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If Wishes Came True (It Would've Been You)

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November 4th,  2012

 

Regina wrapped her last scene on Moonlighting, she’d just been in Texas for a little over a week but it was great to get to work on something again. To be busy instead of twiddling her thumbs in her house in LA with her mother once again belittling her choice of career because she hadn’t gotten that big break yet. It’s not like she was unsuccessful, she made good money, she’s even won a few awards over the years, but she wasn’t a household name and she didn’t have ten cars, so in her mother’s eyes she was failing at her dream; and sometimes it felt like it to Regina as well.

She wasn’t the classic “leading lady,” and to be honest she didn’t want to be; why would she want to be some girl fawning over a white man who looked like he was printed at a factory? She chose the roles she wanted, the ones that burnt a passion in her soul, the ones that meant something, that got her excited to go into work or even kept her up at night thinking about them, about their impact. 

But even then it didn’t stop her from hearing the same old critiques over and over. She didn’t look white enough to play the lead, she didn’t have the look they craved, didn’t have blonde hair or blue eyes, her face marred by a scar that just “didn’t fit the picture”. And as much as she heard that she wasn’t white enough she heard that she wasn’t Latina enough just as much. Where her skin was just a little too dark to play the lead role in a Hollywood blockbuster it was also too light to play a latina character, her features weren’t what Hollywood considered Latina, a checklist of traits she could never check off fully. 

It made it hard sometimes, the unfairness of it all, it made her want to quit, because her sister didn’t struggle, her sister was everything they looked for, tall, charming, light eyes, pale skin, and that british accent definitely didn’t hurt, while Regina was too short, too curvy and not curvy enough. Always too much or not enough. But when the urge returned to quit she heard her mother’s voice taunting and cruel...and then, just when she needed it the most, she landed a dream role, was allowed to play with and invent, live the lives of these characters, escape into them, and although it wasn’t easy moments like those always, they made all the frustrations and heartache worth it.

Moonlighting was different than her usual roles, yes, it was exciting, and having to get out of LA for a bit was just what she needed. But this woman she was playing was sweeter than herself, not that Regina was heartless, but this woman trusted fully, gave up her whole heart, and living in her shoes for a bit, it taught her something new. A realization about herself and what she wanted in life one day.

“One day” being the key word, because Regina was 28 and did not want to settle down with kids and some… well it’s not like she even had someone to settle down with. Her life was her work, and her mother would never approve of the things she wanted anyways.

She let out a sigh, lowering herself to the couch in her trailer and holding her duffle in her hands, she didn’t have much in there when it came to possessions, but she had enough that packing up…saying goodbye to another set of people and another character, another city, it was hard.

A part of her doesn’t want to go, but she knows her character's journey has reached its end. It was a one episode gig, she knew that coming in, and yet this set had felt different…there was a home here, a comfort she didn’t have back in LA, and that was in the presence of one of her oldest friends.

Neal Cassidy was like a big brother to her, they met 11 years ago at acting school, the two gravitating towards each other because they were both new to the town and came from families that did not support their choices in life, in their careers.

They figured it out together though, one small town kid from Maine and a rather jaded one from New York City. Life quickly taught her all the horrible things about the world, she never once had had that happy, secure feeling growing up –her mother had isolated her from her dad's side of the family at a very young age, robbing her almost entirely of her latin heritage– and neither had Neal, and there was something comforting about sharing that, it made her feel less alone.

She can think back fondly to late nights going over scripts or practicing their monologues together, stuffing themselves with homemade rice and beans and too many spicy pork tacos from the corner Bodega and drinking more coffee than was probably wise for the late hour. She can remember when they had the chance to write and direct their own play, the way he would carry her on his back between classes. They were best friends and he was her protective big brother.  

She’ll never forget the things he did for her, the hole in her chest he’d been able to fill when she had needed it the most, and being able to be around him again after so long, it was amazing.

Her nail scraped against the leather of the handle and she blinked away the tears that were trying to fall, she was about to stand and finally make her exit when she heard a familiar tap on her door.

“Hey, Slugger it’s me.”

Regina rolled her eyes, “I believe I told you to stop calling me that.”

The door creaked open and the man stepped through, a goofy smile on his lips, “yeah, then you slugged me which just really further cemented the nickname.”

“I’ll slug you again if you keep it up, Cassidy.” Regina warned as she stood, welcoming him with a quick hug and a kiss on either cheek.

“I dare you to try, Mills.”

“Remember I aced our stunt lessons. I can kick your skinny blanquito ass”

“That’s fake fighting, I have life experience.” She arched a brow and he frowned, “oh shut up.”

“What brings you down to the lowly guest trailers?”

Neal let out a sigh and dropped to the couch Regina moving to sit back down on the couch next to him, “you got to go back to LA or can I steal you away for a bit longer?”

Regina pursed her lips, “the last time you “stole me” away for a bit I ended up getting in a fight with an Elvis impersonator because you just had to prove you still had your “pickpocket” skills.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“The other impersonators took pictures, Neal.”

“Whatever, that’s not what I have planned anyways.”

“Then please do share what it is that you have planned, dear.”

Neal rolled his eyes, giving her a playful nudge as she started, “you know Emma…”

“I do…”

“She’s coming to visit, we’re going to NASCAR, weekend at a fancy hotel, all that and well if you wanna join us, have a little vacation before you get back to yelling at scripts–”

“I don’t yell at scripts…anymore.”

“Well, what do you say?”

“Is there a reason you want me to meet your girlfriend? Or is this one of your pity introductions because you think I need more friends in LA?” Neal looked very guilty and Regina shoved him, “Neal Cassidy I am not some pity case! I happen to have lots of friends!”

“Your trainer doesn’t count,” Regina opened her mouth, a name on the tip of her tongue when he cut in again. “Neither does your dietician or manager or your sister.”

“Fine, whatever, so I’m not a people person, what’s the big deal? I have you, Mal, and Ursula, and that’s all I need.”

“When was the last time you went out with Mal or Ursula and just relaxed?”

“She’s busy filming something back in England, and you know Ursula is in the middle of a season on broadway! But we do talk.”

“Like we talk?”

“Yes, like we talk .”

Neal reached out, placing a hand over Regina’s, “You can’t live your life locked away in your house and hiding behind the characters you play, Regina.”

“Neal.”

“Fine, just, you’re the most important person in my life, I love you and I trust you.”

Regina smirked, “oh I see; why didn’t you just tell me you wanted me to read your little girlfriend for you.”

“She’s not little.”

“She’s younger than us both.”

“She’s younger than you by two years, Regina, stop acting like you’re 40.” He laughed as she looked offended, flicking a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Cars aren’t really my thing.”

“There will be plenty of alcohol, promise.”

“Hmmm.”

“And lots of women in leather driving powerful cars.”

“Well, why didn’t you just lead with that, Cassidy?”

“Sorry for thinking you’d be swayed by genuine emotion and concern.”

“I’m a lesbian, Neal, I just wanna see some hot women driving muscle cars.”

Neal barked out a laugh before tugging her to his chest, arms wrapping around her small frame and she relaxed against him.

“So that’s a yes?”

“Of course.”

He pressed a kiss to her hair, smelling fleetly her familiar scent, a mix of fresh-cut peonies and afternoon sun; he held her for a few extra seconds before letting her pull away, knowing full well she can only handle so much affection before she starts getting squirrely.

“Alright, we’ll pick you up from your hotel in the morning and head out.”

“Sounds perfect.” Regina smiled up at him and he gave her a playful shove before standing back up. “See you tomorrow, Cassidy.”

“See you later, Slugger.”

Regina lunged for him and he let out a yelp as he made a beeline for the trailer door. “Wimp!”

“I love you too!”

Regina rolled her eyes as the door slammed behind him and she was once again left alone in the trailer.

She took in a deep breath and finally stood up, gripping her bag in her hand as she moved towards the door, her eyes scanning over the small space to be sure she hadn’t missed anything before she flicked off the light and headed towards the parking lot where her rental car was waiting for her.

 


  

Regina woke up early the next morning, unlocked her phone, texting Neal to call her when he had arrived before she hopped in the shower and packed up the rest of her belongings.

She had just gotten her coffee and muffin when her phone started blaring in her pocket, she looked around, finding nowhere to stick her muffin as she dug out her phone she shoved it in her mouth, hoping nobody took a photo of her because her mother would never ever let her hear the end of it if she witnessed such despicable behaviour in the middle of the hotel lobby.

“Yeah?” She blurted around the muffin before taking her bite, her phone held against her shoulder as she haphazardly placed her muffin on top of her coffee cup and headed towards the doors.

“We’re out front. Are you eating?”

“Muffin.” She swallowed, “you have horrible timing.”

Neal laughed and Regina rolled her eyes as she headed out the door, smiling gratefully at the doorman as she made her way out onto the street, squinting her eyes against the sun to spot Neal and this girlfriend of his. She’d heard enough stories from Neal, seen pictures here and there from instagram or when Neal decided to send a selfie of the two, she wasn’t unfamiliar with the woman, her reputation in the industry was that she was an up and comer. Neal had said so too but Regina had little faith in Neal’s taste in women so she was certain this weekend would be something else.

“Hey! Slugger over here!”

“Mierda!” She grumbled curses under her breath, forgetting about the phone pressed to her ear until she heard feminine laughter ring in her ears and a faint blush painted her cheeks. “Is she cursing me out?” She heard Neal’s distant voice followed shortly by his laugh, knowing his girlfriend had probably nodded in the affirmative.

“Tell Neal to help me with my bags or I’ll remind him how I got my nickname in the first place.”

“Neal.” She heard the woman’s voice for the first time and her damn gay heart betrayed her as it skipped at the smooth sound of it.

“Got it.” And seconds later the man was walking away from the car and towards her, and she couldn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes as she muttered.

“Take my bag not my coffee, bobo.”

“Bossy.”

Once her hand was empty she hung up the phone and slipped her sunglasses over her eyes, sure it covered up her glare but she was pretty certain that by the sheepish look on Neal’s face it still made its mark.

“Chocolate chip?”

“I’m living recklessly.”

“Super sweet coffee too? Or are you only slightly betraying your mother’s rules.”

“I’m a grown woman, I can eat what I want.” She said while plucking her muffin off the cup and strutting towards the car, her head held high, now looking every bit the star she was.

“Don’t tell me that’s a PSL.”

“God no, I’d like to keep all of my teeth. And I need all the caffeine I can get.”

“How many shots of espresso?” He asked, though he already knew the answer.

“Eight.” She deadpanned, looking into the open front window to smile at Neal’s girlfriend but her brain froze when she saw the woman up close, all wild blonde hair tumbling over her shoulders and the most beautiful blue, no, green eyes she’d ever seen.

“You must be Regina.” She smiled and Regina nodded crisply. “Oh, lemme unlock that for you.”

Regina blinked and then looked at the back door of the car as the lock popped up and after a few seconds of staring at her muffin and coffee she thrusted her coffee through the window, “Hold this,” she stated and Emma obediently took it without question.

She shook her head, reminding herself that this was Neal’s girlfriend and that he loved her, she slipped into the backseat and buckled herself up, before her coffee entered her eyeline and she had to look up from the large cup catching those green eyes again.

“Thank you, dear.”

Their fingers brushed as she took the cup and Regina was rewarded with the slight pinking of Emma’s cheeks before Neal was dropping into the driver’s seat tugging them both out of it…whatever that was.

“You ladies ready to go?”

“Yes, and please don’t drive like an old lady; I’d like to get there before I’m 30.”

“Yes, and I’d like to make it to my next birthday which is why you won’t be driving.”

“I drove us to Vegas.”

“And we got a ticket and I drove the rest of the way while you bitched about my driving and being hungry.”

“I was a growing child.”

Neal barked out a laugh and she glared at him in the rear-view mirror as she knew exactly what he was going to say before he even said the words. “You haven’t been a growing child since you were 10.”

She slapped him upside the head and he yelped while Emma finally broke her silence and another laugh came bubbling out of her, a hand pressed to her lips and an apology in her eyes while Neal looked at her in betrayal.

“Get going, Bae, I can feel myself ageing already.”

“Don’t make me come back there, young lady.”

Regina stuck her tongue out at him which was a shock to Emma, though nothing new for Neal since he always saw Regina like this, but that’s because he brought the child out in her as she did in him.

“Bae?” Emma asked a few moments after they pulled out onto the street and Neal glanced at her.

“It’s what my dad calls me.”

“Neal, are you telling me you didn’t tell your girlfriend your real name?” Regina asked in mock surprise while she leaned back in her seat and sipped her very large and very strong coffee and picked at her muffin.

“He didn’t.”

“Because it’s a stupid name and my dad is the only one who uses it…well and you apparently.”

“You call me slugger I call you Baelfire, it’s only fair.”

“I think it’s cute.” Emma said and the old friends both snapped their attention to her, “Baelfire. Not, slugger, you totally deserve all the razing for that one, Neal.”

“Traitor.”

Emma smiled softly at him and Regina looked away, taking a sip of her coffee as she pulled out her phone again, texting a few friends and checking in with her father before scrolling through social media accounts and everything else she could do to pass the time until her coffee did it’s job and woke her up.

  


 

The drive was quiet, Neal had on his usual music and he and Emma chatted excitedly about the big race while Regina mostly drowned them out as she focused on all the important work that needed to be done. She was trying not to think about how beautiful Emma looked, especially when she glanced back to ask her if she wanted anything at one of their many pit stops, but it was proving itself difficult when they both had to use the bathroom at some random McDonalds on the drive and Emma flashed her this crooked smile as they washed their hands and she talked more about NASCAR, like Regina cared.

They grabbed a small snack at a fast food joint, Emma got a grill cheese meal with a toy which she flashed off with a smile, and Regina found it oddly charming, and her chest filled with warmth as Emma placed a chicken nugget happy meal in front of her with another of her lopsided smiles.

“Thank you,” Regina whispered and pulled out the little stuffed bear she had gotten with her meal and glanced up to see Emma showing off her own to Neal as he sat down, predictably Neal laughed and pouted about how he hadn’t gotten a toy with his big mac. “You can have mine.” She offered.

“No, Regina that’s your toy, Neal just doesn’t like feeling left out.”

“Wow, she really got you there, Neal.”

Emma grinned and dug into her meal and Regina was so distracted by her smile and the way the sun shone in her eyes that she didn’t notice the fry hurtling for her head until it hit her square in the forehead.

Regina started down at the fry on the table in front of her for a few long seconds and then her eyes slowly rose to pin Neal with her most deadly glare. She vaguely noticed Emma squirming in the booth across from her but her focus was stuck on Neal who looked a mix between shocked and proud.

“I’ll get you back for that, Cassidy and when you least suspect it.”

Neal looked scared for a few long seconds before Emma said something that broke the tension and Neal started laughing and soon they were back to discussing the race they were about to go see.

It was quiet again after that, maybe because Regina was brooding the rest of the drive or maybe because she was planning her revenge, who knew really and nobody needed to know what was keeping her so quiet either.

Maybe she spent the rest of the car ride chastising herself about the obvious attraction she was feeling towards Neal’s girlfriend, who acted like a child, since when did she find that charming? Okay, so she found it charming with Neal but in an annoying yet protective brother kind of way.

It’s not like Emma was even her type. Okay, she’s kind of her type, blonde, muscular, that was definitely her type, but she liked her women older, Mal being a great big exhibit A since she was nearly 10 years older than Regina.

But Emma was younger than her, and sure 2 years isn’t a big gap but it’s still a big stretch from her last girlfriend who was in her mid-thirties. But it’s just attraction, Neal has always had pretty good taste in women, they’ve all been beautiful, their personalities were always the thing that threw Regina off though, that and the fact that many of them were intimidated by her and Neal’s relationship no matter how many times they both insisted they were like siblings and it was never gonna happen.

To be fair, Regina’s sexuality wasn’t known to them and so they just saw their boyfriend hanging out and goofing around with another girl, and assumed that they were secretly in love –which was egregious.

Regina’s nose involuntarily scrunched up at the thought and a small chuckle brought her back to planet earth to meet Neal’s eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Lighten up, Regina, I know this isn’t exactly your scene–”

“What?” She cut him off and he turned back to look at her at the same time she looked out the window to see the dozens of cars surrounding them as they found parking. “Oh.”

Neal frowned in confusion before he focused back on finding a place to park while Emma re-read the schedule from her phone.

 


 

Parking found, they all climbed out of Neal’s rental car, Regina slipped her sunglasses back over her eyes as she looked over the dozens of cars, the sounds of the thousands of fans milling about was almost too loud to hear Emma and Neal’s discussion as they dug around the trunk of the SUV.

“You might want to change your shoes.”

“Do you have a jacket? You’ll be cold like that.”

Regina spun to look at them both, a brow arching over her sunglasses as she took in the ridiculous brightly coloured jerseys they had pulled on over their shirts, both now sporting noise-cancelling headphones hanging around their necks, plus Emma had a cap on her head.

“What the hell are you two wearing?”

“Ah shit, Neal, did you bring her ear protection?”

“Uh…”

“I am not wearing those things.”

“We’ll get her earplugs inside.”

“If you don’t wanna go deaf you will wear them.” Neal and Emma said at the same time;  Regina’s brow shot up again and a little smirk curled on her lips at what Emma had just said to her, maybe she was more than just a child in a grown-up’s body after all.

“Did you pack sneakers?”

“Why?”

“Uneven terrain, also seriously you’ll need a coat.” Said Emma.

“They’re in my bag, I’ll get them.” Regina said with a roll of her eyes as she gave Neal a shove, and eyed Emma as she began digging around in what appeared to be Emma’s own bag in the back.

“He should have told you what to wear last night.”

Regina looked over at her as she tried to not whip around the negligee she had packed this morning after changing, but from the slow colouring of Emma’s cheeks as she stared down at her hands she’s pretty sure the girl caught sight of it and who knows what else anyways. “He’s never been very good at thinking ahead.”

“He says he likes to be spontaneous.”

Regina pulled a pair of short boots and socks from her bag and looked at Emma who was organizing her own suitcase to close it. “He’s been that way since we were kids. To be honest, that was one reason we got along so well, I planned everything to a fault and he just went and did it, we balanced each other out for a while and then…”

“Are you blaming me for the hour you spent in a holding cell again? I didn’t make you punch Elvis.”

Regina rolled her eyes at the man and tugged a leather jacket out of her bag with a triumphant grin. “I hope you’re aware you’re dating an idiot.”

Emma chuckled, looking at a pouting Neal before he turned to deal with something in the car while Regina smiled at him, they seemed happy. “I find it sweet.”

Regina eyed Emma for a second too long before lifting her leg to remove her heel and slipping on her right sock and boot, feeling Emma’s eyes on her the whole time. The girl was obviously studying her, for what reason Regina was unsure, but those eyes didn’t leave her the whole time she changed.

She had just pulled out her hair from under her leather jacket when she looked up to see Emma’s dopey smile again. “What?”

“Here,” She said and the next thing Regina knew Emma was slipping the headphones from her own neck and stepping closer.

Regina sucked in a sudden breath, her eyes locked onto Emma’s as she slowly slid the headphones around Regina’s neck, then to Regina’s shock she pulled her hair out from under them and smiled proudly at her. “Perfect.”

“Don’t you need them?”

“I’ll buy some inside, I’ve been to a few races already, my ears are used to the noise. Yours are virgins.” Regina arched a brow and Emma blushed deeply. “You know what I mean.”

“You ladies ready to go? I don’t wanna miss anything.” They both jumped away from each other, Regina nearly falling into the trunk while Emma nearly collided with the trunk’s lid. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” Neal gave them a curious look as Regina straightened herself out, a faint warming of her cheeks as proof of her embarrassment or…whatever.

“Yes,” She spoke as she busied herself with her belongings. “I just need to do up my suitcase.”

“Awesome! Maybe we can find some good food before the race.”

“I’m sure someone will be selling something,” Regina said distractedly as she stuffed her clothes in and tried to not think about Emma’s headphones pressing against her collarbones or the way her fingers had felt when they brushed against her neck. It’s just…been a while since she had any form of affection from another person…another woman…yeah that’s it, she’s just having her usual bout of hopeless gay longing and daydreams for a girlfriend; this was not about Emma at all.

“Not inside. At the tailgate.”

Regina’s head snapped towards the man, she was almost sure she heard it crack from the force. “I’m sorry, the what?”

“Tailgate.”

“Neal, we can’t go tailgating.”

“Why not?”

Regina looked at him like it was the most obvious thing in the world but he just stared at her like the idiotic oaf he was. “Neal, you’re a main character in a popular TV series that films a few hours away.”

“They won’t care.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Trust me, Regina, the last thing they care about is me right now.”

“Anyways, dressed like that he looks like any other basic white dude.”

They both turned to look at Emma who was grinning at them smugly.

“Hey!”

“Well, she does have a point.”

“Yeah, if they recognize anyone it’ll be Regina.”

“I haven’t been in nearly enough stuff.”

“Yeah, but your face is hard to forget.”

Regina’s brow slowly rose, her eyes flicking over Emma from behind her large sunglasses as the girl slowly began to colour when she realized what she’d just said.

“Well if they start rioting over Regina’s beauty I’ll just scoop her up and carry her to safety. She’s small enough anyway–” Regina punched Neal hard in the arm cutting him off as he gaped at her, “ow. That hurt.”

“Baby.”

“You practice boxing!” Neal protested, rubbing his arm while Emma giggled and Regina ignored him, quickly zipping up her suitcase and stepping back to slam the trunk shut.

“C’mon, maybe we can find you something cold to ice your ego.” Emma cooed and Neal gaped after her.

“Et Tu?”

Regina followed after Emma, a smirk on her face as she nudged Neal with her shoulder, “I like this one.”

 


 

When Neal told her the night before that he had invited a friend to spend the weekend with them in Texas, Emma hadn’t exactly been pleased. She hadn’t seen Neal in a few months and she was hoping that they could have some time together, just the two of them, to rekindle that spark she’d long felt dwindle.

And she had been expecting a “bro” from set, especially when he had so casually dropped the nickname for them “Slugger” she had quickly assumed it was a man and then something had prickled in the back of her mind, a story he told her when they were out on one of their first dates, drinking too much beer and yelling at the screen in some random sports bar near one of the sets they were working on.

It was hazy and didn’t stick until he had said her name, Regina, Regina Mills, the girl Neal described as his little sister, who Emma knew was the only person Neal really considered his true family. Emma didn’t think they were at the “meet the family” stage of their relationship yet, but maybe since Regina happened to be working with him and she was showing up around the same time he had just made the leap.

It was daunting, Emma knew from the few stories she’s heard and the conversations she’s overheard when she and Neal found time to be together that the two were close, so close most women would probably be intimidated by it, but Emma saw the way Neal smiled when he talked about her, it wasn’t like how he smiled at Emma, it was more like how he smiled when looking at a happy family on a park bench.

She’d seen a few pictures that Neal had shoved in books from school or framed on the wall for everyone to see, looking everything like a proud, big brother.

So Emma knew, she knew that no matter what, this weekend was make it or break it, maybe that was the case before even finding out about Regina coming, but she knew that Regina was important to Neal and, the way he had smiled so brightly at the prospect of them meeting and getting along was too cute, Emma couldn’t even imagine saying no to him.

She thought she was prepared for it all, she really did, and then she laid eyes on her, on the woman that wasn’t a little kid tucked into Neal’s side in pictures or draped over his back. No, she was gorgeous, with perfectly styled hair for the ridiculously early hours of the morning and full red lips with a little scar on them, and the most beautiful brown eyes Emma had ever seen.

And Regina, Regina was funny, a quick ruthless humour directed towards Neal, a devious little smirk, and she just had this overwhelming presence about her, it nearly knocked Emma flat on her ass…well maybe it would have if she hadn’t been sitting when she first saw her.

And her laugh, it was like honey, sweet and smooth. She was intoxicating in a way Emma never could’ve been prepared for. She drew her in and made her stomach twist with nerves. She also smelt fantastic, which was a cruel discovery she found and couldn’t stop focusing on while stuck in a car with her for 3 hours.

It was all ridiculously confusing and it only became more so as Neal ran around like an excited toddler from each and every truck and grill, to talk and get food, leaving her with Regina to what? socialize? She was almost sure he was doing it on purpose, his goal to get them to bond was not lost on anyone.

“Was he always like this?”

“Hmm?” Regina’s eyes locked onto hers, brows furrowed in confusion as she tried to figure out what Emma had just asked, and Emma watched in fascination as her whole face lit up, so much expressed in a single second before her eyes moved back to Neal’s. “You can’t be surprised by this, dear, he’s not exactly subtle about his love of good food and conversation.”

“Oh, no, not that.”

Regina frowned, turning back to her, her head tilted the slightest bit to the side, “what did you mean then?”

“So horribly obvious with his ulterior motives?”

They both looked back towards the man as he looked subtly over his shoulder to check on them and Regina let out another smooth laugh. “Oh, yes. I mean he explicitly told me what his plans were for this weekend.”

“So he wants your approval?”

“Is that upsetting to you?”

Emma shrugged, wrapping her arms around her waist to keep out the afternoon chill. “No, I get it, you’re his family. I just…”

“Ah.”

“What?” Emma’s head snapped to look at Regina, the woman looking like she knew everything going on Emma’s mind, it was eerie.

“You didn’t think you were at the “meet the family” stage quite yet.”

Emma blinked slowly at her, how she figured that out she’ll never know, the way she seemed to stare deep into her soul at that moment, it was both unsettling and freeing, it made Emma almost feel safe to bare her soul willingly. “I love him.”

“I never said you didn’t, dear.”

Emma hugged herself tighter, taking a deep breath as her eyes sought out Neal again, finding him at a foldout table with a red checkered tablecloth talking to a group of guys not much older than him.

The smell of barbeque filled her senses and even over the loud chatter she could hear her stomach growl. “Oh my god, that burger looks amazing!”

“What?”

“Neal Cassidy you were not about to get that and not share!” Emma’s eyes were trained on the massive burger her boyfriend was about to take a bite out of, her stomach demanding food and, Jesus, that burger looked fantastic.

She barely registered Regina’s laugh as she rushed off to snatch the burger from Neal’s hands, ignoring his pout and complaints as she took a massive bite. “You can get another one,” she spoke around her mouthful of food, looking around them again. “Sweet tea!”

“Em…”

“I think you lost her, dear.” Regina’s voice filtered into her ears and she turned to look back at the old friends, feeling the mixture of sauce and juice from the burger slide down her face. “I see why you two get along so well. She’s just like you.” Regina drawled as she held out a napkin towards her which Emma took with a faint blush.

“She’s adorable isn’t she?”

“Precious,” Regina’s eyes twinkled as she looked her over, her mouth pulling into a grin, “I’ll go get you both some of that sweet tea your girlfriend is pouting at while you bribe these poor men for another burger.”

“I didn’t bribe them!”

“I’m not pouting!”

Regina just ignored them both and maybe Emma pouted at her retreating form before solemnly looking over at Neal.

“How bad was it?”

“I think she likes you.” He declared, and Emma arched a brow in response, “I’m serious, the last girlfriend she met she had her sobbing in her salad within 10 minutes of saying hello. It was horrific to witness.”

Emma just stared at him in shock, because she thought she was prepared for this, she thought she could get used to how ridiculously beautiful this woman was while also proving herself worthy, but no, now there was the possibility of Regina absolutely destroying her if she failed?! Oh god, she was fucking screwed!

“Relax, Em, she totally deserved it. Regina caught her cheating. How she figured that out in 10 minutes though is still a mystery to me…”

“She’s like some kind of sexy witch…” Emma whispered to herself as she turned to look at the woman charming a couple in their 50s out of their sweet tea…and maybe their first born.

Neal’s laugh startled her and a blush took up her face when she realized he must have heard her. He didn’t seem to care though, maybe because he agreed with her assessment. You can subjectively think someone is sexy, there’s nothing to it.

Right?

 


 

It was loud, like ridiculously loud, even with the large headphones pressing against her ears. She could barely hear herself think between the commotion of the cars and the rowdy fans.

She could see Emma as she yelled and cheered, felt the rumble in her seat, buzzing through her whole body as the cars raced around the track, giant glasses of beer almost constantly thrust into her hand as Neal just kept ordering them. She was almost sure he was trying to get her drunk so she’d stopped pouting.

She didn’t understand a thing, why would anyone pay to watch a bunch of fancy cars drive around in a circle at deadly speeds was beyond her.

It was about halfway through the race, while Neal was off hunting down snacks and more beers when Emma leaned in closer to her, yelling right against the cover of the headphones.

Something like “are you having fun?” Or was it “are you a bun?” “can I have your bum?” She frowned, it was definitely the first option, but even so, it was almost impossible to make out and so she turned to ask for clarification but miscalculated Emma’s close proximity causing their noses to bump together.

They stayed frozen like that for a few long seconds, Emma’s gasp of breath against her lips, she had no idea what to do, Emma was leaning into her space but then when their proximity seemed to finally dawn on Emma she leaped back, cheeks bright red and eyes looking panicked as they bounced around, searching for…probably Neal.

“I’m sorry!” Emma yelled, Regina could read the words on her lips more than she could hear them leave her mouth.

She offered her an understanding smile, it was her fault too after all, and to calm Emma’s fears of what? She wasn’t sure, but to do so she reached out, placing her hand on Emma’s forearm and she just stared down at Regina’s hand for a few long moments.

But eventually, the wind blew hair into Regina’s face and she had no choice but to retract her hand to brush it out of the way, silently cursing at the massive headphones when she felt a hand on her arm, gentle, hesitant, but oddly calming.

She turned back to Emma, the hand falling away to fiddle with her empty cup of beer. “Are you having fun?”

Regina nodded, she lied, this was boring and noisy and she’s had so much beer she’s pretty sure she was swaying but she wouldn’t classify this as fun. Even if the company wasn’t the worst.

“Liar!”

Regina’s mouth dropped open, her eyes widening, how did she, the gall!

Emma just laughed though, reached out one more time, this time her hand fell on her thigh and she patted it twice before turning back to face the race, awkwardness forgotten, and Regina just stared at her.

The sun was slowly beginning to set, the chill was worsening, pinking Emma’s already flushed cheeks and turning the tip of her nose red. It was adorable. And the way the setting sun shone in her hair and sparkled in her eyes was gorgeous.

She was dangerous. The beer was dangerous.

So when Neal came back with beer and hotdogs she snatched one up and ate it, no complaints about the quality of it, she needed food in her stomach before she decided it was a good idea to hit her best friend’s girlfriend.

 


 

Ultimately it was over and Regina was ready to go to the hotel and get some peace and quiet and maybe some sleep. Which meant getting the two rowdy idiots to her left to get moving which seemed impossible at the moment.

So she waited, she let them cheer for the winner with the crowd and have their fun, it was entertaining enough and soon it died down and Emma looked down at her with a goofy smile.

“You look tired!” Regina arched a brow and Emma looked panicked again. “Not that you look bad just…”

“I am!”

“Then let’s head out, ladies, we got about a 30 minute drive to the hotel depending on traffic.” He said, waving them along as she turned to look down the aisle.

“Thank god. I could kill for a warm bath and a comfortable bed right about now.”

Neal smiled at her like he heard a word she said and Regina couldn’t help but roll her eyes as she stood, zipping her jacket up more as she tried to fight off the chill.

“Next time I’m picking the event!”

“What?!”

“Ugh whatever!”

Regina grumbled, gripping onto Emma’s shoulder to steady herself so she could reach around and shove Neal forward but as she did so she could feel every muscle in Emma’s body tense up and she suddenly wished she had had more beer after all.

 


 

It was about 40 minutes later by the time they got to their hotel and it took them another 10 minutes to check in, Regina was ready to claw somebody's eyes out by the time they finally walked into their room, the daunting realization that she had to share a room with Emma and Neal hitting her at once, when she had packed for Texas she hadn’t planned for anyone ever seeing her, which meant…

“Em, you good with the bed by the window? Regina doesn’t like sleeping by windows, or doors…she says she would like to be the last person a bur–”

“Yeah, I’m fine with that.” Emma cut him off while Regina stared down at the two beds close together and faintly debated crashing on the pull out couch instead, since the little desk nook provided a small sense of privacy.

“Sorry about this, I tried to get two rooms but there wasn’t any available last minute.”

Regina grumbled something under her breath as she pushed past the couple and tossed her suitcase on the bed with one easy move, drowning out the noise of their chatter to focus on grabbing what she needed to wash off the smell of beer, hotdogs, and sweat from her body…and maybe there was a vague stench of grease? Ugh. She wasn’t sure what it was but a shower sounded fantastic right about then.

“Regina!”

She jumped when she heard her name called as she tried to scurry away unnoticed to the bathroom.

“Sorry. I was just wondering if after we’re settled you wanted to go get some food?”

“Uh, sure.” And with that she was out of sight and locking herself in the ridiculously white bathroom that matched the overall aesthetic of the room.

 


 

Emma frowned as she watched the door slam behind Regina, turning worried eyes to Neal as he unpacked his bags and she flipped through the TV while sitting at the end of their bed. “You think she’s okay?”

“She gets crabby without a real meal and too many noisy men around.” Emma arched a brow and Neal seemed to laugh at something she didn’t really understand. “Regina’s not really a people person. Don’t get me wrong, she can charm the pants off anyone she meets and get you to reveal your deepest darkest secrets with a single look, but she doesn’t actually like people.”

“Oh!” Emma nodded, looking back at the bathroom where she could hear the heavy stream of water flowing. A little smile quirking on her lips at the thought of Regina preferring to hide at home, probably snuggled up in large blankets and reading Tolstoy or something equally nerdy.

“What’s with the face?”

Emma turned towards him, seeing he was looking at her again with that sense of underlining humour Emma didn’t quite understand. “Nothing, just thinking.”

“Your brain was going all ‘UwU a baby Ravenclaw’ wasn’t it?”

“No!” Emma denied, a juvenile pout that would put all babies to shame on her face.

“Em, I know how much of a Harry Potter nerd you are, or have you forgotten our third date?”

“It’s perfectly valid to make your prospective partner take the sorting quiz.”

“Make being the operative word.” Emma stuck her tongue out at him and he chuckled. “Oh my little lion.”

“I’ll kill you and make it look like a bloody accident.”

“Keep quoting cat in the hat and I might propose.”

Emma huffed, turning to look back towards the bathroom muttering, “Fucking Hufflepuffs.”

“You love me.”

“Debatable.”

“Ah son of a bitch!”

Both of them rushed to the door of the bathroom at the exclamation, ready to fight whatever it was that had caused Regina’s outburst.

“You okay?!” Emma called through the door when Neal had stopped her from throwing open the bathroom door or worse, breaking it down.

“Jesus fuck!” Neal laughed, looking back at Regina’s suitcase, and walking towards it. “Neal Cassidy stop laughing!”

“How does she know you’re laughing?”

“She does this all the time.”

“Does what?”

“Forgets she’s blind without her contacts.”

“I’m not blind!”

“How did she hear you?” Emma asked, eyeing the door anxiously, wondering if Regina had super hearing.

“Cause this happens a lot.”

“About half the time.” Regina’s voice met her ears from the other side of the door and Emma jumped back as the door opened and a hand was stuck out of it, waiting patiently for what Emma assumed were her glasses.

Emma frantically looked for Neal when she noticed he wasn’t by her side, spotting the man hunched over Regina’s suitcase. “Uh…” she looked back towards Regina’s hand, unsure what she was supposed to do.

“Give me a second! You buried them under all your unmentionables!”

“Neal get your hands off my underwear!”

“Hey! I’m looking blind too! You think I wanna be touching your… things .”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Jesus Christ, I’ll get them!”

“Emma you don’t ha–”

“We’re both girls, we have the same things.”

Regina snorted and Emma couldn’t help but turn pink as she looked down at the long slender fingers hovering in midair. “Emma?”

“Right, erm, glasses.” She nodded to herself, shoving Neal out of the way and looked in the pockets, tossing a sketchbook to the side to get a better view before digging through the clothes, her eyes continuously dropping down to the silk blue nightie on the top of the pile and what might just be a black lace bra.

“They should be at the top!”

“I don’t think the top is what it used to be anymore…” Emma said with a glare directed towards Neal.

“Hey! Don’t look at me like that! She was digging in it this afternoon too!”

“Son of a bitch!”

“Why even take them out?”

Regina grumbled something and Neal laughed again, “I wouldn’t let you forget they were in again.”

“Found them!” Emma announced, holding up the black eyeglass case and when she saw Neal resembled a tomato she looked up at her hand raised victoriously and realized there was a pair of pink lace panties hanging from her pinky.

“I hope those are clean.”

“What is going on out there?” Regina’s voice was unsure, impatient, her hand moving to properly express her exasperation over all of this.

“Hey, Regina, are those pi–”

Emma slapped him in the chest, hissing, “Shut up,” At him while he bitched. “Nothing, I got them.” She said, bringing them over to Regina and placing them in her outstretched hand, Regina’s nails scraping against the inside of her wrist as she wrapped her hand around the case.

“Thank you,” Her voice was small and shy and Emma was met with the sight of wet hair that was starting to curl at the ends and large brown eyes before the door closed and Emma was once again left staring at it.

“You’re so weird.”

Emma grabbed the pillow from the pull out couch next to the bathroom and chucked it at his face before she flopped down on it, trying not to think about how beautiful Regina looked without makeup and all the things she saw in her suitcase.

 


 

Regina finished up in the shower and slipped out of the bathroom not long after, dressed this time in jeans and a light sweater, her shoulder-length hair pulled back in a ponytail at the base of her neck and to Emma’s amazement large black-rimmed glasses perched on her nose.

She went from looking, well like she just walked off a red carpet to maybe actually kind of her age but also a cute little soccer mom.

Emma’s heart was betraying her, while Neal asked about what they wanted to get for food, all Emma could think about was the little hairs currently curling at the side of Regina’s face.

“Em?”

“Hmm?”

“What do you wanna eat?”

“I’m fine with whatever.” She said, her eyes zeroing on Regina as she organized her suitcase, putting her dirty clothes in a couple reusable Ziplocs in the front pouch of her large suitcase.

“Libras.” Regina blurted.

Emma looked up from Regina’s hands to her little smirking face, she could see the way her eyes twinkled with humour and it was oddly unsettling. “Did you do research on me?”

“Neal needed advice on what to get you for your birthday.”

Emma looked at him, a brow arching and he blushed.

“Traitor!”

“Nobody wants a trucker hat, Neal.”

He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. What do you want then, Regina?”

“After two hotdogs and way too many beers I would like some water and a light salad.”

“Why don’t we just go to the hotel’s restaurant?”

“Fine.”

“Alright, I’m gonna go to the bathroom then we can go.” Emma informed them and rushed out of the room before she got distracted by how great Regina looked again. Seriously, it should be illegal for a woman to be that beautiful and charming.

 


 

“Would you stop that?” Neal hissed and Regina jumped, turning to look at Neal with big innocent eyes.

“Stop what?”

“Flustering my girlfriend.”

“But it’s so much fun!” Regina pouted and Neal grabbed the pillow Emma had thrown at him earlier and hucked it at Regina’s head but she easily caught it and beamed him in the head with it just as Emma exited the bathroom, her sudden burst of laughter announcing her presence.

“How was anyone intimidated by her when you two are so obviously siblings?”

“I believe it’s because I make them feel inferior.”

“She’s also really touchy.”

“Bite me.”

“Ew gross, Emma, bite her for me, I don’t want cooties.”

“You’re so cute.”

Neal smiled brightly at her while Regina grumbled and pouted muttering about heterosexuals and how absolutely disgusting they were.

“Let’s go before they close the restaurant and we have to go out somewhere.”

Emma and Neal both gave Regina this dopey look and instantly she hated them both. “What?!”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing at all,” Emma and Neal shared a look as Regina growled and stormed towards the hotel room door, accepting that whatever it was they were thinking, she did not want to know about.

 


 

Dinner was uneventful, fun, but uneventful, Emma chose to eat something light while Regina nursed a glass of red wine. Emma tried to wrap her mind around how she looked so mature and yet young enough to be carded and couldn’t help but pout about the unfairness of it.

Emma was sure Regina just hated to be perceived as a child, she carried herself in such a way that Emma assumed she used as a defence mechanism, but when Neal talked and teased her, that snobbish resting bitch face vanished into a bright beautiful smile that made her look ten years younger, and her chubby cheeks that were extenuated by the large glasses did not help to assert the image of maturity she seemed to crave.

And while Neal brought out the child in Regina, it seemed Regina brought out the adult in Neal. That is until Regina complained about her feet hurting and then he was carrying her on his back up to their room, it was sweet. Emma could maybe see herself settling down with him, maybe all that was missing was Emma seeing the version of Neal that wasn’t a man child.

When they entered their room Emma broke off to change in the bathroom while Neal and Regina bickered over something only they could understand.

And one by one they all entered the bathroom and changed for bed, Neal was the last one to go leaving Emma and Regina alone in the dimly lit room staring up at the ceiling.

“Did you have fun today?”

“It was interesting. I don’t quite understand the appeal. For one, how do you even see the cars as they speed around the track so fast? The noise is…”

“It’s a lot, I know,” Emma turned her head to look at Regina, “one of my foster dads took me to my first race, we used to watch it together on TV, it was probably one of the fondest memories of my childhood I have, so it kinda stuck.”

“I get that. Neal just likes fast cars.”

Emma laughed, looking back up at the ceiling, “I know, it’s one of the first things we bonded over.”

“We bonded over shared trauma.” Regina quietly confessed.

Emma looked over at her again, seeing the smooth outlines of her features in the pale light. Neal had told Emma most of his childhood stories, a douchebag of a dad who only cared about himself, a history of trauma that went back to at least his great grandparents that seemed to make it hard for their family to crawl out of. She could relate to a lot of what Neal talked about, the neglect, it spoke to her, but the way the shadows covered Regina’s face, her eyes suddenly looking almost blankly up at the ceiling, Emma was almost sure that Regina’s trauma might be deeper than theirs.

Emma opened her mouth to say anything, a joke maybe, to lighten the tension hanging over them but suddenly the bathroom door opened and the light lit up the room more, just enough for Emma to catch the tear rolling down Regina’s cheek just before she flipped on her side and buried her face in the covers, yelling at Neal to turn off the light.

“Sorry.” 

Regina grumbled and Neal crept in the dark towards their bed, whispering a quiet goodnight that Regina responded to just as quietly before Emma reached out and flicked off the bedside lamp, curling on her own side, staring across the dark room at Regina’s back and desperately wanting to make whatever was upsetting her go away.

“You locked the door?” A small voice asked into the night but Emma stayed silent as Neal informed her he had and even offered to double check if she liked, and even though she said it was okay, he still got out of bed and checked the windows, balcony door, and finally the front door again.

“All secure.”

“Thank you…”

“No problem,” he whispered, stopping at Regina’s bed he leaned down, pressing a kiss to her temple and whispering something too quiet for Emma to hear before he came back to their bed and wrapped himself around Emma. “Goodnight, Em.”

“Night,” she whispered, her eyes staying glued to Regina, all the NASCAR excitement long forgotten, her brain only filled with more questions about this woman than what she had the night before.

 


 

It was probably around 3am when Emma’s bladder woke her up. She blinked open her eyes into the pitch black room, staring up at the roof for a second before she rolled out of bed, stumbling her way through the room until she found the door to the bathroom.

The light was blinding and without her glasses or contacts everything was mostly a very white blur, and the fact that she was still half asleep did not help one bit. Barely avoiding the towel rack she managed to pee and wash her hands before she flicked off the light and slipped out, realizing that after the blinding light she was just subjected to she could no longer see shadows in the night to lead her back to her bed.

She squinted in the dark, hand fumbling around, brushing against surfaces and edges until she found the bed and slipped back under the warm covers, sleep pulling her back in seconds later.

She didn’t wake up again until morning, the morning birds and movement of whoever was staying in the rooms around them slowly pulling her out of sleep. She sighed at the feeling of the warm body pressed against her front, burrowing her head against the back of the neck of the person in her arms, trying to hide from the light streaming into the room.

A small sigh, a hum maybe met her ears, she felt it rumbling through the body against her and as she woke up more, she began to realize that the sound was not something Neal had ever made, she also noticed many things at once that did not point to the body pressed against hers belonging to Neal.

One of those things was the soft hair tickling her face, the faint smell of Regina’s shampoo filling her nostrils, now that was worrisome enough, but it could be explained away, really. But what couldn’t be explained away was the ass pressed against her pelvis, the smooth hairless legs tangled with her own, and the breasts her arm was currently resting against.

Clearly the only answer to what could have happened was that Emma, dumb ass as she is, and barely functioning when half asleep, had crawled into the empty side of Regina’s bed after getting up to pee the night before and not into her own, with her boyfriend, who was currently fast asleep in the bed next to them while Emma, spooned his fucking sister!

She was fucking dead. If Regina didn’t wring her neck for this massive invasion of privacy and personal space after knowing her for less than 24 hours, Neal was going to kill her for making a move on who he referred to as his little sister!

Fuck!

Fuck

Fuckity 

Fuck!

She was screwed, like beyond screwed.

She knew she needed to just get out of this without either of them finding out, but Regina had a vise grip on her hand and considering the fingers of her other hand were tingly, it also wasn’t easily accessible.

Maybe if she explained it to them? I mean Neal knows how dazed she can be. This isn’t out of character for her. Really, this is rather funny when you think about it. A story to tell at parties and maybe to the grandchildren, right? I mean it’s not like she knew the stories people told children but surely this is a funny anecdote.

All she had to do was remove her hand and not focus on how nice it felt to have Regina pressed against her. Was it always this nice holding women? I guess that explains why Neal likes to be the big spoon. Girls were so soft and tiny and they fit so nicely. And gosh they made the cutest little happy sleepy noises.

Or maybe that was just Regina?

Not that that mattered, because Emma is with Neal and she’s straight, she should not be thinking about Regina, or girls at all right now. Especially not about how nice her legs felt against her own.

No

She shook her head, which only made her burrow her face further against Regina’s neck and the woman let out a tiny content sigh and snuggled back against Emma, somehow pressing their bodies closer together and then, so adorably frustrating and so not what Emma wanted, Regina pulled the hand she was cradling up and under her chin, pulling Emma nearly on top of her, basically using Emma as a weighted blanket of some sort.

It was agonizingly cute but also fucking frustrating because Emma seriously needed her hand back, she needed to slip out of bed and hide in the bathroom pretending to shower so if Regina woke up she’d just assume Emma moving around had woke her up. Really a very great plan. Except well, it seems Regina takes after the fucking koala or a baby opossum and just won’t let go!

She saw no exit, no way to get out of this that didn’t involve her head on a pike. Yesterday had gone so well but today she fucked up in the middle of the night because her blind half asleep ass forgot there were two beds? Forgot which was hers? Forgot just everything besides ‘ need sleep now ’ and now she was fucking screwed.

She was aware that someone would wake up soon and she was trapped, because the woman was strong as hell and Emma was a weak pathetic mess who was too scared about daring to wake her to actually move.

She felt the cold tip of Regina’s nose against her hand and her heart leaped in her chest, bringing her to the realization that her heart had been thumping anxiously against her chest this whole time…and there’s a very good bet Regina could feel it.

She needed to calm down and breathe. And definitely not focus on how good Regina felt, or how her thumb was pressed against the palm of Emma’s hand; she needed to not focus on the little steady puffs of breath or the cute little whistle noises she made in her sleep mixed with happy little hums and sighs.

Girls were fucking adorable when they slept apparently!

Emma was starting to question the real reason she couldn’t pull away. She wondered fleetingly if perhaps she didn’t want to let go because she was enjoying the proximity, but that was total nonsense, it obviously was because she was trying to save her own ass.

She took in a deep breath, pulling her head away from Regina’s neck but when her eyes fluttered open and focused on the little ear and chubby cheek so close to her, her heart did that damn fluttering thing again and yeah, Emma didn’t want to let go.

Regina looked so at ease when she slept, safe even, what if when Emma moves she interrupts Regina’s sleep and her dreams that were making the little pleased noises escape her mouth? Really, she was doing this because she wanted Regina to be well rested. That’s all.

Really. That was all. There was no ulterior motive when she laid back down against the mattress and let Regina pull her closer again, so she would be Regina’s security blanket or whatever for a few hours and then they’ll all laugh at her stupidity over breakfast. It was fine.

Right?

 


 

Warmth. Security. Safety.

The things Regina felt as consciousness started to return to her, next was the feeling of a body pressed against her own, lean, muscular, feminine. She instinctively leaned into it, enjoying the sensation of being in another woman’s arms after so long. And then it hit her, hit her like a semi.

Her eyes flew open and she stared across the room at Neal, just Neal spread out across the bed. Which only meant one fucking thing. Neal’s girlfriend was currently spooning her. Neal’s girlfriend’s leg was in places it shouldn’t be.

She had also apparently pulled the woman so tightly around her she could feel every goddamn inch of her body.

How in the fuck did any of this even happen?

And she had no goddamn idea. She’s pretty sure she hadn’t dragged the girl into her bed in the middle of the night and she hadn’t switched beds. So Emma must have crawled into bed with her but how? Why? When?

And god! Why did it have to feel so good? It’d been way too long since she felt any kind of touch from another woman, since she’s been held like this and she just wanted to melt into it, to close her eyes and savour it. But that was wrong, not just because Emma was Neal’s girlfriend that he loved very much, but also because Emma didn’t know Regina was a lesbian, and Emma well, it’s not like Emma crawled into her bed for a snuggle party.

But dammit if it didn’t feel great to be held for a bit longer.

She felt a thumb brush against her jaw and her heart jumped in her chest, pounding and anxious beat that had her ripping herself from Emma’s arms and staring down at the shocked face of Neal’s stupid fucking girlfriend staring back at her.

“What are you doing in my bed?” She hissed, not wanting to wake Neal, there was no way she could explain to him why she was in bed with his girlfriend. Or rather why her girlfriend was in bed with her.

Emma winced, “I can explain…” she started, slowly sitting up and running her hand nervously through her hair, glancing around nervously before her eyes focused on Regina’s face again.

“Well?” Regina implored, impatience dripping from her tone and making Emma look at her with wide nervous eyes. She took a deep breath, trying to reign in her fear which she always smothered with the more dominating emotion that was anger, but she knew blowing up at the girl wouldn’t actually get her anywhere, so she waited, reaching behind her to grab her glasses and Emma’s, silently passing them to the girl.

“Thank you,” She whispered, that crooked smile of hers on her lips, as Regina met her eyes, and Regina couldn’t help but to offer her the smallest one back in return.

“Right so…erm I woke up in the middle of the night to pee…” Regina arched a brow and Emma rolled her eyes, seemingly already knowing Regina’s question of what that had to do with their current situation.

Not to mention the feelings swirling around dangerously in her belly. She was suddenly craving that touch again, after so long without it her body just wanted the safety of a body wrapped around hers again, the comfort of another woman’s touch, sexual or not. God, how she craved it.

“I couldn’t see in the dark and because I was half asleep I guess I assumed your bed was my bed and…”

“You decided to spoon me?”

“I don’t actually remember that decision being made. I’ve never spooned anyone before. Well, I’ve spooned someone, but I just haven’t been the big spoon…which I now get why people like it so much…it’s pretty nice.”

Regina’s eyebrow shot up, her brain screaming and her synapses firing at unimaginable speeds as she tried to process what the fuck that even meant.

And while Regina’s brain tried to work through the current information Emma just anxiously rambled on.

“I’m super sorry for like invading your space and making you uncomfortable but I didn’t know how to move without waking you and you seemed so relaxed and you looked so cute and you have like this ridiculously strong grip, did you know that?”

Regina blinked at her, trying and failing to process the immense information Emma was just spewing at her. It was basically impossible.

“I mean I get why men like spooning women now. They’re so small and soft. Did you know you mumble in your sleep and make these happy little noises? It’s really cute, gosh, a man has never been that cute when he sleeps. Also, women just smell fantastic, or maybe it’s just you. I don’t know but it was nice, and like I don’t mind if you found it soothing or whatever, sometimes it’s nice being held. I enjo–”

Regina reached out, pressing her hand over Emma’s mouth finally putting an end to her rambling. “I’m going to need you to shut up, Emma, do you understand?” Emma nodded slowly, eyes wide as they focused on the glare Regina was sending her way. “Thank you. Now, you are going to get up and go to the bathroom, you’re going to take a shower and then we are going to pretend none of this happened, okay?”

“Okay,” Emma mumbled against Regina’s hand and her lips pursed before she slowly removed her hand from Emma’s mouth, her glare hardening in case Emma decided to start rambling about more things she couldn’t pretend she hadn’t heard.

“Good girl.” Emma’s cheeks were tinted an adorable pink and Regina had to finally look away, to check that Neal was still asleep before moving back to focus on Emma, a dangerous smile on Regina’s lips as Emma’s eyes flickered over her face.

“You’re kinda cute when you’re demanding.”

Regina’s mouth fell open, wondering if Emma had any idea what the fuck she was doing but then she was slipping out of the bed and digging silently in her suitcase, grabbing her jeans from last night and heading towards the bathroom, Regina trying to pull herself together the whole time. Trying and failing to forget what it had felt like to be wrapped in her strong embrace.

When she heard the bathroom door click shut she fell against the mattress, taking her glasses off with one hand and placing them on the nightstand before she pressed both of her hands to her eyes and let out a frustrated groan.

“Sorry…”

The small shy voice had her jolting up in bed again, seeing Emma standing nervously holding her toiletry bag against her chest. “I-it’s okay, dear.”

Emma looked away, biting her bottom lip before she whispered. “I’m sorry about…this and if I made you uncomfortable…I don’t wanna fuck this up and I feel like–”

Regina held up a hand, quickly silencing Emma as the girl just stared at her, “It’s okay, it was an accident. This never happened, no need to feel guilty.”

Emma nodded, turning slowly to go back into the bathroom but she stopped just before she entered, a shy smile curling on her lips as she whispered, “It was nice though…”

Regina watched her leave, her jaw hanging open as she tried to wrap her head around whatever the fuck had just happened, but all she knew was she couldn’t be there, not with Neal sleeping in the other bed and knowing that Emma was naked in the other room, knowing she had enjoyed cuddling her. Knowing how it felt to be in her arms.

So she rolled off her bed, digging her sweats and sweatshirt from her suitcase, pulling them on over her nightie, and stuffing her bare feet in the flip flops next to her bed before rushing out of the room. She ran her fingers through her hair and tied it up as she went to find breakfast and see what this hotel had to offer to get her mind off of whatever this morning was.

 


 

Neal and Emma found her not long after enjoying breakfast by herself and trying not to freak out about the fact that she was looking like she had just rolled out of bed.

By the look on Neal’s face when he saw her, actually after the three double takes he made after Emma started walking up to her, he was certainly shocked by her appearance.

“Are you feeling okay?” He asked, reaching his hand out as if to check for a fever, but she quickly slapped it away and went back to drowning her emotions in pancakes.

“I’m fine,” She grumbled when his concerned eyes wouldn’t leave hers and she stabbed a strawberry while trying her hardest to avoid imminent doom.

Neal chuckled, grabbing her fork and stabbing one of the strawberries on her plate, completely unbothered by Regina’s deadly glare, instead he only laughed again. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”

Emma seemed to go wide eyed as her eyes flicked between a smirking Neal and a flushed Regina who was either hot with anger or embarrassment or maybe both.

“Get your own food.”

Neal shoved the syrup covered strawberry into his mouth as he looked around for their waiter, Regina snatched back her fork, sending him one last deadly look before her eyes focused back on her nearly empty stack of pancakes, even if she could feel Emma’s eyes burning into her.

Neal chattered about how great a sleep he’d gotten, about how comfortable his bed was and how great the pancakes were and Emma slowly joined in while Regina silently finished her breakfast and downed her third cup of coffee, anxious eyes constantly looking around for anyone who might dare take a picture of her looking like this.

“You look like a scared animal.”

Regina jumped at his words, frightened eyes hardening with a glare before she took her last sip of black coffee and pushed her chair back.

“I’m going to go shower and dress for the day. You two have a great breakfast.”

She felt both their eyes watching her as she left but she ignored them, deciding that a relaxing shower before answering some business emails couldn’t hurt, perhaps she would head to the pool after, if the other two didn’t have any other grand ideas about how she should spend her Monday.

 


 

Once she was showered and changed she grabbed her laptop from her suitcase and took a moment to scan their room, for the first time her eyes really took in the large porch off to the side and since the weather wasn’t too bad she decided to sit out there and check a few emails, maybe read some of the scripts her manager had sent in and just relax .

Hours later, while she was lost in a script and the endless pit that was the internet she heard Emma and Neal return, chatting happily and laughing about something. She glanced towards the door just in time to see them share a brief kiss and something sad twinged in her gut making her look away.

She felt anger boil up, not at anyone else but at herself, she had idiotically developed some type of crush on Emma and now she was officially the worst friend in the history of the planet.

She heard giggling and the quiet sounds of the TV playing in the background and she forced her eyes back to her computer screen, emailing her manager about wanting an audition for the script she had just read, she tried scrolling through her twitter for a little while longer but the constant laughter and chatter from inside was starting to cause an ache in her chest.

“Hey, Regina.”

She jumped, looking over at Neal who peeked his head through the sliding glass door, giving her a kind smile as she arched a brow at him in question.

“Sorry. I just wanted to tell you we were gonna go get lunch if you wanted to join?”

“No, thank you, I had a big breakfast.”

“Alright, see you later, slugger.”

Regina glared at him, feeling that love she had for him push away the negative feelings swirling around her chest. “Be responsible.”

“Try not to scroll through twitter all day.”

Regina rolled her eyes, looking back at her screen while the two left the room together. She answered a new text from Mal and her sister before she remembered her plans of going for a swim and a smile curled on her lips.

A swim was just what she needed.

 


 

Just as they were heading into the dining area for lunch Neal got a call and they stepped into the lobby as he had a hushed conversation with the producers. Emma looked at him curiously as he nodded and responded in vague answers before he looked up at her with big sad eyes, and just like that she knew.

“Of course, I’ll leave right now, I will get there as fast as I can, I promise.”

After a few more moments Neal hung up and Emma sighed, “You have to go.”

“I’m so sorry. I’ll try to make it back tonight then we have the rest of the week together.”

“It’s okay, duty calls,” She offered him a crooked smile, “This just leaves more time for Regina and I to bond without you staring at us.”

Neal laughed, pulling her in for a sweet kiss. “Be careful, that one will eat you alive.”

Emma snorted, or more like choked, as her brain supplied her with images of something that she had never actually thought about before, and she found herself going very red in the face.

“You okay, Em?”

“Yes. But go, sooner you’re outta here the sooner you’re back.”

“Okay, bye.”

“Bye,” Emma said, kissing him one more time before he rushed off to their room and Emma was left wondering what to do next. She had seen something earlier about a gym and she wasn’t really that hungry anymore so she decided to do that.

She followed closely behind Neal as she made her way upstairs, he had just pulled open the door to their room to leave again when Emma had the key card raised and they both let out a laugh and he kissed her on the forehead before slipping past and dashing down the hall.

“Have a great day!” He called and she smiled and waved before slipping back into their room, gathering everything she needed for the gym and heading back out.

 


 

When she arrived at the gym she quickly noticed the treadmills lined up in front of the large windows facing the pool.

Emma placed her bag in the little cubby area and headed towards an empty treadmill, placing her bottle of water in its little holder before she got busy setting everything up.

She was just about to hit start when she saw something move past the glass in front of her and she looked up to see a brunette woman in a red bikini toss a towel onto one of the pool chairs, short dark hair pulled back in a braid drawing Emma’s attention to the woman’s back and shoulder muscles, and Jesus! Have women always had asses that nice?

Emma shook her head, turning her attention back to the treadmill just as the woman looked behind her for a split second and when Emma glanced back up the woman was bending over to look into the blue water of the pool and Emma nearly stumbled over her own feet.

Seriously, were women always this beautiful because she was sure until yesterday they were just .. well, pretty.

“Get a grip, Swan!”

Emma’s eyes still followed the unsuspecting woman as she turned to walk towards the ladder and it was at that moment that Emma got a good look at her profile and her jaw dropped open because of course it was Regina, I mean who else would it be?

Emma felt personally attacked by just how gorgeous Regina was, curvy, muscular, and so fucking hot.

It took Emma until at least her third date with Neal to feel anywhere close to what she was feeling right now. Her heart was hammering in her chest as she watched Regina slowly walking into the pool and she was sure it wasn’t from her workout since she was still practically walking.

She was a fucking mess. And she blamed the incident from this morning.

She hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Regina all day, can’t get the memory of her warmth from her mind. She was intoxicating and Jesus, it was driving her crazy.

Regina finally vanished in the water as she did laps and Emma was able to focus on running…okay so maybe she ran while thinking about Regina, her eyes following her through every lap until her vision blurred as she got lost in thought and just ran.

 


 

Regina could feel eyes on her, it wasn’t something new to her, but when she looked behind her she didn’t expect to find that a very gorgeous and fit blonde woman was the source of such stares, and it was a rather nice feeling. Maybe this would help get her mind off of the other blonde in her life, the one currently dating her brother.

Regina has always liked to tease, it is fun luring them in, it’s like a game of cat and mouse, and she very rarely lost her prey.

So she moved slowly, trying not to lose her mind when she first stepped into the freezing cold water, letting out the smallest gasps but didn’t remove her eyes from the steps, waiting until she was in to mid-thigh before diving under, the cold water wrapping around her and it took only a few seconds before her body got used to the temperature as she began to swim across the empty pool.

After a bit she decided to take a break, stopping at the end of the pool she placed one hand on the edge while the other brushed the loose hairs from her face, her eyes looking up to the treadmills to hopefully catch her admirer in the act, instead her breath caught in her throat when she noticed that the hot blonde watching her had been Emma fucking Swan all along!

She let out a groan and let go of the edge of the pool letting herself sink to the bottom, to let out a scream that she knew the water would muffle.

She was just about to swim to the surface when she felt the water around her shift and suddenly there were hands on her arms pulling at her; she fought against them as they tried to tug her to the surface, her elbow landing against well defined abs before she pushed herself up to the surface, pushing water and hair from her face as she stared down at the figure still underwater holding their side, it only took her a second after noticing the blonde hair and the lack of the woman working out to realize it was Emma.

“Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me.” She muttered, diving back down and grabbing Emma to give her a tug to the surface. “If you drown Neal will fucking kill me,” Regina muttered as she dragged a hacking Emma towards the shallow end of the pool.

“I was trying to save you.”

“I wasn’t drowning, you idiot!”

“I didn’t know that!”

Regina stood up in the water, once again pushing the water from her hair as the slight breeze caused goosebumps to rise on her skin. “I was on the swim team in high school and a lifeguard in college!”

“I didn’t know that!”

“Of course that’s the one thing Neal leaves out.” Regina replied with a roll of her eyes while Emma rubbed at her side and pouted.

“You got really boney elbows, damn.”

Regina’s demeanour softened and she looked down at Emma’s hand, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, you just winded me.”

Regina’s hand reached out, wanting to make sure Emma wasn’t bruised but she stopped midway, shivering slightly. “I’m sorry, I thought you were attacking me.”

“It’s okay, I should know better than to grab a woman whose eyes are closed.” Emma’s lips curled into a smile. “Anyways I’ve had people do worse to me while saving them,” Regina arched a brow and Emma seemed to only grow even more proud of herself, going so far as to puff out her chest as she announced, “I was a lifeguard too.”

Regina couldn’t stop the laughter from escaping, her whole body trembling while Emma just watched her, and though that goddamn pride didn’t leave her for a second, her eyes repeatedly left Regina’s face.

 


 

There was something different about Regina’s laughter, it wasn’t the usual taunting laughter she’s heard directed at Neal the day before. No, this was joy, unrestrained joy, and she was beautiful. She looked so young, so different when she smiled like that, reminding Emma that there was only a couple years between the two of them.

She was once again pulled in by the intoxication of this beautiful mystery of a woman. Her eyes couldn’t help but drink in everything she could see, the way she shook with laughter, the hand moving to cover her lips while her other splayed over her belly.

There was something weirdly intimate about it all, standing this close, both of them sharing a moment of panic and now, joy.

Emma’s smile grew and her eyes travelled up Regina’s body, heading back to gaze upon her smiling face but she got sidetracked by surprisingly defined abs and her apple red bikini.

Emma didn’t know why she was unable to pry her eyes away from Regina’s chest as it shook with laughter, as her breath seemed to catch and hold for a second and then begin to calm again; her eyes just couldn’t stop drinking in the cleavage, and suddenly she felt like she was drowning again as she noticed the woman’s nipples peeking through the fabric.

Nobody ever told her it was this hard, that breasts could be so blah, that nipples could be so that, and Jesus! Emma didn’t know how to look away, she was gawking like a teenage boy, and she didn’t know how to make it stop!

Emma, ” her eyes finally snapped away from the smooth sound of her name falling from Regina’s lips and when their eyes locked she was sure she had stopped breathing. “You are shivering.”

“I’m not cold.”

Regina chuckled, moving past Emma to wrap her hand around her elbow for a second as she listened. “Trust me, you are.”

And while Emma gaped after her like a fish out of water (which was rather ironic considering where she currently was standing) Regina headed towards the stairs and climbed out of the pool, heading towards her towel sitting on one of the chairs, and after a few long seconds of enjoying the view like a teenage boy again, Emma followed after her.

“I did not plan on swimming.”

Regina chuckled and unwrapped the towel from around herself and handed it to Emma. “Now we’re even.”

Emma looked at her dumbly but took the towel as she wrapped it around her body, slowly lowering herself to the seat while Regina walked off in search of a towel for herself. “How do you swim in that?”

Regina shrugged, finding a little cubby that housed a few towels before she wrapped her own around her shoulders and headed back towards Emma, lowering herself into the chair across from her. “I’m from New York.”

“Boston.”

Regina frowned at her, “Well, maybe I’m just used to it.”

“I didn’t swim during winter like you probably did.”

Regina hummed, looking around them. “I thought you were going to lunch with Neal?”

“He got called back to work, looks like it’s just the two of us for the rest of today.”

It shouldn’t be so cute to look so utterly shocked, and perhaps scared, and maybe it would’ve hurt if Emma didn’t understand why she looked that way.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, should be fun?”

“Sorry for interrupting your workout then.”

Emma chuckled, thinking back to her disastrous attempt of a workout. “It’s alright. This is better.”

Regina offered her a shy smile and pulled the towel tighter around her body, the silence settling over them and maybe it was weird that it wasn’t awkward, but Regina’s presence, although rather intimidating and intoxicating, was also soothing, and so they sat in silence together for who knows how long, randomly talking here and there, but mostly they focused on warming up and just trying to subtly check out the other.

 


 

Emma wiggled her toes in her soggy runners, a frown pulling down her lips as she stared down at her soaked feet and tried her best to keep out the cold. Regina was tucked under the large towel, contorting her body in such a way that the only thing visible was her head and toes.

She felt her shoes squish under her feet and she wrinkled her nose in disgust, feeling a pair of eyes on her long before she heard the stifled giggle. It’s what she gets for jumping recklessly into a pool with her runners still on her feet.

“Why don’t you take them off?”

Emma looked up at the smooth voice, she could hear the humour and annoyance in her tone and it made a smile twitch on her lips before she stuck her foot on Regina’s pool chair and began undoing them, taking joy in the little utterances of annoyance.

“You’re so immature.”

Emma looked up at her, dropping her wet sock and shoe on the floor as she regarded Regina’s crinkled nose and pursed lips. “And you’re such a snob.”

Regina gasped and shoved Emma’s leg playfully, and then to Emma’s shock she grabbed her leg and tugged it into her lap to pull the laces free. “You’re shivering. Why don’t you take off some of your soaked clothes before you get sick?”

“You asking me to strip for you, Mills? What would Neal think?”

Regina glared up at her and Emma let the towel fall before she pulled her t-shirt over her head and tossed it with her sneakers before wrapping herself up in her towel again.

“You are such a reckless idiot.”

“It’s how us Gryffindors roll, baby.”

Regina’s glare intensified and Emma felt chills travel down her spine and prickle on her skin. “Do not call me baby, ever again, Miss Swan, understood?”

Emma gulped and nodded, being thrown off balance as Regina ripped off her shoe and tossed it on the floor and Emma took her foot back to remove her sock before she curled up in her towel like Regina had been until she decided to remove Emma’s shoe. “Sorry.”

Regina huffed, pulling her towel tighter around her and Emma watched closely the resulting troubling emotions on her face. “It’s okay. My ex called me baby, I hated it but well,” She shrugged, “I wasn’t very outspoken when I was younger.”

“And you’re old now?”

“Twelve years makes all the difference, dear.”

“I guess…” Her nose scrunched up as she thought about where she might be 12 years from now, would she still be with Neal? She felt something twist in her gut, her urges to run for the hills burning a fire in her belly suddenly. “I always thought I’d have my own family by now or at least had found my birth parents…”

“And you don’t want that anymore? Your own family of course.”

Emma shrugged, “I’m so young, I barely had a childhood growing up in the system, I barely know who I am most of the time…”

“I understand that. I spent most of my life under my mother’s thumb, it wasn’t until I moved away from home that I really started to figure out who I was…which my mother still isn’t happy about.”

Emma saw that distant look in her eyes again and then the next second Regina’s eyes were locked onto hers again and none of that sorrow could be seen. I guess it’s just proof of how great an actress she was.

“My adoptive mother, she keeps telling me to have fun, to live, but it’s hard to forget those protections I put up as a kid. I don’t think I’m actually capable of really letting loose.”

“She’s right, you shouldn’t be tying yourself down right now if that doesn’t feel right for you. Live the life you want, not the one you think you’re supposed to be living.”

Emma chuckled, poking Regina’s exposed knee as she teased, “pretty sure as Neal’s best friend you’re not supposed to be encouraging me to dump him.”

Regina’s eyes watched her hand as it retracted back around her towel, her eyes burning into Emma’s skin before they traveled up to meet her own eyes, studying her silently, really considering her next words.

“I think as his best friend I should want what’s best for him, and you settling because you think you have to will only hurt him in the end. Neal is very loving, he cares with his whole heart, if he loves you,” Regina shook her head at herself. “He is known for moving fast, I understand that, I’ve talked him out of engagement rings one too many times already. He is looking for a family, something he never really had. So if that’s not what you want right now, you should tell him.”

“I don’t know what I want right now…” Regina let out a hum, looking around slowly, her short nails scraping against the fabric of the towel. “Actually, I do know what I wanna do.”

Regina looked up at her, brow raising in question as her eyes studied Emma’s face closely.

“I wanna get out of these wet clothes and then get something to eat because I skipped lunch and suddenly I could really go for a burger.”

Regina rolled her eyes, the towel falling around her waist as she combed the loose hairs from her face. “Are you asking me to dinner?”

“Well, we are here to bond, aren’t we?”

Regina’s lips curled into a devilish smile, “if we eat at the restaurant here we can charge it to Neal’s credit card.”

“I like the way you think, Mills.”

Regina rolled her eyes but still slowly stood up, eyes looking for her bag while Emma fully took in the lean form standing before her.

She was beautiful, muscular, and seriously cold, which again, was not something Emma needed to notice; she definitely should not be staring so obviously at the other woman’s chest.

“If you’re done staring at my breasts, Miss Swan I suggest you go collect your things and head back to the room.”

“I–”

“I’ll see you upstairs, dear,” Regina’s voice floated into her ears and Emma barely registered it before she watched her walk away, bag tossed over her shoulder and hips swaying.

Emma wasn’t even mad though because sure she’d have to wait to shower but the view of Regina walking away was too nice to really complain.

Wait.

Is that weird to think?

Emma shook her head at her thoughts, trying not to picture Regina every time she blinked but yeah, she did not succeed there, the woman didn’t leave her mind the whole time she gathered up her belongings and got back to their room.

Even staying with her the 30 minutes Regina took in the bathroom and through Emma’s shower. Honestly, she’s never spent this much time thinking about Neal and she was beginning to question why that was.

 


 

Regina had her leg pulled up to her chest as she quickly typed away on her computer, answering yet another email from her manager, so engrossed in the contract she was reading she didn’t hear Emma exit the bathroom, didn’t even notice her presence until a flash of red leather passed by her line of sight.

Her eyes slowly travelled up, moving the divider further out of the way as she studied the woman before her, an eyebrow raised in question. “What are you wearing?”

Emma looked up from where she was tying up shoes, an adorable frown on her face. “A jacket?”

Regina’s nose scrunched up and she moved her eyes back to her computer, typing some more, altogether ignoring Emma and her eyesore of a jacket.

“Shouldn’t you put on your shoes?”

“They’re over there,” She gestured vaguely towards her bed while she bit her bottom lip, eyes scanning a line over a few times. “It’ll only take me a second to put them on.”

“What’re you working on?”

Regina hummed, making another note to the contract sent in before she sent the email back to her manager, blinking when she looked up to see Emma holding her heels and standing in front of her. “Oh!”

“Sorry, I was just gonna bring them closer for you to slip on while you worked.”

“Th-thank you, dear.”

Emma offered her a shy smile before she placed them on the floor and moved to busy herself with something else, Regina noticing that her hideous red jacket brought out the blush in her cheeks.

Emma was a curious thing, Regina didn’t quite understand her but one thing was becoming very obvious to her, Emma was definitely not straight.

 


 

Emma led the way to a large blue couch by the back window that overlooked the room, her eyes taking in the few people around them as she lowered herself onto the couch.

Regina looked around, lips pursed before she slowly lowered herself closer to the edge of the couch leaving a few feet between them but not so much space they weren’t sharing a table.

The small upstairs area seemed to be mostly casual dining, comfy couches and chairs around wooden coffee tables were what mainly decorated the small space besides the marble bar that was already filled by everyone who got there before them.

It was peaceful, intimate even, the light chatter of easy conversation barely heard over the smooth music played from the speakers. It probably was incorrect to call this place a restaurant, it reminded Emma more of a longue back in LA or the outdoor patio at a pub that was trying to bring in new clientele.

It made Emma feel more relaxed, feeling a sense of comfort she hadn’t felt much this weekend since Regina just kept her on her toes with just…everything.

Regina seemed relaxed too, reading through the drink menu, her foot hanging in the air from her legs crossed over the other was absentmindedly bobbing to the beat of the music.

“See anything you like?”

Regina’s eyes jumped up from the menu and regarded Emma for a second, like she was debating on how to answer before doing so. “They have a few nice wines, they also have some beers if you prefer that.”

“No, no, I like wine.” Emma couldn’t help but laugh at the surprised look on Regina’s face which quickly changed the look to a glare with the slightest hint of confusion. “I’m an enigma, Mills.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?”

“Why do you keep calling me ‘Miss Swan’?”

Regina’s lips pursed in thought before she looked back down at the menu, eyes scanning over the wines. “Red or White?”

“Red.”

Regina nodded, “Are you good with me picking or do you not trust I know my stuff.”

“If you do, you gotta swirl the wine and taste it like a snobby white man trying to impress his date.”

Regina’s lips curled into a crocodile smile, “Just say act like Neal next time, Miss Swan.”

Emma barked out a laugh and waved down the waiter that seemed to be waiting for some sign that they wanted to order.

“What can I get you this evening?” Emma looked towards Regina and the young woman followed, both listening to Regina’s wine selection, “that’s a very fine pick. I’ll bring it out for you in just a moment. Would you two also be eating with us this evening?”

“Yup!” Emma smiled brightly, almost certain her stomach started growling at just the mention of food.

“I’ll bring you both menus as well.”

“Thank you,” they chorused, sharing a smile with each other as the waitress walked off.

A few minutes later the young woman came out with a bottle of wine and two glasses she carefully set down before pouring a small amount in Regina’s glass, and to Emma’s surprise and utter enjoyment Regina slowly swirled the wine in her glass and took a slow sip.

And where it was usually the most annoying thing she’s ever seen a man do, there was something so sexy about Regina doing it. Maybe it was the way her eyes closed to really enjoy the flavours, or maybe it was how she still so delicately held the wine in her raised hand, or maybe actually it was how she licked her lips and let out a thoughtful hum after taking the sip.

“Yes, this is perfect. Thank you.”

The waitress blinked at her, seemingly stunned, and okay maybe Emma wasn’t the only one completely enthralled by what the hell had just happened, but to her credit, the waitress did recover long before Emma did. Actually Emma didn’t fully recover until the food menu was placed in her lap.

“You’re drooling.” Regina’s voice met her ears, teasing and deep and Emma really was shocked to find she wasn’t actually drooling when she checked, which made Regina chuckle low and deep and Emma’s brain exploded.

Why she ever thought men were attractive before was suddenly a mystery to her, because Jesus women made everything so much better.

 


 

After they ate the food Emma had chosen at Regina’s command, since she had chosen the wine, Emma was pretty sure it was a test that she apparently passed because once the lounge started to get busy Regina suggested they move to the rooftop terrace she had learnt about early that morning.

Emma was smart enough to not bring up that the reason she learnt about such rooftop was because she had ran off after their accidental cuddling, because she’s pretty sure if she brought it up, Regina would’ve found a way to murder her in that tiny elevator and get away with it.

Regina had her half empty glass of wine dangling from her fingers and their nearly empty bottle of wine in the other.

It was ridiculous how distinguished she looked while Emma was sporting a rather bright blush, from the wine or just Regina being, Emma’s not even sure, charming? Sexy? Wonderful? Fucking fantastic?

Seriously Emma could spend all night talking to this woman, and that should probably be a little frightening considering she was dating someone, and she hasn’t felt that way about this person in months.

Regina placed the bottle of wine on the table before lowering herself on one of the large chairs near the back and away from the edge.

Emma lowered herself into the chair across from her as she pulled her legs under her on the big chair, looking up to notice Regina had also kicked off her heels and was curled up on her seat, casually sipping her wine as she looked out across the night sky.

Emma studied the way the string of lights cast shadows over Regina’s features, her hair draped over one shoulder and her thumb brushing over the lip of her wineglass where it rested on her knee.

“What’re you thinking about?”

Regina’s lips pursed in thought, a small content sigh leaving her lips as she turned to flash Emma a relaxed smile. “That I haven’t had a night this nice in maybe years.”

“Same…” Regina arched a brow and Emma shrugged, “I don’t have a lot of girl friends,” Regina’s lips quirked up and Emma sent her a glare. “Girls that are friends, not girlfriends. Although I’m starting to–”

Regina turned her body to face Emma more, looking suddenly serious as she asked, “Starting to what?”

Emma knew what she was trying to get her to finish, she knew Regina knew exactly what she was going to say but still she shook her head. “Nothing, it’s not important.”

Emma expected Regina to push, but she just nodded and went back to staring at the stars. “I’ve always loved the night sky. When I was a little girl I used to sneak out of my room in the middle of the night and lay out on the lawn and just stare up at the sky…well, when we were in our summer home that is.”

“Yeah? I prefer the mornings. The night is pretty but I was scared of the dark until I was adopted. My therapist says it was because I never really felt safe or secure until Ingrid took me in. But mornings, when the sun first peeked out over the horizon and the birds started singing and everyone was still asleep. I used to get a lot done in those hours, it was the only time I had alone when I was in most homes.”

“That sounds beautiful.”

Emma looked at her thoughtfully, “You act like you’ve never seen a sunrise before.”

Regina laughed, low and musical, full of an emotion Emma couldn’t pinpoint. “I meant feeling safe and secure.”

Emma remembered last night, Regina’s obvious fear as she had leaned closer, her voice low as she asked, or more like stated, “You’ve never felt that?”

Regina turned to her, eyes sparkling with unshed tears, her fingers brushing against the stem of her glass as she spoke. “I did once,” her smile was thoughtful, her eyes distant and as quick as that moment of stunning vulnerability was there, it was blinked away and replaced with a mischievous smile. “And then I realized it was my best friend’s girlfriend cuddling me and everything shattered.”

Emma saw the truth under that immediately, but she decided to leave it, to let herself feel warmth at the thought that she had given Regina comfort, for even a second, but act as if nothing was revealed.

“What’s your favourite thing about the night?”

“The quiet. The constellations.” She pursed her lips, turning away from Emma again. “Nobody is around to judge me. The world is asleep and I can just, be .”

“I bet you get a lot of reading done.”

“I mean it’s the best time to read.”

“You’re such a Ravenclaw.”

Regina breathed out a laugh, “And you’re such a nerd.”

Emma smiled at her, reaching out for the bottle of wine as Regina took her last sip, offering to refill Regina’s glass before refilling her own.

“You have excellent manners though.”

“Thank you, M’lady.”

Regina rolled her eyes but Emma could see the small smile on her lips that she quickly tried to hide behind her glass of wine.

They talked for what felt like hours, sharing things they had probably never shared with another soul in their lives. They laughed and teased and tested each other, Emma nearly melting into goo on the floor when Regina recited the whole periodic table from memory and Regina gazed a burning hole into Emma’s back as Emma did the push-ups Regina made her prove she could do.

“We have to make this more challenging,” Regina stated, unimpressed, and Emma knew from the tone of her voice that she was toast; when she felt a foot press against her thin tank top she nearly face planted and Regina laughed and taunted, and Emma couldn’t let her win.

“Sit on me.”

“I am not going to sit on you.” Regina laughed, removing her foot and Emma stopped midair to look up at her.

“I dare you to sit on me.”

One thing Emma learnt that evening was that Regina could never pass up a challenge of any kind, so Regina huffed and grumbled about not taking care of Emma if she got hurt before lowering herself on Emma’s back. She let out a surprised and excited squeal as Emma moved, doing three more push ups before stopping because she wanted to win, not pull something.

After she stopped, Regina just lowered herself on the ground next to her and stared up at the lights shining above them.

“You’re an idiot.” She whispered and Emma glanced over at her face and couldn’t help but smile widely, feeling content to just lay next to someone on a probably dirty floor for hours if they could.

But eventually their bubble was burst by a few people finally wandering up to their little hideaway and Regina was up off the floor so fast Emma was almost sure she could move at hyper speed.

“We should go back to our room, it’s getting late,” Regina said as she collected their glasses and the empty bottle and Emma nodded and followed after her, the silence staying with them until they were safely inside the elevator and then Regina started giggling. “If my mother found out about this…”

“If my mom found out she’d give me a present for actually socializing.”

“My mother only awards me if I do the things she wanted me to do in life, but since I have no intention of marrying a nice man or becoming president, I fear I’ll always be a massive disappointment to her.”

Emma watched her silently for a few seconds, wondering what that might mean and just as she was about to say something the elevator dinged and opened the doors to their floor. “C’mon, Miss Swan, you don’t want to be stuck on another ride.”

“Right.” Emma breathed and followed her back to their room, Regina put the bottle and the glasses by the little kitchen area while Emma moved to get ready for bed and once again Regina busied herself on the computer.

Neither said much else to each other as they went about their business, last thing Emma said before she crawled into bed was that she had checked the doors and windows and then she wished Regina a goodnight, placing a bottle of water by Regina’s bed, receiving a small thank you and goodnight in response from the woman in the bed next to her.

 


 

Regina had tossed and turned for hours but still she was unable to fall asleep. Her thoughts were rushing by a mile a minute, going over what had happened today, what she had thought about doing a million times this evening, about the feelings she felt gripping around her heart for the one person she absolutely should not be having feelings for.

Her brain went over everything said, every look Emma had given her, studying it for anything, going over what she had said in that stupid elevator. Sure it wasn’t explicitly “hey, I’m a lesbian,” but it was enough ammo for Emma to use against her, for her to accidentally let slip and then her life would crumble at her feet.

Her mind wouldn’t let her sleep and all she could focus on was Emma’s sleeping form which was not good for her. Especially not when she was leaving in the afternoon for an audition and her mind was stuck in dreamer mode, wondering, wanting, and then dismantling itself so expertly she could barely hold back tears.

So after three hours of self-torment she pulled herself out from bed, grabbing the throw blanket from the couch and wrapping it around herself as she made her way to the little kitchenette and prepared herself some tea.

Digging out her kindle from the mess that was her usually so organized suitcase, she grabbed a large sweater tossed over the couch and pulled it on as she moved to the balcony. Her tea and kindle in hand as she lowered herself on the deck chair, wrapped snugly in her blanket as she tried to lose herself in the written word instead of her own mind.

 


 

Emma awoke sometime in the early morning, once again to use the bathroom, but in the way out she noticed the door to the balcony was open and she could see a dim light reflecting off the glass, one look at Regina’s bed told her exactly who was out there so without a second thought she made her way over.

She tapped lightly on the glass before pushing the door open just enough to poke her head through, large brown eyes rose to meet hers over the rim of dark glasses and Emma couldn’t help the smile that curled on her lips at the sight.

