou’ her, yah know?”
“Yes. But that’s avoidance, you are not actually working into getting her out of your mind.”
“I hear yah , doc. I hear yah .” Leroy finished his coffee and bit into his bagel. Archie observed him and let the man eat.
“So, are you ready to go home?”
“Excellent. I will ask you something for this week, Leroy.”
“Go ahead, doc. What is it?”
“At least once this week, when the will to drink becomes strong, I want you to read 20 pages of a book. Any book. The idea here is for you to channel your will into something different than alcohol. And I don’t want you just to read the pages, you’ll have to write down what you understood, and you’re going to give this ‘report’ to me. Is that okay?”
“Sure thing, doc.”
“Okay. You are, of course, free to go, my friend.”
“Thanks, doc.” Leroy finished eating and made his bed, throwing away the garbage. He then closed the cell, got his car keys from the Sheriff’s desk and left the station.
Chapter 6: The One to Serve, Please and Flirt
Chapter 6 - The One to Serve, Please and Flirt
The weekend passed uneventfully for Regina. She stayed home with Henry, took him along on her grocery run, strolled down the street on Saturday morning, and simply enjoyed his company.
Regina saw Ruby and Emma interacting in front of the diner as she walked with Henry and was happy to see the newcomer already making friends. As a Mayor, she wanted to ensure Emma felt welcomed and as a civilian, Regina just felt intrigued by her. Their interactions had been a novelty in her dull routine of working, talking politics with her constituents and going home to take care of her son. As she came closer to Emma and Ruby, Emma saw her and excused herself from Ruby to talk to Regina.
“Good morning, Regina. How’s the little man?”
“Hello Emma. He’s doing great, he slept peacefully last night, only waking up to eat. His sleep gave me some good hours of rest. How about you? How’s your first weekend in town?” Regina never stopped walking, so Emma had to follow her, as they walked past Granny’s and crossed the street, in front of Archie’s office.
“It’s been interesting. Ruby introduced me to Mary Margaret, I visited her studio and we agreed on sharing it.” She said, putting her hands in her pockets.
“That’s great. Mary Margaret is a good person. I’m sure you’re going to like sharing it with her.”
“Yeah, I guess I will.” Emma smiled. “I also went out with Ruby last night and had the opportunity to see the Sheriff handling Leroy Spinel. He seems like … well, a depressed man.”
“Oh. Yes, Miss Swan. I assure you, Leroy is consulting with our resident psychologist, Dr. Hopper. Sadly, each person has a different time to deal with their own problems. I’m guessing Graham told you about his situation.”
“Yes, I’m aware of it.” Emma answered, feeling uneasy, and tried to change subjects. “You know, I kind of fell in love with little Henry here, would it be too forward of me if I said I’d like to spend more time with him?”
Regina smiled at that, looking at her with a different glow in her eyes. “Please, be my guest. May I call you whenever he doesn’t let me sleep or work?”
“Well, I am a public servant now, I’m here to serve and please. You, as the Mayor, should also be included into my services.”
“Good to know that, Emma . I’ll keep it in mind for when I need someone to serve and please me.”
“I hope to be on your speed dial, Madam Mayor. ”
“So, what’s your phone number?” Regina asked, taking her phone from her pocket, and Emma just grabbed it and dialed her number. “There, now you can call me whenever, for whatever reason.” Emma laughed and said her goodbye, as they were near the Sheriff department. “Have a good day, Regina!”
“You as well, Emma.” Regina was surprised with her light tone of voice, and her easy smile. She saved the blonde’s number and continued her way to her home, with Henry blowing raspberries and waving his chubby hands and legs everywhere.
At home, Regina prepared her lunch and played with Henry in the living room. Right before midday, Kathryn appeared, and as usual, entered the mansion without knocking, a habit she created during Regina’s pregnancy, when the Mayor didn’t feel like interacting with the world.
“Regina!” She called as she took her shoes and placed them into the closet.
“In the living room!” Regina answered.
“How’s my favorite godson?” She asked and kneeled next to him on the carpet. The TV was on, but there was no sound.
“He’s just fine. I breastfed him an hour ago, and he’s been active ever since. He likes the TV stimulus, but I don’t want him to get used to be entertained by it, so I’ve been reading him Dr. Seuss. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”
“Really entertaining, but, I’m not here to listen to you reading it.” Kathryn smirked. “Word on the streets is that you have a new friend. A hot, tall, blonde friend.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “Care to comment, Madam Mayor?”
Regina laughed. “Word on the streets? Let me guess, you went to have breakfast and Ruby told you?”
“I prefer to keep my sources confidential.”
“Kathryn, you’re a lawyer, not a journalist.”
“Yeah, whatever. So, spit it out. Who is she and why haven’t you told me about her, Regiiiiina!”
“Because there’s nothing to talk about.” Regina closed the book and looked at Henry. Why are you gossiping about me anyways? Are Rachel and Luce not entertaining enough anymore?
Kathryn disregarded her weak attempt to change the subject. “Who is she? I’ve never seen her before.”
“She is the new Deputy Graham was asking me to hire. She probably saw the announcement and came to the interview. I happened to meet her before Graham. I was really impolite to her. I was tired and Henry had been crying for so long. The moment he fell asleep, she rang the bell and he woke up. I was furious and screamed at her, and made her put him back to sleep. It wasn’t pretty, I can assure you.”
Kathryn laughed out loud, imagining the scene and Regina laughed too.
“A red little bird told me she’s a lesbian, did you know?” Kathryn just dropped the comment and waited for Regina’s reaction.
“Well good for her. Women really are amazing lovers.” Regina pretended to pay attention to Henry, who continued to kick and punch the air.
“How long has it been since you last dated a woman?”
“How does that have any sort of relevance to this conversation?”
“At least six years. Did you forget I dated and got married to Daniel?”
“No, of course not and you know well enough I’m happy you had him, for he gave you happiness and Henry.”
“So why mention it now?”
“I don’t get it.” Regina was starting to feel nervous.
“Because it’s time for you to move on, my friend.”
“It’s too early, Kat. He’s been gone for only a year. And also, I have Henry to take care of, and a whole city to govern.”
“One, or five, or ten years, it will always be ‘too early’ if you don’t allow yourself to think you’ll be able to fall in love again.”
“Regina!” Kathryn took a deep breath and continued, “You gotta take baby steps, darling, but at some point, you gotta start walking. Now, tell me what were you talking about with the hot Deputy this morning.”
“As I mentioned to Archie…”
“Ah! So you talked to Archie about her, but didn’t think about talking to me first?”
“Archie is my therapist, you’re my friend. He still tops you.”
“As if.” Kathryn said smirking, and Regina understood what she was implying.
“I only told him I felt flattered to see she was dropping dubious meaning comments to me.”
“Ooh, she’s a feisty one. What did she say to flatter you?”
“At first, she said nothing. But yesterday she came in the morning with a bouquet of flowers to apologize for waking him.” Henry started to fuss, so Regina took him into her arms and stood up. “Said she’d be happy to help with him. Then when she went to Town Hall she mentioned it would be a pleasure to work under me… and the Sheriff.” Kathryn laughed and clapped. “I like her already!”
“But the most obvious was this morning, she told me she wanted to spend more time with Henry, as she’d fallen in love with him, and I said I was going to call her whenever I needed a break, so she mentioned, as a public servant, she’s here to serve and please me and hoped she’d be on my speed dial.”
“See? She’s totally into you. And I already like her. If you need a babysitter for Henry, call me.” Kathryn winked at her.
“Oh, please. Here, hold him, I’ll set the table for lunch.”
“Come to your godma, darling! Let’s have some fun while your mom serves us.”
“Must I remind you he’s been ‘served’ already?” Regina said from the kitchen, and Kathryn just laughed. “What are we eating today?” She said entering the kitchen with the baby in her arms.
“I was tired, so I just chopped some vegetables and made soup.”
“Soup? For lunch?” Kathryn made a face, like a teenager.
“Take it or leave it, Miss Midas. I am not forcing you to have lunch with me.” Regina served the soup into the plate and took her place at the table, with a glass of juice for later, and observed her friend.
The blonde sighed, but went to put Henry in his crib, in the living room. It was strategically positioned so Regina could eat and still have a clear view of Henry in it. Kathryn came back and served herself, taking her usual spot to Regina’s right, at the table. “Have you talked to your parents, recently?”
“Yes, I spoke to them on Thursday. Why do you ask?”
“Julian, the foreman sent me some documents about the purchase of a new mare a few days ago.”
“Oh yes, daddy had been considering adding a new one to the farm. Is there any problem with the negotiation?”
“No, I went over them and everything seems okay.”
They ate in silence for a few minutes, but Regina knew her friend was trying to find an opening to bring something up. “Are you going to tell me what is going on in your head or will you keep beating around the bush?” Regina asked, without looking at her.
Kathryn put her spoon down and took a deep breath, exasperated.
“Oh dear, here we go.” Regina said, preparing herself.
“Don’t you get lonely? Don’t you get sad to be here, by yourself, with Henry?”
“Kat, Henry is all I need.”
“Come on, honey, don’t give me that. You’re gorgeous, you’re thirty-six years old and you’re successful, powerful, loved by your constituents, you must start believing you can love again.”
“Kathryn, I don’t feel ready.”
“That’s why you gotta do it, you’ll never put yourself out there if you wait for the moment to feel ready, honey.”
“Kathryn, you are my best friend, you supported me in my darkest, most difficult moments, Daniel’s death, my pregnancy with Henry, and I respect you and your opinion, but I do believe you are taking things out of proportion.”
“No, Kathryn. All I told you was that Miss Swan was merely making a double entendre comment and it may not be anything, after all. She may simply be a flirty person.” Regina took a deep breath. “I was flattered, yes, who wouldn’t be? It is good to know someone considers me interesting enough to flirt with me. But what you’re saying, and implying here? That’s a little too much.”
Kathryn listened in silence, understanding Regina’s resistance, so she decided to let it go, for now. “All right, Regina. I’ll let it go. But my dear, I want you to promise me you’ll at least try to start opening up to new people. You don’t have to fall in love with someone, but a date? What’s wrong with that? I promise you I won’t talk about that again for a long time, but at least consider it. And if you don’t want to talk about this with me, talk to Archie.”
Regina nodded. “I will. I promise you.”
That night, Regina had no problems putting Henry to sleep, so she thanked the heavens and went to her bedroom. She couldn’t stop thinking about what Kathryn had said, so she decided to at least start a conversation with the newcomer.
“I hope I’m not interfering with your Saturday night, just wanted to let you know Henry is sleeping better now that I’ve seen the way you hold him when he’s unwell.” Regina sent Emma a text message, purposefully not identifying herself.
Emma was laying on her bed, after spending some time with Mary Margaret. Since she had yet to move in to the studio, she decided to organize her boxes and move them back to her car on Sunday night. She was playing some mindless game when the notification of a text message from an unknown number interrupted her game. As she read the name Henry, she sat down in her bed, as if electrified by it.
“Oh, hi there, Regina! it took me half a sec to id u. Good 2 know the little man is sleeping better. How ‘bout uself? Any wild plans 4 Saturday nite? ;)” She typed quickly, not caring about proper spelling.
“No, Miss Swan. I’m the Mayor, I should be a little more refined than having ‘wild plans for Saturday night’, I am though, enjoying the silence and peace with a nice glass of grape juice.”
“Ouch. 4got I was talking to Madam Mayor. And grape juice? srly?”
“Miss Swan, Henry is still breastfeeding, it’s only natural I avoid alcohol consumption for the time being. So yes, grape juice is the closest I will get to tasting wine for a while.”
“ooh I C. Makes sense tho. U have company? want a friend 2 drink dat juice with?”
“Do you always type like a teenager?
“No, I can actually have a full worded conversation, if that is what you prefer, Madam Mayor.”
“Oh, that’s a relief to see you can type proper words.”
“I will let you know English and Spelling were my favorite subjects to study.”
“Are you interested in literature, too?”
“Charles Dickens was my best friend for about 18 months.”
“Why such a short time?”
“Well, Louisa May Alcott made an appearance and I became fascinated by her. Also, I am pretty sure Jo March was my first major crush.”
“Yours and every other queer person’s, Miss Swan.”
“I don’t know your age - and that’s not an excuse to inquire it, but I’m pretty sure Jo March and Miss Honey were huge crushes for all the little, innocent lesbians out there in the nineties.”
“If you know it, you know. ;P”
“P.s. You never answered my question. Need a juice-drinking buddy?”
“I’d like to get to know you a little more before upgrading your status to juice-drinking buddy, thank you.”
“OUCH. BUUUUURN. Message received. So, I’d warn you to be ready for my lecture on Miss Honey, the greatest lesbian icon of the 90’s generation.”
“Oh dear, what have I started?”
“You know what? I’m gonna come over one of these days with a copy of Matilda and a huge bottle of grape juice and educate you in all things Miss Honey. Not today, though, as I’ve been burned enough for a week.”
“I like how fast you learn things, Miss Swan.”
“That’s my ‘get it or burn’ instinct. So, you’re just in need of a texting buddy? I can do it all night.”
“Are you quoting Captain America, now?”
“Something along those lines.”
“I see. I am confident my therapist will be proud of me for starting a conversation with a stranger.”
“STRANGER?! I mean, I work under you, you can get all of my information with a phone call to Phillip. I resent that, you know?”
“Just because I have access to all of your information, doesn’t mean I know you, Miss Swan.”
“Can we get an agreement here? You stop calling me ‘Miss Swan’ and I’ll save you of all my cheesy references.”
“Ah, but what fun would that be for both of us, Miss Swan?”
“Yeah, you’re right. No fun at all. So, therapist, huh?”
“Nothing, just thinking to myself it has been so long since I last talked to one. Would you refer them to me?”
“Considering he’s the only one in a ratio of miles, sure.”
“Thanks, gotta wait for my first paycheck and try to set an appointment. You rock, girl!”
“I fear I will repeat myself here but truly, what made you decide moving to Storybrooke, Miss Swan?”
“So you don’t want me to be your juice-drinking buddy but you want to discuss soul-searching matters? I like it! ”
“So I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. An answer for a question. Deal?”
“I strongly hope I will never wake up with a horse head in my bed, Miss Swan.”
“Geez, woman. Never. I’m the ‘leave the gun, take the cannoli’ negotiator. Geez.”
Regina didn’t feel like continuing that little game of references and empty answers, so she waited for some minutes for some kind of follow up that never came, then she decided to go to bed.
Emma’s first week passed by without much action, just the way she had expected life in Storybrooke to be. She only saw Regina at the Town Hall during business hours, which meant she never had the chance to discuss their text conversation. Graham started giving her more authority, which meant she became responsible for attending the council meetings, rescuing Lord Lucius from the trees and studying old contingency plans for the winter and the town’s detailed maps. He explained she needed to know what could happen to the town during the blizzards and know where all remote properties were, for when the snow came, they would need to go to each of those places and make sure the elderly citizens were safe and warm.
On Wednesday, Emma decided to surprise Regina. She went to the grocery store, bought the best grape juice there was (meaning the most expensive), went to Game and Thorns and purchased a single red rose. Ignoring Luce’s all knowing smirk, she drove to Regina’s house.
She deposited the bottle of juice and the rose on the doormat, ran back to her car and went to work.
When Ashley arrived to babysit Henry, she took the two items inside. She left them in the kitchen isle where Regina could easily see there was a small post-it in the bottle. “Much better than a horse head, eh?”
It was Saturday night once again, and Regina was not so sure if she would get the same luck as the previous week. Emma could be out, it was the weekend, after all. She decided to send her a message, expecting the worst - to be ignored - but actually hoping for the best - that Emma would be willing to chat with her again.
“You never answered my original question.”
“And you’re really demanding”
“I didn’t become Mayor by being soft, Miss Swan.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
“So, in order for me to get upgraded to juice-drinking buddy, I will tell you a fact about myself and then ask you one in return.”
“Yes, Miss Swan, I remember your terms.”
“Okay, so here goes nothing: I’ve lived in ten different states during my childhood: Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, Idaho, California, Texas and Arizona.”
“Why was that?”
“Uh uh, my turn now, Madam Mayor.”
“Republican or Democrat?”
“Democrat. Why did you move so much?”
“Running away from crap foster homes. Have you been married before?”
“Yes. Why was Arizona the last one?”
“Juvie. Good old Charles kept me sane. Why did you become a politician?”
“Somebody had to run the town. My parents had enough influence over the citizens. So, 18 months with Charles. I see. Why did you come back to MA?”
“I love that dirty water. Also, had a buddy who offered me a job and shelter. Divorced?”
“Widow. He died weeks before I knew I was expecting. How did you become a police officer?”
“I’m sorry to hear that. The job I was offered was of a bounty hunter. Got tired of it, decided to try my luck on the right side of the law. What’s your favorite color?”
“Blood Red. Have you ever tried looking for your parents?”
“Every single day from twelve until I turned eighteen. Favorite book?”
“The Taming of the Shrew. What made you stop looking for them?”
“AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Personal experience, much? Figured I wasn’t good enough for them as a cute little baby, I was not gonna be at eighteen and homeless.”
“Very funny, Miss Swan. Sorry to hear about that. What’s YOUR favorite book?”
“You’re wasting a question here. Oliver Twist, of course. College?”
“Harvard. Law School. If you were in Boston, why move to Portland?”
“Tired of being a beat cop and dealing with drug addicts and women being beaten up. Favorite singer?”
“Bonnie Tyler. College?”
“Geez, woman. I just told you I’m a nobody, coming from nowhere. Got my GED while in Juvie. Total Eclipse of the Heart or Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About?”
“No, wait, wrong Bonnie. Total Eclipse or I Need a Hero?”
“Total Eclipse, of course. How long did you live in Portland?”
“4 years. I rented a basement near the station. Do you like sports?”
“Not the biggest fan, but as the Mayor, I’m proud to see the Dark Knights getting a good team for the season. Why a basement, though?”
“Not enough money for a full house. Football team, eh? I heard Mary Margaret talking about them this week. What’s it like to be a widow mom?”
“Exhausting. So, red or white wine?”
“WAIT, DOES THAT MEAN I WAS PROMOTED?”
“Yes. Next week, same time, my house. You can bring me that same grape juice, I’ll provide your red wine.”
“Good night, Miss Swan. Good chat.”
“Yeah, you too, Madam Mayor. ;)”
Emma recognized the changing of subjects, but didn’t feel the need to point them out. Regina certainly had her reasons to not talk about her deceased husband. But it didn’t mean she couldn’t do some research about it.
So Emma planned to investigate and read about Regina’s husband’s death on her own, as she knew if she asked anyone about it, people might become suspicious of her curiosity and start asking questions about why would she be so interested in the Mayor’s personal life. She laid down more comfortably in her bed. Accepting moving in with Mary Margaret and having a huge bedroom and bathroom and window for the street was the most luxurious thing she had in her life. Sometimes she could hear Mary Margaret on the phone with her boyfriend, some others she could hear them when he came to visit, but for Emma, it was never a problem, because she was always busy with her own thoughts about the Mayor, and little man Henry.
Chapter 7: Fire and Passion
Chapter 7 - Fire and Passion
Luce Amapola was in love. Simple as that. She tried to deny it, but nothing she did could change it. Ruby had talked to her about it before, but she had been in denial. But not anymore. Not today. She couldn’t really say what had changed her mind, but she woke up that morning and accepted Rachel was the person absorbing all her energy, all her thoughts, every single second of every single day.
They had been friends since the day she opened the flower shop. At the time, Rachel had been engaged to Frederick, but at the time, Rachel was just the girl from the toy store. She would come and they would have long conversations in front of the store. Rachel would bring them some snacks from Granny’s, Luce would bring her tea in the afternoon. They had good chemistry, good energy together. She was happy being friends with her. Until one day, Luce looked at Rachel and got her breath taken away. Suddenly, Rachel was the most amazing woman in the world. It had been months since she felt that feeling, that unstoppable force, but Luce kept on denying it.
It was a Friday night and the diner was calm as usual, Ruby wasn’t working, but was hanging around when she saw Luce coming in. She sat in one of the booths and ordered a shot of bourbon. Ruby knew Luce was more of a cocktail kind of girl, so she knew something was wrong and decided to have a conversation. “Hey Luce, how’s it going?”
“Ruby! Good to see you. I’m… troubled.” Luce’s voice was already a little slurred, and Ruby realized she had been drinking before coming to the diner.
“What’s on your mind?” She asked “besides all the alcohol?”