“You okay?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

Emma nodded, slipping through the door, and pulling the door back to where it was when she got there. 

“How long have you been out here?” Emma asked, her eyes skimming over Regina, taking in the blanket and what looked like her favourite Bruins sweater on the other woman, a curious yet fond smile on her face as she slowly met Regina’s eyes again when she heard her beginning to speak.

“About an hour or so.” Regina’s eyes looked her over, trying to understand why Emma was also up. “Had to pee again?”

“I had a lot to drink before bed!”

Regina chuckled, gesturing vaguely to the chair next to her and Emma looked at the bare chair, a chill running through her body at the cold morning air, it took one glance at the blanket covering Regina for Emma to sit at the end of the chair and pull the blanket over her bare legs.

Regina’s toes poked her knees and the woman let out an annoyed huff but besides that, she said nothing, just went back to reading her book and Emma stared out at the slowly lightening sky.

“I guess you can definitely say you’ve seen a sunrise now.”

Regina’s toes poked her, but it was the light thunk of her kindle being placed on the table that brought Emma’s attention back to her, noticing eyes studying her thoughtfully.

Regina adjusted her glasses and shifted to look around Emma, a smirk curling on her lips as she teased. “I can’t see much around your big head.”

“Shut up.” Emma whined, sticking her tongue out at Regina, which only made the other woman smirk wider. After a few moments she captured her bottom lip between her teeth, taking in Emma’s face for a few long seconds making Emma feel off balance.

“I see you wore your glasses to the bathroom today.” She finally said and all tension was released from Emma’s body and she finally felt like she was on solid ground again.

“Didn’t think it was wise to make that mistake again.”

“It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve been subjected to.”

“Oh? What, you missed my strong arms holding you tightly as you slept?”

Regina shoved her knee roughly as Emma laughed at the stubborn pout on Regina’s lips. “Please don’t get an even bigger head, you’re too pretty for that.”

“You think I’m pretty?”

Regina shoved her again and Emma grabbed onto her toes over the blanket. “Hey!”

“Stop kicking me and I’ll let go!”

“Get your own chair and I’ll stop kicking you.”

“Nope.” Regina frowned and Emma pulled Regina’s foot into her lap, uncovering it from under the blanket she slowly began to massage it, and Emma could feel the moment Regina began to relax. “So, why don’t you tell me about why you couldn’t sleep?”

“I was thinking…”

“About?”

“Today, tomorrow, 5 years ago…5 years from now.”

“What about today has your mind running in circles?” Emma asked, her ears perking up at the little sigh she heard from Regina as she pressed down against the arch of her foot.

“It’s stupid and nothing.”

“How about I share with you my stupid nothing then maybe you might feel comfortable enough to share yours.”

“If you’d like, but I make no promises, dear.”

“I know.” Emma glanced over at her, seeing Regina’s eyes closed and a look of bliss on her face, and it made Emma’s stomach do flips so she focused back on the foot in her hands as she confessed. “What I wanted to say earlier, well, I’m hoping this won’t make you uncomfortable but, I think I’m starting to realize I might be not as straight as I thought I was 72 hours ago and–”

She felt eyes on her and she looked up, meeting Regina’s understanding eyes, “and erm I think a lot of that has to do with you…” Regina’s eyebrows shot up, her mouth dropping open the slightest bit as she stared at her. “Okay, it has everything to do with you. Before I met you I was sure I was straight and now…gosh this is so fucking weird and inappropriate but–”

“Emma,” Regina whispered and Emma’s eyes locked on hers, her hands stopping their massage and slowly Regina sat up and Emma was sure she was going to get told off, but instead a delicate hand was placed over her own and Emma’s heart rate picked up to a near deadly rate. “It’s okay. I understand.”

“You do? Like how understand? Like you get this all the time, you turn girls gay on the daily understand or–”

Regina’s laugh cut her off and Emma was lost in the sound and her gaze. “Earlier, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about you. And I know it’s horrible and I’m definitely going to hell for this but–”

“You’re not going to hell.”

Regina’s smile was gentle, beautiful and vulnerable in a way Emma hadn’t witnessed from her yet and Emma stopped breathing as Regina’s hand cupped her cheek, her thumb brushing gently over her cheekbone as she whispered into the slowly rising sun. “You’re sweet.”

“You’re beautiful…like the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I think I want to kiss you…”

“You think?”

Emma chuckled, but Regina shifted closer, the pull between them like a magnet they couldn’t resist. “I know.”

“I dare you to–” the rest of Regina’s taunt was cut off as Emma pressed their lips together and instantly Regina embraced it, her fingers threading through Emma’s hair and pulling her closer by the base of her skull and Emma felt like she was floating and drowning all at once.

Kissing a woman was, holy shit, Emma didn’t have words to describe it, her stomach was doing somersaults in her belly at the feeling of Regina’s soft lips on hers, and she felt tingles run down her spine and spread out across her body. It was nothing like any kiss she’d ever had before and she never wanted it to stop.

Regina’s tongue expertly swiped over her lips and Emma’s hands found her hips, tugging her closer to her body as she opened her mouth to allow Regina full access, and everything in her shot to life at the feeling of Regina’s tongue against her own. She was slow, tentative, like she didn’t want to scare Emma off but as sweet as it was, Emma needed more.

Emma took over the kiss, becoming more confident and Regina let her, let Emma follow her retreating tongue into her own mouth, and Emma couldn’t help but moan as Regina’s hands tightened in her hair, the older woman rising higher and Emma took that moment to tug on her hips until Regina fully settled herself in Emma’s lap.

The kiss was, Emma had never gotten so turned on from just a kiss before, the feeling of Regina’s weight on her lap and her bare thighs and calves pressed against Emma’s made her stomach flip and drop.

Regina’s hips rolled against her and Emma felt her moan rumble out of her chest and into her mouth and all Emma could do was moan in response.

Regina’s hands were cradling the back of Emma’s neck and she wasn’t sure why such a simple gesture made her feel so grounded, but it did. Regina’s thumb brushed against Emma’s jaw and Emma felt safe in the arms of another person for the first time in her life, all she knew in this moment was that she didn’t want it to end.

 


 

Regina gasped when Emma’s hands slipped past her waist, gripping her ass and pulling her closer still, Emma’s tongue brushed against her lip scar and she felt her head lull back as she tried to catch her breath, Emma’s lips finding her jaw and neck and pulling a deep moan out of her.

She should stop this, she knew, it was stupid and reckless, but she had been thinking about doing this with Emma all day, and she felt she would explode if she stopped, and so, not wanting to risk it, she leaned back down to catch Emma’s lips again. Emma let out a content little sound in her mouth and Regina felt her stomach twist again. She was just so intoxicating, beautifully intoxicating and Regina was ready to drown in her.

“Jesus, Regina…” Emma breathed against her lips and Regina’s stomach flipped again.

“Shh,” Regina said and Emma chuckled into the kiss, pulling Regina closer before her hands moved down to grip the back of her thighs. “Fuck.”

“Shh,” Emma taunted her back and Regina couldn’t help but laugh into the kiss.

Regina had never felt so free while kissing another person, it was dangerous, she knew that, but god she couldn’t think much past Emma, Emma, Emma.

She was on cloud nine.

The world disappeared around her, all she could taste, smell, feel was Emma, all she could hear was her small sighs. It was like a beautiful song that she never wanted to stop hearing.

But alas, like all good things in her life, this too would come to an end, this time in the sound of an all too familiar voice calling out in the empty room, “you guys in here?!”

Regina sprang away from Emma so fast you’d think she’d been burnt, her eyes wide and panicked and a hand pressed firmly against her kissed swollen lips as Emma blinked away her haze and stood from the deck chair, staring down at Regina’s huddled form pressed as far away from her as she could.

“Oh god…”

Neither was sure who said it but Regina felt tears burning her eyes, from shame but also at the cruel reminder that Emma wasn’t hers to kiss, to want. She couldn’t hurt Neal like that, he was the only family she had that really loved all of her and Emma’s eyes were sad and understanding as they locked onto hers.

Emma opened her mouth to say something but before she could the door to the balcony slid open and Neal’s head peeked through the space. “Hey, what’re you two doing out here? It’s freezing out.”

“I just needed some fresh air and Emma came out to check on me.”

Emma nodded, turning away from her and offering Neal a wild smile. “How was the reshoot?”

“Good, we got everything we needed.” Neal moved to the chair next to Regina, the one she had originally offered to Emma, and both suddenly wished she had taken it. “Did you two have a fun day without me?”

“Yeah, we got dinner and just talked.”

“I’m glad!” Neal beamed, reaching out for Emma’s hand and tugging her into his lap and Regina had to look away.

“I-I should try and get some sleep…” Regina finally spoke, slowly pulling herself from the chair, her smile as if she hadn’t just made out with her big brother’s girlfriend. “I have a plane to catch this evening.”

“What?”

“You’re leaving?”

Regina’s eyes instantly met Emma’s sad ones and she looked away, “yeah, I have to read for a part in a new show, I got the official offer last night.”

“You didn’t–”

“It was before bed.” Regina cut her off and Emma nodded, eyes still sad and Regina couldn’t stand looking at them anymore. “Goodnight.”

“Night, slugger.” He said with a chuckle just as she got to the door and it made something painful twist and sink in her gut. 

“I’m sorry” she whispered, looking back at Emma, feeling her heart break at once.

“What for?” He asked, confused.

She pasted on a practiced smile and turned to look at him, “for having to leave so soon?”

“It’s okay, I’ll see you at Christmas.”

Regina nodded, “Goodnight, Miss Swan,” she breathed with a slight glance over her shoulder before she entered the hotel room and made a beeline for the bed, burrowing herself under the covers and crying as quietly as she could until sleep finally gave her a few hours of peace.

 


 

Regina slipped out when Emma and Neal were off to lunch, leaving a note on the bed wishing them goodbye. One part of her wishes she had gotten one last moment with Emma before leaving, to explain herself, to make sure she was okay, but she knew she couldn’t trust herself around the other woman, not when her heart was still thudding wildly in her chest at just the thought of her. She couldn’t risk seeing her again, being alone with her again, not when she still felt her kiss burning her lips.

It was better this way anyways, she would have time to get past this before she saw either of them again, maybe she would see Emma for Christmas and they could just pretend none of this ever happened. Maybe Emma will have moved on by then.

Except Regina would later find out Emma had broken up with Neal a few weeks after their kiss, something about having to find herself, and of course Regina felt responsible in more than one way about his heartbreak, so she helped him through it, like she always did, and after a few months they barely talked about Emma anymore, and after a few years Emma was no more than a passing thought in her mind…or at least that’s what she tried to tell herself.

In truth, Regina thought about Emma all the time; whenever she saw the sunrise, whenever she was out to dinner and witnessed a man obnoxiously tasting the wine for his date; whenever the State of Texas or NASCAR was mentioned. Sometimes, when she was feeling particularly self destructive, she liked to torment herself by wearing the sweater she had accidentally stolen from Emma and watching reruns of her shows when they came on, imagining it was her in there with her characters, talking to her, looking at her in the eyes, touching her. Emma eventually got a pretty good role on a medical series not long after they had met, and Regina made sure to watch it everytime she had the chance, it was a cruel form of torture but she deserved to suffer after what she’d done. She doubted she would see Emma in person again, that she would have the chance to apologize, or that Emma would even want to see her or talk to her; and so this was the closest she dreamed of ever getting to be with the blonde again.

Chapter Text

February 1st, 2016

 

 

Regina woke up to the loud blaring of her cellphone on her bedside table. She squinted her eyes open as the blurry haze of daylight shone out from behind her blackout curtains, an annoyed groan echoing through the room as she rolled over on her large bed in search of her phone.

“What?” She demanded after the few failed attempts at locating and answering the phone.

“Happy Birthday, Sissy Poo!”

“Fuck off.”

Zelena’s obnoxious laugh was heard through the phone and Regina let out another groan as she flopped on her back while her other hand blindly searched for her glasses case. “Don’t be such a grump, Regina, it’s your birthday! The big 3-2!”

“30 was big, 32 is just old.”

“Well now you fuck off. You still look 12.”

Regina mumbled something incoherent even to her own ears as she put on her glasses, narrowly missing putting out her own eye. “Why must you call me at such a god awful hour?”

There was a long pause that was soon followed by Zelena’s laughter again and Regina frowned as she pulled her phone away from her face to check the time, hearing Zelena’s voice just as her eyes adjusted on the bright screen.

“It’s 11:46.”

“It doesn’t feel like it!”

“Were you up all night stressing about getting that role again?”

“No.” She pouted, “It’s not easy to find lead roles as a Latina woman, Zelena, you wouldn’t understand.”

“I know.”

Regina sat up, stretching one arm as a frown pulled down her features. “Why are you calling me? We’re going out for dinner later, I thought you preferred to harass me in person for optimal embarrassment opportunities?”

“I do.”

Regina could hear the smile in her voice and with Zelena that just made everything even more suspicious. “What’re you up to?”

Zelena chuckled, or cackled? She wasn’t sure but it reminded her of Zelena’s stint as Elphaba a few years ago.

“Okay, spill. Why did you really call me?”

Zelena huffed, “you just have to ruin all my fun.”

Her pout was obvious, even through the phone, her sister was overdramatic in every way possible which made her choice of acting obvious to everyone in the family, now with Regina they all just had assumed she’d be the good politician their mother had been training her to be since before she was even born.

“Zelena…”

“I got a certain email this morning and since we share a manager…”

“Zelena.” This was a warning, and it only made her laugh again.

“You got the part!”

“What?”

“You got the part, you idiot!” Regina pulled the phone from her ear and blinked down at it, certain she’d heard her wrong. “You’re playing Roni Perez you fucking wanker!”

“You’re lying.”

“Check your email if you don’t believe me.”

Regina put her phone on speaker without another word and clicked on her email app, she waited as it loaded and then scrolled up until she saw the email from her manager and her jaw dropped open. “Holy shit.”

“Happy Birthday, Roni!”

An excited laugh burst out of her mouth, her hand quickly moving to cover her surprise as she stared down at it. “I really got it…”

“I don’t know why you doubted it, you told me you had stunned the casting team stupid.”

“Well, it could have been from how horrible my audition was.”

“I don’t think you can have a bad audition.”

Finally something struck Regina and she froze. “Wait, why did they tell you first?”

“Oh, I auditioned for the role of the director, did I not tell you? My bad.”

“Zelena!”

“C’mon, aren’t you excited to get to work with your big sis?!”

“This is the worst day of my life.” She grumbled as she flopped back against the mattress, hearing Zelena laughing at her once again.

“Pretty sure you said it was the day you were born; and then again when you were five and mother got you etiquette classes instead of an Easy-Bake Oven.”

Regina smirked to herself, thinking about how that had oddly worked in her favour, as she remembered her first kiss at a sleepover with one of the girls from the class. “No, this is way worse.”

“You’re such an ass. Now, get your behind out of bed, it is afternoon, you don’t want mother to find out you slept in when she calls later.”

Regina felt a shiver go through her at the thought. “She can always tell.”

“I swear that woman is a witch.”

“She’s definitely a bitch.”

Zelena once again laughed but for once not at her sake, and it made Regina smile proudly at herself. “I’m telling mother you said that.”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Oh bloody hell, my trainer is here. I’ll see you tonight, wanker.”

“Goodbye, jackass.”

Regina smiled to herself as Zelena wished her another happy birthday and hung up.

As the silence settled upon her, Regina looked down at her email again and a squeal was let out as she finally let herself truly react to the news.

“Best. Birthday. Ever!”

A few moments of excited laughter later Regina leaped out of bed, dancing her way to the bathroom to get ready for the day before the excitement wore off and the horrific reminder that she was not a morning person sunk in, and she was back to groaning. The next word out of her mouth was ‘Coffee’ which sounded too much like a zombie on search for brains to be anything but good.

 


 

It was about a little over a week later when the table read was scheduled, the first time Regina would meet all the people with whom she might just spend the next 6 years of her life with, or maybe just the next few months, you never knew in this industry.

It was as exciting as it was nerve-wracking. Zelena was the only one she knew who had been cast, gossip blogs hadn’t leaked anything yet and her manager refused to “ruin the surprise” so she was going in blind. She could only hope that if this show got picked up she’d at least like some of her castmates.

She and Zelena arrived at the studio early, not that Zelena wanted to, more like Regina dragged her. She may not be a morning person but she refused to be late. Unlike her sister the diva, who always liked to make an entrance. 

They mostly talked amongst themselves until people started wandering in, first was one of the directors, coming in looking worse for wear, a mug of steaming coffee in one hand and a heavy looking binder in the other.

He was followed closely behind by a frazzled looking young writer carrying stacks of papers and behind her was one of the writers’ assistants who was scrambling around placing down freshly printed out scripts looking like she had had about as little sleep as the poor writers muttering to themselves at the other end of the table.

“What have they done to these poor children?”

“Thank you,” Regina smiled politely at the young PA as she blushed at Zelena’s comment. “Ignore her, she was raised by wolves.”

“We were raised by the same mother!”

“My point exactly.”

The girl giggled and went back to laying out the last scripts before scurrying out again. And with her departure came a few actors one after the other. Regina recognized the Show Runners, Mary Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan, as soon as they entered the room together, Zelena went off to schmooze with their fellow cast members leaving Regina alone sipping from her venti espresso.

She eventually stood from her seat, thinking it was best to mingle, deciding to get to know her bosses before they were all too busy with the show, she made her way over to the couple who sat talking quietly to themselves.

“Hi, I’m Regina Mills,” she held out her hand towards them and they both stared at her for a few long moments, she started to worry she might have interrupted something important when David started chuckling and shook her hand.

“We know who you are, Regina, we’re very excited to have you on our show.”

“You were our top pick for Roni, even before you auditioned. Well, David was sure from your past work you’d be more drawn to Blackwell, but I just knew.”

“Roni is a very interesting character, she is very different from me, I’m excited to learn more about her. Which I was hoping you two wouldn’t mind helping me with.”

Mary Margaret’s eyes lit up and David chuckled, “I’ll leave you ladies to it. I think Steve needs me.”

“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Nolan.”

“David.” She nodded and the man was off with a kiss on his wife’s cheek.

“So, what do you want to know?”

“Everything.” Regina smiled and Mary Margaret looked like an excited child and within seconds she was animatedly telling Regina everything she had ambitioned for Roni.  

 


 

The room continued to quickly fill up as the time for the table read came closer, Regina could guess from the number of name cards on the gathering tables that almost nearly everyone was already there.

She smiled as she talked with Marian Sherwood, finding out the quick witted woman was set to play her best friend in the series. They were in the middle of discussing Marian’s young son Roland when she realized she was out of coffee and the little dispenser in the room was calling her name.

“He sounds so sweet,” Regina smiled widely, before her eyes locked on the dark steamy liquid filling her to-go cup.

“Oh he’s darling! Maybe you will get the chance to meet him sometime.”

Regina turned to look at her again, “I would love that.”

“Oh, David and Mary Margaret are finally free again, I’m going to go say hello before we start!”

“Go, go,” Regina smiled, shooing the woman away before her eyes fell back on her coffee, barely stopping herself from whispering ‘my precious’ as she put the lid back on her cup.

She was making her way to locate her seat at the table when she noticed someone slip into the room, assuming it was the last of their cast members she casually looked up, her eyes locking on blonde hair first before everything really registered, and her brand new cup of coffee slipped from her hands and landed on the rug under her feet, spilling its hot caffeinated goodness all over the floor and staining her expensive shoes, but she couldn’t care, not when standing there, across the room from her was none other than Emma Swan .

“Mierda,” she whispered, which seemed to get Emma’s attention or maybe it was the shocked gasps that had filled the room when the coffee hit the floor. 

She was almost certain her mind was playing tricks on her for a second, but no matter how many times she blinked there she was, Emma Swan, across the room, her co-star. Her heart was trying to beat out of her chest, be it from nerves or the excitement at seeing the woman again she wasn’t sure, what she did know was that she kind of felt like she was going to throw up. 

“Uh, you gonna clean that up or…” She heard Zelena whisper in her ear but all she could focus on was Emma, who was looking at her with the most infuriating blush on her cheeks. “Who’s the blonde staring at?” Zelena asked and just as Zelena was about to raise her hand to wave at Emma, Regina grabbed it and dragged her away. “Hey!”

“Shut up.”

“Who is she?” Zelena repeated, peeking around the set manager and props manager to get a good look at Emma again.

“No one.”

“She’s cute. She an e–” Regina slapped her hand over her mouth and stepped in her face Zelena looking at her with wide amused eyes.

“Would you just drop it ?”

Zelena arched a brow and all her years of growing up with her made her aware of just what that look meant so she quickly removed her hand before Zelena licked it and it took an embarrassing nosedive into sibling squabbling.

“Thank you.” She looked around the two people again. “Okay, but she has to be someone with how much she’s staring at you.”

“That’s Emma Swan, Neal’s ex-girlfriend.”

“Another one of his floozies you scared off?” Zelena was basically drooling at the prospect of gossip and Regina rolled her eyes, looking around the two crew members and the janitor to look back at Emma, her stomach twisting with guilt, or nerves, or both, as their eyes locked once more and Emma rose her hand to wave awkwardly at her, sporting that damn stupid lopsided smile of hers which gave nothing away.

“Not exactly…”

“What does that me–”

“Hello, Miss, I don’t believe we have had the chance to meet yet,” Regina looked toward the voice, her brow raising, anyone who knew her would notice her annoyance at being interrupted. “I’m Jefferson.”

Regina plastered on a pleasant smile while Zelena rolled her eyes, making Regina’s eyes sparkle slightly with humour. “Regina Mills.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Regina, I hope we will get close while filming.”

Regina’s smile visibly turned a little more deadly, a little more fake, and that’s when Zelena decided to cut in. “Jeff.”

The man’s charming smile dropped and he turned to finally look at her sister, a look of annoyance that almost matched Zelena’s spread across his face. “Zelena, how lovely to see you again.”

“I’d say likewise but that’d be a lie.” The man looked ready to fume and Regina was suddenly very interested in that story.

“And how do you two know each other?”

“We were in a pilot a few years ago, it didn’t get picked up. Rumour has it ol’ Jeffy here couldn’t carry a lead role.”

“Really? I heard it was because you couldn’t act.”

Zelena barked out a laugh and Regina bit her cheek to stop from laughing. “Well, we all know that’s not true, darling. There’s a reason I am the Director and you’re what? Side character #3?”

“Agent Stanley.”

“Oh the douche, that’s perfect for you! You won’t have to even act! This show might just make it after all!”

“He is a decorated agent!”

“Oh he is the token cis straight white man. Stop kidding yourself.”

He looked ready to blow up before he turned his attention back to Regina, his charm back on display. “Why don’t I help you find your seat and you can have some better company.”

“She’s just the worst isn’t she?” Regina said and Zelena let out a large laugh, nobody ever really placed them as sisters, even though they shared a name, so Jefferson’s confused face came as no surprise and only made Zelena laugh harder. “You should try sharing a bathroom with her. She spends forever on her hair.”

“Oh don’t act like you don’t spend over an hour on yours!”

“Perfection takes time, Zel.”

“You two are…?”

“Sisters.”

“Half.”

He blinked slowly at them and Regina reached out, pushing his mouth shut with the tips of her fingers. “Be careful, you might catch flies like that.”

He looked ready to explode again and Regina focused back on Zelena, “come on, sis, let’s go find our seats.”

“Gladly.” Regina walked off first, unable to stop her snort when she heard Zelena say to the man, “Oh and Jeff, you might want to treat the star of the show better, they need her, douche cop? Not so much.”

“She–”

“10 minutes until we begin, everyone take your seats and get organized please.”

“Well, that’s our cue, tootles, Jeffy.”

“You’re such an ass.” Regina whispered when Zelena was next to her again.

“I love you too.”

Regina rolled her eyes while Zelena seemed to spot her place card and dashed off to the other side of the table while Regina walked around until she found hers.

She was surprised to see her bag had been moved to her chair, wondering briefly how they knew it was hers but she didn’t think much of it as she dug out her laptop.

Soon after she heard some shuffling and the chair next to her being pulled out, so she carefully pulled her computer free as she felt first an elbow brush against her own and then a thigh brush against hers, every nerve in her body seemed to jump to life and she didn’t even need to hear the small, “sorry,” to know it was Emma, somehow she just knew. Fate and all that cruel nonsense.

“Miss Swan, how nice to see you again,” she managed to articulate after smiling her best smile and Emma awkwardly squirmed in her chair.

“It’s great to see you too, Mills.”

Regina’s eyes fell to Emma’s name card and her heart clenched, “I see you’re playing Blackwell.”

“And you’re Perez.”

Regina hummed, typing in the password to her computer to stop herself from panicking.

“Well I look forward to getting to act alongside you. With you on this show, it’s sure to be picked up, after all, you’re a great actor.”

Regina arched a brow, unsure what she’d meant by that, but instead of jumping on the possible hidden meaning and causing a scene she went with her second instinct. “Flattery will get you nowhere, Miss Swan.”

“Worked pretty well last time, Mills.” Regina’s face turned red with anger and Emma’s went red with embarrassment once she registered what she had said, her eyes dropping to burn holes in her script. “Sorry.”

“Mmhmmm,” Regina glanced towards the girl, feeling guilt twist in her gut again that threatened to tear her up inside, so she forced her eyes in the direction of Mary Margaret who was sitting at the top of the long table.

“Um…” She looked back towards Emma at the uncertain sound of her voice but something moving across the table drew her attention and she looked down at the coffee cup being nudged towards her. “I uh, got you another. Also I hope you don’t mind me moving your bags for you…”

“Oh, uh,” She looked down at the coffee, her heart filling with something warm before she remembered where that had gotten her the last time, and she shoved that feeling down. “Thank you, dear.” Her voice was painfully neutral and she knew she nailed it by the way Emma’s little hopeful and yet so awkward smile fell and she busied herself with getting herself organized. 

 


 

Emma’s eyes couldn’t seem to stop moving back to Regina’s face, couldn’t stop watching as her fingers fiddled with the edge of her script as she attentively listened to the others say their lines.

She was back to spiralling in her presence quicker than she ever thought she would if she met her again. She had changed, her hair now cut short, just a few inches past her jaw, and her attire was more business than casual with ironed slacks and a smooth button up.

She nearly missed her cue because she was so distracted by the woman next to her; she was literally sitting next to her gay awakening right now, one part of her wanted to be mad at her for treating her like nothing had happened between them and the other, the other was still just so grateful for that weekend, if it weren’t for Regina she might’ve married Neal and had a few children by now.

She had spent the last week studying every inch of her script, getting the character of Alexandra Blackwell down to a T so it was easy to slip into her, Regina’s little impressed smile almost made all her hard work crumble though, because what came next was Regina’s line, and she knew those lines as well as she knew her own, after all that’s what had really made her fall in love with the show, the dynamic between these two characters and what they were doing, how well they complemented each other, it was thrilling.

First came a deep laugh, one all attitude and next was a smirk, dark eyes tracing up and down her body, sizing her up, and then came her voice, low and smooth and Jesus, Emma was not expecting the slight accent as she spoke.

“Oh would you pull that stick outta your ass already! I get it, you’re used to being first, not used to some local beating you to the punch, but I really don’t care about you or your little tantrum, I am here to do a job, I do my job well and I don’t appreciate you lot comin’ in here and actin’ like you know better just cause you have a shiny little badge or whatever.”

“I’m not a fed.”

“Good for you,” Regina rolled her eyes with an extra flare which Emma really didn’t think was possible. “Can I do my job then or are you gonna keep crying about whatever it is you’re so pressed about?”

Emma tightened her jaw, “Stay out of my way, Miss Perez.”

“Nah,” Regina shrugged and Emma was staring as she watched Regina smirk at her, nearly jumping out of her skin as David read the instructions of the scene, announcing to the room that after that Roni walked away and they moved to the next scene.

Emma watched as Regina’s attention went back to the script and taking notes, and Emma looked back down at hers, eyes skimming over her lines as she prepared for the next scene.

“Blackwell.”

“Stanley tells me you’re getting shown up by a local PI.”

Emma caught a little snort next to her and her eyes snapped over to Regina who was smirking across the table at the red head, Emma’s brows furrowed and she met the red head’s eyes across the table. “Nobody is showing me up. And Stanley needs to keep his mouth shut.”

“O’Conner also said the same thing.”

“She’s nothing I can’t handle, Ma’am.”

“I’m sure you can, Blackwell.”

“Is that all, Ma’am?”

“Yes, be safe and bring that girl home alive, Blackwell.”

“I’ll do my best, Ma’am.”

“Blackwell hangs up the phone, camera pans to Stanley and O’Conner across the room, O’Conner looking guiltier than his partner.”

“Maybe if you two quit gossiping and focused on your job the PI wouldn’t keep beating us to the leads.”

“Sorry, Boss.”

“I am going to go talk to the girl’s parents again, you two go through the evidence reports as soon as Sam accesses them.”

“Yes, Boss.”

Emma looked down at the pages, it wasn’t her scene now so she listened to the others, following along with the script and taking a few notes. A slight nudge of her knee almost sent Emma falling out of her seat, her head snapping to look at Regina in shock, her eyes falling to deep red lips as they mouthed an apology and looking away was almost impossible but suddenly Regina was looking away and Emma was back on land again.

It was all so ridiculous, that she was still so affected by this woman. She wasn’t sure how she was going to get through this without losing her mind.

 


 

Regina looked across the table as they finished up the reading for the pilot, her eyes locking with Zelena’s as she addressed her for the first time that episode, a challenge sparkling in her eyes, their familiar sibling rivalry stirring between them.

“So this is where the magic happens?”

“I wouldn’t exactly call it magic, Miss Perez.”

“Roni, please.”

Zelena nodded, “of course.”

“So, did you bring me here to wipe my memory clean or to lock me in a windowless room so I don’t out your little spy organization?”

“On the contrary, Roni,” Regina smirked as Zelena’s British accent slipped out for the first time, she felt the victory flutter in her chest as Zelena rolled her eyes. “I’d like to offer you a job.”

“You can’t be serious.” She chuckled, “why the hell would you want me?”

“You’re smart, resourceful, and you consistently beat my agents to the punch all week, all on your own.”

“Yeah, but I just happen to not be interested in kissing bureaucratic ass.”

“Well that’s perfect then, because neither are we.”

“How much you payin’?”

Zelena’s face broke into a large smile, “more than you make already but we both know you’re not interested in the money, Roni. I’ve done my homework, I know why you do what you do, and we could really use someone with your talents.”

“You tell Agent Sour Puss yet?”

“I was waiting for confirmation before I did that.” Regina heard Emma shuffling with her papers, her eyes bouncing over to her before she met Zelena’s again, glaring as she saw her sister’s knowing smirk.

“I don’t even know your name.”

“Elizabeth Moore, I am the director here, and I really do think you’d be a perfect addition to my team.”

“You do this all the time? Rescuing people?”

“We do our best but yes, this is our shtick, so to speak.”

“I’m not gonna wear some stupid uniform.”

“We don’t have any.”

“You got a deal then.”

Zelena’s face broke out into a wide smile. “Welcome to the agency, Roni.”

“Blackwell knocks on the door”

“Enter!”

“Blackwell enters, noticing Moore and the figure of who could only be Roni Perez.”

“Ma’am? You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, Agent Blackwell, I’d like you to meet your new partner, Agent Roni Perez.”

There was a sigh around the table as David spoke up for the last time. “Cut to credits, end of episode, great work everyone.”

The room broke out in applause and Regina turned to catch Emma’s wide smile and she couldn’t help it as her smile grew as well, she was actually excited for this project.

 


 

February 12 th , 2016

 

It wasn’t long after the table read they got the call that they would be filming in Vancouver, British Columbia, Emma wondered if any of the cast would bow out, but also it was a free few weeks in another country, there was no guarantee that the show would be picked up and if it was, well there were worse places to film, she’d know, she’s probably been to them all.

They had about a week to make their arraignments and head to Canada, Emma was pretty sure she didn’t own anything remotely comfortable for Canada in February but she would make it work because this show was something special, the character was something special and she was excited to actually begin filming and working with the rest of the cast.

She’d never been to Canada before either and there was something so exciting about the prospect of filming in another country. So of course the first thing she did when she heard the news was look up the place, she’d heard enough stories, seen enough of the place in movies and TV, but she wanted to know for sure just what she needed to bring.

She decided she was going to drive her trusty VW Bug, she hated flying and the drive wasn’t too bad, and she always loved a good road trip.

The only thing she hadn’t done upon hearing the news was call her mother, she knew she would be excited about the adventure she was about to partake in but well, Emma hadn’t exactly filled her in on the first elephant in the room and she wasn’t sure how she was going to inform her about the two dancing elephants filling up the place but if she didn’t herself, the gossip sites sure would soon enough.

It was just a few weeks, so she packed a simple bag, filled up her car and finally, when she was all out of things to procrastinate with, she finally called her mom, who just had to answer on the first ring because god forbid she let Emma avoid anything.

“It’s been 2 weeks, Emma Swan!”

“I texted.”

“To ask me how to make my cobbler.”

“Yes, and then to tell you I burnt said cobbler and that I ordered in from a really nice–”

“What don’t you want to tell me?” Her mom cut in, practically hearing her roll her eyes through the phone.

“Nothing…”

“Don’t lie to me, young lady, you are horrific at it for an actress.”

Emma huffed, pushing the car door closed and leaning against the side. “Don’t like freak out.”

“Why would I freak out? I have never “freaked out” in the past.”

“So remember that show I got cast in?”

“The spy one?”

“Yeah,” Emma bit her cheek, fiddling with the hem of her tank top.

“What about it? They didn’t cancel production did they?” Ingrid sounded so concerned and it made Emma’s chest fill with love, it was still so strange even after all these years having someone who genuinely cared about her.

“No, no, not that,”

“Did the table read not go well?”

Emma couldn’t help but laugh, because seriously it had been probably the best table read she’s ever had, instead she’s pretty sure it has everything to do with her co-star. “It went amazing actually. It’s a great cast.”

Ingrid hummed and Emma knew she was starting to catch onto something again. “What’s wrong? You sound nervous.”

“You uh, you remember Neal’s friend? The one who…”

“Whom you kissed, and then called me in a mess of tears about, because you were freaking out about your sexuality?”

“Yeah…her…”

“Emma…”

Emma sighed, “she’s my co-star. We are co-leads.”

“Oh…”

Emma bit her cheek at hearing her mom’s surprise, waiting as patiently as she could for any kind of response, “mom?”

“Sorry, I just, are you okay, Sweetie?”

“Yeah, I think so, that’s not really the problem, we can be friendly…I’m sure.”

Ingrid laughed and Emma pouted, “then why have you been avoiding me?”

“Because I knew you’d ask me all these questions…and also I’m kinda going to Vancouver for like a month for filming and stuff and I knew you’d make that a whole thing and I just…”

“Vancouver? As in Canada?”

“Yes, mom.”

“For a month? With the woman who turned you into such a mess you came to stay at home for a month…the woman whom you spent way too many hours staring at pictures of online? Am I getting this right?”

“Yes…”

Ingrid laughed and Emma was shocked, of all the reactions she had predicted, this was not what she was expecting.

“Oh my sweet, darling girl.” She cooed and Emma squirmed, feeling like she was right there fusing over her and cleaning up her cuts when she got into another fight in the schoolyard. “Maybe this will be good, maybe you’ll finally get her out of your system and you can actually have a lasting relationship again.”

“Mom!” Emma exclaimed, a warm blush colouring her cheeks as her mind traitorously jumped back to that night from 4 years ago and she was left wondering how she could still remember it so clearly and yet she couldn’t remember what she had had for breakfast 2 days ago.

“You are a grown woman, Emma, stop acting like I don’t know you have a sex life.”

“Ah gross, mom.”

Ingrid laughed again and then the conversation stilled, silence setting over them and Emma straightened up again, pulling open her car door and slipping into the vehicle, the sound of the door slamming shut seemed to break her mom out of her revelry and she asked in a caring voice.

“When are you leaving?”

“Erm, now?”

“Emma Swan!”

“What? It’s not like I can drop by for a goodbye anyways, you live on the other side of the country!”

“Still, leaving it to the last minute to tell me you are leaving to another country, Emma, I thought I raised you better than this.”

Emma rolled her eyes at her mom’s usual humour, she was never a strict mom she didn’t even ask Emma to call her that, it wasn’t until Emma was about to move across the country to chase her dreams that she called her ‘mom’ for the first time, curled up in her arms and filled with an emotion she had never ever felt so strongly before.

“Are you driving?”

“Yes?”

“You call me when you stop for the night, and you will stop for the night, I will not have you falling asleep at the wheel and then I expect another call when you arrive in Vancouver, understood?”

“Yes, mom.” Emma rolled her eyes but a smile was spread across her face, concern for her wellbeing was also something that was still so weird for her to comprehend.

“I love you, drink lots of water and drive safely.”

“I will.”

“You’re forgetting something,”

Emma laughed, shaking her head at her mom as she started the car. “I love you too.”

“I’m so proud of you, Emma.”

“Thanks, mom…” Emma sighed, her hand not holding the phone reached out, tapping against the steering wheel. “I gotta go now, I’ll call you later, promise.”

“Okay, bye sweetie.”

“Bye,” Emma whispered and hung up the phone, cursing the way tears burned her eyes, she was not about to get like this again, it was just a few weeks in another country and maybe after, she could spend some time with her mom or even fly her out.

“Okay, here we go, Swan, second chances here we come.”

She nodded to herself before turning to look over her shoulder and began pulling out of her driveway, this was the first day of what could become an amazing adventure.

 


 

Regina looked around the kitchen with panicked eyes as Zelena made tea for them. “Why did you invite her?”

“We are leaving for another country in a few days, you know what she’d do if we didn’t do this.”

Regina walked towards her, leaning in close. “You know what she’ll do now too. Couldn’t we just hire a double? She barely notices my presence anyways.”

“Henry would notice you’re gone.”

“Papi would understand.” Regina pouted looking back towards the double doors that lead out of the kitchen.

“It’s just lunch, Regina, mother isn’t that bad.”

“Try being the lesbian that broke her dreams of having a son and being the mother of the next president of the United States and who also left her unable to brag to her friends about how successful she is.”

“I know mother had her expectations for you and it’s hard, I’m not telling you to be nice,” Regina pouted and Zelena placed a hand on her shoulder, “I just don’t want her being upset at you because you didn’t tell her you were leaving again, okay?”

Regina sighed, nervously fiddling with her fingers. “I know you’re just trying to look out for me.”

“Just hang by me and Henry and ignore whatever mother says.”

“If she brings up–”

“She won’t.”

“This is because I refused to drive to Vancouver isn’t it?”

Zelena laughed, placing the teapot on the tray. “Oh yeah, I love my petty payback.”

“I make no promises to be nice.”

“Funny,” Regina raised an eyebrow, watching Zelena lift the tray as she waited for a response. “She said the same thing.”

“Of course she did.”

“Bring out the treats.”

Regina waved her off and moved to finish gathering them on a plate and followed Zelena out onto her back porch.

“Hello, Mother,” Regina smiled as she saw the woman preparing her tea at the small table in Zelena’s backyard.

“Regina, what did you do to your hair?”

“I cut it.”

“I suppose I should be happy you didn’t shave it off.”

“Where’s Papi?”

“Washroom.”

Regina nodded, carefully putting the plate on the table, her eyes unsure as she looked from Zelena to the empty chairs across from her mother, trying to not fiddle with her hands knowing how much her mother hated that.

“Zelena tells me you are the star of this new little project of yours?”

“Yes, I’m co-lead with another woman.”

“So you’re not the star?”

“It’s an ensemble cast, mother.” Regina defended, feeling anger twist in her gut which made her voice raise in pitch a little.

“So Zelena is just as important as you?”

“No, mother, Regina is just as important as the other girl, they are both the leads.”

“Zelena, no need to defend your sister for her shortcomings.”

“Mother.”

“I’m going to go check on Papi.” Regina said, turning on her heels and heading back into Zelena’s large house, trying to push down all her emotions as they simmered and welled up inside her chest.

“Regina, dear,”

She looked up when she heard the man’s smooth voice, the tension floating away and the tears burning in her eyes welled up. “Papi…”

“Oh darling, come here.”

Regina walked quickly to tuck herself into her father’s neck, feeling safe as he wrapped her up in a comforting hug. “I hate her.”

“Regina…” He said and pulled back, gentle hands carefully cupping her face and wiping away her tears. “You know she just wants what’s best for you.”

Regina let out a bitter laugh and stepped out of his embrace, her arms wrapping protectively around her body. “She has an awful way of showing it.”

“Mija–”

“Don’t defend her, please.”

“I’m sorry, my love,” He took a hesitant step forward, raising his hand to cup her cheek again. “It’s good seeing you, darling.”

“You too, Papi.”

“And I’m very proud of you, star of your very own show, this is big news.”

“It’s nothing official yet.”

“Well then, once it is we will celebrate, okay?”

“Okay.” Regina offered him a small smile and he smiled back.

“Oh!” He suddenly stepped away, moving quickly through the house.

“Papi!” Regina called after him, following close behind.

“I have something for you, to take with you to Vancouver.”

“Papi…” She warned, a smile curling on her lips as he reached down for a gift bag that very clearly held a bottle of alcohol. “You didn’t…”

“Wanted you to have a piece of home with you in case you got homesick.”

Regina pulled the bottle of apple cider from the bag and smiled at the hand drawn label. “Thank you, I love it.”

“I’m so proud of you, Mija. You’ve grown into such a beautiful young woman.”

Tears rolled down Regina’s cheeks and she slipped the bottle into the bag. “Thank you, Papi. That means a lot.” She whispered before she leaned in, placing a kiss to his stubbly cheek.

“We should get outside, you know how mother hates being kept waiting.”

“You’re right, you’re right.” He smiled, holding out his elbow.

Regina chuckled then placed the bag back by the chair in the sitting room, and quickly wiped away her tears before she slipped her hand in his elbow and let him lead her back outside.

 


 

Regina hated flying, she’d come up with ways to cope over the years but it still made her anxious; still, she’d rather fly than spend hours in a car…especially with her sister as company…three hours on a plane was hard enough.

They exited customs and found a car waiting for them to take them to the hotel the studio had booked for them to stay in while filming.

The sight of the city passing by out the window distracted Regina from Zelena’s excited chatter about sightseeing while they were there, the whole thing eventually lulled her into a sense of peace; she didn’t even realize the time passed until they were parked in front of the hotel and the driver was opening the door for them.

“Oh! Thank you,” Regina smiled as Zelena and the driver looked down at her from outside the car. “I guess I got lost in thought.”

“It’s quite alright, Miss Mills.”

“Nice place.” Zelena spoke as she stood outside the hotel next to her while the driver got their bags.

“I hope we get our own rooms, I have no plans of ever sharing a room with you.”

“If you’re still an insomniac I have no interest in that either.”

Regina gave her a playful shove before she went to the back of the town car to help with their luggage while Zelena texted on her phone. “Thank you for your help,” she smiled at the man and handed him a hundred dollar bill, “I’m sorry I don’t have any Canadian money on me yet…”

“No, no thank you, this is…too much.”

“Nonsense, you had to put up with my sister the whole drive.”

The man laughed, flashing a wide smile. “Have a nice trip, Miss Mills.”

“Thank you, have a great day.”

He smiled and moved around the car and Regina looked at Zelena, “If you wouldn’t mind grabbing your bags that’d be lovely.”

“So grumpy.”

Regina rolled her eyes, pulling the handle up on her suitcase and gripped the handle of her carry on as she walked to the middle of the sidewalk while Zelena grabbed her two bags and followed after her.

 


 

Once checked in they made their way up to the floor the network had rented for the whole cast, their rooms were across from each other but luckily they hadn’t placed them together just because they were family. Perhaps they didn’t want to risk a murder on their hands after locking siblings up in a room together for a month.

Regina yawned as she kicked the door closed with her heeled foot, stumbling slightly she blew a lock of hair from her face and kicked the heels from her feet as she stumbled to the large bed across the room.

She dropped her leather duffle on the floor at the end of the bed, placing her suitcase next to it before she allowed herself to fall against the soft mattress, a content sigh leaving her mouth as she basked in the comfort.

She laid there for about 15 minutes before she pulled herself off the mattress and moved to the bathroom for a much needed shower after a long day of travel.

 


 

She had just pulled the comfortable grey sweater over her head when she heard a knock on her door and she knew instantly who it was, so with a huff she walked towards the door and threw it open to see Zelena smiling on the other side.

“We’re all going to dinner, get your shoes on.”

“All?”

“Cast, and the showrunners. Team meeting thing.” Regina blinked at her, a hand moving up to her damp hair. “Shoes, you can do your hair after dinner.”

“Why didn’t they text me this morning?”

“They texted me.”

Regina pouted then realized her phone was still powered off in her bag. “Shit.”

“Shoes, now.”

“I’m going.”

“At least your contacts are in,” Zelena joked just as Regina tripped over one of her tossed shoes. “Or not…please put your glasses on.”

“Contacts will just take a second.”

“Regina…”

“Fine!” She yelled, sticking one foot in her heel while she grabbed the glasses sitting on the bed where she had left them when she was getting dressed.

“You really need to become glued to your phone like the rest of society.”

Regina glared at her, stuffing her room key in the back pocket of her jeans as she pushed Zelena out and closed the door behind her. “This is what I get for liking to be clean.”

“You look fine. Honestly it’s rather fucked up how gorgeous you look without trying.”

“Oh yeah and you’re a hideous cow.” Regina said with the roll of her eyes and Zelena feigned offence.

“You do not have to be so cruel. Not all of us can be as beautiful as her majesty.”

Regina rolled her eyes again and jabbed the button for the elevator. “If this show gets picked up and I’m stuck with you in this place for years on end…”

“Oh my dear, dear, sister, don’t you know? You are stuck with me forever,” Zelena drawled as she draped her arm over Regina’s shoulder.

“You’re insufferable.”

“You love me.”

“Debatable.” Regina deadpanned before she stepped out from under her arm and into the elevator, Zelena’s trademark laughter following her in.

“Hold the door!” She heard as the doors began to shut, her head shooting up just in time to see Emma Swan running towards the elevator, all wild blonde hair and hideous red jacket.

Zelena reached out, stopping it just in time and Emma offered her a relieved smile. “Thank you.”

“No problem, Emma, was it?”

Emma nodded and Zelena stepped back away from the door and it was in that moment that Emma seemed to notice who she was sharing the elevator with, and her cheeks went a little pink, naturally, she forced her eyes back on Zelena. “Yeah, and you’re Zelena, right?”

“Yes, and you know my sister, Regina.”

“I do.” Emma smiled. “Hi.”

“Hey,” Regina said, barely giving her a glance, staring at the numbers as they counted down.

“Did you both just arrive?”

“Yeah, got here a little over an hour ago.”

“Nice,” Regina’s eyes flashed over to Emma watching the girl bob her head awkwardly as she also stared at the numbers as they rapidly descended floors.

“When did you arrive?”

Emma’s head snapped so fast to look at her, Regina was almost sure it almost snapped off her neck, and she barely smothered her smirk as she looked back up at the numbers, feeling more than just Emma’s eyes on her. “Yesterday, I drove up.”

“Oh nice! How was the drive? I wanted to drive too but someone refused.”

“You’re insufferable on long car rides and I’d end up doing all the driving.”

“Not if we wanted to arrive safely you wouldn’t.”

“I am not a bad driver!”

Emma snorted, this was an all too familiar conversation and it brought Regina back to that weekend and she felt guilt twist in her gut. “What is taking this thing so long?!”

“Somebody's hungry.”

“Shut up, Zelena.”

Emma cleared her throat and both sisters' eyes focused on her, Regina’s brow arching as she watched Emma squirm uncomfortably. 

“Sorry…”

“It’s okay,” Emma whispered, meeting Regina’s eyes from under her eyelashes, a lopsided grin on her lips before she spoke. “And to answer your question the drive was beautiful.”

“Did you take pictures?”

“Some, I can show you later if you’d like.”

“It’s a date.”

Regina’s jaw tensed as Emma blushed and Zelena looked smugly down at her, Regina just knew she was up to something, and when Zelena got some ridiculous idea in her head nothing ever ended well…at least not for her.

 


 

Dinner was uneventful which was probably a good thing. David and Mary Margaret just wanted to get to know everyone off the clock and go over some things for the coming weeks so mostly it was weird introduction games and casual conversation.

Emma was just happy that Mary Margaret hadn’t made them sing the name game song. Although watching Regina look about ready to claw Mary Margaret’s face off when she made them list three of their favourite things had been pretty entertaining, so maybe the song might’ve made things really interesting instead.

So yeah, dinner wasn’t too bad, but the ride in the elevator back to their rooms had been well beyond awkward, since about half the cast was packed into the small space and Regina and her were both crammed against the back wall watching the others laugh and flirt.

“You basically told him to fuck off,” Tamara said to Zelena as the numbers counted up.

“He’s lucky I didn’t actually say the words.”

“Why do you hate him so much? He seems like a good chap.”

“He is a self-absorbed jackass that will hit on anything that moves.”

“Yeah, I can back that up,” Marian said from where she was squished between Emma and Regina.

“Same,” came Regina’s low voice, almost like she didn’t want to speak up but also like she didn’t want to stay silent.

“He propositioned me at the bar last night,” Emma added, finding poor Rogers’ eyes wide as he looked at nearly every single one of his female co-stars.

“Well fuck.” he said and Zelena cackled at his comment, reaching out to clap Rogers on the shoulder and Emma’s eyes moved back up to look at the numbers again. “If you need me to set him straight you know where to find me.”

“I, for one, can take care of myself.”

Emma leaned forward to look around Marian to take in the blank look on Regina’s face before looking back to see the puppy dog eyes Rogers’ was sporting.

“We appreciate the offer, Rogers, thank you.”

“Don’t let Regina scare you, she just doesn’t like to appear weak or rely on anyone,” Zelena said with a smirk that seemed to be directed at Emma, for what purpose she wasn’t sure, but she was suddenly wondering just how much Regina shares with her big sister.

The little ding rang through the space and Regina straightened up, obviously ready to be back in her room instead of out facing the world without any of her armour in place.

“Goodnight, ladies!” Rogers called as he hurried down the hall to his own room.

“Night, I look forward to working with you all.” Marian flashed them a huge smile and turned to unlock her door close to the elevators.

Tamara waved and soon was busying herself unlocking her own room and Emma and the Mills sisters kept quiet as they moved towards the middle of the hallway. Emma heard a ding and she looked behind her as the elevator doors opened and out came Mary Margaret, David, Ruby, and lastly, Jefferson.

“I’ll see you in the morning, sis, Emma.”

Emma snapped her head to look at Zelena and smiled at her as she disappeared into the room across the hall from hers.

She made eye contact with Jefferson as he turned to his room and she quickly turned to face her door, hoping he wouldn’t try and make any more chit chat for the night.

“Goodnight, Miss Swan.”

Emma looked over at the blank face looking anxiously from the doorway and Emma realized she was in front of Regina’s door instead of her own, which was about 5 feet to the left. “Looks like we’re neighbours.” Emma chuckled awkwardly as she moved to her door, feeling Regina’s curious eyes on her the whole time.

“So it seems.”

“Better than sharing a wall with the very in-love showrunners.”

Regina’s nose scrunched up and Emma could barely contain her laughter at the sight. “I take it you won’t be entertaining then.”

“No, the most entertaining I’ll be doing is by myself.” It took a beat of silence for Emma’s words to really register in her mind and she looked up from her door to stare at Regina who had a single brow raised and the slightest smirk on her lips.

“Is that so, Miss Swan?”

“I didn’t mean it like that!”

“Well, do try and keep it down when you do, dear, I need my beauty sleep.”

“I didn’t– you don’t– Regina.”

Regina’s eyes dragged slowly over her frame, Emma feeling every inch of her body tingle as brown eyes skimmed over her, and she was suddenly too scared to move, to breathe, to think even, because what if–

“Goodnight, Emma.”

When Emma’s eyes refocused all she could see was the slight waves of dark hair as Regina slipped into her room and Emma was left staring open mouthed at the white walls.

She heard a throat clear and she jumped, turning on her heels to stare once again at the smirking face of Zelena. “If you are done staring at my sister’s ass–”

“I wasn’t.”

“Oh no need to deny it, darling, there’s really no shame.”

Emma felt her cheeks burning so to cover up her slip up and embarrassment, she glared at the older woman who only seemed to smile wider with the gesture. “What do you want?”

“I was going to ask if you wanted to get breakfast in the morning and look over those photographs. I don't have my fitting until the afternoon so if you have time.”

“Uh, yeah mine’s not until 12.”

“Perfect! Lobby at 9?”

“Erm, sure.”

“Tootles, Emma. Oh and, enjoy your one on one entertainment.”

“I didn’t mean it like that!”

“There is no shame in masturbation, little swan.”

“Oh god.” Emma groaned, turning and pushing her door open. “Why are you all like this?”

Zelena’s cackle followed Emma into her room and Emma suddenly felt the very strong urge to bury herself under her covers and never leave the room again.

She had a feeling the next month or who knows, years, were about to be the most unconventional ones of her life.

Chapter Text

Regina was up at 5 am the next morning, she would lie to others about the reason for her early rising, claiming that it was just routine; but in reality she had spent most of the night tossing and turning, unable to relax, to calm her mind enough to get more than a few minutes of sleep at a time.

But to admit that, would be admitting weakness, and defeat to the own busy voices of her mind that spun and twisted in all directions imaginable until the sounds of the early morning birds could be heard from outside.

So at 5:37 she rolled out of the large, comfortable bed and made herself a cup of tea, letting the warmth from the mug wrap around her like a hug as she read over the script, this week’s schedule, and then spent an ungodly amount of time watching cooking videos on YouTube.

At 7am she opened the curtains and did her morning yoga routine, the late February breeze and the faint smell of saltwater drifting into her room from the open balcony door, the fresh air and morning sun was always something she enjoyed early in the morning. Something she hoped would help clear her mind and relax her for the long day ahead of her.

She was walking from the bathroom back to her bed to dig out her hair straightener when she heard a rattle and a thud from her left.

Her eyes quickly moved to look across the room as she heard a muffled, “ow fuck.”

Her right eyebrow raising and her grip tightening on her hair straightener as she moved towards what she now realized was a white door that could only be attached to the room next to hers.

She heard a little knock on the door and a laugh, a self-pitying disbelieving laugh as she stopped in front of the door, staring at the lock she turned it and quickly threw it open to find no other than Emma Swan, with sleep tousled hair and in nothing but a tank top and red panties, standing on the other side blinking slowly at her.

“This is definitely not the bathroom.”

Regina puffed out a little laugh, judgemental at its finest as she met Emma’s bloodshot eyes that still had sleep caked in the corners and what might be mascara. “No, it’s not.”

Emma’s eyes that were looking her over, moved up to her face, a small grin on her lips. “Were you planning on bludgeoning me with a hair straightener?”

“Maybe,” Regina smirked, raising her chin as a threatening smirk began to slowly curl on her lips. “Haven’t decided yet.”

“Right…” Emma looked her over again, a hand moving to nervously rub at the back of her neck like she didn’t know what to do or how to make her exit. “I’d rather you didn’t… I don’t think the network would be too pleased and my mom definitely wouldn’t be.”

Regina lowered her hand to her side, her grip on the door tightening and loosening slightly as she continued. “I really don’t have time to dispose of your body anyways.”

Emma barked out a laugh but still took an instinctive step back, just in case.

“Have a good day, Miss Swan.” She began closing the door then stopped, her eyes meeting Emma’s unsure ones again as she added. “Oh and for future reference, your bathroom is behind you and to the left.”

And with that she shut and locked the door, her grin slipping to an annoyed frown as she tried to figure out what she had possibly done to deserve such bad karma, only to be reminded of exactly what that was and something clenched in her chest, only tightening as she heard a small voice coming from the closed door.

“Thank you… and erm, sorry!” Emma said before she heard the shuffling sounds of Emma moving away from the door.

“Look at this as a life lesson, Regina,” she whispered to herself as she headed back towards her own bathroom, “next time don’t make out with your best friend’s girlfriend and you might not be so royally screwed over by the universe.”

 


 

Regina was finishing off her espresso as she walked into the wardrobe department of the studio early that morning, almost certain she had the first call of the day; she looked around at the nearly empty halls as a young man lead her to a room and directed her to a seat for her to wait in until the costume designer was ready for her.

She quietly watched the few people in the room busy around with items of clothing on many different racks, finding the one brandishing her character’s name pretty quickly, her fingers almost itching to get up and look at what they were preparing for Roni.

Regina already had a mental image for this character but she was excited to see what they were also thinking and she was never one that was good at self-control no matter how many times she got in trouble for looking and touching when she wasn’t supposed to, she never did learn.

She bit her bottom lip, tapping her empty coffee cup against her knee and she stared across the room at the two racks of clothing for her character and the trashcan not far away. Really it was like they wanted her to look, it’s not like looking could do any harm, right?

Her eyes jumped around the room, realizing she was alone again and she made her move, tossing the cup quickly in the trashcan she got distracted for a breath as her eyes locked on the crisp suit jacket hanging on a rack close by marked for Emma’s character.

Her fingers danced over the soft fabric as she wondered fleetingly what brand it was, but then she remembered her own wardrobe not far away and she let the sleeve fall from her hand.

She always loved this part of character discovery, clothing is such an important expression when it comes to people so she’s always excited to see what it would tell her about the character she was playing, if it gave any hints to how she would hold herself, what her personality was outside of the words written on the pages on the script.

“You must be Regina.”

The sleeve of a leather jacket fell from between her fingertips as she spun around to face the voice. “Yes, and you must be the costume designer.”

“Indeed,” He had a kind smile as he looked her over, a kind chuckle rumbling out of him as he took a few steps forward and held out his hand. “Merlin, it’s nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Regina offered him a kind smile as she took his hand for a firm shake. “So, should we begin?”

“Eager, I like that.”

Regina noted the faint accent as he spoke, similar to Zelena’s although hers was still a bit stronger. “What can I say? I like fashion.”

“I can tell.” He gestured to the racks of clothes and Regina turned back to face them, “See anything that really stands out to you?”

“I love this leather jacket, when I think of Roni I do see her in a lot of leather.”

He laughed and nodded, “As do I. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll pull out a few things for you to try on?”

Regina nodded, feeling excitement buzzing in her veins as she watched him work in silence.

 


 

Breakfast with Zelena was fun, but mostly because not more than a couple minutes in Tamara had joined them and they all just talked about how excited they were about the show and their characters and discussed the pictures Emma had taken on her road trip, Tamara gave them tips on places in BC they might want to visit while there since this wasn’t her first time filming here.

So breakfast was a welcome rejuvenation after this morning’s events. It’s not like today was even the first time Emma had ever seen Regina in a robe or fresh out of a shower, but it’s been 4 years since that first near heart attack and somehow now that she knew she was not straight, it was almost a bigger shock to the system.

Emma hadn’t exactly expected the door to swing open to the confused and slightly blurry sight of Regina Mills in a robe and brandishing a purple hair straightener as a weapon.

She was almost sure Regina would have shared this awkward tale with her sister, but when Emma didn’t hear one comment from Zelena she realized that Regina hadn’t done so, not yet anyways, and for that she was grateful, Emma was just happy to escape that level of teasing for the morning.

So although she wasn’t exactly expecting it, breakfast with the elder Mills sister and Tamara put her in such high spirits she couldn’t help but smile during the ride to the studio for her wardrobe fitting.

 


 

“Oh you look great!” Abruptly Regina turned to see Mary Margaret standing there with her hands over her mouth and eyes wide with excitement. “Oh sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay.”

“This is just how I pictured her,” Mary Margaret sighed as she moved across the room, Regina turning to look back in the mirror as she synched the leather belt around her waist.

“Me too,” her lips curled into a little smile as she looked over the high waist dark skinny jeans, a light grey tank top tucked into them, beat up looking combat boots on her feet and her most favourite feature the black leather jacket which had pink and red roses decorating it.

“One last thing,” Merlin said as he walked from the back of the room where he was talking with one of his assistants.

Regina turned to look at him, her eyes falling to a small jewellery box held in his hand. “What’s that?”

“You got it?” Mary Margaret practically squealed over her and he nodded, making a spinning motion with his finger to get Regina to turn around again.

“Ariel just got back with it. Hold this,” His tone changed and Regina watched in the mirror as the small red box was passed to Mary Margaret and then Merlin stepped up behind her, “Do you mind?”

“No, go ahead.”

He smiled over her shoulder and Regina watched as the shimmering gold necklace was placed around her neck, her hand moving to the small circle pendant resting against her chest.

“You can take a closer look now.”

Regina bent closer to the mirror, looking at the little ‘R’ engraved into the gold circle. “Of course she’d have something like this.”

“Can I see?”

Regina straightened up and turned towards her showrunner who was basically bouncing in place, “Of course, this is your show after all.”

Mary Margaret’s smile grew wider and her eyes moved over Regina, taking in the whole look, Regina felt her posture change already as she felt herself sinking into Roni’s character, her thumb slipping into her back pocket as she put all her weight on one leg. “Wow…it’s like seeing her come alive before my very eyes…”

“So you are happy with this?”

“I love it! Just…one last thing…”

“What is it?” Merlin asked, posture straightening like he was preparing to tear apart his studio for the missing piece.

“This is a question I have for Regina.”

Regina arched a brow, “What is it? You have a specific way you want me to move?”

Mary Margaret giggled, “No you’re,” her eyes looking her over again, “Perfect. I just, I noticed something yesterday at dinner.”

“What?” Regina frowned, trying to think what the woman might have fixated on after seeing her look a total mess the night before.

“Is this not your natural hair?” Regina blinked, “I’m sorry is that rude of me to ask? I just, last night I saw you had some waves and it had me thinking.”

“No, no, it’s alright I just.” Regina folded her arms over her chest and turned to look in the mirror, really take in all that made Roni, her head tilting slightly to the side. “No, my hair is not naturally this straight.”

“How would you feel if we did a test with it curly?”

Regina turned to face her, hands folded in front of her, mindlessly twisting a ring on her finger as she tilted her head up, her posture falling back into her own as she responded. “If that is your vision for this character then I am happy to do it.”

“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, Regina.”

“It’s just hair, Miss Blanchard and you are the boss.”

Mary Margaret opened her mouth to respond but there was a light knock and they turned to see one of the wardrobe assistants standing at the door.

“Yes, Ariel?”

“Emma Swan is here for her fitting.”

Merlin nodded, “send her right in.”

“I’ll change out of this.”

“Actually, Regina, if you don’t mind just holding on for a second I want to try one last thing before you go.”

“Of course.” She smiled and turned back to the mirror, looking over her outfit again while Mary Margaret walked off muttering something about needing to make a few calls. She could feel herself relaxing into Roni again and it was oddly comforting to lose herself in the character.

 


 

Emma was led into the room by a nervous looking woman, her eyes locking on a tall man looking over a white and black striped button up.

“Hi, I’m Emma. I know I’m a little early but I hope that’s okay.”

He looked up at her, a smile spreading on his face. “Merlin. And it is quite alright, I’m just finishing up here, so please make yourself comfortable while you wait.”

“Thank you, I’m so sorry.” Emma repeated and turned to where the man was gesturing, spotting a purse and jacket thrown over the grey chaise, she sat in the furthest corner as her mind screamed with the knowledge of whom it belonged to, even before hearing Merlin speak.

“Regina, darling, can you try this on for me real quick?”

Emma turned to see a hand reach out from behind a curtain and take the top and instantly her heart started hammering in her chest, because of course she had to bumble her way into Regina’s fitting too.

Emma’s leg anxiously shook as her eyes bounced between the man flicking through a rack of clothes and the dressing room she knew Regina was changing in.

“You alright in there, Regina?”

“It’s a little tight,” Regina spoke, as she stepped out the shirt partially undone showing off a black lace bra, and Emma barely stopped her jaw from dropping open at the sight.

“Take that off, I must have grabbed the one for Miss Lucas.”

And because the universe must actually hate her, Regina removed her shirt in the middle of the room, maybe she hadn’t even noticed Emma’s presence, maybe she hadn’t care, but Emma’s eyes were immediately glued to her muscular back as she stood in front of her, thumbs tucked into the back pockets of her sinfully tight jeans.

“Ah yes, sorry this one is yours,” he smiled, passing Regina her shirt before he looked at Emma, “come get your first look while I finish with Regina.”

Emma nodded, her cheeks turning pink as Regina turned to look at her, blouse still unbuttoned giving Emma the perfect view of abs and lace and...

“Emma?”

“Sorry,” Emma squeaked, leaping up from the chaise and collecting the suit that was being held out to her by Ariel. “I’ll erm, get changed.”

She cast one last look at Regina as she closed the curtain and her stomach flipped at the almost evil grin she saw curling on her lips, mixed with challenging eyes as she caught Emma looking once again. “Fuck.” She whispered to herself and busied herself as she slipped out of her skinny jeans and t-shirt, trying hard to not think about the half-naked Regina standing mere feet away from her, nor that damn smile of hers.

 


 

Emma walked out of the dressing room a few minutes later, head facing down as she slipped her hair out from under the blazer she was wearing. She heard Merlin talking in low tones to her left, Emma walked that way as she tugged the button up and blazer sleeves down from where they had risen up.

“I think it’s a little big,” She spoke, looking up at the man and freezing when instead her eyes locked on Regina standing alone in front of the mirrors, fiddling with a thin black tie. “Wow.”

“Wow, yourself, Miss Swan,” Regina’s eyes scanned over her and she took a step forward, “You clean up nice.”

“Erm, thanks. Where’s Merlin?”

“Mary Margaret needed him.”

“Ah…” Emma looked around, then at the tie Regina was fiddling with, “you need a hand with that?”

Regina chuckled nervously, biting the inside of her cheek as she confessed, “yes, it would seem I only know how to tie them on other people.”

“Lucky for you, I can too.”

Emma was almost certain Regina was blushing for a second but she decided to not focus on that, so she reached down to take the tie from Regina’s hands and slipped it around her neck smoothly, feeling Regina’s eyes burning into her skin as she focused on tying the tie.

Her hands fumbled a few times, getting distracted by the straining buttons on her crisp white top a few times but ultimately she managed to tie it all while under Regina’s scrutinizing gaze.

Emma took a calming breath and tightened the knot, stopping when it looked about right, she looked up to meet Regina’s eyes, “Is that okay?” she asked, her voice sounding husky to her own ears making her cheeks pink a little in realization.

“Yes, thank you.”

Emma smiled and then carefully fixed Regina’s collar, not even thinking as she reached around her neck to fix the back and it didn’t hit her how intimate this all was until her eyes locked on Regina’s again and she was just studying her, like she had done four years ago.

“Sorry…”

“It’s alright, dear.” She smiled, eyes scanning over Emma again, “your suit definitely needs to be taken in a bit,” she said, while to Emma’s surprise, she reached out and fixed Emma’s collar as well, gently fingering the fabric on her shirt.

“Regina?”

“Who made this suit?” Regina asked and a laugh bubbled out of Emma because of course, “I saw it on the rack, I wonder if they’d let me borrow it…”

“Pretty sure it won’t fit once they take it in.” Regina arched a brow, and Emma blushed as she realized her mistake. “Not like that! It’s just…you are erm…” a smirk started curling on Regina’s lips and Emma’s face scrunched up in frustration. “I’m going to shut up now.”

“That seems wise, dear.” Regina purred, flicking Emma’s hair over her shoulder before she took half a step back, her hands moving to her hips as she looked Emma over with pursed lips.

“What?”

“Sorry about keeping you, ladies.”

Regina turned to look at Merlin as he entered the room, Emma leaning around her to get a good look at the man as he walked towards them with a garment bag tossed over his shoulder.

“It’s alright.”

Merlin stopped as his eyes looked over Emma and he shook his head, “That will need to be taken in before filming as well.”

“Yeah, it’s a little big.”

“Nothing we can’t fix,” He grinned and then his eyes moved to look at Regina and his smile widened, “Well now, don’t you look handsome?”

Regina rolled her eyes, fully turning to face the man and it was then that Emma noticed the pins on the back of her shirt. “Are you sure it’s not a little much?”

“We will see what Mary Margaret says.”

Regina nodded and then walked away to stand in front of a plain wall.

“Emma, can you get on the pedestal over there? I’ll be one second.”

“Of course.” Emma said, watching as the man grabbed a camera and moved towards Regina, and Emma moved to stand on the pedestal in front of the large mirrors as she waited for the man to finish up.

“Perfect, that will be all, Regina, you can change now.” Emma heard and she watched Regina walk by her in the mirror, loosening the tie as she went.

“Be mindful of the pins as you change, darling!” He called out before stopping behind Emma, “Oh boy, I’m going to need you to put up your hair before we start on the top half.”

“Right, sorry,” Emma blushed, putting up her hair as Merlin kneeled and rolled up the cuffs of Emma’s slacks.

Emma silently watched him work in the reflection as her brain wandered to whatever it was that had happened just a few moments earlier, getting so lost in thought she didn’t notice when Regina exited the dressing room nor the way her eyes had lingered on her for a few seconds before leaving the room. 

 


 

Emma twisted and turned in front of the mirror as she checked out the last of the many suits they had stuck her in for this fitting, this one fit much better than the first, a navy blue pinstripe instead of solid black. It was comfortable and it had more to give than the others.

“This one is very nice,” Merlin said as he stepped up behind her, tugging on the sleeves and shoulders a little. “It only needs a few tiny adjustments.”

“I like this one.”

“What about this one stands out to you?”

“I feel like I can move in it without it falling apart.” Emma laughed to herself, moving her hand to nervously run through her hair only to remember it was pulled back in a messy ponytail.

“Hmm, I’ll remember that if this show continues.”

“Sorry, I’m back, how’s it coming along here?” Emma turned to see Mary Margaret enter, shoving her phone in her pocket as she looked up from whatever she was doing on it. “Oh that is perfect.”

“I think we’re just about done here, I need to mark the adjustments for this suit then I believe we’re done here.”

“Excellent. How did it go with Regina?”

Emma bit her cheek, slipping her hands into the surprisingly deep pockets in the suit, mentally marking it as another thing she liked about it.

“Good, the pictures are on my tablet.”

“Excellent.” Mary Margaret paused, eyes taking in Emma a little more closely, “this suit is a keeper.”

Emma smiled brightly, blurting, “it has pockets,” before her mind could even catch up and a bright blush covered her cheeks as she mentally kicked herself. She’s never been good at feeling like the third wheel, something stupid almost always comes out of her mouth when put on the spot like that.

“I’ll note you like pockets,” Merlin smiled, grabbing his pincushion and his chalk as he approached her again, motioning for Emma to spin around with his finger and Emma instantly did as requested.

“So, am I getting a formal look too?”

“Hmm?”

“Regina, the suit and tie, I thought…” Emma mentally kicked herself again while Merlin met her eyes in the mirror. “Sorry.”

“No, no it’s okay. It’s business formal. You on the other hand, will probably mostly live in suits.”

“Cool.” She nodded to herself, anxiously rubbing the back of her neck as she looked in the reflection of the mirror to Mary Margaret who was smiling at her before her eyes jumped back to the tablet. She looked almost giddy at whatever she was seeing and it made a small smile curl on Emma’s lips, her nerves a calmer simmer as Merlin finished what he was doing.

“Okay, Emma that is it for today!”

“Really?” Emma turned to look at him and he nodded, placing his hands on his hips as he looked her over.

“Yes, we will need you in again shortly to make sure our adjustments are good but for now you may go.”

“Okay!”

Emma hopped off the pedestal, chancing a glance at Mary Margaret who was once again smiling at her.

“You look perfect, Emma, just how I pictured Blackwell.” She giggled to herself suddenly and Emma frowned, once again stuffing her hands in her pockets to keep herself from nervously fidgeting. “Well, I actually pictured her a bit older and broody, but I saw how you played her in the table read and it was just perfect.”

“Yeah, I promise when we film I’ll look like I have a stick shoved way up my ass!”

“See, this is why I picked you. I know you were my Blackwell the minute you walked into the audition room!”

Emma felt the faint blush colouring her cheeks and she took a step back and to the left as she met Mary Margaret’s eyes once again. “Erm, thank you…but I should erm get changed now.”

“Of course!” Mary Margaret beamed and then looked back down at the tablet and Emma quickly scurried away.

 


 

“You’re incorrigible,” Regina hissed as she glared across the table at Zelena, who was giggling over the lewd joke she’d just made.

Zelena waved her off with a half eaten mozzarella stick between her fingers, her blue eyes twinkling as she teased. “You’re such a prude, Gina, you need to relax.”

“I am not. And don’t call me that.”

Zelena cackled and took another bite from the mozzarella stick, which caused Regina to grumble and stab at her salad. “Stop picturing the tomatoes as my head and maybe you won’t break the dishes.”

“I can’t believe I might be stuck with you for years!”

“And to think I thought you already were…”

Regina glared at her and Zelena’s eyes twinkled teasingly again. “I hate you.”

“You’re just grumpy cause the little swan’s got you all sexually frustrated.”

“She does not! And don’t talk about her like an object!”

Zelena giggled and she leaned closer, pointing her new mozzarella stick covered in marinara at Regina, “ooh this just keeps getting juicier. You actually care about this one.”

Regina huffed, rolling her eyes as she took a bite of her salad and looked across the busy restaurant to avoid facing her sister.

“What happened between you two?”

“Nothing,” Regina grumbled, catching the pout on her lips a second too late, when her expression turned into an annoyed glare, Zelena looked like she was about to squeal at the secret she could smell.

“Oooh it was big! Tell your big sissy everything.”

“Over your dead body.”

Zelena pouted, “now that’d be just redundant and so no fun for me.”

“At least if you were dead I wouldn’t have to listen to you anymore.”

“Oh, my sweet darling baby sister, I would haunt you until the day you die, you’d never get a moment alone again.”

Regina rolled her eyes, “as I said, I can’t believe I am stuck with you, in another country, for possibly years.”

“You’re stuck with Emma too.”

Regina glared at her instantly and Zelena cackled as she popped the mozzarella stick in her mouth and finally focused on her food long enough for Regina to just enjoy the nonsensical chatter of the other restaurant’s patrons.

 


 

Emma was curled up in the chair in her room, quietly reading her lines to herself, closing her eyes after skimming over the pages to try and get off script.

The quiet hum of the fridge the only thing heard outside her own voice, her head lulled back against the arm of the chair as she tried to think of her next line, her brow crinkling as she struggled.

“Ugh!” She growled, sitting up and looking at the script and rolling her eyes at her own stupidity. “Seriously Swan, you can remember “insufferable pain in my butt” but not, “thank you for… fuck I already forgot it!”

“Thank you for talking to me, Mrs. Harper.”

She heard a muffled voice say her line in assistance and she turned to look at the door to her left and nearly fell off her chair as she realized she’d just been caught yelling at herself. “Thank you!”

She didn’t hear anything else and pouted as she anxiously rolled up her script and stared at her wall until finally she couldn’t take it anymore and got up, hesitantly moving to the open door she hadn’t actually closed that morning, and stared at the thin wood separating her room from Regina’s. 

“H-how was the rest of your day?” She ventured, sensing Regina was still standing near the door.

She heard something clutter to the floor and she bit her cheek to stop herself from giggling at the mental image of a flustered Regina, maybe in her cute glasses again, maybe staring down at her shoe or something else she’d just dropped.

“It was fine.” Regina called out.

Emma smiled at the response, her voice slightly distant and closed off, but real. “Cool cool…my fitting was super weird. Mary Margaret just smiled at me a bunch.”

“Yes, she does that.”

“It’s unnerving.”

She heard a quiet hum, it sounded closer and when she looked down she could see the shadow of Regina’s feet from under the door. She wondered if her hand was hovering over the knob.

“So are you completely off book or…?” She prompted.

“Not quite as well as I would like. The move threw a wrench in my usual routine.”

“Same…also I am horrible at procrastination and memorization…where it counts at least.”

She heard a chuckle and something warm stirred in her gut at the sound, so oddly familiar even after not hearing it for so long. This morning seems to have really gotten her body all twisted up.

“You mean when you have to express gratitude?”

“Yes, sincerity, gross.”

Emma’s eyes widened as she heard Regina choke on a snort, almost sure that if she was a puppy her ears would be perked up by now.

She waited quietly for any response, nervously tightening the roll that was her script until it could very well be considered a weapon. She wasn’t ready for their conversation to be over.

“Would you…” Emma bit her cheek, rubbing the back of her calf with the back of her foot as she looked at the door with nervous eyes.

“Would I?”

Emma’s heart clenched and dropped into the pit of her stomach at the just as unsure sound of Regina’s voice meeting her ears.

“Would you like to run lines together?”

There was a long pause and Emma was sure she was going to throw up, the script so tightly wound in her hand she was pretty sure it’ll never come apart again, and just as she was about to take back the invite and say it was a stupid idea, she heard Regina clear her throat and Emma’s eyes shot up to look at the pristine white door still standing between them.

“Sure.”

The script unravelled in Emma’s hands and toppled to the floor as she stared open mouthed at the door, sure Regina was going to say no but. “Shit…” She whispered to herself as Regina continued like she hadn’t noticed the turmoil Emma was going through on the other side.

“It could be useful since we have so many scenes together.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Emma responded as she squatted down to pick up her fallen script in a looser coil.

“You would be a superior partner over my sister. She makes everything into a sexual innuendo.”

Emma looked up towards the sound of Regina’s voice and frowned at the memory of her bump in with Zelena after her fitting and breakfast that morning. “I noticed.”

“She mentioned you two had breakfast together.”

Emma was shocked when the voice was no longer coming from above her and the shadow of Regina’s feet now looked like it was of her back leaning against the door. If she was a bit disappointed Regina hadn’t actually opened the door and invited her in, she didn’t say it; mostly she was just happy Regina hadn’t altogether turned down her invitation.

“Yeah, and Tamara.”

Emma lowered herself so she was sitting cross legged and facing the door, as she anxiously flattened out her script, silently cursing out herself for having rolled it up in the first place.

“Would you like to start with the first scene?”

“Yeah, yeah…that’d be great. Thank you.”

“Well look at that, you can be sincere.”

Emma rolled her eyes and flipped to the first scene she and Regina shared, nearly jumping out of her skin when she heard Regina’s voice reading them into the scene.

Nearly lost in the sound of her voice as it flowed through the door, low and raspy, it was different from when she was talking, when she was acting even, her voice was almost always different when she was acting but Jesus, when she was reading it got even lower.

“That was your cue, Miss Swan.”

“Fuck, sorry, I lost my place.”

“Blackwell glares up at the figure standing above her.”

Emma smiled as she traced her finger over the words, and then something struck her, having to act that first scene, oh god having to prepare for it after everything, thinking about being that close to Regina again. Maybe Regina was feeling the same way, maybe they should talk about it...

“Emma?”

“Sorry, I just. Nevermind.” Emma cleared her throat, instantly losing all nerve because she didn’t want to ruin this new and strange truce they had going on. 

Regina’s silence washed over her and Emma stared at the shadow from under the door as she slowly began reading her lines. “Who the hell do you think you are!?”

“Roni, Private Eye.”

Emma grumbled, her eyes looking down at the page and back up as she responded, “more like a private dick.”

“I can be that too, if you like.”

Emma choked on her own spit, looking down at her script almost sure that hadn’t been there before but there it was staring up at her, taunting her.

“What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?”

“Blackwell stands up.” Emma reads the direction, her eyes moving to stare at the door again as she huffed, fully in character, “do you have any idea who I am?”

“I mean from the looks of it probably a bureaucratic pain in my a–”

“I do not have time for this. I am trying to find a missing woman.”

“Neither do I, but your goons started this.”

Emma huffed, her brain freezing as she looked down at the script her hand had stubbornly rolled up again and with a few quiet curses she turned the page and read her next line.

It was weird how easy it was to work with Regina even without seeing her face, her voice told her everything she needed to work with and soon Emma turned around, leaning her back against Regina’s through the door, each line, each direction easy and simple and Emma’s face lit up as Regina seemed to also fumble over her lines.

 


 

“No accent today?” Emma asked as Regina silently looked for her next line having lost her place after being off book for so long since Emma had taken over reading the directions for the back half of the script.

“We are just reading.”

“Ok, I just... I like the little accent you give her.”

There was another long pause as Regina looked down and to the side, seeing Emma’s hand through the shadows on the floor. “She is a Brooklyn girl.”

“Were you?”

“No, Manhattan.” Regina frowned, looking back at her script and her heart leaped in her chest in celebration as she finally found her line.

“I filmed a movie in New York a few years ago, I loved it there.”

“It’s a beautiful city.” Regina smiled, silently reading over her lines a few times, letting the silence set between them for a second before breaking it. “I found my place.”

“Okay, I’ll start over.”

“Okay.” Regina smiled, closing her eyes as she listened to Emma say her lines, listening to every change and signal in her voice, it was different than acting face to face, but it was oddly comforting, getting to know the tells in her voice, for acting, of course.

 


 

They rarely saw each other the next few days, both busy doing one thing or another for production or bonding with other cast members they were meant to spend time with on screen. It was busy and chaotic and it was one of Emma’s favourite parts of production, getting to know people, building her character. It was long and tiring and she always did more than she was asked to, but she loved every second of it.

She saw Regina here and there, in groups, during a table read as they got closer to filming, or out with Zelena, it was mostly pleasant interactions or a smile across a crowded room in greeting. It was weirdly nice. A promise that if this show got picked up maybe it’d be okay. But what really made Emma believe that was the case, was their nightly sessions, where they always found themselves sitting by the joining doors, running lines and discussing juicy drama. Emma treasures those moments, even if sometimes she thinks about asking Regina to open the door and let her in, but she doesn’t, because deep down she understands why she hasn’t yet.

Zelena was the best source for any set drama and with both their connections to the woman they almost always had something to share as they took notes on the script or how they wanted to play a scene.

“You nervous for tomorrow?” Emma asked that night, eyes hesitantly glancing up at the door like she could see Regina through the wood.

There was a pause in the sound of typing, it lagged on for long enough that Emma was ready to roll herself under the large bed and never come out again. She was sure she’d stepped over some boundary, Regina Mills, nervous? That’s just preposterous, wasn’t it? Asking her must have been like the worst insult.

“A little, I suppose. But I’ve heard great things about Mulan, she’s supposed to be one of the best stunt coordinators in town.”

Emma chuckled nervously, eyes looking down to see Regina’s shadow shifting almost nervously. “Yeah…still, we should come up with some kinda safe word or something…”

The silence again dragged on, Emma’s brain slowly catching up to her mouth and her mouth dropped open, practically able to see Regina’s slightly quirked eyebrow.

“Y-y’know, so we don’t like, actually hurt each other…”

Regina chuckled and Emma’s eyes remained on the shadow, her heart hammering in her chest as she noticed it get closer as Regina did.

“My safe word is apples,” Regina’s voice travelled from the other room, a low raspy whisper, the teasing obvious and Emma wanted to laugh but the urge to fall on her face and scream into the rug was even more tempting…the only thing stopping her from doing so was the fact she had no idea how clean the hotel rug actually was.

“G-good to know…erm mine is…watermelon?”

“Watermelon? Huh, would’ve picked you for a toaster strudel kind of girl.”

“What?” Emma chuckled, trying to catch up to wherever Regina’s swirling train of thought was going.

“Bear claw? Come on, I was sure it’d be something utterly ridiculous.”

“You are spending a lot of time thinking about my hypothetical safe word.”

Emma heard Regina puff out an annoyed breath of air, sure she was busy trying to repair her ego as time ticked by and Emma heard nothing from her, a victorious smile slowly curling on her lips, almost sure Regina’s mind was still working a mile a minute on her safe word guesses.

“Fine!” Emma laughed, “but you can’t tell anyone.”

“I promise not to tell a soul…I do not promise it’ll remain a secret though.”

“You threatening to kick my ass again, Miss Mills?”

“Oh no threat, it’s a promise, dear.”

Emma chuckled, biting her bottom lip, she leaned forward and she was almost sure Regina did the same, she was sure she could feel her energy through the thin wood and it was making every inch of her skin feel like it was on fire. “It is Bearclaw.”

“Bullshit, Miss Swan, out with the real one or I’ll make you beg for mercy tomorrow.”

“Ugh fine! It’s daisies! Happy?!”

Regina barked out a laugh that was quickly muffled by what Emma was sure was Regina’s hand and this time Emma let herself fall back against the carpet, covering her face with the script as she groaned.

“Now I really wasn’t expecting that, dear.”

“Shut up.”

“I mean it’d definitely make someone double take.”

Emma pulled the script away from her face as she rolled her eyes, staring up at the crisp white ceiling and the way the lamplight danced over it. Her mind wandering as she thought about the day after and the upcoming weeks as filming began and ultimately came to an end. “I hope the show gets picked up…”

There was a pause again, a light thud and Emma leaned up on her elbows to see Regina’s shadow and the outline of her back from under the door. A small smile curled on her lips as she laid back down, waiting patiently for Regina’s response.

“Me too, although I could go without being cooped up with my sister for years.”

“Don’t you live a few houses away from her back in LA?”

“LA traffic is horrible and she refuses to walk.”

Emma smirked, “bet you secretly love the idea of working with her.”

“Yes, and I bet you love working with Jefferson.”

Emma’s nose scrunched up in disgust. “Nobody likes working with that man, not even Merlin, and he likes nearly everyone.”

“I’ve worked with worse.”

“Same…”

Emma sighed, folding her hands on her belly she heard the sound echoed back from Regina and she smiled at the weird sense of intimacy that stirred within her gut. Letting the silence wrap around them, letting her thoughts take her away.

“Emma?”

“Mmm?”

There was a pause again, Emma pushing up on her elbows as she sensed the nervousness fill the air around them once more, her brows furrowing as she watched Regina’s shadow move away from the door.

“Nothing, I’m just... I should go to bed. We both should, busy day tomorrow and all that.”

Emma frowned but nodded, watching Regina until it was just the shadows of her feet again, as she walked away from the door.

“Of course. Goodnight, Regina. Thank you.”

“Goodnight, Emma.” She heard the faint whisper before Regina’s room was washed in darkness and Emma was left wondering what Regina had really wanted to say.

 


 

She was up early, her alarm blaring before the sun even thought about rising, wiping the sleep from her eyes, she got her tea, did her yoga, and finally took her morning shower. Her thoughts never stopping as she ran through the day’s schedule over and over on repeat, most importantly, the first day of their stunt choreography that morning.

While she showered, her mind ran over every line. As she drank her tea, she studied the script and her schedule. She whispered the lines to herself as she styled her hair, feeling her heart stuttering in her chest when she looked in the mirror, her curls wild and all over the place, her lips pulling into a deep frown, almost sure she had followed the YouTube tutorial and Zelena’s advice to a T.

“Whatever.” She muttered, pulling the top half of her hair up into a tiny ponytail as she moved through her room, unconsciously knocking on the adjoining door as she moved to get her things for the day.

“Five more minutes!”

“The shuttle leaves in an hour, Miss Swan!” She yelled as she moved back into the bathroom, to get her brush from the counter.

“Fuck!”

Then, right on schedule she heard the telltale sound of Emma falling off her bed as she rushed to get ready and once again tangled herself up in her sheets, a fond smile curling on her lips, though upon seeing it in the mirror she crushed it instantly with the right amount of guilt tripping to have her focused on work once more, and not the fumbling idiot on the other side of the wall.

Regina left her room, leather duffel bag with her gym clothes hanging from her elbow and sunglasses over her eyes as she headed down the hall to the elevator to get a quick breakfast before catching the shuttle to the studio.

“Hold the elevator!” She heard Emma yell, looking up to see the mess of a blonde fumbling out of her room with one shoe on and her bag open dropping her belongings on the floor as she hopped to put on the other.

Regina reached out, hand pressed against the door to keep it open, her head tilting to get a better view of the items Emma was dropping like a trail to lead her back home. “Your bra, Miss Swan.”

Emma’s eyes went wide as they met hers and she turned around, a quiet curse leaving her mouth as she dropped her bag and ran back to collect her sports bra, a tiny pair of shorts and at least one sock, stuffing them back into the canvas bag and zipping it closed this time, then she ran to meet Regina, refusing to make eye contact the whole ride down.

“This wouldn’t happen if you actually woke up from your alarm.” 

“You could’ve woken me earlier.”

Regina snorted as the doors to the elevator opened, stepping out as she called after her. “I am not your wife, dear.”

“I wouldn’t sleep through my alarm if you didn’t set yours so stupidly early!”

Regina puffed out an annoyed breath of air, glancing back at Emma with a condescending smile on her face. “Some of us can’t simply roll out of the bed and be… presentable.”

Emma rolled her eyes, jogging to catch up with her, “I’ve seen what you look like when you just wake up. Trust me, you’re presentable.”

Regina came to a sudden stop, her cheeks warming as she noticed Ruby and Tamara looking at them from where they sat at the entrance of the breakfast area, all smirks and raised eyebrows and Regina wasn’t sure if she felt rage or embarrassment or maybe even shame boiling from deep within her, but instead of figuring it out and investigating the cause of the other two, she locked onto rage and turned on Emma, stepping close into her space making Emma look like she was about to crap her pants or pass out as she stared in shock and shame? Pity?

“Regina I–”

“You would do well to think before you speak, Miss Swan, you have an awful reputation for shoving your foot down your own throat and, trust me, the charm starts to wear out fast.”

“Re–”

Regina didn’t stay to let Emma finish, she lifted her head high and moved to the breakfast bar to get some fruit and coffee, trying not to let herself feel the stares burning into her back. It was all in her head. Nobody was staring. It was 2016 nobody even cares anymore, right?

“Breathe before you murder that cantelope.”

Regina growled as Zelena placed a comforting hand on her shoulder but Regina quickly shrugged it off, stabbing into a piece of watermelon and glaring at it like it had personally harmed her.

“Regina–”

“I don’t want to hear it, Zelena.”

She dropped the bowl on the bar and turned around, storming out of the hotel, feeling the eyes burning into her, feeling the shame eating her up inside making it feel like everyone knew what she was, that she was an abomination.

 


 

Regina sat alone in the back of the shuttle, earphones in her ears, the rock music drowning out the others’ chatter as she once again read through all her notes, and tried to pretend she wasn’t a second away from losing her mind.

It was stupid, she knew that, but that fear of being outed, it had the power to eat her up inside, the shame from the years of abuse from her mother, that she had yet to truly face in fear that if she really looked, if she really picked her childhood apart, she might never be able to pick herself up from the floor again, so instead she smothered it, she let anger and denial be her shell.

It’s not like her life was always like this, some places she felt free enough to be herself, with Neal and her friends from college, sure, they never really saw each other in person much anymore but they talked enough, she was out with them and mostly with Zelena, but there was still that wall, a simmering anger stemming from childhood memories of feeling lonely and unprotected, of guilt that always reared its head when either of them felt vulnerable.

It’s not like their childhood had been easy, their mother had constantly pitted them against each other, and some days it had felt more like Zelena was trying to raise her than she was her sister, and others, they were fighting tooth and nail for any kind of reprieve from their mother’s vitriol.

It took a lot of work for them to get to where they were now, eventually Zelena had decided she needed to protect her more than she needed their mother’s attention… she then started seeing Regina as her equal, her sister, instead of someone standing in her way of the affection all children crave.

Regina on the other hand, had to work on trusting that she could lean on her sister for help and support, to trust her with her most vulnerable moments and know that she wouldn’t be hurt for oversharing. She had to forgive her for some childlike ideology that her big sister was meant to stand between her and a bullet, to start seeing that Zelena wished for that as much as she did. They both just wanted an ally and it took years to really learn they had it if they gave it, if only they trusted each other.

She still found that she hid away when she felt vulnerable though, she still shied away from the comfort Zelena tried to offer her, an overpowering fear of showing weakness in the presence of others, giving them any opening to latch onto, and tear her to shreds.

Regina doesn’t do vulnerable. Not anymore.

 


 

Emma looked behind her at the back of the bus where Regina was tucked in the corner, Emma was almost sure that if she wasn’t such a snob her legs would be pulled up to her chest to really hide away from everyone.

It was just the two of them on the shuttle now, all the others had been dropped off for their last fitting in one of the main buildings while they drove to who knows where for their rehearsal.

The silence on the shuttle was deafening, Emma’s leg bouncing with anxiety while her eyes jumped around, one part of her wanted to go over to Regina and apologize for this morning, she’d been thinking about how it’d sounded and she knew she’d hurt the woman, but she also didn’t want to risk opening her mouth and making it worse. To be honest, Emma wasn’t exactly good at expressing herself, the foot-in-mouth syndrome was something she had suffered with her whole life.

And although it was true that maybe she needed to think more before opening her big stupid mouth, it still hurt, it hit way too close to home and every part of her was churning and hurting, from guilt, but also anger because yeah, she’s an idiot, but did she…yeah honestly she probably did. If someone did that to her she’d probably kick their ass.

Emma let out a groan and her head hit the back of the seat, everything had been going so well with Regina, an almost easy friendship…partnership even had been beginning to form. Whatever it was it was nice and easy and she just had to once again be a fucking idiot and mess it all up.

She even thought Regina had been opening up to her, perhaps even to the point to bring up their past. Maybe. But now they were back to square one.

“Stop thinking so loudly, I can hear you from back here.”

Emma shot straight up, turning in her seat to see Regina, still staring at her phone but one earphone was now out. “Says the recluse hiding in the back of the bus to avoid socializing with her colleagues.”

Regina sighed and her eyes slowly rose to look at Emma, a hidden vulnerability shining through for half a second before being shoved away. “I was trying to get some work done while you lot gossipped about.”

“We were talking about starting shooting on Monday. We’re all excited.”

“I’m just trying to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.”

Emma got up, making her way closer to the back and sat down on the side of one of the seats, not quite next to Regina but close enough that she had to fully turn her head to make eye contact. “You know every line in the script, I think you’re gonna be fine. What you need to do now is relax, so you don’t have a nervous breakdown.”

Regina watched her for a few long seconds, her eyes trailing over Emma’s face, studying her intently, trying to read every one of her thoughts and emotions just from her expressions, and it was as eerie as it was hypnotizing.

“You’re upset.”

Emma let out a disbelieving laugh, “yeah, I am. So are you.”

Regina’s lips pulled down in a slight pout, her eyes looking unsure as they locked with Emma’s, and it made Emma’s walls fall a bit, almost scared that if she was too guarded right now she’d spook the bear that was Regina Mills and her ever confusing emotions.

“I’m sorry, about earlier, I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

“It’s okay, I should have realized how it would sound.”

Regina nodded and looked away, the quiet sound of rock music being heard from the earphone hanging loose.

“Are you listening to rock?”

“It reminds me of Roni.”

Emma let out a laugh, cause yeah, maybe but she didn’t listen to just any music when she was upset either, she listened to music that grounded her. “Did the Regina Mills have a grunge stage?”

“No.” Regina pouted and paused her music and Emma felt something warm in her chest.

“Your secret is safe with me.” She sighed, leaning back against the seat, feeling Regina’s eyes on her almost as soon as they left her mouth. “All of them, I promise.”

“Thank you…” Regina whispered, and it felt like a promise had been sealed. 

Quiet rustling was heard before there was a presence next to her and a painful jab to her shoulder that had her staring up at the weirdly neutral face of Regina Mills. “Move over.”

“You want to sit with me?”

“We need to go over some protocol for today.”

“Of course,” Emma chuckled, sliding to the window to give Regina enough room to sit down and then to her surprise an earphone was offered to her and Emma smiled, putting it in her ear and listening to the music as Regina pressed play. “This is a weird type of protocol.”

“Shut up.”

Emma smiled and let her eyes drifted closed as she listened to the music blasting in her ear, Regina’s arm pressed against her own. It was nice…weird, but still nice.

“Yours too.”

Emma’s eyes popped open and she looked at Regina, legs crossed, back straight and eyes avoiding Emma’s at all cost but the gentleness in her voice, it spoke of something important. Something Emma didn’t really quite understand. “What?”

“Your secrets, they’re safe with me too.”

“I know,” Emma smiled, reaching out and watching Regina stiffen up like she was expecting Emma to get all weird and sappy, but instead she did much worse, she snatched Regina’s phone from her hands and scrolled through her list of notes. “Okay so, let’s get this over with before Mulan has us crying from pain in like 30 minutes.”

“Don’t touch my phone,” Regina growled, snatching it back but not moving away, she just let her eyes skim over the first point. “I don’t like being grabbed from behind without warning, if the scene calls for it from Mulan I will know, but please do not improvise.”

Emma nodded, her eyes softening and her smirk fading as she straightened up a bit. “I don’t like sudden hand movements.”

“Me neither…”

“I trust you though, or I think I will, in time.”

Regina gave her a small smile before she looked back down at her list, “I don’t like feeling immobilized. When a scene calls for it, can you not put too much pressure on me?”

“Of course…don’t um pull on my ponytail, I have a reflex, I will end up hurting you.”

“Okay.”

“Is that all?” Emma asked, looking over at Regina from the corner of her eye, feeling her nervous energy swimming around deep within her gut.

“I think so.”

“Okay. Don’t forget our safe words, if you feel uncomfortable share it with me and with Mulan.”

Regina nodded, fingers moving over the screen of her phone like she’s taking notes on this and it’s almost so cute it hurts Emma’s chest. “Do you have any concerns you would like to go over?”

“A couple if you don’t mind…”

“Go ahead,” Regina smiled and Emma leaned back against the seat, feeling Regina slowly do the same so the earphones didn’t pull.

They sat there for a few moments of just listening to the music before Emma spoke up, word vomiting all over the place about her anxieties, about being scared she might actually end up hitting her, how she’s worried about getting lost in the scene. She even almost let slip that she was worried about being that close to Regina again after everything they went through.

Regina just listened though, reassuring her that it’d be okay, that it was all rather technical for their own safety, these were probably discussions they’d have to go over again with Mulan but the fact that Regina gave them at that moment to talk about it amongst themselves, to be vulnerable for a few moments, to make sure they were both okay when this was over, well, Emma had never felt so safe with a co-star before. She trusted Regina to catch her when she fell…figuratively… since she suspected it was very likely Regina would be making her ‘fall’ very shortly.

Chapter Text

Regina barely got a second to greet her hairstylist before the chairs filled on each side of her with Ruby and her very chatty sister, while Jacinda instantly got started on the arduous task that was taming Regina’s wild curls. 

Ashley and Ruby were chattering back and forth, Zelena wouldn’t stop talking her ear off and then it was just her heavy rock music, drowning out the world as she watched Jacinda move around her, and her other castmates come and go.

She watched the fumbling half asleep exchange as Emma entered and walked directly into a retreating Tamara, sides tumbling to the floor and a to-go cup held against Emma’s chest like she feared for death.

Emma barely picked her sides off the floor before Ashley was tugging her to the chair next to Regina, her mouth moving quickly as she glanced over at Jacinda, the two hairstylists talking even while Ashley tore a brush through Emma’s hair making the poor woman’s face twist and pull.

She was looking away again when the cup Emma was carrying was thrust into her eyeline, her eyes going wide before she turned to look at Emma who had her own earbuds in and was staring down at her sides like she hadn’t just brought Regina coffee.

“Thank you…” She whispered, taking the cup and watching the smile on Emma’s lips twitch and then pulled into a grimace as Ashley nearly tugged Emma out of her stool when the brush unexpectedly caught a knot.

“Wardrobe, Regina!”

She turned, her mouth full of coffee as Ariel stood in the door of the trailer like she was about to stuff her in her jeans herself.

“She needs makeup first.”

“Hurry it up, we are already running late as is!”

“Tell Merlin to get the stick out of his ass!” Jacinda responded and the young girl turned red, blowing out air as she moved from the trailer, the faint sound of her yelling at Jefferson heard even over her music.

“That girl may look sweet but boy does she have a bite to her,” Jefferson said, looking scared for his life as he sat in one of the chairs and the makeup artist busied herself with getting him ready to go.

Regina glanced over at Emma, the two of them sharing a look before Regina took another gulp of the coffee and relaxed in her chair, Jacinda putting in the last curler before she left to leave Regina in the makeup artist’s competent hands.

 


 

“Your bra!” Regina heard the second she opened the door to the wardrobe trailer, her eyes widening as she watched Tamara catch the bra, and nearly drop her shoes in the process.

“Regina! Your clothes are hanging over there, please hurry, we had a mix-up, someone grabbed the wrong wrack and– Ariel where is Blackwell’s other boot?!”

“I was just polishing it!”

Merlin tsked, putting down the very shiny badge on the table and walking towards Ariel while Tamara nearly fell in the change room, the thud drawing everyone’s attention to the small space.

“I’m okay!”

“Regina, change, now.”

Regina blinked, long and slow, suddenly wishing for her father’s coffee, muttering about the sun barely being up as she grudgingly moved further into the trailer, unzipping her sweater and tossing it on the table as she carefully maneuvered herself out of her t-shirt, cussing under her breath as it got caught in one of her curlers.

“Is this a bad time?”

She turned toward the voice, peeking from under the shirt to see Emma standing in the doorway she once was, drinking happily from the travel mug Regina had just been using a minute ago.

“Emma, pants are over there, I’m sorry it’s not usually like this.”

“Uh,” Regina watched as Emma’s eyes skimmed over her, a smirk on her face as she obviously tried to keep in her laughter and Regina flipped her off while Merlin seemed to catch on and rushed to her aid while Ariel continued to steam Rogers’ suit.

“It’s stuck in the back.”

“Maybe next time wear a button up.”

Regina glared daggers at Emma and she quickly scurried away to act interested in a random bobble across the room.

“Coming through!” Ariel suddenly yelled, squeezing past Emma as Merlin pulled on Regina’s top, and it was like it happened in slow motion, Regina’s eyes widening as Merlin stumbled back, colliding with Ariel who knocked into Emma who screamed in shock. Emma’s brain trying to figure out if it should protect the coffee once again or catch the falling woman but she took too long and they were left with their wardrobe team in a heap on the floor, Regina’s top clutched in Merlin’s hand and Ariel looking like the room was spinning around her as she laid under the tall man, wardrobe bag over her torso.

“Shit.”

“What the fuck did you do?” Tamara asked when she exited the dressing room to see what the commotion was.

“Whoa!” They all turned to see a shocked PA, his eyes bouncing from person to person like he came across a massacre and he didn’t know where to look first.

“Hey! Keep your eyes to yourself!” Emma yelled, and Regina snorted, turning to look at the woman who was trying to look frightening even while still hugging her coffee to her chest.

“Sorry!”

“Rogers’ suit,” Ariel said, shakily holding up the bag and then suddenly Emma keeled over in laughter and Tamara soon followed, meanwhile Regina carefully took her shirt from Merlin and helped the man to his feet while the PA ran away with his tail between his legs.

“Ladies…”

Regina rolled her eyes, grabbing the button up from the rack and putting it on while Tamara and Emma helped up poor Ariel before Tamara escaped running off to set.

“Emma, your wardrobe.”

Emma blushed, putting her coffee down and slipping into the little changing area set up while Regina moved to pull her yoga pants down her legs to slip into her jeans.

Not even batting an eye at the partial nudity around others after doing it in front of at least 20 people a couple dozen times before.

She pulled the dark wash jeans on, padding across the trailer in her socks as she looked for her accessories. She slipped the belt through the loops on her jeans, her eyes flicking over the table, movements slow as she took another step, tucking her shirt in her pants she finally did them up, her eyes landing on the mug of coffee and her body screamed caffeine.

She flashed her eyes towards the changing area, actually debating on stealing a sip before she realized how weird that would be, she should not be thinking about sharing a cup of coffee with her co-star.

“Necklace.”

Regina turned, catching the small box as it was tossed at her, “thanks.”

“Your shirt is twisted.”

Regina glared at Emma, but the look fluttered as she saw Emma step out, synching up her own belt, the dark blue and high and ridiculously tight bun making her look striking.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Regina said, looking in the mirror and frowning at her shirt, “hold this,” she said, tossing a jewellery box which Emma easily caught, green eyes wide with fear as she glanced from Regina to the box confused.

Regina watched as Emma moved behind her, eyes tracing over Regina’s hands adjusting her shirt and tucking it in better in the front then slowly rose up to her face, her head tilting slightly to the side and her thin lips pulled together as she seemed to scrutinize both of them in the reflection.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Emma responded with a smirk, and then carefully stepped behind Regina, fixing the collar of her shirt and slipping the necklace slowly around her neck, pausing to meet Regina’s eyes in the mirror. “May I?”

“Sure,” Regina felt her cheeks warm and was suddenly happy for the inch of makeup covering her face but her eyes stayed locked on Emma as she latched the chain and gently slipped it under the collar, Regina’s breath catching as Emma’s fingers brushed the back of her neck.

“Emma, your shoes.”

Emma leaped away, turning to look at Merlin who was polishing a pair of doc martens. “Right, sorry.”

Regina watched as Emma moved across the trailer, their eyes locking for a split second before Emma focused on lowering herself to a stool to pull on a pair of black army boots.

Regina looked back at her reflection, centering the necklace and running her hands over the shirt to make sure it was okay before she finally did up her belt, the doc’s being placed by her feet and Regina smiled at Ariel in thanks before slipping them on, her eyes rising from her boots to see Emma standing in the doorway, her hands buried in her pockets as she talked with Merlin about something she couldn't quite hear.

“We’re ready for you two on set,” Regina’s eyes floated away from Emma to see the open door, a sigh leaving her as she tied up her last boot and stood up.

“Your jacket, Regina.”

“Thank you,” she said, taking the leather jacket from the man as she followed Emma down the couple stairs and through the lot to the soundstage they were filming in, slipping her jacket on as she walked to keep out the cold while Emma seemed to once again huddle around her travel mug.

 


 

“Regina, with us,” a PA said, tugging her off as Jacinda followed behind her, Emma getting tugged toward the small group of her fellow castmates gathering around a group of desks, Zelena in a space that looked like an office while Ashley and Anna fussed over her hair and makeup.

“You look good, Swan.”

Emma turned to look at Ruby and smiled, “I feel like my hair is trying to pull my face off.”

“That sucks, man, I’m sorry.”

Emma shrugged, taking a long sip of her coffee as she looked around the set, it was kind of incredible, “they went all out, huh?”

“Right? It’s so cool!” Ruby gushed and Emma smiled as suddenly her eyes got really wide and she started looking around, “you gotta look at this!”

“What?” Emma laughed as Ruby grabbed her hand and tugged her to one of the other desks and pointed excitedly at a nameplate that read her character’s name. “Cool…”

“Swan, Lucas, your ID’s.”

They looked over at the prop guy, rushing over to gather their things, Emma catching a glimpse of a visitor badge and smiling as she looked around Ruby to spot Regina in a chair as Jacinda fixed her hair and Ariel kneeled at her feet fixing the cuffs of her pants.

“Whoa, she looks hot,” Ruby breathed and Emma snapped her head to look at her, mouth gaping open slightly. “So do you, Swan.”

Emma forced out a laugh, “yeah, you do too, Rubes.”

“Rubes! Ah! Nicknames already!”

Emma flashed her a smile as she headed back towards the others, looking down as Rogers and Tamara showed off their IDs.

“I can’t believe this is really happening.”

“Me too…” Emma sighed, looking down at the ID and wondering if she could steal it without them noticing after they were done filming, as a keepsake if they don’t get picked up.

“Oh no, the beauty squad is headed our way, Emma, ready your bun.”

Emma’s eyes widened in fear as she watched Ashley approach, her scalp feeling like it was trying to flee in preparation for the pain it was certain it was about to be subjected to.

 


 

Emma was sat at her character’s desk, pretending to work on a computer that wasn’t even plugged in, her head long since numb from the bun but she had powered through, waiting as she heard Ruby’s footsteps approaching.

“The boss wants to see you.”

Emma looked up on cue, her eyebrows pulling together, an annoyed huff gusting out of her as she pushed back the chair, running her hands over her slacks as she looked up at the tall lanky girl, red streaks in her hair that was pulled back in a ponytail.

“Thank you, Sam.”

She said, like this was the most bothersome thing in her life, and she made her way towards the office, she looked straight ahead as the camera changed, following her step as it moved backwards, focusing on her face as she knocked on the door to the office.

“Come in.”

Zelena called and Emma opened the door. She’d seen Regina about a dozen times by now, but as she pushed away the door to see Regina turn her way, her hair swinging with the movement, something in her chest still jumped; this time she used it to her favor, a little shift in emotion and it was shock instead of awe.

“Boss?”

“You remember Miss Perez?”

Emma clenched her jaw, eyes moving from Regina’s, no, Roni’s, taunting smirk down her body, it was supposed to be a judgemental swipe of her eyes but she knew she lingered on the way those damn jeans fit so perfectly on full hips and strong thighs.

Emma finally got herself under control and her eyes moved back up, a glint in her eyes as she acknowledged her, “you clean up nice.”

“I see the stick implanted itself farther up your ass.”

Blackwell took over there, filling Emma with rage as her eyes flicked to Zelena leaning against the large wooden desk. “What is she doing here?”

“Meet your new partner.”

Emma’s jaw dropped open and she looked at a smug Roni, Regina nowhere in sight in how she acted, how she stood, it was as thrilling as it was unnerving. “She’s a civilian!”

“So was Agent Bryant.”

“Director.”

Zelena raised an exasperated hand and Emma clamped her mouth shut, her posture straightening, looking more like the soldier she, Blackwell, had been raised to be. “Sergeant Blackwell, do I need to remind you how things work around here?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Good.” There was then a sigh from Zelena, a roll of ice blue eyes as she waved her hand. “At ease, soldier.”

Emma’s shoulders relaxed a fraction, her eyes moving to look at Roni as she stood off to the side, her eyes burning into Emma as she studied her, her thumbs in her back pockets, silent, watching, it was unnerving and it wasn’t even real.

Zelena pushed off the desk, brushing her hands over her skirt as she walked forwards, gesturing for them to follow with a wave of her two fingers, Emma following behind on command but not Roni, no, she was slower, her steps loud and clunky from a more relaxed posture, almost like she was still unsure about being there which Emma knew she was, she’d helped Regina enough with her scenes over the last couple weeks to remember that, but the fact that Regina could express it with just the way she walked, it almost made Emma break character…again.

“Team!” Zelena’s voice boomed and Emma looked out at the walls all stood up and the busy group of their extras and castmates look towards her voice, Emma was impressed by the way Zelena could change too, she was always well, honestly, an asshole and a massive shit disturber, but as Director Moore she commanded a room like Regina usually did.

“I’d like you all to meet our newest agent, some of you might be familiar with her from her antics on Blackwell’s case a few days ago.”

Emma set her jaw as a chattering filled the room, ideal gossip, or at least that’s what they wanted to project.

A raise of Zelena’s hand and the room was quiet, even if it was scripted, there was just something about the presence Zelena was giving off right now. It’s like god had dumped two tons of talent on both sisters when creating them. Emma knew she wasn’t going to get tired of watching them work.

“Junior Agent Perez will be working under Blackwell, but please,” Zelena turned to look at them, her eyes dancing between the two as she finished, “play nice.”

Emma bowed her head, watching in the corner of her eye as Roni smirked at her, a promise for more trouble to come.

“That is all!” Zelena instructed and turned on her heels to head back to her office, Roni’s arms folded across her chest as Ruby and Rogers made their way over to them.

“Cut! That’s a wrap on the group scene! You did great, everybody!”

A deep breath escaped Emma, a wide smile stretching across her face as she looked at Regina who still looked guarded, still didn’t quite look like Regina, her eyes moved and she saw Zelena, looking very much like herself as she moved forwards and draped her arm over Regina’s shoulders and pulled her against her side, towering even more over her little sister since Regina was in flats and Zelena in stilettos.

“You guys were awesome!” Ruby yelled, plowing into Emma’s side and picking her up off the ground for a second in a giant bear hug.

“Thanks, Rubes,” Emma liked the girl, they spent enough time together bonding since their characters were supposed to be friendly, the girl was like a ball of wild energy, which is probably why she got along with her and Zelena so well.

“Don’t even think about it,” came Regina’s deep and threatening voice as Ruby approached her next, her threat weakened only by Zelena tugging on her ear and gaining Regina’s full attention of what could only be described as toddler-like sibling rage.

They were definitely in for a long one if the show lasted, the producers apparently hadn’t accounted for sibling rivalry or taunting when they hired the two sisters.

“Emma, Jefferson, and Rogers, head back to wardrobe then make your way to studio 10.” A PA called while flipping through papers on her notepad, “Regina, Ruby, Zelena, Marian and Tamara you all stay back here for additional shots.”

They all nodded, Emma glancing at Regina as she straightened out her leather jacket and offered Zelena one more warning glare before her eyes caught onto Emma’s for a fraction of a second, and then they were both being ushered away by crew members, probably unlikely to see each other for the rest of the day.

 


 

Emma sat on the large warn couch on the set for the missing girl’s house, her head resting against the back of the couch as she stared up at the rafters, listening to the crew mingling about, her bun stabbing her uncomfortably in the back of the head, but she was too tired to care.

They were trying to cram as many scenes as they could get in, which meant she’d officially been on set for 13 hours. She just kept reminding herself, they had only one more scene to go, then she could go back to the hotel and sleep.

“Sleeping on the clock are ya?”

Emma looked towards the voice, her eyes landing on Regina standing in the doorway, two takeout cups of coffee in her hands.

“Please tell me one of those is for me and you’re not an evil tease.”

Regina chuckled, walking towards Emma, takeout cup held out toward her, “thought I’d pay you back for this morning.”

“You’re the best,” Emma snatched it up, smelling the coffee as she brought it closer to her. “Thank you.”

Regina simply shrugged, dropping onto the couch next to Emma and taking a careful sip of her own coffee, Emma noticed the difference in her posture pretty quick, and it made a dopey smile curl on her lips.

“You’re still in character.”

“What?” Regina arched a brow and Emma smiled brighter.

“You got the accent a bit when you came in, and now you’re sitting like her.”

Regina turned on the couch, a curious yet very judgemental look on her face as she asked, “and how does she sit? Last I checked you haven’t yet seen how she sits, this could just be me, Miss Swan.”

“Yeah, see, that’s you, but you usually sit more stiffly, Roni is all about that lounging swag.”

“Have you been watching me, Miss Swan?”

Emma’s eyes got wide and she looked away, letting out a disbelieving noise as she focused on guzzling down her too hot coffee, but it was cold in comparison to the look Regina was giving her right now.

“We’re almost ready to go, ladies.”

They both looked toward the director like they’d forgotten they weren’t alone, like they’d forgotten they were surrounded by at least 30 other people and Emma’s cheeks turned a rosy pink as Regina nodded and pulled herself off of the couch, taking a long sip of her coffee as she walked.

“See you soon, Blackwell.”

“Yeah, you too, Perez.” Emma rolled her eyes, not needing to look to know Regina had done the same, instead she focused on finishing up her coffee before a crew member took it away from her.

 


 

If anyone asked why Emma was resting her head on Ruby’s shoulder as they all rode the shuttle back to the hotel, she could only explain it as exhaustion, really that was it, and honestly, that was valid, wasn’t it? They’d worked a 15 hour day, and the following day they were going to do it again.

She could barely keep her eyes open, let alone her head up, and her scalp was still sore from 15 hours in that bun of doom.

Everyone seemed exhausted, honestly, most of the cast had taken up whole seats to stretch out on, which is how Emma ended up sharing with Ruby…there wasn’t a lot of options and considering Regina got extra crabby the more tired she got, Emma didn’t really want to risk sitting next to her, heck, Zelena didn’t even risk it, she was wedged in a seat next to Marian who was FaceTiming with her young son before he went to bed.

Honestly, at this point Emma was hoping they had a trolley to help get them upstairs, and if not she might bribe a bag boy to push her to her room on a luggage cart.

There were a lot of things Emma had missed about working, 15 hour shifts was not one of them. And it’s not like the day had sucked, honestly it had been a freaking blast! She got to work with almost everyone today, see how they would all play off each other, any scene with either of the Mills sisters was always incredible, those two did not mess around, which was odd, considering all Zelena ever did was mess around.

Ruby was fun, honestly, they probably laughed too much during their scenes, and Rogers was always trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. Emma was honestly excited for tomorrow, to see what new thing she discovered about her co-stars.

“Hey, sleepyhead, we’re here.”

“I’m not sleeping.”

Ruby chuckled as she jostled her shoulder to get Emma moving and sure, she succeeded, but she was rewarded with a deadly glare in return… okay maybe it was more of a sad pout but whatever. Emma made her displeasure at movement known.

“Wanna carry me to my room?” Emma asked with a pathetic pout and Ruby barked out a laugh which only had Emma pouting harder.

“Why don’t you redirect that look towards Rogers, it will work better on him, I’m sure.”

Emma pursed her lips in thought, turning to look at the man talking quietly with Tamara over the back of his seat, his legs bent on the bench and an iPad resting on his thighs, Tamara staring at whatever was on his screen and commenting now and then.

“Better ask before someone else asks him to.”

“Nah, I think I’ll just walk… I am an adult… for the most part.”

“Okay, then scoot your boot, Swan, I’d like to get back to my room before midnight.”

“It’s only 9, stop being so dramatic.”

“It’s not dramatism when you’re taking a century.”

Emma rolled her eyes, sliding out of the seat and following Zelena off the bus, a yawn stretching her face as she followed behind the train of people like a trail of ducklings.

 


 

They were on location today, shooting somewhere in the middle of nowhere that would take them hours to get to, so they were forced up and in the shuttle before the sun even really peaked out from over the horizon. Regina was once again huddled in the back of the shuttle, this time in yoga pants and a large sweater, her glasses still on as she grabbed onto a large thermos filled with extra strong coffee like it was the only thing keeping her alive.

Rogers was sleeping in a seat up front, and Jefferson, who had attempted to chat both her and Regina up earlier on, had thought better of even venturing past the halfway point of the vehicle in fear of Regina’s wrath.

It was simmering at the surface, a morning person she was not, and she definitely didn’t like for anyone to point out the fact that she looked anything less than perfect.

She was all grumpy pouts as she alternated between working on her iPad and staring out the window at the scenery passing them by. It was agonizingly adorable and Emma couldn’t stop watching her with a mix of fondness and longing, longing for what exactly, she wasn’t sure. Perhaps to talk to the woman about the upcoming shoot, maybe to have company on the long ride that wasn’t from an obnoxious self-absorbed pretty boy.

Honestly, she’s pretty sure she was starting to lose her mind, she was starting to feel a little alone in this place. She really liked most of her castmates, Ruby was quickly becoming a good friend, and well, Regina was... Regina, she enjoyed running lines with her, talking whenever they could, and when they actually got to act together the few times they had, it lit something up in Emma, a burning excitement, like deep down she knew there was something special about what was happening there.

But she found herself longing for more, for that quiet moment they had had not long ago; sitting side by side, casually leaning into her, listening to Regina’s music together and just being. She wished for that again but she was scared to make a wrong move, scared to be demoted to the front of the shuttle with Jefferson and Rogers to avoid the burning fury that was Regina Mills in the mornings.

Though at the same time, there was something so alluring about a sleepy and grumpy Regina, one who looked more like the young woman she had met four years ago, wrapped in a warm hoodie and her legs tucked under her on the seat, looking so small and young. 

Emma was starting to think Regina didn’t know how to dress comfortably anymore, and then she saw her as she left this morning, already guzzling down her coffee, her sweater large on her small frame and her short hair pulled back with a clip, just the tiniest tufts of hair hanging at the back of her neck in wild curls that were still drying.

She was insufferably cute, but damn it if she wasn’t deadly, Emma had nearly lost her head this morning for simply wishing her a good morning. Apparently some days Regina needs three coffees before she will even tolerate a polite smile.

She let out a quiet sigh, looking away from the woman and back down at her phone, smiling at the text from her mom who was wishing her a good morning after Emma sent her a picture of the mountains that seemed to surround BC.

She got a notification from Instagram, her brows furrowing as she saw Regina had posted something, turning her head she looked back at the woman, curled up on the seat, her arms resting on the edge of the window as she stared out at the large stone sides of the mountains and the large pine trees standing tall and hiding away most of the sun.

She smiled slightly and looked back at her phone, opening the app to see Regina had posted a picture of their view, the location tagged and a caption that sounded more dreamy and cheerful than the woman she’s had the pleasure of encountering this morning.

Emma liked it, a smile on her face as she could see the slight reflection of Regina in the window. Her eyes rose up from her phone again, looking back over at Regina who was still gazing out the window and Emma thought back to that night on the rooftop, talking about random things, the dreamy nature of Regina’s voice as she explained to Emma all the beauties the night held. She wanted to listen to Regina describe the beauty of the sight before her, wanted to see it through her eyes.

Her phone pinged and she looked back at it, her eyes bugging out as she saw a DM from Regina, her heart banging against her ribcage as she read the two words over and over to be sure she was reading them correctly.

You’re staring .

Take a picture, it will last longer.

Emma chuckled at the next message that seemed to come after apparently she took too long to respond, and honestly, she was daring her, and Regina had to know by now that she never backed down.

Emma grinned, turning in her seat more fully so her legs were crossed, her knees pressing into the back of the seat as she rested her phone on the top, the camera open and focusing on Regina and she shamelessly took the picture. She watched through the camera of her phone as Regina’s eyes rose at the sound of the shutter going off, her glare deadly but her eyebrows were raised in surprise and her lips were curved in an impressed little smile.

Should I post it? Emma responded with a grin, watching as Regina saw her message, watched as dark eyes rolled and she looked at Emma with an unimpressed glower.

“If you’re so bored why don’t you come over here and run lines with me?”

Emma’s smile spread wide before she could stop it, heck, she was fumbling out of her seat to get to Regina before her brain could even attempt to tell her to play it cool.

“Idiot.”

“Grouch.”

Regina raised a brow and Emma laughed, sitting next to her, her backpack between her feet and her script on her lap, Regina watched as her hands flattened it out, skittered over the notes written in multicoloured pen, Emma blushing as she remembered some of the notes were about how Regina had played it and what she had liked about it, and some were just absentminded doodles next to long dialogue.

“Cute.”

Emma blushed, looking up at her, noting that after four cups of too strong coffee Regina was human again, or at least able to hold some semblance of a conversation at 6am without wanting to bash her brains in. It was nice.

“Today’s scene?”

Regina hummed, pulling her own script out and onto her lap, Emma looked up in surprise at how although Regina’s wasn’t all rolled away like Emma’s, it was still just as covered in notes and, there was nearly a masterpiece on the front cover of the script, although obviously a quick doodle, it was Roni, almost like concept art and it made Emma smile, her eyes taking in the image before Regina flipped to their page and there was so much red ink, and a paperclip that held a few notes to the page that Regina quickly removed so she could properly see.

It was a peek into her mind, a scattered assembling of the character of Roni Emma’s gotten to see up close only a few times now, and Emma suddenly wanted to know what Regina spent countless hours on her iPad and laptop doing if her script looked like this.

 


 

Regina turned her body on the seat, her back pressed against the side of the van, and one of her legs pulled up so it was bent at the knee, her arm resting on it casually, thermos practically dangling from her fingers as she watched Emma in the morning light, the sun shimmering in her golden hair and the shadows moving over her face, her eyes glistening whenever the sun peeked out from between the trees, bringing out the specks of blue and green in them.

She was talking animatedly about how she thought the scene should go, explaining how she wanted to play it, and Regina listened quietly, watched the wheels in her head turn, risking a meltdown as her mouth moved a mile a minute trying to properly convey her vision.

It was adorable.

“So our characters hate each other.”

Regina hummed, a smile curling on the corner of her lips as she lifted her thermos to her lips to take a slow sip, Emma turned in the seat more, her legs crossed, the script sitting abandoned in her lap, distracted by her landslide of thoughts. “Blackwell, I think she’s kinda intimidated, here’s this woman without her resources or her like, background, and she’s like kicking her ass left and right. Blackwell is used to getting her way, classic only child, y’know? She’s like head honcho; people always listen to her, then in comes Roni who doesn’t give a fuck about what she says and is fucking smart and cocky as hell. Really throws her for a loop.”

Regina chuckled, watching Emma talk, the light in her, Regina honestly loves that Emma knows so much about her character’s inner workings, it makes it easier to play off of each other, she’s more relaxed when things don’t go exactly as planned and it makes it more fun to play around.

“Roni just thinks she’s a stiff suit.”

“You’d be stiff and grumpy too if your hair was trying to pull your face off.”

“It’s how she looks so young in her old age.” Regina quipped as she once more raised her coffee to her lips, Emma rolling her eyes at her.

“Last I checked you were the older woman.”

“Mmm, now how often do you check, dear?” Emma rolled her eyes, snatching the coffee from Regina’s hand and taking a swig to her utter mortification. “Hey!”

“Sharing is caring.”

“I don’t share coffee.” Regina growled as she snatched her thermos back.

Emma snickered to herself, her eyes focusing on her script as she whispered to what Regina had to believe was supposed to be herself but in their small amount of space it was easily heard. “Joey doesn’t share food.”

“You’re such a child.”

“Maybe. But at least I’m cute.”

“Debatable.”

“Hey!”

“So, I’m thinking that mixing Blackwell with that petulant toddler energy you have going for you and the sophisticated adult you’ve miraculously pulled off, would be a wonderful method for the first scene.” Regina said nonchalantly as she flicked through the pages of her script, giving off an air of superiority that would make her mother proud.

“So it’s just insult Emma time, huh?”

Regina hummed, bringing her coffee to her lips as she grabbed her pen sitting in the folds of her hoodie, clicking the end on her knee as she made a few notes, Emma leaning close to get a clear view of what she was writing. “Have you always been this annoyingly curious or is this new?”

“Definitely not new,” Emma answered, her head almost bumping Regina’s as she read what she was writing upside down. “Hey, that’s just rude!”

Regina cackled, her eyes rising to meet Emma’s and she was frozen in place as she watched as the light hit Emma’s hair just right and it surrounded her head like a halo, successfully robbing her of air as Emma, unaware, continued to pout like a pathetic toddler.

“Why do I gotta be a whiny idiot and you get to be all sexy and badass?” Emma asked as if she didn’t feel the tension Regina was having a hard time not leaning into.

“Art imitates life, I suppose.”

“You’re such an asshole,” Emma said with a shake of her head, but a smile was curling the corners of her lips, telling Regina she at least found her somewhat amusing.

“I know.”

“Promise not to break my assbone today, okay?”

“I promise not to break your coccyx.”

Emma snickered and Regina rolled her eyes, deciding it was best not to entertain Emma and her juvenile humour, even if her own mind was giggling over the word, she was just a lot better at controlling the immature 13 year old, it seemed.

 


 

“I spy with my little eye something that is…brown.” Emma said, still sitting next to Regina while the other woman did whatever she was doing and she made conversation with the two men at the front of the shuttle.

“Tree trunk!”

“Mountainside!” Rogers yelled out, sure he had gotten it right but Emma shook her head.

“Dirt?”

“Nope!”

“My eyes,” Regina said, her glasses perched on the top of her nose as she looked up at Emma like she could read her mind.

“No fair! You’re not playing!”

“Aye! That was a tricky one, Swan.”

“Well since you guessed it right it’s your turn, Mills.”

Regina rolled her eyes, adjusting her glasses as she glanced around, taking her time to find something worthy; really there was a reason Regina didn’t play this game, and it was that she always took too long to make up her mind and it drove the others crazy.

“I spy with my little eye something that is blue.”

“Emma’s eyes!” Jefferson yelled like he had cracked the code and both women looked at him, Emma rolling her eyes while Regina arched a brow, her lips pursed in distaste.

“My eyes are green.”

“Her eyes are green.” They said at the same time, their gazes finding each other as Emma fought off a blush while Regina turned to look back at the man like she wasn’t even the slightest bit affected, and honestly, Emma found it rude how easy it was for her.

“One part of me says the sky is too obvious but if it’s the sky and I don’t guess it, I’d feel like a boob.”

“It’s not the sky.” Regina smiled kindly at Rogers before she looked back down at her iPad, stylus moving smoothly over the surface.

“Please tell me it’s a taco bell ‘cause I’m starving.”

“Mmm, no, sorry to break it to you, dear, but I don’t believe there are taco bells out here.”

“Burger King?”

“Is there blue in a Burger King sign?” Rogers asked, their game taking a detour as their hunger took over.

“Jesus, I don’t know anymore, Regina, look it up.”

“It has blue,” she said, not looking up at them, but Emma’s ears perked up at the sound of a tummy growling that definitely wasn’t hers.

“Did your stomach just growl?”

Regina looked up, chin jutting out snobbishly as she defended. “I haven’t eaten since four this morning.”

Emma let out a groan, falling back against the seats of the van. “Same…hey, Leroy! Can we stop for food soon?!”

“We scheduled a food break shortly, we should get to the restaurant shortly.”

“Yes!” Emma said as she pumped her fist up in the air then spun to look back at Regina, who was looking up at her from over her glasses, a small smile on her face that she squashed as soon as she noticed Emma looking at her. “The thing that’s blue, is it Rogers' eyes?”

There was a resounding groan in the bus and Regina laughed as the three bickered and went back to their stupid roadtrip games.

 


 

“Would you rather lick peanut butter off a homeless man’s foot or eat a bucket of mayo?” Emma asked, stretched out in the seat she’d been earlier, eyes staring up at the roof of the vehicle as a groan of disgust filled the small space.

“That’s revolting.”

“You don’t get to comment, you’re not playing.”

“The lass is right, that is horrid.”

“Bucket of mayo.”

Regina’s nose scrunched up in disgust, as there was another chorus of displeasure.

“I think I’d have to go with the peanut butter,” Leroy spoke up from the front, it was like being surrounded by a bunch of teenagers at a party and Regina never really fit in with that crowd though she’d always found them fascinating to study.

“Would you rather chew off your arm or be locked in a room with Snow White for a week?”

“What?” Emma asked with a laugh, sitting up to look at Rogers, her hair a disaster of tangles and curls from the mixture of her lounging and from their fight with the wind during their stop for food.

“Chew off my arm. No contest.”

“What?!” Emma repeated, turning to stare at Regina in shock, and Regina shrugged, going over her notes as if she hadn’t said a thing.

“Snow White is positively insufferable, I’d rather suffer the most painful of deaths than spend a single second in her presence.”

“What, were you the Evil Queen in a past life?”

“Maybe.” Regina smirked, looking up to see the shock on Emma’s pretty little face. “And you’d choose differently?”

“I mean, it’s just a week…I think I’d like to avoid the trauma that eating off my own arm would cause to my psyche.”

“And I’d like to avoid the trauma that a minute with Snow White would cause to my psyche.”

“You really are the Evil Queen.” Emma chuckled and Regina straightened up, raising her chin so she was looking down at Emma and something in her stirred in excitement as she watched the woman squirm in her seat.

“Better be careful not to test me then, dear.”

“I think I’ll be safe as long as I don’t accept any apples from you dressed as an old lady.”

Regina pursed her lips, wanting to say something but well, she knew better, so instead she looked back down at her iPad, the others beginning to speak again although she could still feel every time Emma glanced back at her, eventually at some point the insufferable woman decided she was bored of sprawling out on her own seat and moved to sit next to Regina again, extending an open chocolate bar she had bought from the gas station earlier in their journey.

Regina smiled softly as she broke off a square of the Mint Aero bar and popped it in her mouth.

“You gotta suck on it, to really enjoy the experience.”

Regina eyed her but did as instructed, her eyes lighting up as it bubbled and melted in her mouth.

“Tamara taught me about that, Canadian foods are so much cooler.”

Regina smiled at her and Emma’s eyes were shimmering with youthful joy over all the treats she was getting to try.

“Oh my god! I can finally have a kinder surprise!” Emma yelled, shocking everyone, and then there was seemingly a commotion as Emma blabbered on about wanting to make a little prize from it and Rogers commenting about America’s weird fear of an egg shaped treat and Regina wanted to find it annoying but secretly she was excited about it too, maybe she’d buy some later for them all.

 


 

Once they finally arrived in Hope, trailers set up and each of them were corralled inside to begin getting ready to film while the rest of the crew busied themselves with setting up.

The sound of orders yelled being heard through the thin walls of the trailer before she turned on her music, letting it pull her into character, while her eyes tracked over the idiot children that were her castmates.

Jacinda focused on taming her curls while poor Ashley fought with Emma’s hair and talked animatedly with the makeup artist who was busy dealing with the boys.

Emma’s face contorted in pain with each tug and Regina almost felt sorry for her, but then Emma made a rather hilarious looking face and Regina was entertained again.

It wasn’t long before each made their way into wardrobe and slowly followed a PA to the little Desolate area, an old factory that looked about ready to crumble, and the slightest dusting of snow on the frozen dirt ground.

Regina wrapped the giant parka tighter around her as she stared at the set up a few feet before her, Emma huddled under one of the tents as she talked with Mulan and the director.

It was officially the day they got to shoot the very first scene their characters shared in the pilot, which meant it was stunt day, Regina’s eyes kept looking down to the frozen earth under her boots, kicking her toes into it to see if it’d give, and frowning when she barely made a dent.

“You’ll be sure to go easy on me, right?”

She jumped, spinning to look at Jefferson’s try at a charming smile, and suddenly she had the urge to punch him for real. “You’re not the one getting flipped.”

“Emma will be fine. She’s a big girl, and they have a mat.”

Regina looked over to where the crew was dragging out the dark blue mat, already waiting in preparation for when it was needed.

“I must admit, you look much more beautiful with your straight hair.”

Regina blinked, staring back at the man who for some reason thought it was okay to talk about her hair, heck, she was almost certain she’d seen his hand move before she turned.

Her lips pulled into a deep frown, her eyes skimming over the man, assessing the best way to destroy him, a dangerous smirk curled on her lips as she did so, looking up at him with wide innocent eyes as she spoke. “And I must admit you’re much prettier when you shut up.”

“Hey Regina!” She turned to look at Emma and Mulan, seeing the stunt coordinator roll her eyes as Emma waved her over, Regina suddenly sure that Mulan must have asked Emma to get her, and Emma well...

“I must get going, but this has been lovely, dear, maybe next time you can insult the colour of my eyes.”

Jefferson gaped at her and Regina walked away, not noticing her fists were squeezed shut, until her brain finally registered her blunt nails digging painfully into her palms. Slowly she took a few steadying breaths, her hands loosening as she stopped in front of the two women, her arms wrapping around her middle to fend off the chill, and her eyes flicking over now and then to watch Emma bouncing in place to keep warm.

 


They went over the scene a few times with Mulan, not actually fully doing each stunt but they walked through it, Emma trying not to freak out when Mulan had them hold their position for a few long moments as she talked about the importance of placement, Regina had held her wrist in both her hands, Emma’s front pressed against her back. She could smell Regina’s shampoo, her body heat warming her, which really wasn’t unwelcome, since their big poofy coats were gone and they only had their light clothing on.

“Okay, perfect.” Mulan patted their arms and they instantly let go, facing the other woman as she looked them over. “Everything is looking good, how are you two feeling?”

“Great.”

“Perfect.”

Mulan nodded, “Regina with me, we need to go over a few things with the men.”

“Of course.” Emma watched Regina’s spine straighten, following after the woman and Emma couldn’t help but watch her in fascination. She learnt quickly in their sessions that not only was Regina a fast learner but that all of the amazing things Neal had said about her back in the day were true.

Stunt choreography seemed to come insanely easy to her, and the way she watched and listened to Mulan, happily let Mulan tug a leg here or fix the placement of her arm, there was a level of trust and respect there, there was no ego getting in the way as Regina nodded and listened, as she slowly went through each move.

It was fascinating.

Emma could watch them work for hours, but soon they were ready to go and Emma was reminded that Regina was about to kick her ass, over and over and over again for as many takes as it took to get it right.

She was definitely going to be sore in the morning.

 


Regina blew warm air into her hands as they called the take, this was probably their third at this point but they just kept doing it, and Emma looked less excited with each flip; Regina was almost certain Emma was going to bash Jefferson’s face in if he fucked up one more take, and honestly, Regina was ready and willing to help her.

“Action!”

“Hey! You can’t be here.”

She spun around, her eyes moving over Rogers, assessing who her character perceived as a strange man, her hair on the back of her neck prickling up; she knew Jefferson was supposed to come up behind her, and yet her body still sensed it as a threat.

“Says who?” She said, hands at her sides as her posture shifted, defensive, ready to fight her way out of a corner.

She spun on a dime, catching Jefferson’s hand that was reaching out towards her, and tugged hard sending him toppling off balance and directly into Rogers, the two men falling to a heap on the ground.

She sensed Emma next, her eyes moving to check her peripherals, watching her come into view, Emma’s arm slipped around her neck, and they’ve run it through so many times, she has practiced this move in many self-defence classes in the past. It’s second nature at this point, gripping Emma’s wrist with both her hands, her combat boot scraping along the frozen dirt as she pushed her leg back, using the momentum of her hips and her hands to lift Emma off the ground and in a smooth motion flipping Emma over her back.

Emma landed on the ground with a grunt, staring up at her in shock and anger and Regina wiped her hands off on her jeans staring down at the woman.

“Who the hell do you think you are!?” She bristled, pushing up on her elbows, an air of superiority she lacks in her day to day life oozing off her.

“Roni, Private Eye.” She said, flicking a curl out of her face, her hands on her hips, a disinterested shrug of her shoulders as her eyes flick over Emma and the men who’ve finally pulled themselves from the floor, dirt covering their ironed black suits.

“More like a private dick,” she muttered under her breath, glaring up at Regina and it only made her smirk, leaning down slightly towards her as she practically purred in response.

“I can be that too if you like.” Emma’s jaw dropped open, her eyes widening before they raked over her body, slowly, methodically, it sent chills down Regina’s spine that were not from the cold this time, their eyes locking and she tucked her thumbs in her back pockets, a taunting laugh leaving her mouth before she said her next line. “What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?”

She growled, low and deep, dangerous as she stood up, waving a hand at her men who moved to come to her aid. “Do you have any idea who I am?”

“I mean from the looks of it probably a bureaucratic pain in my a–”

“I do not have time for this. I am trying to find a missing woman.” Her voice raised, demanding, frustrated as she clenched her jaw and barely stopped herself from baring her teeth as her hands brushed the dirt from her clothes, wincing slightly as she shifted.

“Neither do I, but your goons started this.” She replied with her own annoyed huff, arms folded across her chest as she shot a withering glare towards the men who were practically licking their wounds.

“It does not matter who “started” it, Miss…” she paused waiting obviously for Roni to give her a name but it never came and in response she got a roll of her eyes before she continued. “What matters is you’re interfering with our case and you are not permitted to be here.”

“Whatever,” Regina rolled her eyes, stepping away from her, “I already got what I need.” She turned around, planning to leave before she stopped, her eyes tracing over all three of them before landing back on Emma, tracing over her again. “You might want to teach your men some common decency.”

With that she turned on her feel and walked towards the camera and out of site, turning to watch the rest of the scene as Emma admonished the men and limped away, which she didn’t remember her doing in any other take, her brows furrowing worriedly as she took in the other woman’s posture.

“Cut!”

Regina moved quickly across the lot, ignoring everyone as she moved to check on Emma who was wiping the dirt from her clothes with a pained expression on her face.

“Hey, you okay?” She said and Emma looked up offering her a crooked smile.

“Great, Roni,” Regina rolled her eyes at Emma’s joke, her hand reaching out to catch Emma’s elbow to steady her.

“Can we get the medic?” She called and there was almost a flurry at just the possibility of their star being injured.

“I’m fine,” Emma reassured but Regina felt Emma lean a bit of weight on her as she helped her lower herself to one of the chairs.

“You weren’t limping a few minutes ago.”

“Method acting.” Emma said with that stupid dopey smile of hers and Regina rolled her eyes, turning to see if the medic was on their way yet. “It’s fine, I think I just landed wrong, or on a pebble…I don’t know but I’m fine.”

“I told you that you needed the mat.”

“And I didn’t wanna do 10 more takes.”

“You’d rather have a limp for the rest of the episode?”

Emma rolled her eyes, “continuity.”

“Idiot,” Regina hissed as the medic approached and she stormed off, fury rolling off her in waves that had people parting to let her pass. “Learn your fuckin’ lines,” she growled at Jefferson as she passed, the accent in her voice still Roni’s everything about her was still in character but she didn’t notice, barely registered his jaw dropping open as she headed into her trailer and slammed the door behind her, something uncomfortable twisting in her gut at the idea of Emma being hurt, at being the one who’d hurt her.

 


 

“Here.”

Emma opened her eyes at the cool tone, looking from the ice pack to Regina with a guarded expression, her free hand splayed across her belly as she just waited for Emma to take the ice pack from her.

“Thanks…?” She eyes her suspiciously, wondering how she got in her trailer, a part of her wanted to ask, but Regina’s eyes refused to meet hers and Emma let out a sigh, pressing the ice to her side as she offered her a lopsided grin. “I’m fine, stop beating yourself up.”

Regina huffed, arms wrapping around herself, hugging tight, closed off and defensive as she seemed to be itching to run off and at the same time not wanting to move. “You should’ve been more careful.”

“Accidents happen, just what stunts are like. I’m a big girl, Regina, I can handle a couple bruises.”

“It shouldn’t have taken so many takes, Jefferson should’ve learnt his lines.”

She was shifting and twisting, the most unsure Emma had ever seen her and it made her lips pull down into a frown, “would you sit down and just breathe? The medic said I was fine, it’s literally just a bruise. As for Jefferson, we can kick his ass later when he’s least expecting it.”

Regina’s lips curled into a smile and she sat on the edge of the couch, mindlessly fiddling with her fingers in her lap.

“Next time be more careful, you can’t risk it with those brittle bones of yours.”

Emma rolled her eyes, a chuckle rumbling out of her as she laid back down, throwing her arm over her eyes. “Says you, old lady.”

“I’m not the one who nearly broke her hip.”

“Trust me, my hips are still very strong and intact.”

Emma heard Regina’s chuckle fill the small space, the cold of the ice pack seeping through her pants and she began to relax, Regina’s presence still as comforting as ever.

“I didn’t flip you too hard?”

Emma lowered her arm and saw Regina’s concerned eyes on her and Emma shook her head. “No, the same as every other time. Promise.”

Regina nodded and Emma smiled at her, making Regina frown. “What?”

“You care about me,” she teased and Regina huffed, pushing herself to her feet as she flicked a lock of hair out of her face before both hands fell to her hips.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Miss Swan, I just don’t want to get sued.”

Emma’s smile just grew wider and Regina bristled at it. “You like me. Does this mean we’re friends now?”

“In your dreams,” Regina growled and turned to leave Emma’s trailer and Emma just kept laughing, tipping her head to watch Regina leave, enjoying the view a little more than she probably should be allowing herself, but to be fair, Regina had just nearly broken her hip.

 


 

While Emma rested they filmed a few scenes without her, some of Regina on her own and some of the two men just so they didn’t lose the whole day, and when Emma could finally stand again she finished her scenes with the two men, Regina huddled in her trailer during that time.

They called it a day when the sun slowly started to set, the crew slowly began to pack up the set while they all moved to change out of their wardrobe and head to the shuttle to be taken back to the hotel.

Regina made a beeline for the back of the shuttle, her nose pink from the cold and a blanket wrapped around her body as she toed off her boots and curled up, staring out at the dozens of people hard at work.

“Hey,” she looked up at the voice, Emma’s cheeks and nose were pink and her hair was falling loose down her back, a beanie on her head that seemed to be doing very little to warm her up.

“Hey.”

“It got cold as balls out there.”

Regina chuckled, tucking her legs closer to herself to make room, wordlessly inviting Emma to sit down if she so pleased and the other woman barely waited a second before dropping next to Regina on the bench seat, Regina’s toes pressed against Emma’s thigh, making images from years ago swirl to life in her mind.

“How are you feeling?”

“A little sore still but I’ll be okay after a warm shower and some sleep probably.”

“Good…” Regina replied around a yawn and Emma smiled dopily at her. “What?”

“Nothing.”

Regina glared at Emma’s almost whimsical smile, “I’ve been up since 3am.”

“Believe me, I know.”

Regina rolled her eyes and moved to stare out the window again, “it’s beautiful out here.”

“It is…”

Regina saw Emma’s reflection in the glass and frowned because she was almost certain she’d caught Emma staring at her before her eyes snapped away to stare off into the distance.

 


 

At some point during the drive Regina pulled out her iPad, found one of her downloaded movies and pressed play, the both of them huddled close together as they watched, Emma noticed both the guys were snoring away at the front of the bus, and Regina’s knees were now pressed against her thigh, their heads nearly touching as they leaned in closer to watch the small screen and share the earbuds.

It was nice, they’d built a strange amount of comfort over the last month and Emma was pleasantly shocked when she registered the weight on her shoulder that was Regina out cold and using Emma as a pillow.

It was cute and it set off a gathering of butterflies in her tummy as she felt Regina’s little puffs of breath ghost over her skin, her curls tickling the tip of Emma’s nose when she turned her head toward her.

It was horribly domestic; dangerous even, but Emma didn’t mind, didn’t dare focus on it, so instead she watched the movie until somehow she also passed out, her head falling on top of Regina’s as sleep took over her, unaware of their position as she got lost in dreamland.

Chapter Text

 

March 13th, 2016

 

It was officially the last few days of filming, the excited energy that had once emanated from the cast was now tainted with a sense of sadness, a fear that they might have to say goodbye to these characters for good after Friday.

There was an underlying hope that Regina didn’t much want to cling to in the fear of disappointment. This show, this cast, it was something special, she could feel it in her bones, there was magic in it, but sometimes that wasn’t enough, and hope? Hope only leads to disappointment.

And slowly one by one they all seemed to be shooting their last scenes together, Marian and Tamara had wrapped a couple of days ago, Ruby a blubbering mess about not wanting to say goodbye as they sat on set, knowing that it was her last scene.

It was hard, agonizingly hard to think that after all the work they all had put into it, this could be it, and they should all know better than to get attached to a pilot, there’s always a chance it won’t make it but filming in another country, it had created a bond none of them really saw coming.

“I kind of don’t want to leave this place…”

Emma confessed through the wood of the door and Regina let her head fall against it, her hand on the carpet, pinky nearly under the door, craving a comfort she’d never let herself acknowledge.

“Me too…”

“Tamara was telling me about some places here, I was thinking after it ends I might actually tour the place a bit…maybe head up to Whistler.”

Regina smiled, thinking about Emma wrapped up in a large coat and her ridiculous white beanie with the pompom on top. The thought of her flailing down the mountain on her skis brought the slightest smile to her face.

“I didn’t take you for much of a skier.”

“I’m not…but hey, walking around on a snowy mountaintop could be fun too. Tamara says it’s beautiful there.”

Regina hummed, looking down at her hand and wishing for the door between them to be gone so she could see Emma, feel her warmth. “You should do it, it could be fun.”

“You think?”

“I do…” Regina looked at the door with a look of longing, a deep sigh rumbling out of her as she removed her hand, placing it on her folded knees. “We should get some sleep, early day tomorrow.”

“Yeah, maybe I can actually sleep comfortably tonight!”

“Your hip is still bothering you?”

“A bit, it’s less black and blue now at least, more purple.”

“I suppose that’s progress.”

Emma let out a long sigh and Regina looked at the door again, her hands fiddling together on her bare knees as she waited for whatever Emma wanted to say.

“I’m gonna miss this…”

Regina’s lips pulled into a frown, “you already said that, dear.”

Emma chuckled, Regina noticing her hand cast a shadow under the door and she stared at it as Emma quietly confessed. “Not that. I meant this…talking to you, working with you…it’s been,” Emma let out another sigh, her head making a quiet thud as it fell against the door, Regina practically able to see that lopsided smile on her face. “It’s been nice.”

Regina let her hand fall back to the carpet, stretching her pinky so it slipped slightly under the door again. “I suppose it hasn’t been the worst.”

Emma chuckled and Regina was about to remove her hand again, to get up from the floor and crawl under the covers but she felt the slightest brush of Emma’s finger against her own and a quiet gasp escaped her mouth as her eyes jumped from her own had to where she suspected Emma’s hand to be.

“I’m glad we could put all that stuff behind us and become friends…”

“I don’t remember agreeing to being friends.”

Emma laughed again, their pinkies still pressed together making Regina’s heart thud away in her chest. “Mmm, I guess I have work to do then.”

“You do.”

They sat there for a few extra seconds before Emma let out a sigh and removed her hand, pulling herself from the floor with a pained grunt. “Goodnight, Regina.”

“Goodnight, Miss Swan.”

She heard Emma’s hand brush over the door almost like a caress and then she heard her footsteps retreating and she stayed there for a few moments longer before she pulled herself up and headed to bed, trying to not pay too much attention to the emotions warring in her chest.

 


 

Emma yawned as she brought her cup of coffee to her lips, her lunch balancing on the drink tray in her other hand as she walked back to set from the craft services tent. Almost sure she looked more like a puffy penguin than a human in her long goose down coat.

They were filming somewhere in downtown Vancouver, a large building was their backdrop as spectators tried to figure out what they were filming, which meant Emma had a tail, a hulk of a man named Tiny who was meant to make sure she got around safely from point A to point B.

Emma was used to these things but it was still weird, and while she just made casual conversation with the man, every time she caught a glimpse of Regina and her shadow she seemed to be a grumpy ball of fury waiting for a reason to go off; and although Emma was sure a part of it was because she wanted to appear independent, she knew it was the lack of caffeine and food that made her resemble a ferocious toddler.

“So you do this often or…?”

“I do other things.”

Emma nodded, “I’m not taking up your lunch break, am I?”

“Nah.”

“You don’t talk much, do you?”

The man flashed her a smile and Emma smiled back before she looked ahead, the sun reflecting off the tall buildings.

“Know of any good places I should try around here?”

“A few.”

Emma smiled, “great! I wanna do some touring, maybe if the show gets picked up I’ll already know of a few good places to go.”

“I’ll make you a list.”

“I will eat anything so like, anything good works, also like cool places to go!”

He let out a deep chuckle and Emma smiled up at him, which made him chuckle more which made Emma feel oddly like a child with his towering height.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Emma turned back ahead as she finally approached the set again, walking past the director’s tent and the heavy equipment, to find one very small and very grumpy woman whom last she saw had been frowning down at her sides.

Emma was determined to make the last few days of filming matter, she was going to make Regina admit they were friends if it was the last thing she did…she needed to make sure they could maybe see each other again if their show didn’t get picked up.

Emma had already gotten Marian, Tamara, and Ruby’s numbers with a promise to hang out some more, heck, the three women hadn’t left yet and Emma was determined to make the night they had all officially wrapped on Operation Cobra a giant celebration at the hotel bar or maybe they could all go out to eat at The Keg…she’d heard good things about that place.

She was sure everyone would say yes, she’d already gotten a confirmation from the three women, and Rogers, Jefferson would likely say yes as well, which just left the Mills sisters, Zelena would be easy enough to convince, heck, all she’d have to tell her was they were going out. But Regina, she’d be the hard one.

“I come baring coffee and sandwiches!”

Regina looked over at her from where she still sat in her chair, coat wrapped around her and the hood up to protect herself from the freezing wind that was visibly whistling around them.

It didn’t take the woman’s eyes long to lock onto the coffee though, and Jesus! Emma suddenly feared for her life as she practically dove for it, Emma scrambling to stop the food from falling to the wet pavement as Regina greedily brought the cup to her lips and started chugging it.

“You know you got a real caffeine problem, Mills.”

“I could say the same about you and your greasy foods.”

“Keep making fun of my eating habits and I’ll eat your sandwich too.”

Regina glared and Emma chuckled, finding her own chair next to the one Regina had just abandoned; she took a seat and Regina followed her back over with the coffee cradled in both her hands like it was precious cargo.

“If it’s a grilled cheese I think I’d rather starve.”

“It’s not.” She assured her, unamused. “I got you a grilled chicken panini, that’s okay, right?” Regina didn’t need to answer, not when Emma saw her eyes light up, she knew she had only had a muffin and coffee that morning since Emma witnessed her juggling the two as she arrived on the bus late, making her wonder just what had kept her if it wasn’t breakfast.

“Thank you.”

“No problem, I was already there and you looked like you were ready to skin poor Tom alive at any moment.”

“How does one human sneeze so much?”

“I imagine it’s the allergies.”

Regina glared and Emma’s only saving grace in that moment was the sandwich she held out towards her, Regina snatching it from her hand, glare switching rapidly from Emma to the sandwich and then to the coffee; looking like she was planning her revenge, but also maybe like she was assessing the surroundings to figure out where to place her coffee.  Finally, she held it between her knees and Emma followed suit, a little smile on her face as she unwrapped her BLT.

 


 

“I’m starting to think you’re following me,” she quipped and Emma rolled her eyes. It was easy to fall into Blackwell when Regina’s character was such a cocky asshole, which honestly wasn’t that far off from the actual woman, but there was something different about the way they went about it outside of them.

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

Roni smirked, hand on her hip as she let her eyes skim over Emma before she took a step forward and Emma unconsciously took one back making her grin widen. “Do I make you nervous, Agent?”

“Sergeant.”

Regina waved her off. “If you’d like a hand you can just ask, Sergeant Nudnik.” There was a pause as Emma looked vaguely confused and Regina sighed. “Do you need me to define it for you?”

She sneered, eyes flashing with anger as she took a step towards her as she growled, “I don’t need help from some civilian.”

“Looks like you could use it…or are you letting me beat you to every piece of evidence on purpose?”

She clenched her jaw, getting up in Regina’s face, Regina’s eyes slowly travelling up to meet hers and it took Emma a minute to regain her bearings. “I will only tell you this one more time, Miss Perez, back off my case or else.”

“Or else what? You’ll lock me up in your super-secret prison cells?”

“Or else I’ll make it so you can never work in this town again.”

Regina chuckled, a brow arching, “I don’t think you can do that.”

“Try me.”

“Oh, no, don’t get me wrong, Sergeant, I’m sure you’ll try very hard, but the thing is,” she took a step back, raising both her hands to gesture at her surroundings. “This is my city, these are my people. I grew up 3 blocks away from Sophia, I knew her cousin, maybe the cops will stop cooperating but I don’t need them, the civilians they’re always way better at their job anyways.”

“Back off, Perez, and that’s final.”

She shrugged, walking backwards toward the glass doors of the building, “you don’t scare me, and honestly, I think you could use me, I know these streets and these people better than you ever could. Think about it, I could be a real asset.”

Emma growled, looking around her before she stormed after Regina’s retreating form. “We’re going to the same place. I’m not agreeing.”

“Mhmm.”

She could hear the smirk in her voice, her eyes rolling as if on second nature and as soon as she walked past Regina through the door she held open, Regina following her with Roni’s trademark relaxed swagger, the director yelled “cut!” and Emma let out a deep sigh.

“You think they’ll yell at us for the adlib?”

“Nah, just don’t step back next time, Swan.”

Emma chuckled, Regina’s thumbs tucked into the back pockets of her jeans, her shoulders slumped, and her hip popped out. As relaxed as only Roni could get. “It’s not my fault, you’re kinda intimidating sometimes, Mills.”

Her eyes sparkled at the compliment and she took a step forward, this time Emma remained frozen in place as her mind screamed at her, “only sometimes?”

Emma chuckled, rolling her eyes as Regina brushed past her, heading back out to prepare to go again and Emma followed behind, shaking her head at the woman as she went. 

 


 

“It’s weird, don’t you think?” Emma said, breaking the silence that surrounded them, staring across the room at the plain white walls and the old TV she barely got to use.

“What?” Regina’s voice was small, a whisper like if they were lying side by side in the dark, sharing secrets and talking about the cute student in class.

“This.”

Regina’s chuckle carried through the wood separating them, something soft and disbelieving. “I’m going to need you to elaborate a little more, dear.”

Emma sighed, closing her eyes and adjusting the glasses perched on her nose. “The fact that it’s been a month and we’re still talking through a door.”

Silence blanketed over them again, making Emma wonder if she’d finally blown it all, if this was the dumb thing that finally broke her tentative friendship with Regina.

Emma closed her eyes and found herself wishing for the moments they shared on the shuttle rides again, the easy banter, the camaraderie. The closer it got to the end of production the more the feeling of loss had started to settle like a brick in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet, to pack up a bag and no longer have silent conversations with Regina -even if through a wall- until way too late at night for the hours they worked.

Sure, most of it was running lines, but the thought that she would no longer be surrounded by her presence, no longer hear the smooth sleepy tones of her voice. Honestly, she was even going to miss her sass and the ungodly hour her alarm always blared. If she had to wake up to Despacito one more time ...

Yes, she was really gonna miss the quiet moments, the tentative trust-building and shy confessions. With Regina she felt like she didn’t have to hide, like it was okay to be fully herself. Unlike the rest of the time outside of her trailer, where she felt like she was always playing a part.

But maybe that’s what was so scary about it all, that she was actually beginning to trust this woman who had kind of destroyed her four years ago. Not that she blamed her for it,, they had made a mistake that night, a fucking amazing, eye-opening, earth-shattering mistake, but it seemed to always hang heavily above their heads, left them teetering on this edge always fearing the inevitable plummet to the cavern below.

So bringing it up felt like Emma was poking at them, slowly tipping them off balance. Daring to see what may come of it, if Regina would reach out and steady her or if they would fall.

“I suppose…” she started, her voice thoughtful and somewhat guarded.

Emma sighed as it became clear Regina wasn’t going to elaborate. “We really fucked up.”

“What?” Regina’s voice now sounded confused, shocked, hell, maybe a little insulted and Emma chuckled awkwardly, kicking herself for not thinking any of this through.

“We made running lines together a part of our routine, what are we gonna do when the show gets picked up and we no longer share a door?”

“Ah…I suppose we will figure it out.”

“Yeah…or we can buy a condo together and be roomies.”

“In your dreams!” Regina barked around a laugh and Emma smiled brightly, thinking about how she must look, body trembling with laughter, maybe wrapped up in a throw or her sweater that she stole years ago, wondering for a fraction of a second if she still had it or if it ended up in a goodwill bucket after she was caught wearing it by the paparazzi that one time two years ago.

“Yeah, I often dream about the wacky adventures of Emma and Regina…oddly they’re always in black and white…”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“I know.”

She heard the faint sound of Regina sighing, Emma mimicking the action unknowingly as her hands fiddled with the ties on her hoodie. They should probably sleep soon, she knew, they only had a few more days of production left, and every night it was harder and harder to say goodnight, and so Emma found herself putting it off until it was probably idiotic for them to still be awake. But as always, all too soon she’d hear Regina getting up, checking once more the lock on her door and finally getting into bed. 

 


 

Zelena wrapped an hour before, a round of applause and cheering as she dramatically bowed, all eyes focused on her just how she liked it, and Regina watched her from the edge of the soundstage as she laughed and hugged many of the crew members goodbye.

She often wondered how Regina had the reputation of being the charmer out of the two sisters, Zelena could be the biggest snob anyone had ever met, and still people laughed and seemed ecstatic to be talking with her.

“She’s something else, huh?”

“She’s an enigma, that’s for sure.” Emma nudged her slightly and Regina glanced over, her eyes falling to the coffee she was holding out. “I fear what will happen to her head if she ever gets her own show.”

“It’ll probably get so big she won’t be able to walk through doors.”

“Mmm, likely.”

“Why are you standing over here anyways?”

“Wanted to let her have her moment to shine. Our mother didn’t give that to her that often, over the last couple years I’ve learnt to give her space and let her have her moments.”

Emma nodded, looking across the room at Zelena, catching her eyes as she glanced towards them, “you considered this might be a moment she’d like to share with her sister and co-star?”

“I hadn’t…”

“Go congratulate your sister on wrapping and drink your coffee, woman. We start filming in about 20 minutes.”

“Thank you.” Regina said, a small smile on her lips before she pushed off the wall and walked towards the crowd surrounding Zelena, feeling Emma’s eyes on her for a few moments longer before they disappeared, cueing the woman’s departure from the set.

 


 

Regina yawned as she paced back and forth across the set to stay awake, keeping her blood flowing as they set up for the next take, Emma was sitting off to the side with Rogers going over some things while the young woman playing their victim got her makeup touched up as she was looking about ready to curl up on the bed she was sitting on and actually fall asleep.

And honestly Regina didn’t blame her.

As much as she hated the fact that with the end of today they’d be closer to her wrap, to going home to LA, to her large empty home where her mother could easily nag her. Filming in Vancouver had almost felt like she was living in a bubble, like nothing outside of this place could touch her. It was oddly comforting.

“We’re good to go in 5 everybody!”

Regina came to a sudden stop, her eyes snapping to the director as she moved back behind her monitor, talking to the assistant director and then to Emma, who finally looked up from her papers, sea-green eyes focusing somewhere past her and after a few seconds they slowly slid the few inches over until their eyes locked, an encouraging smile on Emma’s lips before she looked back to Rogers continuing their discussion and leaving Regina once again to her own devices.

 


 

It didn’t take much for Emma to notice that Regina looked about ready to climb the walls, crashing hard after the long day of work they’ve had; where she and Rogers got quiet or goofy, Regina seemed to just get grouchy with the need to sleep. She almost wanted to offer her a Snickers.

Scenes moved faster, maybe because they were scared to make a mistake and cause Regina to teeter further over the edge of angry lioness out for blood. But accidents are bound to happen, especially when everyone is tired and there’s an atmosphere of heavy emotions surrounding them, a heaviness in the room that seemed to weigh on their souls. Emma had the need to break the tension, to crack a joke to make someone laugh, but with little sleep she’s learnt sometimes that didn’t always hit right. There was always some kind of mixed reaction.

Ever since she was a kid, Emma always took upon herself the task to defuse the tension, to make someone laugh while they cried. She’d thought maybe that’s why acting had come so naturally to her, back when she’d been cast in her first school play.

Sometimes she felt more like a court jester than anything else, but she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

They were all exhausted, and it was starting to show in them all in the weirdest of ways, Rogers seemed to become more slouchy, his accent thicker and the slang he used undecipherable. Emma didn’t even fathom to begin trying to understand it, not with her sleep-addled brain which was already overworked trying to remember her damn lines.

Which shouldn’t be as hard as it was, considering how many times she’d run through them that week alone with Regina. It was easier once the cameras were rolling, besides the occasional slip up it was good, honestly they’ve had worse days. Regina on the other hand, never seemed to mess up, she never even slipped out of character between takes, the later it got it seemed the more Roni took over, which was... interesting, to say the least.

“You were supposed to enter after me.” Emma said to the back of Regina, whose hand simply lazily waved her off, the flashlight lighting the dim halls.

“You were takin’ too long.”

“I was taking too long? What? Stepping over the threshold? You nearly knocked me over in your haste to get inside.”

“Yes.”

“Yes?” Emma let out a chuckle, hand on her hip as she trailed her eyes over Regina’s form, “I don’t know why I ever agreed to work with you.”

“Because I what doing–” there was a long pause when whatever Regina had just said slowly registered with everyone in the room, Emma’s brain working a mile a minute to understand what had just happened.

“What doing?” She said, a small chuckle barely being kept at bay, as she realized Regina Mills had just fumbled her line!

Regina turned, her glare dark and threatening, Emma was sure that if Regina really was the Evil Queen she’d be long since disposed of. “Watch it, Swan.”

A laugh sounded behind her, Rogers, keeled over, it was like a domino effect, all it took was him and then her resolve shattered. “What you doin?” She said in her best impression of Joey from Friends, and maybe this was it, her final moments on earth but man, was it worth it because then to their surprise and salvation, there was a small bubbling of laughter coming from next to Emma, a quiet chuckle at first that just seemed to grow.

Roger’s hands were pressed against his knees to keep himself standing as Regina began to shake with laughter.

“God I am so tired.” She said as if an excuse, a reason to why she was losing her balance to why she was sitting on the wooden flooring of the hall they were supposed to be filming in, the reason why she’d let her guard down like that, to probably do something she deemed unprofessional, but Emma was clutching her belly and it was all so stupid, they probably wouldn’t understand what was so funny about this moment ever again but right then and there, Jesus it was fucking priceless.

 


 

“Because I know what I’m doing,” Regina said with an air of confidence, their small group back to business as usual after their unscheduled break that had most of the crew staring at them like they’ve gotten into Dopey’s edibles.

“And I am the professional here.”

Regina looked behind her, mesmerized for a moment at the sight of Blackwell behind her, not a single resemblance to the idiotic blonde she usually sees, no, this woman looked at least 5 years older, her posture that of a soldier’s, second nature as if she grew up in basic training, which her character practically had. There was an air of seniority to her, her mouth pulled down in a frown and her eyes almost dull, a far cry from how Emma’s usually were.

Regina had seen many versions of this character over the last week, they were different in many small ways but there was usually a fire behind her eyes as the scene called for them to argue and bicker but now, on the brink of rescuing their missing girl, there was a calmness, a guardedness that threw her off for a moment.

“Are you sayin’ I’m not professional? You wound me, Sergeant.” Regina quipped as she looked ahead again, her flashlight held in front of her, careful not to shine it in the lens of the camera as they moved along.

“You’re a lot of things, Perez but professional?” She shrugged, the banter falling purposely flat causing Regina to look back at her again.

“I’m starting to get the impression you don’t like me.”

“No? Really? Well I wonder what gave you that idea.”

“Oh definitely your wonderful personality.”

“I’d like you more if you listened and let me do my job,” Emma replied and Regina came to a stop, right on her mark as she looked back at the woman, assessing her carefully.

“Well then, by all means, Sergeant, lead the way.”

Emma brushed past her, their eyes locking for long moments as they invaded each other’s space and then Emma was in front of her, leading the way through the house, quietly searching the space, but Regina’s eyes kept bouncing back to Emma, Roni because she was curious of this woman she found herself begrudgingly working with, and Regina, honestly the same, but her mind kept trying to understand how her idiotic Emma Swan… well not hers just… the Emma Swan she knew could literally look like she’d popped out of her mother’s womb in army fatigues.

Her usually loose and messy blonde curls were pulled back in the character’s trademark bun but the suit had been replaced by stark black tactical gear that seemed to define every one of her rather impressive muscles.

It was too distracting for her overtired brain to handle, which is how she found herself tripping over her own feet and falling forward, an alarmed gasp leaving her mouth as she reached out for anything to balance herself on, which just happened to be Emma and her very muscular arms.

Emma let out a surprised yelp and Rogers’ hands moved to his mouth to smother his laughter but Regina was sure she’d blacked out from embarrassment.

“Watch your step, Perez.” Emma said, a sign to keep it going and Regina straightened herself up, shrugging her shoulders like it was no big deal and Emma faced forward again. “We don’t need you breaking a hip.”

Regina pursed her lips as she rolled her eyes at the woman, “says señorita brittle bones.”

Emma’s posture stiffened again, defensive and it made something in Regina buzz with excitement, the fact that Emma could play through most mistakes made her actually giddy, but she smothered it down so it only showed in the proud smirk as Roni followed Blackwell through the next door, she’d maybe give herself a moment to gush about this later, maybe if their show got picked up. But now? Now she was thoroughly unimpressed.

 


 

“This is it, huh?” Emma said on their way back to the hotel that night, Regina opening her eyes to look at Emma sitting at the edge of the seat two rows in front of her.

“It seems like it.”

“It really went by fast, can we just fuck up so much tomorrow that they’ll have to give us a few extra hours?”

“And get fired if the show is picked up? I don’t think so.” She said, letting her eyes fall closed again, trying to relax after the long day of work.

A few seconds passed and she could feel someone’s presence as they sat in the seat next to her and she didn’t need to open her eyes to know just who it was, mostly because Rogers wouldn’t have the courage.

“What is it, dear?” It came out like a bored sigh, feeling Emma’s eyes studying her intently, she could feel her anxious energy rolling off her in waves and it was making Regina curious to know the reason.

“Want to go to dinner tomorrow night? After wrap?”

Regina’s eyes snapped open, her slightly relaxed posture straightening up as she stared at Emma with wide eyes. “What?”

Emma seemed to suddenly go bright red, her mouth moving as she stammered over her words and shook her head, like she’d just realized what she had said. “The cast. Dinner with the cast? Everyone else has already agreed.”

Regina blinked while Emma looked ready to open the shuttle door and just tuck and roll out of it and the situation. “You want me to go to dinner, with you and the cast?”

“Yes! To celebrate.”

Regina pursed her lips, eyeing Emma carefully. “And they’ve all agreed?”

“Yeah, like forever ago.”

Regina frowned. “Then why are you just asking me now?”

“Uhhhh,” Emma looked ready to bail again and Regina smirked, watching her closely as her mind floundered for a good explanation. “Well, you’re not exactly the most approachable…” Regina pursed her lips and Emma’s panic shot right back up. “Not that it’s a bad thing! Oh god I suck at this! This is why I kept putting it off you just… you’re very intimidating, you know that?”

Regina smirked, slow and taunting. “Emma, I’d love to join you and the rest of the cast for dinner tomorrow.”

“Wait, really?”

“Well I highly doubt my sister would let me say no and I would like to join in the festivities of a job well done with my castmates.”