“Ha. You’re funny, Ruby. But not wrong.” she topped her cup and ordered another one. “I ran out of booze at home, gotta refill my cabinet tomorrow.”
“Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this before.” Ruby sat beside her and ordered a glass of water.
“Yeah, I haven’t felt like this in a very long time.”
“Sweet shit in a bucket, what’s wrong with you, Luce?”
“I’m in love, Ruby. I am in fucking love.” Luce smiled and took another sip of her drink.
“Let me guess, you are in love with Rachel Hewitt.” Ruby observed her, smirking at her expression.
“It’s utterly obvious, isn’t it?” Luce asked her, putting down her glass. “Seriously, Rubes. Is it that obvious?”
“Honey, everybody knows. You and Rachel have been in love with each other for so long, that I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bet going on somewhere on how long until you girls just admit it.”
“But Ruuubes, she was engaged to Fred Stone. They were engaged for a long time.”
“And then, they weren’t.” Ruby watched as Luce finished another glass and before she could order more, she offered her the glass of water. “Here, drink this.”
“I don’t want water.”
“Believe me, you’ll be grateful tomorrow morning. Just drink it, Luce.”
The florist took the glass of water and took a sip. “Now, Rubes. For real, what do I do?”
“Well, you have a good night’s sleep, you wake up tomorrow morning, choose the cheesiest, most romantic flower you have in your shop and you give it to her, my friend. You communicate. You tell her how you feel.”
“What if she doesn’t like me?”
“You give her the flowers anyway. Say you understand and respect her feelings and you… move on.” Ruby said, shrugging.
“Not very helpful, here Ruby.” Emma couldn’t help but listen to the last part of the conversation and sat on the other side of Luce. “If she doesn’t reciprocate, you come to me and we’ll drink your rejection into oblivion. Then the next morning, you’ll keep your distance, drink some more, and THEN, try to move on. There are plenty of other women out there hoping to find a hot florist to fall in love with.” Emma said and Ruby smiled.
Luce observed her drunkenly. “How about you, Swan? Last time I saw you, you bought a single red rose. Do you know what that means, Rubes? Little Birdy here is in love. At least it is love and not sexual so far. Oh, Swan, if you want to express that you’re sexually interested, you should go for orange roses. They’re like the sun, fiery, hot, passionate.” Luce started speaking louder, and Emma blushed. Ruby looked at Emma smirking.
“Is that so, Luce? What else did Little Birdy here buy from you?”
“First time she wanted to say sorry and that she expected a new beginning. So, of course , I gave her tulips and daffodils.”
“Obviously. Everybody knows that.” Ruby said playfully, but alcohol induced Luce didn’t quite catch on.
“Riiight?! Anyways, the last time, she bought one single red rose. The prettiest, biggest, most perfumed red rose I had.”
“Oh wow. And who was that for, Swan?” Ruby asked.
“We were talking about Luce’s love life here, Ruby. Not mine. Or lack thereof.” Emma answered, drinking her own glass of bourbon. “Anyways, I gotta go. Good to see you, Luce. Ruby.”
“Yeah, you too, Emma.”
“See ya, Emma. If you need more flowers, you know where to find’em!”
Emma arrived home, already expecting the buzzing in her phone.
“So, how was the rescuing of Pongo today? Phillip told me he was running wild in the harbor.”
“Yeah, he was after the seagulls and Archie didn’t even try to contain him, so I got the short stick and I had to go there.”
“Have you talked to Archie already?”
“Yeah, he saw me for free last week and we set the next appointment for next week, when I’ll finally get my paycheck and will be able to pay him, and Mary Margaret and all. How’s little man Henry?”
“Fine, he just turned four months old, so his pediatrician said he will start to develop his muscles strength soon.”
“That’s good news. Is his belly still bothering him?”
“Not as frequently as before. By the way, Kathryn asked me about you. Are your documents all in order?”
“Oh Geez. I’ll send her a message.”
“Is everything ok?”
“I hope so.”
“Hey Kathryn, this is Deputy Swan. Mayor Mills told me you asked about me. Is everything okay?”
“Hello Deputy. No, I can’t access your school history.”
“I got a GED while in juvie. May I request you to keep it a secret?”
“Sure thing, Deputy. If you send me a bottle of grape juice and a flower, anything for you. ;)”
“Funny. I appreciate your discretion.”
“Have a good night, Deputy.”
“You as well.”
“So… what does the Mayor usually do on a Friday night?”
“The Mayor takes care of her son and sometimes calls her parents.”
“How about the Deputy?”
“The Deputy is on call for the night shift. At any moment I will receive a call from one of the bars, to pick up Leroy.”
As on cue, the station phone rang and Emma answered.
“Deputy Swan, how may I help you?”
“Heeey Emma girl!”
“Yeah… Can you pick me up? I’m at Granny’s and I promise you I just want to go home.”
“Yeah, sure. Stay put.”
“As I was mentioning, the man himself called me.”
“So it means he just doesn’t want to drive, Emma. Just take him home, he will behave himself.”
“I believe you. Talk to you later.”
“Do one better, Deputy. Come by, I’ll be waiting.”
At some point in their text conversations, Regina started inviting Emma for dinner, especially when the Deputy was on call. Regina liked the attention she was receiving, she just didn’t know what to do with it. Kathryn was right, she had to start talking. But not yet.
After Emma dropped Leroy home, she went to Regina’s. They had supper together, Regina served a hot onion soup to the blonde - September was getting chiller by the day - and they talked about things Regina liked to do during the Fall, and Emma described how the weather was in the southern states during the Fall and how it was to live in the streets on colder days. Regina always listened with interest, and some pity, but she tried not to show the latter.
They kept this routine for a few weeks, where Regina would initiate the conversation on the weekends -never Emma, as she always felt like she was intruding in Regina’s Henry time- and if she was on call or patrol duty, she would eventually go to Regina’s for supper. It actually started one night, when Emma mentioned without thinking she didn’t have any food and was hungry. Regina said she should come and have dinner, as she wouldn’t have her Deputy feeling hungry while working. Now though, Regina would chat with her whenever. Kathryn mentioned those text conversations were the baby steps she was talking about in their first conversation.
It was a Saturday, October 21, when Emma finally decided she was going to ask Regina on a date, after all, they spoke every single day, talked about a wide variety of subjects, personal, professional, even love life sometimes, and Emma felt they were on the same page. She enjoyed their conversations, her company and Emma certainly enjoyed Regina’s food, so she felt like Regina really might want to go out with her.
She had worked during the night before, making sure the town was safe and sound. She went home with a smile on her face. Mary Margaret noticed and Emma told her she was feeling good with herself, although it was the week of her birthday, a terrible day for Emma.
Mary Margaret promised to make her a cake on Monday, wishing her a great weekend, as she was leaving that night to go camping with David.
Emma smiled to the idea of Mary Margaret sleeping on a barrack.
She slept for a few hours and woke up well rested, went to have lunch, stopped by the station to fill in some reports she had to file that day and then sent Regina a message.
“Hey, is it okay if I come over this afternoon?”
“Sure, Emma, anything you need to discuss?”
“Actually yes, but I’d like to talk in person.”
“Sure, anytime is fine, I’ll be here with Henry, as usual.”
“Okay, see you soon.”
After work, she went to The Game of Thorns. Luce was talking to Rachel, pointing animatedly at some flower when Emma entered the store.
“Hey Luce. Hi Rachel!” She greeted them happily, the women jumped in unison at the interruption and sheepishly looked down and then at Emma.
“Deputy! How are things?” Rachel asked as she walked to the door. “Luce, I’ll see you later. Have a good day, Deputy!”
“You as well!” Emma answered, and then looked at Luce, who was blushing.
“Oh, shut up, Swan.” Luce said, as she smiled, still red. “What can I do for you today, Deputy?”
“I remember once you told me about the orange roses.”
“Uuuh sexual attraction, just as good as red roses. Passion, hot feelings.”
“Yeah, yeah. Do you… do you have them? I would like a bouquet of them.”
“Tell you what, Emma, I’ll make you a bouquet and you come back in thirty minutes, deal?”
“Yeah, sure. How much for them?”
“Sure. I’ll be back later.”
As Luce started preparing the flowers, Emma went home to have a shower and put on some nice clothes. She combed her hair, letting the princess curls flow, put on her nicest jeans and a beautiful shirt, and complemented that with a nice, original leather jacket. She applied a light makeup, just to clean up and felt happy with the final result. She felt like constantly smiling and when she arrived at the flower shop, Luce gave her the thumbs up. “You clean up nicely, Emma! I’m sure she’s gonna love to see you like that.”
“Well, I will ask her out today, so I thought it was worth it.”
“Good luck, Deputy!”
“I’ll need it, thanks, Luce, it looks amazing!”
Emma put the bouquet on her car, and drove carefully to Regina’s. She took a deep breath as she stopped in front of the mansion. Slowly, she walked around Sandra and opened the passenger door, retrieving the flowers. She walked slowly, going once again through the things she wanted to say to Regina. She took one last deep breath and knocked on the door.
Regina opened the door and greeted Emma, “Please come in, Emma. What do you… oh” She stopped, as she saw the bouquet in Emma’s hands.
“Hello, Regina. Thank you for seeing me.”
“Yes, of course.”
Emma took her shoes off, and entered the house. Regina put Henry in his crib and faced Emma. “So?” Straight to the point, right.
“So… I brought you roses, because I find them so beautiful, just like you.” Emma blushed and smiled a little. “I wanted to give them to you because just like you, these roses are brilliant, vibrant and admirable.” She extended her arms, and Regina received them, still silent.
“I wanted to come here, so I could ask you, if you… if you would like to go out with me? On a date? Maybe dinner?” Emma put her hands in her pockets, because the nervousness made her hands skittish. She observed Regina as she decided what she was going to do with the sudden request.
“Emma. I… appreciate the roses, they are magnificent. Thank you.” She answered, but returned the bouquet to Emma. “But I can not accept them. I… I respect what you are feeling, and believe me, I feel flattered, cherished even, but the truth is… I am not romantically interested in you.”
Emma’s face moved for a second, and Regina could see the disappointment and the hurt in her eyes, but she recovered fast, nodding her understanding.
“I… I appreciate your honesty, Regina. And I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable with the invitation.”
“No, no… Emma, you didn’t. I understand where you’re coming from, we have good chemistry, it is just that…. I don’t feel the same way.” She said, trying to make things less awkward. “I’m sorry.”
Emma could see she really felt sorry, and gave her a smile. “That’s okay. I understand. Thank you for... putting me down gently. I think I’ll go now.”
Emma saw herself out, not even putting on her shoes properly. Regina observed her from the foyer, feeling bad for the blonde.
Emma opened the passenger door, deposited the flowers on the car seat and walked around it, she fixed her shoes. She entered the car and turned on the engine. “Thank goodness Tillman fixed it.” she thought, and left, still feeling Regina’s eyes on her.
Regina observed Emma leave, and closed the front door. She picked up her phone and called Kathryn, who answered it on the second ring. “What’s up?”
“Emma Swan just asked me on a date.” She said without much emotion.
Chapter 8: Consequences
Chapter 8 - Consequences
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT???????? HOW DID IT GO? WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHEN IS IT?” Kathryn yelled
“If you stop screaming, I will tell you.”
“I’m sorry honey, it’s just WOW! She… she went to your house to ask you out?”
“Yes, Kat. She brought me a bouquet of roses, said some nice words and asked me.”
“And what did you say?”
“I said no, of course.”
“YOU WHAT?!” She sounded outraged. “What did I tell you about baby steps? This was your chance of experiencing something more, Regina!” The Mayor could hear how livid Kathryn was, but she needed someone to vent, and it had to be her.
“Look, Kat. I understand what you are saying, but I can’t simply go out with her, I can’t lead her on. I do not feel prepared at all for a date.” She took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.
“You told me you’ve been talking constantly with her. What happened between the text messages and you feeding her most nights and Emma inviting you on a date?”
“I don’t want to hurt her, Kat. What is the use of me going out with her, raising her expectations of romance when I still don’t feel like doing it?”
“Baby steps, Regina. Baby steps and honesty. What have you told her about yourself? Have you explained to her what happened to Daniel? Have you told her you haven’t been with a woman in over a decade?” Kathryn sighed. “You know what, I’m all finished up here, I’ll stop by the store, grab some wine and I’ll meet you at your house in forty minutes. I prefer looking at you to talk about this.”
“Okay, I’ll have dinner ready for you.”
“You fucking better, Regina. Because I’ll stress-eat the shit out of it.”
Regina shook her head and put the phone down. Henry, at five months old, was already enough focused on the mobile above his head to demand constant attention. She looked at him and sighed. “Oh Henry, what will we do, my love? She is a nice person, full of love and happiness, I can’t simply suck that feeling out of her, baby. She deserves better. She deserves more than I can give her right now, if ever.”
Henry gurgled adorably, oblivious to his mother’s anguish.
Emma parked the bug in front of Granny’s and sighed. “Why do I even try?” She asked herself. Thinking about how her birthdays were always terrible, she grabbed the bouquet and threw it in the nearest trash can and walked to the grocery store. She had the weekend off, having planned it beforehand with Graham, so now that she had nothing exciting to do for her birthday weekend, she definitely needed alcohol. She went straight to the alcohol isle, foregoing and genuinely forgetting the food she needed to survive the weekend. Her liver had survived worse situations, so she didn’t care.
Kathryn left her office and crossed the street when she spotted a beautiful bouquet of red and orange roses in the trash can. “Oh noes.” she said lowly, and grabbed her phone.
“Did Emma give you a bouquet of red and orange roses?”
“Yes, Kat, but I returned it, I couldn’t accept them after turning her down. Why?”
Kat sent her a photo of the bouquet on the trash can. “Because I think I’m about to bump into her at the grocery store.”
“Kat, please, don’t say anything to her.”
“I won’t, chill out.”
She walked to the store, actively looking for the blonde, and it didn’t take her long to find Emma at the alcohol aisle. It was, in fact, her own destination, but she tried to hide, waiting for her to move along. She knew Emma knew she was Regina’s best friend, and she wasn’t going to add salt to Emma’s wounded heart. She saw the blonde picking up two bottles of bourbon. “Damn girl, you fell head first for her, uh?” Kathryn murmured to herself. Emma’s face was a display of disappointment and hurt. She never noticed the lawyer, as she walked to the register. Kathryn watched as she paid for her bottles, put them in a brown paper bag and left, without a single word to the man.
“Jesus, Regina. I just saw her buying alcohol. The girl is crushed.”
“Stop stalking her, Kat. Just get the damn wine and come here.”
She chose her bottle of wine, stopped by the candy isle and chose a few chocolate bars and went to pay.
Kathryn arrived at Regina’s home and as usual, entered without knocking. She found Regina in the kitchen, heating some lasagna she had on the fridge, Henry sitting by himself in the high chair.
“You know, I think you broke the girl.”
“Kat, it’s not my fault, I was gentle and honest with her when I mentioned I was not romantically interested in her.”
“But Regina, what’s the point of talking to her, flirting and…”
“I never flirted with her!”
“But you damn well led her on, letting her believe she was doing okay by sending you double entendre messages, please!”
“Language! And please, you don’t have to scream, I am right here beside you.”
“Don’t change the subject!”
“I am not. I just don’t want you screaming in my kitchen. And… I thought flirty was part of her personality, I couldn’t imagine she was actually going to ask me out.”
Kathryn shook her head and braced herself. “Your problem, Regina, is that you convinced yourself you’re no longer available to romance, so you simply do not want to believe that the Deputy could, in fact, be attracted to you and wanted to try something. I’m gonna tell you, some other woman will come onto her and she will accept because she will want to get over you, and once you realize that MAYBE you could develop feelings for her, it may be too late.”
“I hope she can find someone else, Kat. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat that I do not feel ready to engage in a romantic relationship.” Regina opened the oven and took the lasagna to the dinner table. “Now do me a favor and bring Henry to his crib so we can have dinner and you can drink that wine.”
“Oh I will. You have no idea how much I’m drinking tonight.”
“If you drink too much, you know where the guest room is.”
They sat to have dinner, and they changed subjects, to discuss professional and political matters. Kathryn talked about the purchase Regina’s father made and also some documents she had written for the city and, as promised, she drank the whole bottle of wine and went straight to the guest room.
Emma drove home, and felt glad Mary Margaret wasn’t there with David. She didn’t know if she could stand their sweet loving eyes at each other. She needed some time to process the bitter feeling of rejection in her. She hardly ever took chances like that, for it was easy and safe to simply pick up a girl at the bar and have a one night stand. No feelings, no harm, no rejection. Emma arrived home, and went to her bedroom with the bottles, she didn’t want to stay in the common areas because she new things aren’t going to be pretty so all she did was turn off her cell phone and sat in her bed. Foregoing a cup, she drank from the bottle.
“Great, really great. Of all days of the year, I had to make a fool of myself two days before my birthday. Of course she wouldn’t want to date me. Who did I think I was talking to? She’s the fucking Mayor, owns a mansion, has a son, why the fuck would she want to date a nobody like me?” Emma usually spoke to herself, a habit she had developed as a kid, as she was always alone and needed to entertain herself.
“But of course that was expected, nobody wants a poor orphan who can’t get a hold of herself. Damn it, this is all my fault. I should’ve never opened up to her. Fucking Dr. Hopper for saying I should go for it.”
The evening turned into night, and Emma laid down, sleep induced by the alcohol, with thoughts of group homes full of older kids who mocked her for being hopeful and then being returned over and over by foster families who decided she wasn’t good enough to be adopted.
The next morning, Emma woke up thirst and hungry. She went to the kitchen and prepared a mac'n'cheese, using Mary Margaret’s food. She made a mental note to go to the grocery store before she came back. She turned on her cell phone and discovered Ruby had tried to call her, and left her a message to meet her at The Rabbit Hole, and then a message asking her if everything was okay, and that if she did not hear from her in the morning, she would go to the studio and check in person.
“Hi Ruby, I’m good. No need to come over, have a good Sunday.” Emma answered her and turned off the cell phone one more time.
She ate the food and went back to her bedroom, she drank from the bottle and opened her night stand, retrieving a box with some old photos inside.
Emma at three years old, between Anne and Joseph Swan, a few weeks after that photo was taken, they returned her to the orphanage. Anne had gotten pregnant.
Emma holding a little stuffed animal, which resembled a dog. The writing behind it informing she was turning five years old. The social workers in Massachusetts gave it to her as a birthday present. She remembered watching the stuffed animal burn, when she was nine, the fired caused by the older kids at the orphanage in Seattle the morning after Christmas. She ended in Washington after the Smiths, who had fostered her in MA, dropped her at the orphanage door. As she didn’t know their full names, the police never tracked them down.
Emma at eleven, sitting beside other three kids, Jessica, Luka and Thomas, in one of the rare happy memories she had. They were in a boat, invited by a social institute sponsored by the Seattle Seahawks, all three wearing the team blue jersey. (Which was stolen from her a week later).
Those were the only photos she had of her childhood, the older she got, the less time she spent in the group homes and there was nobody interested in taking photos of her. She put the photos back into the box and returned it to the night stand.
She fell asleep, due to the food and all the drinking.
Luce found the bouquet in the trash can outside the grocery store and knew things hadn’t turned out as Emma had expected. She went to Granny’s hoping to find her, but nobody had seen the Deputy since the previous afternoon. Ruby mentioned she had sent Emma a message and was surprised to see a new message from her.
“She said she’s fine, no need to go see her, what happened, Luce?”
“I’m afraid her plan went wrong. Yesterday she showed up to the store, asked for a bouquet of roses and when she came to pick it up, she told me she was going to ‘ask her out’, but I don’t know who the person is, and today the bouquet was in the trash can.”
“Damn, I can’t imagine who would turn her down. She’s gorgeous and a great person.” Ruby mentioned, as Regina entered the diner.
“Good morning, Luce, Ruby.”
“Good morning, Regina. We were here discussing something and I’d like your opinion.” Ruby smiled to the brunette.
“If I can help, sure.”
“Emma Swan: Yay or nay?”
“I don’t know. I never thought about it. Why?”
“She was interested in a woman, we don’t know who, but yesterday I sold her a beautiful bouquet of roses and I just found them in the trash can.” Luce said.
“I know nobody asked me, but next time I see her, I’ll definitely ask her out.” Mulan barged in, sitting beside Luce. “She’s gorgeous, if she was rejected, she must be feeling bad. I know I would.”