“Awesome!” There was a long pause as Emma seemed to take in her proud expression and Emma’s excitement waned, “wait, did you do that on purpose? Regina! I nearly crapped my pants!”

Regina chuckled, smile devious as she relaxed against her seat again, eyes fluttering closed as she said. “It’s what you get for earlier.”

“Oh you’re evil.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

She could feel Emma smiling, she’s not sure how, she was able to read her from just the sound of her voice, but she knew it had everything to do with their month of conversing through a door. It makes sense how such a thing would happen, but she still can’t pinpoint the exact moment their relationship had progressed to that point.

“You snore.”

“I do not!” Regina protested, eyes snapping open to glare at Emma who was also now reclined against the seats, her own eyes closed and leaving Regina’s glare unseen.

“Stop glaring and relax,” Emma said, bumping Regina’s knee with her own and Regina pursed her lips before she reclined back against the seat, their arms pressed together from shoulder to elbow, nothing else said between them for the rest of the drive.

  


 

Sadness weighed heavy on her chest when Regina’s alarm sounded through the wall, or maybe through the thin wood door separating their rooms, she never investigated why she could hear it, but like clockwork it always went off long before the sun even thought about rising.

This might be one of the last days she gets to hear the catchy song, she should be happy about that but it only filled her further with sadness. It was a dumb thing to miss, especially because it’d been so hard to stop herself from singing it under her breath in the mornings, not wanting Regina to know she’d liked it. Emma would usually just roll over, cover her face with her pillow and fall back asleep, but today she had been awake long before it went off and so she laid in her bed, listening to Regina softly singing along and moving around her bedroom.

Time ticked by and everything went suddenly quiet; Emma got up and put her ear to the door, only then could she hear what she was almost sure were the quiet tones of a smooth voice coming from the tv explaining how to cook coq au vin, and that, for some reason, made her smile. Regina Mills, the literal opposite of the definition of a morning person, had gotten up as soon as her alarm blared, but upon realizing she had woken up earlier than necessary, had decided to give up her extra sleep time to dilly dally through her morning routine. And Emma thought that was kind of adorable.

 


 

Emma flashed her a crooked smile as they passed each other in hair and makeup, this being their last day sat like a lump in the pit of her stomach but Regina didn’t have time for her own pesky emotions, she had two more scenes to film and Roni needed her full attention.

She didn’t see Emma again until she was walking onto set, the other woman crouched down petting a dog brought to set while she talked to the AD.

It was a weird mix of emotions, the unusual excitement upon seeing her and the dread that shortly this would be their last day, that they may be saying goodbye to these characters forever after this.

She felt this tie to Roni already, like she’d never experienced before and the thought of leaving her at the doorstep was something she couldn’t even think about without feeling the urge to throw up.

Regina had moved from character to character for most of her career, and although sometimes it was sad to pack them away and move on, there was a certain something about Roni that stuck to her soul, that vibrated through her veins when she was on camera. It was a magical something, like a piece of her soul returning home, maybe a piece of her she’d never even imagined to awaken.

A part of Regina couldn’t deny that a big reason she loved Roni was the dynamic she shared with Blackwell, or well in her case, Emma, it was exciting to watch the woman work, to see this stuck up side of her which Regina often wondered if Emma modeled after herself.

It was exciting though, to go neck and neck with her, that passion, it was as thrilling as it was intoxicating and Regina wasn’t ready to say goodbye to all of that… which is why it was probably best that she did.

She learnt when she was younger that if she wanted something too much it usually blew up in her face, it was always eventually snatched away from her. That little glimmer of hope squashed in a boney fist.

But one smile from Emma and maybe it’d been all worth it, even the pain of saying goodbye again, because this last month as colleagues and, yes, friends, had been pretty nice and maybe she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 


 

Emma looked up as she heard the sounds of boots approaching her, seeing Regina with curlers in her hair and her eyes more focused on the sides in her left hand than where she was going. Emma found it endearing the way she got pulled into her work like that, and that everyone around her just, moved out of her way, grips sidestepping her like it was no big deal and honestly she was like this a lot, either checked out while she was getting into character or… this.

“Do you have like an extra pair of eyes?” Emma asked as Regina spun and pushed herself up onto the chair next to Emma, her eyes finally rising from the sides at that comment, looking at Emma like she had two heads.

“No, why?”

“Nothing,” Emma smirked, bringing her coffee to her lips to take a long sip. “When you heading back?”

Regina frowned, lowering her sides to give Emma her full attention. “What do you mean?”

“To LA, when are you going back?”

Regina hummed, bringing her large cup of coffee to her mouth, giving herself a few moments before she answered. “In the morning, my mother needs Zelena and I to make an appearance at some event of hers.”

“Oh…” Emma looked away, feeling the sadness dragging her down, smothering her in it all. “So I guess this really is our last day.”

“It would seem like it.”

“I’m gonna miss you, Mills.”

Regina chuckled, “I’ll see you in two months, Miss Swan, stop being so dramatic.”

Emma looked up, a smile curling on her lips, “just like, don’t be a stranger, ok? If it doesn’t get picked up, maybe we could still hang out sometime? Get coffee? or I can help you run lines for whatever show you get next?”

Regina’s eyes softened for a second, watching her curiously before it faded away to a mischievous smirk as she brought the cup to her lips. “I’ll see how I feel about you in two months.”

“Here I am being vulnerable and offering a hand of friendship and you just chop it off. Honestly, why do I try?” Emma mocked offense and Regina’s lips curled into a more sincere smile.

“Because you’re a hopeful puppy.” Regina said as her hand fell to Emma’s knee and squeezed, Emma’s eyes staring at her hand, the urge to reach out and take it burning in her chest, but it was removed seconds later and Emma felt her heart crack at the missed opportunity.

 


 

They were filming their last scene, the realization sat in the pit of Emma’s stomach like a lead brick through at least the first few takes, Regina eyeing her funny when she caught Emma watching her with big sad eyes. She wasn’t fucking up on purpose, but… she wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet.

After the director yelled cut on their fifth unsuccessful take Regina, stepped closer, Emma’s eyes catching onto hers the minute she sensed her in her space, Regina’s eyes were serious, her gaze sucked her in, practically hypnotizing her and Emma just stared open mouthed as Regina gripped both her shoulders and spoke in low tones.

“I’m going to need you to snap outta this funk you got goin’, Swan. We do not have all day, you made a dinner reservation, remember?” Emma nodded dumbly, her eyes drinking every flash of emotion in Regina’s, taking in the little designs in her irises that looked like paint splatter, Regina had the most beautiful eyes. “Good girl.” Regina’s voice pulled her back to earth just in time to feel Regina pat her cheek twice and then she stepped away again, back on her mark as she waited for them to go again.

Everyone waiting for Emma to get her damn act together.

Emma shook out her limbs, moved to her mark, and took a deep breath before she motioned to the crew that she was ready to go and they called the take, waiting for that yell of action before Emma took the few steps forward, past Regina to look into the room where their “kidnapper” was tied to a chair.

“So whatcha gonna do with him how?”

Emma sucked in the breath as Regina’s breath ghosted over her cheek, the warmth of her body seeping into her skin as everything in her body seemed to tingle at her mere presence.

“What do you mean?”

“Are you gonna lock him up? Make him disappear?”

She turned her head, her body twisting slightly and her eyes widened a fraction as her arm brushed against Regina’s breast –she was closer this time.

Regina arched a brow and Emma rolled her eyes, a faint blush on her cheeks but she powered through. “What do you think we do here?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.”

She chuckled, her eyes running over Roni, for the first time that swagger was gone and she looked more like perturbed about not knowing something. “Well,” Emma leaned in close, Regina sucking in a breath as their noses brushed, her eyes glancing down at Emma’s lips for a few seconds before locking on Emma’s, searching them. “That would be classified, Miss Perez.”

Regina huffed, stepping away from Emma and moving across the room, hands on her hips as she spun to face her. “You feds are all the same, you act like you’re all different but this secrecy just makes ya feel like you’re even better.”

“Is that so?” She turned, her hands folded behind her back and posture straight as she studied Regina, Blackwell enjoying the way she seemed to be getting to her.

“Yeah, for a second I really thought maybe you people were different but you’re just like the rest.”

Emma’s face fell a little as Regina crossed her arms over her chest, looking over Emma’s shoulder at the man in the chair.

“I assure you I am nothing like those people.”

Regina puffed out a breath and moved forward again, this time stopping so the front of their shoulders were pressed together, her voice low as she spoke. “I will be taking him in and you can’t do anything about it. I don’t care what he did, I won’t let some feds make him disappear .”

Emma’s frown deepened but she didn’t say a word as Regina shoved past her, turning to watch her untie the man and drag him off, her expression slightly guilty before she changed it to one of indifference and walked in the opposite direction, yelling out for a team that had wrapped days ago, the cameras following her until she slammed the wooden warehouse door.

“Cut!”

Emma let her head fall slightly, that take had been way better than all the others, which meant they were closer to the ending than she’d like.

 


 

The door slam cued Regina’s end and she loosened her grip on their bad guys arm, offering a kind smile as she waited for the director to yell cut, and he did, but what came after made Regina’s stomach drop. “Alright that’s a wrap, folks!”

There was cheering and clapping, celebrating a job well done and she moved toward the open door that separated this room from the one they filled in, getting to the threshold just in time to see Emma pull away from a hug from one of the crew members, her smile large from the laugh that was bubbling from her chest and Regina’s heart clenched at the sight.

“Great work, Regina,” someone said, and Regina’s eyes flashed to them for a second before they moved back to Emma again, she caught Emma watching her and a smile slowly curled on her lips, her hand raising in a shy little wave that made Emma’s smile grew, there was laughter in her eyes that Regina didn’t get right away, but then she realized she must resemble Emma when they’ve first seen each other at the table read over a month ago now.

Emma squeezed the shoulder of someone as she excused herself, walking toward Regina and she could feel her heart quickening, for what reason she wasn’t sure, but it felt almost like hope.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

Emma smiled at her shyly, looking around them before taking half a step closer, “good work out there, Mills.”

“You too, Miss Swan.”

Emma smiled, holding out her hand and Regina looked down at it before raising her eyes to meet Emma’s again, a hopeful smile on her face and her eyes seemed to sparkle with that vulnerability again.

Regina slipped her hand into Emma’s, watching the way her chest rattled with a gasp as she looked down at their hands then back up to Regina’s face. Regina offered her a small smile which made Emma’s grew, her head tipping forward a bit as her thumb brushed over Regina’s knuckles. “I enjoyed working with you.”

“Me too…” Regina breathed, her head tipping forward too like they were sharing a secret, looking up at Emma through her eyelashes she saw that softness in her eyes again, it brought her back to their night of secrets all those years ago.

“Congratulations you two,” they snapped apart, turning to stare wide eyed at a grinning Mary Margaret, Regina wondering fleetingly when the women had even gotten to set.

“Thank you, Mary Margaret.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Emma smiled as she glanced unsurely at Regina who very subtly glanced back and shrugged, both of them gasping when suddenly they were pulled into a group hug by the woman, Regina looking like a cat trying to escape the grip of an excited toddler while Emma awkwardly patted Mary Margaret’s back.

“You two were amazing!” Mary Margaret sobbed and Regina caught Emma’s eyes from around her head, her hand moving in a panicked gesture like she didn’t know what to do and Regina rolled her eyes, mouthing.

“You think I know?”

Emma looked panicked and Regina felt her fingers brush against her own where their bodies were trapped together in this very weird hug and without thinking Regina slowly tangled their fingers together and Emma gasped again, looking at her with wide curious eyes before it shifted to a warm grateful smile that Regina was rather quick to return.

 


 

They went their separate ways to get out of wardrobe, not seeing each other again until they boarded the shuttle; Emma offered her a crooked smile and was shocked when Regina slid over, silently inviting Emma to sit down next to her as they drove back to the hotel.

It was a silent trip, both on their phone, Regina texting Zelena who seemed to be just buzzing with excitement for the official wrap and night out with the cast. Emma sighed and grumbled here and there and it only took a subtle glance at her phone to realize what was frustrating her, and with a roll of her eyes she texted her sister to stop harassing Emma, and she’s honestly not sure if it was worth the ribbing it got.

When they got back to the hotel they road upstairs in silence, getting all the way to their doors before they stopped, turning to look at each other, Emma smiling at her and Regina returned it with one of her own.

“I’ll see you downstairs in an hour?”

“See you then, dear.”

Emma nodded and stepped through her door, disappearing into her room and Regina stared at the empty space for a few seconds longer before she slipped into her room and instantly headed toward her shower.

 


 

They all met downstairs at 8pm, the group going back and forth about whether they should try and get a cab to take them the very short distance to the Cactus Club or if they should walk. It was a clear night and although it was chilly they all seemed to be dressed for the weather.

It only took finding out that the cab would take about 20 minutes to get to them to make the obvious decision to walk the 3 minutes. The group of eight paired off in groups of two as they headed off onto the street, Tamara and Marian leading the group followed by Regina and Zelena, then Emma and Ruby, which meant Rogers and Jefferson took up the caboose, some chatting quietly to themselves while others walked in silence.

Emma’s eyes almost stayed stuck on Regina’s back, a grey beanie on her head, the short ends of her curls barely peeking out from under it. They ran over the sleek and well fitted black trench coat, her hands shoved in the pockets as she walked, sometimes burying her nose in her matching grey scarf as she listened to Zelena’s story.

She was adorable. Emma couldn’t tear her eyes away from her, and Regina seemed to pick up on the eyes burning into her back because on more than one occasion she glanced back, amused dark eyes scanning over Emma before she focused ahead of her, talking with Tamara and Emma finally focused on whatever Ruby was saying.

It wasn’t long after the left turn that she saw a large sculpture come into view, the blue lights pulling her attention and something in her blossomed with excitement. “That’s the Olympic torch!”

Regina glanced back at her, an amused yet fond smile on her face before she looked ahead again, “it looks like kindling.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “we should all get a picture in front of it!”

“Isn’t that a little too touristy, dear?”

“We are tourists, Regina.”

“Swan is right, it could be a great memory.”

“Ha!” Emma exclaimed as Zelena agreed with her and Emma didn’t need to see Regina’s face to know she was rolling her eyes at her but she didn’t care, she was excited! “What do you say, guys? Group picture to celebrate?”

“I’m down!” Ruby chirped.

“You can count me in, Lass.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Tamara? Marian?” Emma nudged and the women turned to look back at them when they stopped at the crosswalk, the torch in full view now and Emma was practically vibrating. “Group picture in front of the torch?”

“Sure.”

“Roland would love to see that!”

Emma smiled widely, meeting Regina’s eyes when she noticed her head turn, “that just leaves you, Mills, you’re not gonna disappoint the whole group are ya?”

Regina rolled her eyes, “fine, whatever, I still think it’s ridiculous.”

Emma smiled widely while Zelena nudged Regina playfully. “Chill out, Regina before someone mistakes you for the Grinch.”

Regina rolled her eyes and they began moving again, crossing the street and entering the somewhat packed square for the chilly weather, but then again it was Canada and maybe compared to them this was a warm day.

Emma practically ran to the torch as soon as she was across the street, staring up at it in all it’s beautiful brightly light glory. “It’s so beautiful.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool.” Ruby said from next to her and Emma looked over at her with a smile, the others gathering around and chattering quietly but Emma didn’t hear Regina so she turned, glancing around her until she spotted the woman, holding a phone in her hands as she talked to a woman who seemed to be smiling and nodding and Emma realized that while they all seemed to be gawking Regina actually had done the logical thing and found someone to take the picture they all wanted so badly.

Regina smiled and nodded and the woman followed them over to her, stopping a few feet away holding what had to be Regina’s phone as she jogged towards them.

“Okay, make this quick we have a reservation to make.”

“How do we wanna do this?” Emma asked, looking at the others as they gathered up and there wasn’t even a pause in thought as Ruby announced.

“Stars in the middle!”

Emma and Regina looked at each other, Emma sure her eyes were shy and Regina’s looked almost panicked but soon they were squished together, Zelena at Regina’s side nudging her toward Emma and Ruby at hers doing the same until they had no choice but to place their hands on each other’s waist, Emma trying not to think about the pressure of Regina’s fingers digging into her side as she pulled her slightly closer.

“Is that alright?” Regina asked the woman and Emma looked up, just in time to see the woman nod and Emma flashed a smile, preparing for the picture to be taken.

“Ready?”

“Yes.” They all chorused and the flash went off a few times. Afterwards, Regina stepped away from their group without a second thought and took her phone back, offering a grateful thank you as the woman’s eyes looked over her then Emma. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“Uh,” Regina looked back at the group and then smiled, “maybe.”

“I’m gonna go tell them we’re here…” Emma spoke, pointing behind her at the hostess stand just by the front doors.

“Okay, I definitely know you from somewhere.” The woman spoke as Tamara passed Emma on her way to check on Regina, followed slowly by Zelena.

“You think she gets recognized a lot?” Ruby asked and Emma glanced over at her with a shrug.

“She’s pretty hard to forget.”

Ruby nodded slowly, glancing back at their group talking to the woman who had taken their picture before looking ahead of them as they stopped in front of the hostess, a young woman standing on the other side in what might be considered too little clothing for this weather, if it wasn’t for the heaters lining the patio making it almost too warm for all their winter attire.

 


 

The hostess took them to a large rounded booth and they all slid in, Emma entering from the left and sliding to the middle, slowly getting nudged further to the other side of the booth until she bumped into another body, the surprised gasp ringing through her body as she recognized it, turning her head to see Regina’s head turned to glare at Zelena who seemed to have also shoved her further into the booth making it so the two of them were pressed together.

“If you want the chair, Regina I’d be more than happy to switch with you.” Jefferson offered and Emma couldn’t stop herself from pulling a face while Regina silently contemplated.

“Thank you but I’ll be alright.”

He looked sad for a moment before he was sitting in his seat and flashing a charming smile at the hostess.

“Dude, chill she’s like 16.” Emma hissed and the girl scurried away while Regina covered her smile with her hand.

“Shit, really?”

Emma rolled her eyes, glancing across the table at Ruby who was clenching her jaw in anger as she talked quietly to Tamara on her left.

“T, you been here before?”

“A few times, yeah.”

Emma nodded, flipping her menu open at the same time as Regina and a chuckle rumbled out of her as their menus bumped together. “Wanna just share?”

“Food?”

Emma looked back at Tamara, a blush warming her face while Regina chuckled next to her, eyes on her menu as Emma floundered. “No I– nevermind. Anything you’d recommend?”

“Burgers are pretty good, ribs too, I haven’t heard any horror stories if that’s what you’re asking.”

Emma nodded, “thank you.”

“How’s the fish here?” Rogers asked as he looked around Ruby to meet Tamara’s eyes as they talked, Emma’s focus shifting as she went to look at her menu but found Regina’s open over hers, as if in invitation to share and Emma smiled as her eyes traced over the dishes.

 


 

“Hey, Regina how did the pictures turn out?” Marian asked from around Emma as they waited for their food to arrive, an assortment of drinks on the table.

“Oh I, I have yet to check.”

“Why don’t we look at them while we wait?”

“I suppose we could,” Regina said as she slid her glass of wine away from her to try and dig out her phone.

“How did filming go?”

“Good, Regina killed it as usual,” Emma replied with a smile to Tamara who was nursing her own glass of wine.

“Of course she did. Does she ever not?”

Emma and Rogers caught each other’s eyes, a chuckle rumbling through them at some inside joke that seemed to catch the whole table’s attention, which also meant Regina’s.

“Swan…”

“What happened?” Ruby asked, scooching forward on her seat wanting in on this secret.

“Sorry, guys, we’ve been sworn to secrecy with threats of murder and I know for sure my mom would like to see me again.”

Ruby pouted and Zelena groaned, “oh you’re no fun. Learn to live on the edge, Swan.”

Emma chanced one glanced at Regina and knew that living was the important part there and if she shared the story she was thinking of, she would surely never be seen again.

“Did I ever tell you about what happened in Hope? Rogers almost got taken out by an empty bag.”

There was a chuckle around them, Rogers playing it up as he shared a glance with Emma. Emma tried not to react as she felt Regina’s hand on her thigh, squeezing it in a silent thank you before her hand was gone and Regina’s nose was buried in her phone as she flicked through the pictures occasionally joining in on the conversation or taking a sip of her wine.

As conversation carried on through the group Emma leaned back in the booth, her eyes looking down at Regina’s phone as she edited the photos on her phone.

“Oh you’re taking this seriously,” Emma whispered and Regina’s eyes flickered up for a second before looking back down, her lips pursed and eyebrows furrowed in concentration and Emma watched her work silently. “You look good in this one.”

Regina hummed, “surprisingly we all do, even you.”

“Mean.”

“I think I look smokin.” Zelena’s voice shattered their moment and Emma looked around Regina to see the redhead smiling smugly at her.

“Yeah, you make it look like to torch was lit.”

Zelena gasped, her eyes wide and Regina’s head snapped to stare at Emma, a chuckle rumbling out of her that made Emma’s heart swell before it was drowned out by Zelena’s loud laughter which quickly had the rest of the table either laughing along or staring in confusion at what they had missed.

 


 

Dinner was filled with happy conversation, sharing stories from set the others weren’t there for, talking about their audition process, and so much more. It was a bonding experience they probably should have done long before but it was also a perfect way to say goodbye.

They walked back to the hotel in the evening chill Regina wondering when she’d gone from walking with her sister to walking with Emma, their elbows brushing here and there as Regina listened quietly to the excited chatter. Her head turning to glance at Zelena who as walking next to Ruby and she remembered when they’d made a single file line to let people pass and somehow it ended up with her walking next to Emma under the night sky.

“Watch it,” Emma breathed and tugged on Regina’s elbow making her look ahead to see the tree she’d narrowly missed.

“Thank you,” Regina breathed, the two of them walking ahead seemingly forgetting Emma’s hand tucked into her elbow the whole two blocks back to the hotel.

They all said their goodbyes as they got off the elevator on their floor, she and Emma sharing a shy glance before they slipped into their own rooms, Regina just knowing that she was definitely going to get pressed for details from Zelena in the morning about her and Emma being cozy on the walk home.

“Can you text me those pictures?”

Regina jumped when she heard the voice, turning to stare at the door and rolled her eyes at herself as she moved toward it. “Yeah, I’ll send them to everyone right now.”

“Awesome… you think we’re allowed to post it?”

Regina looked up from where she was focused on undoing the buttons of her coat to look at the door. “I believe so, but if you’re unsure you could always ask Mary Margaret or David.”

“They didn’t yell at Jefferson for posting that picture of Rogers sleeping on the shuttle so it’s probably fine.”

“Have the news not come out yet?”

She heard Emma chuckle through the door and she frowned in confusion. “You don’t have your google alerts on?”

“God no! I’m not glutton for punishment, I get enough from my mother.”

Emma laughed again and Regina stepped away to hang her coat in the closet off to the side, still in earshot of Emma.

“My mom has mine on, she texts me whenever something is posted about me, just to make sure I am not secretly pregnant or engaged.”

Regina shook her head, “oh if my mother thought I was engaged her life would be made.”

Emma laughed, remembering the rumours after Regina’d been caught in her sweater. “Anyways, there has been some leakage about it but not too much.”

“I don’t remember anything in the contract about not posting pictures, just about no spoilers, I do not believe our picture has a spoiler but perhaps you should wait until after upfronts, hmm?”

“Good point.” There was a ting from the other room followed by a beat of silence, “thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Regina said, sitting on the chair by her bed to pull off her heeled boots.

“Tonight was fun.”

Regina chuckled, seeing Emma’s shadow from under the door. “It was.”

“We should’ve done this earlier.”

“We were rather busy after our first night here.”

“You were busy hiding in your room going over your lines.”

“Watch it, Swan or I’ll go to bed.”

“Sorry,” Emma husked and Regina leaned on her knees, watching the light and shadows shift under the door. “When do you leave tomorrow?”

“In the afternoon.”

“Not too early then…that’s good.”

Regina hummed, standing she slipped out of her slacks and purple knit sweater, folding them neatly on the chair before she slipped off her bra and grabbed the negligee from her bed and slipped it on. “What is the first thing on your list?”

“I’m gonna rent a car and drive up to whistler, spend a couple days up there I think, then I think I’m gonna go to Boston to see my mom for a bit.”

“That sounds lovely,” Regina sighed, wrapping herself up in her throw blanket as she lowered herself to the floor in front of the door.

“You could ditch your mom’s thing and come with me.”

“I happen to like my life…for the most part.”

She heard Emma laugh, the sound right next to her ear and she felt that warmth return to her chest. “Yeah, I’d miss you if you died.”

“Rats? Dying means I could’ve gotten away from you? Jesus take me now!”

Emma barked out a loud sudden laugh, Regina smiling at the thud against the door as Emma hit it. “You’re such a fucking asshole.”

“I am aware of this, yes.” Regina deadpanned even while a smile was stretching widely across her face, her head resting against the door as she listened to Emma’s laughter, the sound wrapping around her like a warm hug.

Emma’s laughter eventually died down, ending with a whimsical sigh Regina returned, silence stretching on for a few minutes before Emma spoke up, her voice a whisper like a few nights back, another secret whispered into the comfort of night.

“I’m gonna really fucking miss this.”

“Yeah…” Regina sighed, hugging her legs to her chest, her cheek resting on her folded knees as she finished, “so will I.”

“Two months though.”

“Two months,” Regina responded like a promise and they fell silent again, both knowing it was time for bed but neither wanting to move.

“Would you rather be put under a sleeping curse or turned into an animal?”

“Animal.” Regina responded with a grin.

“Huh, that is kinda surprising.”

“I would rather save myself than wait for some mysterious true love to kiss me while I was comatose.”

“Yeah, same. Also I just think it’d be dope to be an animal, maybe like a wolf or something.”

“I’d like to be a panther.”

Emma laughed, “okay that is totally not surprising.”

Regina relaxed against the door again, her eyes drifting shut as she spoke. “Would you rather walk across a rope 20 feet in the air or row your way back to shore in only a dingy.”

“Fucking Dingy. Fuck heights.”

Regina smiled, the two of them throwing questions back and forth for way longer than they should have until they could barely keep their eyes open and they were forced to go to bed in fear of actually passing out on the floor of their hotel rooms.

 


 

Regina slept in a bit, waking up at quarter past ten and she laid in bed, listening to the cause of her awakened state as she fumbled and tripped around her room. Usually Regina would be mad being woken up but instead she embraced it, knowing that today would be the last day she heard the comical experience of Emma Swan fumbling around her room with no glasses on and half asleep.

After a few minutes though she sat up, stretching her arms over her head before she reached out, slipping her glasses on at the same time she reached out for her phone to look through her notifications, a yawn stretching on her face as she slipped out of bed, running a hand through her hair as she absentmindedly walked across her room to turn on the kettle before heading into the bathroom.

Once she was all done her morning routine she selected what she would wear for the day, pausing as she heard Emma stop by the door a smile on her lips as she heard Emma whisper through the door in case she was still asleep. “Bye, Regina.”

She wanted to reply but she knew that if she did, Emma would never leave and she wouldn’t be able to accomplish her plan.

She stood in silence, sipping at her freshly brewed coffee as a second stronger dose of caffeine as she listened to Emma slip out of the door, padding quickly to her door she watched through the peephole as Emma walked past and she let out a relieved breath.

Giving the blonde enough time to forget something and come back, Regina got dressed for the day, straightening her hair for the first time in…gosh she’s almost forgotten. It was almost weird now to see her reflection and not see the curls framing her face. Another thing she noticed was that her hair had grown, realizing she hadn’t cut it since before they left, she smiled at her reflection as the hair tickled her neck.

It was weird to think it’d been a month since she’d arrived in Vancouver, a month living in a hotel with Emma Swan as her neighbour. It was weird, but she was almost certain she could maybe get used to living there, it wasn’t too bad, and the winters were even warmer here compared to the ones in New York City.

Once she was officially ready to go, coffee done, and bag packed, she slipped on her coat and hat, scarf hanging loosely around her neck as she put her bags by the door and went back to the dresser where the small gift bag was sitting, staring at the card on the table she took a deep breath and scribbled a message across it and signed her name, a nervous smile on her face as she slipped it into the bag and took the handle in her hands.

It was probably incredibly stupid and sentimental, but she didn’t want to leave without a goodbye again, at least not like the last time, so after a few seconds of listening at their adjoined door she flicked the lock for the first time and pulled it open, she was welcomed by the the morning sun letting light into Emma’s room, her glasses on the bedside table and her red leather jacket tossed on a chair since it was too chilly to wear it outside. She almost wanted to walk across the room and– no.

She shook her head at herself, bending down she carefully placed the gift bag on the inside of the door, Snow White decorating the front making Regina chuckle to herself. Chancing one more quick glance around she took a deep breath and then took a step back, closing and locking the door before she headed to the front door, her eyes skidding over her room once more to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything.

Once sure, she stepped out of the door, pulling her suitcase behind her as she wrapped the scarf around her neck with one hand and headed downstairs to find her sister where she said she would be.

 


 

Emma looked up, catching a glimpse of Regina slipping into her taxi, sunglasses on her face and back in a perfectly tailored pencil skirt making her think of the woman from when they’d first arrived. Her hand raising to wave but Regina didn’t see her and Emma was sad but also  happy that she got to see her one last time.

She went about her day as usual, buying a few souvenirs for her mom before she headed back to her hotel room at a little after 4, her heart heavy as she realized she wouldn’t get to talk to Regina later that night, and suddenly she wanted nothing more than to leave that place and the reminders it brought.

Emma slipped inside her room, moving quickly to her bed she dropped the bags onto it, turning in place as she unravelled her scarf her eyes landed on the Snow White gift bag inside of her door, the top of a bottle of booze sticking out of it making her frown slightly.

She knew who it had to be from, nobody else would have access to her room and nobody else would choose such a bag, but she almost couldn’t believe it, she was sure she was hallucinating a fever dream maybe, but the longer she stared at it the more real it got and the more her heart started to pound away in her chest from excitement.

She tossed her scarf and beanie on her bed and took the few quick steps to the door and her gift, dropping to the floor she checked the tag first and laughed at what Regina wrote. “Read the card first.”

Emma’s smile was huge as she grabbed the card just inside, another laugh bubbling out of her as Snow White was also decorating the front. “She’s such a fucking idiot.” She said to herself as she opened the card and her heart stopped for a second.

 

 

Emma,

 

This last month working with you has been wonderful, unexpectedly so, but wonderful indeed. So this is a thank you for being a wonderful companion these last few weeks, so wonderful I didn’t even need to drink. So, I gift you a bottle of my family’s famous Apple Cider. Cherish it, Miss Swan, I do not want to hear that you drank it all in one night. This is not to be thrown back. Understood?

 

I’ll see you in two months, take care until then, I don’t need you breaking another hip if we get picked up. I’d loath to have to work with someone else.

 

Sincerely,

Regina.

 

 

Emma felt the burn of tears in her eyes, it was sweet, in the odd way that Regina showed affection anyways, you often had to read between the lines to get what she really meant but she cared, she actually cared.

Emma put the card down, bushing a stubborn tear from her cheek as she shook her head at herself, a tearful laugh bubbling out of her as she pulled out the bottle of booze and watched a couple palm sized eggs wrapped in white and orange and white, pink, and orange tinfoil roll across the bottom of the bag.

“She didn’t…” Emma whispered to herself as she reached in, pulling them out to see one normal one and one, “Really? More Disney princesses? Where did this woman go?”

Her eyes looked into the bag and she saw the fallen over mint aero bar on the bottom of the bag and also a KitKat and, she laughed again as she pulled out the bag of sour patch kids.

“What the fuck.” She laughed as she turned, leaning against the wooden door that separated their rooms and picked out one of the kinder surprise eggs, and of course it was the princess one. She shook her head at Regina again and unwrapped the chocolate egg, breaking it open to reveal the orange oval container that housed her prize.

Her lips pulled into a frown as she worked on popping the top off and a victorious chuckle rumbled out of her mouth as it opened and she looked in to see the tiny pieces wrapped in instructions in the tiny tube.

From the red hair she knew she got Ariel and she smiled, feeling like a kid on Christmas as she put the tiny figure together.

As Emma stared at it though she realized something was missing and she scrambled in her coat pocket to pull out her phone and she opened up her Instagram, taking a video as she bit into the milk and white chocolate egg, she posted that to her story before grabbing her tiny Ariel she took at goofy selfie with it, captioning it with, “I’m almost sad it’s not Snow White.” Before she posted and enjoyed her candy hull. Although she did not eat it all in one go, she still stayed on the floor, thinking about how she was going to repay Regina for this gift…well, she had two months to figure it out.

Chapter Text

May 10th, 2016

 

Emma sat on the old beat up couch in front of the large windows that looked out on the rather plain street in her mom’s house in Boston, the smell of pizza filled the home as it cooked in the oven, her mom clanging dishes in the sink as she washed them, trying to keep up the conversation from another room while the water ran, as she always did even though Emma has always told her it was near impossible to hear her.

She’d been back home for about a month, having to spend some extra time in LA to do some ADR she didn’t get to head home until later than she wished, although her mom didn’t complain much about it. She had almost hoped to run into Regina while there but she was only lucky enough to bump into Jefferson…which she wouldn’t exactly call luck.

Being back in Boston was nice though, being back under her mom’s roof, trying to piece together sentences from the few words she caught was just as frustratingly comforting as it’d been when she was younger.

“Pizza. Emma.”

She looked toward the kitchen, a sigh being released from deep within her chest as she pulled herself off the couch, shaking her head at her mom as she went.

“Yeah,” she glanced at her mom when she entered the kitchen, blue gloves on and her white blonde hair pulled back in a messy ponytail as she scrubbed away at whatever was hidden by the sink. She shook her head again, pulling open the oven door she glanced inside, reaching behind her she said, “pass the–” and before finishing she felt the handle of the spatula in her hand, a smile on her lips as she looked back at her mom’s knowing face. “Thanks.”

“I can’t believe I have to teach my 30 year old daughter how to cook. To think I tried when she was a teenager and she swore she understood what to do, and now, here she is, back home, begging for cooking lessons before she is shipped off to another country.”

“Ma…”

“I know, I know, you don’t know for sure yet, don’t jinx it. It’s 9 days before the upfronts, sweetie, they have to call at some point.”

Emma straightened up, closing the oven and turning to look at her mom who was standing anxiously on the other side of the kitchen.

“Why are you always more anxious than me?”

“Because I care!”

“I’m sure they’ll call any day now, mom so like, breathe, if it gets picked up, great! If it doesn’t I move onto the next thing.” Emma said as casually as she could muster, trying to not focus on Regina or the bottle of cider she’d kept safe so she could either celebrate or drown her feelings in.

“You know I can see right through you, Emma, I was not born yesterday, young lady.”

Emma rolled her eyes, walking across the kitchen and grabbing a dishcloth to dry the dishes. “Just let me live in denial.”

“Is she the reason you want to learn to cook all of a sudden?”

“No!” Emma huffed, pushing up on her tiptoes to put a plate in its designated place. “I want to be able to cook for myself when I move to another country.”

Ingrid pulled her into a half hug, placing a loud kiss to her temples like she’d gotten Emma to admit some deep troubling secret and then she just went back to washing her damn dishes.

“Why can you never let me just, ignore things?”

“Because it’s not healthy. We have been through this, Emma.”

“You spent too much time talking to that therapist when I was a kid.”

“And you didn’t spend nearly enough.”

“Are you saying I’m messed in the head? Your own child?”

“I think you have a wonderful head.” Ingrid said, grabbing both Emma’s cheeks and tipping her head up slightly to press a kiss to the middle of her forehead. “You are just horribly determined to live in your own misery.”

Emma rolled her eyes, meeting her mom’s eyes as she pulled away, she wasn’t exactly wrong.

“Now, have you decided on what to gift Miss Mills when you see her or are you still moping around town in search of the perfect gift?”

“Why do I tell you anything?!” Emma grumbled and Ingrid laughed as Emma leaned into her side, her head on her shoulder as she pouted.

“Because I am impossibly good at getting the truth out of you.”

“It’s totally unfair.”

“I know, sweets.” Ingrid said as she pressed another kiss to Emma’s head, soothingly rubbing her arm.

“She buys me fucking candy and it’s the most perfect gift ever, I get it, I’m easy to please but,” Emma pulled back, looking at Ingrid with big sad eyes, “Regina is complex.” She said in a dramatic huff, her hands gesturing wildly before her shoulders slumped and she was looking sadly up at her mom again.

“I googled her, she looks very distinguished.”

“She iiss.” Emma whined even going as far as stomping her foot like a toddler. “We spent a month talking to each other daily, I know her pretty well but every time I think something is good it’s either too serious or not serious enough!”

Emma turned, storming back to the living room and Ingrid followed closely behind.

“How do I get something with the same meaning as a ridiculous inside joke, a gift that was originally a gift from her father meant to bring her the comfort of home, and candy?!” She asked as she collapsed onto the couch, her arms moving wildly in front of her before one fell over her eyes as a groan left her mouth. “This is so stupid.”

Ingrid patted her knee soothingly and Emma uncovered her eyes, meeting her mom’s caring ones as her arm fell away and her body deflated more. “I don’t wanna lose this show…”

Ingrid laughed, squeezing her knee before she relaxed against the back of the couch like she’d accomplished something. And she freaking had!

“I actually really grew to love the rest of the cast, and I’m just, I’m not ready to say goodbye to the character either, there’s still just so much more to learn about her, and working with Regina, Mom she’s –she’s like one of the most incredible actors I’ve ever worked with, it’s exciting! Her sister too,” Emma sat up, Ingrid watching her with interest. “She is fucking hilarious, you’d love her, she’s a fuckin riot, and then you call action and she’s all serious and boom, kills it in like two takes and then at cut she’s back to telling me about the weirdest probably inappropriate stories but, it’s just an amazing experience working with them.”

“I’m glad, you should embrace those feelings instead of forcing them down because you might be sad later. Let yourself be happy and excited, Emma.”

Emma sighed, rubbing the back of her neck anxiously as she met Ingrid’s eyes once again. “You’d like Ruby too, and Tamara…they’re great, I still talk to them actually, Ruby didn’t even let me pretend it was just work, she has been texting me daily and Tamara and I hung out a bit after filming ended. I think I made friends?”

Ingrid laughed, a sudden bark of it as she straightened up, her hand connecting with her knee like she was comforting her, honestly like she was telling Emma she was being an idiot but in the loving way only family can. “I’m happy you made friends.”

“I’m starting to think you’re making fun of me.”

“Never, sweetie,” Ingrid said as she stood up, pressing a kiss to Emma’s forehead as if the placate her worries.

“I’m sorry if I’m emotionally unintelligent.”

Ingrid glanced back at her, a look of love in her eyes as a smile curled up on her lips, “you can only work with the tools given to you, my love, and you started with a very limited amount. You’re allowed to be a little stupid sometimes.”

Emma softened, warmth filling her chest as a wave of feeling loved and wanted for who she was washed over her. It never got old.

“I love you, Emma. Never forget that.”

“I know, mom, I love you too.”

Ingrid smiled, turning around she continued off into the kitchen leaving Emma once again alone in the living room with nothing but her thoughts.

But apparently the universe didn’t wish to leave her to her silent contemplation because a few minutes later the ringing of her phone mixed with buzzing was heard from where it sat on the coffee table. She reached out for it, flipping it over to see the screen her eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she saw Mary Margaret’s name lighting up her screen.

“Oh shit.” She breathed, blinking at it in shock for a few more seconds. “Mom!” She screamed as she answered the phone, putting it on speaker as Ingrid rushed into the room, Emma pressing her finger to her lips as she finally said to the woman on the other end. “Hello?”

“Emma?”

“Yeah it’s me.” Emma replied, staring up at her mom as she vibrated with excitement and Emma just kept wiping her sweaty hands off on her pants.

“Oh goodie! I thought I was going to have to leave a voicemail!”

Emma chuckled, trying to not sound as anxious as she was, her leg bouncing as she just stared at the device, at the numbers on the screen counting up as the call and silence dragged on. “N-no, I am here, I was just cooking dinner.”

“Oh!” There was a pause, Emma realizing that where Mary Margaret was it was only early afternoon.

“I’m in Boston, with my mom.”

“Oh! Yes!” Emma smiled, the woman was always so kind and polite, but right now Emma just kind of wanted her to get to the point.

“Mary Margaret just tell the poor girl!” Came David’s voice and there was a shared laughter that seemed to break the tension that was tightening around Emma’s heart.

She was pretty sure if she didn’t find out soon she was either going to pass out or throw up from nerves.

“Right! Sorry!” Mary Margaret giggled at her own mistake. “They picked it up!” Emma’s heart stopped, literally stopped and her mom let out an excited squeal before she pressed her hands to her lips to smother the noise. “They picked us up for a full series! We start filming in July!”

“Holy shit…”

Mary Margaret laughed, cheerful and understanding of Emma’s shock. “I hope you’re ready for the upfronts on the 19th.”

“I am…” She met her mom’s eyes, trying to express her shock and excitement through just the look as Ingrid bounced in place and Emma couldn’t keep down the snort that forced its way out.

“We’re very excited to be working with you, Emma, and we will see you shortly!”

“Yeah…” Emma smiled widely as she heard David’s voice meet her ears, the news finally starting to register in her. “Me too! I, thank you! I can’t wait to begin production!”

“Have a great evening, Emma.”

“We’ll see you soon!” Mary Margaret finished and Emma laughed, light and happy as she said her goodbyes and the call ended, the room silent for a few seconds before her mom ran across the room, grabbing Emma’s hands and with one swift motion she pulled her off the couch and into her arms.

Emma’s joyous laughter increasing as her mom squeezed her impossibly tight.

“I knew it would be picked up!”

“You did, you were right!”

Ingrid pulled away, staring Emma in the eyes as she stated. “I am always right.”

“What about wh–”

“That doesn’t count.”

Emma chuckled. “How does it not count?”

“It just doesn’t.”

Silence drew on and everything seemed to finally completely settle in Emma and her smile grew to the point it hurt as she said, “I need to get the cider! We gotta celebrate!”

“Cider and pizza? Does that work?” Ingrid called after Emma as she ran toward the stairs that lead to Emma’s room upstairs where the cider was sitting proudly on top of Emma’s dresser.

“We’re having it before pizza not with it, it’ll be fine!” she stopped at the top of the stairs, frozen before she walked down two to peek down at her mom. “I have nine days to find a gift for Regina!”

Ingrid looked up at her like they’d already been through this a dozen times because they had and Emma groaned, storming her way upstairs to grab the cider while her mom laughed at her from downstairs.

 


 

May 19th , 2016

 

Regina headed to New York a few days early so she had the chance to see her friend Ursula in her Broadway musical, it’d been forever since she not only had a chance to see her friend but to see her perform. Ursula was always this major powerhouse, Regina had met her when she was dating Mal, they went to one of her plays on a date, Mal having known one of the other actors they were invited to hang out with the cast after and Regina and Ursula bonded over growing up in New York and overly strict parents.

So she jumped at the chance to see her friend, who kindly let her crash in her spare room while in town. Unlike Regina, Ursula was definitely a morning person, up to welcome the sun and prepare breakfast, and even if when Regina was forced out of bed at 4 am all she saw was coffee, she was still grateful for the eggs slide across the island like she was a ravenous beast.

“Thank you.” She said as she swallowed her bite of egg, looking up at Ursula with her hair still in a wrap and a satin blue robe synched around her waist.

“Go shower you have to leave soon to get ready for your big event!”

“It’s just the upfronts,” she said, as she poured herself a second glass of strong and expensive black coffee, just how she likes it.

“You’re going as the lead actress on your first big network show. It’s pretty big,” Ursula pointed out, leaning her hip against the marble island Regina was just eating at, watching Regina as she placed her plate in the sink and nursed her coffee.

“I’m trying not to think about that or I might actually pass out.”

Ursula chuckled, pushing off the counter and walking toward Regina, gripping both shoulders she lead her through the loft to the guest bath while Regina pouted around her mug of coffee. “You’ll be fine. Shower, everything you need is in there. I’ll call you a car in about 15 minutes to take you where you need to go, which should mean it will be here by the time you are done.”

“Yes, mom.” Regina mocked, tipping her head back to meet Ursula’s glare.

“I am older and wiser, my child, I will not fall for that cheap shot.”

Regina turned out of Ursula’s grasp, walking backward into the bathroom. “I wish you could come with me.”

“You’ll be fine, you’ll have Zelena.”

Regina groaned, turning around to walk properly as she whined. “Don’t remind me.”

“C’mon, grump, get moving,” Ursula said as she playfully swatted Regina in the ass, getting a glare in return the older woman simply laughed as Regina shut the bathroom door in her face.

“See you in 30!”

Regina muttered her distaste under her breath before she stripped out of her pajamas and hopped in the shower. Letting the water continue the slow process of waking her up.

 


 

Emma carefully slipped out on the town car, her hands brushing over the fabric of her thin white dress as she looked out amongst the crowds of people. Other celebrities making their way inside, fans hoping for a picture, and then of course, the paparazzi.

She took a steadying breath, pushing through the chaos as she made her way to the front doors of the hotel, her head bowed down as she paid careful attention not to trip over her own feet.

A sigh escaped her mouth as she finally got through the doors, then she was directed down a large hall, her eyes searching as she followed each person’s directions until her eyes landed on bright red hair and she instantly spotted her group thanks to the help of Zelena’s loud attire and striking height in her stilettos.

As she got closer and she spotted nearly all her castmates gathered around talking, her eyes finally landed on Regina who was revealed by the simple gesture of Zelena turning to look around.

She did what she feared she would do, she stumbled over her own feet at the striking beauty of just the woman’s profile, and sure, she was lucky enough to steady herself but the slight blunder seemed to catch Regina’s attention and her dark eyes rose slowly up Emma’s body, taking in her white slip dress with see through patterns and her arms bare, which seemed to grab Regina’s full attention giving Emma the perfect opportunity to let her eyes travel over her.

She was unbelievably stunning, wearing a simple wide strap black tank top that was tucked into an ankle length navy blue A-line skirt with medium sized cobalt blue lavender flowers decorating it adding a slight pop of colour to the look. Her hair was styled in smooth waves that perfectly framed her face and like always, her trademark red lipstick was perfectly applied.

“Miss Swan?”

Emma jumped, turning to look at one of the assistants tasked with corralling the talent, her cheeks warming as she whispered an apology and made her away across the room, and when her eyes made it back to Regina she had her hand splayed over her belly as she looked up at Zelena as they talked, Emma being once again enticed by her muscular arms. 

“Nice of you to finally join us, Swan.” Zelena quipped as soon as Emma got to their group, a devilish smirk on her lips as her eyes skimmed down her body. “Well now, don’t you look ravishing? Don’t you think, Regina?”

Emma felt her cheeks heat up with another blush as her eyes moved to look at Regina who was characteristically glaring up at her older sister. “Thanks. You look amazing as well, both of you do, actually.”

Regina’s eyes moved away from Zelena at that, slightly wide with surprise at the compliment before she covered it up with a smirk, her eyes skimming over Emma like they so often do, Emma fighting the urge to fidget anxiously as Regina’s surveyed her like an expensive car or the boy who was taking her daughter to prom.

“And here I thought you’d show up in that god awful jacket of yours.”

Emma hated how she smiled at what most people would consider and insult, but Emma found that it’s just a way the Mills sisters show affection…usually.

“Woah, Em, I think I need to call my priest, you’re making me wanna sin.”

Emma barked out a laugh at the way Regina’s face twisted in distaste at Ruby’s comment, Emma’s eyes found the tall brunette in her short red dress and too high heels that just made her tower over them alongside Zelena.

“Pretty sure that dress is the real sin here.”

Emma bit her lip trying not to smile at Regina’s comment, sending her a warning look before she let Ruby pull her into a hug and then use her as an armrest. “Don’t listen to her, she’s just grumpy cause she has to be up and she isn’t allowed her precious coffee.”

“Who says that? Maybe I just don’t like Miss Lucas’s dress from 90s past.”

“Ursula kept her up late and didn’t let her sleep in.” Zelena ratted to the distaste of Regina who bristled at personal life being shared because god forbid anyone know she was human over thinking she was just a massive bitch.

“Aye, ladies, you ready for this?”

Emma looked at Rogers in his blue suit and open white button up under a vest, although the more she looked at his face the more she realized he looked about two seconds away from keeling over. “Hey, you okay there, buddy?”

“Just a little nervous. I’ve never done this.”

“Upfronts?” He nodded and Emma smiled, looking at the line of photographers down the hallway with large glass ceiling to allow for natural lighting during the ‘red carpet’. “I’ve done it a few times, just stick with me and you’ll be just fine.”

“Thanks, lass.” Emma smiled nudging him playfully with her elbow before she looked around again. “We still waiting on a few?”

“Marian and Tamara went to the bathroom, we’re just waiting on them.”

“Jefferson,” Emma said, watching as the man strutted toward them, “how did he get more obnoxious?” Emma whispered to Ruby who chuckled as they both looked at him approach in his suit with an atrocious bright print on it that honestly made her eyes hurt.

Regina seemed to catch on and her eyes moved to look over and her face contorted in disgust as she looked away, quietly muttering to nobody in particular. “I think I’m getting a migraine.”

“You know what a great cure is for those?”

“Don’t.” Regina deadpanned without even dignifying Zelena with so much as a glance.

“You’re no fun, baby sis.” Zelena pouted and tugged on a lock of Regina’s hair getting her a dirty glare while Emma and Ruby tried miserably at hiding their amusement.

“Hello, ladies.” Jefferson said, his tone making Emma’s smile turn into a grimace while Regina rolled her eyes, plastering on a perfectly pleasant smile. “You all look wonderful, pity I only have two arms.”

“Pity.” Regina deadpanned, and Zelena’s eyes seemed to grow wide as she snapped her head to look at her. “What? I am just absolutely broken up over this.”

Emma bit her cheek, “It’s okay. I have an extra arm if you need one.”

“Do you now? Hear that, sis, Emma is offering to escort you inside.”

“Well, who knew, Miss Swan was such a gentleman.”

“I have my moments.” Emma grinned as Regina’s eyes seemed to assess her again, like she was trying to figure her out.

“You are not gonna believe who we just ran into in the washroom.” Tamara said as she dragged Marian into their small group, the woman looking about seconds away from passing out.

“Who? And please tell me you made a horrific ass out of yourselves for optimal entertainment.”

Tamara rolled her eyes at Zelena. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“You know I live for the drama.”

“Well spill! Who did you see?”

“Chyler freaking Leigh!” Marian squealed and Emma’s jaw dropped open, snapping her head around in hopes to get a glimpse of her.

“No way, what is she like?” Ruby said as she abandoned Emma’s shoulder to tug on Tamara’s hand like it’d get her more information faster.

“So sweet!”

“Fucking stunning!”

“God I have such a crush on her,” Ruby gushed, barely noticing the eyes staring at her in shock until she seemed to feel them and rolled her own eyes. “What? Is it like illegal to be bi or something?”

“Not at all.” Emma said, but her eyes didn’t leave Regina’s which seemed to be watching her, Emma trying really hard not to think about how Regina’s lips felt against her own, how it was like to hold her in her lap, to feel her warm skin against her hands. God why was it still so easy to call back after all these years?!

“You okay, Em? You look a little…”

“Flushed.” Tamara said, her eyes squinting at her while Marian reached out, pressing a hand to her forehead.

“You feeling okay?”

“I’m fine!” Emma batted away her hand, huffing at the attention and when she looked back at Regina she had her hand splayed over her stomach again as she looked off in the distance. “How have you guys been? What did you do the last two months?”

“I have been looking at a lot of real estate,” Marian said with a smile, “And I took Roland camping, but besides that just making sure I had a plan for when we moved to Vancouver.”

“I helped my granny at her BnB, and diner, she really doesn’t know what a vacation is.”

“Operation Cobra?” They all looked up at their show’s name being called, everyone looking surprised besides Regina who just seemed ready to book it.

“That is us.”

“Right this way, leads first please.”

“Looks like that’s us,” Emma grinned, stepping forward and Regina glanced up at her before a mask slipped onto her face and she followed the woman to the line of press.

Emma chanced a glance back at Ruby who was walking arm in arm with Rogers looking at her like there was some inside joke she didn’t get.

 


 

Regina smoothed her hands over her skirt as she waited at the edge of the large walkway, the green and yellow backdrops that brandished the networks logo next to her.

“Breathe,” Emma whispered and Regina huffed, looking behind her to send her a glare.

“I am breathing just fine without your assistance, Miss Swan.”

“Could’ve fooled me.” Regina glared at her again before she turned back to see one of the many young actors that ruled this network move along the hallway, turning to pose a few feet down the line. “You look great, no need to work yourself into a frenzy.”

“Yes well, your hair looks like a bird made a home in it.”

Emma’s chuckle was shocking but she refused to show she was both surprised by her reaction and that she was actually nervous. “Easy, tiger, people might think you like me.”

“Well they’d be idiotic to ever think such a thing.” Regina hissed before she stepped forward at the woman’s gesture.

“I promise after this I’ll buy you the biggest strongest coffee they got,” came Emma’s voice next to her ear and she snapped her head to look at her before letting out an annoyed huff and looking forward again as she got ready to pose.

“You’re insufferable.”

“Awe, you’re so sweet, but you just had to say thank you.”

Regina turned to glare at her but her heart fluttered when she saw Emma’s playful and annoyingly charming smile directed at her. “Would you just, behave for an hour?”

“Deal.” Emma said as she slipped her hand around Regina’s waist and tugged her close to her side as they posed for a few pictures together, then separately, then they were joined with the rest of the cast, Emma and Regina in the middle, the men in the back flanked by Ruby and Zelena and Marian on her side and Tamara on Emma’s.

It was how it went for the whole thing, easy really, but Emma’s hand seemed to burn against the thin material of her tank top and Regina nearly passed out when her fingers brushed over the smooth skin of Emma’s back, to hold onto Emma’s hip.

It was hard keeping up an air of indifference when Emma was just there, looking as stunning as ever in a dress that left very little to the imagination and she had to keep touching her.

They were somewhere near the end, just moving out of the group picture to their last pair pictures, Emma’s eyes on the floor as she came to a stop, her hair that was pinned half up fell forward in perfect loose curls that screamed for Regina’s attention.

Emma looked up then, her eyes locking with Regina’s and Regina couldn’t stop the way her breath caught in her chest when the light hit her eyes in that perfect way that made the colour pop.

“What? Do I have something on my face?”

Regina shook her head, reaching out a hand as if it had a mind of her own, as if she’d forgotten they were in the middle of a press junket and gently, she brushed Emma’s hair from over her shoulder, her fingers dancing over the smooth skin of her shoulder as Emma offered her an almost painfully soft smile.

“Over here ladies!”

A photographer yelled and the way Regina’s heart jumped and plummeted into her stomach in the matter of seconds was painful, she only hoped it wasn’t made obvious on her face as she turned to face the camera, her hand handing at her side with the other splayed across her belly, her most practiced of smiles on her face as her mind seemed to scream incoherently.

But suddenly everything fell silent as she felt Emma’s hand against the small of her back, steady, soothing, and her eyes flickered over to her for a second before she moved her hand around Emma’s waist and the one on her belly moved to her own hip, Emma’s hand staying on her back until they split up for singles and then when they met up again for their final group shot that hand was on her back again, her thumb unconsciously brushing against her back as if to sooth her nerves and god dammit if it didn’t work wonders.

 


 

It wasn’t long later that they all gathered in a large auditorium, a large screen lining the wall of the stage as the execs and the networks biggest stars made presentations. Their small group gathered with the rest of the stars on the network, sitting next to the cast of Supergirl.

Emma was on the arm of Ruby’s seat as they whispered amongst themselves, Regina on her other side, hands subtly but anxiously fiddling in her lap as they waited for the trailers to be shown.

“Would you two stop gossiping?”

Emma glanced over at her, offering her a small smile as she leaned toward Regina, “Breathe,” She whispered, and without really thinking about it she reached across the armrest and covered Regina’s fiddling hands with her own. “They picked up the show so obviously it doesn’t suck ass.”

There was a long pause where Emma realized Regina was just staring at their hands before she slipped her hand out from under Emma’s to take her wrist. “Eloquent as always, Miss Swan,” she said while moving Emma’s hand to her arm rest and Emma just kind of couldn’t help but smile as she turned away to the stage, leaning on the arm rest and in Regina’s space.

“I know. Speaking of, I got something for you, I mean, not here because, well no pockets but…” Emma felt Regina studying her again and she slowly turned her head to look at her, a frown on her face as she whispered, “what?”

“Nothing, I was just imagining you smuggling a kinder egg across the border.”

“Oh yeah, I told them it was a yoni egg and they didn’t question.”

“Mmm, I’m sure.”

“I mean, it is the perfect little pocket, I use it as a coin purse all the time.”

It was almost beautiful to witness Regina Mills lose all composure as she choked on her own spit, coughing as she tried to keep her shocked laughter at bay. Really it was worth it even if others overheard their conversation.

“Miss Swan.”

Emma chuckled, nudging Regina’s arm as she looked toward the stage again. “Oh hey, the trailers are starting!”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you call a vagina a coin purse.” Came Ruby’s voice and Regina looked like she wanted to die while Emma barely suppressed her fit of giggles.

“Shh, it’s starting.”

“Sorry,” Emma breathed, looking up at the screen and trying not to grimace at her own face on the screen. “I think that bun gave me permanent brain damage.”

“You telling me that wasn’t caused by falling on your head every morning?”

“Ha Ha.” Emma said while her eyes were glued to the screen, her breath catching as she saw Regina come on screen, a scene she never saw since she wasn’t actually in it. “Woah.”

“I didn’t think I could still kick that high.”

Emma’s head cocked to the side and Regina let out a throaty laugh that seemed to be cut off as the first scene of their two characters came on screen and it happened to be of Emma, blatantly checking her out.

They both fell silent, practically squirming in their seats as it seemed to be scene after scene of long looks and getting in each other’s faces.

“Roni Perez, Private eye.” Came the accented voice of Regina’s character, somehow deeper than her normal speaking voice and it didn’t fail at making Emma’s insides twist up and her skin to buzz in excitement.

“Sargent Alexandra Blackwell.” Emma’s voice came next and then their breaths caught, Regina’s hand unconsciously moving to her arm rest, her pinky and ring finger on Emma’s as they stared in awe, as they listened to Zelena’s voice over as she explained just what they did, the scene from when she was recruiting Roni in the pilot.

“We are the people who come when the police won’t.”

The trailer ended with Roni kicking down the door to the house and entering flanked by Blackwell and O’Conner.

“That was…”

“Fucking awesome!” Emma responded over the round of applause filling the room, both of them suddenly noticing their hands and Emma stared down at Regina’s fingers, remembering the night when they breached that weird gap they had to have, when Regina reached her finger out from under the door and they just sat there, fingers touching.

Emma was as speechless now as she was then, wanting to take her hand and never let go, but Regina seemed to want otherwise since her hand was taken away, back to twisting in her lap as the next trailer played but Emma couldn’t stop staring at her own hand, missing, craving the feeling, the warmth of Regina’s. 

 


 

They gathered in the lobby, waiting for their car to come pick them up and take them to the docks for the private party being held on a yacht scheduled to circle Manhattan.

Regina’s hands were folded over her front, fingers subtly fidgeting as she looked around at the crowded space, the loud chatter of the rest of the people filling the area in preparation for their departure for the evening be it to the after party or to their own homes.

“I’ve never been on a yacht!” Ruby’s excited voice met her ears over the crowd but she barely paid her any mind, she wasn’t actually excited for the evening’s events; she didn’t like that she couldn’t leave a boat early if she wanted to, but she also knew that as the star of one of the network’s new shows she couldn’t stay behind either. She was essentially trapped in a corner meant to spend the next 4 hours with…well, let’s say most of these people weren’t exactly her idea of fun.

“Hey, our car is here.” Zelena said, placing a hand on her shoulder to get her attention even as she turned her head to look toward the doors and the young man waving them over.

“Well, team, let’s get this party started.” Regina looked to Tamara who was grinning proudly at them, wondering when she’d taken over the role of leader, and why it wasn’t Emma the one to be leading the way to the doors, speaking of, where was that woman?

“Emma!” She called, watching her blonde head slipping from the group in the other direction. “Where the hell are you going, Miss Swan?!”

Emma turned, head poking between others as she waved them off, “I gotta grab a couple things! I’ll meet y’all at the docks!”

“Now?! Miss Swan!”

Regina growled under her breath as she vanished into the crowd, feeling a tug on her elbow even as she sneered at the tall men blocking her view of the blonde she very much wished to yell at.

“Come on, Regina, she’ll be fine. The little duckling is a full grown swan now.”

Regina glared at Zelena but let her tug her away, faintly hearing the others’ excited chatter but her mind was occupied more with plans of how she was going to kill Emma if she missed the party and made them look bad in front of the whole network.

“Did she not understand they were the faces of this damned show? If Jefferson fucked off and missed the cruise nobody would even notice but Emma, Emma was a little hard to miss!”

 


 

Emma parked at the docks not long after she separated from the rest of the cast, she grabbed her red leather jacket from the passenger seat along with the gift bag. An excited hop to her step as she got maybe a foot away from her car only to realize Regina wouldn’t want to lug her gift around all evening.

“Fuck.” She said under her breath as she made a sudden U-turn, opening the trunk of her bug and carefully setting the gift down before she slammed the hood and once again headed toward the crowd of people boarding the cruise.

Emma waited amongst the others, constantly searching the faces for her castmates even though she knew it was unlikely she’d catch up with them again until she boarded the boat.

“Emma!” She turned to the voice, seeing a few hands raised in the air waving her over as entered the enclosed area, she waved back as she slipped past the people on the boat until she came face to face with Ruby, Tamara, and Rogers.

“Hey! Where are the others?”

“Mingling. We were scared you wouldn’t get here in time.”

“You really risked missing a private cruise around Manhattan for that?”

Emma glared at Ruby who raised her hands in surrender. “I needed to grab something else too. Besides, this dress isn’t exactly warm.”

“We noticed.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open and she slapped Ruby’s arm as she turned her attention to Tamara. “So how mad is she?”

There was a bark of laughter, Tamara reaching out to squeeze Emma’s arm reassuringly as she glanced off to the left. “She pouted and quietly fumed the whole drive here and now Zelena is trying to make her relax with alcohol.”

“Great…” Emma saw just a flash of red hair but she wasn’t sure if it was their redhead or the other one. “This is pretty cool. Gotta admit though I haven’t exactly spent much time on a boat.”

“Marian brought sea sickness medication so if you feel like you’re gonna yack she’s got you covered.”

“She really is the mom of the cast.”

“Well, she is the only mom.”

Emma rolled her eyes at Tamara who looked insanely relaxed for someone who, as far as Emma knew, didn’t spend much time doing these types of things.

“I have a life outside of what you know, Swan.” Tamara said like she could read Emma’s mind and she got a large smile in return. “You do know BC is surrounded by water and has islands right?”

“Yeah,” Emma pouted and got another pitying squeeze of the arm before Tamara turned away, seemingly catching someone’s attention and waving.

“I’m going to go mingle. Have fun, ladies.” She winked and Rogers turned a faint shade of pink as she rushed off, leaving them on their own.

“I’m surprised you’re not off being the social butterfly I know you to be.” Emma said to Ruby who was looking around her like an excited puppy.

“I just wanted to make sure you made it first.”

Emma chuckled, “well I’m here, you go have your fun, Rogers will make sure Regina doesn’t kill me, right?”

He gaped at her, but the warning glare made him nod as he flashed Ruby his most winning smile and in the blink of an eye Ruby was gone, her yell to have fun lingering after her.

“You don’t really expect me to–”

“God no!” Emma laughed, patting his shoulder once as she did. “She’d eat you alive.”

He laughed nervously, looking around them, “why do I feel like I’m 100 years old?”

Emma looked around them, “uh yeah, let’s not think about that, they just play teens on TV they’re not really teens.”

“Right. Not really teens.”

“Still weird.”

“So weird!” Rogers breathed and Emma shook her head, turning to look up at the man with a hopeful smile.

“Drink?”

“Please!”

So with that the two made their way toward the bar, Emma keeping an eye out for her very grumpy and adorable co-star.

Wait. No, not adorable, just grumpy. Dammit. 

 


 

It wasn’t hard to spot Emma, even without the hideous red coat, she just seemed to stick out in the crowd. Regina noticed she held herself a little differently than she was used to, she’d only ever seen Emma interact in casual settings or in character, but somehow although she was clumsy and almost constantly existed with a foot firmly wedged down her throat she stood a little taller, seemed almost a little more elegant instead of the wide cocky stance she usually carried herself with.

Regina found her almost interesting to watch, all soft features and tentative listening as she mingled and smiled, staying at Roger’s side almost like his protector. If it wasn’t for that eyesore of a jacket she might look like an actual princess.

Regina’s eyes kept moving back to the other woman, she couldn’t look away, she was much more fascinating than whatever conversation she was having with a few other actors from the network, she smiled and replied when necessary but her eyes always found Emma in the crowd, nursing a glass of white wine, her smile gentle instead of her trademark lopsided grin or the wide hopeful one that always featured wide puppy like eyes.

Emma in professional settings was an adult, no stupid golden retriever like qualities in sight. It was oddly mysteriously attractive. Enthralling, really.

Regina spotted Emma slip away to go to the bar and seeing her chance she flashed a smile at the few people around her, placing a gentle hand on Marian’s shoulder as she said “I’m going to get a drink.” And with the few mutterings of bye she slipped off, slipping through the throngs of people as she tracked that hideous red leather jacket to the bar.

She slipped up close, her eyes momentarily meeting the bartenders as she leaned in close to Emma, her lips close to her ear as she whispered. “So this is why you risked missing the cruise?”

Emma jumped, spinning around to look at her and Regina sucked in a breath, barely leaning away enough to miss Emma’s forehead connecting with her own, but not enough that they weren’t in each other’s faces, Emma’s breath ghosting over her face while her green eyes moved from her lips up to her eyes and locked.

“Jesus, Regina.” Emma finally breathed, a hand moving against her chest as she rolled her eyes at her. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Only nearly?” She quipped as she took a step back, her eyes meeting the bartenders again and she could feel her cheeks warming slightly. “Another glass of your Moreot and whatever she’s having, please.”

Emma leaned back against the bar, her lazy casual stance slipping in place as she smirked up at Regina. “Why, Regina Mills, are you buying me a drink?”

Regina’s smirk curled on her lips and she leaned forward the slightest bit as she whispered. “The drinks are free, Miss Swan.”

Emma shook her head, her eyes rolling nearly to the back of her head as she turned slightly to take both glasses of wine from the bar and holding out Regina’s to her.

“Thank you.”

“So, does this get me outta the talkin to I know you’re dying to give me?”

Regina let out a thoughtful hum as she brought the glass to her lips and took a slow sip while Emma watched her anxiously.

“Well?”

“No.” Regina said with a dangerous grin before she turned on her heel and started walking away.

“Regina! C’mon!” Emma’s voice followed after her, hearing the faint click of her heels as she chased after her. “I made it in time, didn’t I?”

Regina spun on her heels, the two of them standing in the middle of the room, Regina’s eyes dangerous and Emma’s wide with panic, as they once again stood way too close. “You risked our show’s reputation for a hideous jacket, one you could have gone to get while we were all waiting for the car. You left your castmates high and dry. We are a brand new show, Miss Swan, we don’t have any legs to stand on right now, how we present ourselves to our bosses and the rest of our colleagues matters.”

Emma pulled out her puppy eyes at that, Regina’s glare hardening to combat the look that made her stomach do flips. “It wasn’t just for the jacket.”

Regina rolled her eyes, turning on her heel again and Emma obediently followed, steps quick behind her.

“R’gina…”

Regina ignored her, trying to locate their table because they would probably be sitting for dinner soon.

“Regina, c’mon, would you just stop and talk to me?” Her fingers skidded over her elbow and Regina stopped. “Look, I’m sorry, but I had to…”

Regina turned around, hand on her hip as she surveyed Emma. “Had to what?”

“I remembered I had to still give you your gift.”

“Oh.”

Emma chuckled at Regina’s stunned expression and she took a step closer, her lopsided grin in place as she husked. “Yeah, “oh”.”

“It was still stupid, reckless, and irresponsible. Everyone was very upset.”

“Everyone? Or just you?”

Regina huffed, “I am just looking out for our show’s reputation.”

Emma laughed as Regina spun around again, heading toward the table that now seemed to also house Rogers and Marian.

“Right, our reputation.”

Regina rolled her eyes at Emma’s mocking tone, knowing she was right behind her as she walked the few feet to the table and slipped into a chair, glancing up when Emma took the one right next to hers.

She placed her wine on the table before she shrugged off her coat, making eye contact with Marian as she did so. “You having fun, Mar?”

“Oh yes, it’s been very interesting, I’ve met plenty of very nice people.”

“That’s great! I’ve met a few of them before at other events but I gotta say this is the most interesting event I’ve been to.”

“Because Regina yelled at you in the middle of it?”

Regina’s eyes widened as they moved to Marian who was grinning at them like she was onto something.

“You know how work wives are.” Emma quipped and Regina’s head snapped to look at her, glaring daggers into the side of her head.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s okay, Rogers is my work husband, right, buddy?”

“Oh, you are not dragging me into this one, Love.”

Regina smiled, looking as the man focused on his club soda. “Smart choice.”

“More like a lame choice. Rogers, I want a divorce.”

The man laughed, looking up at Emma, his eyes running over her before he shrugged. “Alright, you’re not my type anyways.”

Emma gaped at him and Regina covered up her smile with a sip of wine, carefully crossing her legs under the table and freezing when the side of her foot accidentally skimmed over Emma’s bare calf, green eyes instantly finding hers and Regina couldn’t so much as breathe as she tried to figure out what that look meant.

This was all too dangerous, drinking around Emma never led to anything good.

She lowered her glass to the table, clearing her throat slightly as she looked around her; almost everyone else was moving to sit down now, her eyes staring into Zelena’s back as she asked nobody in particular. “When do you think dinner is? I haven’t eaten since breakfast.”

“I knew it!”

“Yo! They got steak!” Ruby’s voice met their ears and they all turned to look at her as she pulled out the chair next to Marian and sat down.

“How do you know that?”

“Peeked into the kitchen. Woah, what’s with the weird tension?”

“Emma and Rogers got a divorce, turns out she’s been cheating on him with Regina.”

“Oooh drama.” Ruby drawled.

Regina checked out at that though, feeling heat on her skin and her heart squeezing in her chest as she was thrown back 4 years, to Neal and Emma and that kiss, the way her heart had pounded when she saw her up close, the gentle brush of her fingers along her skin. The way her fingers had dug into her thighs as she’d pulled her closer. Her laughter and the secrets they’d shared on that rooftop lounge.

But the guilt over what she’d done tainted those memories, it twisted around each one as she remembered consoling Neal as he’d cried over the breakup, telling him it hadn’t been his fault, anything and everything to take the pain from him because it wasn’t on him, it was on her, it was her burden to carry. Hers and Emma’s alone.

 


 

Emma noticed the shift in Regina pretty quick, her eyes constantly flicking over to hers throughout dinner, the woman was quiet, would only respond if she was directly spoken to and even then it took her a few seconds to really register what was being said to her. Her smile was fake and plastic, her jaw locked and her eyes were almost vacant. An obvious mask that made Emma wonder if the others noticed it too.

It didn’t take her long to track back to the moment that had caused it, as she’d also felt a heavy pang in her chest from the comment, laughing it away in hopes nobody would notice the way the comment had spooked her. She had felt an urge to reach out, to place a hand on Regina’s knee to show a sign of support, to show her she wasn’t alone in feeling it; but she was also scared of how Regina might react to the gesture.

Emma was scared that her affection for the woman was like a giant blinding beacon and although she didn’t really care if people found out she was gay, she knew Regina wasn’t comfortable with the idea of anyone suspecting she was. But still, her heart ached and as much as she wanted to comfort Regina, to pull her out of the funk she was in, she also wanted comfort, to know they were okay, that it’d be okay.

They’d made a mistake four years ago, yes, one ruled by a pull she couldn’t even begin to explain, a pull that was still there, in fact, though it was more subtle now, different, that connection now tainted by heartbreak and passage of time, by a guilt that was wrapped tightly around her heart, not just because she’d cheated on Neal, but because she’d kissed Regina, she’d put her in that horrible position where she’d hurt her best friend.

It was hard to get past that, their friendship right now was rocky, and a fear that one wrong move could cause a ripple effect, it was like teetering on a small platform set between soft pillows and jagged rocks.

Emma’s eyes jumped up from her glass of wine, focusing as she witnessed Regina slipping away from the table, food done and everyone was just talking, laughter filled the room and it was almost like nobody had noticed the woman as she slipped away, it was odd because how could you not notice her? Emma never missed the moment she entered or exited a room, the energy always shifted, it felt colder without her and as Emma watched her slip outside, she felt that chill, that loneliness as her eyes moved to Tamara who was telling a story and then to Zelena who had a subtle worried crease to her brow as she glanced at the door.

It was good to see she wasn’t alone.

Emma waited a few minutes, listening to the chatter before she saw others around the room getting up and moving around and then she took the chance to excuse herself; she grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair and slipped out with the excuse of needing some air and she followed Regina out of the dining hall and to the top deck.

She wasn’t hard to find, one of the only ones up top, leaning on the railing of the boat as she stared out at the city passing them by, at the sun that was slowly painting the sky blues and purples as it disappeared past the horizon.

Emma watched her back for a few long minutes, the way her hair tickled her shoulders, the muscles in her back and shoulders visible from the low cut of the tank top, only really cut off by the thick straps over her shoulders, the lights shimmering on the blue lavender design on her skirt, her left leg bent behind her right, calves touching and the toes of her foot resting there, swaying casually as all her weight remained on her right. Emma was sure her hands were fiddling where they were resting out of view on the railing.

She was stunning, peaceful as she was caught up in her own thoughts, in her own world. Emma almost didn’t want to go over there and ruin the beautiful silence of the moment, but she knew she had to, she knew Regina was upset and she wanted to comfort her more than anything else.

“I can feel you staring.” Regina’s voice was low as it carried through the air and Emma jumped, moving back up Regina’s body to the back of her head, once again wondering if she had an extra set of eyes on her scalp.

“Sorry,” Emma said as she got closer, leaning on the railing next to her she chanced a glance, her heart skipping a beat as the sunset reflected in her eyes. “You looked so peaceful, I wasn’t sure if I should bother you.”

“Too late.”

Emma sighed, looking out in front of them, taking in the view, and as cheesy as it was, she knew that it could never be as beautiful as Regina. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Her voice was low and guarded and Emma sighed again, that foot and a half of space between them feeling like a mile when all she wanted to do was to reach out, to cover Regina’s fidgeting hands with her own.

“I’m sorry, about earlier.”

“Mmm.”

Emma watched her carefully, studying every inch of her face, the slope of her nose, the lights reflecting in her dark eyes, the scar on her lip, but mostly, she looked for emotions, something to work with, looked for sadness, anger, anxiety, anything but all she found was a blank stare. “It was a dumb joke.”

Regina’s eyes flicked toward her and a laugh rumbled out of her, the sound twisted in Emma’s gut, it felt off, guarded, angry, sad, and so distant, like a part of her soul was detached from the emotions she was trying to project. “It’s fine, Miss Swan, I am not upset about that.”

“I know…”

Regina’s eyebrows pulled together, turning the slightest bit more to get a better look at Emma, trying to figure her out in return and Emma let her. “You know?”

“You’re not upset about the joke, but you are upset about the memories it brought up, it hurt me too.”

Regina huffed, facing forward again, her mask of indifference on even as her fingers twisted and pulled. “Don’t flatter yourself, dear.”

Emma shook her head, looking forward as well, “you can pretend it doesn’t still eat away at you but I know it does, because it eats away at me too. But I don’t regret it.”

Regina’s eyes flicked over to her, she felt them studying her for a few long seconds before she looked away again, both of them falling silent, listening to the waves hitting the boat until more people came up top, and voices mingled and drowned out the waves and the sound of Regina’s breathing, and then the voices were drowned out by music. People moved and talked around them, a party rushing by as they stood there silently, watching the sunset.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed but soon the sun was gone and the sky was dark behind the lights of the busy city, Emma noticing the slight tremble of Regina’s body as she fought off a chill.

Emma let out a sigh, pushing away from the railing, grabbing her jacket that was hung over her arm she stepped behind Regina and carefully placed it over her shoulders, feeling the way she froze, noticing the way her breath caught in her chest.

“I’ll be around if you wanna talk.” Emma whispered, her hand slipping to the middle of Regina’s bicep and squeezing before she moved away, she got another drink and resumed mingling with the rest of the people around them, but her eyes constantly bounced back to check on Regina. To see if she was okay, if she had moved from her isolated location. And she didn’t, not for a long time, the red jacket still on her shoulders as she just watched the city. She was absolutely breathtaking.

And then she was gone, Emma got caught up in a conversation and the next time she looked over, Regina was nowhere to be found and she felt an ache in her chest but she pushed it aside, forcing her smile back on her face as she kept up the conversation as best she could.

 


 

It was the eyes watching Regina that made her look over, still listening to one of the other actresses talk about her show and how excited she was to welcome them into their family. But those eyes, burning into her and making her skin feel on fire, they had her full attention, catching Emma across the room, leaning against the bar and talking with a few men, or maybe they were talking to her, and she was just... watching her.

Regina, who had Emma’s jacket on, not caring how it must look, it made her feel warm and grounded and it was incredibly stupid, and quite honestly, atrocious but it smelt like her and it was comfortable enough.

Emma noticed her watching her too, a smile curling at the corner of her mouth before she nodded her head to the left, to an empty loveseat and Regina rolled her eyes, looking back at the woman she was talking to but her eyes kept flicking back over to Emma, watching her slowly move across the dance floor, to the couch, and Regina took one last glance at the very nice woman and found she’d much rather be sitting in silence with Emma or listening to one of her dumb stories, so she excused herself and moved across the room.

“Are you going to make room?”

Emma grinned up at her, lazily shrugging a shoulder as her eyes skimmed over her from head to toe and back up. “I don’t know, you gonna ask nicely?”

“Never.”

Emma flashed her a bright smile and scooted over, “I love your jacket, it really completes the look.”

Regina rolled her eyes, lowering herself to the couch and crossing her legs, her back pressed into the arm as she twisted her body to face Emma. “You’re lucky there are no pictures allowed or else this jacket would’ve been in the water the second you left it with me.”

Emma twisted on the couch too, ankles crossed as she studied Regina silently. “You having fun?”

“It could be worse I suppose, I could be getting hit on left and right.”

“Yeah, that fuck off sign you got written on your face really keeps em away.”

“Mmm, practice makes perfect. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work on you.”

“Because I fear nothing, not even the Evil Queen’s wrath.”

Regina shook her head, rolling her eyes as she said, “you’re an idiot,” around a laugh she just couldn’t quite keep down.

“I know, but you find it charming.”

“Hardly.”

Emma smirked, eyes looking around to the many people around them to the bodies moving on the dance floor. “Can you teach me how to scare men off? They won’t stop hitting on me.”

Regina followed Emma’s line of sight and caught one of the men from the network’s many superhero shows checking her out and a laughter bubbled out of her. “Oh sweetie, it’s not their fault you look like all their nerdy wet dreams about their favourite comic book characters come true.”

“I am not a piece of meat.”

“You are not. And they’re pigs.”

Emma looked over at her, feeling her eyes slowly trace over her features making Regina’s attention move back to Emma’s in time to see her staring at her lips.

“This is super fun and all but I kind of just wanna go back to my hotel, take off this damn dress and heels and just, fall into bed.”

Regina hummed, relaxing more into the couch as she met Emma’s eyes, “I feel way too old for these things.”

“Ugh, same, when did that happen?”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve always been like this.”

“Yeah no, I was a wild child, I used to drive my foster parents crazy, my mom too, but I did eventually settle down a bit.”

“When? Last year?”

Emma smiled, resting her arm on the back of the couch, her fingertips gently touching Regina’s shoulder, almost hovering. “No, more like a year and a half. I partied really hard when I turned 28 and then never again.”

“I always preferred going out to dinner or just staying in with a couple friends, watching a movie, reading a book.”

“I noticed.” Regina arched a brow and Emma let out a nervous laugh. “Your introverted tendencies aren’t exactly subtle, Regina, I noticed the moment I met you.”

Regina pursed her lips and her eyes moved to look at the people mingling around them. “So I like to live my life through books and characters. What of it?”

“Nothing, it’s cute.”

Regina’s attention snapped back to her and Emma’s chest was an adorable shade of pink as she turned to look away from her, Regina letting her eyes take her in under the moonlight. Her strong bare arms, the little scar on her chest, the little dimple in her chin.

She studied the once perfect curls which were now a little looser, tangled, a lock of hair in her face that fell free from where it was once held back. Emma was beautiful, an almost classical beauty, with soft features and expressive eyes, hair that was thick and Regina’s finger tingled with the memory of running her hands through it, the way it got tangled in her grip, of how very soft it’d felt.

Emma’s fingers tapped a nonsensical beat against her shoulder unknowingly, so lost in her own mind she didn’t seem to notice or care, and Regina suddenly wished she wasn’t wearing Emma’s jacket, that she could feel those fingers against her bare skin. She was drowning again, drowning in Emma, in her beauty and kindness, in her scent. It was still as intoxicating as ever and the alcohol already thrumming through her veins made it more dangerous than it’d ever been before.

And even then, she couldn’t make herself move, get away, the danger of it all, the adrenaline causing her heart to beat erratically was thrilling, even as Emma’s presence alone was comfortingly soothing, the lazy taping to the music on her shoulder was hypnotizing, calming, Regina couldn’t even think about moving and even if she did she was sure her body wouldn’t obey.

 


 

Although it wasn’t easy at first they eventually fell into their old pace, talking easily about what they’d been up to the last couple months, Regina getting on Emma’s case about finding a place to live in Vancouver, Emma teasing Regina about being a snob when a song she didn’t like came on and her face twisted in disgust and she spent the whole song and half of the next explaining why it was so horrible.

They didn’t notice time pass by, they barely noticed the people around them as they talked and teased and it was just so easy after that, it felt comfortable and safe, even as they both felt that buzz that hummed between them, both looked at each other with sad, almost pained eyes as they remembered that massive elephant in the room that seemed to keep that space between them, the door between them might have been gone, but the gap was still there.

They didn’t notice the passage of time until they were docking, Regina’s face a subtle show of surprise as they looked at the large buildings and the people lining up to get off.

Emma looked around, her eyes wide with panic and as Regina moved to stand, Emma’s hand fell to her knee, stopping her in place and causing their eyes to meet, a beat of silence passing between them before Emma husked. “Walk with me to my car?”

Regina’s eyebrows pulled together and Emma’s hand slipped away to rub at the back of her neck awkwardly. “I uh, your gift, it’s in my trunk.”

“Oh.” Regina nodded, straightening up as she looked around before meeting Emma’s eyes again. “Okay.”

Emma flashed her a wide smile and shot up, her hand reaching out for Regina to help her up and Regina’s eyes stared at it for a few long seconds before her hand slowly and cautiously slipped into Emma’s.

Emma held her breath at the feel of her hand slipping into hers, fingers gentle as they ran over her skin before gripping on and Emma met her eyes as she helped pull her to her feet, their faces close and hands stayed linked together for a few extra moments before Regina let her hand fall away, the buzz of energy travelling through them as Regina’s fingers brushed against her own.

It was such a small thing and yet it made Emma feel like she was floating.

Regina protectively wrapped her arms around her middle, keeping out the cold as she took a step back, her eyes falling from Emma’s as she turned, taking a slow careful step forward that Emma almost instantly fell into pace with. The two of them walked silently side by side as they exited the boat and wandered towards Emma’s trusty yellow beetle.

 


 

“That’s your car?” Regina blurted in surprise, the whole time in Vancouver she never actually saw what Emma referred to as her “trusty steed” and really nothing about that death trap on wheels looked trusty.

“Yeah, isn’t she a beaut?”

“She’s…something.”

“Snob.” Emma chuckled as Regina looked insulted at her comment. “You’re such a trust fund baby sometimes.”

Regina huffed, flexing her arms around her middle as she straightened up the slightest bit. “I am no such thing.”

“Snob.”

“If you keep insulting me I will just leave and you will never get to give me my present.”

Emma rolled her eyes and moved to unlock the driver’s side door, popping the hood which got Regina’s attention for a second before she looked back to Emma who was leaning across the car and unlocking the passenger side door as well.