Regina excused herself, ordered her coffee and waited for it, trying to not pay attention to the conversation. Ruby and Luce totally supported Mulan’s idea and as soon as Regina got her coffee, she almost ran out of the diner.
Ruby decided, during her conversation with the women, to go check on Emma. If they were to become friends, it was her duty to make sure the Deputy was fine. As an old friend of Mary Margaret, Ruby had the keys to her studio and she decided to take a break and went to see her.
The studio was deadly quiet. There was evidence of Emma coming to the kitchen, as the pan on the stove was still warm. She climbed the stairs and found the door to Emma’s room ajar. Ruby looked inside and the first thing she noticed was an empty bottle on the floor, and a new one opened, three quarters still full.
“Damn, Emma.” Ruby, still at the door, decided it was best not to be so close to the Deputy when she woke up, so she decided to call her from where she was. “Emma. Can you wake up?”
The blonde just grunted.
“Emma, please wake up! I’m here to help you.” Ruby saw the woman’s breath accelerate. “Hey, Emma. Can you wake up?”
Suddenly, like she was electrified, Emma jumped holding her pillow. “WHO’S THERE?” She screamed, as she hadn’t seen Ruby at the door.
“Ruby! Hi Emma, it’s Ruby!” She stepped back into the aisle as Emma woke up, so she just put her hand inside the bedroom.
“Ruby?! What the hell are you doing here? Did you break in?” Emma was still panting from the scare, still hugging the pillow, as if it was a shield.
“Am I allowed to enter?” Ruby asked, and Emma took a deep breath before saying yes. She had forgotten about the bottles, so as soon as Ruby entered the room and looked at them, Emma felt embarrassed.
“Hey Ruby. Whatcha doing here?”
“Hey Emma. I came to check on you. Luce told me about your purchase yesterday, and she found it in the trash can today. Are you okay?” Ruby sat on the armchair in the corner of the room, observing Emma. The blonde was wearing an old t-shirt and shorts.
“I will survive, Rubes. I just needed to get batshit drunk, but I’ll live to fight another day.”
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Nah. All I need is a shower and then you can serve me the biggest dish you have at Granny’s, as tomorrow is my birthday and it’s Monday, so I can’t drink anymore today.” Emma said and walked to the bathroom, where she got naked and took a nice warm bath. Ruby stayed where she was, waiting for her, still absorbing the information the next day was Emma’s birthday. “Such a nice birthday present.” She murmured, not wanting to be heard by Emma. She got her phone from her pocket and sent a message to Mulan.
“Girl, it’s Emma’s bday tomorrow, get your ass to the diner, I’ll take her there so she can have a proper meal.”
After, she sent a message to Graham.
“Hey Hot Stuff, can I see you later tonight? I’m helping a friend, and she needs a friendly arm to get over a crush.”
“Sure babe, see you whenever you’re free.”
Chapter 9: The Asian Opportunist
Chapter 9 - The Asian Opportunist
Emma left the bathroom wearing the same clothes and Ruby excused herself to the living room while the Deputy got changed. Ruby decided to organize the kitchen, because she knew how Mary Margaret was with the organization of the house. When Emma felt ready to leave her bedroom, wearing a simple pair of jeans, a blouse and her red jacket, Ruby had stored the food in the fridge and done the dishes.
“Eh… you didn’t have to do that, Ruby. I was going to clean up, I was just too drunk to do it after I finished eating.”
“You don’t have to apologize, Emma. We all feel like crap every once in a while. Are you ready to go to Granny’s?”
Ruby and Emma walked down the street in silence, but Ruby needed to get some sort of response from Emma. “Do you wanna talk about it before we get to the diner?”
“There’s not much to tell, Rubes. I was feeling good about the conversation we’ve been having, she seemed interested, flirty even, but when I asked her out, she said she appreciated and respected my feelings, but she was not romantically interested in me. That’s all.” Emma walked with her hands in her pockets, and shrugged as she finished talking.
“I shoulda known better, to be honest.”
“Why do you say that? What should you have known?”
“Nothing, never mind.”
“Please, Emma. I’m trying to be your friend, here.”
“Nobody ever wanted me, Ruby. It’s not like things would’ve changed overnight. I shouldn’t have put her on the spot.”
“Well, I know of a certain firefighter does want you” Ruby felt bad listening to Emma say those things about herself, and wanted to improve Emma’s mood before they arrived at the diner.
“What do you mean?”
“Have you met Mulan, our resident firefighter?”
“I’ve seen her around, but haven’t had a proper conversation with her yet.”
“She’s totally into you, she even mentioned it today to me and Luce. I know it’s not the best scenario, but I think you should give her a chance, you know? Even if for a while, so you can recover from that rejection, and who knows? Maybe you’ll even like her for real.”
“I don’t know, Rubes. Doesn’t seem right to use someone just to forget another person.”
“If you are honest with her, and she accepts, why not? Give it a thought.”
Emma smiled and agreed to at least listen to what Mulan had to say. When they entered the diner, Luce and Rachel were sitting together, and Emma couldn’t help noticing them. “What’s going on there? They’ve been different lately.”
“Yeah, while you were busy romancing your lady, Luce put on her big girl pants and actually talked to Rachel, who finally admitted her feelings. They’re… trying.”
“Oh wow, that’s awesome. Good for them!”
Ruby directed Emma to their table, and the group welcomed Emma, while Ruby went to the kitchen, to order something for the blonde. Mulan arrived a few minutes later, and Rachel smoothly invited her to join them.
After eating properly, a dish with hash browns, bacon and a steamy cup of coffee, Emma felt a little better. Was she having breakfast in the middle of the afternoon? Yes, but she didn’t care. Ruby was a good friend for rescuing and feeding her. Emma felt and said that she was thankful for what she’s done for her.
The ladies watched her eating and respected her “breakfast time” before ordering some drinks for the table. Mulan, sat beside Emma, and tried to break the ice.
“So Emma, what are your impressions of the ladies of Storybrooke?” She said in a light tone.
“Storybrooke has the finest ladies I’ve seen. Just look at Luce and Rachel, they are beautiful. Also, Ruby here is stunning.”
“Yeah, I know, Emma. I know.”
Emma turned to look at Mulan. “And you’re not too shabby yourself, Mulan.” All the ladies in the table laughed, while Mulan flexed her arms, showing them off to Emma. “I try to keep busy, you know, these won’t stay like this if I don’t work them.” She saw the way Emma looked at her arms and flexed one more time. “You’re not too shabby yourself, Emma. Do you work out?”
“Yeah, I try to. I like to run in the morning, before my shift at the station.”
“Well, if you’re interested, I can pick you up in the morning for my run, what time do you go?”
“Usually at six.”
“That’s perfect, I wake up at five to lift some weights and I can definitely make time for a run afterwards, what say you?”
“Wow! I can even start considering lifting with you, but let’s first start with the run, okay?”
“That’s great. I like it.” Emma and Mulan smiled at each other, under the watchful eyes of Ruby, who smirked before taking a sip of her drink.
Emma and Mulan spoke all night long, talking about working in the force, and also workout tips. They exchanged phone numbers and Mulan even offered to drive Emma home, since she was the only one who hadn’t drink alcohol that night. Emma accepted and Mulan drove them to the studio.
“Would you like to come in? I have some juice for you, I’m not ready to be alone right now.” Emma was honest, and Mulan accepted.
They sat on the couch, talking about previous affairs, drinking orange juice - Emma had had enough alcohol for the month - and didn’t want to tempt Mulan. She actually felt better about the Regina fiasco and knew that Ruby was right. She could actually see herself with the firefighter, if nothing else, at least for the company.
“You know, Emma… I know you were romancing a woman in town and that it didn’t have the result you expected, but… I can’t help this feeling I have of kissing you right now. And I know that maybe you don…”
Emma just went for it, she didn’t feel like overthinking whatever would come up from her attitude, she just needed to know . So, she interrupted Mulan and kissed her.
It was a little awkward at first, with Mulan still surprised by her move, but as soon as Mulan recovered, she reciprocated, putting her hands in Emma’s face and opening her mouth, welcoming Emma’s tongue.
They kissed for a little while, and as they moved from one another, Emma just smiled.
“I can’t promise you my undying love, but I guarantee that we can have a good time together, Fa.”
“I’m not asking you to marry me, Swan. I’ve got my own luggage of unrequited feelings, I just want to have a good time and distract my mind.”
“I think if we’re able to keep it real, we’re gonna be okay.” Emma smiled and moved closer to kiss her one more time.
“Is it presumptions of me to wonder if I can… spend the night?” Mulan asked, as she felt Emma’s hands wandering under her shirt.
“No… not at all. I just want to make something crystal clear here, this is a rebound thing, okay?!”
“I’m fine with that, Emma. I want you to know I feel the same, okay? As people say, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.”
“Yeah, you totally right. So… less talking and… less clothes.” Emma said and they laughed. “But before that,” she moved her head indicating the stairs, “Let’s go upstairs, I’d hate to be walked in.”
They never heard Mary Margaret and David arriving a couple hours later from their camping. The couple made sure to not be too loud, in case Emma would be sleeping. Little did they know.
It was five minutes to five in the morning when Mulan woke up, still attached like a koala to Emma’s naked side. She detached from the blonde and as silently as she could, she went to the bathroom and got a quick shower, and as she left the bathroom, she saw Emma already up, waiting for her turn in the shower. They smiled at each other and Mulan stepped aside to let the blonde in.
As soon as she was ready, Emma left the bathroom already in her running attire. They left the studio in silence, and went running around the still asleep city. They stopped at Mulan’s place to do some lifting and just before seven, they ran to the street and watched the sunrise near the harbor.
“Hey, would you like to go on a date tonight?” Mulan asked her. “I heard it is your birthday, and I would like to celebrate properly.”
“Yes, it is my birthday and yes, we can go out tonight.” Emma smiled as Mulan moved to kiss her.
“Happy birthday, Emma Swan.”
“Thank you, Mulan Fa.”
“Oh please, Fa Mulan has a much better sound to it.”
“You are absolutely correct, Fa Mulan.”
“See? Much better.”
As they walked back to the town, they stopped at Granny’s for breakfast and Ruby winked at them while serving their coffee - and a bear claw for Emma. Philip and Ashley greeted them as they entered the diner and later, Emma would blame the hormones from their activities in the previous night and their workout this morning, but she didn’t think much as she said goodbye to Mulan with a kiss in the middle of the diner before going back home to get ready for the day.
Philip couldn’t hold his facial expression when he saw Mulan smiling a million watts smile and simply gave her the thumbs up. Ashley just shook her head and dragged him outside, holding her own coffee and, as usual, Regina’s black coffee.
When Regina arrived at Town Hall with Henry in her arms, she overheard the siblings.
“You know, I’m happy for Mulan, she’s been lonely for a long time, it’s good she’s dating the new Deputy, she seems like a nice person.”
“Ash, they were running together before seven. Ruby said they left the bar together last night.” The siblings smirked to one another.
“Good morning, Ashley, please help me with Henry.” Regina said, her morning suddenly withering faster than a flower in the sun.
Emma entered the station smiling and Graham couldn’t help but smirk to her. “What’s up, Sheriff?” Emma asked as she placed her coat on her chair and turned on her computer.
“Somebody looks like the cat that ate the canary.” Graham said, throwing a stress ball in her direction.
“You know, sometimes I forget Ruby is dating you, and therefore tells you everything. I might have to reconsider my friendship with her.” Emma said in a good spirited way, throwing the ball in the air.
“She also mentioned today is your birthday, Emma.” He stood from his chair and walked to her. “Now, can you please stand up so I can give you a hug?” He halted as Emma’s smile vanished.
“Oh yeah. That.” She put the ball on the table. “Yeah, sure.” She stood up.
“What’s the problem? I thought you’d be pleased I remembered your birthday. You don’t have to accept my greetings, if you don’t want to.”
“That’s not the problem, Graham. I… I appreciate you remembered it.” She opened her arms and he embraced her. “I hope you have a nice day, Emma.” Graham smiled. “Happy birthday.”
“Thanks. I truly appreciate it.”
“Now, Ruby also told me you left the bar in the company of Fa Mulan, and this morning…”
“Yeah, I know, I kissed her in public. Is it forbidden?”
“No, no, absolutely not. Just… Storybrooke is a small town, news travel fast, be prepared to be the subject of everyone’s conversation by lunch.” Graham said smiling.
“Is that a problem that I was kissing her in public?”
“Absolutely not, Emma. I’ve told you before, we’re a small community though we aren’t bigoted. We’ve had pride months for at least fifteen years and everybody celebrates diversity. Our previous Mayor, Mister Mills was the one who proposed a pride parade, when his daughter first dated a girl in high school.” Emma got surprised. “Mister Mills?”
“Yes, Henry Mills. Regina’s father.” Graham looked at her surprised himself. “Didn’t you know Regina’s father was the Mayor before her?”
“To be honest, no. I never had the time to read the town’s history.”
“Gotta get on with the show, Emma. I recommend you start by reading the town’s website.”
“Will sure do it.”
As they spoke, their emails pinged in unisson.
Subject: Review of all cases.
Date: 10/23/2017, 07:57
Before winter comes upon us, the Office of the Mayor requests that the Sheriff Department reviews all of the open and closed cases for the last five years and that a comprehensive report is drafted and completed before November 1st. The report must be ready for the monthly meeting on November 2nd.
Mayor of Storybrooke
“Yay, happy birthday to me with this awesome present from the Mayor’s office.” Emma groaned and sighed. Graham just shook his head. “I can’t believe they want us to do that in one week. I mean, it isn’t as much goes on in this town.
“Don’t you have some intern to do it?” Emma asked, trying to not lose all her hope of having a date that evening.
“Technically, you’re the intern, as you’re the most junior employee.” Graham gave her a crooked smile. “Come on, Emma. Let’s get this shit show started so we can finish early today. I remember nothing happened in 2012… no wait, nothing happened EVER in Storybrooke.”
They laughed, accepting their fate and went to the archive, to sort through the files, chronologically.
It was after five in the afternoon when Regina arrived home, and genuinely smiled as she saw her parents’ car in her garage. She left her Mercedes on the street and wasn’t surprised to hear her parents talking with their baby voice to Henry, while she took her shoes off and walked to the living room, announcing her presence. Her father was sitting on the floor, with Henry in his lap, and Cora was sitting on the sofa - never on the floor - beside them. Ashley had, apparently, been dismissed for the day.
“Regina darling! You’re finally home!” Cora said as she stood up, hugging her.
“Hello mother, I had some last minute situations to solve at the office. Why didn’t you tell me you would come, I could have taken the afternoon off.”
“ M’ija , we didn’t want to intrude in your work, so we just came to your house to wait for you while we played with tu niño . That niña , Ashley, she’s a good girl to take care of Señor Henrique here.” Henry stood up, with some difficulty, while Regina walked to him to take her son in her arms.
Regina smiled with the way her father always mentioned her son.
“I’m glad you both are here, sometimes it is nice to talk to another adult besides Kath and Emma.” Regina said without realizing what she had blurted out.
“Emma? Who’s Emma, Regina?” Cora said with a knowing smile.
“Oh… she’s the new Deputy. We had good conversations but she’s… there was a misunderstanding and we actually haven’t talked for a few days.” Regina blushed and tucked her hair behind her ear. Before Cora and Henry could make any comment, Kathryn entered the house, without bothering to knock, as usual.
“Auntie Cora! Uncle Henry! I saw your car outside and I HAD to come and see you. Hi, Regina.” She said without paying attention to the Mayor, as she moved to hug them.
“Kathryn, my dear, how are you?” Cora smiled and hugged her.
“Quite well, auntie, and you?”
“We’ve been great, chica . You’re taking great care of our documents, so we can simply enjoy the pleasures of being old.” Henry said as he also hugged Kathryn.
Regina watched her best friend and her parents and smiled happily. Family. She had all of them here, her family. She watched their group hug break down and Cora mentioned starting up dinner, while they caught up, but the moment Kathryn and Henry Sir started talking about business, Regina decided it was time for her to face the music and go to the kitchen to help her mother with dinner.
Cora was already seasoning the meat and there was a pan with tomato sauce on the stove.
“Regina, good you’re here. You can start with the dough for the lasagna.”
“So, lasagna it is.” Regina said, as she looked into the pan, knowing full well she wasn’t safe if she dared to taste it. She moved around her kitchen, taking the ingredients to the marble island and started preparing the dough.
“So, who is Emma?” Cora asked, looking inquisitively, but still sweetly.
“She’s the new Deputy.” Regina answered, trying as hard as she could to school her facial expressions.
“And you have been chatting with her, and never once mentioned her to us, dear? Why is that?”
“Mother, it is nothing. She is an outsider, I was intrigued, decided to be a good Mayor and get to know her a little. One can never be too careful about new public servants. So, I engaged in conversation with her.”
“And how did you feel about that?” Cora asked, with her back to Regina, as she was stirring the sauce.
The Mayor tried to not roll her eyes, she knew her mother would not let the subject go until she felt satisfied with the answers she was given.
“It was a good change of air and subjects. She is vivacious and funny, mother. I am sure you will see her around. I had a good time talking to her.”
“Yes, but you mentioned a misunderstanding… what was that about?”
“She… was under the impression I was romantically interested in her and invited me to a date.”
“Regina! That is really sweet!” Cora turned around, looking at her daughter with a real smile on her face. “What was your answer? Do you need us to babysit?”
Regina sighed. “No, mother. I do not as I said no to her. I have no wish to engage in a romantic relationship with the Deputy.”
“But why not, dear? What is it that makes her so repulsive?” Cora sat beside Regina, and added some flour to the dough.
“It is not that she is repulsive , mother. Quite the opposite, in fact, she is a really attractive woman. It is just that… I don’t feel ready to date someone at the moment.”
“ M’ija , there is not such thing as a right time to go back into the dating scene.” Cora hardly ever used Spanish words, only in special occasions, and Regina knew this was one of those.
“Mother, I’ve already had this conversation with Archie and Kat.” She moved away from her mother, opening the drawer to get the rolling pin and start opening the dough.
“I am sure you had, but I am your mother and you know there is nothing I would love more than to see you happy again.”
“Mother, I am happy! I have you and daddy, and Henry and Kat. What else would I ask for?”
“Someone to share your bed, and make love and feel and give love, Regina” Cora said, adding more flour to the marble, as Regina kept on opening the dough.
“Mother, I am fine, please.”
“How did she make you feel when she asked you out?”
“I would like to say she had butterflies in her stomach, auntie.”
“Thank you for your input, Kat.” Regina said, rolling her eyes. “I never said such a thing. I was flattered, mother. But still, I said no to her.”
“Why not give her a chance, m’ija ?” Henry asked, as he came into the kitchen.
“Because it has been a little over a year without Daniel, daddy. I am not ready to simply forget him.”
“Nobody's telling you to forget Daniel, Regina. I am not asking you to burn all his photos.” Kathryn said. “All we are asking of you is to give yourself another chance at love. It may or may not be with Emma, but she is the first step towards that, you know?”
“Well Kat, even if I wanted that, she is now seeing Fa Mulan. My lovely assistants were gossiping about it this morning, how they saw them kissing in front of Granny’s this morning. So you see, she was quite fast moving on from her invitation.” Regina said with a little bit of angerness and maybe some jealousy in her voice.
Kathryn sighed loudly. “I hate to say ‘I told you so’, Regina. But I freaking told you so about this. Emma is a nice person, she wasn’t going to be alone forever. Good for her, honestly. Mulan is a fine woman.”
“So there you have it.” Regina answered it. “End of story.”
Henry decided it was time to change subjects and started telling Regina all about their newest acquisition, a fine mare coming from Tennessee. Cora and Kathryn got the message and didn’t push the subject anymore.
It was way after five in the afternoon, and Emma had no idea what time she would be ready to go, as they only went as far as September 2012 with the files. She decided to send a message to Mulan.
“Hey! So, something funny happened today. The Mayor decided she needs a thorough report of ALL cases we had since 2012. We worked all day long and we only made it to Sep ‘12. I’m not sure Graham will let us go home before we finish 2012. Is it okay if we reschedule our date? I’m so sorry.”
“Hey beautiful, no problem! let me know when you’re free later, I can go and see you for a bit.”
Mulan answered her. She had prepared herself to take Emma to a nice restaurant, and she simply changed into more comfortable clothes and went to Granny’s instead.
“Hey Ruby!” Mulan greeted the redhead woman, and sat in one of the booths. “Can I have some bourbon?”
“Where’re Emma and my boy? He was going to pick me up here two hours ago.” Ruby served her and got a glass of water for herself.
“Emma just sent me a message saying they will be late. Something to do with a report.
“Aw shit. I’ll talk to Graham later. So, what’s up with you and Little Birdy?”
“All is okay. I was going to take her out for her birthday, but now… who knows. I’ll try to see her later. What’s the latest gossip?”
“Well, I’m glad you asked.” Rachel said as she sat beside them. “Today I saw Leroy and Archie walking down the street, and they approached Sister Astrid. I couldn’t help but hear him telling her he was going to stay away from alcohol and that Archie was helping him to move on from his feelings for her. She actually smiled, blessed him and kept on her way.” Rachel said, as Ruby served her a beer. “After she turned the corner, I saw Leroy hugging Archie and saying he was actually relieved about what he had said.”
“Well, that’s amazing news, Rachel. Good for them. He’s a nice guy and she’s, well, a nun.” Ruby said and they toasted to him.
Chapter 10: The Storybrooke Black Knights
Chapter 10 - The Storybrooke Black Knights
It was the first week of November and incredibly, the Dark Knights, the town’s football team, were in the state’s finals for the first time in over ten years. It was all anyone was talking about. Mary Margaret was exploding with pride, and David was helping Frederick with the team. Mulan joined forces with Rachel and they decided to help the school with the preparations for the big game. It was the last game of the season, and the boys were really excited to bring the final game home.
Regina declared Fridays as official training days, which meant the entire town was at the bleachers supporting the team during their training sessions. The cheerleaders were preparing a new presentation and the school band had never been so sharp with their songs and moves.
Due to the preparation of the Crime Report (or the “Pongo Report” as Emma called it in her mind) and the finals, Emma and Mulan had barely spent any quality time together during those two weeks since her failed birthday date. Which wasn’t exactly a problem for them, as they could still sleep together at Mulan’s place and run in the mornings before their shifts.
One Friday morning, Emma was having breakfast at Granny’s, peacefully eating her deserved bearclaw, since Mulan had pushed her to run ten miles, as Regina entered the diner, ordered her coffee and looked around.
Emma saw her and decided she was not going to leave, nor was she going to look at the Mayor. She still felt bad since their last interaction, even with Mulan keeping her company. She heard Regina getting her coffee and was surprised to see a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon on top in her hand.
“Good morning, Deputy.” Regina offered, as she put the cup in front of Emma.
“Good morning, Madam Mayor. Is there anything I can do for you?” Emma was surprised to see the cup, wondering if Regina had bought it for her.
“First of all, Ruby kindly asked me to give this to you, as it is your favorite, I hear.”
“Oh. Thanks.” Emma felt a pang of disappointment for, once again, daring to have any type of hope.
“Secondly, I need you to run an errand for the office this afternoon.”
“If I can help, sure. What is it?”
“I need you to trim the trees of the police department, this morning, as the finals are going to happen tonight. I know you’re aware of that, since it’s the only subject the town has been talking about lately. After that, I would like you to pay a visit to the Augusta Bulldogs, as they are staying in the hotel at the town line.”
“I’m sorry, but I thought the town already had a maintenance team to take care of that.” Emma felt outraged.
“We do, but all of our teams are occupied with the stadium. So, I am ordering all of the city employees in their specific departments to take care of it.”
“I am pretty sure ‘trimming trees’ is not part of my job description. So why would you order me to do such a thing?”
“Because I’m the Mayor and I am trying to keep a good appearance of the town, as we have visitors from outside for the game. Rest assured it is nothing personal , Deputy Swan.” Regina scoffed at Emma and left the diner, leaving Emma feeling pissed off.
After Regina left, Emma stood up, and somehow, dripped the hot chocolate in her clothes. “Aw fuck!” she exclaimed.
“Emma! Manners!” Granny said from behind the counter.
“Sorry.” Emma said and left the place, feeling frustrated, tired and now, wet.
It was four in the afternoon and Regina was already sitting on her favorite blue chaise, as Archie entered the room and warmly smiled at her.
“Hello Regina, how have you been?”
“Oh.” Archie felt surprised with her honesty. “Why is that so?”
“We never mentioned her after her first week here.”
“Because things were going fine. We became acquainted. We texted often. And then she had to spoil everything by asking me out.”
Archie felt surprised. Regina never mentioned that in their sessions. He took notes of that in his notepad.
“She asked you out, and what did you say?”
“I said no, Archie, of course! We had this conversation before. I’m not comfortable with the idea of dating again. I’m still not completely over Daniel’s death. I know I have to, but it is still difficult for me to not think about him in situations where I may get romantically involved with someone else.”
“I understand you saying that Regina, but as you have mentioned, Kathryn has talked over and over about it with you, just like I have, you should start allowing yourself to love, again.”
“She’d just moved to the city. I wasn’t comfortable going out with her.”
“You mentioned you texted often, how was that?”
“I liked the attention, I wanted to talk to someone new. I sent her a message and we began talking often. It evolved into inviting her over for dinner, especially when she was on patrol duty and had not eaten anything. We talked about many different things, some funny and light, some deep about our lives. It was good. And then, one day, she showed up on my doorstep with flowers and asked me to go to a romantic dinner with her.” Regina sighed.
“What did you think of her attitude of going to your place and asking you out, instead of simply doing it by phone, as you were already in conversation?”
Regina contemplated his question for a minute. “I would say that was very brave of her. She barely knew me, and she brought me flowers, and said I was beautiful and admirable.”
“So she also had thought about the things she was going to tell you.”
“What do you mean?”
“It wasn’t something she decided in the heat of the moment. She bought you flowers, she said nice things to you. She probably had been thinking about it for a while.”
“Yes, I figured that.”
“How do you feel knowing another woman was interested in taking you out, even though you are full of baggage, let’s put this way.”
“What do you mean by ‘baggage’?”
“Well, there is Henry to consider, he’s months old, and you are a widow to a man, and the Mayor, so thinking from her point of view, an outsider who just arrived in town, and started working for you, she had to take all of this into consideration.”
“I really don’t know what made her think I was interested in her, but I was surprised.”
“There is a saying, which I believe fits perfectly this moment. ‘It takes one to know one’, don’t you think?” Archie smiled, as he waited for Regina’s reaction.
“Are you insinuating I was somehow demonstrating any romantic interest in her?”
“Maybe not romantic, but sexual, who knows?”
“ARCHIBALD!” Regina felt outraged. “How can you say that? How long have you known me?”
“Long enough to know you are a human being with needs just like the next person, Regina.”
Regina was still blushing, but she understood his point. “I… probably did although I can guarantee you I never sent her a single inappropriate message.” They smiled.
“I believe you. Though sexual attraction and interest sometimes are subtle, but totally understandable messages. But you are trying to change the subject.” Archie said and Regina chuckled. “Who was the last woman you got emotionally or even sexually involved with?”
Regina didn’t have to think long. “Mal. But it was way before I started dating Daniel.”
“Can you remember what you felt when you were with her?”
“I felt differently than when I was with Daniel.”
“I can’t explain it, Archie. The feeling is different.”
“I can imagine. Now, I want you to think about your time with Mal, and then, your time with Daniel. What are the things you miss from your time with Mal?”
“I miss the light touches, the sweetness of being together without a rush, of the times we could simply lay together naked. Mal was very touchy-feely. It is a light, sweet and loving sensation. We could talk for hours about serious subjects, like life; the future, or the past, she never felt bad about telling me about her past, she was excruciatingly honest with it, and I loved every second of her stories, it gave me the opportunity to know her better, deeper, truly. She was an amazing person in my life.”
Archie felt proud of Regina bringing it all up. Her feelings were raw, honest, longing. “Great.” He said as she finished talking. “How do you reminisce your time with Daniel?”
“Daniel was white-hot. He was sensual, a little brute but in a lovely way. We had long, fun conversations. He made me laugh like nobody else with his foolish jokes. He wasn’t the most romantic man in the world, but his actions truly spoke louder than words. He was attentive, he asked me things, he made me more vocal to my needs and wishes, and I don’t mean only in bed, but to things in our life.” Regina smiled sweetly, with the memories of their time together.
“And how did Emma make you feel when you were texting, before she asked you out?”
“Alive. She asked stupid, foolish questions like my favorite Bonnie Tyler song and then, she would tell me how living on the streets is hard if you’re in Boston in February. She always had me on my toes with her childhood stories, and then she would crack a joke about a movie, or quote Captain America.” Regina laughed a little at the memory.
“So… you could say that somehow Emma is a mix of Mal and Daniel?” Archie asked cautiously and let the information sink.
Regina felt paralysed, shocked to come to that realization. “Archie… I think she is.” She said lowly, with tears in her eyes.
“And what are you going to do with this realization?” He smiled.
“I… I need to think about it.”
“Take your time, Regina. Think about it, think about her and then, see what are you going to do about the way you’re feeling about her.”
“Geez, Emma. What happened to you?” Mary Margaret asked, as Emma stormed through the studio’s door later that Friday.
“I’m late for my date with Mulan and Madam Mayor wouldn’t let me finish my job! She kept on demanding things all day long!” She said and furiously climbed the stairs to her bedroom and went to shower.
Mary Margaret and David just looked at each other, not knowing what to do.
Emma showered and chose the best outfit she had. They were going to a restaurant in Portland after the Black Knights’ game. Although she felt excited to go out with Mulan, Emma couldn’t categorically say she was happy . Mulan was an amazing lover, great company and so excited to do things, that she decided it was easier to simply go with the flow. Every now and then, Emma still had thoughts about Regina. She knew it wasn’t right to Mulan, but she had made it clear from their first kiss, that she was trying to forget about someone else, so she didn’t feel overly guilty.
Emma came down the stairs and Mary Margaret was getting ready to go to the school, and Emma gave her a ride. She knew her roommate was going to meet David there, so there was no need to worry about the after-game. Mulan was already there, as she was helping the school with the preparation for the game, and they agreed to get a spot right at the top of the bleachers, and it seemed like the entire town was there to support the boys, it was the state finals, after all. The opposing team was already there. The band was getting ready, with their chosen marches and choreographies. Emma saw Luce and Rachel sitting together, next to Ruby and Graham, and they waved to her but when she pointed to Mulan, they just gave her the thumbs up. Leroy was helping Fred and David with the equipment and also waved at her.
Emma passed by Regina, who was wearing the team’s jersey, and Henry had the cutest beanie in his head. It was purple, grey and black, with a pom-pom on top of it. Emma smiled longingly, and to her utter surprise, Regina smiled back, and waved to her. Emma waved back and continued her way up the bleachers. She found Mulan in deep discussion with Archie, they were talking about last week’s NFL game. Emma wasn’t too invested in it, so she simply said hi to them and sat beside Mulan.
At the beginning of the game, Regina spoke on the microphone, welcoming the opposing team and wishing both teams good luck. Aurora sang the National Anthem followed by the band and the game began with the Black Knights defending.
There was a lot of excitement, and both teams had a strong drive. The first quarter ended with a tied score of 7-7.
In the second quarter, the Black Knights had a personal foul in their favor, as the Bulldogs running back violently and purposefully knocked down one of the Knights’s cornerbacks, and the whole town population booed at them, suddenly, the entire stadium heard Rachel scream “YOU’RE A WANKER NUMBER NIIIINE” and not a single person could contain their laughter.
The Storybrooke Black Knights took the game to overtime and came out with a win after an interception of the defense, in a joined effort, when the quarterback gave the ball to the running back, and the defensive end fumbling the ball and the corner taking it before the ball fell on the ground and ran back to their end zone.
Regina and Kathryn celebrated with Henry, who was content staring at the bright lights and all the colors around him.
Mary Margaret ran to David, who was crying, hugging the other members of the coaching staff. When he saw her approaching, they hugged and kissed, and David put his hand in his pocket and took out a little velvet box, kneeling down, he proposed to her, and the crowd, too busy celebrating the title, never noticed it. They hugged and Mary Margaret couldn’t stop looking at her ring. Luce and Rachel joined them shortly after, and they were so excited to see the ring, and eager to celebrate with them both the win and the engagement.
Emma and Mulan left the stadium together, happy for the win and Emma drove them to a restaurant in Portland. It was a short drive and they had fun, discussing the game, more like Mulan teaching Emma about the plays and all. Emma herself was more of a baseball girl.
Emma mentioned her terrible day, and how she thought the Mayor had something against her, to which Mulan said Regina was like that to everybody, especially in situations where visitors would come to town. Emma wondered if Regina had any aspirations of running for governor in the future, and Mulan agreed, saying it was a possibility. After dinner, they went back to Storybrooke, and Emma slept at Mulan’s place.
The following morning, Emma went to back to her home and found Mary Margaret and David having breakfast. They hugged, Emma praised David on the win and they ate together. As Emma left to get ready for her shift, Mary Margaret followed her, saying they hadn’t talked properly in a long time and that she missed her Emma-time.
Once they were in Emma’s room, Mary Margaret showed her the ring, and Emma hugged her roommate, happy for them.
“Did that happen yesterday?”
“Yes! As soon as I found him on the field, he proposed. I guess he was truly expecting the team to win and cap all that with the ring. I cried so much, Emma!”
“I can only imagine! It was a great game, and so emotional for the whole team!”
“Absolutely. We’re over the moon right now. And, actually, that’s why I am talking to you. We intend to get married next month.” Mary said, with a sympathetic smile.
“Wow! So soon?”
“Why wait? We’re in love, we’ve been together for the longest time, so we decided to simply get it over with. We both have no parents and no siblings, so we intend to have a small ceremony for our closest friends.
You’re invited, of course!” She laughed and Emma felt a “but” coming. “But…” Mary Margaret said. Ha, there it is. Emma thought. “I’d like to let you know he is coming to live with me, as he too, rents his apartment. So… do you think you can find some other roommate? How are the things between you and Mulan? You’re spending more and more time together, aren’t you?”
Emma could see how elated Mary Margaret was. So much so, she didn’t see how hard it was to Emma to hear those words. Another house she had to leave, another place she wasn’t been considered. Yes, it was a marriage, she couldn’t imagine living with them after the wedding, but there she was again, being asked to leave a place where she was starting to feel familiar and welcomed. She simply smiled, hugged Mary Margaret and said she was going to find another place.
Regina had enjoyed herself like she hadn’t in a very long time. Sure, it was only a high school football game, but the fact that the entire town was there to support the team meant she had to expose herself and Henry to all of the citizens and before the game, she even considered finding a nanny for Henry. Kathryn convinced her otherwise, and she couldn’t be happier with that.
After the game, Regina had the honor to hand the trophy to the boys. She saw Kathryn talking animatedly with Fred Stone, and smiled. Her friend also deserved to celebrate tonight. As she walked to her car, with Henry on the stroller, she saw Luce and Rachel leaning into Rachel’s car, and couldn’t hold her smile as they kissed. That made her think about Emma, and she tried to put that thought on hold, she had more important things to worry about at the moment.
The celebrations went on for hours, with the kids from middle and high schools celebrating in a planned party - thanks to Fred and David - and Graham was on call, to ensure no parents would break any laws. It was way past 11 p.m. when Graham called her to inform the party at the school was over and there were no teens unattended anywhere to be seen. She thanked him, and could finally rest her mind about that.
“Hi Babe! Don’t wait up for me! Fred invited me to a private celebration at his home.”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t, Kat! :)”
“Oh please, don’t say that, you definitely would NOT do on a first date what I am about to, babe. ;-)”
“Please tell me he has condoms?”
“Yes, he does. He tried to say he didn’t, and I told him to not worry, that I was ready to have his babies. He found a package pretty quickly. HAHAHA”
“Good one! Enjoy!”
Chapter 11: Finding yourself
Chapter 11 - Finding yourself
Emma went to work with mixed feelings. Sure, she was happy for Mary Margaret and David, it was great they had decided to take the next step on their relationship, but at the same time, she couldn’t help this feeling of loneliness creeping in.
As it was Saturday and she was alone in the station, she sent a message to Archie.
“Hi Archie. Can we talk?”
“Hello Emma, are you on duty? I have a free hour in the afternoon.”
“Even though it is Saturday?”
“I only take Sundays off, Emma. I know weekends tend to be difficult for most people.”
“Thanks, man. I’m free after 3 p.m.”
“Good, come by around 3:30 and I’ll be able to see you.”
“Thanks again, Archie. You’re a good man.”
Emma used her idle time in the most productive way she could: Filling out boring reports. Lord Lucius and Pongo were the biggest offenders the Town had, totalling an astounding number of ten calls about them in the past week alone. After that, she continued to write her ideas for the group home in town. She wanted to help the kids to be more active in the community, using their knowledge to tutor the kids in the middle school. Archie was also helping her with the project, trying to have group sessions with them.
As she finished her tasks for the day, Emma could only wait for her time with Archie.
At their agreed time, Emma was on his office. Archie welcomed her and couldn’t help but notice Emma laying down at the blue chaise Regina loved to use. He smiled sweetly, and was glad Emma couldn’t see it.
“So Emma, how have you been?”
“Lately? Yeah, okay. I’ve been working hard, especially these past weeks because of the Black Knights, you know?”
“Yes, I do. I was glad they won yesterday.”
“Yeah, me too. The kids worked hard, they deserved it. I’ve been seeing Mulan, and it’s great, but… it doesn’t take my breath away, you know?” Emma sighed frustrated.
“What do you mean?”
“Mulan is great. She’s a funny, well spirited person. I love spending time with her, but we’ve been going out for almost a month and I feel like, if it wasn’t for the sex, we could be just friends, the way I am with Ruby.”
“I see. She’s great, but she’s not the one. How do you feel about it?”
“I’m feeling a little disappointed with myself, because she’s a good woman, and in any other situation, I could see myself falling in love with her.”
“But not now? Why is that so?”
“I… didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I guess I’m still interested in Regina.”
“Your feelings are understandable, Emma.”
“Are they? Can you explain them to me?” Emma joked and Archie had to laugh.
“Emma, when we talked about Regina rejecting you, you drank it into oblivion, and right after you started seeing Mulan. Now, I remember you told her you couldn’t offer her much, and that she said that she was fine with that.”
“And that is still true, Archie. I offered her the best I could, my friendship, my time, and I truly tried to open up to her, but… still, I don’t feel the sparkle, you know?”
“I understand. It is a valid effort, not many people do it. But there is a moment when you must decide if you’re happy where you are, or if you want to take the reigns of your destiny and do something different. It will most likely take you out of your comfort zone, but it may direct you into the correct path.”
“How do I know what that is? I’ve been trailblazing my own path my whole life, and still, here I am. Fucked up, abandoned and homeless once again.” Emma’s voice was strained, and she tried not to cry.
“Homeless? Emma, aren’t you sharing with Mary Margaret?” Archie’s voice sounded concerned.
“I guess that’s what triggered all these feelings, and me trying to talk about Mulan.” Emma sat down, put her head in her hands and took a deep breath. “David and Mary Margaret are getting married, Archie. He proposed to her last night.”
Archie nodded. “I am surprised nobody is talking about it yet, you know how fast news travel around here.” They both laughed.
“I guess few people noticed when he did it, anyways, she told me about the wedding this morning, and obliviously, bluntly asked me to find another place to stay.”
“But Emma, how soon does she want you to vacate the room?”
“Apparently, I have until the end of the month.”
“That’s pretty soon, in fact. So, how are you dealing with that?”
“I feel like I’m thirteen again. Finding a great place, with great people, getting comfortable with it, just to get thrown away like some sort of garbage.”
“Emma, I know it brings bad memories, but you cannot think like that. This time, things can be different.”
“Different how, Archie? Yes, I know I’m with Mulan, but… it’s just temporary, I know that, you know that, she knows that! Besides, there’s no way I can afford a house by myself, so I will probably have to share it with someone else.”
“Yes, it feels like you’re back to square one, but Emma, now you are part of a community that takes care of each other. We’re not strangers to you anymore. People know you as our Deputy, Graham can and will refer you to whoever may have a place for you, I have a nice independent basement that, if need be, you can absolutely move into, you know?”
“Isn’t that like… unethical?”
“Only if I have ulterior reasons other than to guarantee you’re not homeless, Emma.” Archie smiled warmly, and Emma understood his words. She was not alone, this time she had people to lean on.
“I think Mulan has a spare bedroom in her place.”