“Get in.”

“You can’t be serious.”

Emma let out a bubbling laugh and Regina arched a brow, watching as she leaned against the top of the car in the open door of the driver’s side. “I promise you it is clean and safe, I took it to the shop while in Boston to give it the good ol’ once over. She is as sturdy as ever.”

Emma finished by patting the top of the car and Regina pursed her lips in thought before she let her arms fall to her side and she walked toward the passenger door.

Regina eyed the brown leather bench seats with the slightest scrunching of her nose before slipping in, her fingers anxiously tapping a random beat on her lap as she stared at the bright yellow hood filling up the view from the windshield.

She startled slightly when Emma slammed it shut, their eyes meeting as Emma winced at the noise. “Sorry.”

Regina waved her off and Emma’s posture relaxed before she moved around the car and slipped in next to her, pulling her door shut and watching Regina eying the Finding Dory gift bag in her lap.

“Regina?”

“Yes?” She looked up, confused by the look Emma was giving her.

“Close your door.”

“Oh!” She twisted, pulling the door closed, a blush warming up her skin as she once again turned to face Emma, her eyes dropping to the bag with its tissue paper sticking out of. “Dory?”

“I thought it was cute.” Emma pouted as she looked at the little cartoon fish and Regina felt something expand in her chest.

“Well?” Regina prompted when Emma still didn’t pass the gift over.

“Oh right! Sorry!”

Emma pushed the bag across the seat and Regina tipped it toward her, trying to see past the tissue paper before she pulled it out carefully placing it in her lap; she stared at the medium sized box wrapped in more Finding Dory wrapping paper. “You really went all out.”

“Says you, should I remind you of the complete Disney princess theme you had going?”

“They didn’t have anything for the Evil Queen.” Regina said as she carefully removed the box from the bag, feeling Emma’s eyes watching her closely.

“I know, I looked.”

Regina’s lips twitched with a smile as she placed the box on her lap and peeked in the bag again to make sure she wasn’t missing anything, her eyes locking on a bag that was obstructed from view by the box and she carefully pulled it out. “You bought me coffee? What’s in here? A mug?” Regina hated that she could hear the affection in her voice at the gift, it was just coffee.

“You will have to open it to find out.”

Regina’s eyes moved up to look at Emma and she lowered the coffee back into the bag while Emma moved it aside so she could get a better view as Regina carefully unwrapped the gift, feeling Emma’s impatience rolling after her which only made Regina go slower to get a rise out of her.

“Regina it is 11pm I’ve been up since like 3 can you like, stop with the suspense?”

“You already know what’s in there!” She reminded her as she let out a throaty chuckle, she then tore the rest of the paper away to find that the box was covered in a galaxy, her finger running over the midnight blue cardboard before she turned it over so she was looking at the front, seeing the name of the item while her eyes moved to look at an image of a lamp.

“It projects the stars and stuff in your room.” Emma cut in and Regina’s eyes snapped to her, silently studying her while Emma squirmed anxiously. “I uh, I remembered how much you said you liked the stars at night and I know it’s hard to see the stars in the city and since you’ll be in a new country soon and you probably won’t have much time to stargaze I thought…”

Regina’s chest expanded again, her eyes shimmering stubbornly with tears as she looked back down at the box, her nose scrunching up for a whole different reason this time as her thumb brushed against the box.

“It’s cheesy, I know.”

Regina snapped her head to look at Emma, “no…it’s,” a smile spread across her face and Emma looked awestruck as her eyes rose from where they were anxiously staring at her lap to look at Regina. “It’s really sweet. Thank you, Emma.”

Emma’s smile was blinding, the shift instantaneous, and Regina’s eyes softened as she watched Emma’s dimples pop and her eyes sparkle. “Yeah? You like it?”

“I love it.” Regina’s smile softened, her heart slamming against her ribcage as she looked into Emma’s eyes, feeling the tension between them. She felt that pull again, and she started leaning forward, buzzed from probably too much wine and a day of fantasy, she let herself get lost in the moment.

Emma’s eyes bounced from hers to her lips, her smile softening too, she leaned in the slightest bit closer, Regina’s breath caught in her chest; Emma looked so beautiful tonight.

Her eyes moved over Emma’s face, taking in every inch of it, trying to memorize the moment.

Her eyes focused on that lock of hair, her hand itching to tuck it behind her ear and it’d actually started moving up when she caught movement behind Emma and she leaped away, her back connecting with the car door as she stared wide eyed at Zelena peeking into the window.

“Jesus fuck!”

Emma spun around, yelling a curse as well as she came eye to eye with Zelena.

Regina threw open her door while Emma just stared in shock out the window, the nightlight hugged against her chest as she looked over the car, waiting for Zelena to straighten up. “What the fuck, Zelena?!”

Zelena placed her hands on her hips, her eyes studying her carefully. “Sorry, was this a bad time?” Regina growled and Zelena at least had the decency to look guilty. “The car is here, to take us to Ursula’s.”

Regina pursed her lips in annoyance, muttering to herself as she bent back inside the car, her eyes locking with Emma’s as she held out the gift bag and Regina’s anger softened when she offered Emma a grateful smile as she took the bag from her and slipped the lamp inside. “Thank you, Emma.”

“No problem,” Emma looked almost sad as Regina straightened up again, pulling Emma’s jacket off she leaned back in and placed it on the seat, their eyes locking for a few long moments.

“Thank you, for lending me your jacket.”

“No problem,” Emma repeated and Regina blushed slightly, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear as she whispered into the small space.

“Goodnight, Miss Swan, I’ll see you around.”

“Goodnight, Regina.”

Regina nodded to herself and straightened up again, slamming the door shut, the gift bag held in her grip as she moved toward Zelena who was standing at the front of the car.

“You going to tell me what happened or do I have to torture it out of you?” Zelena asked once they were a few feet away from the car, eyes remaining ahead of them.

“Nothing happened, we were just talking.”

“Mmm, yes, that certainly looked like just talking to me.”

“Zelena.” Regina warned and Zelena cast her a look before looking ahead again.

“Fine, but if you want to talk, you know where to find me.”

Regina offered her a kind smile, “thank you,” she whispered and Zelena reached out, tugging Regina into her side in a quick hug that made her think of Neal, and she hesitantly glanced behind her, seeing the headlights of Emma’s bug turn on as the engine roared to life, her hand rising in a hesitant wave before she turned back around, letting Zelena guide her to their car.

Chapter Text

 

June 12th, 2016

 

 

Regina smiled as she put down the last box in the new house she’d just bought in West Vancouver, the gate had a bit of a walk up and the many trees that surrounded the home gave her enough privacy where she could feel comfortable in her home. Although it had more rooms than what she needed, she had fallen in love with the place almost instantly.

She looked around the crisp white walls just waiting to be decorated and the few pieces of furniture that had already arrived placed in random places on the hardwood floors since she hadn’t yet had time to move it around.

“I don’t understand why I have to help.”

“Because I so graciously invited you to stay with me while you find your own place?” Regina replied as she turned to see Zelena in her yoga pants and tank top, red curls pulled back in a ponytail as she drank from a cold bottle of water.

“I’m starting to rethink that.”

“You know where the hotels are.”

Zelena huffed, walking past Regina and dropping down on the crooked grey couch and staring up at her. “I am assuming you’re going to make me help you get settled too, huh?”

“Oh that’d be so sweet of you!”

“And you say you’re nothing like mother.”

Regina’s mouth dropped open in offense, pointing a threatening finger at Zelena as she replied, “You take that back or you can live on the street!”

“You wouldn’t.”

Regina smirked, shifting in place as she put both hands on her hips. “Oh I would.”

“You would treat your beloved big sister like that? After I offered you free labor?” Regina arched a brow, “after I begrudgingly helped you move?”

“That’s better,” Regina grinned, folding her arms over her chest as she turned to look out the large windows that looked out to the trees by the side of the house. “It’s nice though, right?”

“Gorgeous. Where am I sleeping and please tell me my mattress arrived.”

“With the rest of your stuff,” Regina responded as she kicked a box that brandished her sister’s name on it in large letters.

“Careful!”

“It’s clothes.”

“Still, they’re expensive clothes. You don’t see me treating your things like that.” Regina arched a brow again and Zelena threw her hands up. “It was one box!”

“I’m going to go call Papi.”

“Yeah, yeah, tell Henry I said hi, I’m gonna…unpack the kitchen so we can eat.”

“Mugs on–”

“First shelf so your teeny arse can reach them, I know.”

Regina rolled her eyes turning around to sprint to the front door where she’d left her phone. 

“You should send Swan a selfie! She’d die if she saw you in those little shorts and tank top!”

“Shut up!” Regina yelled, as she turned down a hall and picked up her phone dialing her father’s number from her favourites list. “Hi, Papi!”

“Regina! How is the move? You get there safe? They didn’t break anything did they? Zelena is behaving?”

Regina chuckled, walking through the house and up the large set of stairs taking a left into the main bedroom, phone against her shoulder as she tore the tape off a box and started looking for a change of clothes and her toiletries. “All moved in, we still need to unpack but so far everything seems to be unscathed.”

“And your sister?”

“She is making herself useful in the kitchen.”

“Good.” Regina smiled, laying a t-shirt on the bare mattress as she pictured her father’s caring smile. “And you? You’re okay?”

“I am, you should come visit once I’m settled.”

“Your mother and I would love that!”

Regina felt a pang in her chest, a darkness settling over her at just the mention of her mother. “I’d be happy to have you both.” She said, putting on her best performance as she felt the pain and anger of her memories set in. “Tell me how you are. How is the orchard?”

Henry easily fell into conversation and Regina put the phone on speaker as she listened to him tell her all he could think of while she unpacked her room, knowing Zelena could handle any delivery that came just fine.

 


 

June 23rd , 2016

 

“No mom, tilt it.” Emma instructed as they tried to fit Emma’s new couch into her brand new condo in Vancouver, she was trying really hard not to turn into Ross Geller but her mom didn’t seem to understand. “Mom, how many times have we moved?”

Ingrid sighed, hefted the couch up a bit more and tilted it a little to the right. “I am pretty sure I’ve done this more than you, young lady.”

“We are almost done so just...”

“If you say divot I am telling the tabloids you like pineapple on your pizza.”

“I do not!”

“They don’t know that!”

Emma groaned, casting a glance behind her before she carefully started walking backwards. “I should have just hired a moving service.”

“But this is tradition!”

Emma looked unimpressed as she met Ingrid’s eyes and her mom laughed, the two of them working in silence until they got the couch placed in the living room just where Emma wanted it, then subsequently fell onto it with a huff.

“Thanks for helping me move, mom…”

“No problem, sweetie,” Ingrid smiled at her before looking across them at the blank wall that was still waiting for them to hang the TV. “I’ll order us some pizza, while you unpack the mount and read the instructions.”

“Yes, mother.”

Ingrid stood, pointing a finger at Emma as she threatened, “keep being a smartass and I’ll get pineapple, mushrooms, and olives on the pizza.”

“Go right ahead, iron gut remember? I can eat anything. Thank you, foster care!”

Ingrid looked sad for a flash before she walked off and Emma took way too long to get off the couch and do what her mother asked. When Ingrid returned the two of them sat on the floor, fighting over the instructions and unpacking everything they needed, Emma’s drill next to her as they stared up at the large wall wondering where to start.

They ate their pizza on the hardwood floor in front of the TV that was still standing on the floor, both of them too hungry to care about mounting it after way too much bickering.

 


 

July 4th , 2016

 

Regina smiled to herself as she ran her hands over the leather of her steering wheel, feeling an almost giddy excitement as she put her car in reverse and pulled away from her house in her vintage black Mercedes she rarely ever got to drive while in LA.

Zelena sat next to her, gripping the handle for dear life as she flew down the basically empty streets. “Jesus, take the wheel from her!”

“Oh hush,” Regina responded, fingers tapping to the music coming from the radio.

“I should have taken a taxi.”

“You can next time.”

“If I die tell mother I think she’s a massive cunt!”

Regina looked at her, eyes and smile wild as she asked, “can I tell her that now?”

“Eyes on the road, you maniac!” Regina cackled, turning up the music and bobbing her head to the beat. “I’d tease you about seeing you-know-who again but I’m scared if I do you might purposely drive the car off the road as pay back.”

“Tempting thought, but I would like to live so I’ll just have to come up with something else.”

“Emma warned me about accepting apples from you!”

Regina slapped her shoulder, following the bend of the road as she let the GPS direct her through the city; although she’d officially been living in Vancouver for about a month now, she still didn’t trust herself to be able to get to the office building for their table read without the help of her trusty GPS.

She was both excited and nervous for today, she had only a few days to prep for the table read and she was feeling a little on edge but she also was looking forward to seeing her castmates again, she and Marian had been talking on and off since the end of the pilot, the two of them discussing real estate and other random things.

She had talked briefly with Emma too, shortly after the upfronts when Emma had asked everyone from the cast if it was okay for her to post their picture together before she actually did, it was a weird moment and Regina had liked it and commented on it like everyone else in the cast, even going as far as to share it on her story. It had felt almost dangerous to do so, as she looked at the way she was tucked against Emma’s body.

That fear of being outed never left Regina for a minute it seemed, always scared someone would notice, scared of what her mother might say, and although those were major, they were nothing in comparison to the second she got the call from Neal, excited and confused about she and Emma working together and why Regina hadn’t told him about it. It had almost become easy at that point to lie to him when Emma was involved, she’d been under contract, she’d forgotten.

It was starting to eat away at her soul but the thought of Emma and Neal overlapping any further in her mind was dangerous, because she’d spent so much time trying to separate Neal from what she had done 4 years ago that as her friendship with Emma grew she wondered when the dam would burst and she’d drown in her own guilt and emotions.

But until then Regina did what she did best, she compartmentalized, until everything was in its own pretty little box and Emma, her friend and co-star no longer overlapped with Emma, her best friend’s ex-girlfriend who she’d made out with four years ago. She’d been working really hard on that the last 2 months in preparation for today, the day she saw her again, so she wouldn’t do something as stupid as she did at upfronts, so she never got the urge to kiss her again. Feelings be damned.

 


 

Emma was sitting at the table talking with Ruby when she heard the bickering getting closer, looking up just in time to see Regina walking toward her, she was as beautiful as always, tight pencil skirt, red button up with just one too many buttons undone, her hair falling in perfect waves around her face.

“Morning, Regina!”

Regina’s attention moved from her large cup of coffee to Emma in a snap, eyes staring into Emma’s as she met hers, a slow smile on her lips as her eyes slowly took in Emma’s face.

“Morning, Miss Swan, you’re here early.”

“I overestimated the time it’d take me to drive here.”

Regina hummed, eyes continuing to look over Emma like she was drinking her in and Emma felt like squirming in her seat at the way Regina was looking at her. “And how are you, Miss Lucas?”

Ruby giggled at the formality, leaning forward on the table and watching Regina just like Emma was as the woman passed by Emma and lowered herself to the seat next to hers.

“Good! I’m loving it here!”

“Oh? Did you find a good living arrangement? If so, I’m sure my sister would love to hear all about it.”

“God please, I can’t take one more morning of her driving.” Zelena said and Emma’s eyes moved over to her, carrying a to-go cup and looking a little worse for wear.

“What did she do?” Emma asked in shock, looking over at Regina who looked perfectly content then back to Zelena who looked like she was craving a stiff drink.

“More like what didn’t she do?”

Regina waved her off as she took a sip of her coffee, replying when she finished drinking. “She’s just being dramatic.”

“Do you not have a place yet, Zelena?” Ruby asked, pulling Zelena’s attention away from Regina.

“How are you liking your new place?”

Regina’s eyes met hers and her lips pulled into a slight frown. “Could be better, I seem to have an infestation.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “be nice.”

“I’m never nice before my fourth cup of coffee, I thought you knew that?”

“And this is?”

Regina smiled behind her cup as she took another sip and Emma shook her head, a chuckle rumbling out of her before she went to pull out her laptop, feeling Regina watching her again.

“What?”

“Nothing, it’s just weird seeing you without that hideous red jacket of yours.”

Emma rolled her eyes, turning in her seat to see Regina was already turned in hers to face her, their eyes locking before Emma let hers trace over Regina’s features, god she’s missed her, right down to the devious little smirk and sparkling eyes.

“You cut your hair.”

Regina’s hand moved to the ends, it was back to the length it was when they finished shooting, Emma found herself missing the little bit of length it had gotten when she saw her in New York but she couldn’t help thinking about how cute she was with her bob too.

“I like it.”

“Thank you, dear.” Regina turned away, though not before Emma noticed the slightly rosy tint of her cheeks as she bent down to dig in her bag, pulling out her own laptop and working on it for a few seconds, long fingers typing away at her keys and holding Emma’s attention, almost as much as the slight furrowing of her eyebrows.

Long moments passed and finally Regina’s eyes flicked away from the computer to survey Emma again, her lower lip pulled in slightly as she bit the inside of her cheek, her eyes focusing on her computer screen as she said. “And you? How is your new place?”

“I love it! Neighbours are great, as in they do not care about my existence, lot of good places to eat around, my mom and I have probably already tried every restaurant close by to see which ones are the best.”

Regina glanced over, her smile soft as she asked, “and your mother, is she still visiting?”

“No, she left last week, sadly she had to go back to work.”

“I’m sorry.”

Emma shrugged, looking at her computer then around the room as she noticed a few of the others had arrived without her noticing. “It’s alright, she’s planning on visiting again for my birthday anyways.”

“Oh well, that will be nice.”

“Yeah…” Emma met Regina’s eyes, the two of them sharing a smile before her name was called and they looked toward Marian as she walked in and Regina rose to greet her, exchanging kisses on the cheeks and falling into a quiet conversation behind Emma.

Emma tuned them out as she leaned across the table again to join in Ruby, Rogers, and Zelena’s conversation, discussing the places they had bought or rented, and as the others arrived they joined in, eventually Marian and Regina also joined their conversation and they all talked until it was time to go.

 


 

“Hey!” Emma called as she ran to catch up with Regina who was already halfway down the hallway.

“Hey?” Regina said as she turned to look at her, both hands shifting to hold her laptop bag in front of her as Emma came to a stop, watching her silently while she anxiously rubbed the back of her neck. “Was there something you needed, Miss Swan?”

“Uh yeah…” Emma’s eyes dropped to stare at the floor, catching Regina’s hands tightening and untightening on the handle of the laptop bag, the only sign of her nerves, and it seemed to calm Emma’s just the slightest bit. “You uh, you wanna maybe run lines?” Her eyes finally meeting Regina’s again as she finished talking.

“Oh…” Regina said in surprise, her right hand raising to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, her eyes looking around them to maybe check for eavesdroppers. “I would like that. How would you–”

“We could meet at my place? Or um I could call you?”

Regina’s hands gripped her laptop bag, nodding her head slowly while her eyebrows furrowed the slightest bit as she thought. “I will think about what works best for me and let you know.”

“Okay. Erm, what day?”

“I’ll let you know,” Regina repeated this time with the slightest sound of laughter in her voice, her eyes moving to somewhere behind Emma’s head and widening in recognition for a second before meeting Emma’s again. “I’ll text you later, Miss Swan.”

“Okay,” Emma said just as she finally registered the sound of Ruby and Zelena approaching them, turning to offer them a smile as Zelena said her goodbyes and passed Emma, leading the way outside with Regina next to her, leaving Emma and Ruby alone in the hallway. “Hey, wanna get lunch?”

“Sure!” Ruby said and Emma smiled at her, leading them out to Emma’s bug and Emma was happy to spend some time with her before she had a fitting to get to.

 


 

Regina was entering the building to have her first fitting for episode 2, her mind working through the hectic mess it had officially become with the start of production. The first week had been easy but the upcoming ones, she was unsure when she was going to get time to sleep most days.

Regina put her sunglasses on the top of her head, taking a large sip from her iced coffee to combat the summer heat, brushing past a man headed toward her just as her phone pinged, a long sigh leaving her mouth as she stopped to dig out her phone, seeing a text from Mal, she unlocked her phone, switching her coffee to the hand holding her purse she sent a quick text in response as she continued down the hall, eyes on her phone.

She was having a hard time juggling most things, the script for episode 3 had been sent out the day before, barely having memorized episode 2 and still finishing up the final touches on her new place she was sure she was headed straight toward breakdown city. But if there was one thing she did best, it was working under pressure, the problem was she was starting to feel pressured from all aspects of her life as she tried to figure out the perfect way to run lines with Emma without being alone with her.

Regina had a lot of faith in herself, really, she did, but it was just that it seemed she hadn’t solidified her walls as much as she’d like and she’d like to avoid private alone time with Emma until she was sure she had full control over her hormones.

“Rack!” She jumped at the sudden voice, her eyes jumping up from reading Mal’s reply to the rack of clothes just inches away from her. “Jesus, you okay, Regina? You gotta be more careful.”

“Emma,” She said, turning her head to the right to see Emma in jeans and a tank top.

“Anybody ever tell you not to text and walk?”

Regina nodded her head absently as her eyes skimmed over Emma’s arms before she shook herself out of it, eyes jumping to meet Emma’s only to find her in front of her and the rack of clothing gone. “I hadn’t realized I’d made it this far.”

“I always thought people were exaggerating, but now I really do fear your driving.”

Regina arched a brow, slipping her phone in her purse. “I was walking.”

“I know.”

Regina looked around her, feeling her fingers numb from the cold of her cup, she shifted it back to her right hand, trying to spot Merlin or maybe Ariel in the room, but it seemed to just be the two of them.

When her eyes made it back to Emma she noticed her eyes staring down at her bare legs that were exposed from the short hem of her dress. “Miss Swan.”

“Who knew it’d be so hot here.” Emma blurted and Regina shook her head, turning to move to the chaise to put down her purse, feeling Emma’s eyes on her ass and thighs.

“I believe it gets ten times hotter in LA.”

“It’s humid here though.”

Regina turned, barely stopping the laugh as she watched Emma’s eyes jump up to meet hers. “Are you okay, Miss Swan? You look a little flushed.”

“Yeah, hot. I should go buy some shorts.”

Regina lowered herself to the chaise, taking a sip of her iced coffee as Emma shifted awkwardly across the room. “Are you having your fitting today as well?”

“Uh,” Emma turned, looking around her as she awkwardly rubbed the back of her neck. “Merlin wanted me to see how the adjustments had turned out.”

Regina nodded, crossing her legs slowly and trying not to find joy in the way it pulled Emma’s attention, it was just so thrilling to see the reaction she could so easily get from Emma, which was why it wasn’t safe, she enjoyed it too much. “Speaking of, where is he?”

“Back room. Where Ariel went after you very nearly ruined all the clothes with your reckless walking.”

Regina rolled her eyes, moving to dig through her purse again, attention off Emma long enough to miss her move across the room, not noticing how close she was until she felt the couch shift under her and her head turned to look at Emma curiously.

“So uh, I haven’t heard from you about running lines yet, we got two scripts to learn and oh! Did you get the email from Mulan?”

“What?” Regina’s lips pursed, her brows furrowed in confusion as she opened up the email app on her phone and waited for it to load.

“Yeah, they scheduled the first stunt choreo sesh for Tuesday.”

“Oh,” Regina breathed as she read over the email, mentally skimming through her calendar for the next week.

“So, if you’re free tonight maybe we can run lines to prepare? Maybe discuss plans and stuff.”

“Uh, yeah sure,” she said automatically, focused intently on her calendar as she put in the details realizing it was scheduled after episode three’s table read.

“Awesome! You wanna meet at my place or?”

“What?” Regina asked, her attention snapping back to Emma and something in her chest fluttered at the confused expression Emma was sporting.

“Run lines? You just agreed to do that tonight.”

“I did?”

Emma chuckled, running her hand through her tangled mess of hair and wincing when it pulled at a knot. “Yeah…but if it’s not good…”

“No, no,” Regina put down her phone, meeting Emma’s sad puppy eyes and her heart twinged at the sight. “Can we just do it by phone? I have a few things I need to deal with at home.”

“Of course!” Emma’s smile was blinding and Regina’s own heart and face betrayed her as the slightest smile curled up on her lips and made Emma smile even wider. “Okay awesome! How is 8?”

“How about 9?”

“Deal!” Emma said, reaching out and squeezing Regina’s forearm before standing up, practically buzzing with excitement. “I’ll see you then!”

Regina blinked as Emma started moving rapidly to the door, her finger pointing toward the back room as she asked, “aren’t you supposed to be waiting for Merlin?”

“Oh, no, I’d just finished up when you almost collided with my rack of clothes.”

“Your–” Regina looked back at Emma, her brows furrowed as Emma nodded.

“Yup, mine. Have a good fitting, I gotta go meet Ruby and Tamara for coffee.”

“Oh, yes, thank you, have a lovely day, Miss Swan.” Regina nodded, her senses finally coming back to her as Emma waved shyly and backed out of the room, not looking away from her for a second.

“Bye,” Emma whispered just as she spun around and went out the door and Regina was left watching the door in confusion, trying to figure out how that’d just happened.

 


 

Emma texted Regina at 8:45, her phone attached to her hand as she pulled out both scripts and then spent probably too much time deciding between sitting on her couch or lying in bed. She was just starting to second guess her decision to sit in bed when her phone rang and Regina’s picture lit up the screen, momentarily ashamed that she’d scrolled the web for hours to find the perfect picture of Regina, but that passed as she remembered that she actually needed to answer her phone.

Swiping her thumb across the screen and clicking the speaker button Emma took a deep breath and said. “Hey! Ready to do this?”

“Yes. What would you like to start with?”

“Uh…” Emma got comfortable in bed again, staring down at her scripts and pen, faintly hearing the quiet sounds of typing from the other end. “What are you doing?”

“Sending an email to a friend, she has been on my case about seeing my new place.”

“Why not text?”

“I have been but she…” Regina paused, more typing being heard, a pause and Emma almost leaped out of bed as she heard her yell. “Zelena! Would you look for Mal’s house warming gift?!”

“Is this a bad time?”

“No, it’s just, I’ve been asking Zelena where she put it for days! She has a horrible tendency of moving things then forgetting where they go.”

“I put it in your closet!”

Emma grinned down at her phone as she heard Zelena’s response and Regina’s annoyed sigh.

“I looked! It is not there!” Emma heard the distinct sound of shuffling as Regina moved through her house, her voice quieter as she continued. “Mal has been really on my case about it, Zelena.”

“I put it in your closet with the rest of your…things.”

“Things?” Came Regina’s very confused voice and Zelena’s laughter had Emma’s cheeks pinking. “Oh god, I’m going to kill you both!”

“I didn’t do anything!” Emma said, and then she realized she wasn’t the other one who was about to meet Regina’s wrath.

“Emma? You didn’t tell me you were on the phone with Emma.”

Regina groaned, Emma unable to make out whatever she was saying under her breath, but she assumed it probably wasn’t nice things.

“Is everything okay?”

“Fine, my sister and my ill-advised best friend are…” she trailed off again, Emma hearing the sound of a drawer opening and the muttering again. “Sorry, why don’t we begin with episode 2?”

“Sure,” Emma said, trying not to get too hung up on the mysterious gift that her mind kept turning dirty for some reason, which made no sense, it’s not like friends got those kind of things for each other, right?

 


 

Regina pulled her legs up onto her computer chair, pen moving across a scrap piece of paper as she absently drew, while Emma read them in and proceeded to speak her dialogue.

“Hey, Regina?”

“Hmm?” Regina asked, blinking down at her phone trying to figure out if she’d missed her cue.

“What do you think they’re gonna have us do this time? It doesn’t go much into detail.”

Regina pursed her lips, hearing the nerves in Emma’s voice and almost hating how she still knew it so well. “Have you never sparred before?”

“I have, and I’ve seen it…”

“It’ll be fine, dear, there will be mats this time, so you don’t break your hip.”

Emma chuckled and Regina smiled slightly at the sound. “That’s not– nevermind.”

Regina almost wanted to ask what she was worried about, but her gut was screaming at her to move on so she repeated Emma’s line she left off on to signal her to continue and then fell back into pace, Regina hearing Zelena in the other room cackling on the phone with Mal and she wanted to kick both their asses for their little prank.

Her eyes moving to the t-shirt sitting on her bed with the name of Emma’s last show on it, they’d bought her official merch! She regretted ever telling Mal about what had happened with Emma, and Zelena, she just seemed to know, of all the things she decided to instinctively know all of a sudden it just had to be about her certain Emma problem, were they really that obvious?

 


 

Emma had been an anxious mess all day, all through the table read all she could think about was the stunt choreography today with Regina, they’d run lines a couple times over the weekend, always over the phone, and the looming knowledge that they’d have to touch soon seemed to buzz through Emma’s veins.

They hadn’t really had any alone time, at least in person, and all Emma could think about was the upfronts and the way Regina had looked at her while they’d sat in the car, how she’d leaned in the slightest bit. It was confusing, everything about this thing with Regina was confusing.

She couldn’t even begin to understand what it was, but she knew that whatever it is, it was something special or maybe it could be. Friendship, the show, or more, she wasn’t sure, but she was happy to just have Regina in her life the way she did.

Table reads were nothing epic, they usually were just getting an idea of the script, introducing themselves to how things might go, and it was the first of many, and not just for the series as a whole but for the single episode alone. There was never any telling what would be changed down the line by the network.

She’d never before found table reads to be anything special, but that had changed the moment she’d sat next to Regina that first day, getting to watch the process as she found the character, getting to watch the way she listened to the rest of the cast and made little notes. So maybe table reads still weren’t special, the only thing that had changed was Regina, she was sure that as soon as production started it’ll start feeling less exciting to be this close to her, but for the couple of hours that remained until then, Emma kind of lived for them.

Except maybe today when all she could think about was stunt choreography, she could still remember how it’d been the last time, nearly excruciating to stand there, her front pressed against Regina’s back for extended periods of time, and that’d been a simple flip, today, today they were doing a whole routine and she had absolutely no idea what to expect and it was terrifying.

Which, if she thought about, it explained her relationship with Regina to a T.

And with that striking realization, she arrived at the gym they were practising in, staring at the large sign out front, her hands tightening and untightening on the steering wheel a few times as she worked up the courage to go in.

With a deep breath she grabbed her duffle bag and got out of her car, glancing at a black Mercedes parked at the side of the gym, it seemed she wasn’t the only one with a taste for the classics on this street. She was so distracted admiring the well-kept condition of the black car as she entered that when she did turn around, her mouth dropped open at the sight of Regina in sinfully tiny and tight workout shorts and tank top, her hair once again pulled back in a little half ponytail as she stretched her right arm behind her head.

“Shit…”

“You’re late, Swan!”

Emma jumped at the voice coming to her left, seeing Mulan walking toward her past the boxing ring that seemed to be the gym’s main attraction.

“Sorry, traffic.”

“Funny, Regina didn’t seem to hit traffic.”

“You haven’t seen how she drives.” Emma quipped before she remembered Regina was also there right in front of her and when she slowly turned back to face the woman; her hands on her hips and she was giving her that unimpressed look a silent question if Emma really wanted to keep talking big when they were about to be fighting in a few minutes. “I’m uh, I’m gonna go get changed…”

“Be quick!” Mulan called and Emma scrambled toward the changing rooms, her eyes meeting Regina’s as she turned her body to keep giving her the stink eye. “I didn’t say you could stop warming up, Mills!”

Emma smirked to herself, happy she wasn’t the only one being reprimanded now, but sadly when she cast one more glance at Regina, she was still met with that damn look. She was totally going to get it later.

 


 

Regina was coated in a layer of sweat, her breathing heavy as she stood as close to Emma as physically possible without actually being pressed together. The room was still, Emma’s eyes locked onto hers and just the sound of their breathing could be heard, the feel of the mat under their feet and the faint memory of Emma’s hands on her thighs.

She suddenly really regretted her decision to wear shorts, but she also had a feeling Emma regretted her choice in tight pants and a t-shirt that seemed to cling to her with sweat.

It felt like they’d been standing there for hours, just communicating through their eyes before Mulan’s voice shattered the silence. “Again!”

They both took a step back, their wrapped hands rising in front of them as they steadied their stances.

“Dialog dialog dialog dialog.”

Emma said and Regina swung first, feeling Emma catch her fist in her hand and their eyes locked again. “Dialog dialog.”

Emma was panting, a lock of blonde hair fallen loose from her ponytail and sticking to her face, Regina barely had a second to appreciate it before she was spun around, her arm bent around her back, Emma’s hold was careful and Regina couldn’t help but smile at the gesture.

“Reset. Regina, when you swing you need to aim for Emma’s face not where her hand will be.”

“Sorry.” She panted, combing her fingers through her hair as she walked away from Emma to get to her mark.

“It’s okay. Go slow this time, turn into Emma after the punch and trust her, if you lock up you will get injured.”

“I know.”

Emma grinned at her, readying her stance, eyes sparkling as she said. “You got this, slugger.”

Regina’s jaw tensed for a second, raising her hands, an evil smirk curling on her lips as she replied. “You’re going to regret that, Swan.”

“I look forward to it.”

Emma’s eyes were sparkling with excitement when she met them and she took the step forward, her fist moving slowly through the air toward Emma before she met her palm, this time though Emma leaned back to avoid it, her eyes filled with excitement before she moved with Emma to pin her arm behind her back.

“Hold.” Mulan circled around them, checking their placements. “Good. Why don’t you both take 15? You look like you’re about to pass out.”

“Thank you.” Emma breathed, the feel of her breath ghosting across her neck as she let Regina’s arm go, but instead of stepping away she rested her hand against Regina’s side like she needed a minute to regain her balance.

“Running outta stamina so quickly, Miss Swan?”

Emma chuckled, her hand falling from Regina’s side as she took a step back, Regina turning around instantly to meet her eyes only to find her lowering herself to the mat, sprawling against the cool blue surface. “You’re one to talk.”

“At least I can stand.” Regina said, looking down at the woman with her best attempt at superiority while she felt sweat trickle down her face.

“Would you like, sit down? I’m getting tired just looking at you,” Emma practically begged, her hand wrapping around Regina’s ankle as if to pull her down and Regina just stared down at it, frozen in place as Emma’s thumb lazily ran across her skin.

“Water. Drink up.” Mulan’s voice snapped her out of her stupor along with the cool bottles of water being held out to her and Emma. Regina took both, lowering herself to the mat and holding Emma’s out toward her which she instantly took, sitting up to open it and started chugging from it rigorously.

“Thank you.”

Mulan tossed towels at them before she walked away without any further comment, Regina wiping the sweat from her forehead and chest as her eyes moved back to Emma, catching her watching her closely. “What?”

“Nothing…” Emma smiled and started reaching out, Regina’s breath catching in her chest as she felt Emma brush a lock of hair from her face. “You’re so sweaty.”

“I’m sweaty? You look like you had a wet t-shirt contest.”

Emma’s laughter rumbled out of her, smile wide before she put the bottle of water down between them and moved both hands to the hem of her shirt, taking it off before Regina even had time to process what was happening.

“Better?” Emma asked but Regina’s attention was stuck on Emma’s abs and arms glistening with sweat, it was, she wasn't sure she’d make it through the rest of the day if Emma’s shirt stayed off.

“Wanna run lines after this? My apartment isn’t far away so we can go there and maybe order in?”

Regina blinked slowly, her mind screaming as she tried to find an excuse as to why she couldn’t do that, but she’d made so many lately she was starting to get worried Emma would think she was avoiding her… which okay, maybe she was, but not for the reasons she might think.

“I don’t know, after this I’m really looking forward to going home and taking a long hot shower and not moving for the rest of the day.”

“Oh…”

Emma looked and sounded so disappointed and Regina’s heart constricted in pain, making her do something she’d probably regret later. “Why don’t you come over to my place Thursday? We can all run lines together and I can make us a quick meal.”

“Yeah?!” Emma perked up, eyes shining with excitement before her brows slowly furrowed together. “Wait? We all?”

“Yes, you, me, and Zelena of course. That is if you don’t mind?”

“No, no! That’d be really awesome!”

Regina smiled at her, picking up the bottle of water and chugging from it.

“Uh, Regina, I think that’s my water.”

Regina’s eyes went wide as water went down the wrong way, barely able to smother the coughs as she handed the bottle back and looked to her side to find her mostly full bottle next to her, feeling heat rise on her face and chest, this time not from the workout.

 


 

“You need to just breathe and calm down.” Zelena said as she watched her organize the pillows in her living room for the tenth time that day, between running through the kitchen, preparing dinner and scrubbing every single possible surface that didn’t absolutely sparkle.

“She will be here any minute now and you keep making a mess!”

“I sat down.” Zelena chuckled, while following Regina through the house back into the kitchen, leaning on the island as Regina stared down at the pan on the stove, eyes moving to look at the clock. “You know, for someone who absolutely does not have a crush and is so adamant about this absolutely not being a date … well do I even need to finish?”

“I don’t have a crush.”

“Starting to think that might be true.”

“What?” Regina looked up at her and Zelena shook her head, that smirk on her face again as she reached across the island and dragged a corn chip through the fresh guacamole Regina had made. “Don’t eat the food!”

“I don’t understand why you made appetizers, I’m pretty sure Emma would be tickled pink if you just ordered a pizza.”

“Sorry if mother’s rigorous training actually stuck with me.”

Zelena shook her head, “pretty sure the cooking ability is from Henry, we both know mother can’t so much as boil a pot of water.”

Regina hummed, hovering over the bowl of fresh guacamole like it pained her to see it tarnished.

“Stop stressing over it, Emma won’t even notice.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t make it perfect.”

“Pretty sure the only thing Emma will be focusing on is your ass in those pants.”

Regina’s nose scrunched up and Zelena let out a cackle just as the doorbell rang and Regina looked near ready to pass out. “Just breathe, I’ll get the door.”

Regina nodded in agreement, eyes bouncing around the kitchen before she remembered Zelena’s lack of manners and tendency to embarrass her and she was really regretting tonight already.

“Zelena!” Regina ran through the house, hand gripping the door frame as she took the corner too fast, her eyes looking up just in time to see Zelena turn the knob as she began to open the door and Regina was suddenly sure she had to look out of her mind.

She nervously ran her hands through her hair, trying to be sure it didn’t look too out of sorts, remembering the floral apron she was wearing the second Emma came into view and her eyes just seemed to stare at it.

“Cute apron,” Emma said, a smirk on her lips as her eyes slowly moved up Regina’s body to meet hers.

“Thank you, Miss Swan. Zelena won’t you let our guest in?”

“Of course, please come in, Emmmma, there’s a whole buffet in the kitchen, I trust you can follow Regina.”

“Uh, yeah.” Emma said nervously as she slipped past Zelena, toeing off her sneakers at the door and Regina took that moment to have a silent and very threatening conversation with Zelena with only her eyes. “You got a nice place, I drove past it like 3 times though.”

“Regina has always been fond of travelling under the radar.”

Regina sent her a glare, while Emma was busy staring at the picture in her front hall, gripping the strap of her backpack that was hanging off one shoulder.

“Emma, why don’t I take that for you?”

“Uh, thanks?”

Emma turned to look at Zelena as she took the bag off her shoulder and started walking away, Regina’s eyes getting wide as she remembered the food on the stove, a quiet curse leaving her mouth before she turned on her heels and made her way back to the kitchen, not noticing Emma following behind her until she heard the crunch of chips.

“This is so good.” Emma gushed around a mouthful of food and Regina turned to look at her, the guacamole and chips pulled across the kitchen island so Emma could easily access them from where she was sitting on one of the stools.

“Thank you, it’s my father’s recipe.”

“It’s,” Emma trailed off and Regina turned back to the stove, looking into the pan through the glass lid before she turned off the heat, certain it was done. “What’re you making?”

Regina jumped, turning to look at Emma who was practically hovering over her shoulder to get a good look at the stove. “Arroz Con Pollo, it was one of the first things my father taught me to make as a child.”

“It smells great.”

Regina felt the smile stretching across her face before she could try and calm it, Emma’s eyes moving to look at her smile before looking back at her eyes, her own smile growing the slightest bit.

“Hey, Duckling! Wanna help me set the table?”

Emma leaped away from her at the sound of Zelena’s voice as it echoed through the room and Regina let out an unsteady breath before she moved to get out a couple serving dishes, busying herself with that instead of watching Emma who was looking at Zelena like a lost puppy as she ordered her around the kitchen… okay so maybe she peeked toward them now and then but for the most part she focused on her task while they focused on theirs.

 


 

Once they finished eating, Regina and Zelena directed Emma to the sitting room to relax with a glass of wine while they did the dishes which gave Emma ample time to look around the room.

She spotted a stunning picture of a horse on her wall, Emma spent a lot of time looking at the black and white photo before she moved to the bookshelves, her eyes taking in the tiny little figurines and most importantly, the books, reading each title and feeling that overwhelming feeling she’d gotten when’d she first met Regina all over again. It seemed to mostly be non-fiction books, scientific journals, old books and memoirs, and an assortment of what seemed to be poetry books, and Emma’s brain couldn’t stop fawning over how much of an adorable little nerdy Ravenclaw Regina was.

She pulled a poetry book off the shelf, fingering through the pages before landing on a poem, her eyes skimming over the words, it felt personal, almost like she was peeking into a part of Regina’s mind that only she had access to.

“I see you’re still as nosey as ever.”

Emma jumped, looking up to see Regina standing at the back of the large grey couch, a cardigan now on to keep out the cold from the AC. She looked positively and adorably domestic.

“My mom says I just don’t know how to sit still.”

Regina hummed, arms wrapped around her middle as she moved around the couch and toward her, “Emily Dickson, hmm?” Regina said as she dipped her head to get a clear view of the title.

“Yeah I guess, I didn’t really look.”

Regina reached out, taking the book from Emma’s hands, her eyes skimming over the poem Emma had stopped on and she smiled softly before closing the book, Emma’s breath catching in her lungs as she took a step closer, their bodies nearly pressed together as she slipped the book back onto the shelf.

“I hope I didn’t overstep.” Emma said, mostly to try and stop her mind from freaking out over how amazing Regina smelt, or on the adorable way her head tilted in confusion, or the slope of her nose as she turned around.

“No, I keep my private collection in another room.”

“Private collection?” Emma practically squeaked while Regina just smirked and brushed past her to sit on the couch, grabbing her script which was sitting on the coffee table.

“More wine, ladies?” Zelena asked, walking in with a fresh bottle and a full glass, Regina turning her head to look at her, a brow rising slightly.

“Sure.” Emma held out her glass as she moved across the room, standing by the edge of the couch Regina was on while Zelena filled her glass.

“Why don’t we get started?”

“Sure,” Emma repeated, lowering herself onto the couch, placing her glass of wine on the coffee table to free up her hands to pull out her script while Zelena moved to sit in one of the chairs that were in front of the bookshelf Emma had been standing by a minute ago. 

 


 

Regina’s legs were crossed, her body turned the slightest bit toward Emma, her script in her hand, a finger pressed to her lips as she just watched Emma recite her line to her scene with Zelena, transfixed on the way she just fell into character, becoming this major bitch with this almost monotone voice at once.

“Alexandra, why don’t you stop complaining about your new partner and actually get to know her? Who knows, you two might have more in common than you think.”

“Don’t call me that.”

Regina’s heart skipped in her chest as Emma’s eyes darkened with anger, looking in Zelena’s direction, Regina so enthralled with Emma she didn’t even make fun of Zelena’s American accent.

“Sergeant Blackwell, we’ve known each other for a while now, yes?”

“Yes.”

Her jaw tensed, her voice quiet and guarded, and Regina missed the way she excitedly leaned closer to her, completely lost in the scene.

“Then do me a favour and stop being a petulant pain in the ass and learn to share your toys.”

Emma growled and Regina was practically buzzing, there was just something so sexy about the sound, about the anger shining in Emma’s eyes. She wanted to drown in it.

“Blackwell storms out of Director Moore’s office, slamming the door behind her.”

Regina was startled out of it by Zelena’s real accent, eyes blinking slowly as it seemed to dawn on her that she had shifted the slightest bit closer to Emma; Emma’s eyes met hers when she looked back, a curious yet happy look on her face that made Regina wanna run as much as she wanted to just keep staring.

“Can we do the interrogation scene next? I’m a little iffy on it?”

“Of course.”

“Why doesn’t Regina play the bad guy? Feel free to really lay into her, sure she won’t mind, isn’t that right, baby sis?”

Regina’s eyes snapped to Zelena, that mischievous grin on her face as she dared Regina to say no, dared her to expose her hand, and Regina never backed down from a challenge, something she knew more than well.

“Not at all, give me your worst, Miss Swan.”

“Okay,” Emma looked positively giddy at the prospect, twisting on the seat, her right leg on the couch and foot under her left thigh as she met Regina’s eyes.

“Why don’t we make it more fun? Regina can sit in the chair and you can act out the interrogation, if you’re worried about the flow of it.”

“What?” Regina squeaked, looking at Zelena’s smirking face, not noticing the way Emma seemed to squirm in the seat next to her, though Zelena sure had.

“Oh come on, it’d be fun. You used to do this all the time with Mal.”

“Tha-that was different.” Regina hissed, leaning close to Zelena, her eyes tracking her as she stood up and moved in front of her, and Regina knew she was about two seconds from Zelena dragging her to the chair kicking and screaming if she had to.

“I-it’s okay, we don’t have to. I don’t wanna make anyone uncomfortable.” Emma said and Regina’s eyes turned to Emma, seeing that sad uncertainty and god dammit she instantly softened again, why must she always look like a sad puppy?

“No, no, if you would benefit from playing it out in a safe space I’d be more than happy to.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Regina offered her a small smile, watching as those sad puppy eyes crinkled with her wide smile.

“Well then it’s settled.” Zelena grinned, taking a step to the side and Regina leveled her with a glare as she stood up and moved past her, a silent warning that she’d hear about it later.

Regina slowly lowered herself into the chair, her legs crossing as she flipped through the script until she found the scene and as soon as she did she straightened up her back, chin held high in defiance, eyes sparkling challengingly as she tracked Emma’s movement across the room until she was standing in front of her. She moved her arms on the armrests, her script angled toward her so she could glance at it without giving up her air of superiority.

“Okay…” Emma mumbled, her eyes moving from the tips of Regina’s shoes slowly up her body before they landed on her face.

“Interior. Interrogation room. Nighttime.”

Emma’s eyes anxiously moved to Zelena where she was sitting on the couch then back to Regina, taking in her posture again.

“Good evening, Mr. Rockford.”

Regina grinned as Emma slipped into character, the easy tones of her voice now that of Blackwell’s, her posture hers too and Regina’s body seemed to come alive as a response.

“Where am I? I want my lawyer.” Regina demanded, and Emma moved closer.

“We don’t really do lawyers here. We’re really not that kind of place, Mr. Rockford.”

“I did nothing wrong. You better let me go or I’ll sue.”

“Listen, Bobby, can I call you Bobby?”

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t.”

Emma shrugged, circling around the chair so she was hovering behind Regina, all her senses buzzing, screaming at her to turn around, but she fought the instincts, staying cool.

“This is how this is going to go, you’re going to tell me everything you know about Rose Clarke and then I’ll put that ugly bag back over your head and drop you off at a nice safe location where you can call your little lawyer and cry like the little bitch you are.” Emma placed both her hands on Regina’s shoulders and her back stiffened, her breath catching in her lungs as Emma leaned in close so she was whispering in her ear as she finished, “or we could do this the hard way, but I really don’t think you want that, do you, Bobby?”

Emma squeezed her shoulders and Regina blinked slowly, turning her body as Emma started moving around her again, “this is illegal.”

“Yes, yes it is. And so is the kidnapping of Miss Clarke sooo.”

“I didn’t kidnap anyone! And I’m not telling you anything!”

Emma’s eyes went dark as she leaned into her and Regina unconsciously leaned back into the chair, as Emma got in her face, both her hands gripping the back of her chair, their breaths erratic as Regina’s eyes met Emma’s and she felt an all too familiar twisting in her lower belly. “I will give you one more chance, Bobby, and then I will start breaking bones.”

“You can’t touch me!” Regina’s eyes lit with defiance, her posture straightening and Emma just seemed to get closer, her knees brushing against Emma’s thighs, her script covered by Emma’s body and her left fingers twitching with the urge to pull Emma down on her lap.

“I can and I will, if you don’t talk.”

Emma’s voice was deep and gravelly, her pupils dilated and Regina found herself losing the character, her mind empty as she saw Emma’s eyes flicker down to her lips, saw the fluttering of Emma’s muscles in her arms as she tensed up, like she needed all her strength to keep her where she was.

“Emma…” She breathed, her fingers flexing until she brushed over Emma’s hip just above the hem of her jeans.

Emma blinked slowly, like she was coming back into herself, breathing unsteady, her presence intoxicating and Regina was almost certain that if she leaned forward right now and kissed her she wouldn’t object to it, but soon her eyes cleared and Emma seemed to realize what she was doing and she straightened, stumbling back a few feet as she anxiously ran her hand through her hair, looking everywhere but Regina.

“Where’s Zelena?”

“What?” Regina breathed, trying to shake herself out of it, but every inch of her skin was buzzing and her mind was a blurry haze of nothing but Emma.

“Zelena, where did she go?”

Emma’s words fully settled around her and her eyes moved to the couch where her sister was supposed to be only to find it empty. “I’ll uh, I’ll go look for her.” Regina stood up, back stiff as she slipped behind the chairs and walked quickly through the house. “Zelena!”

Regina’s hands were in fists, she was supposed to be a buffer, not instigate whatever that was then hide away! What was she even up to?!

“What are you doing?!” Regina hissed as soon as she found her sitting in the kitchen picking at leftovers.

“I got a little peckish and you too seemed to be…distracted so I didn’t want to bother you.”

Regina stepped in closer, Zelena smirking up at her as Regina’s snarled at her. “Whatever you’re trying to do tonight, it ends right now.”

“Whatever do you mean? I am perfectly innocent, I am up to nothing, little sister.”

“You will get back out there and you will stay there until Emma has to leave or you will be spending the night in the backyard. And I hear the bears like to roam around these parts.”

“Would you loosen up, Regina? I was gone for 5 minutes; what could have possibly happened in that time?” Regina felt heat rise on her chest, jaw tensing as Zelena’s look of indifference sparked to life with the scent of gossip. “Oh my, you move fast, sis.”

“Nothing happened.” Regina straightened up, arms crossing in front of her as her glare was softened with a flustered pout.

“Right…” Zelena slipped off the barstool, a cackle rumbling out of her as she walked past her, Regina grumbling and stomping her foot in frustration before she followed after her sister, dropping into the far side of the couch to avoid any more incidents.

 


 

After that evening, time seemed to speed by in a blur of prep work as they got closer and closer to filming, and then the time came where production began on episode 2 and they barely had time to think, let alone run lines. Everything just moved so fast and before they knew it, it was officially the day to shoot their sparring scene.

The day of, Emma probably spent too much time nervously pacing her trailer before a PA finally came to take her to set, the sun warming her skin as she walked behind the young man, trying to bask in the peace of the moment and not on her thoughts screaming about how unprepared she was to be that close to Regina again. She’d almost royally fucked up a few weeks before and although they’ve filmed together nearly every day since, including today, already there was just a difference to this, an air to it that had Emma’s skin prickling with anxiety.

Acting with Regina was a complete all together different thing, it was thrilling and fascinating, it twisted up in her gut and lit her soul alive, yes, they constantly seemed to invade each other’s space, but this was different. This was new and unknown territory, she already had such a hard time with getting lost in the moment, in the dynamic of their characters that she was scared of what might happen when they were no longer keeping up that wall of technicalities, when they fell into their characters, the scene, and the emotions that it carried with it.

Not to mention Emma was really scared to see what they’d put Regina in, since after the first day of practise Regina had shown up to the gym in pants instead of small shorts, and Emma knew why, she’d felt the burning in her veins every time Regina’s bare skin against her hands. It was like playing with fire. All of this was a gamble, knowing the right thing and wanting so badly to do the wrong thing.

Emma’s attention was pulled back to the present as she stepped into the low lights of the hallway that led to the soundstage they were filming in. Her eyes slowly adjusted and she looked around, maybe hoping to see Regina before it was time to go. To be prepared for what she was about to face, but she was never that lucky was she?

The PA stepped aside and Emma looked past him as he gestured toward the well-lit area and Emma gave him an awkward but grateful smile as she moved ahead, hearing her flip flops click against the heels of her feet, she focused on that as she moved off to the side, taking steady breaths as she was greeted by the AD who started walking her through everything.

Everything fell away as she listened, getting lost in the work of it all until Mulan came by, instructing her to warm up and Emma let her walk her through it, it felt technical again, like work, and it was easy to focus on that and not her confusing relationship with Regina.

At least until Mulan called out her name and Emma looked up just in time to see Regina approaching, a bandana tied in a bow in her hair, a muscle tee with a band logo on the front, and a pair of shorts that reached mid-thigh, her feet bare and hands already wrapped as she stopped in front of them, Emma’s eyes tracking their way back up her body as Regina stared down at her on the mat.

“Are you ready to get your ass kicked, Miss Swan?”

Emma’s smile spread across her face, “I don’t know, are you?”

Regina chuckled, low and deep and Emma felt her skin buzz, unsure if it was from the excitement or from the way Regina’s eyes tracked over her body.

“Mills, do your warm ups. Swan, finish up and move to your mark.”

Emma nodded as Mulan stalked off, hiding behind the monitor as she talked to the AD about the shots.

Emma finished her stretches a few minutes later and then stood up, looking down at Regina who was bent in half as she stretched her leg muscles, her hand gripping her ankle, and Emma noticed the way her shirt was cut so her blue sports bra and her sides were exposed.

Emma shook her head to clear her thoughts and grinned down at Regina as she said. “Don’t go too easy on me, Mills.”

“Promise.” Regina smirked up at her and Emma smiled back, nodding to herself she took a step away, her eyes tracking over Regina one more time before walking to the other side of the mat, her eyes stuck on Regina even as someone came to wrap her hands and fix her hair and makeup before it was time to go.

 


 

Regina had her eyes closed, taking long deep and calming breaths as she stood on her mark waiting for them to call action. Trying to calm herself until she fell into character, Roni didn’t seem to have a care in the world, not ever. and here Regina was, scared of filming one stupid scene, but she was determined to get it right on the first go or at least in as little takes as possible so as not to risk doing something stupid like getting lost in the intoxicating power that was Emma Swan in character.

Heck, Emma in general was hard to not get all tangled up in, and she was trying, Regina was trying really hard to keep those feelings locked up in their little box, but every day seemed to be like an internal war and she wasn’t fairing very well, having almost been defeated just the week before, she wasn’t sure if she was ready for what today would bring but Regina Mills did not give up easily and she was determined to just get this over with and get out of there without kissing the woman, or something else equally stupid in front of a set of people.

“And action!”

Regina’s eyes snapped open and she moved into stretches, knowing Emma was set to arrive any minute now.

“Hey!”

There she was, Regina smirked to herself as she turned to look at her storming toward her, hair pulled back in a high ponytail that swung as she walked, and abs and arms on full display in her black sports bra and black leggings combo.

“Hey, Sergeant Buzzkill!”

“You know you got a lot of balls, Perez.”

Regina smirked, Blackwell was such a ball of pent up fury, and Roni? Well, she honestly didn’t give a fuck. Her arms fell to her side, hands on her hips as she met Emma’s eyes as she stopped right in front of her, nearly nose to nose.

“What’d I do this time? Used your lucky pen?”

“That was my interrogation! You nearly fucking blew it and thanks to you I got my ass chewed by the boss.”

“Kinky.” Emma snarled and Regina’s eyes lit up, feeling her anger and frustration spilling off of her. “What is even your problem with me? Do you just not like feeling inferior? You were getting nowhere with the suspect with your little deranged lunatic schtick, so I did what needed to be done. We got what we needed.”

“You broke his wrist!”

Regina stepped back, waving her off as she moved toward the heavy bags. “I sprained it. He’ll be just fine.”

“If he complains.”

“Like anyone will believe him that a secret spy organization kidnapped him. You really need to loosen up, Blackwell.”

She felt Emma’s hand on her elbow, her grip gentle, and they moved together in sync as she pulled her back, it looked rougher than it actually was but still Regina’s eyes were alight with anger as she raised her hands to shove her.

“Get your hands off me!”

“If you want to act tough you’re going to need to know how to defend yourself.”

Regina laughed, yanking her arm from her grasp and taking a step back, “trust me, I can handle myself just fine, or have you forgotten already?”

“You got lucky.”

Regina took a step closer, getting back in Emma’s face and watching the way her eyes moved over her face, “that wasn’t luck. I could take you any day of the week.”

“Prove it then.”

Regina laughed again. “It’s your ego.”

Emma smirked and took a step back, raising her hands in position and Regina shook her head, stepping back and doing the same thing, silence washing over them for a few beats, and then she swung.

At once Emma had her arm pinned behind her back, their bodies close, and then her breath ghosted over her ear and cheek as she whispered. “You’re too wild with your strikes, if you were more precise you wouldn’t leave yourself open to a counter-attack.”

“Maybe I planned it.” Regina smirked, her free arm slipping behind her and gripping onto the hand pinned to her back and pushed down on it so it weakened Emma’s hold, then once she was distracted, she stepped on her foot and swung her arm back to mime elbowing her in the head. She twisted around, Emma’s shoulder’s against her hips and the arm that had hers in a lock wrapped around her thigh, the other moving to her waist wrapping around her before she could stop it and with a smooth movement she was lifted off her feet and then her back was connecting with the mat.

“You need to plan better,” Emma quipped as she pulled her leg up locking it in the crook of her arm pinning her in place before she turned her head slightly, her nose brushing against Regina’s cheek.

“Do I?” She panted, eyes flashing with excitement.

“You do.” Their eyes met and Regina was floored by the passion in them, by the way her pupils were dilated, trying not to get distracted by the feel of her body pressed against her own.

Her right hand laid against Emma’s side, feeling her skin against her palm and each of her unsteady breaths, while her left moved around, the smirk playing on her lips as she pulled her knee up and then moved her left arm around so it pushed Emma’s body forward, locking her against her body as she rolled, taking Emma with her.

She pressed her knee to Emma’s stomach as she rolled onto her back, hovering over her with one hand against Emma’s hip bone and the other by her head as she looked down at her, blowing a lock of hair out of her face.

“What were you saying about my plans?”

“They’re sloppy.” She gritted out and Regina laughed, feeling Emma’s hands move, one against her bare knee and the other pressing against her hip on the leg that was holding her up, they’d done this a hundred times but this time as her heart raced in her chest, her mind lost to the characters, Emma’s hand seemed to slip under her shirt, as she wrapped her hand around her hip, the two of them used to her usual tight clothing so that when Emma’s thumb brushed against her skin something froze between them.

Their eyes locked, frozen, seconds felt like forever and she forgot what came next for long enough that when Emma went to escape the hold like they had practiced, Regina let out a sudden and shocked yelp as Emma flipped her, pinning her to the mat and both of Regina’s hands moved up and pressed against her shoulders, her leg under Emma’s body pushing up and Emma leaped away, falling on her ass next to Regina’s hips and staring at her as Regina’s mind tried to catch up.

“Regina, you okay?”

She blinked slowly, turning her head to meet Emma’s eyes and she reached her hand out and let it fall to Emma’s knee. “I’m okay, I just…” she trailed off, remembering the people around them, she just squeezed Emma’s knee and pushed herself up and away. “Sorry, did I hurt you?”

“No, I thought I hurt you!”

“I’m fine.” She turned to look at the crew and flashed them a smile, seeing Mulan hovering to the side waiting for her cue if they needed help. “Let’s go again?”

“You heard the woman, let’s go again!” Mulan yelled, clapping the assistant director on the shoulder as she moved back behind the monitor, Regina watched closely as Emma stood and held out her hand toward her.

“Let’s go, slugger.”

“I’ll still make you pay for that.” Regina grinned, their hands clapping together as they connected and she let Emma pull her to her feet and they moved back across the mat to where Emma had originally pinned her after Regina had escaped from the arm lock.

 


 

They were doing their last run of the stunt, or at least the last angle they wanted, sweat was shimmering on Regina’s skin as Emma stood above her, both her arms on her belly as she panted, one leg bent as they stared at each other.

“Give up yet, Perez?”

“You kidding? I got you right where I want ya.”

“I am a trained soldier, Perez, you are a PI. And listen, you’re good, could use some refining but you’re good…I’m just better.”

“Maybe,” she panted and Emma’s eyes moved down to her chest for a few breaths before moving back up to her face to catch her smirking. “But your ego is what makes you vulnerable.”

“You’re grasping a–”

Her words were cut off as Regina swung her leg, hitting the back of her knees and sending her falling to the mat with a grunt, staring up at the lights before Regina was hovering over her, straddling her hips and hands pressed against her shoulders to keep her down. “You were saying?”

She laughed, one of shock as Blackwell realized Roni might have a point, she’d let her guard down again.

“I’ll keep that in mind, Rookie.”

She bent her legs, her thighs pressing against Regina’s ass and her hands moved to Regina’s biceps, feeling the muscles shift under her grip, watching her try and blow a lock of hair out of her face, and her smile curled slightly on her lips, her hand moving on her own accord as she reached out, gently tucking it behind her ear, and Regina’s eyes widened as they locked on hers.

“You’re still sloppy though,” she finished, slipping her hand behind Regina’s head, her fingers tangling in wild and sweaty curls that only seemed to get curlier the more they did their scenes, and while Regina seemed to be staring at her in confusion, because this was kind of new and Emma was sure Regina knew it was a way to cover up her mistake, because as Emma rolled them Regina had moved with her, her head tucked against Emma’s shoulder and her fingers locking behind Emma’s neck, keeping her close.

“Okay?” Regina whispered low enough it wouldn’t be picked up by the boom mic and with her head tucked in the words wouldn’t be seen either.

“Good.” Emma responded just as quietly and Regina loosened her hold so Emma could push back, their eyes locking and Regina’s hands moved to grip the back of Emma’s thighs like she’d done on nearly every take. “Hit the showers, Perez.”

She said and swung her leg off of her and stood up, Regina’s hand moving to her belly as she stared up at her, smiling. “I’ll get you next time, Blackwell.”

“I’d like to see you try.” She quipped, turning and walking away.

“Cut!” The AD called and they looked toward her. “Let’s go for one more take then we can call it.”

“Sure thing.” Emma replied, turning around to see Regina sitting on the mat, her legs pulled up to her chest and her arms hanging loosely around them as she just seemed to watch Emma. “Can we just break for a few first?”

“Of course. Nova, can you bring them some water?”

“Coming right up!” The PA yelled and dashed off while Emma walked back toward Regina and collapsed onto the mat, feeling Regina’s foot nudge her hip a few seconds later to get her attention.

“Yeah?”

“Try not to get soft on me this time, Swan.”

“Will do,” Emma grinned, hand falling and wrapping around her ankle like it had on their first training session, their eyes meeting once more though Emma was confused by the look she saw there.

 


 

Regina had one realization in that moment as they sat on that old gym’s mat and the whole world seemed to drift away, something that had never meant anything good, really, because it seemed like putting space between them just wasn’t going to work, because not only was Emma determined to be best friends with her, but she just couldn’t help but fall into that natural pull between them.

She wiggled her toes under Emma’s hip and the woman’s face lit up with laughter as her hand moved the slightest bit up her calf, and Regina leaned forward so the side of her knee was pressed to the inside of her chin, her head lulling to the side so her temple rested against the top, getting lost in Emma’s eyes for a few more moments until Nova was back with their water and Regina moved away to ground herself again. Trying and likely failing to get some sense of control again as her body still buzzed and burnt from the feeling of Emma’s touch on her for hours now.

So yeah, she was fucking screwed, and she needed to get a grip if they were going to keep being whatever they were, though she honestly wasn’t even sure what that was anymore.

Chapter Text

 

September 20th, 2016

 

Emma was sitting crossed legged on the chair at the small table tucked into the corner of her trailer, picking at her lunch as she flipped through the sides for the next scene of the day, while also trying her best to remember all the talking points they’d given herself and Regina to promote the show that weekend.

It was officially two weeks before their pilot aired and everything was kind of a chaotic mess at least for her and Regina, who were in most scenes; she’s already done at least 2 phone interviews that morning and this weekend they were both being flown out to LA to attend some talk shows and whatnot, to promote the show.

It was hard to juggle at times, on her last show she hadn’t really been the main star so she hadn’t been in as many scenes, and hadn’t had to do as many interviews as she was doing for this. It was all new and exhilarating, yes, but also scary; because on top of the crazy schedule, and her being new in town (she’d been in Vancouver for 4 months now, filming for 3), there was also Regina. Regina who was always around now, Regina who she now interacted with almost daily, Regina who was sort of a friend now, or maybe not, Emma wasn’t sure what they were; it was like they were in limbo, somewhere between how they were during the pilot and something else.

It was all so weird. Regina was her partner in all of this, she trusted her more than anyone else she had ever worked with and she has that month of practically being roommates to credit for it.

She heard a knock on her metal trailer door and looked up as it swung open, Regina standing in the doorway with a cup of coffee and today’s sides in her right hand while her left swung her leather jacket over her shoulder, Emma smiling when she realized Regina was still stuck in character, it’d been happening more often these past few months and it was kind of adorable.

“Hey, care for some company?”

“Sure,” Emma grinned, letting go of the top pages of her sides so they fell against the wooden table she was eating at. “How did it go?”

Regina shrugged, tossing her jacket on the couch that was against the back of the trailer before sitting on the edge that was closest to Emma. “Alright, moves a lot faster when nobody is around to fuck it up.”

Emma smirked, picking her sandwich up from the plate and raising it to take a bite. “Not eating today?”

“Not hungry.”

Emma nodded, taking a bite of her sandwich finally as Regina watched her silently. “Wha?”

“You eat like a child.” Regina said through a chuckle and Emma stuck her tongue out at her and Regina’s eyes lit up. “I thought maybe you’d want to run lines before we have to head back.”

“Sure.” Emma said around her bite of food, her eyes watching as Regina moved from her lounging man spread to cross her legs, shifting back into herself a little. “You start.”

“You’re eating.”

“I can eat and act, I’ve done it a million times.”

“Trust me, dear, you really can’t.”

Emma rolled her eyes, dropping her sandwich on her plate and started picking at her fries. “Just shut up and start.”

“If I shut up I can’t start.”

“If you keep being a smart ass I’ll kick you out.” Regina let out a disbelieving laugh as her eyes seemed to trace over Emma, effortlessly catching Emma’s bluff. “Oh fuck off.”

Regina smirked and uncrossed her legs to hold her coffee between her knees as she flipped through her sides to find their scene together.

“Would you just trust me?” Regina fell back into Roni and the suddenness of the switch back after such a gradual change shocked Emma as she listened to the accented and deep tones of her voice, at the almost angry desperation.

“Why should I? It’s not like you’ve given me any reason to!”

“What do I have to do to get you to see I am on your side?! We’ve been working together for nearly two months now!” There was a sadness, a betrayal there, weighing down on her voice and Emma remembered what this episode was.

“You know I was really starting to trust you and then you pulled…whatever the hell that was!”

Regina growled and Emma’s attention snapped up to look at her, eyes filled with fury and desperation. “Just trust I know what I’m doing, Blackwell, we are partners, isn’t that supposed to mean something?”

“Yeah, I thought it did.”

Regina’s fingers tapped against the pages of the sides, and Emma felt her pain deep in her chest, the betrayal Blackwell was feeling like it was her own and she wasn’t shocked to see tears in Regina’s eyes when they finally did meet.

Regina let out an unsteady breath, rolling up the sides and tapping them against her palm as she stared at the plate of food on the table and Emma let out a low understanding chuckle before pushing the plate closer to the edge of the table allowing Regina to snatch a fry from the plate.

“Wanna talk about it?” Emma asked after a few long moments of silence where Regina just silently picked at her fries.

“No.”

Emma smiled at the way she pouted petulantly. It was kind of adorable when she got like this. “You sure? Seems like something is really weighing on you.”

Regina’s head tipped down, staring at the top of her to-go cup, her nail picking at the edge of the lid making a weird almost strumming noise. “It’s my father, he can’t make it to the screening, mother has something she deems more important and…” Regina twisted her hand in the air dismissively, like she was used to everything going her mother’s way.

“Ah…”

Regina nodded, pulling the cup from between her knees to cradle it in her hands. “It’s stupid.”

“It’s not.”

Regina looked up at her, the pain in her eyes making Emma’s heart ache and every fibre in her being wanting to go over there and hug her, to make her feel better. “Is your mother coming?”

“Yeah, she is.”

Regina nodded, an almost wishful smile on her face even as her eyes were still filled with so much sadness.

Emma remembered the words Regina had said when they were on that rooftop in Texas, about never feeling safe or wanted. “It’ll still be fun though, you can call him, or facetime him, maybe?”

Regina looked up, giving Emma a grateful little smile and Emma was sure it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. She noticed her hair had grown a bit, now nearing her shoulders and it’d thickened out some too, the curls thick and wild which Emma knew meant soon enough Regina would be back in Jacinda’s chair so she could fix them, but Emma liked it like this. She liked the way her hair framed her face and her eyes seemed to stand out, the deep red on her lips fading as well and it was just so simply beautiful it made Emma’s heart ache.  

“You’re sweet, hopeful, but sweet.”

“Well that’s a first,” Emma quipped and Regina rolled her eyes, Emma smiling as she realized it seemed to pull her out of her funk a little. “Usually you call me an idiot, I don’t know if I like this change.”

“You are an idiot.” Regina said with the slightest upturn of her lips, hand raking through her hair before falling back to the cup, her thumb nail picking at the edge again.

“That’s much better.” Emma grinned, slipping her leg from under her she stretched it out until her sock covered toes pressed against Regina’s knee, nudging her playfully. “Let’s go again, hmm?”

Regina nodded, her smile grateful once again as she took a sip from her while her other hand flicked back to the beginning of the scene, going over that and the other scene they had tonight until they were called back to set.

  


 

As the weekend rolled around Regina found herself in a taxi with Emma in the seat next to her staring out the window at the city lights flying by them as they headed to the airport after finishing filming that evening.

“I guess I should just be happy it’s not a morning flight.”

“It might as well be.”

Emma glanced over at her, lips pulled down in a frown as she seemed to remember the time and surly the little amount of sleep they were about to get. “I hate press tours.”

Regina chuckled, looking out the window again, a thoughtful sigh leaving her mouth before she whispered. “Me too…”

“But hey,” Emma said as she reached out, tapping her thigh encouragingly with the back of her hand. “At least we got each other.”

Regina rolled her eyes, a slight smile curling on her lips which reflected back at her in the glass and Regina really hoped Emma wasn’t paying attention.

“We can run lines as we wait, play some games, I brought cards, and uno. It’ll be fine, like a little vacation after months of work.”

“We are working, Emma.”

“Yeah, but we’re not filming or doing wardrobe or any other really boring painstaking pre-production thingy.”

Regina looked back over at her, eyeing that excited little grin and she let out a long sigh. “It’s 10pm, we will be boarding our flight at midnight, landing at about 3, then we have customs and if we’re lucky we will get a couple hours sleep in before we have to get ready for the morning interviews they have us scheduled for.”

“So what you’re saying is…”

“We should sleep on the plane.”

“Right…that.”

“We can play games later.”

“Yeah?”

Regina hated how she just folded to that stupid excited look, it was like disappointing a child sometimes. “Yes.”

“You’re the best! We’ll have the whole sleepover experience!”

“Mmhmm.” Regina hummed going back to look out the window before something struck her. “Wait, what do you mean by that?”

“They didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what, Miss Swan?!”

Emma winced, leaning against the door to try and get as far away from the fury on Regina’s face. “They didn’t tell you.”

“The network is putting us in a single room…”

“Sharing a room?!”

“I can’t believe they didn’t tell you. It was in the email with our schedule.”

“The email…” Regina thought back to the day she got it, she was just getting to the end, she remembers seeing the word Hotel and then Emma came strolling in with that smile and coffee while she complained about her bun and then she’d flopped on the couch in Regina’s trailer next to her and…and she put her phone away and forgot to look at the email again. “Shit…”

“It’ll be fine, we’re big girls.”

“I’ll just, I’ll just stay at my place.”

“Regina, they put us in the hotel because there wasn’t any time for the commute, and so we could use the conference rooms for satellite interviews.”

“I hate press tours…” Regina grumbled and Emma just nudged her leg again, and remained quiet for the rest of the drive to the airport.

 


 

There was something almost adorable about witnessing Regina pacing back and forth in an airport yelling at her manager at 11:45pm. A little frightening too, but she was weirdly cute when she got all angry and flustered. Emma never wanted to be on the receiving end of it all, but it was definitely interesting to watch.

“Regina…” Emma sighed, as she watched her huff and stomp her foot in frustration, wincing when she got a glare in response and she immediately averted her eyes in the hopes of avoiding her wrath.

“Tink, you can’t be serious.” Emma glanced back over, a hand frustratingly tearing through the wild curls in her hair before her body sagged a little. “There has to be something you can do…I can just book another room.”

Emma felt a pang in her chest at that, hurt that Regina didn’t want to share a room with her, sure there was their history but she thought they’d gotten past that…she thought.

“No, no I understand…thank you for trying.”

Emma looked up at her with sad eyes, something in her screaming to get up and console her, to reassure her nerves…it wouldn’t be like last time.

“Emma…” She blinked, eyes focusing on Regina looking at her nervously. “We uh, business class is boarding.”

“Oh!” Emma shot up, grabbing hers and Regina’s carry on, holding out the medium sized black leather bag toward her and Regina reached out for it, their hands sliding together for a second and Emma’s eyes met hers as Regina’s hand held onto hers for a second, silently apologizing before pulling the bag from Emma’s hand and walking toward the boarding gate.

 


 

Everything seemed to be calmer as they got seated on the plane, Regina seemed guarded but not angry, Emma was sure it was probably because they were surrounded by other people which usually caused Regina’s professional mask to stay in place.

Emma was hopeful that maybe this weekend wouldn’t be a horrible mess and they could get through it okay but she couldn’t stop watching her the whole time they waited for takeoff, trying to figure out what was bugging her and it wasn’t until the plane started rolling down the runway that Emma noticed the possible other reason Regina might not be her usual self.

Her hands were gripping the armrests in an almost vice like grip, her eyes squeezed shut so she couldn’t see the plane leaving the ground from out the window and Emma was just barely able to make out what sounded like a silent prayer leaving her lips.

“Hey, breathe,” Emma whispered and reached out for her hand without thinking, rubbing it to try and relax her grip and Emma breathed out a sudden breath as Regina’s hand let go of the armrest and flipped over, gripping onto Emma’s like her life depended on it. “It’s gonna be okay, I’m right here.”

Emma pulled Regina’s hand into her lap and held it in both of hers, continuing to rub the top of her hand as her eyes flicked from Regina’s face and the window until the plane finished climbing and evened out.

“There we go, much better. We are safely in the air.”

“I wouldn’t say safely.” Regina gritted out through clenched teeth and Emma squeezed her hand reassuringly.

It was a few long minutes before Regina pulled her hand away, her eyes finally opening to look shyly at Emma before focusing on her own hands as they fiddled awkwardly.

“Thank you…” She whispered, her eyes looking up at her for a second and Emma offered her a gentle smile, Regina looked at her so softly Emma and felt her heart clench dangerously in her chest. “If you tell anyone.”

And there it goes, Emma couldn’t help but laugh as she was leveled with that glare, so vulnerable and then, the wall. And you know what? Emma thought that was adorable too, because they were getting somewhere and sometimes Emma was almost sure the threats were more for show so nobody else noticed how much she liked her.

 


 

Emma’s argument of it not being like last time died somewhere around 1am when Regina’s head lulled against her shoulder as she slept, finding Emma’s never ending stories horrifically boring that she just fell asleep curled up in her chair and because she was turned to face Emma she just slowly seemed to tip over until she was resting against Emma’s shoulder, completely dead to the world.

Emma looked around until she saw one of the flight attendants and waved them down, the young woman wandering over and leaning in close so they could have a whispered conversation as not to wake the other passengers.

“Can we get a couple blankets?”

“Of course, ma’am.”

“Thank you.” Emma whispered, looking down at Regina’s left hand in between them, they had risen the armrest not long into their journey so Regina could sit comfortably in her seat, her knees pressed against Emma’s thigh and her right hand rested on her knee while her other one was just resting on the seat, nearly in Emma’s lap and every now and then she made the quietest little snores and noises which just reminded Emma of that morning 4 years ago.

“Here you go, Miss.”

Emma looked up at the flight attendant, smiling gratefully as she helped open up the blanket and drape it over Regina. “Remind me to tip you later.”

She simply chuckled, her eyes looking between her and Emma once, a little smile on her face as she stepped away and Emma wanted to know what she was thinking but then Regina snuggled against her neck and Emma lost all train of thought.

Her fingers found Regina’s against her thigh and she hooked her middle and pointer finger with Regina’s, feeling her curl her fingers around hers in response, hidden under the blanket and from prying eyes.

Emma let out a content sigh and let her head fall back and her eyes flutter close as she let the warmth of Regina and the quiet of the plane surround her until she also dozed off; next thing she knew she was being woken up to prepare for landing, Regina’s voice quiet and filled with sleep and Emma wondered when exactly she had woken up.

 


 

The drive to the hotel room was silent, both of them exhausted from the flight, they didn’t even have time to worry about how they’d go about sharing a hotel room, they just seemed to move on autopilot as they got ready for bed and passed out the minute their heads hit the pillow.

They got maybe 3 more hours of sleep before the concierge was calling their room and they were up again, Regina a grumbling mess as she moved around the room and made coffee and Emma laid in her bed, staring up at the roof like the world had done something horrible to her.

Their wardrobe and makeup teams came into their room about 30 minutes later, the rest of the morning a haze of prep and then the most basic of satellite interviews in the hotel conference room.

It was honestly nothing special and by the afternoon they were changing again and slipping into a town car to take them to Jimmy Kimmel Live where they were to tape their segment.

“I am so tired.”

Regina looked over at Emma who was slouching in her seat, mouth pulled down in a pout and she reached out, placing her hand on her forearm in reassurance. “Just a few more hours.”

Emma let out a groan but her left hand reached across her body to cover Regina’s and they sat there for a few long minutes before Regina pulled her hand away, straightening up her posture and giving Emma a sideways glance.

“Now sit up straight, you are wrinkling your dress.”

“I don’t care.”

“Stop acting like a child.”

“You stop acting like a child.” Regina turned to look at her, a brow slowly arching up and Emma let out a dramatic sigh and sat up straight. “Happy?”

“Very.”

“I hate press tours and these stupid dresses and god they just keep showing that same damn clip over and over, I’m growing to hate my own face.”

“You know if you don’t like the dresses, you could always request to be put in a suit.”

Emma shrugged, her eyes moving to Regina, slowly tracing over her nude coloured nylons and navy blue dress that reached mid-thigh, her eyes finally reaching Regina’s face, and sparkling with something she didn’t quite get. 

“And be outdone by you? No way. You look fucking hot, I’d prob be frumpy next to you in a suit.”

“You literally wear a suit next to me every day we film, and trust me, frumpy you are not.”

Emma’s eyes sparkled even more as she turned in her seat, looking so positively giddy that it made Regina lean back, a frown on her face as her eyes bounced over Emma’s trying to figure out what she was thinking.

“You think I’m sexy?”

Regina scoffed, nose wrinkling in disgust as she looked out the window. “God, no.”

Regina watched the way Emma just looked at her with that stupid excited smile in the reflection of the glass, her look of indifference turning to annoyance that only seemed to fester as the minutes ticked by.

“What?!”

“Wanna play Uno?”

“We are on the way to an interview.”

“Okay…never have I ever? Would you rather? 21 questions?”

Regina looked at her, face blank as she stated, “never have I ever talked someone’s ear off to the point they wished to jump out of a moving vehicle.”

“Damn, yeah me neither…” Emma said with a knowing smirk and Regina rolled her eyes, looking back out the window with an annoyed pout on her face. “I’ll make someone bring you coffee when we get there so you don’t bite off Jimmy’s head.”

Regina grunted, but a small smile curled on the corners of her lips, only growing when she felt Emma reach across the space and squeeze her knee in comfort. Sometimes it was the small things.

 


 

“Never have I ever punched an Elvis.”

Regina turned to Emma as she paced their dressing room, leveling her with her best attempt at a threatening glare. “What are you doing?”

“Trying to make you laugh. I’m starting to realize I’d never make it as a court jester.”

Regina rolled her eyes, her hand on her stomach as she went back to pacing the length of their dressing room.

“Would you just like, breathe, you’re gonna wear a hole in the floor.”

Regina turned around again, letting out a huff as she threw out her arms and let them fall against her thighs with a slap. “This happens to be my routine, Miss Swan, if you have a problem with it you can leave.”

“Actually I can’t. Kinda ordered to stay put.”

Regina glared and went back to pacing while Emma looked at the TV monitor playing the show in their dressing room. Regina let out random annoyed sounds here and there which only pulled her attention further to her, watching her move back and forth over the space a few more times before she stood up and walked toward her, catching her on the way back with two hands on her shoulders.

Regina attempted to glare but only managed a flustered little pout that was almost impossible to not smile at, but she managed to smother it because she’s sure right now that Regina would skin her alive if she thought Emma was enjoying this.

“Breathe.” Regina sucked in a breath on cue and Emma did smile this time. “Good, now why don’t you tell me why you’re so nervous?”

Regina bit the inside of her cheek, her eyes avoiding Emma’s for a few long seconds before finally locking onto them and Emma almost fell down from the intense emotions she saw shining in them.

“What if I say something stupid? What if my dress rips? Do I look fat? God and my hair! My mother will have a field day over it. I–” She suddenly stopped and Emma frowned, trying to figure out what she did wrong but Regina’s hands moved to cup her elbows and Emma’s head tilted slightly to the left. “I’m not very good at these things.”

“What are you talking about? You’re insanely smooth.”

“During!” Regina exclaimed, tearing herself from Emma’s grasp and pacing again, hand back on her belly to try and calm her nerves and Emma let out a sigh, dropping to sit on the edge of the coffee table as she watched her pace.

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I tear my dress and everyone sees my ass. I say something offensive or stupid or rude. I trip. I– Why are you looking at me like that?”

Emma smothered her smile, she was sure she was doing a great job covering it up but it was kind of cute seeing how Regina worried just like the rest of them.

“Sorry.” Regina’s head tilted to the side, her eyes squinted in a warning glare and Emma let out a long breath. “That’s just the anxiety talking, you’ve done a million interviews and I’m pretty sure if you had split your pants during any of them, I’d have heard about it.”

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it can’t.”

“Trust me, Regina your ass is not splitting your dress and if it does, I’ll block it with my body.”

Emma was surprised to hear the chuckle rumble out of Regina, her eyes wide in shock as she perked up the slightest bit at accomplishing something.

“How gallant of you.”

It was said in a monotone voice but Emma could read the emotions all over Regina’s face and she held out her hand, and after a few seconds of staring at it, Regina took a few steps forward and slipped her own that was once resting on her stomach into it, staring down at their hands as Emma squeezed her fingers, watching her face the whole time.

“We’re partners, Regina, I got your back and you got mine, that’s how it works.”

Regina’s eyes slowly raised to meet Emma’s, a gentle smile on her face as she quipped. “You do know we’re not our characters right, Miss Swan?”

“What? You mean we don’t work for an underground spy organization?!”

“Unfortunately, no.”

“Lame!”

Regina chuckled, Emma squeezing the tips of her fingers again before Regina took a step back, hands smoothing down her dress as she looked over at the TV watching Jimmy finish up the segment before theirs.

“I guess we’re up.”

“We got this. We deal with Jefferson nearly every day, this is nothing.”

Regina smirked and Emma felt warmth spread through her chest before there was a knock on their door and a PA was leading them through the studio toward the stage.

 


 

The interview started simply enough, Regina smiled politely and responded when she was supposed to, and as Emma talked she turned to her, watching her while she listened to her stories and it was nice. Less rushed and stilted than the satellite interviews.

“So what is it like filming in Canada? Does it ever get lonely up there?”

Emma laughed and Regina glanced over at her, brows furrowing together. “It’s been enjoyable, I think since we’re there together we have each other to lean on, I have my sister, and Miss Swan has made plenty of friends.”

“Miss Swan?”

Regina turned back to him, her head tilting as she tried to figure out why he’d repeated that and then she realized, formalities although something they were comfortable using casually, seem distant to others.

“That’s awfully formal of you, is there some tension on set?”

“Of course not.” Regina straightened up, hands folded in her lap, “how one addresses someone does not equate to friendship.”

“Yeah, we’re not pet names kinda people, she’s not even a nickname kind of people.”

Regina turned to look at Emma, seeing that lopsided smile on her face and Regina felt her walls retracting a bit.

“So you get along? There’s no animosity between you two because of Neal Cassidy? You two were both rumoured to be dating him at one point.”

Regina watched as Emma’s mouth fell open the slightest bit, looking a little shaken at her relationship with Neal to be brought up after so many years and all Regina could do was let out a laugh, turning to look at Jimmy with the slightest scrunching up of her nose. “Gods no, Neal and I are just friends, as I’ve said a million times he is like my brother and he and Emma split many years ago, why would I hold the end of a relationship against her?”

“Well I just thought–”

“That because we are two women we must hate each other? Emma is my partner, on and off screen, I’m lucky to have her as my screen partner especially in scenes like the one you will be seeing in the clip that we brought.”

Emma reached out, her hand landing on Regina’s elbow to calm her down while Jimmy’s attention shifted.

“Yes, those clips,” Jimmy looked over to the camera guy, “why don’t you tell us a bit about those and then we can play them?”

“We’d be happy to.”

Emma smiled, her hand slipping from Regina’s elbow and she sequenced into explaining the scene while Regina tried to reign in the death glare she was sure she was sporting at the moment.

Although the rest of the interview went smoothly there was still that awkwardness hanging around them, Regina could feel Emma’s eyes watching her the whole time and could practically sense the way Emma wished to reach out and check on her again, maybe because Regina wanted to as well.

Their working relationship had developed into an almost silent comfort, a single glance of touch to check in, to ground each other when they were worried the other was on edge and it was weird to hold back, to not reach out and rest her hand on Emma’s forearm to calm her nervous fidgeting, they just had to make do, trusting the other would be okay and then, after, they could talk.

 


 

They got back to the hotel later that evening, Regina went into the shower as soon as she walked through the door while Emma hopped onto her bed, dialing room service and ordering for them both before changing into her PJs and flicking through the channels on the TV.

“What do you say about a movie?!” Emma yelled when she heard the water shut off, eyes trained on the TV. “Also I ordered room service, I hope you don’t mind a burger, there didn’t seem to be much else that screams Regina Mills on there.”

“A burger is fine, thank you, dear.”

Emma turned when she heard her voice, the remote falling from her land onto the floor when she saw her stop just by Emma’s bed which happened to be the closest to the bathroom (Regina’s suggestion considering Emma’s fondness for late night treks to the bathroom), her hair was curly, wild curls sticking up on all ends as she ran her towel through them, stopping them from frizzing, but what really got Emma’s attention was the silk shorts and tank top sleeping set, which displayed just so much skin.

“You dropped the remote.”

“Uh huh…” Emma blinked slowly, trailing her eyes up and down Regina’s bare legs and almost fell into a heap on the floor as Regina moved past her, the scent of her shampoo and body wash trailing behind her and Emma was almost sure she was about to turn into Pepe Le Pew and just float behind Regina completely transfixed by her smell.

“You dropped your jaw.”

That got Emma, her eyes snapping up from Regina’s ass to see the little knowing smirk on her lips as she looked at Emma over her shoulder.

“Sorry I just…you just…” Emma winced and Regina chuckled, sitting on her bed and grabbing the bottle of cream she had tossed on the bed when she was grabbing her clothes to change into after her shower. “I’m going to go wash the makeup off.”

Regina smirked at her as Emma turned at the last second to catch her putting cream on her legs, she was cruel, a cruel, cruel temptress.

 


 

Regina looked up as Emma walked back from the front door after getting their room service, the remote in hand as she clicked a button, vaguely aware of Emma approaching with the cart of food.

“I ordered Legally Blonde, I figured that’s something you might like.”

“Actually I love it, it’s an iconic feminist masterpiece. Really made me own my blonde hair with pride.”

Regina smiled at her as she adjusted herself on the bed, taking the tray of food from Emma before she sat on the bed next to her for optimal viewing satisfaction.

“Is this what sleepovers are like?”

Emma shrugged, watching the opening credits roll. “I wouldn’t know, never been to one.”

“I’ve been to some, they weren’t very thrilling and as I got older...” Regina shrugged and Emma eyed her curiously.

“I almost had a sleepover once but the cops showed up. Apparently they weren’t too keen on sleepovers in homes you do not own.”

“A rebel.”

“You know it, wild child, remember?” Emma’s eyes crinkled with her smile even as she took a massive bite out of her own burger, Regina rolling her eyes at the sauce dripping down her face and hands.

“You get food on my bed I’m taking your sheets.”

“Deal, now shut up and watch the movie.”

Regina rolled her eyes again, playfully shoving Emma as she focused on the screen, taking a smaller bite of her burger.

“You were totally a Vivian.”

“You’re just jealous of my massive brain.”

“Don’t mention your dark hair.”

Regina looked over at Emma, and laughed at the sauce still on her chin and she couldn’t help but reach out, wiping it away with her thumb, “you eat like a child.” She said before sucking the sauce off her finger, not noticing the way Emma was looking at her because she was too focused on the movie.

 


 

They sat across from each other on Regina’s bed, a stack of Uno cards between them as they stared at each other in challenge, daring the other to make the move.

“Don’t you dare do it.” Emma warned as Regina’s eyes sparkled mischievously, enjoying the way Emma stared her down as she slowly put down her pick up four colour changer. “I will unfriend you so fast.”

Regina cackled, actually cackled and Emma let out a grumpy grumble as she angrily picked up four cards and waited for Regina to announce the colour.

“Red.”

“I hate you!”

Regina barked out a laugh, probably enjoying it too much considering this was the fourth time she’s kicked Emma’s ass in this game. “Come on, Miss Swan, just pick up your card.”

“I’ll curse your unborn child.”

Regina rolled her eyes, “I believe that’s my ex’s job.”

Emma’s brows furrowed in thought but Regina was more focused on her strategy, looking at her block turn, one reverse card, and finally her last number card, she had this in the bag and Emma didn’t even know, she could taste the victory already and it was so sweet.

“Mal?”

Regina’s eyes jumped up, head tilting to the side in question not even remembering her comment as Emma looked proud and confused.

“What about her?”

“You dated?”

Regina chuckled, throwing down her red block card. “Yeah. You know I have been with other people?” She was probably too tired to realize what she was saying or the openness in which she was speaking but as Emma saw that reverse card being placed down, she seemed to also get distracted.

“Don’t you dare!”

“Uno!” Regina cackled as she threw her final card onto the pile and Emma tossed her deck on top and fell against the mattress.

“I am never playing card games with you again! How do you keep winning?!”

“As if I’d reveal my strategy,” Regina smirked as Emma pouted at her, gathering up the cards strew across the bed as she lowered her bent leg, watching Emma’s eyes follow the movement, it was honestly not her fault, Emma was so easy to read and distract and she played with absolutely zero strategy.

“I’d suggest go fish next but I fear you’d kick my ass at that too.”

“We can play and find out.”

Emma leaned up on her elbow, watching Regina shuffle the deck. “You must clean out at poker.”

“Poker? Hmmm can’t say I’ve ever played this poker game you speak of.” Emma leaned forward and shoved Regina’s knee as she batted her eyes innocently and Regina dropped the act instantly, laughing along with Emma.

“I’ll have you know I have nothing to give you, so playing would be seriously lame unless you wanted to play strip poker but that’d be over really fast.”

Regina shook her head, looking down at the deck of cards as she ran her finger over the side. “Wanna go again?”

“I think I’m done getting my ass kicked for now.”

“Okay,” Regina smiled and handed the deck to Emma who sat up and took the elastic off her wrist to tie it back up.

“We could play war.”

“And risk our budding friendship some more?”

Emma chuckled as she rolled off the bed and moved back to her carryon to toss it in, digging through it. “We could play truth or dare.”

“And what would these dares be?”

Emma pouted and grabbed the stack of normal playing cards as she lowered herself to the side of her bed. “We could play truth.”

“Give me the cards,” Regina chuckled and Emma tossed them across the space to her and Regina instantly went to shuffling the deck, setting up solitaire as Emma watched.

“I don’t believe that is a team sport.”

“Never have I ever played soccer.” Regina glanced over at Emma to catch the way she excitedly pulled her legs up onto her own bed, Regina’s smile playing on her lips as she focused on her game.

“Usually we drink during this game.” Regina eyed her and Emma shrugged. “I have played soccer. Never have I ever been to prom.”

“I missed mine too, I graduated early.”

“Smarty-pants.”

Regina hummed, moving the cards around on the bed, “never have I ever…ridden on a motorcycle.”

“I had an ex with a bike, road on it a few times…cool but scary.” Regina felt Emma’s eyes on her and she turned her head to see Emma trying to get a look at her game. “4 of hearts second row.”

“I thought this was a solo game?” Regina sassed and Emma rolled her eyes, raising her hands in surrender.

“Never have I ever made a turkey dinner on my own.”

“It’s hell, wouldn’t recommend it.”

Emma chuckled, “I take it you’ve made one then.”

Regina hummed, finger tapping on the edge of the deck in her left hand while she chewed on her bottom lip. “In college, and after, a couple times, first time Neal and I both skipped the holiday festivities together, I was maybe 18, and we were set on having a real family Christmas experience not the catered events and stilted pleasantries with our parents’ colleagues. We of course barely could cook anything so the whole meal was a mess and we ended up ordering pizza and trading gifts in our bare shoebox of an apartment.”

“That sounds nice…”

Regina had this whimsical smile on her face as she turned to look at Emma, “itt was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

“Reminds me of my first Christmas with Ingrid, she was dead set on making it special and magical and just,” Emma chuckled. “She worked her ass off in the kitchen all day, wouldn’t let me help for a good chunk of it cause she wanted me to like enjoy it, eventually she let me help make the stuffing and stuff…it was a mess and the kitchen looked like a tornado tore through it but…it was kinda the first time I understood what it was like to have a family, or at least a mom.”

“She sounds lovely.”

“She’s the best…” Emma sighed and they fell silent, Emma watching as Regina got back to her solitaire game, the both of them just enjoying each other’s company for a bit longer.

“Never have I ever owned a pet.”

“7 of diamonds.”

“Play your own game!” Regina yelled but she was betrayed by her own laughter sneaking through and still she moved the card.

“What kinda pet would you want?”

Regina shrugged, dealing out a new card. “I always wanted my own horse, I took riding lessons for a bit growing up, but I never got my own horse.”

“A horse?” Emma laughed and Regina looked at her and Emma seemed to soften slightly.

“That or a cat, haven’t decided.”

“Cats are cool…so are dogs, I’ve always wanted one, we could go running together and stare at the mail person when they come.”

“You’re such an idiot.”

“Never have I ever been in a serious relationship with a woman.”

Regina turned to fully face Emma, an eyebrow raising in question. “Is this you trying to get more information on my love life?”

“Maybe, you know about mine.”

“I know about Neal.”

“Yes, so tit for tat.”

“I’d rather show you my tat.”

Regina took too much pleasure in the way Emma’s jaw dropped open, an almost evil cackle leaving her mouth as she focused back on her game, Emma stunned into silence for a gloriously long time…but of course all good things must come to an end and this was Emma Swan, so she must shatter them epically.

“You have a tattoo?!”

“Ouch, volume, Miss Swan, I am right next to you.”

“A tattoo!? Where?!”

“Well, I don’t know you well enough for that.”

Emma let out an annoyed whine and flopped back onto her bed, grumbling under her breath as her hand pressed into her eyes and Regina really was enjoying this way too much.

 


 

Regina was staring up at the ceiling hours later, the city lights streaming in through the drawn curtains as they both tried to sleep, and she could still feel Emma’s curiosity, wanting to know something, anything about her and it was keeping them both awake.

“I was 19.” She said, finally relenting, her hands running along the folded down edge of her covers.

“What?” Emma’s voice was just as quiet but she knew instantly that Emma was watching her, trying her best to see in the dark.

“When I started dating Mal, I was 19 and she was…older…significantly older.”

She heard Emma shifting on her bed, sure she had turned on her side to watch her. “Oh?”

“She was probably around your age at the time…maybe a little younger.”

“That is…”

“Older.” Regina chuckled and turned her head to look at Emma and caught her eyes in the night and she had to look away again because she was scared she’d lose her nerve. “She was amazing, she was really into art and the theatre, she was a phenomenal actress, I was just…in awe of her.”

“So she’s in the business too?”

Regina hummed, “she is, we’re still close now as you’re aware.”

“How long were you together?”

“Three years, I’d never been in love the way I was with her, she was just all consuming, I hung off her every word, now looking back it was probably closer to puppy love, she knew so much, and was so confident, and so sure in who she was and I was…struggling.”

She felt Emma’s eyes leave her and she looked over to see her laying on her back again, looking at the ceiling and Regina smiled to herself. “I still love her, but not like that, we weren’t right as a couple, there was this power imbalance of sorts, we were in different stages of our lives, but we had fun.”

She laughed to herself at the memories that flooded through her mind. “A lot of fun, she taught me so much about myself, and she still does, I know that no matter what, I will always have her to talk to. She was my everything once upon a time, the mere thought of losing her tore me to bits and it still does but not in the same way, she will always be my first big romance, but she was always so much better as a friend.”

“That sounds nice…”

Regina turned her head to look at Emma again, watching the way the light from outside lit up her face. “It was, at the time.”

“Not looking back?”

“I was a messed up kid, we both made mistakes, but I hurt her in ways I never really understood until I grew and healed. I’d never take back those three years I had with her though, because even though we were messy and our relationship was mainly just passion disguised as love, we helped each other grow. She realized that she was better off living the free life and I, for the most part truly accepted that I was a lesbian.”

Regina held her breath as the room seemed to become painfully quiet, fear tried to crawl its way up her limbs, she was making a decision to trust Emma, she can’t just jump to–

“I think I’m pansexual… or bi, I’m still, figuring it all out, sexuality is confusing as fuck.”

Regina chuckled, turning her head and meeting Emma’s eyes in the dark and something calming set over her, filled the room around them and she felt... safe, it was nice. “Tell me about it.”

“When did you know?”

Regina sighed, looking back up at the roof as the memories tried to crawl their way forward, but she refused to let those taint this moment, so she smoothed out her covers again as she said. “That, my dear, is a story for another day.”

“Okay…and Regina?”

“Hmm?”

“Thank you, for sharing, you didn’t have to.”

“I know.” Regina smiled to herself, letting her eyes fall shut as Emma made herself comfortable on the bed again, listening to Emma’s breathing until she fell asleep, Emma falling asleep not long after her.

 


 

They had been back to filming for a few days now since they got home Sunday night, back to making up for missed time and filling in as many shoots as possible before they were sent for more interviews that weekend ahead of the premiere next week.

They were back to their odd but normal routine of fetching coffee for each other or lunch, or sitting in their trailers and running lines, it was nice but Regina found herself almost missing what it was like on their press tour, and she was oddly looking forward to doing it again this weekend, mostly in hopes of kicking Emma’s ass some more in Uno.

It was weird, how comfortable she felt around Emma, how although she teased her relentlessly they never seemed to be tempted to go past talking, maybe they really were getting to a place of friendship past their initial attraction and fuck up. She had never in her life been so happy to have a friend. And yet, she was, and she spent almost every day excited for the chance of seeing Emma and just getting to talk to her.

Today though was not one of those days, or at least not yet, although she wanted to see her, they were scheduled to be working with other people, Emma was across town with Rogers and Jefferson, and Regina was at the studio with Marian. It wasn’t like she didn’t enjoy those days as well, but she did miss the extra strong coffee Emma dropped off for her in the mornings.

Her phone blared and she looked across the couch where her phone sat on top of Roni’s leather jacket, she was tempted not to move but she knew that ringtone and she knew she had to stop avoiding him at some point.

So with a huff Regina moved along the couch until she could reach her phone and slide her finger across the screen as she pulled it to her ear.

“Hey, Neal.”

“I’ve been trying to get you all week!”

“I know,” Regina sighed and because nobody was around to see, she laid her body along the couch, her hand splayed across her belly and one leg hanging off the side, the heel of her boot tapping against the floor. “I’ve been busy, they have me doing almost double the work since Emma and I are missing so much to go out on promotion.”

“Yeah, I saw your interviews, I knew you two would be great friends.”

Regina felt an ache in her chest as she remembered the day he’d invited her to NASCAR not only to vet his girlfriend but to maybe make a new friend, he was always just so sweet. “I don’t have much time so can you make it quick?”

Neal laughed, “ah yes, always the busy bee. I just wanted to check in with my favourite sister.”

“You don’t have any sisters.”

“That I know of, who knows what happened when my mother ran off when I was 5.”

“Touché. You might also have an annoying British sister that moves in with you and never leaves.”

“She told me she has her eye on a nice condo if that makes you feel better.”

“Christmas and my birthday have come early this year!” Neal laughed and Regina’s hand moved wildly as she spoke. “You don’t understand, if I have to go one more day hearing her re-enactment of Wicked I might actually kill her.”

“At least she can carry a tune.”

“Carry being the operative word. I can never escape it.”

Neal laughed again and Regina had never found a sound to be so comforting before. “You excited for your big premiere party?”

“You spend too much time talking to my sister for my liking.”

“She talks to Mal, Mal talks to me, I talk to Zelena, and then, here I am, calling you because you also failed to mention that big event.”

“Every show has a premiere party.” Regina replied just as she heard a knock on her trailer door, sitting up as the PA’s voice travelled through the door. “Coming! Look Neal they’re calling me back to set so I have to go, I’ll text you later and we can gush over what I’m wearing and what not.”

“I’m holding you to that, Slugger.”

“I swear…” Regina started, rolling her eyes as she stood from the couch and grabbed her jacket from it. “I’ll talk to you later, Neal.”

“I love you.”

Regina rolled her eyes, practically able to see Neal’s waiting smile. “I love you too, bobo.”

Neal’s laugh met her ears again and she hung up the phone and tossed it back onto the couch before she left the trailer and silently made her way to the soundstage where the lab was located.

 


 

Regina sat on top of the counter in the lab, Marian in front of her, waiting for them to reset to redo the take, the heels of Regina’s boots knocking against the metal base, her hands gripped the edge of the counter as silence surrounded them.

“Wanna go grab a coffee while they reset?”

Regina shrugged, hopping off the counter and leading the way toward the little craft services table not far off. “This is exciting, our first big scene together.”

Regina turned to look at her, smile slowly creeping up her face. “We’ve had plenty of scenes together, Marian.”

“Yes, but not alone, the start of a beautiful friendship,” Marian gushed as she hooked her arm with Regina’s and she chuckled as she looked up at her.

“Okay, what is with you today?”

“I’m excited, our show is premiering next week, how are you not?”

Regina shook her head, stepping up to the coffee dispenser and grabbing one of the large cups. “I am, I’m just also working double for shoots to make up for the time lost while promoting.”

“Okay, that’s fair.” Marian grabbed a bagel from the table, turning her body to look at Regina while she focused on the coffee slowly filling her cup. “Or you’re just too scared to let yourself be excited because you’re always waiting for the next shoe to drop.”

Regina arched a brow, glancing at the smiling woman who looked like she knew everything. “Should we find a couch for me to lay on while you grab your notepad?”

Marian slapped her arm and Regina smirked slightly, her hair flipping as she turned to face Marian, “come on, why won’t you just, let yourself be excited about things?”

“Why build myself up to be let down? Can you pass me a lid?”

“Who hurt you?”

Regina barked out a laugh, snatching the lid from Marian’s hands as she said, “now that is a story way beyond your qualifications, Doctor.”

She turned to walk away but stopped when she heard Marian call after her. “Regina, come on, I’m serious. You’re playing a badass Latina woman and the lead on a big network television series, this is huge for people like us.”

Regina sighed, staring down at the white lid of her cup before she turned around, “you’re right, it’s incredible, the moment I got the script I was over the moon but I just hoped…”

“Hoped?”

“That it’d get better.”

“The show?”

“No,” Regina shook her head, her hand slipping to press against her belly as she said. “Her representation. She’s Latina, but not really, she has the name, the image, and I’m doing my best to bring as much of that out in her, but there’s only so much I can do when it’s not in the script. You ignore her name she reads as white, it’ll be so easy for people to just ignore that part of her. What kind of representation is that?”

“Oh…” Marian frowned and took a step forward, her hand reaching out to Regina’s bicep and squeezing. “I get that, I feel that with Joy too, I’d love for her to be more accurate but…I don’t know.”

“You were excited for your son to one day see people like him on TV.”

“This is a step in the right direction, it can only get better from here.”

“Yes, but how can we hope for better when the writers’ rooms are all filled with straight white men?”

“I guess we have to change that.” A voice came from their left and they both turned to see Mary Margaret standing a couple feet away, her headset around her neck and suddenly they both remembered they were still wearing their mics.

“Mrs. Blanchard, we are so sorry.”

She waved her off, stepping closer, “no, I needed to hear it, and I want you to know you can always come to me for these things, so I can make it better. I want to learn, to give my characters the best representation I can.”

“What are you saying?” Regina asked, the scepticism in her voice clear as day.

“I am saying that after you ladies are done filming, we should discuss more ways I can make sure your characters are properly portrayed, I will start looking for more diverse writers right away as well, I would like to be the change.”

“Thank you, Mary Margaret.” Marian said with a wide smile but Regina was still stuck somewhere in disbelief as she just gaped at her boss.

“You’re serious?”

“Why would I lie about this?”

Regina couldn’t keep down her disbelieving laugh, her hand covering her mouth as Mary Margaret just looked at her in confusion. “You really have no idea what it’s like out there do you?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Regina…”

Regina reached out, placing a hand on Marian’s arm to calm her worries. “I mean nothing bad about it, you’re sheltered, but, if you are willing to listen I will be happy to work with you to make Roni, and the others the best they can be.”

“Me too, and I’m sure Tamara would be happy to join in the conversation.”

“I’m going to go call the network and tell them I would like some resumes for diverse writers.” Regina opened her mouth to say something but Mary Margaret was already rushing off, a blur of pastel before she was swallowed by the crew members mingling around.

“Well that was…unexpected.”

Regina let out a breath, squeezing Marian’s forearm before she started back toward the set, trying not to think too hard about the “straight white men” comment that echoed in her mind, like specifying the straight part was a giant beacon over her head flashing ‘lesbian’ in bright lights.

 


 

Regina was sitting at the far end of the couch in her trailer, lips pursed in thought as she drew on the sketchpad she kept close by if she needed to get her mind off of things, completely pulled into her drawing of a woman’s body, if anyone ever questioned why she could draw the female form from memory well, she’d just claim it was her own rigorous art training.

The truth was she just found women’s bodies to be stunning, unique, the soft curves of them. It wasn’t even because she was attracted to women, she just found them objectively …okay maybe it was because she was attracted to them, but how could she not be? They were remarkable, goddesses on earth, really.

“Paint me like one of your French girls.” She startled at Emma’s voice, clutching her sketchpad to her chest as she looked up to see Emma drape herself over the rest of the couch.

“What is wrong with you?!” She hissed, tearing the page from her sketchpad to throw it at Emma’s head while the other woman just laughed hysterically at her own joke. “You scared me!”

“Sorry, I thought you heard me come in.” Emma said through giggles, straightening herself up on the couch and pulling her legs up onto the couch and crossing them.

“Did I look up?”

“No, but sometimes you don’t.”

Regina rolled her eyes and gave Emma her undivided attention. “What would you like, Miss Swan?”

“Just to talk, run lines maybe? Really sucked yesterday, that I didn’t get to work with you.”

“Well, you are today, and we’ve practised this scene a million times so you’ll be fine.” Regina dismissed, looking at the blank page of her sketchpad and she raised her pencil, drawing a few basic shapes to start drawing again.

“You nervous about this weekend? Or the premiere party? Cause I gotta admit I am freaking out.”

“Haven’t you done dozens of these?”

“This one feels different!”

Regina’s eyes glanced up at Emma and she offered her a soothing smile. “It will be fine, Emma, I’ll be right there next to you the whole time.”

“Good…can I just, hang out in here with you until it’s time to go to set?”

“Sure,” Regina said, unable to say no to that damn puppy dog face.

“You’re the best!” Emma blurted and Regina smiled as she went back to sketching, not noticing she was drawing Emma until she recognized her features on the page, and she froze, looking back up at her to see the way she was scrolling through her phone and she just needed more practice with portraits, that was a solid excuse, it wasn’t like most of what she was drawing was from her own mind.

 


 

October 5th, 2016

 

Regina was just putting on the finishing touches of her outfit when the doorbell rang, a dramatic sigh leaving her mouth as she called out, “Zelena can you get the door?!”

She waited nearly 30 seconds before she remembered Zelena wasn’t there, she was in her brand new condo downtown. She never thought she’d miss her sister living with her.

“Fuck,” She said to herself as she moved through the house as the doorbell rang again, having no idea who it was since she hadn’t even called for a car yet she moved as quickly as she could, the wooden floorboards cold under her bare feet before she picked up her pace, the balls of her feet the only thing touching the floor.

“Who is it?!”

“You’re supposed to say who’s there!”

She froze at the voice, sure she was hallucinating as she pulled open the door slowly, her mouth falling open as she really saw them on the other side of the door.

“Hey, Slugger, miss me?”

“Neal!” She screeched and jumped across the threshold into his arms that quickly wrapped around her, a laugh bubbling out of him as he hugged her tight.

“That’s more like it.”

He lowered her back to the ground, and Regina pulled away, slapping his arm, “What are you doing here?”

“You really think I’d miss your premiere party?” He said through his laughter, both his hands moving to her shoulders to urge her into the house and out of the fall chill.

Regina rolled her eyes, spinning in his grasp to glare up at him and he just wouldn’t stop looking at her with that annoying loving stare. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming when you called last week?”

“Zelena wanted it to be a surprise.”

Regina’s lips pursed in annoyance as she muttered, “which explains her sudden vacancy.”

“She’s moved out already?”

“Yeah, Rogers and Emma helped her move. I can’t believe you kept this from me.” She finished, slapping his arm again.

“Would you stop that?”

“No, you know I hate surprises.”

“Oh yeah, your smile really screams angry.”

Regina pouted and Neal laughed and she couldn’t help but step forward again, wrapping her arms around his waist and tucking her head under his chin. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too, Slugger.” Regina let out an annoyed huff but held on tighter as he pressed a kiss to the crown of her head and wrapped his arms tightly around her small frame.

“I’m sorry about not calling as much…”

“Hey,” Neal pulled away, both his hands on Regina’s shoulders to keep her at arm’s length, her eyes slowly moving to look up at him, the slightest pout on her lips and eyes filled with sadness and regret. “You’ve been busy, I understand, nothing to apologize for.”

Regina nodded and took a step back, straightening her posture and sticking out her chin in defiance. “You sit put I have to finish getting ready.”

“Yes, ma’am.” 

Regina gave him a small smile and turned on her heel, walking back down the hall but stopped after a few feet and turned to look at him. “I’m really happy you’re here.”

“Always.”

Regina smiled slightly and finally disappeared down the hall and up to her bedroom, just focusing on how great it was to have someone there for her. To have family, well family that wasn’t also a part of the show, she’d have to thank Zelena for inviting him later.

Her smile dropped though as she turned into her room to see the sweater she’d been wearing that morning thrown across her bed, a curse quietly escaping her mouth as she ran across her room and threw it in her closet, eyes widely as she met them in her reflection.

Emma.

Neal and Emma, in the same room.

She was going to kill Zelena.

 


 

Emma walked into the party, her jaw dropping open at the beautifully decorated place, a few posters and cut outs of her and Regina off to the side and waiters walking around with hors d’oeuvres on some trays and glasses of champagne on the others, the cast already mostly there and mingling about.

“Duckling, you’re blocking the door.”

Emma groaned, dropping her head before she turned to see Zelena and Ingird standing behind her. “Of all the places…”

Zelena cackled, draping her arm over Emma’s shoulder as she looked around them, “wow, bosses got some nice digs.”

“Shouldn’t you be bugging your sister or something?”

Zelena cackled, “you’re mighty grumpy for this being your big night.”

“You knocked on my door at 6am for sugar then stayed for tea with my mother.”

“Is that not what neighbours do?”

“Not at 6am on the first day their colleague had to sleep in in like a month!”

“Emma Swan, I thought I taught you better manners than this?”

Emma huffed, pouting at her mother then glaring at Zelena. “I’m going to go get a drink…a strong drink.”

Emma slipped through the crowd, smiling politely at people when they waved to her, but she’d seen a bar and she needed whiskey and she needed it now.

Emma pushed past the last few bodies blocking her, hands gripping the counter as she stated, “whiskey, neat. Please.”

“Hard day already?”

She heard the voice to her left and turned to look, something screaming that she knew who that voice belonged to but she was really hoping she was wrong but nope, her ears were not playing tricks on her. “Neal.”

“Hey, Em, how you been?”

Emma straightened up, looking around her in search of anyone, mainly Regina, to save her maybe. “I’m good, you?”

“Good,” he nodded, looking around him, his smile gentle as he met her eyes again. “You got something really good here.”

“I know.” Emma folded her arms around her waist, not noticing the whiskey being placed on the bar, her eyes focused intently on Neal.

“You look good, happy.”

“You too.” Emma looked around her, again, catching Regina in the crowd she grabbed her whiskey from the bar and took a step back. “I gotta go, erm, mingle.”

“Of course. See you around.”

“See you. And erm, thanks for coming?”

He waved and Emma spun on her heel, eyes only focused on Regina, knowing her anywhere she wasn’t even worried about getting the wrong person as she slipped her hand in her elbow and whispered in her ear. “You didn’t think to warn me?!”

Regina spun around, eyes wide as she met Emma’s. “Emma!”

“Neal!”

“Emma, I can explain.”

“You didn’t think to warn me my ex-boyfriend would be here? I thought we talked about these things?”

“Emma…” Emma took in that smooth voice and those eyes that were like a warning bell in her mind. “Breathe.”

Emma took in a steadying breath, feeling Regina’s hands squeezing her shoulders as she spun fully around so she was now in front of her.

“Okay, good, Zelena invited him as a surprise and I was just coming to talk to you but I bumped into someone and I lost track of you.”

“Someon–” Emma started looking over Regina’s shoulder as she shifted away a bit to see her mother standing behind Regina looking at her with that look and fuck if Emma wasn’t going to hear the end of this later. “Mom!”

“Emma…” Ingrid said as Regina turned so she was next to Emma, her hand slipping down to her elbow to keep her steady and Emma shouldn’t be so comforted by the gesture.

“You know, Regina,” Emma smiled awkwardly, gesturing to Regina who looked at Emma with a raised brow.

“Yes, I do.”

Emma wasn’t surprised when Regina’s hand fell to her stomach, her expression almost unsure as she looked across them at her mother who was staring her down, because even Emma was uncomfortable from it. “Would you just excuse us for a second?”

“You want me to leave?”

Emma winced, “if you wouldn’t mind just like going to mingle, you love these things.”

Ingrid levelled her with a warning glare then one to Regina before she stormed off, leaving them alone and Emma let out a long sigh. “I am so sorry about her, she is–”

“Why is she looking at me like that?”

Emma turned, finding Ingrid still watching them across the room and she grabbed Regina’s elbow, tugging her through the crowd until they were behind the life-sized cut outs of themselves. “She’s protective.”

“What did I do to–” Emma winced and Regina’s mouth dropped open, before she took a step into Emma’s personal space, Emma looked up as she towered over her in her way too high heels. “You told her?!”

“She’s my mother!”

“Oh my god, who else did you tell?!”

“Nobody! I promise!”

“Oh god and Neal is here!”

“It’ll be fine!” Emma gripped her arms and Regina’s eyes zeroed in on hers again.

“I suppose this was bound to happen eventually.”

Emma let out a nervous chuckle and she stepped back, her hand combing nervously through her hair. “Yeah, I’d have liked a little warning though.”

“I’m sorry, I had no idea he would be here.”

Emma reached out, taking Regina’s fingers in her hand and shaking them slowly in comfort. “I know, and I should have told you about my mom, knowing…I just, didn’t think she’d be so…” Emma looked around the cut out of Blackwell to see her mother still watching them. “This.”

Regina let out a chuckle, looking around her own cut out and waving at Ingrid charmingly before straightening back up when she saw the woman look shocked then that glare was back on her face. “It’s sweet that she cares, but could you tell her to tone it down?”

“Yeah, I definitely will, I would have told her to behave earlier but your sister–”

“Oh gods that’s right, how is that going?”

“I’m going to murder her.”

Regina chuckled, “if you do, just call and I’ll help you dispose of her body.” Regina said seriously, squeezing Emma’s hand before she pulled hers away. “We should get back out there, though, this may seem suspicious.”

“Right…” Emma felt a blush colouring her cheeks and she looked at Regina from over her eyelashes, “you uh, look beautiful tonight by the way.”

“So do you, Miss Swan, suits really do suit you.”

Emma chuckled, shaking her head at Regina’s pun. “You’re the worst.”

Regina smirked and stepped away, “enjoy the party, Miss Swan.”

“You too.”

Emma stayed rooted behind her cut out for longer than was probably normal, just trying to work up the courage to get back out there meanwhile Regina seemed perfectly unbothered as she talked casually with Marian and Zelena.

How she did it was beyond Emma.

 


 

Time flew by in a flash and the next thing Regina knew she was sitting at the end of a large couch in the screening room, Emma pressed against her side as four other people tried to all fit, others on chairs or the floor as the screen lit up with the disclaimer before it started, their phones at the ready to begin live tweeting but all she could think about was Emma next to her and Neal across the room.

“Gotta admit I’m kinda nervous.” Emma whispered into her ear as the show began to play and Regina nodded in agreement.

“What’s the worst that could happen? They hate it and we’re ripped off the air before the completion of the season?”

“I wasn’t even thinking about that!” Emma hissed and Regina let her hand fall to Emma’s knee without thinking and giving it a squeeze. “Thanks, I’m fine…squeezed, but fine.”

“You’re not the one with the arm of the couch stabbing into your ribs.”

“True. Sorry.”

Regina shrugged and they both winced but said nothing, eyes focused on the screen once more as Blackwell was talking with Director Moore about the case.

Long minutes passed before Emma squirmed uncomfortably and finally popped her arm free from between them and draped it over the back of the couch to give them both more room, her thumb tapping anxiously against Regina’s shoulder as they sat there and watched, the action only stopping when Roni came on screen for the first time and Regina found herself turning slightly to watch Emma whose eyes were locked on the screen but her right thumb was moving across the screen as she wrote a tweet.

As soon as that scene ended Emma’s thumb was tapping away again and Regina shouldn’t find it comforting and she should be upset about Emma doing such a thing, but she did, and she wasn’t, in fact she found that Emma’s tapping grounded her in the moment. Her eyes were focused on the screen, but sometimes they did drift over to Neal, whose eyes remained locked on the screen, and she felt safe to allow herself this comfort.

It was risky but, they were friends, this was what friends did, right?

Regina looked down at her phone, looking at the notifications from twitter before she looked back up at the screen just in time to see herself there, her breath catching as she watched their first stunt, Emma’s thumb stopping as she watched as well, transfixed in the moment and they watched as the flip happened and they both winced on cue as they remembered the day of the filming, Emma even going as far as to squirm slightly.

Regina smirked, nudging Emma with her elbow which in return had Emma tugging on her hair, getting a threatening glare in response before her grin turned to something mischievous and Emma was smart enough to fear the results as Regina’s fingers typed out a tweet of her own.

“That limp was all real, folks. #perez1blackwell0 #pebblesareverydangerous”

“I hate you,” Emma whispered into her ear and Regina cackled, eyes moving back to the screen, but suddenly she felt eyes on her and she looked toward Neal who was now looking in their direction, and Regina straightened up on the couch, Emma’s thumb pressed just under her shoulder, knowing the moment Emma noticed Neal watching too, because she went stiff against her side.

It didn’t take them long to forget about everything again though, which maybe was a problem, but once Neal’s eyes fell away and the show captivated their attention, Regina relaxed back into the couch, crossing her left leg over her right, the back of her leg against Emma’s shin. But they didn’t notice or care, they were just enthralled by the dynamic on screen and trying to tweet as much as possible.

“This is my favourite scene.” Emma whispered in her ear and Regina’s eyes moved up from her phone just in time to see them nearly nose to nose on a random street downtown, her eyes wild and Emma’s jaw tense.

A gasp rumbled out of their chests at the same time as they watched Blackwell’s eyes move slowly down her body after Roni had stormed off, a slight pinking to Emma’s cheeks as she tore her eyes away from the screen, focusing on her phone until they were off screen, luckily it cut to commercial after that, but Regina knew that they’d be back on screen in no time.

“We’re trending!” Mary Margaret yelled and they both leaned forward in sync to look at the woman tucked into David’s side on the other end of the couch, looking around Zelena and Marian to do so.

“Awesome,” Emma drawled, leaning back against the couch as she scrolled through the hashtag, “they love us.”

Regina looked at Emma, eyes wide in shock as Emma held up her phone for her to see.

“Roni and Blackwell are hot?”

“Damn right,” Emma giggled, bumping Regina with her knee before her eyes moved back to the large screen.

Regina watched her silently, lips pursed and brows furrowed in confusion before she leaned back scrolling through the hashtag as well, until the show came back from commercial and there she and Emma were in that bank, bickering and…oh god were they flirting?!

“Roni is such a firecracker,” Emma gushed, and Regina looked over at her, that excited dopey grin on her face and Regina couldn’t help but smile in response.

“Blackwell could be worse.”

Emma’s hand splayed across her shoulder and she squeezed her against her side in excitement for a second before she moved her hand back to the top of the couch, her thumb once again back to tapping away on her shoulder as the scene shifted to Rogers and Jefferson’s characters.

Regina was unsure when her hand had ended up on Emma’s leg but it was probably around the capturing of the bad guy and it didn’t move until long after the credits rolled, just fully entranced by the way their characters interacted on screen, and Emma’s thumb stopped tapping and just started mindlessly brushing against her shoulder, the two of them in a state of shock after witnessing Emma checking her out for the whole world to see.

Neal included.

The pause after the episode ended felt like forever but eventually everyone started clapping and cheering and they joined in, Regina sure there was a faint sheen of sweat on her skin as she realized that 9 months ago they had had absolutely no control over whatever was going on between them.

“Wow…” Emma whispered and Regina let out a nervous laugh, linking her hands together in her lap so she didn’t reach out for Emma again.

They were, really not subtle at all were they? Maybe if they were lucky nobody would notice…at least Regina hoped so, but well, hoping had never turned out well for her.

Chapter Text

 

  November 2nd, 2016

 

It had been about a month since the pilot aired and with each week they’ve noticed more and more people gathering around set to watch them film, they were back in the little area of Steveston to film outside their HQ, huddled as close as possible in the chilly November air as a rather large group of set watchers stood not far away.

It’s not like this was the first time for Regina, but it was still odd to have an audience watching them do take after take. Emma seemed to love it, she almost always wandered over there to talk with the little group of fans and some days she even went as far as to drag Regina over as well. But their presence made Regina apprehensive. It wasn’t long after the pilot aired that they started seeing things online, about their characters, talking about the interviews they’ve done, the chemistry, it should be a compliment to their talent as actors but all it did was make Regina’s heart beat anxiously in her chest. Emma hadn’t a care in the world but she humoured Regina when she was anxious, often sitting in silence as they talked about those scenes.

They were in between takes now, and Emma was chattering about the weird competition with the rest of the cast that had started sometime last month when Jefferson posted a picture he’d taken when they were filming the pilot of Rogers out like a light on their way to Hope. Regina was half listening half watching the fans, she wasn’t impressed by their game so she just watched as her coworkers acted like a bunch of children.

“I think if I switch the coffee to decaf I can really win this.”

Regina snapped her head toward Emma, finally registering all she was saying, drawing her attention from the mingling crowd back to Emma in her goose down coat and tight bun.

“Touch the coffee and I’ll skin you alive.”

“Don’t worry, I’d still bring you your 8 shot espresso.”

Regina took a step closer, eyes dangerous as she growled. “Touch. The. Coffee. And. I’ll. Skin. You. Alive.”

Emma raised her hands in surrender, stepping back in hopes to escape Regina’s wrath. “Okay, I hear you loud and clear, I will not touch the coffee.”

“Thank you,” Regina turned away, her arms tugging her leather jacket tighter around her middle to keep out the chill, wishing they’d at least put her in something warmer than cotton t’s and leather already.

“You’re shivering.”

“I’m fine.”

“C’mere,” Emma giggled, stepping up and opening her large coat in an invitation for Regina to borrow her heat.

“People are watching.”

“Friends share heat all the time, Regina, c’mon, you know ya wanna,” Emma wiggled as she stepped closer and Regina rolled her eyes, sticking her hand out to stop Emma but Emma just took it in both of hers and held it against her body. “Your fingers are like little icicles. Where is your super-duper warm jacket?”

“A little cold never hurt anyone.”

“Actually it did, or did you forget about hypothermia and frostbite? I’d hate for you to lose your fingers and toes,” Emma said as she moved closer and Regina turned to face her seeing Emma’s stupid lopsided grin on her face as she said, “or your cute little nose.” Finishing by booping Regina on the nose and it scrunched up in response and Emma just kept grinning.

“You need to relax, talk to your fans, let them see you, maybe they’ll be less daunting then.”

Regina pouted and Emma’s smile got painfully dopey. “You know I’m not good with people, I say the wrong thing, I’m abrasive, guarded, if I don’t have my 6 coffees–”

“Oh it’s 6 now is it?” Regina rolled her eyes, looking down as Emma took her other hand to press against her belly as well, Regina’s fingers twitching against the smooth fabric of her button up, feeling the plastic of the buttons against her palm. “Let them see you and they’ll love you, just like I do.”

Regina’s eyes jumped up to look at Emma, head tilted and brows furrowed in confusion while Emma’s cheeks got rosier and not from the chilly air.

“Maybe you’re kinda becoming my best friend but that’s super gross and cheesy and I know how you hate all that gooshy affectionate stuff so ignore what I said and just pretend I called you a raging bitch, okay?”

Regina chuckled, pressing her fingers against Emma’s abdomen and Emma’s eyes softened as they met hers, unsure and vulnerable and Regina couldn’t help but smile. “I think you’re a massive idiot.”

“I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

Regina rolled her eyes and moved to step away, the warmth coming off Emma was almost too much to handle but Emma held onto her wrist to keep her close and Regina’s hand wrapped around hers, watching Emma’s thumb brush against the back of her hand soothingly.

“I’ll try, okay?”

“Okay.”

Regina gave Emma a shy smile as she nodded, her head tipped down as she took another step back and this time Emma let her hand fall away, back to being a couple feet away from each other. Regina felt Emma watching her until the director yelled that they were ready to start and they moved onto their marks, then she cast a glance toward the group of fans and raised her hand in a timid wave that had them all quietly freaking out, Emma’s laughter surrounding them and making Regina smile again as she turned to face her.

Then her jacket was gone and her hands were folded behind her back as she got into character, and Regina felt the second Roni took her over completely.

 


 

Regina was sitting on the set of their office, her booted foot lifted to press against the edge of the desk as she lazily scrolled through her phone. She was off camera while Ruby and Tamara filmed a scene at the other end, she had a scene with Emma there next and there wasn’t much complaint about actually seeing other characters in the background so she was allowed to hang out at Roni’s desk as long as she stayed quiet and that was something at least she was able to do.

Emma on the other hand… she looked up as she heard her approaching, a wince of apology to a crew member when she tripped over something.

“Sushi,” Emma whispered in her ear as she held out the plastic container. “And rootbeer.”

Regina offered her a smile and straightened up, hunched over her desk as she carefully opened the container of food, Emma pulled her chair up from her own desk to do the same, casting a glance to their colleagues on the other side of the soundstage.

Regina placed her phone on the table and slid it across for Emma to look at and she watched as her eyes scanned over her screen all while shoving a piece of sushi in her mouth, nodding along to what she was reading there.

Seems in the last few weeks the fandom had finally agreed upon a ship name, if the hashtag she kept seeing in her mentions had anything to do with it, a new episode had aired the day before and there were all kinds of theories and posts about it; they hadn’t seen this much chaos since the sparing scene in episode 3, apparently Roni and Blackwell’s chemistry was just to die for.

Emma’s eyes went wide as she got to the end and looked up at Regina before snatching her phone off the desk and scrolling through the tag like she’d gotten accustomed to doing.

Regina lightly slapped her arm, holding out her hand for Emma to return her phone but Emma just leaned away from her, now typing on it and Regina lunged for it, one of Emma’s hands pressed against her chest and the other held the phone up and away and Regina was very curious as to what that weird red and white site she was scrolling through was.

Blackwell …give it.” Regina growled in a low tone and Emma’s eyes seemed to sparkle in excitement, a gasp leaving her mouth as Emma grabbed the arm of her chair and tugged her closer, the phone now in front of them, her eyes just skimming over the words on the screen before a throat was cleared and they looked up to see Ruby and Tamara watching them expectantly.

“Yes?”

“If you two are done bickering we…”

“Sorry.”

“It’s not my fault she acts like a child.”

Ruby shook her head, while Tamara laughed, walking back to her mark as she mumbled. “I hope that makes it into the episode.”

Regina slapped Emma’s arm while she was busy looking apologetically at their colleagues, “Ow!”

Regina stuck out her tongue at her and Emma pouted as she rubbed her arm, Regina rolling her chair back to focus on her lunch and Emma soon joined, eating her own sushi while flipping through the papers Regina kept on her desk to make it look more authentic.

They could be great extras. At least when Emma wasn’t acting like a child.

 


 

Emma was sitting in her trailer as she waited to be called onto set for her shoot, stretched out across her couch and playing a game on her phone when the door flew open and in stormed Regina, all done up for her next scene in a new outfit, tossing her leather jacket on Emma’s table as she dropped onto the couch, narrowly missing Emma’s feet.

“Everything okay?”

“Jefferson.”

“Ah,” Emma sat up, her right leg falling off the couch to give herself enough room as she leaned forward, watching Regina carefully. “Anything you wanna talk about or is this one of those no reason needed killing offers?”

“He found out…”

Emma felt something drop in the pit of her stomach, all the horrible things that he might have found out hitting her one after the other. “Wha– do I need to threaten him?”

Regina waved her off as she leaned back against the couch. “He made a few comments in the makeup trailer, apparently a fan he was talking to mentioned they shipped PrivateSergeant and he asked who that was and…well, he made a few crude jokes about the ship, that’s all.”

Emma leaned forward, reaching her arm out so she could place her hand on Regina’s forearm and Regina’s eyes met hers instantly. “Need me to talk to him?”

“No, he’s not worth it.”

“You okay?”

Regina nodded, covering Emma’s hand with her own as she went back to staring at the ceiling of her trailer. “Can I just... sit here with you for a while? I just want a few moments where I can be myself.”

“Always.” Regina’s fingers curled under Emma’s hand and tugged it until they were over her stomach; Emma shifted closer and watched Regina closely, there was a hurt on her face Emma had never seen before, a pain that made Emma want to go out there and punch Jefferson in the face for whatever comments he might have made, but also maybe everyone else in Regina’s life who’d ever felt comfortable enough to be homophobic around her, thinking she was a safe person to express those things to.

Emma ran her thumb over Regina’s knuckles, watching her while Regina’s eyes traced over her trailer, mainly looking across from them at the vanity that held some cards, pictures, random things Emma had put there from fans and... Regina.

“Is that my card?”

“It is.”

Regina sat up, releasing Emma’s hand as she pushed up off the couch to approach Emma’s mirror. “Why is it here?”

“It makes me happy.”

Emma watched Regina’s reflection, seeing the smile on her face as she closely examined each thing on her vanity. “Ariel?”

Emma hummed in response as Regina turned to her, holding up the little figure before she put it back down, eyes skimming over the fan art Emma had received a few days ago, a manip of their characters hugging, and Emma watched Regina stare at it for a few long seconds before her eyes moved to something else.

“Do you get anything?”

“Hmm?”

“Fanart? Do they send you things too?”

“Sometimes, you know they tag me in a lot of it.”

“Me too. It’s pretty cool.”

Regina hummed, as her eyes locked on the one thing Emma had hoped she wouldn’t notice, it was nearly hidden from view but take Regina Mills to zero in on the crinkled piece of paper tucked into the bottom corner of her mirror.

“Is this my drawing? That I threw at you?”

Emma shrugged, meeting Regina’s eyes in the reflection. “I liked it, you’re really good.”

“You put my–”

“Yes,” Emma giggled, “I put a picture you drew of a naked woman on my mirror cause I like it.”

Regina bit the inside of her bottom lip as her eyes fell back to the rough pencil sketch. “It isn’t even done yet.”

“Draw me another one and I’ll put that up too.”

Regina turned to look at her, mouth opening to respond but there was a knock on Emma’s trailer door, Nova’s voice carrying through the door as she called. “You’re both expected onset in 5 minutes!”

Regina’s jaw tensed and Emma knew their time was gone, those minutes Regina had requested passed, her walls immediately up as Roni started settling back into place.

“I’ll see you out there, Swan.” She husked, grabbing the black leather jacket from the arm of the couch as she rushed out the door and Emma moved quickly after her, hoping to just hold onto something.

It wasn’t until their next scene that Emma’s mind cleared enough to notice Regina had grabbed the jacket Emma had wore to work that day instead of Roni’s usual jacket that still sat on the table in her trailer; and Emma really didn’t have the heart to tell her, to ruin hours of work and maybe even risk a reshoot, so she kept quiet, but at the back of her mind she wondered if Regina had even noticed.

 


 

Regina noticed, she noticed the second she slipped it on that she had the wrong jacket, but there was something comforting about it that she needed that day. That she’d been craving.

She was ashamed to admit she missed Zelena living with her these days, missed her constant noise to keep her mind from wandering off. Sure, she was now able to walk around her home in nothing but Emma’s sweater she had stolen four years ago, or that shirt from Emma’s last show Mal had jokingly gifted her, because dammit if it wasn’t comfortable. But she missed the company.

Granted, she was alone but not lonely; Mal called her often, checking in to see how she was doing now that she didn’t have Zelena as her spy; Neal as well, just making sure she wasn’t going insane in the large house hidden by trees, all alone with nobody around.

And Emma called to run lines still, and now and then Regina was lucky enough to catch Zelena harassing Emma for sugar or something random, a movie to watch, her wifi password, Regina was almost certain Zelena was doing it solely to annoy Emma, and it made her happy. Happy that she wasn’t the one on her sister’s radar for once.

And so Regina found herself relieved to have the comfort of Emma wrapped around her, or at least her scent, grounding her throughout the day, keeping her from thinking about what Jefferson had said to the fans, or everything else that had been making her anxious lately.

She zipped up the leather jacket, pulling a beanie on and over her ears as she walked past the crew members, Tiny on her tail as she headed toward the group of fans. He was their protector, and he took it very seriously and Regina was kind of grateful for his presence.

Regina wanted to do something nice for them, to compensate for having had to deal with Jefferson that morning, she was hoping everyone from that morning was still there even if it was now evening.

She recognized a few of their smiling faces as she got closer, the set visitors were often the same bunch and she flashed her best smile as she walked up to the barrier, stuffing her hands in the pockets of Emma’s leather jacket and rolling her eyes when she found what had to be single wrapped candies, like she was some kind of grandma.

“Hey, everyone!”

“Hi!” They chorused along the squeals and chattering of some of the others and Regina’s smile softened, looking at so many young faces, even though most weren’t much younger than she and Emma.

“Having fun today? I hope you’re staying warm.” They nodded and Regina turned to look at Tiny hovering behind her, “how would you all like some pictures before I have to get back?”

“Yes!”

“We would love that!”

Regina chuckled, stepping closer to the group to see some of them with photos they also probably wanted signed. “I hope Tiny has a pen on him.”

“I do!” A fan yelled, thrusting out her black sharpie and Regina looked down at it then up at the young girl, a smile so large and nervous on her face it made Regina smile even brighter as she walked toward her and took it.

“Thank you, dear. What is your name?”

“Jewel.”

“Well hello, Jewel, is this your first day on set?”

“Yes, it’s so incredible! I love you and Emma so much, Blackwell and Roni are everything . Their chemistry, the push and pull. It’s so beautiful.”

“They are an unlikely pair aren’t they?” Regina responded as she looked down at the promo photo of her and Emma, they really played up that unlikely partnership in the promos and Regina remembers the day they took those pictures on the office soundstage.

“That’s what makes them so perfect for each other.”

Regina scribbled her name across the bottom, adding a little heart to it before she handed it back and met the girl’s eyes. “Would you like a picture?”

“Yes!”

Regina chuckled and took the phone the girl thrusted out to her, eyes looking at her PrivateSergeant lock screen before she swiped to the left so the camera opened and she switched it to selfie mode as she leaned back toward the girl, took a few pictures and handed the phone back.

“Thank you so much! I love you, and Roni! She is…” The girl let out a deep sigh and Regina was suddenly reminded of how she’d been when she was younger, madly in love with Lucy Lawless and Xena.

“It was great meeting you, dear.”

“Thank you! You too!”

Regina moved along, smiling and talking to a few more fans, enjoying listening to each of their comments about the character and the relationship between Roni and Blackwell when she heard them all start freaking out again, she didn’t need to feel the hand on her back or hear Emma’s voice to know it was her as phones were held up to start snapping even more pictures.

“Someone told me you were holding a meet and greet so I thought I’d stop by.”

“Yes, I had a bit before my next scene so I thought I’d get to know our lovely fans.”

Emma smiled brightly at her before she turned to the group, “she behaving?”

There was a fit of giggles and Regina rolled her eyes, slapping Emma’s shoulder playfully while there was a chorus of responses that just seemed to be praises and Regina bit her cheek, a shy smile on her lips as she moved over to the next person in line.

“You all catch our big scene? Roni’s sooooo annoying.”

There were more giggles and Regina wondered how much Emma loved having a group of adoring fans fawning over her like she was a rockstar.

They moved through the group of fans before meeting back in the middle, Emma’s hand falling to her elbow while Regina talked, her hands moving about in the air as she explained some things to the fans, Regina feeling Emma’s eyes on her the whole time and when she glanced over at her she caught that damn dopey look on her face again.

After they were finished up and Regina promised to send over some people to bring them hot chocolate, they headed back down the street, Emma slipping her hand in the pocket of her leather jacket to pull out one of the pieces of candy she knew she would find there, eyes alight with mischief as she popped it in her mouth. Regina gave her a playful shove and Emma shoved her back before she ran off, bobbing through the crew members while Regina watched her with a roll of her eyes and a fond smile on her lips.

She couldn’t believe that woman was her best friend. It was honestly ridiculous.

 


 

Regina was walking through her house in her fuzzy slippers and Emma’s sweater, the sleeves so long they hung past her fingertips as she headed toward her living room, planning on a quiet night of reading.

She had her glass of wine, her book from her secret collection of sci-fi novels, and a bowl of popcorn all ready for the evening as she curled up on her couch, pulling the throw blanket over her legs and leaned against the pillows as she cracked open her book, popcorn resting on her belly as she read and snacked, sucked into the book completely.

She missed her phone ring and chime at least 5 times before it registered in her mind and she looked at it uncertainly from over her glasses where it sat on her coffee table by her glass of wine, only reaching for it because she saw Emma’s face lighting up her screen.

With a groan she sat up, moving the popcorn to the floor before she pushed up onto her knees and reached for her phone, answering it as she let herself fall back against the cushions again.

“This better be good, Miss Swan.”

“You are not going to believe what I just saw!”

Regina let out a long sigh, switching her phone onto speaker and placing it on her chest while she blindly reached down for her bowl of popcorn. “Better be good.”

“Oh it is so good, check your texts.”

Regina rolled her eyes, picking her phone up off her chest and unlocking it to go to her home screen and open the... “10 text messages, Miss Swan?!”

“I told you, it’s so good!”

“How good can it b–” she stopped as the link Emma sent opened up and she let out a shocked laugh. “Oh, that’s mean.”

“Hey, I didn’t post it!”

“I mean he should have known better than to fall asleep in my sister’s presence.”

Emma chuckled, “I’d say karma is a bitch but I’m almost certain Zelena did this as revenge for the shit he pulled with you the other day.”

Regina hummed, remembering the near brawl that had taken place when Jefferson made another ignorant comment while they were filming a group scene, and it wasn’t Regina who tried to punch him either, no, it was Emma, who was held back by Rogers.

“I should have known he’d be a thumb sucker, seems like he’s trying to make up for something major, I just always assumed it was his tiny penis.”

Emma choked on a laugh and Regina smiled to herself, reaching out for her glass of wine and taking a long sip. “I think we’re going to hell for this.”

“Of all the things I’ve done in life, this is the least hell worthy one.”

“Yeah, I guess brawling with Elvis’s is a little more hell worthy.”

Regina hummed, not daring to bring up the real reasons she’d end up in hell, but she was sure Emma probably suspected one…but then again maybe that was giving her too much credit.

“So you called me to get me to look at a picture?”

“You weren’t answering my texts, I was like this close to showing up at your door with a framed copy as a gift.”

Regina tried to not focus on the panic that Emma showing up at her doorstep right then and finding her in her Boston Red Sox sweater (that looked even more well-worn than when Regina had accidentally stolen it) would have caused; so instead she asked a very important question. “Where were you going to print and frame a photo at this hour?”

“Walmart is a magical place in Canada, Miss Snooty.”

Regina crinkled her nose and Emma laughed like she could see it. “There’s a lot of great things about Canada but I doubt Walmart is one of them.”

“You’re just grumpy cause we’re going on hiatus soon and you won’t get to see me again until the new year.”

“You got me there, I’m actually sitting here sobbing just thinking about it.” Regina deadpanned before popping a few pieces of popcorn in her mouth and placing her phone back down against her chest.

“I knew it. That’s what I’m doing too. Thinking about whether I should give you my Christmas present before or after hiatus.”

“I think you’ve given me enough presents this year, dear.”

“Mmm yeah I guess if I save it until after I can make it a birthday Christmas present and that gives me enough time to outdo your birthday present for me.”

“I made cupcakes.”

“Delicious cupcakes, I don’t know how you found the time.”

Regina rolled her eyes, “it didn’t take that long. They were basic cupcakes.”

“Delicious. Nobody’s ever made me cupcakes before.”

Regina sighed, letting it go because it wasn’t that big a deal and Emma just keeps acting like she had bought her a car. “I don’t need anything for my birthday or Christmas.”

“They had little candy 30s on them, and a blue star candle… and you sang me happy birthday…”

“I did not.”

“Oh right, that was in my fantasy.” Regina rolled her eyes, eating more popcorn as she let the silence stretch on, wiggling her toes against the softness of the throw blanket, her mind trailing off to the last time they’d talked well into the night, while wearing that sweater.

“Whatcha doin?”

Regina let out a chuckle, practically able to see Emma shifting awkwardly and sporting that little bashful smile of hers. “I was reading a book.”

“What book?”

Regina winced, knowing she couldn’t possibly tell Emma what she was really reading, she scrounged her brain for a title. “Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.”

“Bullshit.”

“What?!” Regina’s jaw dropped open, the audacity to call her out on it, yes it was bullshit but how could she know that?

“I know when you’re lying, Regina, your voice gets lower and smoother.”

“What?” She laughed in disbelief, she couldn’t be serious. “It does not.”

“It does too. We can test it if you like?”

Regina smirked, “bring it on.”

Emma chuckled, Regina hearing her shift on the other end of the phone before her voice came through it, high in pitch as she teased. “What are you wearing?”

“Nothing.”

Regina smirked as Emma sputtered, practically seeing her fish out of water expression in her mind and enjoying it too much.

“A lie.”

“You got me, I’m wearing underwear.”

The line went quiet and Regina grinned to herself, stretching out her legs on the couch because she wasn’t lying, she was wearing underwear and Emma’s sweater, that was it.

“That just means you’re not going commando.” Emma stated and Regina probably was enjoying this too much. “Favourite colour.”

“Black.”

“Lie.”

Regina bit the inside of her lip, “fine it’s blue.”

“Truth…”

“How do you know I’m not just manipulating you into thinking that?”

“I don’t.” Emma stated and Regina sighed, her hand resting against her stomach as Emma’s sincerity washed over her.

“I’m reading A Wrinkle in Time.”

“The kid’s book?”

Regina huffed, “it’s a young adult book, it was one of my favourites growing up.”

“That’s so cute!”

“I’m hanging up on you.” Regina warned and Emma let out a small laugh, knowing Regina’s threats were empty.

“I’m sorry. I will not tease you about it. I was really into Harry Potter growing up. Whole 11 year old orphan with a shitty home life finding out he has magic and finding his own family with the Weasleys and Ron and Hermione. Kinda hit close to home.”

“I read them as well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a letter to arrive for a bit there but…I grew up.” Regina said, hearing the way her voice hardened at the end but she couldn’t really stop it and she just hoped Emma wouldn’t press.

The years that followed that first book had forced her to grow up faster than she’d have ever wanted to and remembering that time was hard.

“You staying in Vancouver for the winter hiatus or going back to LA?”

Regina had never been so grateful for Emma knowing her as well as she claimed, maybe it had it’s ups. “I will be going back, my mother demands my presence for all holiday functions and well, I miss my father so it’ll be nice to see him. What about you? What are your plans?”

“Going home to Boston, gonna hang with my mom, do the whole super lame tradition thing and put on 10 pounds.”

“That sounds great,” Regina smiled, looking into her bowl of popcorn and frowning when she realized she’d finished it all so instead she reached for her wine, taking a long sip.

“It is.”

Regina sighed and Emma took another cue and just started rambling on about random things, like she was trying everything she could to cheer her up and Regina would never admit to another soul how much she appreciated it and the company. Emma’s voice filled her empty house and she listened while she finished her wine and when that was done she relaxed further into the couch, curling onto her side with the phone on the couch in the empty space in front of her stomach, her eyes closed, completely at peace.

So much so she ended up falling asleep to the sound of Emma’s voice, and woke up hours later to a silent home and a text on the screen wishing her sweet dreams; Regina walked up to her room and curled up in her large comfy bed with a smile on her face. Honestly, she really was going to miss Emma during the hiatus.

 


 

Emma and Regina were sitting in Emma’s trailer during the lunch break, on either ends of the couch, eating their food and discussing their next scene and other random things, at this point Emma was pretty sure they were just doing it because they enjoyed each other’s company. They weren’t always alone, sometimes one or two of the others joined them, but most days it was just Emma and Regina, and everyone knew that if they weren’t in their own trailers they were in each other’s.

They were best friends, that’s what they did, they had lunch together or just hung out between takes. It was totally normal.

“Zelena says you have begun refusing her sugar.”

Emma glanced over at Regina, mid bite of her burger, but Regina’s eyes were on her phone like she was texting so she assumed Zelena had just decided to squeal on her ban. “She used all of it, does she know she can buy her own? I made coffee this morning, no sugar! Went to ask her because “that’s what neighbours do” and she said she didn’t have any! Then she asked me for cream!”

Regina chuckled, her eyes studying her face for a few long seconds before she sent another text and tossed her phone to the couch, taking a bite of her salad. “She has never been very good at caring for herself. I’ll write her a grocery list later so she stops bugging you.”

“Sometimes I forget she’s the older one.”

“I know, a whole 4 year gap, can you believe it?”

“Honestly? Not at all.”

Regina smirked, eyes sparkling with humour as she went back to focusing on her meal and Emma did the same but the comfortable silence was broken by a quick knock on Emma’s trailer door that neither of them recognized.

They shared a curious glance before Emma called out. “Who is it?!”

“It’s Mary Margaret.”

Emma’s eyes were panicked when they met Regina’s who looked confused and quickly moved to straighten herself up, her legs were still spread like they always were when she was stuck in Roni mode between breaks.

Emma moved to the door, throwing her arms up in a dramatic shrug as Regina looked at her questioningly, her hand was nearly on the door when she heard Regina hiss. “Emma, napkin.”

Emma looked down at the napkin tucked into her white shirt to protect her clothes from her messy lunch and she tore it free, crumpling it up and turned, throwing it at Regina who caught it with panicked eyes and Emma turned back to the door, pulling it open just in time for Regina to shove the napkin in between the couch cushions in her panic, the two unused to a visit from the showrunner.

“Mary Margaret! What can I do for you?”

“I was hoping to talk to you and Regina about something…” She looked around Emma to look at Regina who waved awkwardly and Emma was barely able to stop her laughter because she was so not acting like herself right now.

“Of course, come right in.”

“This isn’t a bad time is it?” Mary Margaret said as she stepped into the trailer, looking between them and the containers of food in the middle cushion of the couch.

“Nah, we were just having lunch.” Emma moved back to her spot, Regina’s eyes moving from Emma to the chair at the table across from them until Emma finally got the hint. “Oh uh, please, have a seat!” She gestured wildly to the chair, watching Regina pinch the bridge of her nose in frustration as Mary Margaret moved to take a seat.

“What can we do for you, Mrs. Blanchard?”

“Right,” Mary Margaret said, smoothing her hands down her pastel pink skirt nervously, Emma was shocked to see that she appeared to be blushing the slightest bit and honestly it was so weird, Emma started fidgeting nervously while Regina was still pleasantly stuck somewhere in between Roni and hostess mode.

“So I’ve been on set a few times and of course on twitter and I started hearing a lot about PrivateSergeant.”

They both seemed to freeze, Regina being shocked right back into herself as her posture went straight as a board, her head held high and chin gutted out the slightest bit, her hands primly folded in her lap and the only real sign of distress was the slight clenching of her jaw and pursing of her lips. Meanwhile, Emma was pretty sure she was about to start sweating out of her clothes.

“I’d seen it associated with Roni and Blackwell and that’s what the fans referred to them as when I spoke with them, so I... I was eager to see what they thought about their relationship.”

Emma grimaced, her eyes flicking over to look at Regina before focusing back on Mary Margaret who looked horribly out of her element.

“So I looked it up, the ship name I believe they call it?” Emma and Regina both nodded and Mary Margaret smiled widely at that. “Yes, good, I looked it up on twitter and there was a link to a Youtube video, I thought it was going to be just a cute montage of their friendship and I…” Emma and Mary Margaret seemed to go red at the same time while Regina’s lips seemed to purse the slightest bit more. “Do people think they’re in love?”

Emma and Regina looked at each other, eyes screaming at the other to help or answer but Emma really didn’t know how to, in fact, she was still trying to forget one of the fan videos she had stumbled upon recently and anyways, Regina was the more eloquent one of the two, at least that’s what she likes to remind Emma of, so really this one should be all her.

“I don’t know if they think they’re in love per se…” Regina’s face scrunched up as she was faced with the task of explaining to their showrunner that the fans wanted them to bang each other’s brains out; and Emma was honestly no saviour, especially for this.

Emma looked back to Mary Margaret who was watching Regina curiously, openly waiting for an explanation and Emma was suddenly reminded that Mary Margaret was actually their age.

“They believe they are falling in love, that they could get there eventually, but right now they just…think…” She looked to Emma for help and honestly Emma was never really fond of kid gloves and really what was Regina expecting from her? She already knew she was a blunt idiot.

“They think they want to fuck.”

“Oh…”

Regina glared at her and Emma shrugged helplessly, gesturing wildly to Mary Margaret who was staring blankly at them.

“What Emma means is that they see them in a very early stage of a budding romance, but they do think they would be a great couple and wish to see them as such.”

“I see…”

“I mean, to be fair Roni seems like a massive lesbian so.” Emma didn’t have to look at Regina to know she was being glared at, but it didn’t stop her. “Blackwell too…honestly I personally think she’s pretty fluid.”

“This is all very interesting…I did not think about them in this way when I wrote it…hmmm.”

Emma winced, suddenly worried she’d broken their showrunner and Regina’s glare burning into the side of her head wasn’t helping any. “Are uh, are you okay?”

“Yes, yes I am. This is all very interesting information, thank you both for helping me.” Mary Margaret stood and Regina sprung up while Emma gaped up at her.

“Of course, any time.”

“Yeah, happy we could help…and erm, if you have any other questions…”

Mary Margaret smiled at both of them and made her way to the door. “Yes, thank you, I will probably hold you to that.”

“Have a good day, Mrs. Blanchard.”

“Mary Margaret, please. And thank you, you both as well.”

Emma waved awkwardly while Regina smiled her most plastic smile until the door clicked shut and the next thing Emma knew Regina was in front of her, “what the hell were you thinking?!” Each word enunciated by a slap on her arms.

“Ow hey!” Emma yelped, gripping both of Regina’s wrists and holding them between them, the glare on Regina’s face doing nothing to scare her because she could see the real hidden emotion behind the anger, fear. “It’s fine.”

“It’s never fine! She’s going to go write us with Jefferson and Rogers and turn the character’s into these backward ideas of feminism and I did not sign onto this role to be some man’s wife and wear frilly pink dresses!”

“Regina, breathe! You don’t know that will happen. She listened to your opinion before, about needing to hire diverse writers!”

“That means nothing.” Emma looked up at that pout and scared eyes shimmering with tears and something in her chest ached at the sight so she gave her wrists a gentle tug closer.

“C’mere.”

“No.”

Emma looked up at her with her best puppy dog face and the anger slipped away just the slightest bit, Regina let her arms relax enough to let Emma slip her hands down to take Regina’s in hers, holding them between them. “It’s going to be okay, we just need to have a little faith that she won’t change everything about the show and these characters for this.”

“You know how many times a showrunner has actually listened to what the fans want and made a show gay?”

“I’m assuming an agonizingly little amount.”

“If they don’t force our characters on men, they will use us to queerbait the audience and I can’t, Emma…I just…”

Emma tugged on her hands again and Regina met her eyes, Emma’s heart broke seeing the way they were shimmering with tears and so she did the only thing she could think of, she let go of Regina’s hands and stood up in the small space separating them, wrapping her arms around Regina’s middle and pulling her against her body in a hug.

Regina stood stiffly against her for a few long moments before her arms moved up and around Emma’s neck, burrowing her head in Emma’s shoulder, her body trembling as she clung to her and Emma tried not to think too much about why that was, so she just held her for as long as it took for Regina to calm down.

Emma wasn’t surprised when Regina left the trailer right after, or when she didn’t see her again that day until she was called back to set, or when Regina barely made eye contact with her afterwards. She knew Regina wasn’t always good with feeling vulnerable, especially when it came to things involving her sexuality, Emma had decided forever ago to let Regina open up to her about it whenever she wanted to, she knew the important things about her and they’ve only really been friends for about ten months, maybe even less if they took out those four months before they’d began filming again.

So really, Emma didn’t mind that she hadn’t confided in her, she cared about Regina being happy and comfortable around her, not about needing answers to questions Emma had no actual right to.

 


 

November 21st, 2016

 

 

There were two more days of filming left and Regina was still having a bit of a hard time, she was back to being in her own little world. When she wasn’t acting, her music was in and she was just checked out from the world. It didn’t take a genius to realize there was something wrong, which is how Emma ended up being cornered by Zelena in her own condo.

Living in the same building as Regina’s big sister had never been so crappy and she was still being robbed of all her sugar, cream, and for some reason salt now!

Emma reluctantly let the woman in, and boy did she regret that pretty fast. She’d always dreamed about being pinned to a counter by a Mills, but this was not the right Mills… and she might want to evaluate that later as well.

“What did you do!?”

“Nothing! I told you, I didn’t do anything!”

Zelena poked her finger against her chest, her glare dangerous. Emma had never been scared of Zelena before, but she’s suddenly wishing she was still as young and innocent as she’d been 5 minutes ago, before Zelena threatened her future children and her entire livelihood.

“You had to have done something! Regina avoiding the others is not uncommon, but not me, and definitely not you.”

“Why don’t you just ask her?”

“I have! She won’t tell me and so I am asking you, what did you do to upset my sister, Swan?”

“Nothing, I swear, I just hugged her cause she was upset!” Emma yelped as Zelena got closer, her nail digging into the skin on her chest.

“Why was she upset?”

Emma’s eyes moved away, because honestly she wasn’t sure that was something she should be sharing. It was something Regina had trusted her with, a moment of vulnerability, and Emma wasn’t going to betray that. “I can’t tell you.”

“You can and you will, Swan.”

“No, I can’t, she trusted me enough to be vulnerable around and I think you know how hard that is for her to do.” Zelena frowned, taking a step back, her glare still present but softened by her sadness. “If she wanted you to know she’d tell you.”

“Way to dig in the knife, Swan.” Zelena muttered, hands moving to her hips to give off an air that suggested she wasn’t as bothered as she was, Emma was starting to wonder what kind of number their mother had put them through to end up like this.

“Just talk to her, she’s your sister, she loves you.”

Zelena let out a bitter laugh that made the hairs on the back of Emma’s neck stand up on end. “Like you said, gaining her trust is hard.”

“Zelena…”

Zelena waved her off as she moved out of the kitchen toward Emma’s front door. “You better fix this, Swan, she’s not talking to anyone right now, not me, not you, and not the only other people in her life that care.”

“She’s not talking to Neal and Mal either?” Emma frowned, that was really unlike her.

“Something is bothering her, you have the answer but as you refuse to share there’s no way I can help my sister through it.”

“I don’t understand, it…” Emma looked away, biting the inside of her tongue, because she knew there was something there, something that hung between Regina and her family. “I’ll do my best.”

“If anyone is the master of avoiding their feelings and burying themselves in work, it’s my sister.”

“I know.”

Zelena nodded and reached for the door handle, slipping out and leaving Emma alone in her condo, a box of salt on her kitchen counter and thoughts buzzing around her head.

She had about two days to get Regina to stop avoiding the world and she was determined to succeed.

 


 

Emma didn’t start off too strong or super obvious, she just brought Regina her favourite coffee and a chocolate chip muffin in the morning and she got the slightest glance before she took it, and that was enough of a victory.

Later, she threatened Jefferson within an inch of his life to behave, so Regina’s scenes with him went swimmingly and Emma was hoping that would put her in a good mood. She then had sushi delivered to her trailer for lunch while she was working across the lot, all of Regina’s favourites and some tea.

It felt a bit like she was trying to court her, but Emma was desperate to cheer Regina up, or at least warm her up a bit before trying to talk to her. Which led to her dropping by Regina’s trailer at dinner time with a burger and fries she knew she couldn’t resist. Hesitantly, Regina let Emma in and she sat in silence with her as she ate. And that in itself was a small victory for Emma, after having gotten the cold shoulder for days.

So sure, no talking actually happened on the first day, but there’d been progress, progress that hopefully meant that by the time they wrapped for the holiday tomorrow they’d at least figure something out.

Emma texted her goodnight, because why not? Then texted her good morning the next day for added measure, asking her if she wanted anything special from Starbucks and nearly screamed in victory as she received a short but beautiful response.

Banana bread.

That was it. And Emma did a little dance in her apartment before she left, banging on Zelena’s door and yelling banana bread in her face before she ran down the hall and rode the elevator downstairs. This would be the day. She was going to do it.

“Thank you,” Regina whispered when Emma slid the coffee and banana bread toward her on the table, everyone seemingly freezing after about a week of silence from her, but Regina didn’t notice, she was busy drinking her coffee and picking at her banana bread and Emma was busy glaring at everyone until they went back to acting normally.

Emma was in the middle of ordering Regina’s lunch when Nova placed a container of food in front of her, Emma looked down at it and smiled at the little note on the napkin in Regina’s familiar scrawl.

I believe I owe you a meal.

Emma finished the order and then texted Regina a thank you, buzzing with excitement knowing that after this scene she had her final scene of the episode with Regina. It was hard not to run across the lot to eat lunch with her in hopes she’d open up but she held back. Patience was a virtue after all.

 


 

Emma had missed her, honest to god missed her, so when Regina offered her a small but kind smile when Emma saw her on set late that afternoon, she almost fell to the ground in a fit of sobs.

It was stupid, she has still seen her every day, but there was this wall between them lately that made her chest ache. She knew why Regina had put it there, to protect herself from being hurt, but Emma missed her.

“Hey.”

“Are you prepared?”

Emma nodded, even though she wasn’t really sure the complete meaning for that, prepared for the scene, prepared for their impending talk, prepared for being apart for so long after seeing each other nearly every day for 5 months now? “As I’ve ever been.”

“Good,” Regina nodded, slipping her earbud in and wandering off to her chair as she waited to be called up, it made Emma’s heart ache again but she knew they were getting there.

 


 

Emma looked at Regina, there was nothing more beautiful than when she was fully in a scene, in the character, the way her shoulders slouched a bit, the slightly cocky upturn of her lips, eyes that always tracked over her in curiosity. How her thumbs were tucked into her pockets and she just seemed to flow with her movements.

It was so unlike her, Roni was so different from Regina, but there were still just small moments when a little part of her snuck through. She loved watching out for them.

“Thanks for having my back, back there.” Roni nodded in a vague direction, talking about another scene they’d filmed days ago and Emma nodded, hands folded behind her back in Blackwell’s usual stiff posture.

“It is what partners are for, isn’t it?”

“Right,” Roni’s smile was small, shy, different from Regina’s, guarded in a different way, more unsure. “Partners.”

Emma thrust out her hand and Regina’s eyes moved down to look at it before her thumb slipped out of her pocket and she slipped her hand into Emma’s. “Partners.” She said with a grin, giving Regina’s hand a brisk shake while Regina’s eyes studied her, their hands still held between them and Emma didn’t even notice the way her thumb moved across her skin.

“I’ll see ya tomorrow, Blackwell.” She took a step back, hand slipping from Emma’s and laying against her belly as she looked behind her then back up to meet Emma’s eyes.

“Have a good evening, Perez.”

She nodded briskly and took another step back, one last look at Emma before she turned, her hand moving to her side as she headed off camera and Emma’s eyes followed her out.

“And cut! That’s a wrap, people!”

Emma didn’t even pretend to want to talk to anyone else, she made a beeline for Regina who was already slipping the mic out from under her clothing. “Regina!”

“Good work out there, Miss Swan.”

“You too…” Emma looked around them, knowing her eyes were sad again; she took a step closer and placed her hand on Regina’s, watching her as her dark eyes snapped to look at her. “Can we talk later?”

Regina frowned, eyes searching her face and Emma squeezed her elbow, watching the walls she’d put in place weakening.

“Please. Meet me in my trailer after you’re done getting outta wardrobe.”

Regina nodded and Emma gave her elbow one more squeeze before Regina set her mic on the table and slipped away, leaving Emma to deal with the odd looks from the sound guy.

 


 

Emma paced back and forth along her trailer as she waited for Regina to show up, an annoying voice in the back of her mind telling her she wasn’t gonna show up at all but she refused to listen to it. Regina would show up. She would.

And just when Emma was about to cave in to the voice, she heard her distinct knock on the door before it slowly opened and Emma’s breath caught in her throat when she saw her.

All makeup from the day had been wiped from her face, leaving it bare and making her look so impossibly young, her hair was long enough to be pulled back, besides a few strands at the front and little tufts of hair at her neck, the curls soft and frizzy. But the real icing on the cake was how soft she looked in slacks and that purple sweater she had worn the first day in Vancouver for the pilot.

She was... she was Regina, her best friend, Emma had never had a best friend before but she knew that’s what she was, the safety she felt in her presence, how they could talk about nearly everything, Emma had never had that before and she sure as hell wasn’t gonna lose it now.

“Hey.”

“Hi.” Emma wanted to kick herself for how shy she sounded but that all changed when Regina offered her a small smile and stepped further into the trailer.

“Please sit.” “I’m sorry for avoiding you.”

They said at the same time and Emma let out a nervous chuckle as she rubbed anxiously at the back of her neck. “It’s okay.”

Regina nodded and took the few short steps to the couch and Emma moved to sit next to her, Regina sitting as prim and proper as she’d ever been and although it was weird, Emma was pretty sure it was just what she was like when she was nervous.

“You know you can talk to me, right?” 

Regina frowned and Emma reached out, placing a hand on the cushion between them as an invitation. “I know there’s something bugging you, we all do, and we’re worried.”

“We?”

“Your friends, your sister. She threatened my life because she thought I’d hurt you.”

A small smile twitched on Regina’s lips at that information but it was covered up quickly. “I’m fine, I promise.”

“You know you can’t lie to me.”

Regina rolled her eyes, Emma studying every inch of her face for any tell. “I suddenly hate that month we spent talking through a door.”

“Don’t act like you can’t read me like a book either. You always have been able to.”

“I can read everyone.”

Emma smiled, somehow her rebuttal was just so Regina, the dismissive voice and all, it was so her and so strangely comforting. “You know it’s okay to be vulnerable, right?”

Regina huffed, “I’m not a child.”

Emma scooted closer, hand still resting between them and she tipped her head the slightest bit to catch Regina’s eye. “I’m assuming someone broke your trust and now you have a fear of being vulnerable, of trusting someone with something so precious to you just to be let down?”

“I trust you,” Regina said and Emma smiled.

“I know. I trust you too.”

“It’s just... hard.” Regina finally confessed, her eyes staring down at her own fingers as they subtly twisted in her lap.

“I know, it’s hard for me too.”

Regina sighed, her eyes finally locking on Emma’s. “You’re too nice, you know that?”

Emma chuckled, shaking her head at Regina, “I’m just being your friend.”

“Well stop it, it’s weird.”

Emma smiled as Regina’s eyes sparkled teasingly, trying not to jump up and down in victory. “What can I do to help?”

“Help what?”

Regina’s brows furrowed in confusion and Emma sighed, “help you feel like you can trust I won’t betray you.”

“You already have.” Emma frowned and Regina reached out, placing her hand over Emma’s. “My sister doesn’t threaten just anyone, and considering she hasn’t come to me knowing already just what had upset me; it means you didn’t tell her and I really appreciate that, Emma.”

“I just figured if you wanted her to know you’d tell her.”

“You were right, there’s a lot of stuff I’m still working through, stuff from when I was younger and I just have a hard time talking about it, but I appreciate you being there for me last week and not telling anyone about it.”

“Of course, that’s what friends do, right?”

“Right,” Regina’s eyes were focused on their hands and Emma couldn’t help but take in the shadows on her face, she knew there was something bothering her but she wasn’t going to push. “The holidays are hard for me, come the new year I’ll be back to my old self, promise.”

Emma flipped her hand over, her thumb brushing over the back of her hand reassuringly, Regina’s eyes met hers, that small grateful smile on her lips and shining in her eyes.

“I’m here for you, if you need to talk about anything or if you need company, you can call, text, whatever, we’re friends outside of work too, don’t forget that.”

“I won’t.”

“That’s all I wanted, for you to know that I’m here for you for anything, and if you need space I am happy to give it, okay?”

“Thank you.” Regina squeezed her hand, Emma’s eyes falling to them as she pulled her hand away and brushed it over her thighs. “I need to get going, I have an early flight tomorrow.”

“Me too.”

Regina smiled her way once more before standing up and Emma did the same, the two of them standing in front of each other eerily mirroring their characters in the scene from earlier.

“I’ll see you in the new year, Miss Swan.” Regina held out her hand and Emma looked down at it for a few long seconds before she slipped her hand into Regina’s again.

“I’ll see you then, Mills.” Regina smiled, squeezing her hand while Emma’s thumb ran over her hand again and Regina leant forward, her lips brushing a feather-light kiss against Emma’s cheek before taking a step back up, moving slowly toward the door. Door open Regina turned, casting one final glance over her shoulder at Emma before quietly slipping out of the trailer; Emma felt painfully alone as she stared at the closed door for longer than was probably normal for friends.

Her fingers moved to her cheek as she still felt the way Regina’s lips had felt against her skin, how it still tingled from the sensation. She found she missed her already, that she wanted to run after her and wrap her up in a hug, craving the contact now that she knows what it feels like to hug her.

Was splitting ways from a friend for a month supposed to hurt this much? Was this a best-friend thing?

Chapter Text

 

January 17th, 2017

 

Regina received a call from Mary Margaret on the second, telling her that there was a cast meeting scheduled for the seventeenth on set before production began. There’d been quiet speculation between the cast members during the table read the week before, and through text messages, but now that the day was finally there, and they were all beginning production again, she found that she was excited and ready to get back to work; although she did fear what the cast meeting would mean more than she’d like, an announcement of new characters perhaps? The early end of their show? She knew the latter was unlikely, after all they had just hired new writers, but that didn’t help with her anxieties.

The relief to be away from her mother -on the other hand, did. To finally get away from those never ending microaggressions that just slowly ate away at Regina’s soul. Sometimes it felt like Cora’s only goal in life was making Regina feel as small as possible in the hopes that she could one day get her to be the person she always wanted her to be.

Regina often wondered why she even humoured her mother, why she put herself through such pain, but getting out from under Cora Mills’ thumb was nearly impossible, and sometimes it just felt easier to play nice for a few hours or days a year.