“Go to Mulan only if you feel comfortable with your feelings towards her, Emma. It won’t do you any good to maintain a relationship just because you need a place to stay and she can provide you that.”
“The thing is, Archie. I may have to get my shit together about this situation soon. I don’t know how, but somehow I need to resolve my feelings for her, and also for Regina, you know? Move on, forget her, go back to her and risk being rejected again, I don’t know. Things can’t keep going as they are right now. I’m with Mulan, but I’m still dreaming about Regina.”
Archie listened to her, and had to organize his ideas, without breaking his secrecy to Regina. He couldn’t play cupid, he was legally and ethically forbidden to say anything at all. He was, figuratively, Emma and Regina’s Chinese wall.
“Emma, you need to be honest with yourself, and with Mulan. It’s only fair, to both of you.”
“I’ll see her tonight, I will be honest with her. I like her, but I don’t love her. But I don’t want her to suffer, you know?”
“I find it very polite of you, Emma. And that’s exactly the type of thoughts you must have once you talk to her. Take the time to organize your ideas, to re-evaluate your feelings about her, and then, make a decision.”
“Yeah, sure.” Emma took a deep breath and stood up, followed by Archie.
“Thank you for your time, Archie.”
“Any time, Emma. I’m here to help you.”
Emma left Archie’s office and went to have dinner at Granny’s before going home. No, not home. Mary Margaret’s place. She just wished Mary Margaret and David weren’t there when she arrived, so she could start organizing her things and looking for a new place.
The moment she stepped into the diner, Ruby knew something wasn’t right. Emma just ordered some mac’n’cheese and a sparkling water. She started checking on craigslist if there was any roommate ads for the Storybrooke area, but deep down, she knew she had to be brave and face Mulan. For whatever reason she decided, be it to keep on seeing her, or simply to ask for her help and move into her apartment.
“What’s going on, Little Birdy?” Luce said as she sat on the opposite chair.
“Hi Luce, how are you?”
“I’m fine, great actually. Rachel and I are even thinking about getting married.”
“Whaaaaaat?! That’s fantastic, Luce. I’m so glad things are going great for you two!” Emma smiled happily, and she actually meant it, but her facial expression gave her away.
“Thanks, Emma. But what about you? Are things going okay with Mulan?”
“Eh… Mulan is great, I really like her, but...”
“Your heart’s not really into her.”
“Yes and I’m starting to feel bad about it, you know? I told her this was not something I would be fully invested in, but she’s just so awesome, I feel like I’m not being fair to her.”
“Hey, that’s okay to feel, Emma. She’s a great person, just… talk to her, she’ll understand.”
“I’m building the courage to. But tell me more about you and Rachel, what’s up?”
“We’re just so in love and on cloud nine, it was difficult not thinking about proposing to her, so I just did.”
Emma smiled at the irony of the situation. While she was happy for Luce and Rachel, she was bitter about David and MM for the exact same reason. She nodded and listened to Luce as she talked about the game in the previous night, and how they ended going to Rachel’s place and slept together. Luce then, noticing Emma’s closed body language, decided to leave her alone, and mentioned she had to go check something with Ruby. Emma silently thanked her, and said her goodbyes.
She thanked the heavens the studio was empty when she got there, so she started organizing her things - mostly clothes - and put most of them into the trunk of her car. She then took a shower and got dressed to go see Mulan. Emma wanted to talk to her and set things right. Before anybody arrived, Emma left the building.
Mulan had a nice place. It was above the fire station, which made her life much easier if any emergency broke through. There was enough space for more than ten people to live there, but the firefighters all had their communal place downstairs. The apartment was Mulan’s only. It gave Emma the chance to notice there was a room in the opposite end of Mulan’s. Maybe, if everything went well, she could occupy that room.
She kissed Mulan when she arrived, and tried to get ready. Mulan offered her a beer, but she wanted to be sober for the conversation.
“I wanted to talk to you about us, actually.” She sat down on the couch and the Asian sat beside her.
“Give me your worst, Swan. What’s up?”
“I’m feeling like shit. I know I said from the start I couldn’t promise you love, but I feel like you really care about me, and I feel disgusted in my skin for… taking advantage of it.” Emma looked at Mulan, waiting for some, any kind of response, but she just nodded and said “Keep going, I’m listening.”
“Truth is, I’m still thinking about… the woman I was rejected by.”
“Regina Mills.” Mulan said, void of emotion. Emma got wide-eyed, and at a loss of words.
“You got rejected by Regina Mills, you’re still pinning for her, I know.”
“How did you… I mean, how do you know that?”
“Emma, more than once you… moaned her name while we were having sex.” Mulan said with a smirk.
“WHAT?! Oh my gosh, Mulan, are you serious right now?”
“Cross my heart it’s true.”
“When… why didn’t you say anything?”
“Emma, I told you from the first moment I knew I was a rebound thing, you never lied to me, I knew what was going on, I just… wanted to enjoy you, enjoy the moment. I thought it was going to be a one night thing, but you kept coming back for more, I wasn’t going to reject you, you know?”
“And you… are okay with this?”
“I mean… the part of you moaning someone else’s name… that was cold.”
Emma felt mortified, but right after Mulan laughed. “I’m joking! I’m joking! I was just glad to know who was that crazy woman who said no to you. Regina Mills, damn it Emma! Couldn’t you go for a more unattainable woman?!” Mulan started laughing, but Emma was still too shocked to understand the joke.
“Emma, look at me. It’s fine. If you feel like you need to end things between us, I totally get it.”
“But… What about you?” Emma asked, as a handful of questions came to her mind. “Why would you do it, if you knew I was clearly thinking about someone else?”
“Mulan, this is serious, I’m mortified, and you’re making jokes!” Emma said with a mix of feelings. Mulan came closer to her and hugged the blonde.
“Emma” she said letting go. “It’s a cliche love story, seriously. You came to town, fell in love with the most popular girl, got rejected, wanted some rebound, still can’t get the girl outta your heart.” They laughed.
“Seriously, that’s rom com material 101.” Mulan smiled sweetly at her, with her hands on Emma’s arms. “You’re a fantastic woman, I just hope you know that. Regina Mills better get her shit together soon. You deserve the best, girl.”
“Wait… you said she’s unattainable. Why’s that?”
“Of everything I just told you, that’s what stuck? What sort of law enforcement officer are you? Haven’t you read her dead husband report when you were organizing the archive?” Mulan asked, as she moved to the kitchen to grab two beers. She was not going to recount Daniel’s death with a sober mind. Also, she was sure Emma also needed to drink something to loosen up.
“Graham made sure to take care of that file in person.”
“Girl, you really need to know your prey. I’ll tell you all I know about her. Here, drink this.”
“Now, most things I’ve learned from her is hearsay, so it might have some incorrect facts. Henry Mills, a.k.a Henry Senior, was the Mayor of the town for a long time, and Regina grew up knowing what’s like to be a politician. When she came out as bisexual to her family, Henry Senior organized the very first Storybrooke Pride Parade, dude knows how to love his family.”
Mulan took a swing of her beer and Emma did the same. “Ruby told me it was glorious, she got to kiss many girls and Granny was just ‘eh, I knew it’ I wish I could have been here for that, you know?” Emma nodded and smiled. “Yeah.”
“Anyways, ten years ago when I came to town, Regina was running for office, as her parents decided to go live in their farm and take care of their horses. She was dating this politician, Maleficent - crazy Disney villain name if you ask me - whatever, she won easily. Something between them went wrong and they broke up. Waltz in Daniel Colter, like a freaking mix of prince Charming and David Bowie. Dude was really handsome. Of course they got married straight away. Pun intended.”
Emma laughed and Mulan went to get another beer. “Anyways, fast forward a few years. His job in the horseracing industry picked up steam and he was travelling all over. A year ago, he had a trip to Tennessee and… well, he never came back. The official version was an ordinary car accident, but Graham investigated deeply, I was his Deputy at the time and helped him out. Daniel was drunk driving, lost control of the car and hit a massive tree head on. The medical examiner was livid when Graham and Henry Senior made her promise the official report was a human error, and no alcohol should be ever mentioned.”
“Wow, that’s… terrible. Regina had the right to know about it.”
“When the autopsy was done, Regina had just found out she was pregnant with his baby, so Henry Senior made sure she never knew it.”
“And why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you need to know it in order to probably understand why she kicked you out. She’s still mourning him. How do you beat a dead guy, husband and father to her son? Look Emma, I know you like her, but you gotta know who’re trying to woo here, woman.”
“I see. Seriously Mulan, you’re the best.”
“I know! Now come here, give me a hug!”
Emma walked in her direction and Mulan hugged her tightly. “Fancy a farewell fuck?” She said in Emma’s ear.
“You’re impossible!” Emma said letting go. “But why not?!” They smirked and moved to the bedroom.
They were laying together in bed, with the duvet on top of them. Emma had her left hand behind her back, and Mulan was half-hugging her. They were very comfortable.
“I forgot to ask you something kinda important.” Emma said in a low voice.
“What is it?”
“We just broke up, Mulan, I can’t ask you now.”
“Oh, shut up, Swan. Just say it.”
“Have you heard David proposed to Mary Margaret?”
“No, I haven’t. That’s great news! He’s crazy about her!”
“Yeah, they’re crazy about each other. So, the thing is, Mary Margaret kindly kicked me out.”
“What?! What do mean ‘kindly?’”
“She gave me until the end of the month to move out. David is moving in. That’s what I had to talk to you about. I know you like your privacy, but I was gonna ask you if I can share the apartment until I find a new one for myself?” Emma said looking at her, and Mulan could see a hint of pain in Emma’s eyes.
“Emma, I’m so sorry she kicked you out. Of course you can stay here, there is plenty of other rooms, pick one and move in, you don’t have to wait until the end of the month if you don’t like it there anymore.”
Emma took a deep breath, willed her eyes to not cry and hugged Mulan, thanking her over and over again.
“Thank you, I was getting used to it, so I… I have a hard time letting go. But I will be alright.”
“You know the place already, Emma. Choose the bedroom, they all have a bathroom and plenty of space. Only the kitchen is joined. You’re more than welcome here, Emma. You’re a friend, I would never let you go somewhere else, with all these idle rooms I have.”
“Seriously, Mulan. I can’t thank you enough.”
Emma called Archie and said they needed to talk before her next scheduled session or she would blow up and he suggested to see her for 30 minutes every day until she got better.
“How are you today, Emma?”
“Feeling much better, thanks. I talked to Mulan, as you suggested. I told her about how I felt. She told me she already knew. We broke up, but we’re still friends. So much so she actually offered her place. She told me to choose one of the rooms and move in immediately.” Emma said, holding her hands very tightly.
“Congratulations, Emma. You were very brave! How did that make you feel?” Archie said, giving her time to answer his question. He could see it in her eyes this situation was taking a toll on her.
“I hate moving. I did it so many times I lost count how many houses I’ve been to. Moving means I was not good enough to be worth a bed. Moving means I’m not wanted. Moving means I’ve done something wrong and they don’t want to deal with my wrongdoings. Moving means I’m worthless.” There were tears running down her cheeks, and Archie mentioned the handkerchief was beside her. He also told her to take her time, and cry for as long as she needed.
“Get in contact with these feelings, Emma. All these memories, all the thoughts you had every time you had to move. Now, how does that make you feel right now?”
“Emma, I need you to listen to me. Very carefully.” He waited for her to raise her eyes in his direction. “Those feelings are temporary. They’re there to protect yourself, but you must find a way to let go of them.” Emma scoffed “Easier said than done, Archie.”
“I am aware of it.” He smiled and watched as she shook her head and dried her tears. “Now, I understand you enjoy reading?”
“So I have some words that I hope you will understand: ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live’, said a very famous philosopher.
“Are you seriously quoting Harry Potter right now?” Emma laughed while drying more unwanted tears.
“I understand you’re quite an adept of quoting pop references, I just wanted to try how it looks, but it’s not for me.” Archie smiled, as he took his hands up in a surrender motion.
Emma laughed and stood up. “You’re a good man, Archie. Funny too.” She extended her and to him.
“I do my best.” He laughed. “See you tomorrow?”
Chapter 12: Brave
Chapter 12 - Brave
Days went by without much going on. Thanksgiving was nice, as Mulan and Emma hosted a feast for the firefighters and the police department and the kids from the group home. She told Mulan it was an excellent form of integration between the kids, who often felt like the system was always trying to get rid of them, instead of welcoming them into a family, homely environment, and she spoke of a personal experience.
It was Friday morning and Emma went over to the group home to present the idea of tutoring to the high schoolers. Not all of them felt excited, but she mentioned it was a nice way to give back to the community, and it certainly helped their scholar curriculum. She played some basketball with them, and when Archie arrived for the kids session, she went back to the station.
A call from Mrs. Stone sent Emma to the old lady’s house, and surprisingly, it wasn’t a Lord Lucius related call. Apparently, she needed help to hang the Christmas lights and didn’t have anybody to help her. Her two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia were in California. Emma felt bad for the old lady, and as she helped her with the lights - there was nothing else going on in town, she had the spare time - she came up with another idea for the orphans.
The first week of December came faster than she expected, and it meant she was going to have to face the Mayor for the monthly reports. Since breaking up with Mulan, Emma couldn’t help thinking about Regina every day. She noticed Regina was more friendly towards her lately, but she didn’t want to be fooled by her heart, so she just let things happen, to see where they would go. Maybe it was the aftermath of the football game, and the happiness that spread around the town. Maybe Regina heard about her relationship with Mulan and something snapped, as Emma never mentioned to Mary Margaret or anybody that Mulan and her had broken up. She didn’t know why, she just felt Regina was a little warmer towards her these days. Emma mentioned it to Mulan, who just smirked and shook her head.
“What’s up with the smirk? What do you think?”
“Word travels fast, Emma. People talked when you moved in. Of course, people don’t know we don’t share the bedroom, because, seriously, I’d hate for people to know more about what goes on in here, so she probably heard about it, and thinks we’re still together. That’s quite a good thing, actually.” Mulan said as she served Emma the hot soup she had cooked.
“Thanks.” Emma said, dipping a piece of bread into the soup. “Why is that a good thing?”
“If she’s feeling anything at all for you, she most likely is freaking out that we’ve ‘already’ moved in together.”
“I’m not following.”
“Come on, Emma. Don’t be dense.” Mulan laughed at Emma’s confused expression. “She realised you’re off the market and now that she can’t have you, she wants you.”
“Ah. I see. So you said it is a good thing because if, and I mean if, she feels anything for me, it’s time to go back to wooing her, right?”
“Seriously Emma. Sometimes you’re so dumb it hurts.”
“Well, fuck you.”
“Excuse me? You’re being all dumb and get offended when I call you on it? I shouldn’t have invited you to have this awesome soup with me.” Mulan said good-naturedly and Emma laughed.
“Not my fault if I can’t help being the poor orphan with a chip on her shoulder.”
Mulan threw the slice of bread she had in her hand at Emma. “Oh shut up! If everything goes wrong -again- you’ll still have your bedroom here, ok? Dude, I love you, I promise you I will not kick you out when I find that hot old millionaire lady to get married to.”
Emma smiled sweetly at Mulan. Their relationship improved nicely after the break up. Being friends definitely suited them better.
Emma got up that Friday morning, put on the nicest jacket she had and combed her hair earnestly. Mulan saw her applying some light make up and was going to make fun of her, but something felt different as she looked at Emma, so she decided against it.
“Why not the red pleather?” Mulan asked as Emma came out of her room wearing a nice brown jacket.
“Meeting with the Mayor. She despises the red pleather. She said it to my face once.”
“I can’t disagree with her, you know? I understand you have an emotional memory attached to that thing , but it is horrible.”
“I can’t ever get rid of it, that jacket saved my life from the Massachusetts cold year after year when I lived on the streets.”
“I know, you told me. But still, now you can afford better clothes, and that includes nicer jackets to impress the Mayor with.”
“Hence the brown jacket.” Emma pointed to herself.
“Good job!” Mulan high-fived Emma and they left the apartment together, while Emma went to the station, Mulan got into the truck to take her routine rounds around the town to check if anything needed to be fixed.
“Good morning, sunshine!” Kathryn said, as she prepared breakfast, while Henry was sitting on the high chair drinking his apple juice.
“Good morning, what are you doing here so early?”
“Gossiping.” The lawyer said, smirking.
“Oh please, are you going out with Ruby again? I thought she was steady with Graham.” Regina commented, sitting down and serving herself a large cup of coffee.
“It was only for drinks. Yes, Ruby is happily steady with Humbert. Nothing to discuss here. But… she heard something about Emma and Mulan.”
“Oh really? Good for her, isn’t it?” Regina felt her heart tug as she answered her friend, but schooled her expressions to look uninterested.
“Don’t you wanna know?”
“No, Kathryn. Emma Swan no longer concerns me. If she’s happy, good for her. And Mulan Fa as well.”
“Fa Mulan. Don’t be childish.”
“Look who’s talking about being childish.” Regina grabbed a toast and put jam on it. “And you haven’t answered me. What are you doing here so early?”
“Your mother asked me to check on you. I was on the street and decided to come over. I went upstairs and you were on the shower, so I decided to bring Henry down and get a head start on breakfast.”
Henry, who was entertained by the toys, looked up as he heard his name. The women smiled, both happy to see him developing daily. Regina stood up, walked in his direction and took him in her arms, as Kathryn put the dishes away. Regina went upstairs to change Henry and heard Ashley arriving. She then finished changing his diaper and talked to him as she put on her Mayoral clothes.
Today was the day Emma would be at the office to discuss monthly reports and she wanted to be well dressed. It was too cold to use her favorite gray dress, so she decided to go with the classic crisp white shirt and black slacks, and high heels boots to complete the look.
Kathryn followed her on her way out. “Looking sharp, Madam Mayor. I know today is a big day for you.”
“I’m not listening to you, Midas. Beat it.”
“The Evil Queen is back, ladies and gents!” Kathryn said out loud, but luckily, nobody was around to listen to her. Regina turned her head, meaning to move her hair out of her face, but she took the opportunity and flipped her friend the bird.
“You know what to do with that finger, Mills. Now go get the girl!”
Regina arrived early at her office. Philip was already there, he greeted her and offered her a cup of coffee, which she declined politely. “If you can get me a cup of Earl Grey, I’ll gladly take it, Phil.”
“Right away, Ms Mills.”
“I appreciate it.” She answered as she entered her office. She turned on her computer and looked at her cellphone.
“Good morning, Regina. Emma will be over your office in thirty minutes, we’re just finishing up the reports.” Graham’s message was just like him, friendly and to the point. She liked the way he worked.
Emma and Graham worked quickly with the reports, signing whatever needed their signatures and at 9:45 she left the station. Regina was expecting to see her at ten. She arrived five minutes before her allotted time, and Philip, as usual, offered her something to drink, which she thanked, but refused. She was wearing her best jacket and didn’t want to risk the chance of spoiling it with liquids.
At ten o’clock, Philip sent Regina a message, saying Emma was there, and she asked him to send her in.
Emma stepped into the office and couldn’t help but smile as they looked at each other.
“Good morning. How are you?” She asked as she walked and sat down on the chair directly in front of Regina.
“I’m doing okay. How about you?” Regina answered and extended her hand, and Emma put the signed papers on the table.
“Not too shabby. How’s the little man?”
“He’s doing great” Regina smiled sincerely. “He is starting to crawl, and the toys are more appealing to him now.”
Emma smiled and said before she could think. “I’d love to visit him someday. He reminds me of the kids I used to take care of when I was little.”
“The best. The nuns were nice. I was never cold nor hungry in that orphanage.” Emma said and realized what she had said. “Anyways, Graham and I worked on all the calls from November, they are all in the system and this is the final report for you to sign and file away. Easy peasy.” She smiled.
Regina opened the brown file, quickly scanned the document and signed it. “I think it is correct. I’ll have it filed by the end of the day.” Regina looked up to Emma and smiled. “Thanks, Deputy. That’s all.”
“Thank you, Madam Mayor.” Emma smiled back and held her gaze for two more seconds than what’s appropriate. “Please say hi to the little man on my behalf.”
“Will do, Deputy.”
Emma left Town Hall feeling happy. She survived another meeting with Regina without making a fool of herself. She entered the cruise and went for her routine rounds to check on the elderly citizens. The weather forecast promised a sink in the temperatures, somewhere around zero degrees. Graham and Emma had already prepared themselves, making sure all the citizens had enough wood to burn, as well as checking all their houses for oil in the boilers. They wanted to make sure nobody died of coldness.