She was also just excited for being back to playing Roni, the new script was everything she ever wanted. She could already feel the difference in each character now that they had a more diverse writing staff. And she had been texting Emma on and off the whole break, even getting a phone call in here and there.

They ran lines on New Year’s Eve while her mother’s party raged on downstairs and Emma hid away from her mother who had gotten really into something that Emma didn’t get much into, but it didn’t stop Regina from hearing Emma’s mom’s voice as she yelled at something in another part of the house.

Regina blasted the music in her car and then into her ears as she walked across the lot, casting a glance toward their trailers set up and she smiled when she saw that hers and Emma’s were right next to each other’s. She stepped up to Emma’s door, knocking twice quickly -in case she was in- before she moved to her own trailer, unlocking the door and slipping inside, everything just as she’d left it.

“Hey, stranger.”

Regina turned around, seeing Emma smiling up at her from where she stood on the bottom step in her usual get up, but instead of her bright red leather jacket she was sporting a burgundy one with wool lining and it made Regina smile. “Hey.”

“Worried about today?” Regina shrugged, tossing her purse onto the table before she pulled her headphones out of her ears and shrugged off her thick black trench coat. “I have no idea what the hell this is about and it’s kinda driving me crazy.”

“I know, I am also a part of that conspiracy group chat.”

“Really? Hadn’t noticed. You should talk more.” Emma grinned as she dropped down onto Regina’s couch, looking at the art and cards that had slowly accumulated on her wall. It had only taken Emma pinning one piece of fanart of Regina on it for it to spiral, and now her trailer resembled Emma’s way too closely for her liking.

“Would you like to walk with me?”

“Of course.”

Regina leant back against the table, hands gripping the edge. “New jacket?”

Emma’s face lit up, seeming to preen at the fact that Regina had noticed. “Yeah, my mom got it for me. Like it?”

“It’s very nice, much better than your other red monstrosity.”

“Be nice or I’ll walk with Ruby.”

Regina rolled her eyes, pushing off the table and walking until she was standing in front of Emma, hand held out to her as she said, “come on before I change my mind.”

Emma grinned and took Regina’s hand, allowing her to pull her up to her feet, their hands remaining linked for a few seconds longer before Regina dropped her hand and led them out of her trailer, Emma falling into pace with her as they walked across the lot.

 


 

They walked onto the set, finding the rest of the cast already there, sitting in the chairs or on desks, some in full costume while others with only hair or wardrobe done, and then there was her and Regina, who didn’t have their first scene until a bit later so they weren’t needed in hair or makeup yet.

“Hey, they here yet?” Emma asked Ruby as she approached her, Regina wandering over to talk with Zelena and Tamara.

“No, nothing yet but they’ll probably be here any minute now.”

Emma nodded, looking back at Regina, a warmth in her chest she wasn’t sure how to place. “I don’t know why they have to make such a big thing about it? Why couldn’t they just email us?”

“Maybe it’s something big so they wanted to give us the news in person.”

“Big doesn’t mean good.”

Ruby reached out, squeezing Emma’s arm as she looked past her where she knew Regina was. “No matter what happens she’ll still be your friend.”

“That’s not what I’m scared of.”

Ruby gave her a look that made Emma want to squirm, the knowingness in her eyes made Emma just want to turn tail and run.

“I’ve never seen anyone with as strong a bond as you two, they’d never split that up and risk the show like that.”

Emma chuckled, having already discussed Regina’s fears of them bringing in men for them privately, since with the budding announcement those fears had seemed like the most evident.

“Hello, everyone, thank you for coming in so early this morning!”

They all turned toward Mary Margaret’s voice, Emma’s feet taking her to Regina’s side without any conscious thought.

“We have some important news to discuss with you all, over the winter break David and I have been working tirelessly together and with the network to make a few changes.”

There was some anxious muttering, the others moving closer as well and Emma could feel Regina’s nerves oozing off of her so she reached out, placing a calming hand on the small of her back to calm her, but also maybe herself as her heart clenched painfully in her chest.

“Don’t worry, this is a good thing, we promise.” David looked down at his wife encouraging her to continue all while they were faced with a group of anxious people.

“After the pilot aired we started noticing a development we never actually considered, and as the show began to get more popular these voices grew and we noticed what they were saying, after an enlightening talk with Emma and Regina, I really started thinking about what these fans were saying, what they were seeing in Roni and Blackwell, so we went back and rewatched the episodes with them in mind, I did a lot of research and really there was no denying it.”

Regina was stiff next to her, Emma’s thumb brushing against her back to try and sooth her while her brain worked a mile a minute to try and understand what they were saying because they could not be saying what she thought they were. There was no way.

“And since we were already looking for some more diverse writers we knew now was our chance to really dive into this storyline and give it everything it deserves.”

“What storyline?” Jefferson said and Mary Margaret smiled so brightly Emma had no more doubts.

“We have decided to move forward with the idea that Roni and Blackwell are falling in love, although it is a big decision it was an easy one to make, as there seemed to be so much there to work with already with Emma and Regina’s chemistry. It was a no brainer, and how could we let down so many of our fans?”

“Holy shit…” Emma breathed, almost certain she was dreaming because there was really no way.

“So we brought you all here today to introduce you all to the new people on our staff and to answer any questions you might have about our next move.” David finished while Mary Margaret turned and waved forward a few people that came out, one carrying a basket that she quickly handed off to Mary Margaret with a shy smile.

Emma turned to Regina who was still staring at Mary Margaret like she’d grown a second head, Emma rubbed her hand on the back of her arm to try and pull her back but she seemed completely out of it.

“I couldn’t have made this decision without the conversation we had, and I hope you’re both just as excited about taking this journey with me.” Mary Margaret said when she stopped in front of them, smile so hopeful and Emma returned it as she held out two pride flags to them, Emma taking the Pansexual one from her hand rather quickly, while it seemed Regina was a bit sluggish, her smile plastic and Emma was honestly starting to question if she was even still there.

“I couldn’t be more excited! The fans will be so happy!”

“Great!” Mary Margaret squeezed both their arms and Regina’s head snapped up from the lesbian pride flag to finally meet Mary Margaret’s eyes.

“Hey you okay?” Emma rubbed her arm again and frowned as she shied away from the touch before her eyes seemed to fully clear.

“Huh? Oh yes.”

Emma frowned, about to open her mouth to say something else when suddenly Ruby was in front of her waving her bi flag around excitedly, chattering away about how excited she was about real representation for that community and Emma found herself getting pulled into it while Regina was pulled into a conversation with one of the new writers.

They mingled about, Emma laughing and talking happily with the others, slipping her pan flag into the back pocket of her jeans to free up her hands, but Emma’s eyes always moved back to Regina, whose posture was still and smile pleasant, but her arms were crossed uncharacteristically over her chest, only the smallest part of her flag seen from where it was hidden behind her arm.

The next time Emma’s eyes searched through the room to find Regina she noticed her slipping away and she didn’t even think twice about following after her, knowing in her gut something was wrong and considering what had happened the last time they discussed their characters’ sexuality she knew she shouldn’t leave Regina to process alone.

 


 

Emma found Regina in her trailer, sitting on the couch and staring down at the lesbian pride flag in her lap. She looked so small, still in this state of ‘there but not there’ as she just stared down at the thing, a finger absentmindedly running over the fabric.

Emma’s frown deepened as she moved further into the trailer and sat carefully next to her. “Hey…”

Regina didn’t respond and Emma watched her closely, seeing the way her usually expressive eyes seemed so distant.

“Are you okay?”

“No,” Regina croaked, a tear finally escaping and rolling down her cheek, and it took everything for Emma not to pull her into her side.

“Is there anything I can do?”

Regina shrugged and Emma shifted closer, leaning forward to try and meet her eyes and her heart broke when she noticed the way her lower lip started wobbling.

“Regina…” Their eyes met in a flash and Emma sucked in a breath, the block in her emotions was gone and all Emma could see in her eyes was fear and so much sadness. “Hey, it’s gonna be okay, nobody will find out, I promise.”

Regina couldn’t keep in a sob and she let herself fall until she was pressed against Emma’s chest, her head tucked under her chin, and Emma didn’t even think twice before wrapping her up in her arms, unsure of what to do to help besides giving her everything that she needed.

Regina pulled her legs up onto the couch, curling further into her side, her hands still fiddling with the pride flag as they sat in Emma’s lap, her body trembling as she cried silently, and it just further obliterated Emma’s heart.

All she could do was hug her tighter, a hand rubbing her bicep, and her cheek pressed against Regina’s hair, knowing that she’d do anything physically possible to make it better.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed, all she was focused on was Regina, so when there was a quick knock on the trailer door she jumped and Regina sprung away, staring at it in shock.

“Regina, they need you in hair and makeup.”

“I’ll be right out!” Emma was surprised by how okay she sounded, even with tears still streaming down her face, she sounded like nothing at all was wrong.

“Regina…” Emma breathed as Regina stood, raking her hands through her hair and brushing down her clothes, doing everything she could not to look at Emma. “Regina, please, look at me.”

“I have to go…”

Her hand fell against her side and Emma took it, holding it so delicately in her own, begging her to just…she wasn’t sure, but she needed her to understand that she had her, she’d always have her so she said, voice pleading. “I’m here for you, whatever you need, you can come to me, always.”

Regina looked back at her, her eyes soft and vulnerable as she nodded slowly. “I know, Emma. Thank you.”

Emma gave Regina her best smile and Regina returned it before stepping away, retracting her hand and moving to the large mirror to wipe the tears from her face, hands shaking as she let them fall again, Emma watched her silently as she pulled herself together and left to the hair and makeup trailer.

Both of them knew Regina’s eyes would be red and puffy for a good long time. 

 


 

When Regina walked into her house, hours later, it felt like the day’s event crashed over her like a massive wave, just dragging her down, and when she tried to push through, to just take one more step, it dragged her right back under, until she was on the ground trying with all her might to just breathe .

All her fears and pain poured out of her, the wooden floors the only solid thing around her, cool to the touch as her hands pressed against them, trying to hold her up on shaky arms as sobs escaped her mouth in a voice she barely recognized.

Her trench coat tight and restricting against her body, felt like it was choking her and she just needed it off. Her trembling hands moved up to her coat, her mind a whirlwind of memories and intrusive thoughts, tormenting her while her body screamed for air, air she was taking in in gasping breaths that didn’t seem to actually do anything for her.

She tore the coat from her body, the right sleeve getting caught on her watch and the panic and rage bubbled up in her chest, she wanted it off, she needed to breathe. She just wanted it to stop .

Regina pressed her hand to her chest, feeling the rhythm of her heartbeat against her palm, the reminder that she was alive should be comforting, but it didn’t quiet her fears. She reached behind her with her left hand, tearing off her high heel before kicking her leg out from under her and sitting on that side, her vision blurry as she stared at the black pump.

Anger bubbled to the surface and she threw the shoe hard, watching it connect with the perfect white walls, a sense of satisfaction as she stared at that little black scuff mark. It was damaged now, just like her.

A laugh rumbled out of her, sounding deranged and foreign to her own ears but she couldn’t stop, couldn’t breathe, everything was crumbling around her and the only thing she could feel was her right heel digging painfully into her Achilles tendon, her slacks crumpled behind her knee.

And she just laughed. Laughed as she tore off the other shoe, as she moved her right leg forward so it was bent, tucked under her left thigh, her ankle bone digging into the wood. It was almost grounding. More so than the beat of her own heart against her chest. Regina stared down at that shoe, perfect, expensive, the careful and precise work that went into making it. She wanted to crush it.

So Regina did the only logical thing she could come up with at the time, she threw it across the hall with the other, another angry scream bursting from her lungs, drowning out the sound it made as it connected with the surface and then ricocheted back toward her, landing by the front door and she just started laughing again.

Laughing because she really was just a joke to the universe. It’s favourite doll to torture, to play with and twist, to make dance like the little puppet she was born to be and then when it was bored it tossed her away. Let her think that maybe this time she could be happy, she would be okay.

But she never was, not for long anyways.

 


 

Regina eventually pulled herself up off the floor, gathered her belongings and carried them upstairs, putting them carefully away in their rightful places before she slowly and methodically undressed.

She put her clothes in the basket that goes to the dry cleaners before slowly walking into her bathroom, hands grasping the edge of the sink, her knuckles white and arms still trembling as she slowly looked up.

The face Regina saw in the mirror barely registered as her own, like a phantom of a past she’d long since buried. A girl, young and scared. Hopeful when life told her not to be. Innocent and unscarred.

Regina tore her eyes away from her reflection, her hands tearing through her hair and she stared at her shower, lower lip wobbling as she sucked in an unsteady breath.

She wasn’t going to cry anymore.

She jutted out her chin, hands falling to her sides as she walked slowly and carefully to the shower, turning it on to the perfect temperature before stepping in, and letting the water run over her skin and wash the day away, wash away the memories and the fears. Clear away all her thoughts.

They’re going to find out.

I’m not good enough.

Why wasn’t I good enough?

I’m disgusting.

I’m sick.

They’ll all hate me when they find out.

They’ll know. They’ll all know and my life will be ruined.

She pressed her hand to her mouth while her other fell to her stomach, trying to steady herself, trying to keep her sobs at bay. It wasn’t working, nothing was working.

I’m broken and nobody will love me if they knew.

She leant against the shower wall, the tiles cool against her back, her hand moving to brace herself as she slowly lowered herself to the shower floor, the water pouring down her skin and soaking her hair, mingling with her tears, washing them away and down the drain.

Regina’s hands shook as she moved them to comb through her hair, the ring she forgot to remove getting caught in her hair and she laughed, broken and bitter as she pulled away, staring down at her now ruined watch and she just kept laughing, laughing until she was sobbing, until she felt nothing but the water beating down against her bare skin.

Limbs weak and heavy as she shifted to her knees, practically falling forward as she reached for the handles, water streaming down her back and soaking her hair even more before she turned off the water, a flash of cold against her skin before everything was quiet and all she could hear was the sound of her own breathing.

She pressed her hand against the shower door, pulling it open and reaching up for her towel, tugging until it fell free and she pulled it into the shower, wrapped it around her body and sat there for a few moments too long before pulling herself to her feet and walking out of the shower, lowering herself to the toilet she stared down at her watch, finger running over the face of it, brushing away the water, another bitter laugh escaping her as she flipped her hand over, undoing the watch and pulling it from her wrist, her smile almost wistful as she stared down at it.

The hands no longer moved, stuck on 8:15 like some big ominous warning.

Regina stood from the toilet, grabbing a face cloth she laid the watch down on it, wrapping it up carefully before she walked out of her bathroom, hair dripping water behind her and down her face but she didn’t really care.

Regina walked back into her closet, pulling out the stolen sweater and a new pair of underwear before she walked back to her bed and sat down on it, towel falling around her waist as she stared across the room, contemplating life and how she was going to put herself back together for tomorrow. How she was going to get through this series.

She had to start getting used to the idea of people seeing the character she was playing as a lesbian, just getting used to being in a lesbian ship, with Emma nonetheless, getting used to talking with her fans, seeming interested but unknowledgeable of what they discussed. Honestly, she had to start to not look petrified in each picture taken of her the second she spotted the crowd of fans.

Sometimes it felt like the fear of being outed ran Regina’s life, it revolved around that big what if . It was hard living when every second a part of her was wondering if today would be the day it’d happen. If today would be the day she’d open up twitter to find ‘ Regina Mills is a Lesbian ’ as a trending moment.

It put a massive damper on her love life, how was she to start a relationship if there was always some part of her that didn’t trust her partner not to jump at the chance for the big money break they’d get for outing her to the world. It was stupid and illogical and it hurt her tremendously. But it still sat there like a ticking time bomb in her mind and in her chest.

When was she allowed to just breathe? Just live ? Because this no longer felt much like living.

 


 

Emma noticed the funk that seemed to be weighing on Regina seemingly growing every day, she did her best to be there for her, sat in her trailer, at lunch together, brought her coffee and anything else to cheer her up, watched and listened for the signs that she needed space and took her leave.

Honestly she’d never been so happy to be able to read Regina as well as she could, it was like playing a game of red light green light, she just had to be sure she didn’t move when Regina wasn’t in the mood for company.

It’d been a few days of that, her voice quiet and detached as they discussed the script or when she commented on one of Emma’s stories, there was an almost disconnect between her and Roni, although Roni was still laid back and still carried herself with that swag, her eyes were hollow some days; Emma had to work hard to get her back, to pull Regina out of whatever hole she’d fallen into.

Others noticed as well, it was hard not to, Regina tried her best, her mask as perfect as ever, but she didn’t humour others with the interest of listening to their stories, she seemed to be back to secluding herself from the bunch, sitting as far away as possible or hiding away in her trailer. Emma was lucky she was allowed near her as much as she was.

She just wished she could do more, to be able to brighten her mood, to help her carry whatever was weighing her down, but she knew the only thing she could do right now was be there for her and she vowed to do just that. To do everything she could to make at least one part of Regina’s day a little brighter.

Today Emma had gone to the 7-11 down the street where they were filming, and bought all the penny candy she found, although since pennies weren’t a thing in Canada anymore, it was really just nickle candy and even then it was still more than that.

Which didn’t matter, what mattered was she bought candy and chocolate before she trekked to the nearest Starbucks which really was like across the street and ordered Regina her super-secret favourite drink which she’d learnt about a few months ago. It was overly sweet and Emma knew it made her happy, maybe because it had enough caffeine to keep Emma up for a week.

She got all of Regina’s favourite treats, getting the biggest side eye from Tiny as she walked around the neighbourhood and gathered enough junk food to feed a birthday party full of teenagers and then walked right up to Regina’s trailer. He vanished fast after that, and it made her grin to herself.

She frowned at the closed door, her hands filled with the tray of drinks and the bag of treats.

“Regina!” she yelled with no other alternative, and was rewarded a few seconds later by the woman standing in front of her, a cardigan wrapped around her and curlers in her hair; and Emma’s heart expanded.

“What did you do?” Regina asked, eyebrows arching high on her forehead.  

“I got you all your favourites.”

Regina pursed her lips to keep that little disbelieving but charmed smile off her face, Emma was good at bringing those out and it always made her feel giddy.

Emma took a step up, now on the main landing, eye to eye with Regina who seemed to be contemplating whether to let her in or not, but all Emma had to do was take a half step forward and Regina moved out of the way, letting Emma squeeze by before shutting the door.

“Why?”

“Thought you could use a reward for getting through another scene with Jefferson and not killing him.”

Regina rolled her eyes as she pulled the cardigan tightly around her again, walking to the table where Emma was unloading all her goodies, she seemed a bit unsure but Emma could tell she was grateful for the gesture just by how she watched her.

“Is that…”

“Yup, your favourite, and I also got some ginger molasses cookies, banana bread,” Emma pulled out the paper Starbucks bags and placed them on the table, her eyes on the treats as she dug for all of Regina’s favourites. “Cherry blasters, sourpatch kids, skittles.”

“Are we having a party I am unaware of?”

Emma glanced up to see Regina watching her, Starbucks cup raised to her lips and eyes teasing, it was nice to see. “Just a party for two.”

Regina grabbed the cherry blasters and bag of cookies before she walked back to the couch and sat down, pulling her legs up as she watched Emma watching her. “What else did you buy?”

Emma’s smile spread across her face and Regina’s curled up her lips, small but real, and that is why Emma did it, to see Regina smile, to brighten her day. “I got aero bars, hershey’s, caramilks and those coffee crisps you love so much.”

Emma looked down at the bag and smiled as she pulled out the two small plastic bags of candy, producing them with a wide smile and Regina’s brow raised once more, head tilting the slightest bit as her eyes squinted, trying to find each candy Emma got.

“I got you this bag, got you sour keys, those weird berry-like things, gummy worms,” Emma looked away from Regina to squint at the bag, “I think I got some coke bottles too…”

Regina wordlessly held out her hand and Emma dropped the bag in it and turned to grab a couple of the chocolate bars and her own drink before dropping onto the couch next to Regina.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were fattening me up so you could eat me.”

Emma’s cheeks went bright red as her brain unhelpfully supplied the wrong image and Regina cackled, reaching her hand out and rubbing the top of Emma’s ear a few times before letting her hand fall away so she could pick at her candy again, and when their eyes locked Emma’s heart stopped, Regina looked radiant.

“You’re so easy to fluster, I don’t even have to try.”

Emma huffed out a breath but wasn’t able to make any clever comebacks as Regina had popped a sour patch kid in her mouth, honestly this woman was too hot to handle sometimes.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Emma’s smile was soft as it spread on her face, her head dipping low to try and distract herself before reaching for the bag in Regina’s lap to break off a piece of the warmed cookie before it cooled.

“Hey! That’s mine!” Regina yelled as she slapped her hand down on top of Emma’s in the bag, trapping it there and Emma looked back up to meet her eyes, that warmth spreading through her again as she let out a small chuckle.

“I bought two, now be nice and share.”

Regina glared, a warning, keeping her frozen in place as she contemplated the information, her eyebrows furrowed the slightest bit and the subtlest of pouts on her lips before letting go of Emma’s hand and agreeing. “Fine.”

“You’re the best.”

Regina rolled her eyes and Emma couldn’t help but reach out toward Regina after she popped the piece of cookie in her mouth, her hand adjusting Regina’s cardigan, smoothing it out over her shoulders; since Roni was always stuck in tank tops Emma was sure Regina was cold.

Regina eyed her suspiciously, like she was trying to figure her out, and Emma retracted her hand, going back to picking at her candy. “I got a sweater in my trailer if you want it…”

Regina’s head tilted, her eyes curious and vulnerable and Emma wondered how much that offer must mean to her, she decided that no matter what Regina said she’d drop it off later to use whenever she was cold. She had tons, it didn’t really matter.

Regina went back to eating quietly, sipping from her drink, looking so oddly young in that moment, when recently it had looked like the world was weighing her down. Emma wished she had a photographic memory so she could file it away and hold onto that image of her like a photograph. 

 


 

Regina paced in front of her desk on the soundstage, earphones in, blasting music in her ears while everyone moved around her. Zelena was sitting with Tamara on the back steps, Emma was huddled together with Ruby and Rogers, probably all trying to devise a plan to catch each other sleeping. The fans seemed to be enjoying the game and she often got tagged in people asking if she’d be next, especially under Emma or Zelena’s pictures.

Regina didn’t need to worry about the silly game, she knew they would never actually catch her sleeping since she drank so much caffeine during the day it was a wonder she could sleep most nights… well that and her thoughts that never seemed to quiet down.

It was hard some days, when she was filming there seemed to always be a part of her brain that warned her to be cautious, that they’d know, that they already suspected. It was like she was living in a thriller, but the bad guy was of her own creation, her own thoughts tricking her into thinking that there was someone watching her at every turn. She was paranoid, plain and simple, but it was hard to dismiss those thoughts when you were famous, because someone really could be watching her every move.

She didn’t see much paparazzi in Vancouver besides the set photographers, there was nobody following her around the grocery store or shoving a mic in her face outside a restaurant, but she got recognized now and then, and it was like no matter where she went she always had to have her guard up. She was never able to just be Regina Mills the person, she always had to be Regina Mills the actress.

It was tiring always having her guard up, in every aspect of her life there was a wall, a mask, keeping people from seeing her true self, from discovering her secrets and her pain. Sometimes she wondered even if she knew who she really was.

Neal said she was smart and kind and tough and although those qualities were true, sometimes it felt like they were something she projected. Regina could be vulnerable around him, sure, but she had her secrets, more than just what had happened with Emma; things he might never understand. Things she kept so close to her chest, to block out, to lock away, because if nobody else knew about them, they weren’t really there, right? Maybe she could avoid those looks. Regina still remembered Mal’s face when she had been trying to open up. Vulnerability was hard.

Regina felt a hand on her arm and jumped, taking a quick step back as she spun to face the intruder, eyes wide for just a second before placing her mask back on, poor Nova looking at her with annoyingly apologetic eyes.

“They’re ready to go.” Nova said as Regina removed her earbuds, and when she nodded Nova scurried away.

When she turned to place her iPod on her desk she saw Zelena standing up and alert, her eyes watching her and flicking somewhere behind her and Regina didn’t need to look back to know she was looking at Emma.

 

 


 

It didn’t feel right, it was like the second Regina started falling into a scene something yanked her out of it, the fire in her eyes would fade and she’d look blankly for a second. Regina Mills didn’t mess up, she gave each character her all, she felt what they felt and she made them come alive.

Emma saw it time and time again over the past week, through the scenes where they were supposed to be flirting, it was like Regina’s mind wouldn’t shut off to allow Roni to take over. She could tell Regina was frustrated at herself, her jaw clenching and unclenching as she tried to keep everything packed up in a neat box, but Emma could see it was startling to spill out over the top and she was close to crumbling.

“Regina…” She whispered, voice low and Regina blinked, meeting Emma’s eyes as Emma’s hand moved to Regina’s elbow, her thumb brushing over the button down they had stuck her in that day.

Emma nodded like she realized what she needed to do, and she looked at the director. “Can we have five?”

“Of course.”

Emma smiled at the woman they’ve worked with a half a dozen times now and led Regina off to the side, hand remaining on her elbow. Once they were behind the false walls of the set Emma stopped. “Can I turn off your mic?”

Regina nodded, her hand pressed against her belly as Emma moved around her, tugging up the back of her shirt until she found the mic pack pinned to the back of her bra. She flicked the switch, her hands sliding down to Regina’s hips for just a second, thumbs brushing soothingly over her skin before moving in front of her. She turned around and waited, feeling Regina’s hands slip under her blazer to do the same for her without talking.

Emma stood frozen when she felt Regina’s hands fall to her hips, holding onto them, seeking comfort, Emma moved her hand to cover Regina’s for a second before she turned in her arms and Regina stepped in closer, hands slipping around her waist as she tucked herself into Emma’s neck and Emma returned the hug without a second thought.

“It’s going to be okay, Regina, you can do this.”

“I’m messing everything up. I don’t mess up.”

Emma hugged her closer, feeling pain in her chest as she fought off the urge to cry at seeing Regina hurting so much and unable to do anything to help her. “Everyone has bad days.”

Regina laughed bitterly and Emma rubbed her hand up and down her back while Regina just seemed to take all the comfort Emma was offering up.

“What are you comfortable with?”

“What?” Regina asked, pulling away so she could meet Emma’s eyes and Emma smiled softly at her, trying to be reassuring.

“With Portraying? Touches? What? We need to flirt, right? Well, our characters have been flirting since day one, nothing has changed just the words on the script, right?” Regina nodded and Emma moved her hand to brush her fingers on Regina’s jaw as she tucked a loose curl behind her ear. “Then we just... keep doing what we’ve always done, we do what the characters want.”

“Emma…I…” Regina looked away, and Emma watched her, rubbing both her hands up and down Regina’s shoulders for a few long moments, trying to understand the reason for Regina’s furrowed brow.

“You what?”

Regina looked back at her, blinking, her hands squeezing Emma’s hips. “I need you to control the pace. If you see me falling out of the scene I give you permission to touch my arm.”

“Okay, I can do that. But we should maybe work on getting you comfortable with these things.”

Regina bowed her head, squeezing Emma’s hips one more time before taking a step back. “I appreciate what you’re doing for me, Emma, I know I have not been on my A game lately but I promise I will be better.”

Emma frowned slightly, her voice distant and professional and Emma knew she was trying to pull herself together so she just nodded as Regina turned around and Emma slipped her hands back under Regina’s shirt, feeling around until she found the little switch and she turned the mic pack back on before turning around for Regina to do the same, tucking Emma’s shirt back into her pants without a second thought and then stepped back, Emma watching her closely as she tucked in her own shirt and their eyes met once more.

Emma stepped forward, her hand moving to Regina’s cheek and she watched her dark eyes shimmering with tears and Emma gave her another reassuring smile. “Nothing changes, remember?”

Regina’s smile was gentle and her emotions strong enough to knock Emma on her ass and then to top it off she slowly moved her hand to cover Emma’s on her cheek and they just looked into each other’s eyes for a beat. “Thank you.”

Emma gave her another reassuring smile and Regina lowered her hand and stepped back, Emma’s hand falling away as she watched Regina turn around, tucking her hair behind her ear as she walked out from behind the false walls and Emma followed. Whatever happened next Emma knew that they could lean on each other.

 


 

Regina looked up from her book when she heard a knock at her front door, with an unsure frown on her lips she slipped the blanket off her lap and stood up, stepping carefully as she approached the door, her phone gripped in her hand as she reached out and undid the lock, placing her foot in just the perfect place to block the door she slowly opened it and let out a long sigh when she saw who was on the other side.

“What are you doing here?” She said as she opened the door all the way and walked back into her house.

“Thought you’d like to talk.”

“You thought wrong,” she heard the door close and turned to see Zelena standing there, obviously just coming from set and putting on her best attempt at a concerned face.

“Regina, I’m your sister, I care about you and I just want to help.”

“Now you want to help?” Regina muttered, turning and walking into her kitchen, hearing Zelena follow her as she moved to grab a bottle of cider.

“I was 19, Regina, you can’t keep–”

“Don’t.” Regina braced her hands on the counter, feeling her vision blur before she squeezed her eyes against the memories. “You don’t get to talk about it.”

“What do I get to talk about then? You’re my sister and you’re hurting, why can’t I try and help you?!”

Regina spun around, pointing a finger at Zelena as she yelled, “because you don’t get to! You have no right! You don’t get to show up at my house and demand answers for things you could never understand!” Her voice cracked and sounded wild to her own ears, high pitched and nothing like herself.

“Then help me understand!”

“It’s not my job to do that! I’m tired of helping people understand! Why can’t you just learn yourself? Why can’t you accept I don’t want to talk to you about this?!”

“Then who are you talking with? Mal? Neal? Emma? You have to talk to somebody! You’re breaking at the seams, Regina, don’t you see this is no way to live?!”

Regina’s jaw tensed, her hands trembling and she tried hopelessly to fight off the tears burning in her eyes. “You don’t think I know that? You don’t think I look in the mirror and hate what I see there?! I live every day with this, you get a glimpse every few years during family dinners and then poof, no more worries there, but now that you actually can see who I am, you what? Want to fix me? Fix the poor broken lesbian?”

Regina let out a bitter laugh, seeing the way it hit home, the way Zelena faltered, how her eyes looked distant.

“Regina…”

“Go home, Zelena, leave me alone, I don’t need your help.” Regina brushed past her, the tile cold against her feet, her arms wrapping around her middle to hug herself, to keep in the warmth when everything around her felt numb and cold.

“I’ll never leave you, you’re my sister, I love you.”

“You’ve left me before, what’s to change now?”

“Regina…” Zelena said again, placing a hand on her shoulder and Regina shrugged it off, raising her head in a show of confidence she didn’t have.

“Go home, Zelena.”

Zelena looked sadly at her but she did as asked, she turned to head down the hall to the front door, Regina staying put as she watched her leave, but at the last second Zelena turned around to look at her, the strong emotions and determination in her eyes throwing Regina for a loop.

“Push me away all you like, but I’ll never leave you again, Regina.”

Regina’s jaw tensed and Zelena slipped out of the house, locking the door with her keys, reminding Regina that she could have just walked in, but didn’t want to sneak in unannounced.

It hurt. Everything hurt and Regina just hugged herself tighter before she turned on her heels and walked upstairs, curling up on her bed suddenly too tired to think.

 


 

The music played from the speakers in her trailer, the steady beats filling the room while Regina sat with her back against the arm of the couch, her sketchbook resting against her bent thighs as she tried to get out her feelings through art. Trying everything she could to decompress, she hated that she was becoming known for hiding away again and although she wasn’t much interested in social interactions, she didn’t like the idea of being seen as some snooty diva. She also didn’t like being seen as anything less than what she was, to have her talent misinterpreted as anything but stellar.

Regina Mills was a name that was linked to professionalism, to well-rounded characters. This wasn’t her. This isn’t how she worked, and she couldn’t let this happen, she loved Roni too much to hurt her like this. She needed to find a way to get out of her head, she had to.

So she drew, she listened to music, she wrote in a diary. Anything and everything to just, get it out.

“Hey,” she heard the voice carry over the music and looked up to see Emma, hands in the pockets of her slacks and hair hanging down around her shoulders in loose curls, a shy smile on her face.

“Emma.”

“Can I sit?”

Regina nodded, wondering briefly why Emma seemed unsure when she was just so used to her flopping herself onto the couch and telling her about her morning battles with Ashley about her hairstyle or the fight for the last bearclaw.

“Whatcha drawing today?”

Regina looked back down at her picture, it was dark, inner thoughts depicted in dark hard lines and bold shading. “My inner demons I guess…”

Emma nodded, picking at her nails anxiously and Regina dropped her legs, to the floor and reached for her remote, turning down the music before turning around to give Emma her undivided attention.

“Okay, what did you do?”

“Nothing!” Emma insisted then looked away guiltily and Regina sighed, folding her hands on top of her notebook. “So I was in hair,” Regina arched a brow at Emma’s obviously unstyled hair. “Jefferson came in and just started complaining about… the show’s new direction…”

“Emma, you didn’t.”

“I didn’t punch him!” Regina pursed her lips and Emma fell against the back of the couch. “I did however call him a homophobic misogynistic egomaniac with a tiny penis…and then challenged him to a fight in the parking lot…”

“Emma!”

“He was being an asshole!” Emma sat up, throwing her hands in the air and Regina bowed her head, shaking slowly as she also leaned back against the couch, Emma mirroring her a second later.

“You weren’t lying.”

“No, I wasn’t…”

Silence fell over them and then Regina started chuckling, turning her head to look at Emma to catch her watching her in confusion. “They kicked you out of the makeup trailer didn’t they?”

“No. They highly suggested I take a walk to cool down.”

Regina started laughing more, shaking her head as she stared up at the ceiling of her trailer. “Looks like they’ll be keeping him away from of us both now.”

“Winning.” Regina reached out, slapping Emma’s arm at the joke and Emma chuckled, catching Regina’s hand as she was pulling it away, tugging it closer so she could examine her fingers. “I kinda like the artist look, the messy smudges of charcoal or whatever you’re using. It’s a good aesthetic.

“Yes and it does make it easier to do this,” Regina said as she pushed up onto the couch on her knees and swiped her finger over Emma’s nose leaving a dark smudge on the very tip.

“Regina my makeup!”

Regina smirked, dropping her sketchbook into Emma’s lap, a silent invitation for Emma to look as she got up to get her a tissue.

“Hey this is really good!” Emma called after her, and Regina smiled as she washed off her hands and grabbed a tissue before she walked back, pausing to look at Emma examining her work. “I like your use of lights and darks, you can feel the emotions here. Also you captured yourself perfectly.”

Regina frowned slightly, looking down at her drawing to see that Emma was right, on the page although not all together there was one of her eyes, her scar and lips, and her hair in wild curls.

“Who’s the figure?” Emma looked up at her and Regina shrugged before reaching out and curling her fingers under Emma’s chin and gripping it with her thumb to hold her still as she wiped the smudge from the tip of her nose. Emma’s eyes were staring up at her, intense and unnerving and Regina was almost scared to meet them, scared that with one look everything could unravel. “How are you still so beautiful from this angle? Me in that angle, double chin central.”

Regina shook her head with a laugh and shoved Emma back with two fingers to her forehead, Emma falling back against the couch and smirking so proudly at herself for making Regina laugh.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d think you picked a fight with Jefferson to cheer me up.”

“You got me, I attempted to start a brawl to bring you joy cause I would do anything for your happiness.”

“You’re so cheesy.” Regina said around a chuckle, lowering herself onto the couch and tugging the sketchbook from Emma’s lap to look down at it.

“Can I see it when it’s done?”

“Sure,” Regina smiled, looking at Emma’s hopeful grin as she reached out, slipping her hand into Emma’s and squeezing, Emma returned the gesture and they stayed like that for a few minutes longer before Alice knocked on Regina’s trailer door and told them they were needed in hair.

 


 

February 1st, 2017

 

 

Regina was barely awake when she walked up to her trailer, sipping from her large cup of coffee, all her eyes saw was the door and nothing else.

“Happy Birthday!”

Regina yelped, spinning around, her hand pressed against her chest as she looked at the guilty face of Emma Swan holding a messy looking cupcake and a balloon.

“Emma…”

“I made you a cupcake!”

Regina looked back down at the treat before her eyes moved back up to Emma’s face, a disbelieving laugh rumbling out of her as she walked back down the steps, Emma’s grin adorably hopeful. “I see that…”

“I used the boxed mix though…and store-bought icing…”

Regina looked at the light blue icing and its adorable little birthday cupcake liner and she moved closer until she was standing in front of Emma, the little star shaped candle just like the one Regina had used for Emma’s birthday a while ago sticking out of it, hers was a light pink though. “It’s perfect, thank you.”

“Take it,” Emma thrust it out and Regina took it from her hand while Emma shoved her hand in her pocket and brandished a gas station lighter. “You gotta make a wish.”

Regina shook her head, her smile soft as she tried to fight off the tears that were oddly burning her eyes. “You going to sing me happy birthday too?”

“Is that part of your fantasy?” Emma said with a grin and Regina chuckled, a smirk turning up the side of her mouth.

“It is now, dear.”

Emma laughed and flicked the lighter, grinning as she moved the flame to the little candle, her eyes alight with mischief and then, to Regina’s utter shock and embarrassment, Emma started singing.

Regina could feel her cheeks colouring as other people started coming out of their trailers, even Zelena with her phone braced and she just knew this was going to be on her instagram story. And of course the others started singing as well and she took a calming breath and raised the cupcake so she could blow out the candle, her eyes closing as she made a wish, and for the first time in her adult life she really hoped it’d come true.

There was cheering and clapping the second the candle went out and Emma ended her little birthday song, Regina’s eyes opening to meet Emma’s and her heart warmed at that stupid dopey grin.

Her smile widened as she got an idea and she swiped her finger through the icing and then wiped it on the tip of Emma’s nose, there was laughter and Emma was looking so shocked but there was also something else to her expression that Regina couldn’t quite decipher.

She popped her finger in her mouth, licking off the icing. “It’s not bad.”

“Happy Birthday, Regina.”

“Thank you, Emma,” She turned to look at everyone else, sure the tears burning in her eyes were visible. “Thank you, everybody, this means a lot.”

“I thought we were throwing her a party on the office soundstage?” Jefferson stage whispered and Regina’s eyes were on Emma while Emma glared threateningly at Jefferson until Ruby slapped her hand over his mouth and pulled him away.

“A party?”

“I had a party, why can’t you?”

Regina shook her head, the frosting still on Emma’s nose so she reached out, wiping it off and then sucking it off the tip of her thumb. “I’m going to go enjoy my coffee and cupcake now.”

“M’kay.”

Regina rolled her eyes at Emma’s dopey pout, “would you like to join me?”

“Always.”

 


 

Regina was curled up in the corner of her couch later that day, after the party; she had a decent time, the network had even dropped off another box of fan gifts and cards, flowers were sent to her trailer and they were taking up nearly all her counter space. For the first time in her life, her birthday actually felt like it was surrounded with love, and maybe it was something she needed right now.

Nothing was easy, it never was for her, but she was determined to enjoy this day, not just because for once it didn’t involve her mother demanding her attention and spending the whole lunch or dinner receiving cleverly disguised criticism, but also because a year ago she had found out she’d been cast as Roni and her life had been instantaneously changed.

She was so grateful for the year she’d had with Roni in her life and she wanted her fans to know that not only was this her birthday but that it was kind of Roni’s too. Roni and this show was a gift that kept on giving.

She glanced over at Emma, feeling warmth expand in her chest because she really couldn’t deny all the good it gave her. It’d been a hard few weeks, she knew that, she knew she wasn’t herself, but it’d also woken her up to a lot of things she was now starting to realize she couldn’t bury anymore and that was because of Roni.

Regina looked back down at her phone, looking for a picture for her post to celebrate the anniversary and typed it out, spending probably more time on it than she would admit to. And when she was sure it was perfect she pressed post, holding her breath as it was sent out into the universe.

“Regina…” She looked over at Emma, gnawing on the inside of her cheek as she waited. “You know what this means right? We’ve been friends for a year.”

“Not quite, still a couple weeks for that.”

“You know what the fans would love?” Regina arched a brow and Emma twisted on the couch so she was facing her more. “A picture or video of the birthday girl.”

“They’ve had many.”

“Look at the things they’ve made for you, finish going through your gifts, then decide.”

Regina frowned as Emma stood to leave, “did I do something wrong?”

“No,” Emma smiled, placing her hand on Regina’s bent knee. “I just think this is something you need to do alone.”

Regina nodded, covering Emma’s hand with her own just as it slipped away and she headed out the door. Regina did as Emma suggested and she was glad she was left alone because she cried more than she would like anyone to know.

Roni meant as much to them as she did to her and Regina also meant so much to them, she was making a difference, for the first time in her life it really felt like she was making a difference and although Mary Margaret and David’s decision was petrifying and bringing up more memories than she was prepared for, she knew that it was important not just because of these lovely messages but because it’s something she’d have killed for when she was younger, just to feel like she was normal . And that what she was feeling was okay.

 


 

Although Regina’s birthday had been a breath of fresh air, but that high crashed hard and fast, the shift leaving her numb and unsure. Lost in her thoughts that swirled and her footing on some semblance of stability was now lost. And all it took was one phone call, she had known better than to pick it up but she was programmed to do so, because if she didn’t she’d have hell to pay and the punishment was always worse than just picking up the phone.

Except this time, this time she was left trying everything to grasp onto the her who was sure in her decisions, though she was starting to wonder if that her ever existed. Cora knew every button to push, she always knew just how to break her and she took joy in it. This year though it just took one simple comment.

“I met the nicest young man today, he adores your new show, -although I do not know why- I think he’d be perfect for you, maybe the perfect man to get you out of these predilections of yours. It’s time you met a nice man and got married, Regina. You’re not getting any younger.”

She had hung up with a bitter “Bye, Mother,” and spent the rest of the evening fuming, tears burning in her eyes. She wanted to wrap her hands around her mother’s throat and just squeeze .

She was exhausted by the end of it all, found herself retreating back into her mind soon after, she was never going to get away, no matter what, her mother was going to be there, saying Regina was confused, broken, that she just needed to find a good man, like… like.

She tensed her jaw, fighting the tears as she gripped her glass of scotch, staring down into the golden liquid and wishing for it to take away her pain, her memories. She just wanted peace, from her thoughts, from herself, from the rest of the world.

Suddenly there was a knock at her door, her body jolting in surprise and causing the liquid to splash in the cup, pulling her out of her dark thoughts as she turned to stare at the hallway, wondering if they’d just go away if she ignored it. When the knock sounded again, eerily familiar she stood up, placing her scotch on the coffee table she walked toward the door, crossing her arms protectively over her chest, her posture the slightest bit slumped.

“Regina, it’s me, you in there?”

She frowned, looking between the door and the stairs that took her up to her room, debating on hiding but she threw it open and faced Emma Swan with her lopsided smile brandishing a box of pizza and a grocery bag.

“What are you doing here?”

“I brought pizza and rootbeer. Thought we could run lines, watch a movie. You know, friendship things.”

“Now isn’t really a good time, Miss Swan.”

Emma’s eyes took her in, studying every haunted edge of her face and just stepped through the door making Regina step to the side. “I think now is the perfect time. You look like you haven’t slept in a week.”

“Gee thanks. If I knew you were coming I’d have put on clothes and makeup.” The bite in her tone was obvious but only knocked home as she let the door slam shut before moving to lock it.

“You look fine.”

Regina frowned, crossing her arms back over her chest, gripping the sleeves of her too large sweater, painfully aware of the state of her hair since she had done nothing to it after she’d showered.

“I got pepperoni, figured that was safe. I also brought some movies cause I didn’t see any when snooping.”

“I have movies.” Regina grumbled as she followed Emma into her kitchen, wondering how she still seemed to remember the layout of her house after only one evening there.

“Well then I’m sure we’ll have loads to choose from.”

“Emma,” Regina said, arms tensing around her middle as she watched the woman looking for plates in her kitchen. “Second cupboard to your left.” She helped before continuing what she was saying before. “Why are you really here?”

“I thought you could use a friend.” Emma’s head dropped and Regina frowned. “I’m trying, I’m trying to be here for you, and I see the way you’re hurting, I look into your eyes and it’s impossible to miss. So I’m going to be a good friend,” Emma turned to look at her, head held high as she finished. “And this is what good friends do. They show up at each other’s houses when they know they’re upset and they distract them with crappy movies and greasy food.”

“You could have called so I could put on pants.”

Emma chuckled, a blush on her cheeks as she turned around again, grabbing the plates she’d placed on the counter. “Go get changed I’ll go find your TV.”

Regina let out a long sigh, her arms falling to her sides as she grabbed the box of pizza from the island. “Follow me, Miss Swan.”

“Gladly.” Emma smirked and waggled her eyebrows when Regina glanced back at her and it was hard not to laugh.

“Pervert.”

Regina led Emma to her living room, a large TV and shelves of movies and books, her glass of scotch and the bunched up throw on the couch making it known that she’d been there a moment ago.

She walked further into the room, bending to place the pizza on the coffee table before she straightened up, tucking a temperamental curl behind her ear as she turned to face Emma, watching her silently looking around the room for a couple moments before she said, “make yourself comfortable while I go dress for company.”

“Kay…” Emma said, turning to look at her with a soft smile and Regina didn’t really understand that look, she was used to the lustful glances, she expected to find Emma’s eyes running over her body but not this, not this look that was more and so confusing that it made Regina feel like she wanted to run but also oh so safe.

Regina bowed her head and walked back toward Emma, slipping past her in the doorway which was when Emma’s hand landed on her arm and she stopped, looking up at her, her head tilting to the side in curiosity while Emma just studied her and Regina didn’t dare to breathe.

“What?” She eventually asked and Emma’s smile turned lopsided as she raised her hand, brushing her fingers against Regina’s jaw, making Regina frown in confusion, that look in Emma’s eyes so intense Regina had no idea what to do with it.

Emma took a step through the doorway, grin wide and teasing as she said. “So I was thinking we start with Snow White then maybe Frozen?”

Regina shook her head, watching Emma unload her arm and move to the shelves of movies and Regina slipped out, wondering what all of that meant.

 


 

Emma sat cross legged on the couch, Regina on the other end as they watched Frozen, Regina looking thoughtful and maybe a little confused the whole time, just sipping her root beer and carefully eating her pizza.

She looked adorable, now in silk pyjama bottoms and a large grey sweater, her hair pulled back in a ponytail but the curls were sticking up wildly, curling up at her temples around her glasses which were perched on her nose.

She complained throughout Snow White about watching kids’ movies when she owned so many classics, but Emma could tell by the way her eyes never left the screen while they watched Frozen that she was enjoying it well enough and her complaints were merely for show at that point.

Once she was done with her pizza, she pulled her legs up so they were folded against her chest, tucked so tightly against the side of the couch as she nursed her second bottle of root beer, her sleeves now falling over her hands and Emma could only really see the tips of her fingers.

When she had announced she was going to get changed, Emma had half expected her to come down in a full face of makeup, slacks, and a button up but she’d just put on pants and done up her hair. It was nice that Regina let her guard around her like this, she knew that Regina found comfort in the way she presented herself to the world. Her clothes were like an armour that Emma understood better than most people might.

Emma turned her head to look at Elsa on the screen, scared and confused and it was just something she could so easily relate to. “You know I always kinda got Elsa, the depression and all that but also like having this part of me that was scary and confusing. It reminded me a lot of how I felt when I was questioning, before I really opened up to my mom. It was kinda a lonely experience.”

Regina looked at her, eyes curious and vulnerable and Emma was sure it almost looked like there were tears in her eyes before she looked back at the screen, tugging on her sleeves. She didn’t quite understand what happened…maybe she had said something wrong.

 


 

Regina felt it sitting in her chest, the anxious lump as she watched the idiotic childrens’ movie of a girl she related so much to, she understood her, like Emma had said, and she kept thinking, about how Emma said it felt like, and it did. She still has that feeling of being alone and scared of something that is so much a part of her.

Her parents made her bury it, her father to protect her from the cruelty of the world and her mother because she thought there was something wrong with her.

She became scared of a part of herself. Made to think there was something wrong with her.

The emotions choked up in her throat and burned at her eyes, her hands gripping her bottle of root beer so tight she was sure it might break.

Regina knew Emma noticed that she was upset, every day, but right now especially by the way her hand fell onto her foot, a silent comfort, but Emma didn’t expect anything of her, she knew that, she felt it every single day, she knew there was something there that made her feel comfortable enough to lean into her, that made her feel safe enough to open up and trust her.

To want to bare her soul to her and trust that when she saw her darkest centre she wouldn’t run screaming or look at her with pity.

“I was 15,” she whispered, voice barely louder than the music coming from the TV, her eyes shimmering with tears as she stared at the blurry image on the screen.

“What?” Emma asked, Regina felt her move as she removed her hand and reached for the remote on the table and paused the movie, staring at Regina, and Regina placed the rootbeer down before glancing over at her, almost laughing at the way Emma looked like she was sure she had imagined Regina speaking.

“I was 15, when I…came out I guess.”

“You guess?” Emma frowned and Regina shrugged, tugging at her sleeves and resting her chin on her knees, closing her eyes to the images that filled her own mind, to the distant memory of her own screams and cries.

Sometimes it didn’t feel real. But the pain, that pain that lived like a brick in her chest, the fear that burned through her veins every day of her life… that was the constant reminder that it was. It all was.

“I was outed by a teacher,” Regina’s nails dug into her legs, the tears escaping her eyes even though they were squeezed tightly shut to try and block them out. “A teacher saw me and my girlfriend kissing outside school, we thought we were so sneaky.”

Regina let out a bitter laugh, remembering the way they laughed and hid behind trees and bushes outside school, fingers innocently interlocked or brushing hair away. The little chaste kisses they would share in greeting. It was innocent, as pure as a first love could be… or maybe could have been.

“He of course told the principal, concerned for our souls or whatever the fuck he used as an excuse.” Regina waved her hand, bitterness stirring in her gut, anger at that man, for what he had caused because he couldn’t keep his trap shut. “The principal then of course called our parents, to inform them of such an indiscretion.”

Regina moved her hand to her cheek, swiping the tear from her away like they had done something to harm her. Her eyes opening once again to stare at the paused movie.

“A decision was made without my consent, I didn’t know what was going on, I went home after school in a high that day, I can still remember that feeling sometimes, the innocence…”

She turned to look at Emma and something stopped, because Emma was watching her, just watching, no look of pity, nothing just, listening, patiently, Regina didn’t really know what to do with that or the way it made her heart flutter so she looked away, dragged back into her memories.

“When I was with Danielle I had felt invincible . Dreamt of everything I would later realize I could never actually have. But those few months.” She pressed her thumb into the palm of her hand, trying to release some tension, but it wasn’t anything but a means of comfort. “My world had never crashed so fast… I walked through that door and my father greeted me, tears pouring from his eyes and looking so helpless. I thought maybe something had happened to mother or Zelena at college, or to his family. Innocently I went to him to comfort him, and he… he pulled away from me.”

Her jaw tensed, she would never forget that moment, could see it playing clear as day in her mind, still felt that hurt and confusion twist in her gut.

“That’s when I saw my bags packed, behind my father, they looked so perfect and so out of place, I didn’t understand… that confusion,” tears rolled down her cheeks again, burning a path down her face like they had on that day nearly 20 years ago.

“Mother walked out into the room next, and it wasn’t like I was unused to her cold disappointed stare, I lived with it my whole life but there was something else there that I didn’t really get until I grew up and looked back at it. For the first time in my life, my mother looked at me with disgust. There was always something about me she needed to fix, and she didn’t see this as anything different. She was going to fix me, repair what was broken. No daughter of hers was going to be an abomination.”

“Regina…” Emma’s voice was hoarse, pulling her out of her thoughts, suddenly hearing the disconnect in her own voice, the anger that twisted around that pain and the fear to stop her from crumbling.

“I’m fine…”

Emma nodded and Regina met her eyes, she knew Emma understood what had happened, she didn’t have to actually say it, she could leave it there, never utter those words aloud again, but she knew that if she wanted to face it, if she wanted to heal she knew she had to finish her story.

“My mom ordered my father to take my bags to the car and he tried to beg her not to do it but he was just as manipulated as we were, he gave up, he always gave up. And I was left, so small, trembling and crying as I tried to stay together in front of my mother, unsure as to what was really happening. I never imagined they’d find out, I didn’t even know those places really existed, I was naïve. I can still hear my voice asking my mother what was going on, what I had done, where were they sending me, I hoped it was something else. Anything else, but my mother approached me, she had this presence about her, this cold yet dominating presence, this way to act caring when her eyes were angry and her touch was cold.”

She wiped at her eyes with the sleeve of her sweater, tugging at the sleeves, wondering if they’d tear, almost hoping they would so something else would feel as broken as she did.

She could still feel her mother’s touch against her cheek, cold, a façade of caring, wiping away her tears and tipping her head up to look into those cold eyes that made bile rise in Regina’s throat. Just the memory of it made her want to be sick, made her feel just as tiny as she had in that moment. She hugged her legs tighter to her chest, watched the screen of the TV turn blurry. Her memories pulling her back.

“She told me there was something wrong with me, an evil in me, her voice even, mock caring and it sent chills down my spine. She told me she was sending me to a place to cure me of my perversions. I told her I didn’t understand, that I loved Danielle, how could love be wrong…” Regina let out a bitter laugh, “I was dumb and unjaded, to think my mother cared about anything but her image.”

She could feel the way her mother’s nails dug into her chin as she tugged on her face. Her voice cold and frightening, in a tone she long since knew to bend to, to become small so she could feel big. She could still hear her mother’s voice ringing in her ears ‘you insolent child’ she had said, the pain in her face nothing in comparison to what she knew she could inflict and Regina couldn’t keep the tears in, even as her mother demanded she cut it out.

“I fought her like any dumb kid in love, I screamed back and told her she couldn’t keep us apart, I said it didn’t matter where she sent me we’d always find each other. She laughed in my face, said I was delusional but that it was okay, she was sending me to a place that would help me and then she grabbed my arm so tightly it hurt and I fought more, refusing to let her pull me through the house, refusing to go and she yelled and gripped tighter, so tightly I had bruises later, but I didn’t stop I wouldn’t stop. Every part of me knew that where I was going it’d somehow be way worse than what my mother had put me through…and I was right.”

Her voice was numb, her chest heavy but she could still feel those tears rolling down her cheeks, pouring from them unbidden. Releasing something she had been burying since she was a child. Something she hadn’t talked about since she was 19 years old when she had to explain the reason why she shied away from Mal’s touch, why she constantly talked about herself in such horrible ways.

“My mother sent me to conversion therapy, my dad stood by and let her, and Zelena… Zelena never came for me, even when she knew what was actually happening, when mother told her I was getting help for my perversion. And when I got out, when I was sent home broken down and told I was dirty for months, told my feelings were evil and wrong… They celebrated my successful treatment, my return home with a big party and grand smiles, telling everyone I had gone away on some internship my mother had set up.”

She tried not to be bitter at her sister, she was trying, but she could still remember falling asleep crying and alone and wishing for someone, for Zelena to come save her; there was always that part of her that felt as abandoned by Zelena as she had by her own parents. The black sheep in her own family, secluded from the world, every aspect of her life monitored, watched over in case she fell back into her deviant ways.

“And for two years I pretended it did, I forced those feelings aside, I dated the boys my mother set me up with, I got a long term boyfriend. Mother was so proud, her vision of my future once again whole and Zelena never once thought to ask if I was okay, to do anything for me, even when I had begged her to let me stay with her. I just wanted to be free from them, from him, this perfect man in my mother’s eyes, planning a wedding, babies, my whole future while I was barely living, a robot in my own life, doing what I was told when I was told, the perfect daughter, girlfriend, and student.”

Emma’s hand fell to her elbow and Regina looked down at it, her heart exploding in her chest and breaking free, eyes frantic and scared as they met Emma’s that just looked at her with understanding and love and Regina’s lower lip wobbled, Emma’s thumb brushing over her arm soothingly. Why did Emma have to be so understanding?

“I don’t want to hate myself anymore,” she sobbed and Emma scooted closer, giving Regina’s arm a gentle tug and Regina fell against her, as easy as it never used to be, finding comfort in someone was impossible, trusting someone with her truth, expressing her deepest pains and trauma. She didn’t do that. But Emma, Emma made her feel safe since the very first day she met her and the feeling only seemed to grow in this year of friendship, something powerful and frightening, and she clung to it because being with Emma was like revolving around the sun, it’s warmth was so incredible but get too close and you’ll be destroyed.

But like Icarus she couldn’t resist that pull even if she knew it’d be her downfall.

 


 

Emma didn’t know what to do, she was having a hard time processing it all but all she knew was to hold as tightly to Regina as she’d allow, to comfort her the best she could, knowing that this was critical. What she did here was important and the fear that she’d fuck up and hurt Regina who was emotional and raw and so very tiny as she curled against her side, as she cried against her chest, tears rolling down her skin and soaking through her tank top, as she trembled and fisted Emma’s shirt, sought out her warmth and comfort like she’d probably never allowed herself to do before.

Emma knew that one wrong move, one wrong word and she could really fuck this up, and she would do anything to protect Regina from hurt. So she said nothing, she held Regina against her body, rubbed her back and arm, placed a kiss to her hair a few times. Anything she knew to do that might be comforting. She was a warm body to cling to and Regina didn’t seem eager to move.

It’d killed Emma to not reach out and comfort her throughout her story, to watch her hurting so much, to see her lose herself in memories Emma couldn’t even begin to imagine, in a pain so ingrained in how she grew, in this amazingly strong woman Emma loved with every fibre of her being.

Her mind was reeling, piecing each little fact and word together in her mind with everything she’d ever learnt from Regina, by watching her or from the few moments Regina had shared a piece of herself with Emma. It was hard not to think of what Regina had said at the pool 5 years ago, of her ex from when she was a teenager, and it made Emma’s stomach twist, she had never once thought it could be like that.

Emma felt angry, she felt absolutely devastated and she knew that no matter what, she’d protect Regina through all of this, would be by her side through everything, to help her heal some of this pain if she let her. She was going to be the greatest friend she could be, she was never going to hurt her, not like everyone else had.

Regina had stopped trembling after some time but she didn’t move, she didn’t even pretend to want to move so Emma just decided to stay like this, to grab Regina’s remote and exit the movie to pull up Netflix, to put on something stupid as background noise as she held Regina to her side, her fingers on her stomach as they traced random patterns on her tank top. Eventually she felt her breaths ease against her chest, she tried not to focus on how absolutely tiny Regina was, how perfect she felt tucked against her.

Her hand gripped Regina’s hip, her thumb tapping absentmindedly against the thick roles of the sweater and she wished she could comfort her better; Regina seemed to want more contact since she had slipped Emma’s hand under her sweater to rest against her pyjama bottoms, her knees were resting on Emma’s lap and she’d let out a content sigh as Emma’s thumb brushed against her bare skin over the hem of her pants.

Emma refused to confront the intimate gestures, refused to face them in fear she’d say something stupid, like she almost had earlier. Being in love with Regina Mills had never hurt so much but she would hurt forever if it meant she could still be her friend, be trusted with something so absolutely personal and private.

She allowed herself one moment of weakness again; tipping her head down she pressed a kiss to the top of her head and when she pulled back after a few long seconds Regina tipped her head back to look her in the eye and her hand moved from her stomach, finger brushing against the dimple in her chin as she studied Emma’s face, her hand falling to Emma’s chest, feeling the way her heart thudded in her chest and slowly a smile curled on her lips and robbed Emma of all her breath.

“Thank you,” she said, so quiet, so absolutely raw with crying and just pure emotion that Emma found tears burning in her eyes as well.

“Always.”

Regina’s eyes shimmered and she looked away, back at the TV and Emma’s breath finally escaped her lungs as Regina’s hand fell back to her stomach, back to her oddly comforting fidgeting and Emma felt raw and exposed, felt like all her emotions were one second away from bursting free in an embarrassing show of sobs and rage, but love overpowered it, Regina calmed her and she had no intention of moving from where she was, not until Regina asked her to leave.

 


 

At some point they stretched out on the couch, Regina curled into her side and nestled against the back of the sofa and Emma. Her head on her shoulder and hand still spayed against Emma’s stomach as Emma tried to remain focused on the TV and not on how amazing it felt to have Regina tucked into her side and how complete she felt when she held her in her arms.

It was scary how fast things could change, but for the first time in her life she didn’t want to run from it, not from Regina, this friendship was everything to her, she loved her with her whole soul, she knew that now, she knew she probably always would, even if romance was not in the cards for them, not now… or maybe not for awhile. Emma didn’t know, but what she did know was simple, Regina was her best friend and she was hers. Nothing would change that.

“This show is so stupid,” Emma blinked back to the present, wondering when Regina had started paying attention to the TV.

“Stupid can be good sometimes.”

“Yes, you are very good.”

Emma gasped, pulling her head to look at Regina, her glasses were removed and all she saw were her beautiful but very bloodshot eyes staring back at her.

“Shut up, you can’t even see the TV right now.”

“No, but I can hear how stupid it is.”

“Snob.”

“Slob.”

“I’ll make you pay for that.” Emma threatened with a grin and Regina chuckled and closed her eyes and snuggled against Emma’s chest again, leg thrown over Emma’s hips. “Curses, you have discovered my weakness! Snuggles!”

“Idiot.” Regina’s voice was low, vibrating against Emma as she picked at the hem of Emma’s tank top absentmindedly and Emma watched her for a few long seconds before she laid her hand over Regina’s and watched as Regina slowly locked their fingers together and she couldn’t move let alone think, she just wanted to cry at how absolutely and painfully perfect this felt.

 


 

Regina was exhausted, it hit her fast. One second she was still running on adrenaline or whatever it was that was triggered when talking to Emma and the next she felt like she couldn’t move. The warmth of being in Emma’s arms, the comfort of the steady beat of her heart, the feeling of her hand on her side, grounding her. It was all too much and she couldn’t keep her eyes open, she tried to bicker to stay awake but she didn’t have it in her to keep up, sleep was pulling at the back of her mind and with Emma’s hand in hers, she eventually just let it take over.

She was too exhausted to care, to worry about what could happen, and after a year she found she trusted Emma more than what their past was. And honestly the thought of Emma holding her while she slept comforted her, it made her feel like she was safe and not alone. That if her demons came knocking she’d at least have someone by her side to help keep them at bay or to at least make stupid jokes to cheer her up.

So Regina let sleep tug her into dreamland, let her body relax against Emma’s, let herself absorb the warmth and safety Emma’s arms always brought. She could worry about this all later, right now her brain was tired and her body ached and her throat and eyes burnt…so she let her body have what it needed right now and that was sleep and comfort.

Chapter Text

 

February 8th, 2017

 

 

Not much changed after that, it wasn’t like talking about it would miraculously make everything better but Emma understanding her pain and fears helped. Regina found she could lean on her a bit more, allow her to help or comfort her when she needed it so desperately it was hard to think straight.

Emma had become more sure about them needing a system or a way for Regina to be comfortable showing romantic affection to her in public, so she could play Roni without that small part of her brain that controlled her fight or flight response butting in and bringing up her trauma when she was trying to work.

It was absolutely ridiculous to think about but Regina knew even in the slightest way it was what she needed to do, she also needed to start confronting the reasons for her pain and it’s not like that was hard. That pain was pretty obvious where it had started and the reasons for it. Now, getting the negative and belittling thoughts to stop, that’d be harder, but she was ready to start facing her pain instead of ignoring it, and she knew that one of the things she needed to confront was her sister; she didn’t want to be coming from a place of that angry hurt again… but she wasn’t sure how to go about it.

She was nervous to begin, to look her trauma straight in the eye, but she was also so ready for it. Regina just wanted to let herself be happy, and she wanted to be able to do a good job for Roni and her fans, which meant starting Emma’s plan as soon as possible.

Emma was allowing her to take her time to feel a little more grounded after her big confession, she had spent the whole night with her at her house that night, she had held her while she slept and talked with her as she made breakfast at 5 the next day and had done so much for her, Regina actually had to force her into the guest room so she’d just sleep.

She was curious about the details and process of Emma’s plan, she wanted to know everything so she could properly prepare for it and also decide on when she was ready to put it in place. Regina knew that she was at least ready to have the discussion, so she did what they so often did and picked up coffee and their lunch before she walked back to Emma’s trailer, knocking with the toe of her boot before she stepped down onto the second step and waited.

“Yes food! I’m starving!”

Regina rolled her eyes and followed Emma into the trailer, kicking the door shut as she followed her inside, placing everything on the table while Emma’s eyes seemed to watch her silently.

“You’re staring.”

“I am waiting patiently for my food.”

Regina took a step aside, gesturing to the containers of food on the table and Emma leaped up, popping open the first one and cheering when she saw the grilled cheese and onion rings.

“You’re the best,” Emma said, her eyes filled with affection before she dropped into the chair on the other side of the table and Regina lowered herself into her own, pulling the container closer to herself as she watched Emma dig in.

“Wha?” Emma said around a mouth full of food and Regina couldn’t stop the affectionate smile that curled at the corners of her lips as she flipped open her container to avoid answering Emma’s question.

“You’re buttering me up for something, I can feel it. Are you breaking up with me? Cause if so, I refuse to go easily.”

Regina rolled her eyes, popping a fry in her mouth, “I’d have to be dating you to break up with you, dear.”

“You could dump me as your super bestie.”

Regina arched a brow, “super bestie? When did this promotion happen?”

“When we cuddled and watched family guy.”

“Is that how friendships progress? Cuddling?”

“Eh, I wouldn’t know, but I imagine it was the -trusting someone enough to be completely vulnerable in front of them -part.” Regina’s eyes softened, affection blossoming in her chest. “I mean, farting in front of me took real courage.”

Regina’s mouth fell open in shock and she threw her fry at Emma’s face and Emma laughed wildly as she threw it back and Regina caught it, sticking her tongue out at Emma’s shocked expression.

“I can fart in front of you so then you can be my super bestie too.”

“I’m good, thanks.”

“Maybe another time…”

“I would hope not.”

Emma chuckled and reached across the table, placing her hand on Regina’s and Regina’s expression softened instantly. “So what is the real reason you brought me all my favourites?”

“I was hoping we could go over your plan, for making me more comfortable?”

“Oh!” Emma nodded, her thumb brushing over the back of Regina’s hand absentmindedly and Regina kind of loved that small little habit of Emma’s. “Of course, what do you wanna discuss?”

“How would we begin?”

“I imagine you let me stand within a few feet of you again.”

Regina frowned, having not noticed she’d put so much distance between her and Emma sometimes. “Okay, I guess I can do that.”

“Good, I miss when you and Roni invade my space.”

Regina rolled her eyes, glancing down at Emma’s hand, raising her thumb to brush the side of Emma’s hand. “And after that?”

“Hand holding?”

“We’re doing that now.” Regina frowned and Emma’s thumb moved over her hand again.

“Yeah, we are. How are you feeling about it?”

“Fine. We hold hands in private all the time though.”

“True. How about when out I can either put my hand on the small of your back or take your hands for a few moments?”

“I guess we could try…”

“Okay.” Emma nodded using the hand not on Regina’s to pop an onion ring in her mouth.

“That’s it?”

“It’s a start. You can do whatever you feel comfortable with and we can work on intimacy in private maybe, we can meet at our places, act out the scenes until the actions become like second nature so your mind doesn’t shut down.”

Regina nodded slowly, slipping her hand from Emma’s so she could start eating again. “I’d like that. Can we keep it at my place at first? I feel more comfortable there.”

“Sure, but under one condition.”

Regina’s head tilted and Emma’s smile changed to dopey so fast she almost got whiplash. “What?”

“PJ’s only, no slacks and shit. Comfort is key.”

“I’m comfortable in slacks.”

“I suppose we can work up to PJ’s…”

Regina shook her head at how devastated Emma was about it, it was absolutely ridiculous but somehow also just plain adorable.

 


 

Emma walked down to Regina’s front door, past the trees and over the slightly uneven path that would probably be dangerous if it wasn’t for the little lights that lined it, leading Emma right up to the large mahogany door, her tote bag digging into her arm as she raised her other hand to knock.

It was their first prep session and Emma might have come over prepared, but she was ready to make this fun, or at least less daunting; so when Regina opened the door in her trademark slacks and cashmere sweater Emma was certain she looked out of her mind with the smile she was sporting.

“Are you alright, dear?”

“Great!”

Regina’s lips pulled down into a concerned frown and she reached to take the tote bag from Emma and her only sound of displeasure was a little squeak that Regina ignored as she stepped back into her house, opening the door more for Emma to enter and once inside she leaned against the wall to tear off her boots while Regina locked up.

“What is in here? Bricks?”

“No…” Emma pouted and held out her hand, and Regina was quick to hand over the bad, her hand falling anxiously to her stomach. “You’re nervous.”

“Of course I am.” Regina huffed, leading the way from the foyer to her kitchen which had enough food to feed a small village.

“I see you made good use of your day off…”

Regina huffed, and Emma watched silently as she slipped on oven mitts and opened the oven to pull out a tray of… strudel?

“I decided to bake to take my mind off things, drawing resulted in…” Regina’s lips pursed and her eyebrows furrowed and Emma suddenly really wanted to know what she meant but was also worried about what could have gone wrong. “Well that doesn’t matter, I cleaned the house, baked. It was a productive Saturday.”

Emma shook her head but lowered herself to one of the stools at the island to watch Regina move around anxiously. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Haven’t I done enough talking lately?”

Emma shrugged and grabbed a chocolate muffin, picking at the top of it while she tapped her toes against the bag sitting below her feet. “Thought I’d ask. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”

Regina looked down at the deserts she’d just pulled out of the oven, they smelt like apple pie and Emma was kind of hoping she’d share… but that was not important, what was important was that Regina looked sad, like the world was weighing her down and seriously what were those things? “What’s that?”

Regina let out a breathless chuckle, affection faintly shining through the sadness in her eyes. “Apple turnovers. Would you like one, dear?”

“Yes!” Regina shook her head and Emma’s mouth pulled into a frown when she realized she was being an idiot again. “But seriously, I’m all ears if you wanna talk.”

“I know,” Regina said, her back facing her as she stared up at the plates in the cupboard, Emma could see the sadness in her posture and suddenly she wanted to go over there and wrap her in her arms until she felt better. “I’m nervous is all. Once we begin I’ll be better.”

Emma nodded when Regina turned around, plates in her hand as she approached the turnovers, a thoughtful expression on her face. “What do you feel comfortable with today? We can just chill for a bit before, so you’ll feel less pressured.”

“I’d like that.” Regina offered her a smile and held out the turnover, Emma’s smile grew as she took the treat.

“Thanks.”

“We can sit in the living room if you’d like.”

“And leave all these delicious goodies?”

Regina rolled her eyes and moved past Emma at the island to head into the living room, knowing without a doubt Emma would follow.

 


 

Once again Netflix played in the background as they sat in Regina’s living room, this time though on opposite ends of the couch. Regina tried to pretend she wasn’t as nervous as Emma knew she was and Emma was finishing up her desert, neither really desperate to talk.

“What’s in the bag?”

Emma looked over at her as she straightened up from putting her plate on the coffee table, Regina’s eyes curiously flicking from the bag to Emma’s leg to Emma’s face.

“Just a few things I thought we could do tonight…I did some research, figured we’re doing like an immersion therapy kinda thing so we just gotta immerse you into…” Emma trailed off and Regina arched a brow as she watched her try and scrap together the best words to use.

“The gay? If there’s porn in that bag I’ll kick your ass.”

“Why would I bring porn?! Who even owns porn on tape anymore?! The internet is right there.” Regina’s brow raised and Emma looked away as she got a light shade of pink on her cheeks. “It’s books and some movies… that’s all… and some other things…”

“Books?”

“Of course that’s what you latched onto,” Emma laughed to herself pulling the bag into her lap as she pulled out the books, some about trauma, some literally just lesfic but Regina snatched them up, reading the covers and synopsis, crossing her legs as she leaned back against the couch, basically forgetting Emma’s existence.

Emma pulled out the movies and then stared at the last remaining item in the bag, it had arrived the day before, 2 weeks late but it was finally there and Emma was just so happy. She pulled the relatively big box for its contents out of the bag, looking down at the Dory wrapping paper she’d gotten nearly a year before and ran her finger off the little blue bow she’d stuck to the top.

“I’ve read this one, it’s very good, I highly reco– what’s that?” Regina cut herself off and Emma looked toward her, seeing the way her eyes were locked onto the obvious gift. “You bought me a birthday present.”

“Birthday, Christmas, new years, and friendiversary.” Regina rolled her eyes at Emma’s dopey expression but Emma watched as she put the books on the table and turned her body toward Emma, barely able to cover up the excitement and expectation in her eyes.

“I told you I didn’t want anything.” She said but Emma’s brain was easily able to translate it to ‘gimme!’ so Emma wordlessly held out the box and Regina took it, and like the last time, she took her time removing the tape like she enjoyed causing Emma pain.

“Why are you like this?” Emma whined and Regina just laughed as she popped the last piece of tape and removed the paper from the box; she didn’t need to open it to know what it was, because the brand name told her exactly what she was getting. “I noticed you stopped wearing the other one, figured you lost it or it broke, so I thought…”

“You bought me a new watch?”

Emma shrugged, rubbing the back of her neck as she looked up at Regina over her eyelashes. “It’s stupid, isn’t it?”

“No!” Regina gasped, reaching out to reassure Emma, with the large space between them her hand only landed on the cushion of the couch but Emma was quick to take it, her eyes watching Regina’s face closely for answers. What she wasn’t expecting when she met her eyes were the tears shimmering there. “I love it, really it’s… thank you.”

“You haven’t even seen it yet.” Emma giggled nervously and Regina bit the inside of her cheek before removing her hand from Emma’s to open the box, a small gasp leaving her mouth as she looked into it, seeing the small gold plated watch with leather bands, her finger brushing over the glass face and Emma knew she’d chosen right, it wasn’t much different from the one Regina had worn nearly every day so she figured she knew her taste, but it was nice to see she loved it.

“Oh, Emma.” She sighed and Emma’s heart clenched, watching tears roll down her cheeks rounded from her blinding smile.

“Want me to put it on for you?”

Regina laughed a watery smile and looked up at Emma, the emotion in her eyes such a shocking mix, Emma almost didn’t know whether to apologize or be proud she’d done something right for once.

A shaky hand held out the box toward Emma and she took it, pulling the watch from its confines sliding closer so there was only about a foot between them. Emma’s hand took Regina’s delicately resting their fingers together, revelling in the smoothness of her skin before she removed her hand, slipping the watch around Regina’s wrist so she was holding it on each end, the face of it pressed against the underside of Regina’s wrist like she always wore it, and she carefully did up the straps, making sure it wasn’t too tight before letting her hands fall away, glancing up at Regina to see the silent tears streaming down her face.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

Regina’s hand fell onto Emma’s, taking one into her hand and just staring down at them, the emotions warring in her eyes and her chest rumbling a little unsteadily.

“Did I do something stupid?” Emma asked while her hand not in Regina’s moved up to carefully wipe away the falling tears and Regina’s eyes locked on hers while she shook her head.

“No, darling.”

“Wanna hug?”

Regina let out a watery laugh and shifted toward Emma until they were thigh to thigh, Emma wrapped her arms around Regina as she rested her head against Emma’s shoulder.

Regina’s twisted a lock of Emma’s hair around her finger, her eyes focused on it and Emma couldn’t stop watching, trying to figure out what had just happened while not actually probing for answers.

“What was the first thing?” Regina asked, voice husky and thick with tears, and Emma dipped her head forward to meet her eyes.

“First thing?”

“That you wanted to do tonight?”

“Well, I thought we could practice closeness, read the scenes we have to film next, discuss what we might want to do with them then visualize us doing it?”

“Okay…”

“But that can wait until you’re less raw. How about we finish watching this show and when you’re feeling more comfortable we can begin.”

“We can call this practising closeness.” Regina said as Emma leaned back against the couch, Regina snuggling into her side while they watched the TV.

 


 

“Okay, just take one step closer,” Emma husked and Regina looked up at her, this felt so ridiculous and pointless but she took the step forward, Emma’s hands held out toward her, a silent invitation that kept calling Regina’s name and after so long denying herself that simple gesture of affection, she placed her hands in Emma’s and she felt calmness settle in her chest instantly. “That’s great.”

“I feel pathetic.”

“You’re not.” Emma offered her a tiny smile and let their hands fall so they were hanging between their bodies and she slowly swayed them back and forth. “I grew up touch starved because of the system, I had a lot of trust issues too, I was a runner…even tried to run away from Ingrid a few times…”

Regina’s head tilted the slightest bit, patiently waiting for Emma to continue while she adjusted her hands until their fingers were laced perfectly together, looking up from them in time to see Emma’s soft smile at the gesture.

“Ingrid sent me to therapy to work through a lot of things; it took a long time for me to ask for a hug when I was sad, to let her even hug me was hard. I didn’t have good control over my emotions, I would go through a lot of quick bursts of anger or sadness. Lash out violently and recklessly, but where every other family had sent me back for being too much of a handful, Ingrid sat with me and listened, Ingrid helped me work through my emotions until I found the real reason I was upset. She helped me, found healthy outlets for my anger and helped me heal by being there for me and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. For her just loving me when I felt like nobody would, when I felt like I didn’t deserve to be loved.”

Regina felt tears burning in her eyes but pushed them away as she saw the vulnerability in Emma’s eyes. She brought their hands up and took another step forward as she hugged Emma’s hands against her chest, watching her watery eyes meet hers and shimmer with affection.

“Sometimes we just need someone to support us and be there when we’re healing and feeling vulnerable; someone to tell us that we are loved even if we’re broken. So here I am, Regina, telling you that you are loved, and I am not going anywhere.”

Regina felt the emotions clog up in her chest, unable to handle the powerful emotions shining through in Emma’s eyes she looked away, fighting as hard as she could not to cry.

“Thank you, Emma…for–” her voice cracked and her face contorted into a look of frustration before she looked back up, squeezing her hands tightly in Emma’s. “Thank you for being here for me, for telling me that, it means a lot.”

“I know,” Emma husked, her thumb against Regina’s fingers, her eyes filled with so much emotion and vulnerability. Regina’s tears finally rolled down her face and Emma retracted a hand to brush a tear from her cheek, a caring smile on her face. “You can do this, Regina, I know it all feels weird and stupid right now but you’ve already come so far. I believe in you.”

Regina leaned into the touch, her eyes closing against the tears and the strong emotions; she stepped back from herself, let go of the pain and the fear and let Emma’s touch ground her, when she opened her eyes again Emma was smiling so brightly at her she didn’t know what to do with it.

“See, that’s a start, Roni.”

“Idiot.” She said and the accent was like second nature at this point, and Emma looked so fucking excited to see it Regina could feel it in her own chest and then she watched as Emma’s dopey puppy expression morphed into Blackwell.

“I am your superior, you will treat me with respect.”

Regina rolled her eyes, their linked hands falling so they were hanging between them, holding onto the contact, keeping Regina in the moment, keeping her close as they played around a bit until they fell into the scenes they’d long since memorized.

 


 

Emma slipped into Regina’s trailer to check in on her before their scene in a few, finding Regina sitting at her dining table, one leg pulled up to her chest while she hovered over her sketchbook, pencil moving across the surface.

“Hey, Picasso.”

“Don’t call me that.”

Emma pursed her lips, moving further into the trailer, her eyes never leaving Regina. “Van Gogh?”

Regina’s lips twitched with a smile and Emma wondered why that made her smile but Picasso got such a rise out of her.

“He was a pedophile and a rapist.”

“Ah…” Emma nodded awkwardly, really wondering how she’d read her mind like that. “Good to know, men are consistent in being trash.”

Regina chuckled, eyes flicking up to look at Emma. “Sit down.”

“You finally gonna draw me?”

“No, I just hate it when you hover.”

Emma rolled her eyes and dropped onto the couch, picking up Regina’s script sitting on the cushions to flick through the pages, always excited to get a glimpse of the inner workings of Regina’s mind.

“Do you even know how not to touch things?”

“No. Is this me?” Regina glanced up at the dramatic caricature on the back of one of the pages.

“Blackwell.”

Emma smirked at the deadpan tone, Regina’s eyes stuck on her drawing, she knew she was trying to put up a wall between her emotions to get through the rest of the day. “Why do you always draw me where I can’t keep it?”

Regina shrugged and Emma smiled, noticing that she was slipping more thoroughly into Roni but she should have known that, considering how she was sitting, obviously she’d been distracted.

“You ready for our scenes today? Anything you wanna go over?”

Regina shrugged again and Emma frowned, pulling out her phone to sneak a picture of Regina’s caricature.

“I saw that.” Emma glanced up with a guilty expression, noticing Regina was giving Emma her undivided attention. “I’m fine.”

“Regina, if there’s anything you want to deal with, run through the scenes again or something, please tell me, I’m here to help.”

“I know, and I’m fine. I’ve been visualizing the scene all night and day, and now I’m tryin to decompress before filming.”

“Okay…” Emma nodded and looked back down at the script, smiling at the doodle.

“There’s one of Roni on page 100.”

“Thanks…the fans would love to see these…”

Regina shrugged and Emma glanced at her before looking back down at the script, flipping through the pages and taking a picture of the Roni one.

“Can we maybe go over the movements one more time?”

Emma glanced up when she heard her voice, small and unsure and Emma was up in a flash, waiting for Regina to stand with her. “Always.”

Regina moved so they were standing in the middle of the room, about 3 feet between them, her hands buried in her pockets as she eyed Emma nervously. She seemed so tiny, she was always larger than life, carried herself in this way that demanded respect and attention, but now she just seemed like a scared young woman and Emma held out her hand, and invitation that Regina grasped onto, holding tightly until she pulled herself back together and took a step forward.

“Ready?”

Regina nodded, and their hands fell away, moving into their characters’ usual posture and Emma watched as Roni slipped slowly into place.

“Wait 30 seconds then step forward.”

“Say your lines.”

“Okay.” Emma took a deep breath, letting herself fall fully into character instead of the mode of supportive best friend. “You’re being reckless, Isabella stands no chance if you get yourself -or both of us- killed.”

Regina stepped forward, eyes rising to meet Emma’s, the heel in Emma’s boots higher than Regina’s making her seem way shorter than she actually was in comparison to Emma.

And they stood there, letting Regina get comfortable in the proximity, Emma noticing the slight shift in emotion in her eyes and she cupped Regina’s elbow and they cleared again. Shaking, but she’d be okay.

Emma took a step back, and the tension in Regina’s body relaxed a bit, Emma’s hand slipping into hers, gently holding her fingers as Regina’s eyes studied her face. “That was great. Wanna go again?”

Regina nodded and Emma gave her a few seconds before stepping back into her space, feeling her breath ghost across her chin and neck, eyes fluttering shut as she tried to just feel the moment, as she visualized how the scene would progress, the people they’d be surrounded by, the desks and walls, cameras, men with stumble.

“You go this, I believe in you,” Emma whispered just before there was a knock on the door and Alice was calling them to set.

Regina opened her eyes, giving Emma her best smile, though it didn’t quite meet her eyes and Emma wanted to do everything to make sure she was okay, but she knew that Regina needed to step away so she let her.

Watching as she slipped past her and led the way to the door, Emma followed, a few feet behind her, giving her the time she needed to find some sense of stability and to slip into Roni. 

 


 

It started off alright, Regina had locked herself in a little world before they called action, and it had worked; they were doing the same thing they had practiced, but Emma noticed the second it started slipping. Somewhere around the fourth take the emotions flashed then vanished in Regina’s eyes, with each moment they had to wait to go again, the tight hold Regina had started to weaken.

Emma was able to pull her back in a few times, hand to her elbow, her eyes cleared and there Roni was, beautiful and powerful and Emma was so glad, but by the sixth take Regina’s eyes kept drifting away from hers and finally Emma lost her, distant and unseeing.

A hand placed anxiously to her stomach and when Emma reached out to try and ground her, Regina jumped, her eyes wild and confused like she hadn’t even noticed her mind wandering; and then Emma watched the realization hit, and it hurt her to see the anger in Regina’s eyes, at herself; Emma scared to find out the things she was probably saying to herself in her own head.

Then she watched those walls go back up, guarded and distant, brick and steal, a painfully practised mask that Regina fell back into, as easy as a knife going through warm butter.

“Can we go again?”