Emma was driving back to downtown when her cell phone vibrated in her pocket. She stopped at the red light and looked down at the message.
“I would like to talk to you at dinner time, if possible.”
“Sure Madam Mayor. Your office?”
“No, my house. Is 5:30 p.m. a good time for you?”
“Yeah. I’ll be there. Are you still drinking grape juice?”
“Red wine, and I can provide for us both, just please, show up. I’ll see you there.”
Emma spent the entire day thinking about the reason why Regina would invite her over. They hadn’t texted in over a month, since the whole birthday fiasco and she didn’t know what to think of the invitation.
She sent a message to Mulan.
“Regina invited me to dinner. Kinda freaking out.”
“That’s what I’m talking about, Swan! You go and get her!”
“IDk what to expect. Or what she wants to talk about.”
“You just take a deep breath. What time does she want you there?”
“At 5:30 p.m. I’ll have to talk to Graham.”
“Once you get here, I’ll help you with the clothes, you gotta be killing it for her to see what she can have, if she isn’t dense. Tho she is the Mayor, she won’t be stupid once she sees you all cleaned up.”
“You sound like I dress like a homeless. I was one, but I do own some nice clothes.”
“If that’s what makes you sleep at night, fine by me, Swan. See yah in a few.”
As Emma did her rounds, she tried to organize her feelings, trying to imagine all the possible outcomes for the dinner. If Regina mentioned her relationship with Mulan, she was going to be honest. If Regina decided to mock her in any way, that was definitely her clue to get over her.
She stopped the car and entered the station, hearing Leroy’s voice.
“Brother, I quit drinking, I shred some pounds, I’m even working out, I haven’t thought of or talked to sister Astrid in months, give me a chance to work here with you guys.”
Graham sighed before he answered.
“I’d love to give you a chance, man. But we have enough hands at the moment.” He looked sad to be unable to help Leroy. “What’s the problem with your current job?”
“I’m tired of it. Mining used to be okay when I could show up drunk and not pay attention to the time, but now, things are different. Archie gave me so many books to read that they actually made me think about my life, and I want to do more for the community, I wanna give a meaning to my life, man.”
Emma sat down on her chair and waited for Graham’s response.
“I’ll see what I can do, man.”
“That’s all I ask, Sheriff. Thanks.”
As Leroy left, Emma looked at Graham and he shook his head.
“I truly want to help him, you know? But I’m not sure we have enough money on the budget to hire him.”
“Is that okay if I talk to the Mayor about it?”
“Are you going to see her?”
“Yep, she requested my presence. So I think I can mention Leroy to her.”
“Sure, if she approves, I’ll be more than happy to have him here.”
“About that, is it okay if I leave at 4:30?”
“Sure. You’re always here anyways.”
Emma and Graham worked in relative silence, as they needed to organize and write down a report to Regina, defending the need of another Deputy, since winter was looming upon them and the forecast wasn’t favorable for the town.
At 4:30, Emma turned off her computer and stood up. Graham looked at her and remembered she was leaving early. “If you pass by Granny’s, please tell Ruby I’ll see her later tonight.”
“Sure thing. See you tomorrow.”
Chapter 13: Now I can do this
Chapter 13 Now I can do this.
Emma drove home and Mulan was there to welcome her with an all knowing smirk. “Welcome home, Little Birdy.”
“Only Luce and Ruby call me that, Fa.”
“Well, I do too, now. Get used to it. So, what are you wearing for the dinner?”
“It’s cold, so I can’t wear my red dress.”
“Why not? You’re driving there and I am pretty sure her house is heated. Just do it, Little Birdy.”
“You’re right. I’ll wear it. I’m gonna hit the shower and be back in a few minutes.”
As Emma entered the bathroom, Mulan decided to put some music on. “Alexa, play Careless Whisper.” She said as she passed the assistant.
Emma laughed as she heard the song.
“What the hell are you listening to, Mulan?”
“Do you think Regina listens to George Michael when she’s feeling… naughty?” Mulan asked and Emma couldn’t help but laugh.
“I have no idea. I do know she likes… Alexa! Play Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
“Turn around, bright eyes, and go get dressed, it’s 4:50” Mulan said pushing Emma to her bedroom, and then moved to the kitchen to heat her dinner.
Emma got dressed in minutes, and took some time to get her hair done, she opted to let it down, with the princess curls she loved, but was too lazy to do it on a daily basis. She then applied a light make up and put on the black high heels she bought especially to wear with that dress. She knew her legs looked awesome in that outfit.
Mulan wolf whistled as she saw Emma ready to leave. “You know, we could have been so good together, we could have lived this dance forever, but no one's gonna dance with me, please stay” she sang as Emma laughed and said goodbye. She took her brown jacket and left the apartment.
The drive to Regina’s took nine minutes and she parked Sandra in front of Regina’s gate at 5:26 and celebrated she wasn’t late. She took a deep breath and left the car, cursing lowly the cold wind on her legs. She looked at the time on her cell phone, 5:29, and knocked on the door. (She would never ring that bell again).
Regina opened the door and couldn’t help but rake her eyes over the blonde, smirking in the process. “Thank you for coming, Miss Swan. Please come in.”
Emma entered the house and took off the jacket. Regina hummed lowly, and Emma heard it and smiled. They went to the kitchen, and Emma greeted Henry, who was on the high chair as he blabbed unimpressed. Regina laughed and Emma shrugged.
“Would you like something to drink, Emma?”
“I’ll have some water, thanks.” Emma sat down in front of Henry and tried to get his attention, but the dragon in his table was fluffy and shiny, and he couldn’t focus on anything else. Emma smiled and left him alone.
“I know this isn’t a business meeting, but I would like to talk about Leroy before we actually start talking about anything else, is that okay with you?”
“Absolutely, Emma. What would you like to discuss?” Regina answered as she opened the oven and took out a beautiful lasagna.
“Leroy came to the station today and was inquiring if we had a vacancy for him. By what I heard, he quit drinking and is trying to find a new meaning for his life, and that means he would like to help the town by working with us.”
Regina thought it over in silence for some seconds and turned around to turn off the oven. “I don’t disagree with the idea of having more hands at the department. Winter is getting harsher this year and it wouldn’t hurt to have another capable person on call once January comes.”
“I said that to Graham, but he is concerned about our budget for next year.” Emma replied and Regina served Henry a little bottle with water. The boy took it gladly and drank from it without much fuss.
“The budget is adjustable according to the necessities. Winter has, and will always be our biggest expense. I can talk to Graham and order a town council meeting to discuss it, but I approve of the idea to have Leroy watched more closely.”
“He did quit drinking. I haven’t received a single call about him since October. He seems really strong on his will to move past his platonic love for sister Astrid. He even lost some weight, due to his new diet.” Emma said and they smiled satisfied. Both knew how important this change was for Leroy.
“I will give it some thought, and will talk to Graham to adapt the budget and include Leroy in the department payroll. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Emma. Anything else related to our jobs?”
“No. Your lasagna smells divine, by the way.” Emma smiled as she took a deep breath.
“Thanks. I’ll set the table and we can eat. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, thanks. What can I do to help?” Emma asked as she saw the table was already set, all it needed was the lasagna. Regina was only putting the wine on the ice bucket.
“Can you bring the lasagna? It is cooling down on the stove.”
“Sure.” Emma put on the oven glove and transported the tray to the dining room.
“Emma, I know we haven’t talked much since you… asked me out, and I would like to rectify that.” Regina said sheepishly.
Emma smiled as she heard that. It was a good thing, wasn’t it? Maybe Regina was, in fact, trying to reconnect with her. She took a sip from the wine Regina had served her and nodded. “I’d like that, Regina. You and Henry are very special to me, I’d hate to lose contact with you both.”
“That’s good to know. Henry grew so much in the past months, it’s good to see him interacting more with the world around him.” Regina said, trying to bring up an easy subject for them to talk.
“How old is he now?”
“Wow, time flies. When I arrived he was three and colicky!”
“Now he blabs and plays with his toys.” They smiled together, as they looked at him on the crib in the living room.
“I heard you moved in with Mulan. How are things between you two?”
“Okay, I guess. Mulan is an amazing woman, so fun and committed to her friends. We are good friends.” Emma said, as she took a bite from the lasagna. It has been months since she last tasted Regina’s food, it was hard not to moan feeling the taste of it.
“Friends? I thought you were dating.” Regina asked lowly, trying hard not to overreact.
“We were… seeing each other, but not really dating.”
“Sorry, I don’t understand.” Regina cleaned her mouth on the napkin and took a sip of the wine.
“Mulan and I got together on my birthday, it wasn’t supposed to be serious, but we kind of just… kept going out together.”
“So why did you move in with her?” Regina asked, without letting go of the glass.
“All in time, Regina, tell me about you. We haven’t talked in a long time, and now it feels like you’re interrogating me.” Emma laughed at the end, and Regina shook her head.
“As you said, we haven’t talked in a long time, I’m just trying to catch up with you.” She put down the glass and continued to eat. “My parents came to visit us a few weeks ago.” Emma listened as she continued to eat. “Have I mentioned to you they have a farm and breed horses?”
“Yes, you did.”
“They finalized a purchase of a beautiful new mare, so they came to inform me of that.”
“That’s amazing. How’s Kathryn? I don’t talk much to her, only when she needs something from Graham.”
“Kat is fine. She is seeing Fred Stone.”
“Is he related to Ms. Stone, the owner of Lord Lucius?”
“He is her nephew.”
“I see. Makes sense.”
“How is it to live above the fire station?” Regina tried to abstain, but needed to know more about Emma and Mulan’s relationship.
Emma chuckled and decided to tell the truth. “It’s… interesting. I can barely hear things going on downstairs, my bedroom is on the far back of the building, so I hardly hear Mulan and the guys going around.”
“Mulan’s room, on the other hand, is right beside the sound system, so she’s always alert to everything.”
“You sleep in different bedrooms?”
“Yes, we do.”
“So why did you move in with her?” Regina was getting nervous, not understanding the nature of their relationship.
“Regina… Mulan and I… we’re not together anymore. I just share the apartment with her.”
Regina stood up, walked to the living room and took Henry in her arms. As he was sleeping soundly, she took him upstairs, leaving Emma confused, observing her. She needed to get away from Emma for a minute, to get herself together. This thing of trying to have a romantic conversation with somebody was nerve-wrecking. Regina put Henry on his bed and left the room.
“Emma, I thought you were sharing the apartment with Mary Margaret, whatever happened to that?” Regina asked as she reentered the dining room.
“The day the Black Knights won the championship, David Nolan proposed to her, and she informed me that he was going to move in with her, so I needed to find a new place to live. I talked to Mulan, and she offered her place for me to stay, I was in no position of saying no, as I can’t afford to have my own place at the moment.”
Regina motioned to Emma to move to her office. “Are you… telling me that… you’re no longer seeing Mulan?”
“And you’re only sharing the apartment with her because Mary Margaret Blanchard decided to… basically evict you from her place?” Regina reasoned, and Emma could see the Mayor becoming agitated.
“Put it simply, yes.”
“Why are you and Mulan no longer together?” Regina asked, looking straight into Emma’s eyes. “Emma. I need to know.” She said breathing heavily.
“Well, if you must know, I ended things with Mulan because it wasn’t fair to her. I never...” Emma took a deep breath.
“Never what?” Regina asked.
“I never stopped thinking about you. Mulan was a distraction, we both knew it, but I felt bad for her. So I came clean and told her I had to end things between us.”
“And yet she allowed you to stay in her apartment? It’s really hard to believe she did it out of the goodness of her heart.” Regina couldn’t really believe in that.
“Some people are nice like that. Mulan is a great woman, and she truly offered me a room in her place, when I was about to live in my car again.” Emma felt offended with the way Regina said those things. “I am sorry you can’t believe people are nice, and I’m sorry to see you ignored the fact I was about to be homeless again.”
“Emma, no.” Regina listened to Emma’s hurt voice. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean, Regina? What’s up with this interrogation? Why are you so interested in my relationship with Mulan all of a sudden?” Emma was done with this game.
“Are you really not seeing Mulan anymore?”
“Yes, I’ve told you twice, already.” Emma stood up and walked around the office.
“And you said it was because you still think about me?” Regina asked lowly.
“Yes, woman. Yes.” Emma put her wine glass on the coffee table in front of her.
Regina took two steps into Emma’s direction, and the blonde froze. “I just needed to be sure.” She said, taking another step, and Emma continued where she was.
“And why is that?” Emma whispered, as Regina stopped in front of her, way into Emma’s personal space.
“Because now I know I can do this”. She put her hands in Emma’s face, looked deeply into green eyes, and then looked at Emma’s mouth, as she moved closer, and moved the last centimeters that separated them, she closed her eyes and finally kissed the blonde.
Emma felt Regina’s lips on hers, and in a second, she put her hands in Regina’s arms and brought her closer, hugging her as she kissed back the brunette, opening her mouth and welcoming Regina’s tongue.
As they moved apart, Emma smiled sweetly, and Regina bit her lower lip, chuckling. “I can’t stop thinking about you, Emma.”
“It’s really good to know, because I haven’t thought of anything else.” Emma took Regina’s hand and kissed them.
“Would you like more wine?” Regina asked.
“Aren’t you driving?”
“I can take another glass before I get inebriated.”
“If you say so.”
“I can call Leroy and ask him to drive me home.”
“Well, that would be ironic, don’t you think?” Regina stepped into Emma’s personal space again and kissed her once more.
“I think I’m more drunk on your kisses than on the wine we’ve drank so far.” Emma said as she touched Regina’s forehead with hers.
“What do you want to do now, Emma?”
“Right now, just stay like this” Emma answered, pecking Regina’s lips.
“Yeah, me too.” They smiled. They spent the rest of the night sitting down on the office, side by side, talking about things they would like to do together, and with Henry.
Around 10 p.m., Emma decided it was time to go home. She had, in fact, drunk more than she should have to drive, so she called Mulan, who was on call that night, and the firefighter picked her up. Mulan informed Regina that Sandra would stay parked in front of her house and Emma would come next morning to retrieve it.
Regina thanked Mulan and, just to make sure things were clear between them, she French kissed Emma before the blonde entered the car. Regina looked at Mulan intensely, and the firefighter just nodded in her direction before getting behind the wheel.
“Thanks, Fa.” Emma said as she rested her head on the window.
“Don’t thank me yet, I’m pretty sure the Mayor just pissed on your leg, Little Birdy.” Mulan chuckled. “You wanna tell me what happened?”
“Regina was jealous, as you predicted.” Emma smirked and she tilted her head to look at Mulan.
“I KNEEEEEEEEW IIIT!!!!!” Mulan screamed, punching Emma.
“Ouch! Stop! You crazy?”
“Way to go, Little Birdy. So, when’s the wedding?”
“Oh Jeez. I’m drunker than I thought.” Emma said all dopey smile and heavy lidded expression.
Her smile was too warm for Mulan to want to take anything away. "Way to get your woman, Swan."
When they arrived home, Emma sent a message to Regina.
“Home. Hv a gr8 nite, i’ll dream about u.”
“Good night, Emma. Me too.”
Chapter 14: New beginning
Chapter 14- New Beginning
Before going to sleep, Regina changed Henry’s diaper and made sure he was comfortably sleeping.
She went to her bedroom and got ready to sleep. As she was on her bed, she typed a message to Kathryn.
“I kissed Emma Swan”.
“And you liked it?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I’m on my way, get the cider ready”
“No, you aren’t. I’m ready to sleep.”
“Not my problem. I never forced you to text me. I'm on my way”.
Regina rolled her eyes. Leave it to Kat to come at the most inappropriate hours.
Ten minutes later, Kathryn entered the mansion. She went directly to Henry’s bedroom, to check on her godson. He was still sound asleep. She then went to Regina’s bedroom. As expected, Regina had a bottle of cider and two tumblers on the vanity.
“Good girl.” She said, as she poured them both the drink and sat beside Regina on the bed. “So, tell me everything.”
Regina observed as Kathryn did all that. “I invited Emma yesterday. Told her I needed to talk to her.” She started, as she took a sip of the cider. “We had dinner and talked about her ‘relationship’ with Fa Mulan.”
“What about it?”
“It is no more.”
“They broke up? SHUT UP!”
“Kat, Henry is sleeping and I would like him to continue to do so. Can you please keep your voice down?”
“Stop with the formalities, Regina. Dish!”
“I invited her, she came over, we had dinner. I got mad at her because she couldn’t give me straight answers.” Kat laughed at that.
“She finally told me they were no longer together, though they still share the apartment, I confirmed she is no longer interested in Mulan, she said yes, I kissed her. There, you can go now.” Regina said as she drank the cider and Kathryn laughed. Regina laughed too, feeling her heart beating faster.
“Did she say why they broke up?”
“According to her, she couldn’t stop thinking about me.”
“You know, that day when you rejected her, do you remember I texted you saying I saw her at the grocery store?”
“Yes, I asked you not to stalk her.”
“I didn’t. But I saw her expression, she was suffering for real, Regina.”
“What’s your point, Kat?”
“I think she was, at the time, already in love with you.”
“It’s too early to talk about love, Kat.”
“Maybe for you. But for Emma Swan? I’m guessing it isn’t.”
“Kat, you told me to take a chance, I am taking a chance, I can’t promise more than that.”
“I’m not saying it, Regina. I’m saying that if she really is in love with you, of course there was no chance that relationship with Mulan would go anywhere.”
“And what am I supposed to do with this?”
“See where it goes?”
“Yes, Regina. See how you feel, see how the two of you develop together.”
“I am unsure how to act now, Kat.”
“You kissed her, right?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Why not return the favor and this time.. you buy her some flowers, and ask her out to a proper date?”
“Seems like a plan, Kat.” Regina answered as she stood up to put the tumbler on the vanity.
“Great, so I’m going to my bedroom, since you forced me to come and drink with you. I’ll make us waffles in the morning.”
“Good night, Midas.”
It was Saturday morning and Regina allowed herself to sleep in. Kathryn was there with Henry, she could hear her best friend playing with her son, so she turned around and kept on sleeping.
Kathryn took the opportunity and went out with Henry. It was mildly cold and she went to Granny’s, where she met Ruby and Rachel who were busy talking.
“Midas, long time no see you.” Ruby winked at her.
“Yeah, that’s what happens when you start dating a man, Rubes. Hey Rachel, how are you?” Kathryn answered with a smile.
“I heard Ruby isn’t the only one dating a man, Kathy, how are things with Fred?”
“Why, dear? You jealous I’m banging him?” Kathryn answered and the three women just laughed. It was no secret Fred and Rachel broke up on good terms, and she had stated, more than once, that Kathryn and Fred were perfect for each other.
“I doubt it, Midas. I’m pretty sure she’s more than satisfied with my company.” Luce heard the end of the conversation and hugged the lawyer.
“You know what the queen says, Luce.” Kathryn said. “If you like it, then you should put a ring on it.”
“Excuse you, Kathryn.” Luce and Rachel showed her their left hands, where beautiful silver bands rested in their ring fingers.
“OOOH MY GOD!” Kat said and Henry screamed happily with her. “Tell me all about it!”
“Only if you come inside to have breakfast, Midas.” Ruby said as she winked at Kathryn.
“You keep winking like that at me Rubes. Fred and Graham will be single faster than they can ask why.” Kathryn said as she turned Henry’s stroller to the diner. Luce and Rachel just laughed and the four women entered the diner.
“By the way, does Regina know you kidnapped Henry?” Ruby asked.
“Regina is our competent, committed Mayor, Ruby. Doesn’t she deserve to sleep in on a Saturday? Besides, Henry’s my godson, I have the right to be with him.”
“Also, who would be able to resist his charming brown eyes?” Emma joined them as she saw Kathryn with the boy.
“Good morning, Deputy Swan. How you doing?” Kathryn asked smirking.
“Pretty good, thanks Kathryn. What about you?”
“Just fine. I was with Regina last night. She seemed pretty happy.” Emma understood her tone of voice, but wouldn’t fall for the bait.
“That’s good to know, Madam Mayor deserves happiness.” Emma smiled sweetly. “Rubes, can I have three bear claws and three coffees to go?”
As she waited for Ruby, she couldn’t help but to crouch down beside Henry’s stroller. The boy was moving his tiny hands rapidly and blowing raspberries. She smiled and gave her finger for him to hold. “Hey little man, it’s good to see you all out and about! I hope you’re having fun!”
Kathryn sneakily took a photo on her cell phone of the scene and sent to Regina.
“She’s perfect with him.”
“I’ve told you before to stop stalking her.”
“Also, bring my son back and a bear claw for me.”
“So f*ing bossy, jfc”
As Ruby approached Emma with her order, Kat voiced Regina’s request and Emma said goodbye to the group of women.
“So, Luce and Rachel. When’s the wedding?” Ruby said as she sat down beside Kathryn and put her hand on the blonde’s tight.
“We’re thinking about April or May.” Rachel said with a smile.
“Spring, you know? I get the best and most beautiful flowers, so of course we’re thinking about spring.”
“Makes sense.” Kathryn said smiling.
Emma entered the station and delivered the coffee and the bear claw to Graham. “Morning!” he said. “How did your conversation with the Mayor go yesterday?”
“She said she can probably accommodate Leroy in our budget, she said she was going to schedule a meeting with you to discuss it, and so as soon as you get a confirmation from her, we’re good to go. I truly think it will be great for him to work with us. Graham, I’m happy he’s gonna work with us, you know? It’ll be a nice change of scenario.”
“I think so too, Emma. I’m glad the Mayor approves of him.” Graham smiled and stood up from his desk. “I’m gonna do some rounds, make sure everything is in order.” He took the key chain from the holder on the wall and left the station. Emma turned on the computer and logged into her email and system to write down the week’s reports, as she felt her cell phone vibrating.
“Good morning, Emma. How did you sleep?”
“Thinking about you :). You?”
“Quite well, thanks. ”
“I saw Kathryn and Henry this morning, he’s growing up so fast. What are you doing today?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing, dear.”
“Do you have anything in mind?”
“To be honest, I do. What time are you free today?”
“Is it okay if I come over to your place around 4:30 p.m. to get you?”
“Yeah, sure. Should I dress up? What’s the plan here?”
“I would like to take you out for dinner and then come back for a night cap at my house. Do you agree with that?
“So I’ll see you there, Emma.”
Regina got up, got a shower and got dressed. When Kathryn arrived with Henry and her bear claw, she had already prepared her coffee and they ate together.
“Can you stay with Henry this afternoon?” Regina asked Kathryn, and the lawyer smirked knowingly, but confirmed she could.
“Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?”
“I’m thinking about taking her to dinner, and then come back here for some wine.”
“Do you need me to keep Henry for the night?”
“No. I’ll be picking him up later, but not tomorrow, Kat.”
“Okay, okay, I’m just trying to help, you know?”
“Yes, I do dear. And I appreciate it.”
After coffee, Kathryn left to meet Fred, and Regina changed Henry and went to the flower shop to put her plan into action. Luce was on the back, taking care of a bunch of lilies she had just received and was planning on displaying them as nice bouquets. As she saw Regina, she welcomed the Mayor with a warm smile.
“Hello Madam Mayor, how can I help you today?”
“Miss Amapola, it’s great to see you, how are you and Rachel?” Regina asked with a sincere smile.
“We’re great, thanks for asking! And it’s Luce, please. What can I do for you today?”
“Very well. First, I have a question for you, then a request.”
“Okay, hit me up.”
“A few months ago I received a bouquet of red and orange roses, was it you who sold them?”
Luce smirked, she finally had the information she never got from Emma. The woman she was wooing had been Regina Mills! Ruby was gonna freak.
“Yes, I did. Did you like the bouquet?”
“It was a fantastic bouquet, Luce. Congratulations.”
“I appreciate it. Was that your question?”
“To be honest, no, that was just the confirmation. My question is, what’s the meaning of red and orange roses?”
“Red roses mean passion. Orange roses mean sexual desire.” Luce answered bluntly.
“Oh.” Regina felt surprised. “Well, may I request you to recreate the same bouquet?”
Luce wanted to control herself, but it was stronger than her. “Will I find this new bouquet on the trashcan tomorrow?”
“I truly hope not.” Regina looked a little taken aback.
“Will Emma Swan be shitless drunk again? Because last time it was a day before her birthday and I felt really bad for her, Regina.”
“Oh my goodness. Luce I… I had no idea.” Regina felt a wave of nausea and a cold feeling in her stomach.
“You had no idea it was Emma’s birthday or that she was shitless drunk?” Luce crossed her arms, trying really hard to control her anger. She didn’t know the context here, only that now it was Regina who was buying the flowers.
“I really don’t want to sound rude here, miss Amapola.” Regina took a deep breath before continuing. “I don’t owe you an explanation, but for the sake of this amicable relation, I will tell you that Emma Swan and I are getting to know each other and we’re going on a date tonight, hence the bouquet of roses.” Regina breathed heavily as she finished saying that, and she held the handle of the stroller in such a grip, her knuckles turned white. Henry, unbeknownst to his mother anxiety, happily blew a raspberry, cutting the silence with his cute little noises.
Luce took a deep breath and uncrossed her arms. “Ok, I’m sorry Regina. I know I crossed a line here. I apologize.” She looked a little unsure of what else to say to Regina.
Regina let go of the handles but her facial expression remained hard. “Can you make the bouquet?” her voice wasn’t hard, but she wasn’t one to let go so easily of people calling her on her actions.
“Absolutely.” Luce smiled. “I’ll make it super special. Emma is a great friend. She is new in town, but she’s such a positive person, I can only wish you both the best!”
“Thank you, Luce. I will come by around 4 p.m. to pick it up, is that okay?”
Luce finished the bouquet and took the liberty to prepare a little corsage with two tiny roses in it. Regina appreciated the gesture and understood it as a peace offering.
Emma finished her shift and went home to get ready. She knew Mulan was working with Graham on the outskirts of the town, so she had the apartment to herself. She didn’t really know what to expect from Regina, but knowing her like she did, it was safe to assume a fancy dinner in Portland was in her future, so she decided to really go for it and took her suit from her wardrobe. High heels, a black slack, crisp white shirt, a skinny tie and a black suit to complete the look. She combed her hair into a braid and a ponytail and applied a light makeup. At 4:25 p.m. Regina sent her a message saying she was arriving soon, so Emma went downstairs to meet her.
They both felt stunned as they looked at each other. Regina really liked what she saw, and Emma couldn’t help herself. “Wow. You look absolutely beautiful.” Regina wore a dark purple pencil dress and a black coat to block the cold wind. The gold necklace was simple, but finished the look with class.
“Emma, you look… stunning.” Regina was shocked and, if she admitted to herself, a bit turned on. “I have a gift for you, it is in my car, can you follow me?”
“Yes, sure.” Emma said, feeling like butterflies were viciously attacking her stomach. As she approached Regina’s car, the Mayor grabbed the bouquet of roses and turned to Emma. She stopped mid-step and froze.
“What are you doing?”
“Emma, I know this is the same type of roses you wanted to give me the first time you asked me out. And I know I turned you down, among other things, but I thought we could make this a new beginning.” Regina looked anxious, but it was too late to change plans.
Emma thought it over for a second, then took a deep breath. “Regina, you didn’t have to.” She smiled, deciding it wasn’t the place nor the moment to have that discussion. She just wanted everything to go well tonight.
“I wanted to.” Regina smiled back, sighing in relief. “Do you accept it?” She extended her arms and Emma took the bouquet from her. “I’m gonna have to find a vase for those, would you like to accompany me?” She turned around and went back upstairs, Regina followed her.
Back at the apartment, Regina observed Emma smell the roses and take a tall vase from under the sink and fill it up with water. She took the opportunity to look around, it was indeed a spacious place, well organized and nicely decorated.
“I’m almost done, I just need to take a coat for the trip.” Emma said and crossed the apartment, entering her bedroom. Far away from the door with a warning “Keep out. Mulan is asleep.”
“Is Mulan home?” Regina asked out loud.
“No, she’s on her shift with Graham.” Emma answered leaving her bedroom and closing the door behind her. “I’m ready.” She smiled.
“There is… something else.” Regina said, taking the little box from her coat, and putting on the table. The corsage was beautiful and Emma looked at it with interest. “Regina, it’s… beautifully charming.” Both smiled. “But don’t you think it would look even more sweet on you? After all, I’m the one wearing a suit.” Regina laughed and opened the box.
“Can you help me?”
Emma took the little corsage and put it around Regina’s left wrist.
“It looks quite pretty on you.”
“Shall we go? Our reservation is for 6:00 p.m.”
“So let’s hit the road.”
“But first...” Regina got closer to Emma and put her hands on Emma’s shoulders, bringing her closer and kissing her. Emma put her hands on Regina’s waist and kissed her back.
“Now I’m ready to go.” Regina said and started walking, not minding the stunned blonde, who was still standing like a statue.
Chapter 15: Run to You
Chapter 15 - Run to You
They arrived at the restaurant at 5:57 p.m. and the waitress happily saw them to their table. Regina ordered a Cabernet and Emma decided to taste it (she was more of a beer drinker, but she wanted to impress Regina). They talked about their routines and to Emma’s delight, Regina went on and on about Henry’s largely development in his motor skills and focus on her, or other people. He was already attempting to walk, and Emma laughed with Regina when she mentioned she was probably going over the top with all the corner protectors she had around the house.
They ordered their food and Emma told Regina about her workout routine after Regina commented on her muscular arms straining the white shirt.
They ate, talked and laughed, the wine was great, but Regina drank only one glass of wine, as she was driving.
They had dessert and Regina drank a glass of water.
As she was driving them back to Storybrooke, Regina decided to talk about Emma’s birthday.
“Emma, I would like to talk to you about the time you asked me out.” She said, glancing to the blonde, keeping her attention on the road.
“Forget about that, Regina. It’s over now, and we’re here.” Emma said, trying to not think about what had happened.
“I know, and I’m happy we are. I just need to say I wasn’t comfortable at the time with the idea of dating, and I never intended to hurt your feelings, but I needed to be true to myself.”
“Regina, it’s all fine. I understand and respect your reasons, the same way as I did back then. Don’t get me wrong, it really crushed me when you said no...”
“It was the weekend of your birthday, now I know.”
“Minor detail.” Emma said dismissing the memory of her, passed out of drunkenness, alone.
“I’m sorry.” Regina glanced at her and Emma smiled sweetly.
“It’s all good. We’re here now, and I’d love to kiss you to make sure you understand.” She said wiggling her eyebrows comically, trying to sound seductive.
“I’m driving, officer. You don’t want me to be distracted as I drive, do you?” Regina answered smirking.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. My boss, the Mayor… pff, you have no idea how strict she is.” Emma said in forced tone and Regina understood the joke. “She sounds like a bitch.”
“No, she doesn’t. She sounds like a very competent politician, who makes sure everyone is following the law.”
“And what do you think about this… Mayor?”
“I find it a major turn on that she’s strong, competent and really hot.”
Emma decided to be bold and put her hand on Regina’s thigh.
“Oh my, officer Swan. Sounds like you have the hots for her.” Regina took her right hand off the wheel and put it on top of Emma’s.
“You have no idea.”
They drove back to the fire station like this, in silence.
“Would you like to come to my place for another glass of wine?” Regina asked.
“Sure, but let me get my car, so I can come back later.” Emma answered and before she could open the door, Regina held her arm and brought her closer for a kiss.
“I just wanted you to know that I truly enjoyed our dinner.”
“Me too, you know? give me five minutes, and I’ll be ready to go.”
“Do you mind if I go ahead?” Regina asked, and Emma shook her head.
“I’ll see you there.”
Emma entered the apartment and found Mulan on the kitchen in her top and pajama pants, preparing food for herself. As she saw Emma, she wolf whistled. “Damn, Swan. You never wore that suit when we were dating!”
“Regina took me to a freaking high class restaurant, I couldn’t help but wear this.” Emma answered, taking out the suit and Mulan observed her muscles flex under the shirt.
“What did Madam Mayor say about this gun show right there?” She pointed to Emma’s arms.
“Oh she likes them. She really likes them, I could see it in her eyes as she looked at them.”
“Holy cow, Swan. Take some condoms with you and try not to impregnate her.”
They laughed out loud and Emma answered as she went to her bedroom, “I’ll do my best.”
She changed her shoes to more comfortable ones, but still just as sexy as the ones she was wearing, reapplied her lipstick and found her keys on the nightstand.
“Where are you going?” Mulan asked as she leaned on Emma’s door.
“To Regina’s. She invited me for a glass of wine. Don’t wait up for me.” Emma laughed.
“I’m not planning on it. Besides, I’m busy myself tonight.” She said as a brunette came out of her room. “Emma, this is Aurora.”
Aurora was wearing Mulan’s shirt and boxers, her long curls a mess.
“Hi Emma.” She said, and Emma smiled at her.
“Hey there. Nice to meet you.”
“You too, Mulan says great things about you.”
“All true, I’m sure.”
“Hey! of course I only speak the truth!”
“I’d love to stay and chat, Aurora, but I have a date waiting for me.”
“Yeah, Little Birdy, move along, I don’t want you cock blocking me.” Mulan said and slapped Emma’s ass. The three women laughed and Emma left the place.
She drove to Regina’s place and parked the bug in front of Regina’s gate. She took a deep breath to calm down her nerves and as she stepped on the porch, Regina opened the door.
“Hi!” She said and Emma noticed something was bothering her.
“Hey! Did I take long?”
“No, of course not. Please come in.” Regina answered and stepped aside, to let Emma enter the house. As she did, Regina closed the door and wrapped her arms around Emma, and kissed her.
“I’m so sorry the night won’t be what I had… expected.” Regina said in a low voice.
“Why not?” Emma answered worried. “Did anything happen?”
“No, I mean, yes. Kathryn was supposed to take care of Henry tonight, but she had to go upstate to see my parents and it’s too cold for him to travel with her, so, when I arrived, she was waiting for me.”
“Is it serious, do you need to go see your parents?”
“No, no, nothing about their health, no. Kat is their attorney, so whenever they need her for a negotiation, purchase, or to sell something, she personally handles it.”
“Oh, okay. I thought it was something health related.” Emma said, visibly relaxing. “So it means we’re not alone tonight?”
“Yes!” Emma said, smiling.
“What do you mean by ‘yes!’??”
“It means I will have double the fun, spending time with you and little man, Henry! Is he awake?”
“He’s in the living room, playing in his crib. Do you want some wine?”
“No, thanks. Do you have sparkling water?”
“Is it Polar?”
“This is a New England house, Emma. Of course it is Polar.” Regina answered exasperated.
“Great, so yes, I want it, please.”
As Regina went to the kitchen, Emma moved to the living room, where she could see Henry standing, holding onto the bars of the crib and looking at the mobile above him.
“Hey little man, how’s it going?” Emma said as she came closer to Henry, who blabbed without a worry. She touched the mobile and Henry’s focus when back with it. “My man, you’re growing so fast! You’ll be walking in no time! Seems like yesterday I was putting you to sleep!”
Regina heard Emma’s voice and smiled. Kathryn was right, she was good with him. She entered the living room with Emma’s water and a glass of wine for herself.
“Thanks for coming, Emma. I really enjoyed our date.” Regina said as she sat down on the sofa closest to them. Emma smiled and, looking at Henry, answered, “I loved our dinner, it was an amazing restaurant, the food was amazing, but nothing compared to the company.”
Regina smiled and eyed Emma. She truly looked fabulous in the suit. Regina felt turned on by her, and not only by the clothes, but by the way Emma behaved on their date, their light banter in the car, the way she treated Regina and Henry lovingly, it was those actions that made Regina fell even more attracted to Emma. Archie would say it was her needs . (It probably was).
“Do you mind if I put on some music?” Regina asked, finishing her glass of wine and standing up.
“Please, feel at home.” Emma said and Regina laughed.
“Thank you.” She stood up and went to the mantelpiece, where she plugged her cell phone on the small boombox. She chose her 80’s playlist and it started with The Winner Takes it All. Regina put the volume low, just enough for them to notice there was a song playing, but not enough to disturb Henry and Emma. It was past nine and Regina knew soon Henry would fall asleep.
“I must change him to sleep, would you like to wait here?”
“Sure, can I have another water?”
“They’re in the fridge, please serve yourself.”
Emma went to the kitchen while Regina changed the baby and came back to the living room, where she chuckled, as soon as George Michael started playing.
A few minutes later, Regina came down to the living room with Henry in her arms. “It’s time for him to go to sleep. Do you want to say good night?”
“Better than that. Can I put him down?”
“If that’s what you want, sure.”
“It is.” Emma answered and took off her suit and put her tie inside the shirt. “I’m ready.” Regina smiled as she put baby Henry in her arms. He tried to touch her face, but she gave him her finger to hold.
It started playing I Run to You and Regina observed Emma swaying to the rhythm of the song, whispering the lyrics to Henry, as if it was a lullaby, while she sat down on the armchair near to the fireplace. It was such a beautiful scene, she could only watch it develop. As the song ended, Henry was sleeping. Emma turned around and smiled to Regina, “Where can I put him?” She whispered.
“Upstairs, in his bedroom.” Regina whispered back. “Do you remember where is it?”
“Yes, I do.”
Regina served herself some cider, and took a deep breath, as she heard Emma coming downstairs.
“He’s so sweet and easy going, I hope you feel proud of him.” Emma said sweetly.
“I am.” Regina turned around and smiled.
“How would you like a glass of the best apple cider you’ve ever tasted?”
Emma scoffed and answered “Got anything stronger?”
“To be honest, I thought you were only drinking sparkling water.”
“Well, I was, but then you started making me offers I can’t refuse.”
“Oh really, like what?”
“Like drinking alone with you, as sensual 80’s songs play on the background.” Emma stepped closer to Regina.
“I think you should taste the cider before you dismiss it.”
“Sure, I’ll give it a shot.”
“This cider is supposed to be sipped, to enjoy every aspect of it, the flavor, the texture as it rolls in your tongue, the aroma of the apples and the alcohol.”
“Now you’re making me curious. Where do you buy this cider?” Emma asked as Regina served her cider in a tumbler and handed it to her.
“Ah, here’s the thing, dear. I don’t buy it. My father has a small brewery in his farm upstate. He has been brewing this cider for the family for years. All I have to do is ask him to send me some bottles every now and then.” Regina observed Emma take a sip of the cider and smirked as Emma closed her eyes, apparently to focus on the taste of the drink.
“So, what do you say?” Regina asked as Emma opened her eyes.
“Delectable.” Emma said, as she put the tumbler on the coffee table, with a coaster, of course. She looked at Regina and saw her moving closer. Emma touched Regina’s cheek with her left hand, while the right went to the Mayor’s waist. Regina put her arms around Emma’s neck and they kissed, softly at first, but Regina quickly changed that to a more intense kiss.
“You don’t have to go, Emma.” She whispered in Emma’s ear, breathing heavily.
“Do you want me to stay the night?” Emma answered, also whispering, as she moved her hands to hold Regina’s waist more firmly, bringing the Mayor impossibly closer to her.
The second week of December came faster than anybody expected. Archie, Emma and Mulan worked with Philip and Ashley to prepare the annual Christmas ball, which took place in the high school. This year, though, Emma and Archie proposed a specific theme for the ball. Reaching out for the elderly citizens, bringing them to the core of the community and making sure no one would be alone during the holidays.
The kids at the group home would organize activities throughout the holiday season and the Sheriff department volunteered to transport the people who were unable to drive anymore.
Mary Margaret, after having a long and heartfelt conversation with Emma, in which she apologized for basically evicting her, offered her help with the organization.
She created a project with the middle schoolers in which they crafted not only the decoration for the ball, but also had events in which the elderly population went to the school to teach them something new, like how to knit a Santa’s hat.
Archie worked with teenagers and they reserved the gym for the ball for December 23rd. They had ten days to make everything work. He did some important work of integrating the teens with the community, by having them talk about professions, plans for the future and even find them jobs in the farms and stores in town. Archie had Emma talk to them about survival, and how terrible, lonely and miserable it was to live on the streets. She made sure they understood the importance of programs like the one they participated, and how special it was to be welcomed in a place of security and compassion.
Emma and Regina worked together to make sure all the children had a gift for Christmas, and Regina even held an extraordinary town council meeting to vote about reallocation of the budget to finance renovations of the group house. (the approval was unanimous).
Emma and Regina built a habit of having dinner together every night. They took that time to talk about their day, and the project with the orphans. On some nights, Emma would sleep at the mansion, and she even started to hear some jokes from Mulan for sleeping at the mansion more nights than at their shared apartment, but Emma responded by mentioning the presence of Aurora. Mulan would blush and change the subject.
Chapter 16: All I Want for Christmas is You
Chapter 16 - All I Want For Christmas is You
The Christmas ball came and it was a total success. Archie and Emma felt very proud of their job and every attendee greeted and thanked them for the event. The teenagers took the opportunity to present themselves, talk a little about their group home and how every citizen of the town could help them, offering job opportunities for them. Regina talked about the importance of community work, thanked everyone’s presence and, in the name of the entire community, gave the teens the news of the renovation of their home group. She also announced the reopening of the old library, a request of the social workers Belle French and Tinker Beatrice.
There was going to have an opening of a new store in town, a dance studio, where the owner, a belly dance teacher named Jasmine would have two job opportunities for the teens, and she also took the opportunity to invite them all for one free trial class.
Granny and Ruby thanked the community for the ball, and announced the food was their cooking, and there were special food and drinks being sold, all in favor of the project for the community.
David Nolan took care of the music, with Fred’s help. During the more electronic, animated music, the kids dominated the dance floor, as teenagers usually do and the adults just hung out talking. David wanted to make sure the adults also had their share of the dance floor and put his romantic playlist, clearing up the floor from kids to the adults. Emma excused herself from the women’s group she was talking to and approached Regina, who was deeply in conversation with Graham.
“Excuse, ma’am.” She said, and the Mayor looked at her smirking. “May I have this dance?”
“Yes you may.” Regina answered and looked at Graham, who took a sip of his drink to not laugh. “If you excuse me, Sheriff.”
“Of course.” He said, nodding to Emma.
Emma took her to the middle of the dance floor and put her hands loosely on Regina’s waist, while the brunette put her hands on Emma’s neck.
They shared a sweet smile and Emma put her forehead on Regina’s. People around them smiled, or whispered to each other, and Granny was the first one to react, grabbing Graham by the hand and dragging him to the dance floor. “Ruby and Regina can’t be the only ones enjoying the company of the law enforcers of this town.” She said and people laughed, breaking the ice.
“Hey! I’m also a law enforcer!” Leroy said out loud, adding to the laughter.
“Then I might as well take advantage of it, officer. ” Jasmine, the belly dancer said, and he took her hand as they walked to the floor. Suddenly, everyone else found themselves a pair and started slow-dancing. Ruby and Kathryn sat together, watching baby Henry, while Regina and Emma danced.
“So, how are things with Fred, Midas?” Ruby asked curiously.
“We’re having fun. It’s good to have him around. He’s a nice guy, always makes sure I’m enjoying myself.” Kathryn said and smiled, as Ruby only nodded. “How about you and the Sheriff?”
“Umbert is such a gentle guy. Sometimes too gentle, if you know what I mean.” They smirked and Kathryn shook her head. “I miss us, Midas. What happened to us?” Ruby asked in a low voice.
“Oh Rubes… you know. Life, adulthood. Responsibilities.” Kathryn smiled and shrugged.
“Yeah, but look at Emma and Regina. They’re adults. They have responsibilities, and what about Luce and Rachel?” Ruby pointed in their direction, dancing together near Leroy and Jasmine. “They are responsible adults too.”
“Aren’t you happy with Umbert, Rubes?” Kathryn looked at her, seriously.
“I am, he is a nice guy and...”
“Ruby, let’s dance?” Graham said coming closer to them.
Kathryn smiled sweetly at her and high-fived Graham. “You get her to the dance floor, tiger, I have a date with this big man here until his mother comes to take him home.” Kathryn said as she pointed to Henry, who was smiling shaking his hands with a little branch of a mistletoe.
Ruby and Graham went to the dance floor, the same time as Fred came sat down beside her.
“Hey.” He said.
“Hi there, handsome.” Kathryn said and kissed him.
“I’ll hit the road, will I see you later tonight?”
“Absolutely. I’ll just enjoy the party for a little while and I’ll give his guy back to his mom.” She said.
“Great, I’ll be waiting for you at home.”
“You better be naked once I get there.”
“Your wish, Miss Midas, is my command.” They laughed and kissed goodbye.
The party didn’t go for long, as people had their family, food and presents to prepare for Christmas. Around ten thirty, Regina went to the stage and thanked the attendees for the great party and said her goodbye. While she was on the stage, Emma went to Ashley and thanked her for staying with Henry.
“Hey, Deputy. I’m happy you and the Mayor are taking a chance together.”
“I’m happy too, Ashley. Thanks!”
Christmas Eve came and, for the first time in her life, Emma wasn’t scared of it. Sure, things could - and usually did- change in a heartbeat, but she learned in her sessions with Archie to live one day at a time. She had gone home with Regina after the ball and woke up with Henry crying.
She went to his room and took him in her arms. “Good morning, Little Man. Did you enjoy your first Christmas ball?” Henry kept on crying, and Emma figured he was hungry. She went downstairs, put him in his high chair and prepared his food. She also turned on the coffee pot for Regina.
As the smell of coffee spread around the house, Emma heard Regina coming downstairs. He greeted Henry with a kiss on his forehead. Emma handed her a cup of steaming coffee, and Regina thanked her with a peck on the lips.
“Good morning, dear.”
“Good morning, Beauty.” Emma said smiling.
“Does that make you the Beast?” Regina said and smirked.
“I don’t know, what say you?” Emma answered, wiggling her eyebrows. “I recall you saying something along those lines last night.” She smirked when Regina pretended to be outraged and covered Henry’s ears, as Emma laughed out loud, causing Henry to laugh with them.
At midday, Regina had the food on the oven, Emma worked on the dessert, and Henry was entertained by the Christmas lights shining on the tree. Emma mused that she should be nervous, as she was going to meet Regina’s parents that night, but the Mayor still wanted Emma to understand her parents would be happy to finally meet her.
“Emma, you have nothing to worry about. My parents have endured my relationship with Mal, and she wasn’t the most patient person with Cora Mills.” Regina said reminiscing on few the times Mal and Cora had interacted.
“What about your dad?”
“He’s gonna love you, Emma.” Regina’s face lighted up as she talked about her father. “Daddy has a big soft heart and I’m sure he’s going to love to know you.”
“You know, I used to hate Christmas.” Emma said. Regina took her hand and sat beside her on the couch. Emma took a deep breath and decided for the abridged version of the experiences with Christmas.
“While I lived at the orphanage, the nurses were great. They made sure I was never forgotten, or overlooked. I went to the Swan’s house during the holidays, when I was three, and I can still remember how lovely that was. But then, they returned me to the orphanage when they got pregnant. After that, it was group home after group home and I simply started running away on the 24th and 25th. I’d hide on the subway stations, or on the back ends of shops and restaurants. One year, I was around twelve, and I got lucky the police officers found me, with hypothermia, near the entrance of a subway station, and they took me to the police station. That year, I was sure I was gonna die on Christmas day, alone and frozen.”
Regina felt her heart break with the story, but as Emma looked at her with her eyes shining, Regina felt like Emma was putting it back together.
“Emma, I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through as a child, but I want you to know, that from now on, for as long as we are together, and I hope we will be together for a very long time, you will never be alone on any important date for you. Henry and I, we want to be a part of your life, Emma. I hope you can see it.” Regina hugged Emma.
Emma discreetly dried her eyes as Regina put her head on Emma’s neck.
“I would love to have you in my life for as long as you want me, Regina.” They stayed like that for a couple of minutes, until Henry started babbling incoherent sounds. They let go of each other and laughed together. Emma stood up and took Henry from the crib.
“We know, little man, we love you too.” She said and kissed him on his cherubic cheeks. Regina gave him a kiss and showed him the mistletoe.
Emma sighed happily. She could have a happy Christmas. Emma, Henry, and their family were going to share their holiday with her. She was wanted, she was cherished.
Henry Sir and Cora arrived around four in the afternoon, soon followed by Kathryn and Fred. Henry and Cora were introduced to Emma, and surprisingly for Regina, Cora was warm and welcoming of her. Henry Sir was his usual caring person and embraced Emma like his future daughter in law. Kathryn and Cora made fun of that, and Emma turned a deep shade of red. Regina just shook her head and laughed with them.
The following morning, Emma was the first one to wake up, but not because she was excited for Christmas morning, but mostly because she was feeling anxious, so she did the only thing she could to calm herself. She went to Henry’s bedroom, and sat down on the floor next to his crib. Looking at his peaceful sleeping face, calmed her to the point where she was sure she was not going to freak out and run away. This was a good environment. These were good people. Regina wanted her around, Regina’s parents wanted her around, hell, even Regina’s best friend wanted her around. There was no reason to believe all these people would dump her by herself anytime soon.
She stayed there, in silence for some minutes, until Henry Sir entered the room, and got startled, but not enough to show and scare Emma.
“Feliz Navidad, m’ija.” He said, and she looked at him with a shy smile.
“Good morning, sorry I can’t answer that in Spanish.”
“No problem, cariño. You’ll learn enough keywords as time goes by.” He answered, as she sat on the rocking chair next to her.
“I hope so, I’d love to learn another language.”
“I love to wake up early and sit down watching the boy, it gives me perspective on how time flies. Seems like yesterday Regina was a little girl running around this house on Christmas morning, waking up Cora and I.” He said and Emma felt a tug in her heart, but it was a good kind of tug.
“What about you, what makes you sit down and watch the boy sleep?”
“I reminisce of happy moments of my childhood. They weren’t many, but they were good ones. I always loved staying around the babies, as the nuns would always take care of me.” Emma sighed. “But that’s in the past now, I like to think Regina and Henry and you and Cora will now be a part of the next chapter of my life.”
“I wish for it to be a lasting chapter, m’ija.” He stood up and offered his hand to her, and Emma stood up too. “Now let’s make a Christmas breakfast for the ladies we love.” He said smiling, and they went downstairs, as baby Henry kept on sleeping, unbothered by their presence.
As the smell of coffee and bacon and eggs made its way upstairs, mother and daughter appeared in the kitchen.
“Merry Christmas, Emma.” Cora said, as she moved to hug Emma.
“Merry Christmas, Cora.”
As Henry and Cora embraced, Regina hugged Emma, wishing her a happy holiday. After breakfast, they all went to the living room, to exchange gifts, and Emma was shocked to discover presents with her name under the tree. She also had bought gifts, a beautiful bracelet for Regina and a stuffed animal for Henry. They spent the day together, and Emma could see and feel the love people shared amongst themselves and with her, also. It was indeed, a Merry Christmas.
Chapter 17: … and they lived happily ever after, as cliches tend to be.
Epilogue - ... and they lived happily ever after, as cliches tend to be.
As holiday season came to an end, Regina came to the realization that Emma spent more nights in her house rather than at Mulan’s. She also noticed Emma started leaving personal items in her closet, and slowly, without the Deputy noticing, Regina began to make room for her things. Sandra no longer was parked on the street, but rather, inside Regina’s garage, beside the black Mercedes.
Regina and Emma would always have breakfast together, Emma would drive Regina to the town hall and leave Henry with Ashley and would go to the department.
At night, as Regina always had some sort of meeting, Emma would be in her house first, and she would start dinner and play with Henry, as Regina arrived and finished up for them.
The nights Emma slept on Mulan’s place were usually the one she had to do the night shift, or when she had to work until late at night, snow-plowing the streets as the snow fell.
It was a cold morning in January when it happened. Regina was cooking the eggs and Emma was preparing the coffee when Henry, sitting on his chair, babbling away, looked at Regina when she approached him and said: “Mama”. Regina froze and looked at Emma, who was equally frozen.
“Baby, can you say that again?” Regina said in a low voice, putting the plate with his food on the island.
“Mama” Henry said again, squealing. Emma smiled, and Regina laughed. “Oh dear! You said your first word!” She took him from the high chair and showered him with kisses. Emma came closer and kissed him on the forehead. “Henry, can you say it again? Just so we’re sure?” She laughed, not expecting him to say it.
“Mama” He threw his chubby arms around Regina’s neck.
“Yes, baby, I’m mama.” Regina felt tears coming down her cheeks, and couldn’t stop laughing.
“I gotta call my parents. Please, take him to his chair, dear.” She said as she looked at Emma, who did was she was asked.
“So Regina is mama, right?” Emma asked the boy.
Emma started feeding him as Regina called her parents, and then Kathryn. When she finished, she took a photo of the boy and sent to their texting group, with the subtitle “Henry just said his first word. “mama” Regina is doing somersaults.”
A few minutes later, Emma’s phone went off with messages of all the women. Ruby, Mulan, Lucy, Ashley and Jasmine - who became fast friends with all the women, all congratulating Regina and Emma.
Kathryn stopped by a few minutes later. She had left home as soon as Regina called her.
“Okay, bad boy, I’m very disappointed your first word wasn’t godma. So, let’s work on that.” She said jokingly as he laughed and squealed in her arms.
“Our baby is growing so fast, Regina!” Kat laughed as he also hugged her. Apparently, he was a hugger. Nobody complained.
On the days closing in on Valentine’s day, Regina decided it was time to make Emma realize what was going on. Since Henry started hugging and babbling more coherent words, like “papa” for the food, and “Ems” every time he saw Emma, the two adults dropped all pretense Emma wasn’t already an important part of the family.
On Valentine’s day, Regina asked Ashley to stay with Henry, as she had reserved a table for two in a restaurant in Portland. She had everything planned in her mind. The small velvet box she hid in her office carried key copies for the mansion, and she wanted Emma to feel how important that moment was for them.
Regina mentioned to Emma they were going out to have dinner and Emma got ready.
“So, I was thinking we could go for a dinner on Valentine’s day.” She said one night, when they were laying together in bed, after putting Henry to sleep.
“Oh, that’s awesome, what are you thinking?” Emma looked at her on the dark room, only lit by the moon on their window.
“Portland? There’s this awesome Italian restaurant my mother mentioned when she was here on Christmas, and I’m dying to try it.”
“Sounds great. Do you want me to make the reservation?”
“No need, I will ask Philip to do that tomorrow morning.”
“Okay.” Emma answered. “What should I wear?”
“I still haven’t gotten over that suit you wore on our first date.” Regina said, and Emma could see the fire in her eyes.
“I always knew that suit was the luckiest outfit I ever bought.”
“You do look ravishing in it, dear.”
Emma wanted to give Regina an awesomely sweet night, so she sent a message to Lucy, requesting a small bouquet of red roses, where she could put the letter she had written for Regina.
Emma left the station at 4:30 in the afternoon, picked up the bouquet and left it in the back seat of her car. She went to Mulan to take the suit and got ready.
“So, Little Birdy, when are you and the Mayor officially moving in together?”
“No idea, Fa. I know I have been spending more time there rather than here...” Emma looked guilty.
“Hey, no problem at all. You know I am not complaining, as I have a visitor myself.” Mulan said smirking.
“You and Aurora are really a thing, huh?”
“Hey, she is everything I could hope for, Swan.” Mulan said with a lovely smile.
“I’m really happy for you, Fa.” Emma hugged Mulan, who returned the gesture.
“And I for you.”
“About moving in with Regina… It’s not my place to say anything. You know it. It’s her house, she must feel comfortable.”
“But do you want to move in with her?”
“I’m dying to. I just don’t want to bring it up and sound like a homeless woman taking advantage of her.”
“Come on, you know it’s nothing like that. Have you talked to Archie about it?”
“Yeah, he said I should talk to her, so.. I’ve been stalling.”
“Don’t do that for long, Swan.”
“I won’t. I promise.” Emma and Mulan smiled, knowing how hard it was to voice their insecurities, especially when it came to their loved ones.
At 5:00, Emma was ready in front of Regina’s house, waiting for her. Regina came outside and smiled as she saw the red roses. Emma pecked her on the lips and informed her, she was the one driving today. Regina didn’t argue with her. As she took the bouquet from Emma’s hand, she saw the envelope.
“Can I read this now?” She asked.
“Yeah, sure.” Emma blushed a little.
“Ok.” Unconsciously, Regina patted the pocket of her coat, feeling the velvet box in it.
They entered the car and Emma pulled out, taking the road to Portland.
Regina, I wish I was better with words, and be able to express just how much you mean to me. I know we don’t know each other long, but I just wanted to make sure you know. I am in love with you. It seems rushed, but it’s the reality. I don’t expect you to say it if you’re not feeling it, but I am.
There, I said it. I love you.
Happy Valentine’s day, love.
As Regina read the card, Emma put on “True” from Spandau Ballet on her radio.
Regina finally listened to the song and couldn’t help smiling. “Oh, Emma. This is… so beautiful.”
“It’s the truth, Regina. I am in love with you.” Emma looked at her and smiled. “And it’s okay if you aren’t. Yet. I hope.”
“Emma, I am. Look at me.”
“I’m driving!” She said, glancing at Regina’s side.
“Emma Swan, I know I am in love with you.” Regina said out loud, and Emma couldn’t help feeling like a teenager, and punched the wheel.
“YES!!!! REGINA, I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.” They both laughed, joy fulfilling their hearts and making them hold hands. Emma brought Regina’s hand to her lips and kissed it.
The dinner was amazing. The restaurant was indeed very good, with great choices of pasta and an excellent wine list. As they waited for the food to arrive, Regina decided it was time.
“So, I loved your letter and I have to say I also have something for you, honey.”
“O-kay.” Emma felt her heart beating faster.
“I don’t want you to freak out, okay?” Regina said smiling. “This is not a proposal” She said as she took the velvet box from the pocket. “YET.” She complemented, before Emma came to the wrong conclusion.
Emma’s eyes got comically big, and she held her breath.
“Emma,” Regina opened the velvet box, revealing the keys inside. “will you officially move in with me?” She asked smiling, and Emma’s eyes filled with tears.
“Oh my, Regina. Yes… yes, of course.” They laughed, both doing their best not to cry. “I… of course I’ll move in with you guys.”
“Good. I can’t wait to stop sharing your nights with Fa Mulan. All your nights will be mine from now on.” Regina said her Mayoral voice, which Emma understood was just a joke.
“Trust me, madam Mayor. You’re doing her a favor.” Emma laughed.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, she is dating Aurora, the girl from Florida.”
“The Spanish teacher?” Regina felt surprised.
“The one and only. They’ve been together since our first date.”
“Well, good for them.”
Their food arrived and they ate, while discussing when the best day to take the rest of Emma’s things from the fire station was.
They talked about other people, like Jasmine and Leroy being inseparable since the Christmas ball, and how things would be easier now that they were going to live in the same house. Emma promised she was going to be the one to do the laundry and take out the garbage, as well as doing any hand work needed in the house. Regina laughed, and accepted the offering.
As they finished eating, Regina’s phone vibrated, and a video from Ashley got her attention. The video was of Henry, sitting straight on the floor, and then holding on the sofa, trying to get up.
“He’s been at it for some time, Miss Mills. :D”
“Henry’s almost ready to take his first step, Emma. Look at that!”
“He’s a great kid, Regina. I still believe he will walk before he turns one, but I don’t think it will be today.”
The drive back to Storybrooke was filled with laughter and longing glances. Emma used her new keys to open the garage and parked the car inside. They entered the house through the kitchen door, and found Ashley on the living room, with Henry almost asleep on her arms, but when he saw them coming, he grunted “mama”.
Ashley smiled as she saw them and Regina thanked her as she picked Henry. Emma followed Ashley to the door, paying her for staying with Henry, and the girl thanked them and went home.
While Regina put him to sleep, Emma walked around the house with a different perspective. This was going to be her new house. With some luck, this had a great potential to be her forever home. She put her hand into the pocket of her pants and grabbed the box. Regina had said it wasn’t a proposal yet. Maybe sometime in the future. As she stopped in front of the door to the kitchen, she heard the brunette come downstairs and hug her from behind.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Regina whispered.
“Just checking the house with a new perspective.” Emma said, holding Regina’s arms around her waist. “Are you sure about that, Regina?” She turned around, keeping Regina’s arms around her. “Do you really want me here with you, permanently?” Emma’s voice conveyed all the insecurities her life story had given her, and Regina knew it was really important for Emma to know that yes, Regina was taking a huge step into giving her the keys to her house, but it was something that she truly wanted.
“Emma. You told me your story.” Regina said and brought her hands to Emma’s face, keeping the eye contact. “I would never have made such an offer if I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted. I’m not Mary Margaret. I will not change my mind. I want you here, with me. For as long as you want me.”
“Is forever enough?” Emma asked, breathing heavily.
“To infinity and beyond, darling.” Regina answered, bringing Emma’s face closer, to kiss her.
… and they lived happily ever after, as cliches tend to be...