“Of course, from the top, everyone!” The director yelled and Emma watched as Regina took a step and a half back, feeling the distance twist in her gut. She didn’t need to be a mind reader to know what Regina was thinking and it was killing her.

The next few shots were missing that edge, Regina tried, Emma could see her try and pull Roni back; but every time Emma saw a flash of her, she then saw what looked like fear and shame in her eyes and Regina’s posture became more closed off and angry, frustrated to get it right until the director was telling them they got what they needed and Regina spun around, tearing at her mic pack as she walked to the sound booth and out of the studio.

Emma was slow to reach her, the sound guy helping remove her mic and the director talking about her next scene before Emma finally got away and to Regina’s trailer, shocked to find the door locked when she went to open it.

“Regina? Are you in there?”

She heard nothing in response, a frown pulled down her lips as she buried her hands in her pockets, looking around anxiously as she tried again. “Regina? Please, let me in.”

“Leave me alone, Emma.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

Emma jumped as the door was thrown open, bloodshot and angry eyes meeting hers and Emma took a half a step back in reflex. “If it wasn’t that bad, why are you here?”

“It was your first scene since we started, don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Regina tensed her jaw, eyes glazing over for a fraction of a second before meeting Emma’s again, the mask back in place and making something painful twist in her gut.

“I knew this was stupid. I’m done playing your games, Miss Swan.”

Emma opened her mouth to respond but the door was shut in her face and Emma’s frown only deepened, raising her hand to rest against the cool metal door, a long sigh escaping her lungs before she turned away and moved to her own trailer, giving Regina space to calm down.

 


 

Regina did what she did best when things didn’t go her way, when everything was too painful to face; she shoved it down, locked it away and forced herself to power through. She ignored the ones who cared enough to notice, because how was she supposed to pretend to be fine when everyone else wouldn’t?

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be better but it hurt so much, the emotions burnt through her veins and the memories just sat so readily in her mind to return whenever they deemed it fit. Her mind was a landmine of memories and volatile words that only served to push her back into the closet, to protect her from the pain she knew so well. It boarded up windows and reinforced walls until she was locked away with only her own cruel thoughts as company.

It was stupid to try, Regina had known it’d never work, it never had before, how would visualizing herself on a set of people actually help her get over her inner demons, help her step out into the light of day?

Standing in that false room with cameras and mics and dozens of people hovering, watching her, judging her; it was like the walls were closing in, she could practically hear the way they questioned why she looked so comfortable in the presence of a woman. Why she wasn’t flustered at all. It was like she was suffocating, people exposing all her sensitive nerves to poke and probe at, until they were satisfied in the way she caved, in the way she fell to her knees, a pathetic mess of pleas and tears.

She was a monster and they’d all see it eventually and hate her. They’d see she was ugly, like she knew she was deep down; like her mother told her she was. They would all see it eventually.

 


 

Emma called, she texted, she sat through many awkward conversations with Zelena glaring daggers into the back of her head. What for, she wasn’t sure, but she figured it was because Regina was locked in her trailer and with each passing day she looked like she was getting less and less sleep, and finally when Regina flubbed a line and looked about ready to verbally eviscerate herself for everyone to see, Emma decided that giving her space was no longer an option.

Which meant turning up at Regina’s house once again because Regina had been sneaky and evasive and would answer none of her calls or texts. Heck, she was gambling with showing up at her door since there was no guarantee that she’d answer, but Emma hoped that she cared about her enough to not leave her out in the freezing downpour.

After the fourth time knocking, Emma was certain she’d heard footsteps over the sound of the rain and she was really thinking Regina would leave her to freeze, but it seemed after some time she took pity on her resemblance to a drowned rat and finally opened the door, a towel in hand.

“Do not drip on my floors.”

“Thank you!” Emma pushed into the house as she grabbed the large grey towel and wrapped it around her body, her teeth chattering as she watched Regina, who was wearing fuzzy slippers, a silk pyjama set and a dark robe, shut the door.

“What are you doing here?”

“You weren’t answering my calls.” Emma stated while she undid her laces and toed off her shoes, her nose scrunching up when the water left off from her shoes soaked through the bottoms of her socks.

“Ever thought it was because I wanted to be alone?”

“I did. Hold this.” Emma thrust the towel back into Regina’s arms and she took it with a frown, her eyes studying Emma as she unzipped her leather jacket and hung it on the hook by the door. “Then you started looking like you hadn’t slept since you started ignoring me sooo.”

Regina glared at her, an unimpressed frown on her lips even as she handed Emma back the towel, watching her as she squeezed the water from her hair.

“So you decided to come to my house in the middle of a rainstorm without proper clothing?”

“It wasn’t raining in Vancouver when I left, got somewhere around Park Royal and my car got a much needed bath.”

“As did you, it seems.” Regina’s eyes scanned over her, unimpressed and frustrated.

“I’ll have you know I bathe regularly.”

Regina shook her head, Emma practically able to see the wheels turning in her head before she let out a long inconvenienced sigh and stepped back. “You stay there and I’ll get you a change of clothes.”

“Right…” Emma nodded dumbly and watched Regina turn away, her hand falling to her middle just before she disappeared from sight and Emma might have felt bad if she hadn’t been so sure Regina was being a self-destructive idiot.

Emma twisted her hair up in the towel before looking around the empty hall awkwardly, it was eerily pristine as always, the smell of food filling the air called Emma forth but she knew better than to actually move, she was already pushing it by being there, she might actually end up buried in Regina’s backyard if she so much as moved an inch before she came back.

She heard a floorboard creek and her head snapped over to see Regina walking toward her with a pair of pyjamas in her arms, that annoyed look still on her face.

“You did what I said, shocking.”

Emma rolled her eyes, squirming slightly as Regina stopped in front of her, looking at her expectantly. “Wait, you want me to change here? In your foyer?”

“Yes, I don’t need you tracking mud and water through my house.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I can turn around if you like.”

Emma pursed her lips, debating on which would be more awkward and eventually nodded her head and she was left staring at Regina’s back while she unbuttoned her skinny jeans that she regretted wearing since they decided to glue themselves to her body.

Emma huffed, tugging the jeans past her thighs and stumbling as she lost her balance, her eyes widening when she heard Regina choke on a laugh. “Do you find my misery entertaining, Mills?”

“Indubitably.”

Emma rolled her eyes at the mocking tone and bent down to pull her feet out of each leg one by one. “My trousers, madam.”

Regina held out the flannel pyjama pants and Emma honestly hadn’t thought Regina owned such things, but Emma took them from her hand and pressed her jeans against Regina’s palm, getting an annoyed little huff in response.

“You’re ridiculous you know that?”

“I know, how dare I care about my best friend’s wellbeing? It’s positively outrageous!”

Regina huffed, spinning on the spot and throwing the matching top at Emma’s head and Emma didn’t need to see to know she was proud of herself for getting it stuck on top of Emma’s towel.

“I hope you’re enjoying the view.” Emma grumbled and threw her damp tank top in Regina’s general direction.

“You’re a little scrawny for my taste.”

Emma rolled her eyes and pulled the shirt off her head, glaring at Regina’s little smirk and she noticed the faint blush on her cheeks that couldn’t be hidden. “Yeah, and you’re too gorgeous for mine.”

Regina shook her head, turning back around while Emma slipped on the shirt and did up the buttons. “I’ll hang these up, why don’t you make yourself comfortable in the living room.”

“Kay!” Emma grinned and as Regina walked away she remembered something. “Regina! Wait!” Emma hopped around balancing on one foot as Regina turned to look at her with an eyebrow arched in question. “My socks!”

Regina’s lips pursed in disgust as she stared down at Emma’s mismatched blue and green socks as they were placed on top of the pile of Emma’s wet clothes, and it took everything for Emma not to fall over in a fit of giggles. “Yes, wouldn’t want to forget those…”

“Nope!” Emma grinned, watching her walk away for a few seconds before jogging after her, “Regina wait, lemme at least help.”

“I’d rather you didn’t. Just sit down and I’ll be right back.”

Emma frowned at her distant tone, her head bowing slightly as she turned to head into the living room, questioning if showing up had been a good idea after all.

 


 

Regina closed the bathroom door, Emma’s clothes hugged against her body as she closed her eyes, taking deep steady breaths to calm the thudding of her heart. She wasn’t prepared for company, she wasn’t ready for Emma.

She wanted to be angry at her for just showing up and she was because how did she know she’d be home, that she’d be in the position to even answer the door! But Emma Swan had always just blundered her way into her life and she was a victim to her pure intentions and those damn puppy eyes of hers.

And now here Regina was, hanging Emma’s clothes in her bathroom because she refused to ever be prepared for anything. It was like taking care of a toddler sometimes and it drove her crazy!

She let out an annoyed growl before pushing off the door, dropping the stack of clothes on the toilet seat before she hung up the tank top and then jeans on the towel rod, forced to fold and move her towels onto the shelving to make room. Glaring in annoyance at the stupid socks before she laid them out on her bathroom counter, her jaw tense as she tore her fingers through her hair and removed her bathrobe since it was now damp from Emma’s clothes.

So she wasn’t wearing a bra, Emma would have to suffer since she just decided to show up unannounced!

Regina growled again and threw open the bathroom door, her footsteps heavy as she walked back to the living room, her face contorting to one of surprise when she didn’t find Emma sitting on the couch and then something struck her.

“Idiot.” Regina grumbled, storming toward her kitchen to find Emma, forever unable to keep her hands to herself, plating herself a piece of her leftover lasagne. “Do you even know how to listen?”

Emma jumped, spatula banging against the pan while Emma stared up at her with wide and scared eyes. “It smelt so good and…”

Regina just rolled her eyes in response. “Sit.”

Emma scurried around the counter and dropped into one of the barstools barely stopping herself from dropping down onto the floor like a trained puppy.

“Stay.” Emma rolled her eyes and Regina smirked, pulling up her sleeves to remove the piece of lasagne, her jaw tensed when she saw the butcher job Emma had managed. “How you ruin everything you touch I’ll never know…”

Emma’s jaw twitched and Regina felt a pang of guilt at the look of hurt in her eyes.

“Would you like a glass of wine?”

“Sure…” Regina nodded, placing the generous piece carefully on the plate before sliding it across the island along with the proper utensils.

Regina busied herself getting Emma her wine, taking extra time to choose a bottle just so she didn’t have to talk to her back, she could still feel Emma’s eyes on her, watching her, examining her, like they always seemed to do and she missed the lustful stares instead of whatever these were.

She never really knew what to do when people showed genuine affection for her. She had doubted Neal actually liking her for years, Regina had been sure he was in it for something, that he’d been pretending to be her friend to sleep with her. It’s weird to think how far she’s come since then, and yet also how she’s arrived to a place where she rather someone want her for her body than for whom she actually was, because lust was easy, it was easy to manipulate, to use, to control; this, affection, friendship, it was messy, people who did things because they cared. She hated it.

No she didn’t. But Emma didn’t need to know that.

“How are you such an insanely good cook?”

“You have to learn when you’re out on your own at 17.”

“Right…sorry.”

Regina’s head dropped, feeling guilty, Emma didn’t deserve this, the lashing out when all she was trying to do was be nice, but it was just so much easier when people stopped caring about her.

“I know what you’re doing and it’s not gonna work on me.”

“Emma…” She glanced behind her, tears shimmering in her eyes as she met Emma’s undivided attention.

“You can try and push me away all you want, but I care about you too much to sit by and watch you destroy yourself.”

“I just need time…”

“I don’t think you do, not about this. You’re scared, the healing process is hard and tiring, and I get wanting a break, I do, and I’m perfectly happy letting you have moments to gather yourself, to rest. All you have to do is ask.”

“I told you.” Regina spun, defensive anger flashing in her eyes and Emma stayed calm.

“You did, and I listened. Now I’m asking you to talk to me, what went wrong when we were filming that day? It can only get better if you talk about it.”

“I don’t want to talk! I’m tired of talking!” Regina’s voice boomed, Emma’s eyes widening at the sound, at the distressed pitch of it that reminded Regina too much of that fight with Zelena.

“Emma…” Regina’s body deflated and she took a step forward, only the island between them. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

Emma shook her head and slipped off her stool, moving around until she was at the edge of the island, waiting for Regina’s approval before she moved any closer and Regina turned to her, eyes vulnerable and she let Emma just read her, to see all of her.

“You’re allowed to be angry and frustrated.”

“I know that.” Regina huffed, crossing her arms over her chest defensively, Emma taking a half a step closer.

“You don’t have to keep that bottled up. You’re hurting, Regina, that’s okay, you’re allowed to be mad at what happened to you, at the people that hurt you, at life for dealing you those cards.”

Regina diverted her eyes, feeling the emotion lodging itself in her throat as she tried to keep it all at bay.

“If you need to yell, yell, I’m here to listen to you, but I am not here to be a punching bag for that anger.”

Regina looked up, a tear escaping her eye stubbornly and she knew she’d fucked up. “Emma…”

Emma took another step forward, her hand moving to Regina’s cheek to catch the other tear as it fell, and Regina let her eyes fall closed, let herself accept comfort even if her mind battled against it.

“I’m sorry…I’m not… I’m not very good at these things.”

Emma chuckled, her other hand cupping her cheek, both thumbs brushing over her cheeks as she husked. “Neither am I.”

Regina leaned forward and Emma met her mid-way, their foreheads pressing together, Regina’s arms unfolding to move to Emma’s hips while she just breathed for a few seconds.

“Talk to me, Regina, please, I hate seeing you hurting like this.”

Regina pulled her head back an inch to move it to the side and tuck her face into Emma’s neck and she wrapped her arms around Emma’s waist, hugging tightly as she felt one of Emma’s hands slip through her hair to cup the back of her head while the other moved so it was between her shoulder blades, rubbing short strokes up and down.

“I was scared…”

Emma didn’t say anything, she just placed a kiss to the side of her head and rocked them slowly side to side and Regina let her tears flow freely, clinging to Emma like she was the only thing keeping her from floating away. Desperate and needy and she wasn’t even worried about how it might look, not with Emma.

 


 

Regina was sitting on top of the desk on the office set, Emma and Zelena across the room prepping for a scene that was being held in Director Moore’s office while Regina, Ruby, and Rogers were sitting in the main room, they had a scene after so their presence was needed mainly as background.

Nobody cared what they did as long as they were quiet, so Rogers and Ruby tossed around a foam ball and Regina sat atop her desk, her leg propped up on the chair to rest her sketchbook on, drawing whatever random thing caught her attention.

They’d spent the last couple days working together, Emma supporting her the whole way, taking long breaks after so Regina had time to decompress. Her emotions still felt raw, a burning in her veins she may never get rid of, but her thoughts had started pulling her out less.

Regina liked days where she just had to silently sit on set, in character, getting used to the people buzzing around her while she let herself relax into Roni, did things that brought her comfort where it was bright and exposed. Immersion therapy, slow, but they were getting there.

She looked over as Rogers celebrated catching the foam ball and smiled. Everyone seemed to have formed a family on their little set. Regina may not really be a part of it -and she had nobody but herself to blame for that- but they were nice enough; she wondered how much she really had in common with most of them; unlike Ruby she couldn’t just get along with everybody, she knew.

Regina looked back down at her drawing, the little caricatures of Rogers and Ruby, she remembered what Emma had said about fans enjoying her weird doodles and she wondered if it were true. Regina never saw much worth in her art, her mother had always ridiculed it, even when she had studied the craft, becoming good at still like and portraits it always got looked down upon, which only pushed her to learn more, to twist herself and mold herself into something that would make her mother look upon with pride. She never had.

She felt eyes on her, burning into the side of her head and she looked over, expecting to see Emma watching her but finding Zelena’s eyes instead, and she froze, feeling a pang in her chest as Zelena smiled and turned away.

She flipped to the next page in her sketchbook, her left hand stabilizing it while she moved her pencil over the paper, her eyes moving to look toward the office as they yelled action, watching Emma through the fake window in the office, and she couldn’t help but smile, her pencil working across the paper without her really deciding to draw her; the basic shapes slowly morphing into a messy sketch of Emma. It stole all her focus, her lip pulled between her teeth as she worked on the drawing until it was painfully obvious who she was drawing.

 


 

Emma grinned as she stood off to the side, out of view of the cameras as the others filmed their scene, teasing one liners and jokes, a foam ball soaring through the air in a friendly game of catch and adorable smudges of charcoal on Regina’s chin and hands. They had to stay there for continuity and Emma loved how it was canon now.

The characters had built a rapport, the three playing easy off each other, Roni shined through the strongest when Emma wasn’t there for her to flirt with, and so Emma just enjoyed the sight of Regina sitting on top of a desk playing catch and sharing case details and casual conversation with the others.

Emma watched Rogers perk up, looking toward the office she had just filmed and smiled as he spoke. “Looks like Moore needs us now!”

Everyone turned in her direction and she pulled a face, enjoying how they were forced to pretend they didn’t see it, but their eyes lit up the slightest bit and Regina was barely able to contain her eye roll as they yelled cut.

“Great work, everyone, we’re moving on to the next scene.”

They all nodded and Jacinda pushed through the crowd as Emma made her way toward Regina, catching her as she took pictures of Regina muttering something about using cleaner supplies next time; Regina almost resembled a toddler.

“Oooh someone’s in trouble with the teacher.”

Jacinda rolled her eyes and walked off, Emma’s eyes following after her before stepping up in front of Regina. “Next time no charcoal.”

“It’s not that bad.”

Emma chuckled, taking a step back she slipped her phone out of her back pocket and raised it to take a picture, and turned the phone to show Regina the little dark smudges.

“Okay so it’s visible.”

Emma chuckled, tapping Regina’s leg with the back of her hand until she turned, making room for Emma on the large metal desk, the two of them now sitting with their arms pressed together. “Selfie!” Emma held up her phone and Regina rolled her eyes before tilting her head toward Emma, always looking perfect even with charcoal smudged on her face.

“You did good today, I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks…”

“Zelena misses you.”

Regina huffed and Emma smiled knowingly, typing on her phone as she posted the picture on her story, feeling Regina staring over her shoulder the whole time. “They’re going to lose their minds when they see that.”

“Did you get the new script yet?”

“Not yet, did you?”

“No,” Emma said, nudging Regina’s shoulder playfully, both of them looking off into random parts of the set. “Call me when you get it so we can go through it together and see what we gotta work with.”

“Okay.”

“Maybe if it comes earlier enough I can come over?”

Regina chuckled, turning to look at her and Emma’s eyes moved to look shyly at her. “You just want me to make you dinner.”

“I keep telling you I can bring food but you seem to be against that.”

“Because you only ever bring pizza.”

Emma rolled her eyes, nudging Regina again and getting a small chuckle out of her. “So what do you say?”

“You could just come to my place and we can run lines until the new script arrives; and have Zelena sign for yours back at your condo.”

“Mmm, depends, whatcha making tonight?”

“Roast swan if you keep it up.”

“Alright, I’ll head over after I wrap.”

“The key is.”

“I know.” Emma said, hopping off the desk she moved in front of Regina, her foot casually swaying the chair, the only sign of nerves. “I’ll see you tonight, have a great rest of your day.”

“See you, Emma.”

Emma reached out, giving Regina’s hand a quick squeeze before dashing off, bumping into an anxious Alice on her way out. “I know! I’m going now!” She heard an annoyed huff in response and chuckled to herself.

Maybe it was weird that she knew where Regina’s spare key was now, but when Regina’s shoot had run late one evening and Emma had arrived with her usual pile of snacks, Regina had told her to let herself in so she wasn’t waiting out in the howling wind for long.

They had really reached that level of trust, now she just needed to get Regina over to her condo.

 


 

“This is ridiculous.” Regina said as she laid on her living room floor, eyes closed and hands folded over her stomach upon Emma’s command.

“Shut up, it works. We’re visualizing here.”

“Can’t I visualize from the couch?”

“No. Now, visualize yourself in Storybrooke.”

Regina huffed, wiggling on the floor a little bit, suddenly wishing she’d agreed to Emma’s pyjamas only rule so she would at least be comfortable. “I can see Steveston.”

“No, Storybrooke, you gotta be Roni.”

Regina rolled her eyes while they were still closed and heard Emma chuckled before a foot playfully shoved her hip. “Fine, I see Storybrooke.”

“Okay now, picture me there… Not me, Blackwell, there with you.”

Regina smirked at the image of Blackwell in a chicken costume and Emma shoved her again. “Would you take this seriously?”

Regina pushed up on her elbows, eyes open to look at Emma sitting on her very nice and very comfortable couch. “I thought we were going to run lines.”

“I was just trying to help you visualize the scene and the flirting so you would know what you wanted to do, but if you just wanna act it out we can do that too…”

Regina laid back down on the carpet, staring up at the white ceiling and contemplating how she’d allowed this to happen. She really hated those damn puppy eyes.

“If you’re not comfortable with this we can do something else…” Emma said as she appeared in Regina’s line of sight, looking down worriedly at her.

“Maybe I’d feel less ridiculous if you were down here with me.”

Emma tilted her head thoughtfully and Regina could barely contain the laughter as she pictured Emma as a golden retriever.

“Okay, just lemme move the table more…”

Regina pushed up on her elbows again, watching Emma pad around in her sock covered feet and smiled, watching her push the table until it was at the very edge of the rug.

“You’re helping me move that back later.”

“Of course, I am after all, a gentleman.”

Regina shook her head and watched Emma move back toward her, staring down at Regina, head once again tilted in thought. Regina wanted to know what she was debating but then Emma was stepping behind her and lowering herself down. Regina felt her thighs brush over the back of her arm and bump her hair as she shifted closer, Regina’s head turning to look at her with a frown.

“Lay back down.”

“In your lap?”

Emma shrugged. “You said you were uncomfortable.”

Regina chuckled, shaking her head at Emma because she really didn’t understand her point, but she still lowered herself down, adjusting her body slightly until she was comfortably using Emma’s thigh as a pillow.

“So, you and me, in Storybrooke. What do you see?” Regina let her eyes flutter closed, visualizing what Emma had said once again.

“I see you trying to act like you’re queen of the world.”

“Okay, move a little closer.”

“How do you know we’re not nose to nose right now?”

“Are we?”

“No,” Regina froze, barely stopping herself from snapping her eyes open when she felt Emma’s fingers playing with her hair. “We’re closer.”

“Good, now touch my arm.”

Regina’s nose scrunched up and Emma chuckled, Regina felt her eyes on her instantly. “This feels like some weird foreplay thing.”

“Trust me, if I wanted to be having sex right now I would just kiss you.”

Regina felt her cheeks warm up, her fingers fiddling together on her stomach as she let herself picture Roni taking a step forward, letting her place a hand on Blackwell’s elbow, she could picture the intensity in Emma’s eyes so clearly it was almost like they were back on set face to face, bickering and flirting like before, like it’d been back in the early episodes of the season when life had been easy and she hadn’t had her producers on her back asking her to be gay on screen.

Emma’s fingers playing with her hair was almost too comfortable and Regina found the images in her head getting too close, could see Emma’s hand brush over her face like it had that night 5 years ago and she snapped her eyes open, staring directly at the back of Emma’s phone.

“What are you doing?”

Emma yelped, looking away from her phone to see Regina’s glare and the panic in Emma’s eyes made her feel just a little proud that she still had it in her. 

“I was looking up screencaps, to see how you used to get in my face, to coach you.”

Regina reached up and took Emma’s phone, she stared at the image on there, of her leaning over Emma’s shoulder, whispering in her ear; and the cutest blush was turning the tips of Emma’s ears pink. “I miss it too…I miss the way I could just fall into Roni and forget all of my pain.”

“I know,” Emma sighed and Regina lowered the phone, looking back up at her, trying to figure out that look in her eyes. “Wanna just stand super close for 15 minutes and try not to squirm?”

“I’m literally laying in your lap, Emma, I don’t think private affection is the problem.”

Emma’s nails scraped against her scalp and Regina’s eyes fluttered shut, the little content hum leaving her mouth shocking them both for a second, but they pushed past it. Emma didn’t stop though, she just pretended not to notice how Regina practically melted into the carpet with each scrape of her nails.

“We will act out the scene ten times until you get so bored of it you can do it in your sleep.”

“I’m bored of it, trust me, I never thought I’d become so sick of something.”

“Okay…” Emma sighed, and Regina opened her eyes to look at her, seeing her head lulled against the side of the couch as her fingers mindlessly combed through her hair. “We take a break then, play a game.”

“I thought you never wanted to play games with me again?”

“There has to be something you won’t win at and I’m determined to find it.”

Regina sighed again, bringing Emma’s phone back up as she scrolled through her twitter feed. “Wait this isn’t your twitter.”

“I made a fan account.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to follow people without killing them. You know they have some interesting theories.”

Regina shook her head, clicking an image and smiling at it, it felt like it was taken forever ago at this point, but it’d only really been a few months.

She missed being able to get lost in Emma’s presence, she found herself craving to lose herself in her character again, to feel the way the fire in Blackwell’s eyes stirred something in Roni’s gut, made her want to get closer, to poke at her until she broke; it was always so much fun. She was starting to doubt if she’d ever be fun again.

“Truth or dare?”

Regina’s laugh rumbled out of her chest and she met Emma’s eyes, a grin on her face that made her smile back about to throw out a teasing response when suddenly her doorbell rang and they both looked toward it. “That must be the script. I should go get that.”

Emma nodded, her fingers falling from Regina’s hair as she stood up, brushing her hands over her outfit as she walked toward the front door, finding the currier on the other side with the thick manila envelope in one hand and the signature tablet held out toward her in the other, and she quickly signed for it.

“Thank you, have a nice day.” Regina said as she took the package and stepped back into the house, closing and locking the door behind her and nearly jumping a foot in the air when she turned to see Emma hovering a few feet away.

“Sorry.”

“It’s alright, dear.”

“The script?”

Regina hummed, padding back toward Emma, feeling her behind her as she walked back into her living room and sat on the couch.

“We’re getting close to the end now…”

Regina hummed, looking over at Emma as she lowered herself to the couch. “Sit down, I’ll read it to you.”

Emma smiled and dropped onto the other side of the couch, eyes looking expectantly at Regina as she patted her thigh.

“I am not laying in your lap.”

“Your loss…” Emma teased and Regina rolled her eyes, refusing to admit she’d missed how soothing it’d been to feel Emma’s fingers combing through her hair. But she wasn’t going to just lay in Emma’s lap. That would be ridiculous.

Regina made it fifteen minutes into the script before she was once again laying in Emma’s lap, long fingers combing through her hair, scraping across her scalp and sometimes tugging when they caught a knot. Emma watched her closely the whole time and she felt safe. And she loathed to admit that.

“Sam: He’s pretty handsome, don’t you think? 

Blackwell: He’s alright, not really my type. 

Sam: What do you think, Roni? You date him?” 

Regina stared down at her line, feeling something twisting in her gut and Emma’s hand stilled in her hair, noticing her unease.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

“She- oh god, Emma I don’t think I can do this…”

“Do what?” Emma asked as Regina sat up, the script laying open in her lap as she tugged her hands through her hair. “What’s going on?” Emma asked, a hand falling to the middle of Regina’s back and she deflated, head dropping as she let those words stir around in her head, watching Emma’s hand move around her to grab for the script, waiting for realization to strike.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh,” Regina let out a distressed laugh, turning on the couch to look at Emma as she stared down at the script. “Roni is…she’s coming out, Emma!”

“It’s going to be fine, you can do this, Regina,” Emma’s hand fell to her forearm and Regina’s eyes locked onto it, feeling the anxiety twisting in her gut.

“Emma you don’t understand, saying those words…”

“I understand.” Emma’s hand raised, cupping her cheek and Regina looked up into her eyes, seeing everything she needed to know in them. “And I’m here for you, okay? We will work every day on this, I promise.”

Regina nodded and Emma’s hand fell away, tugging on her elbow to silently request her to lay down, fingers combing through her hair until Regina felt the anxiety in her chest simmer down enough for her to finish reading the script.

 


 

Emma was lounging back on Regina’s couch, her feet resting on the coffee table now that everything was back in place, scrolling through Netflix while she waited for Regina to come back downstairs.

“I see you’ve made yourself at home.”

Emma turned to look at her, standing a little inside the room, glasses perched on her nose and changed into silk pyjama shorts and the sweater Emma had left for her in her trailer. “I see you liked the sweater.”

Regina shrugged, looking at the TV screen as she walked closer. “One Day at a Time?”

Emma looked back at the show she had stopped on to read the description. “Yeah, I heard it was good, funny, light.”

“Is that Rita Moreno?”

Emma turned back to the screen, “uh, yeah, I think so.”

“My father loves her.”

Emma smiled as Regina lowered herself onto the couch right next to Emma like there wasn’t a whole couch for her to sit and Emma’s smile only grew wider. “I mean, she’s a literal icon, how can you not?” Regina hummed in agreement, “so you wanna watch it?”

“Sure.”

“You know it’s a remake from that show from the 80s.”

“Is it now?” Regina said with a teasing drawl and Emma rolled her eyes, pressing play and Regina pulled her legs up onto the couch, knees pressed against Emma’s thighs as they watched TV together.

“Were you more like Elena or Alex as a kid?” Emma asked when the second episode was starting up.

“Elena, I thought you knew I was a massive bookworm?”

“I didn’t wanna jump to conclusions.”

Regina shook her head, mouthing the words to the theme song while Emma’s foot tapped lazily. “And you?”

“Schneider.”

Regina barked out a laugh, poking Emma in the side before resting her head against Emma’s shoulder, but honestly it wasn’t wrong, she was totally a Schneider she thought, as a yawn stretched her face a few minutes later.

“You’re totally a Lydia now.”

“I’m Lydia? Have you met my sister?”

“Sadly I have.”

“You poor dear.” Regina patted Emma’s thigh and Emma took her hand in hers, playing absentmindedly with her fingers throughout the episode and when it was done Emma headed home to let Regina sleep, not before plans to run lines again tomorrow and a promise to not continue the show without the other were made.

Emma left with a couple Tupperware’s filled with leftovers and the warmth of Regina’s hand in hers as they said goodbye, Emma wishing for nothing more than to hug her, but the squeezing of her hand would have to do as she looked into sleepy brown eyes.

She forced herself to step back, to allow Regina’s hand to fall from her own before she let her feelings get the better of her, walking back out into the night, Regina watching her until she disappeared out of sight, but Emma could still see her when she turned to look, leaning against the doorjamb in her little slippers, hands in the pouch of Emma’s hoodie and a sleepy but affectionate smile on her face before she stepped back into her house and Emma watched the door shut, the porchlight like a beacon in the night calling her home. She finally turned, leaving the lit path and warm glow of Regina’s porch to slip between damp trees and onto the empty street where only her bug sat.

 


 

February 22nd, 2017

 

 

They once again found themselves in Regina’s living room, laying on the plush rug as they stared up at the stars decorating Regina’s ceiling from the lamp Emma had gifted to her nearly a year ago, their heads next to each other and their hair tickling their cheeks and Emma’s shoulders.

“This isn’t going to work.”

“Ye ol a little faith, Mills.”

Regina smirked, hands resting over her stomach as she watched the lights glow. “I don’t have faith in anything, Swan, it’s one of my many faults.”

“You have faults?” Emma gasped, “I thought you were perfect! My illusions are crumbling!”

Regina chuckled, nudging Emma with her head. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Just give it a shot, Regina, who’s it gonna hurt?”

“Me?”

“I won’t let anything hurt you.” Emma’s voice was vulnerable and deep with honesty, all teasing from her tone gone; suddenly she felt a hand on the side of her face, fingers brushing against her cheekbones for a second before they vanished and Regina was just left with the beating of her own heart. “Close your eyes.”

Regina let her eyes flutter closed, still seeing the constellations behind her eyelids, feeling like she was floating out of her body to look down upon them, imagining how beautiful Emma must look with the light of the stars reflecting on her skin.

“What now?”

“Find your happy place.”

A laugh rumbled out of her, head bumping Emma’s as she turned it slightly trying to get a look at her before she remembered their position. “What are you, Peter Pan?”

“Pretty sure his thing was happy thoughts and last I checked we weren’t trying to get you to fly.”

“I just don’t see how this will help me for tomorrow.”

Emma sighed and Regina felt her move, felt her breath ghosting over her face coaxing her to open her eyes back up and there she was, hovering over her, hair falling like curtains around their heads, the lights of the lamp shimmering and making Emma’s hair glow as it reflected off other surfaces. She was absolutely breathtaking.

“We’ve been working on this for weeks Regina, I know you can do it but tomorrow, tomorrow is massive and we need you to find some place in your mind that brings you comfort, to go and find Roni and just breathe.”

Regina’s hand moved up on its own accord, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear and tracing the tips of her fingers down Emma’s jaw, studying her closely, her eyes a confusing jumble of emotions Regina couldn’t even begin to understand.

“Close your eyes.” Regina did as told again, hand falling away from Emma’s face but this time instead of resting it back on her stomach with the others, she wrapped it around Emma’s wrist, feeling their connection hum through her veins. “Picture a place you’ve always felt safe in.”

“I’ve never felt safe,” Regina said while her mind came up with one image and one image alone, just her, wrapped up in Emma’s arms, she always felt safe there.

“You found it.”

“Hmm?” Regina’s response was delayed, distracted by the view of Emma’s hands running through her hair and holding her so close, so delicately.

“I can see it on your face, you look peaceful.”

Regina’s eyes fluttered open again staring up at Emma who shifted slightly, her wrist in Regina’s hand was holding her weight up still, but she was seated now, her legs bent and almost bracketing Regina’s head. Slowly she moved her hand, the touch so light Regina’s breath caught as Emma moved the hair from her face and just traced her fingers over Regina’s cheek and forehead.

“Emma?”

“Go back to it and stay there.”

Her lips pursed for a second but her eyes fell closed and she saw them as they were now, only difference was that in her mind her head was turned so her forehead was pressed against Emma’s stomach, breathing in her scent, and as Regina took a breath it was like Emma was surrounding her. She had never felt so safe in her life.

“Hold onto it as you take the steps toward Roni…” Emma’s voice was nearly a whisper and a second later music was playing from the speakers, her own playlist she always listened to before scenes. “Let her in, it’s safe, nothing can hurt you there.”

Regina let out a sigh, Emma’s thumb smoothing out her furrowed brow, and with another deep breath she let herself fall into Roni; every time she started to pull back, Emma’s fingers ran over her skin, smoothing out her furrowed brows or tracing over her features.

It was intimate, she knew that. She’d never done this with anyone ever but the second she started feeling scared about what it could mean, Emma’s touch calmed her again.

“Emma…”

“It’s okay, I’m right here with you.”

“What if they know…” Regina’s voice was small and scared, ringing through her mind like a phantom of her youth.

“They won’t.”

Regina’s thumb brushed over Emma’s forearm, feeling the tingle from the tips of her fingers to where it sat somewhere in her gut. Happiness. She felt happy and content.

“Let go, Regina.”

She saw the image in her mind shift and tremble but as she saw Roni come into view like a phantom in the night she still saw herself, so content in Emma’s arms, and it was like Roni was a part of her that she was scared to face and it wasn’t hard to figure out what part that was.

“I’m a lesbian.” She said, and Emma’s thumb brushed over her cheek, “I’m a lesbian,” over her temple, “I am a lesbian,” over her forehead. “I am a fucking lesbian.”

Emma chuckled, her touch stopping, the feeling of her fingers stilled on her skin, tingling. “Well, I don’t think that’s allowed on network TV.”

Regina laughed, small and it rumbled out of her and then she felt Emma’s fingers brush over her bottom lip and her eyes snapped open, staring up at Emma who was trying to figure out what she was thinking.

“How do you feel?”

“Confused.”

Emma chuckled, slowly removing her hand from Regina’s face as they stared into each other’s eyes. “Just confused?”

“A little scared too,” Regina sighed and her head lulled to the side, “I don’t know if I’m ready to say those words to the world yet.”

“It’s not you, it’s Roni, let her deal with it.”

“I don’t think it’s that easy, Emma. She’s a part of me, this is a part of me and…I’ve only ever told about four people in my whole life.”

“I get that you’re scared, I can’t even imagine the fear you must be feeling right now, but I’ll be right there with you, I promise.”

Regina nodded, her eyes falling closed again. She felt Emma playing absently with her hair and she couldn’t help it, she curled up onto her side, her knees bent and head turned toward Emma’s middle, her hand still holding Emma’s arm as she felt her fingers comb through her hair.

“What do you say to a few episodes of One Day at a Time before I have to head home?”

“Sure…” Emma’s thumb brushed over the shell of her ear and she smiled softly, knowing Emma couldn’t see it she felt safe doing so. “We should probably get off the floor then…”

“Probably, you can still lay in my lap while we watch TV though if you’d like…”

“Maybe,” Regina smiled, brushing her thumb over Emma’s wrist before rolling back over, she stared up at Emma and the constellations on her ceiling for a few more seconds before she removed her hand and slowly sat up as Emma shifted away.

 


 

As the episodes progressed Emma spent more time observing Regina, who was curled up on the couch with her head resting on Emma’s lap, her fingers tucked under Emma’s leg and her eyes glued to the TV.

She hadn’t known what this show was about when she’d picked it, she had no idea they’d end up taking the journey of a nearly 15 year old girl as she discovered her sexuality. Emma was almost scared it’d upset Regina, but she seemed fine curled up against her nearly every night they’ve watched it.

Tonight Emma’s fingers never stopped combing through Regina’s hair, she watched her expressions on her profile, barely visible in only the light of the TV, catching a tear rolling down her cheek here and there but she didn’t point it out, she just watched the show and tried not to be a blubbering mess in front of Regina, although maybe it’d be welcome, she’s not sure.

She forced her eyes back up to the TV, feeling Regina’s other hand wrap around her knee as she shifted. This was everything Emma ever wanted in a partner, to sit and cuddle while watching TV and look down at their face and feel so much love it would crack her in half… she never expected to find it with her best friend, she never expected any of this, never thought as a kid the person she pictured she’d spend the rest of her life with would be a woman, and now here she was only able to imagine her life with one person.

It hurt. If she thought about it too much, it threatened to make her crumble, the possibilities, the what ifs. Part of her wondered about things being different, if Neal hadn’t come back to that room so early what would their lives have been. Would it have just been a relationship built on lust and infidelity, would they have grown to this point ever?

Sometimes she’s so grateful he did walk into the room, shattering their world because it led to this, to them older and surer, and it gave her this beautiful friendship she couldn’t imagine her life without. 

Her mind so full of what ifs, of dreams she doubted would ever come true, and all of them were filled with Regina. All she wanted in life was this, was to wake up in her arms again like she had that one time 5 years ago. To feel her lips against her own. To make breakfast in the mornings and do grocery runs and just ...be.

She was forever grateful for this opportunity to get to know her, truly know how absolutely remarkable Regina Mills was. Sure she was gorgeous beyond belief but it was more than that, Emma saw her, she loved her. Loved that witty sense of humour, the talent and passion that oozed from her pores. She loved her laugh, the way she showed she cared with a simple look, a gentle touch. The way she sang silently to herself when she thought nobody could hear, and she loved watching her work because she gave everything she did her all, big or small she tackled it like the universe depended on it. She was a perfectionist probably to a fault but she cared with her whole soul and it showed in every single thing she did.

She loved Regina Mills and that was painful but easy, falling for her had been so easy that she never saw it coming, because Regina was extraordinary, she was unlike anyone she’d ever met and with each new thing she’d learnt, she only fell deeper, because with Regina, there was just so much to love, so many new things to discover that would tear her heart in two and subsequently make it grow and grow until she was sure it’d burst. That’s what loving Regina Mills was like, a never ending circle of absolute fascination and awe at just how strong and resilient she was. 

Emma didn’t even realize what was happening until it was too late, one day she just looked at her and knew she was gone for, by the way her heart ached and the emotions threatened to tear her up from the inside, it wasn’t hard to figure out after that. She had become a stereotype, falling in love with her best friend, she’d laugh but it wasn’t funny, it hurt, though in the greatest way possible.

Emma felt the pain in her chest, it felt like it was slowly choking her to keep it in, and as she looked down at Regina’s face she was filled to the brim with love she never even thought existed and she wouldn’t trade this moment for anything in the world. For this life. It was perfect and nothing could compare, nothing was worth the risk of losing her.

This was love.

Her finger traced over the edge of Regina’s ear and she let out a little sigh, Emma’s chest expanding, that feeling growing to impossible intensity.

Just this.

 


 

Regina let out a little gasp the second Elena started coming out to Penelope, fear stirring in her gut and the tears didn’t stop, Emma offered to stop for the night but Regina squeezed her knee, her eyes stuck on that screen and those characters.

Her fingers tapped along to the theme song against Emma’s knee, releasing her anxiety for a few seconds before her heart clenched again and she just watched, watched Penelope act so supportive but be going through this battle of acceptance of her own. The tears didn’t stop, her grip on Emma’s knee loosened and tightened and her laugh filled with tears as Lydia went through her process and Emma’s fingers never stopped combing through her hair.

It was weird, watching a story a lot like hers but so different, a family filled with love that made her ache for it, that wanted to know what it was like to be wrapped in her parents arms and told she was loved for who she was. To have a sibling as loving and protective as Alex.

She’s never let herself think about it, never wanted to dive deep into the losses she has experienced or that wall between her and her family. Regina had tried so hard as a kid to be everything they wanted her to be, she had risked a part of herself; and to do so, she broke herself until she fit perfectly in their puzzles. And now that she was grown, she lived life with missing pieces in her soul, longing to find a place where she could fit after years of mangling herself to fit into the wrong places.

Regina knew there was a lot she couldn’t have in life, family always felt like one of them. When she had left her home that day, 16 years ago, with the sun barely up and an acceptance letter burning a hole in her pocket, she’d known she was giving up family for freedom. She had never thought going to LA would help her find a new family, she never thought she’d be loved or love ever again.

She’d given up that dream with no regrets and now… now as she looked on at that family, felt the love they shared, Regina realized she’d spent the last 16 years looking for a new place to call home, a new family to feel seen and loved in. Looking for a place where she could be honest and free without any repercussions or judgement; and as Emma’s nails scraped across her scalp and tugged through her hair, she was starting to think she had finally found that place where she could feel whole.

She didn’t notice she was sobbing as the episode ended, she had just been staring at the screen until it was back to the menu, Emma exiting out, her hand on her arm and stroking her hair, her voice caring and gentle whispering in the room as her body shook. She didn’t understand, it was just a show but it was everything she had ever wanted.

Family.

“Shhh, I got you…” Emma said and Regina’s breath shook around a sob, feeling the care in her touch. “It’s going to be okay, Regina, I’m here, I got you, you’re safe.”

“Emma…” She croaked and Emma’s touch stilled as she turned on her side, pressing her face against Emma’s middle, her fingers slipping into her belt loops and gripped on, her legs pulled up to press against the back of the couch as she cried against her middle.

Emma’s hands slowly lowered back down, brushing her hair from her face, tracing over her ear, grazing the back of her neck, one hand cupping the back of her head while the other moved to her side, the heat of Emma’s touch comforting, the gentle brushes of a finger, reassuring, safe. Home.

Regina nuzzled against Emma’s stomach and she felt her fingers brushing through her hair again, humming a soothing song until Regina finally relaxed and things just faded out, Emma’s warmth surrounding her and she never wanted her to leave again.

 


 

Regina was laying in the small bed at the back of her trailer, music surrounding her along with Emma’s smell that still lingered on the hoodie she’d left for her in the trailer. Her fingers tapping along to the beat on her belly as she let herself stay in her safe space, wrapped up tightly in Emma’s arms as she waited to be called to set for the big scene.

It wasn’t big to anyone else of course, to them it was nothing but a throwaway line, but to Regina it was earth shattering. Saying those words in front of dozens of people, cast, crew, extras, and then later it would be broadcasted for the world to see. She was trying not to think about it in fear of throwing up or running as far and as fast as she can. Hiding in the woods so nobody could ever find her again.

She watched as that mental image of herself morphed into Roni and Emma slowly turned into Blackwell, the two still wrapped around each other and the feeling of safety was staying with her as she felt Roni slip into place.

Her eyes snapped open when she heard a knock on the door, sitting up she listened closely for the PA’s voice or maybe Emma’s thudding steps but when neither came she slipped out of bed, her arms wrapped tightly around her as she moved closer, hearing the knock again and she froze.

She felt her body lock up as she moved the rest of the way to the door and opened it up to find Zelena on the other side, her fingers twisting and eyes unsure as they met Regina’s.

“Zelena?”

“Can I come in?”

Regina hesitated, she felt the anxiety and guilt twist in her gut, but in the end she still stepped back and let her sister slip inside her trailer. Regina stood in the middle of the pathway between her couch and dining area, her right hand pressed against her middle to hold off her anxiety and her head held high, and not just because she had to look up at Zelena in her high heels.

“What do you want, Zelena?”

Zelena frowned, taking a step the slightest bit closer. “I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing… I know this is going to be a hard scene for you, and I… I just wanted you to know I’m here if you’d like to talk and I am sorry for pushing you before, it was wrong of me.”

Regina’s lips pursed, unsure how to process what was happening and what it meant, but something in her chest loosened up. “I…” she frowned, unsure what to actually say. “I am fine, but thank you, for…apologizing.”

Zelena nodded and took another step closer, hands falling to Regina’s arms and squeezing them, “I’m your big sister, I love you, you do know that, right?”

Regina looked away, unsure how to answer that either, pain and anger twisting around in her gut, and she needed space so she took it, stepping back and refusing to meet Zelena’s eyes knowing they’d be sad and that would only make her feel worse.

“I can be there today if you like…”

“I…” Regina bit the inside of her cheek and slowly looked up, feeling the emotions stuck in her throat. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…you… you bring up a lot of old memories I don’t need today.”

“Oh.” Zelena nodded and stepped back, “I’ll go then, I’m sorry if I upset you I didn’t… I just…”

“I know,” Regina husked and offered Zelena the best smile she could muster up and Zelena nodded.

“Good luck today, Regina and if you need to talk, you know where to find me.”

Regina nodded and watched Zelena move to leave, head tilting as Zelena suddenly stopped, her blue eyes scanning over Regina’s body thoughtfully. “What?”

“Is that Emma’s sweater?”

Regina felt her face heat up and she tore her eyes from Zelena as she wrapped her hands protectively around her middle. “She gave it to me.”

Zelena’s smile was wide, a little chuckle echoing through her mind long after Zelena left, making Regina wonder once again what Zelena had meant.

 


 

Everything seemed so loud around her as Regina stood on set, on her mark, as if speakers had been attached to everybody in the room and the volume was turned up to max. Regina felt eyes burning into her, staring, watching, judging, waiting.

Her heart hammered in her chest, the thud echoing in her ears as she tried to make her brain cling onto that little peaceful place hiding in the far recesses of her mind.

Each thud in her ears made it feel harder and harder to find, her body tingled with the eyes staring, she could feel each and every person like they were pressed against her body and she wanted to run, wanted to get out of there again but then a hand was placed on her elbow and all she felt was warmth, all she smelt was Emma. Naturally, she leaned toward the body heat a slight bit more.

“You’re not trying to fly, remember? Find earth, plant your roots.” Emma whispered in her ear and Regina’s anxieties loosened enough for her brain to start functioning past what was around her.

The hand stayed there until they called action and they started the scene, she felt a little unsteady, like Roni was still distant but she pushed through, she tugged at her concept in her mind until she felt something similar and just pushed past it.

“He’s pretty handsome, don’t you think?” Regina heard the line and her brain focused on Ruby, looking down at her profile then up at the computer monitor that was covered in a green screen.

Her heart thudding in her chest as she tried to pull Roni back, feeling her slipping away with each anxious beat of her heart.

“He’s alright, not really my type.” Regina noticed movement next to her, tried to focus on the warmth of Emma by her side but things seemed to only get blurry.

“What do you think, Roni? You date him?”

It took her a moment to register her cue, eyes blinking slowly and her breath rattling unnoticeably in her chest; she opened her mouth but the words didn’t come out.

“What do you think, Roni? You date him?” Ruby tried again, this time looking at Regina unsure of what to do.

“Considering I’m a- a” her mind flashed back to being 15, scared and small and feeling so dirty and the words couldn’t escape her throat as it closed tightly around them.

After a moment, a beat of her heart really, she felt Emma’s hand on her arm, rubbing up and down a couple times before holding onto her elbow and Regina’s eyes closed to push out the memories, to find earth again.

“Sorry, it seems I blanked on my line.” Regina chuckled at her own mistake, eyes open and a mask in place that really looked like she was just fine, to everyone but Emma.

“It’s alright, why don’t you take a couple moments to figure it out.”

Regina looked at the director, trying to figure her out before she stepped away from Ruby’s character’s station, running a hand through her hair as she sat in one of the other many chairs in the office.

“You good?”

She nodded, her eyes trailing up to look at Emma whose hands were buried in her pockets as she silently studied her.

“Just spaced out for a moment.”

Emma nodded, slipping onto the desk by Regina and spinning the chair so she was facing her. “We don’t need any more lost boys or girls, Peter.”

Regina smiled up at her, finding comfort in her presence alone. “I promise I won’t take off, Wendy.”

Emma grinned at her, patting a beat on her thighs as she looked around. “That reminds me, next movie night how about we watch Peter Pan?”

“Why are you so obsessed with children’s movies?”

“Adult movies are all the same!”

“Well, can’t we watch something new? Like Moana?”

“Peter Pan and Moana it is then. Glad we are in agreement!” Emma beamed and leaped off the desk and headed back toward Ruby.

“Emma Swan! I agreed to nothing!”

Emma spun around, walking backward, her eyes teasing as she said. “I’ll bring pizza and beer and you make the deserts.”

“Emma…” She growled, jogging after her, about to complain more when Ruby’s voice met her ears.

“You two have movie nights? That’s so cute!”

“Rubes…” Emma warned and Regina knew she had a murderous look on her face. “She doesn’t like when people say she’s cute…”

“Are you ladies ready to get going again?”

They all looked toward the director, their postures straightening up like they’d been caught by their teacher goofing off in class and all spun to face the monitor.

“Alright, and action!”

Again the scene progressed on and Regina didn’t feel like she was drowning this time, distracted and calmed by Emma being an annoying pain in her ass, she actually felt herself relax into the moment. It felt pretty good.

“What do you think, Roni? You date him?”

She turned to Ruby again, the lazy shrug a little slow, a little stiff but she got it, her face remained casual and she opened her mouth, a rush of relief escaping her as the words left her mouth. “Considering I’m a le–” her mind drifted for a second and Emma’s hand fell to her elbow, a second, “lesbian...”

She felt dizzy, it was a rush of so many emotions and she didn’t know what to do, what to think.

“Take it again from ‘he’s pretty handsome’.”

They nodded and Emma’s hand squeezed her elbow before falling away, she took a deep breath, her eyes closing as she played a million moments of Roni in her head until she felt her posture relax.

“He’s pretty handsome, don’t you think?”

“He’s alright, not really my type.”

“What do you think, Roni? You date him?”

Emma’s hand moved to her elbow right after Ruby’s line, and Regina’s body relaxed just as it was starting to tense up, her grin playful as she looked at Ruby and finally said, “considering I’m a lesbian, no… but if he has a sister…”

She looked at Emma as she finished, eyes trailing over her features before she turned back to the monitor.  Her heart beating rapidly in her chest with adrenaline but she felt… saying it out loud to so many people it felt… she shook her head at herself.

She wanted to share the moment, to celebrate her victory and Emma squeezing her elbow brought her attention back, and they shared a small secret smile before Emma’s hand fell away and they did it again.

They did a few more takes, changed camera angles and did a few more, at some point she was just too drained to get scared and found Roni taking over, like the character was protecting what remained of her energy. Kept her moving and working.

She wondered about Roni’s family as they took a break, sitting on top of her desk and eating a massive burger, her foot on the corner of the chair while Emma sat in it, talking and eating with her and Ruby, but Regina’s mind kept wandering off.

Wondering if she had loving and accepting parents, if her siblings were accepting, if she was the baby they saw needing protecting or if she was also alone in the world searching for a family. Regina wondered how much they were really alike, when she came out, how it went. She thought back to the episode from last night, wanting to have family, wondering if Roni felt that pain too.

Her mind reminded her of Zelena, trying, she was trying Regina noticed, even when she pushed her away she was trying and…maybe she needed to try too, because she wanted her sister, she wanted family and home and she wanted that with Zelena, she missed their rocky relationship and she craved to make it stable, not just because she was tired of feeling alone in the world and in her family, but because that fear, that pain was still locked away in her chest, making it hard to lean into Roni, into happiness. She knows she will never get closure with her parents but maybe… maybe she could find it in Zelena.

 


 

It was a couple days later when she finally headed over to Zelena’s condo to talk. She found herself pacing in the hall for an embarrassingly long time before finally walking up to the door, where she stood still, staring at the gold number on it as she raised her hand to knock. It felt like the sound echoed through her head and her hand fell to her stomach, anxiously waiting for her sister to open the door.

“Regina?” Zelena said in confusion, her eyes checking her over for injury or any signs of distress before they were back on her face, lips pulled down in worry.

“Can I come in?”

“Of course you can.” Zelena stepped away and Regina walked through the door, glancing around the open space and smiling at the subtle green accents lying around.

“Green always was your favourite colour…”

“Why did you come here, Regina?”

She turned around to look at Zelena, who seemed curious and hesitant; Regina wrapped her arms around her middle and hugged herself tightly, “you said I could come if I wanted to talk.”

“Oh…” Zelena nodded to herself, “I’ll hang up your coat, you can go sit.”

Regina nodded, unbuttoning and slipping off her coat to hand to Zelena before she walked the short distance to the sofa, adjusting the light green accent pillow nervously.

“What did you want to talk about?”

Regina looked up at the sound of her voice, tracking her movements as she lowered herself into a chair across from her and Regina hugged the pillow to her chest, feeling like a scared little kid all over again. “Everything?”

“That’s a lot…”

Regina nodded, staring down at her feet and wondering how to even begin to open up to Zelena, they’d never really had that type of relationship. “I don’t know how to do this…”

“Me neither…”

Regina looked back up at her, chuckling to herself and Zelena did the same, shaking their heads at the same time. “We never stood a chance, did we?”

Zelena folded her hands in her lap, she sometimes reminded Regina so much of their mother it made her squirm, but they weren’t the same. Zelena actually had a heart.

“As kids maybe not, but now? Now, I think we have all the chances right in front of us, we just have to make the right choices.”

“That’s never been a strong suit of mine.”

“Me neither…”

Regina sighed, hugging the pillow to her chest as she looked into Zelena’s eyes. “You hurt me.”

Zelena’s lips pulled into a frown, looking like she was trying to trace back to what she might have said wrong in the last few minutes. “Is this about our fight?”

“In a way, yes. I am sorry I hurt you the way I did that night, Zelena but all of that shit it runs deep in me and…” She looked down at her hands, the watch from Emma pressing against her skin.

“I understand that, which is why I asked you to explain it to me. I know I’ll never understand what you went through but… you’re my sister, Regina.” she said, the emotion clear in her voice, almost like a silent plea.

“Never felt like that growing up. It was you against me from the minute you moved in with us, I know that’s not your fault, I know it was mother’s, but…”

“She never really loved either of us, we were fighting for attention and love she could never give.”

Regina nodded, looking across the room at a potted plant by the large windows, staring at the clouds in the sky, how they were dark from a storm across the city. “I have so much anger inside, Zelena… and I’m tired of holding onto it.”

“Then let it go.” 

Regina’s head snapped toward her, eyes alight as her voice boomed, “it’s not that easy!”

“I know, I meant… tell me why you’re angry.”

Regina stood up, throwing the pillow on the couch as she moved behind it, pacing back and forth on the light hardwood floors, frustration burning in her chest, threatening to explode in emotions she couldn’t control, her hand tearing through her hair to try and get it out, a growl barely audible as she paused, glancing at Zelena as she said in a nervous voice, “I don’t want to hurt you again.”

“As you said we need to address our pain to move past it. I want to know why you’re upset.”

Regina came to a stop, staring at her black heels; her hands balled up into fists and her nails digging into her skin. Everything rushed back to her in a tidal wave, fear flooding her system; anger her only promise of salvation. 

She was sure she looked like a cornered animal as she turned back to face Zelena, her arms hugged tightly around her middle again, trying fruitlessly to hold her together, to give her comfort as she felt everything she’d been holding back for years pour out of her at once. “You left me, you left me alone with her, there was nobody left to protect me! You left me and they sent me away to be tortured and you never came for me!”

Regina trembled with anger, standing there in stilled silence watching Zelena, who looked like she was barely holding herself together on that perfect white chair of hers, her jaw tensed and her eyes shifted, a battle in them as she tried to settle between sadness and anger, they both had so much anger coursing through their veins. 

“I used to wish for you to come save me, I prayed every night you’d come take me out of that hell, I just wanted my big sister!” 

Zelena stood up from the chair, strong emotions vibrating off of her, burning in her eyes; and there was a broken guardedness there as well, righteous anger that Regina didn’t understand, and as Zelena took a step forward she unconsciously took a step back, blue eyes locked onto hers saying so much, while her voice was smooth with anger and frustration, a plea for her to understand, but Regina still felt so much pain in her bones it was hard to even hear it. “I was 19…”

“And I was 15!” She cried.

Tears rolled down both their cheeks, nearly at the same time, their eye contact not breaking as Regina angrily wiped hers away, but Zelena let her own continue their journey and dry on her skin, looking almost numb in comparison. “I was scared.”

“You were scared? I came home from school one day and mother told me I was sick and she dragged me to conversion therapy, Zelena! Conversion therapy! Do you know what they do to people in those places?!”

“Regina…please…I’m sorry, but…” Regina watched her tears fall, she heard her voice tremble and she flung her arms around in frustration, wild in a room so perfectly put together. She pressed both hands to her forehead and slowly combed through her hair, gripping the back of her neck as she stared down at the sea-green rug, vibrating with emotions she was struggling to hold onto, like if cracks had formed from the pressure pushing down on her shoulders. 

“Please, don’t make excuses…”

“They’re not excuses!” Regina looked up as Zelena finally snapped, moving around the coffee table and couch toward her, and she couldn’t stop herself from stumbling back once more, a reaction so ingrained in who she was that she didn’t notice until she saw Zelena freeze, the fear on her face clear as she stopped by the arm of the matching white couch and realized she had scared Regina. She teared her hands  through her hair again, her desperate eyes meeting Regina’s, pleading for her to understand. 

“Jesus, Regina!” She kicked the side of the couch in frustration, Regina jumping slightly at the action, her eyes locked on Zelena as she took a few steps to the left, moving away from the couch before she turned back around, the emotions in her sister’s eyes stunning Regina into silence. 

“We were both abused by that woman! Every bad grade or missed curfew and she threatened to send me to the orphanage! The second I could leave that place I did! You have to understand what that was like!”

Regina looked down abashed, hand gripping onto the left side of her shirt as more tears fell from her eyes. “I didn’t know…”

“You left at 17 and never looked back. You left me too.” Zelena continued, like she hadn’t heard her and Regina was unsure if she had, she suddenly felt so small, like it was her job to keep everyone together again, and she’d never wanted that, she’d never asked for any of this, she just wanted to be happy, to be free.

“You left me first! I was doing what I had to do to survive!” Her voice desperate as her eyes burnt into Zelena’s, so many emotions swirling around them Regina wasn’t even sure she was standing anymore.

“So was I!” Zelena’s voice boomed, and Regina’s eyes widened, her mouth falling slightly open, shocked by the raw emotion, by Zelena’s tears as she took a step closer. “I wanted my sister too.”

“Zelena I–”

“You at least had a father who loved you, an ally in that house!”

Regina laughed then, bitter and broken, the switch was sudden, twisted in pain and neglect, her jaw tensing as she ground out and stepped back. “You think he was an ally? He let her do what she wanted! The day he found out I was gay you wanna know what he did, Zelena?” Zelena looked sadly at her and she continued, feeling almost empty now, the will to fight falling away. “He pulled away from my touch, he was repulsed by me because I’m a lesbian! My parents hate me because I’m gay, Zelena!”

“Mother hates me for being born.”

“Why does everything have to be a fucking competition with you?! You think mother didn’t wish I wasn’t born either? She raised me to be president! She wanted a son, she got a Latina lesbian as a daughter instead. She has always hated me, she never wanted kids, she wanted heirs! Someone to brag about at the clubs!”

“Mother fucking sucks.” Zelena’s voice sounded as hollow as she felt, moving back toward the couch and lowering herself onto the arm of it.

Regina laughed at the understatement, bitter and numb as she scrubbed her hands over her face, exhaustion setting in as her body sagged the slightest bit, meeting Zelena’s eyes as her hands fell away, the floor suddenly painfully obvious beneath her feet, her heels making them feel numb and her limbs so heavy she wasn’t sure if she could keep herself standing much longer. “Why didn’t you take me with you when I asked?”

Zelena looked at her with red, raw eyes. “I…mother put a lot of things in my head…”

“You hated me too?” Regina asked, her arms wrapping around her middle again and her voice so small and broken to her own ears she couldn’t stop her inner thoughts from calling her pathetic.

“Never. I just…I was confused.”

“I hated you…” Regina confessed in a voice that sounded more like a teenager’s than a grown woman’s and Zelena just nodded.

“I would have hated me too.”

Regina looked away, hugging her arms around her middle as she blinked away the lone tears clinging to her eyelashes. “I just wanted to be loved… I let myself be hurt so much for love and…” She looked up, tears rolling down her cheeks again as she met Zelena’s eyes, “I’m tired of being alone and angry at the world…I’m tired of breaking myself in half just to fit in with other people.”

Zelena stood back up and brushed her hands over her black slacks, Regina’s eyes to widening as she approached, her head tilting up to keep eye contact. She felt so tiny even with her 4 inch heels, one part of her was sure most of it wasn’t even about the height difference, it was just the vulnerability making her feel this way, the fear. 

“Then stop.”

“I’m trying.” Regina breathed, voice trembling with emotion and her vision blurring with tears.

“I was scared to speak out of turn because I saw what mother was willing to do to you, her perfect child, and I was a brat, I… I was scared what she’d do to me if she could do those things to you.” More tears rolled down Zelena’s face as she stopped a couple feet away from her. “You were so tiny when I got to that house, I was so excited to have a baby sister, we were inseparable once…”

Regina’s eyes softened as they met hers, a vague memory of laughter and her hand in Zelena’s as they ran through the large empty halls of their family estate, they didn’t talk much about it, mostly because Regina’s memories were foggy with age but she remembered it, it was one of the very few good memories she had of her childhood.

“You were my little shadow, we would play dress up and whatnot. One day you accidentally broke something of Mother’s and she… well you know how she gets.” Regina nodded, hugging herself tighter, but she couldn’t look away from Zelena who was lost in the memory. “You were so small,” she repeated, and Regina’s lips pulled into a frown, she didn’t get it.

“I tried to defend you, I got in the way once… that was the first time mother threatened to send me to the orphanage. And you were so small…” she said again, moving until she was just a foot away, her eyes shimmering with tears as her hands moved to frame Regina’s cheeks, her touch gentle and unsure, looking down at her like she saw a child in front of her and not her grown sister. “She only hurt you more when I fought back, so I stopped…”

“Zelena…”

“I know I should have fought for you more and I’m sorry I wasn’t a better big sister, but I’d like to be one now.”

“I’m sorry I let mother make me hate you.”

“It’s not your fault…”

“It’s not yours either.”

Zelena let out a tiny chuckle and opened her arms a little and Regina only paused for a second before she stepped into the hug, the hold tight and a little strange but also very nice. “Can you forgive me?”

“I think I can, eventually,” Regina whispered, and Zelena nodded, rubbing Regina’s back a few times as she relaxed into the hug, a sigh rumbling out of her, the emotions just falling away from her.

“We’ve come so far the last 4 years, I know how hard it was to get here, but, Regina…” She pulled Regina away from her body holding her at arm’s length and Regina frowned in confusion. “You do know I love you, right?”

“I didn’t…but I think I do now.”

“Thank you.”

Regina’s expression softened and she let out a shaky breath. “You do know I love you too, right?”

“I do now.”

Regina nodded and let Zelena pull her into another hug before stepping away a few seconds later, her arms tight around her middle again to try and keep herself from falling apart. “I should go…I need… I need time.”

Zelena nodded, understanding in her eyes. She looked just as drained even as she helped her get her coat and walked her to the door. “She’s in 208.”

Regina frowned, her mind taking her a minute to catch up, when it did, she shook her head and hugged her sister one last time. “Thank you.”

Zelena squeezed her tightly in the open doorway, her hands moving to Regina’s shoulders to give her a small smile, her eyes red from crying and filled with so much emotion. They still had a lot to work through, she knew, but as she let go, Regina knew this was the beginning of a real relationship with her sister. She flashed her a tired smile, whispering goodbye before she turned and walked away, her eyes looking for Emma’s condo, finding it down the hall, and she stared at the door for a long time before making a decision.

 


 

“Regina?” Emma gasped when she saw her on the other side of the door, tear tracks on her cheeks and eyes bloodshot, she looked ruffled and shook up and Emma just stepped back, wordlessly letting Regina in and helping her out of her coat.

“What’s wrong?” She asked when the coat was hung up, but Regina just kicked off her heels and stepped into her space, wrapping her arms around her neck as she buried her face in it and Emma didn’t even think twice before returning it. “I’m going to assume that yelling I heard before was you?”

Regina laughed into her neck, tears hot against her skin, and Emma just held on tighter. Trying her best to help with whatever she could.

“Are you humming the Spice Girls in my hair?”

“…no?”

Regina barked out another laugh, pulling away to look at Emma and she found her looking so vulnerable. Emma’s hands moved to fix mussed up curls and then wiped the tears from her cheeks before cupping them, tipping Regina’s head down as she leaned up the slightest bit to press a kiss to her forehead.

“You’re not wearing pants.”

“I am not,” Emma said against Regina’s forehead and Regina chuckled.

“You opened the door in your underwear?”

“I did.”

“Idiot.” Regina chuckled, moving past Emma as she looked around her home, Emma taking in her dishevelled appearance with a frown.

“Want me to get you a change of clothes?”

“You sure you have pants to spare, Miss Swan?”

“I think I can scrounge some up,” Emma threw back and Regina turned around to flash her that trademark teasing smile, the one that said she was enjoying the banter, not the one that meant Emma was in for an interesting night of being ruthlessly teased until she called for mercy.

“Make yourself comfortable while I go put on pants and get you some.”

Regina nodded and Emma had a feeling Regina was about to get her back for all the times she’d snooped.

 


 

When Emma exited her bedroom a few minutes later she found Regina in the kitchen, making pasta, apparently. “What are you doing?” She asked with a laugh, enjoying the sight of Regina with her sleeves rolled up as she looked through Emma’s pasta selection.

“You have nothing to cook.”

“I usually order in. There’s this great Chinese place not far away.”

“Please tell me you have sauce.”

“Top shelf on the left,” Emma responded, a grin on her face as Regina pushed up on her tippy toes to pull out a jar of tomato sauce.

“I guess this will have to do.”

“You just walked into my house crying and now you’re cooking in my kitchen and critiquing my food choices?”

“Yes.” Regina stated, turning to look at Emma, her eyes scanning over her body slowly before moving back up to zero in on the clothes.

“Is this what it’s like being married?” Emma grinned as Regina rolled her eyes and moved toward her.

“Watch the water.” Regina stated as she snatched the clothes from Emma’s arms and brushed past her.

“It’s water, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.” Regina shut the bedroom door with a slam and Emma nodded, whispering to herself, “yup, definitely what it’s like to be married…”

With a grin she walked over to the pot and glared down at Regina’s pasta choice, doesn’t she know rotini is the best? But she knew not to mess with anything Regina-related especially when she was grumpy.

“Cute bedspread.”

Emma’s eyes snapped to look at Regina and she flushed bright red when she realized she hadn’t put her throw blanket away so Regina wouldn’t see.

“Lilo and Stitch is a classic.” She said while her heart beat frantically in her chest at the sight of Regina in a pair of her sleep boxers and sweater, which Regina must have grabbed from her closet to put on instead of the tank top Emma had chosen for her.

“It is.” Regina said as she moved over to her and pressed her hand against the small of Emma’s back as she looked into the pot.

“Wanna talk about it?”

Regina shrugged as Emma’s eyes scanned over her face, realizing she’d wiped her makeup completely off and her lip scar was more prominent, with a little pink tint to it, and of course Emma’s favourite thing, the beauty mark on the corner of her mouth.

“You’re staring.”

“I am,” Emma admitted, wrapping her arm around Regina’s shoulder and pulling her against her body and Regina relaxed against her side.

“I decided I wanted to talk to Zelena, to work some things out.”

“How’d it go?”

Regina shrugged again, “good, I think…we got a lot off our chest but I’m sure there’s more we’re still holding onto.”

“Your mom is a real piece of work.” Emma said without thinking and Regina laughed against her neck.

“I am well aware.”

“C’mon, let’s sit down, you know a watched pot never boils.”

Regina rolled her eyes but let Emma drag her into the living room and they lowered themselves to the couch, Regina tucking herself into Emma’s side without a second of hesitation.

“Can I just stay here for a while? I don’t wanna go back to my big empty house just yet.”

“Of course…you can stay the night if you’d like.”

Regina pulled back and looked at her, an eyebrow shooting up, “Emma Swan did you just proposition me?!”

“No? I invited my best friend to spend the night at my place because she was upset.”

Regina chuckled, burrowing back against Emma’s side, a long sigh leaving her lungs. “Maybe.”

“Okay.” Emma breathed and looked at her paused TV. “So, wanna do that movie night now?”

“Sure…but after dinner is ready.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Regina let out a frustrated sigh but her hand fell against Emma’s middle and started playing with her shirt again as they waited in silence for the water to boil.

It was a usual night in for them, eating, watching TV or movies, talking, goofing off, and as it got later and Regina still didn’t look like she wanted to be alone, Emma dug out an extra toothbrush and gave it and her bedroom to Regina before she curled up on the couch to sleep for the night.

Which okay, maybe that part was unusual, they hadn’t done many sleepovers, but Emma found she kind of liked seeing Regina walk around her home, acting as if she owned the place, and she fit in it perfectly, waking up to the smell of eggs cooking was also nice, and insanely strong coffee because that woman had no chill when it came to caffeine.

It was probably dangerous to get used to mornings with a slightly grumpy Regina making her breakfast, wearing just shorts and a silky black camisole which Emma knew was Regina’s, because she didn’t own anything like that. And the mix of Regina in both their clothes nearly sent Emma to the floor.

It was dangerous and Emma hoped they got to do it again because morning Regina was so adorable…and she kind of just liked the company… she did wonder why Zelena hadn’t made her usual morning visit for sugar, but then Regina was throwing a towel at her face to make her dry the dishes and Emma got lost in a mess of painfully perfect domesticity with her best friend, the woman she loved.

So yeah, dangerous, and so fucking confusing.

Chapter Text

February 26th, 2017

 

 

Emma was fighting with her hair as she stood in front of the large mirrors in the wardrobe department, she needed to put it up but there were pins in it and she was really scared about ruining yet another shirt by sticking herself with one. You can only do it so many times before people start worrying about your competence.

“Would you like some help there, Emma?”

She turned to see Regina standing by the door, purse hanging from her elbow, bright red umbrella in her hand and a scarf still around her neck. She saw flashes of her this morning, with puffy unstyled hair and no makeup as she slipped out of her apartment building door and out into the rain. Emma could feel her heart contracting the same way it had earlier, so much love filling her up at just the sight of the woman.

“God, please.”

Regina chuckled, placing her umbrella in its designated basket before taking off her coat and scarf, revealing her perfectly tailored slacks, shirt and vest set. Emma was wondering who she was trying to impress with that before realizing that was just who Regina was.

Regina walked up to her, Emma’s eyes on the mirror as she watched her while shuffling forward as Regina stepped onto the platform; and everything in Emma froze, then relaxed when Regina’s fingers slipped through her hair, scraping against her scalp as she pulled it back into a ponytail.

The smell of her perfume and shampoo washed over Emma, whose eyes stayed on the mirror, watching Regina the best she could, studying the perfectly styled curls and full face of makeup; and following Regina’s hands movements; which is how she knew she needed the elastic before she even asked for it. She held it behind her and Regina’s lips curled into a smile as she took it from her and easily tied Emma’s hair up, smoothing her hands over Emma’s shoulders before she stepped back down and Emma turned, their eyes meeting instantly.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, dear.” Regina’s hand reached up again, straightening out Emma’s collar, her eyes roaming over her outfit. “You look dashing.”

“Thanks, so do you.”

“Oh?” Regina looked down at herself with a pout, pulling Emma’s attention to her cleavage before Regina looked back up at her with a look of confusion. “I was going for sexy.”

“Yeah, that too.” Emma said, while staring right down Regina’s shirt, like the useless gay she was. She was suddenly really happy Regina had gone home to change earlier instead of joining her for the rest of the day.

“Where is Merlin?”

“He ditched me to gather your things. Apparently a shipment came in.”

“Oh?”

It really shouldn’t be as cute as it was, but that little excited expression and the way her voice raised in pitch the slightest bit nearly had Emma swooning on the spot. “You think you’re getting suits too? Cause if so, I’m toast. Maybe they’re getting you a proper cold weather wardrobe.”

“I wonder…”

“You’re so cute.” Emma chuckled, her hand falling to the crook of Regina’s shoulder, her thumb brushing against her jaw as she just got so caught up in those wide excited eyes.

Regina turned to look at her, brows furrowed and head tilting toward her hand and Emma was about to cup her cheek but she caught Merlin entering the room and she dropped her hand instantly, that confused frown nearly breaking Emma’s heart the second she saw it.

“Hey, Merlin!”

Regina spun around her posture snapping straight, and she pasted on her best smile for him, suddenly getting why Emma’s hand had fallen away.

“Regina, I am so glad you’re here! I ordered a few more leather jackets for Roni, I’d like you to try them on to see which ones are keepers.”

“Sure,” Regina stepped over and Emma’s eyes just couldn’t look away from her, drinking in every inch of her, there was just something so beautiful about Regina when she fell into planning mode.

She was always so comfortable when her mind was piecing together things from the script or the wardrobe and Emma could watch her forever, could watch her face light up as she looked down at jackets and ran her fingers over the material, commenting about the lining or the design. It was fascinating the way she just knew so much and loved working, learning, it was stunning.

Regina pulled on one of the coats, a deep burgundy colour and Emma was sure she was almost drooling as she approached her again, to look at herself in the mirror, but Emma just saw that vest and the perfectly fitting leather and she needed to sit down before she passed out.

“You okay, Emma?” Regina placed her hand on her forearm and Emma was sure she looked petrified… this was a cruel angle.

“Great.” She squeaked and Regina’s thumb brushed over her elbow, Emma too focused on not passing out to notice how big of a step that public show of affection was for them.

Emma came back to herself in a flash, her smile wide and so proud, and Regina just kind of looked shocked, maybe a little impressed even, and then she stepped to the side, getting a good look in the mirror and Emma turned too, watching her twist and turn to see how it hit.

“What do you think, Emma?”

“It’s perfect.”

Regina hummed, testing the way she could move in it as she walked back toward Merlin who had gone to the back to hang all the coats on hangers.

 


 

March 2nd, 2017

 

Regina was leaning against the back of the couch in her trailer, her leg bent so the heel of her foot was pressed against the edge of the couch while she scrolled through her notifications on twitter, looking at set pictures and random tweets from fans, some making her laugh and some smile warmly, at the kind things they were saying.

She heard her trailer door open and her eyes flicked up to see Emma before she stared back down at her phone, smiling at Emma’s familiar gait.

“Emma, you have to see this tweet,” Regina said as she noticed her stop not far away, smiling at it and expecting Emma to get excited, but when nothing else happened, something uneasy twisted in her gut, telling her something was wrong; she glanced up, unsure of what to do when she was faced with a slightly dishevelled Emma with tears pooling in her eyes and hands clenched into fists while she just trembled.

“Emma?”

She placed her phone on the couch and lowered her leg at the same time, eyes scanning over Emma frantically to make sure she wasn’t physically injured.

“Darling, what’s wrong?” She asked while she stood up, taking a step closer, wanting to reach out but unsure if that was okay, she didn’t even look present. “Emma, what happened? Are you hurt?”

Emma shook her head and Regina let out a relieved sigh, but the way her eyes looked made Regina’s gut twist uneasily. “What do you need?”

Emma shrugged and her lower lip wobbled and Regina couldn’t stop herself from reaching out this time, her hand moving up to cup Emma’s cheek gently, her eyes locking onto hers and tears fell from them instantly.

“R’gina…” Emma’s voice cracked and Regina’s eyes widened as she fell against her body, clinging onto her. Regina wasn’t used to Emma, or anyone really, seeking physical comfort from her; after a few panicked seconds where Emma’s hands fisted her tank top, she wrapped her arms around Emma, a hand cupping the back of her neck to not mess up her bun and the other one settling solidly on the middle of her back.

“I’m here, I’ve got you.”

She wasn’t crying, just trembling and Regina didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what could have happened, but something in her gut twisted, something at the back of her mind was screaming but she pushed it down to focus on calming the trembling woman in her arms.

“Talk to me…” Regina begged and Emma burrowed further into her neck; Regina didn’t think as she turned her head and placed a kiss just behind Emma’s ear, trying everything to make her feel safe, causing Emma to let out a little shuddering breath and to hold on tighter. “I just want to help you. Please, tell me what to do.”

“Just hold me,” Emma said and Regina held onto her tighter, her fingers playing with the small hairs on the back of Emma’s neck and rubbing her back, swaying them the slightest bit as she felt her own tears burning in her eyes because she didn’t know what to do, she didn’t do this, she wasn’t good at this, but Emma needed her, she needed her and she wasn’t about to let her down.

She rested her cheek against Emma’s head, humming a random tune because Emma did that sometimes and she thought maybe she found it comforting, maybe that’s why she did it, so she hummed whatever song popped into her head; and yes, maybe a song from the top 40s and Pour Some Sugar on Me weren’t the best picks, but she was desperate and somehow it was working. She suddenly understood why Emma had been humming the Spice Girls the week before, though she recognized this wasn’t the best time to bring that up.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Regina asked, her nails scraping over the back of Emma’s neck as she kept soothingly running her fingers over her neck and under the bun.

“I don’t know...” Emma’s voice was muffled against her skin and Regina frowned fingers stilling for a second before they went back to running soothingly over her skin. “Why do these things happen?”

“What happened, Emma?”

Emma shrugged and pulled back, staring at Regina’s shoulder to avoid her eyes as her tears rolled down her cheeks, lost in thought. Regina curled her finger under Emma’s chin and slowly raised her head up so their eyes locked.

“Emma…”

Emma’s hands fell to Regina’s hips, her thumbs brushing against her sides just above the waist of her jeans as she thought. Regina could almost see the wheels turning in her head, processing whatever was bothering her

“It’s my mom...” Emma’s lips pulled into a frown and tears falling quickly down her cheeks again and Regina felt anxiety stirring in her gut. “She- she got into a car accident…”

“Is she alright?” Regina asked, her hands moving to wipe away Emma’s falling tears as she studied her features. Her hand eventually fell to cup Emma’s neck while she waited for an answer, their eyes remained locked the whole time; finally Emma slowly began to nod and the anxiety clenching around Regina’s heart loosened.

“Yeah, yeah, the doctor said she should be fine but she’s gotta get surgery to fix her arm… but she’ll be okay… won’t she?”

“I’m sure she will, dear.” Her hands moved up to cup Emma’s face, gentle and concerned and Emma smiled back sadly, gratefully, before leaning into Regina’s touch. “What can I do?”

“Can you just...”  Emma moved her right hand to cup Regina’s cheek, gently running her thumb across her skin and catching a worried tear that had dared escape her eyes. 

“Just?” 

“Nothing…” Emma said, a frown dragging down her lips as she studied Regina’s expression. Regina could see the hesitance in her eyes, unable to ask for what she needed.

“You know you can lean on me too, Emma.” she said, Emma’s finger brushing against her cheek again was the only response and Regina’s eyes softened, tilting her head into the touch as she mirrored Emma’s action, catching one of her tears as it rolled down her face. “Are you going to go see her?”

“I don’t know…” 

“Okay.” Regina breathed, a smile on her lips as Emma dragged Regina’s hand toward her mouth and pressed a kiss to the heel of it. Regina’s thumb unconsciously brushed against her face before she leaned forward, pressing her head against Emma’s as silence wrapped around them for a few long moments. 

“Want to lay in my lap until you figure out what you want to do?” Regina eventually said and Emma’s hand on her hip moved higher on her waist, her thumb brushing against her knuckles.

“I’d like that.” Emma breathed against her lips and Regina smiled, bumping their noses together and enjoying the way Emma’s laugh filled the room.

“C’mon then.”

Emma pulled away from her, her smile wide and her eyes lit with excitement, but Regina spotted the real hidden emotion behind there, gratitude.

Regina stepped back, tangling her hand with Emma’s and tugging her toward the couch and lowering herself onto it while Emma watched, waiting for her to be comfortable, and with a tug on Emma’s hand she sat on the couch and slowly lowered herself down until she was resting her head on Regina’s thighs, a content sigh leaving her mouth.

“Thank you.”

“Anytime, Miss Swan.” She smiled, her hand moving to run her fingers over the shell of Emma’s ear while she picked up her phone again with the other, scrolling through it while her other hand comfortingly brushed over Emma’s body. Regina’s mind fell unconsciously into autopilot and started going over the few relationships she’d ever been in. Her eyes flicked over back to Emma to check in, but she didn’t want Emma to feel watched or pressured so she sat in silence, waiting for news from Ingrid’s doctor and then also from the producers to find out if Emma could take a couple days off work.

 


 

Emma left for Boston as soon as she was done filming their last scene of the day, taking the weekend off to help Ingrid get settled back at home and deal with everything she needed to.

She updated Regina as much as she could and even talked at night, in guise of running lines, but they spent most of the evening talking about random things or just sitting in silence until one of them eventually fell asleep.

She arrived back in Vancouver Sunday evening, and not even thinking about it seeming weird, she texted Regina to let her know she was back in town and, although it was quicker to her condo, she took the Lions Gate Bridge across the water and headed to Regina’s house like she normally would, to run lines before a table read.

Emma had her backpack thrown over her shoulder as she stood on Regina’s porch, bouncing in place to keep out the slight chill as she waited for her to open the door. Her breath escaped her in a relieved sigh the moment she laid eyes on Regina, taking all of her in while Regina did the same.

She looked more beautiful than she remembered, it had been 3 days and yet Emma had missed her so much, drinking in every inch of her and trying not to swoon at her little messy ponytail and wide rimmed glasses, looking so small in Emma’s hoodie.

Emma…”

“I missed you,” Emma blurted and instantly stepped into Regina’s space, wrapping her arms around her in a hug that Regina slowly returned.

“It’s only been 3 days and we talked the whole time,” she chuckled into Emma’s neck.

“I know…but I missed you.”

Emma felt Regina’s smile against her skin before she pulled back from the embrace, her hand moving to Emma’s cheek to gently run across her skin and tuck her hair behind her ear, her eyes watching her intensely before she stepped back into her house, letting Emma slip past her.

“I made enough food for you as well, I’ll get you a plate while you get yourself sorted.”

“Thank you.” Emma breathed, watching Regina move from the doorway, taking in every inch of Regina as her heart rejoiced from being in her presence again. She really had missed her.

Emma was pretty sure she was showing all her cards at this point, but she was too gone to care. She craved her closeness, Regina’s voice deep and soothing, she could talk about anything, literally anything, and it could calm Emma in a way she never knew was possible. If she closed her eyes she could feel Regina’s fingers brushing over the back of her neck, grounding her when everything else felt like it was losing control.

Regina was there for her this weekend like nobody else ever had been and she was eternally grateful to have her in her life.

 


 

Once Emma finished eating the dinner Regina had warmed up for her, they made their way into the living room, Regina sat cross legged on the couch, fiddling with the hem on Emma’s sweater while Emma watched her from the other side of the couch, her feet pressed into the middle cushion while she rested the script on her thighs.

There were only a few episodes left of the season, they could feel the excitement and pressure thrumming through their veins, a need to make it perfect and hold onto each moment as tightly as possible because this just might be the end of it. There was never any guarantee in Hollywood and no matter how much she tried to be positive everyone knew that a new show was on fragile footing to begin with, but their show, their show was something special.

“Have you seen the things they’re saying?”

Emma looked up at Regina’s guarded voice, one hand moving to push up her glasses before folding in her lap, her thumb tapping an anxious beat against the side of her hand.

“Who?”

“The fans, they’re talking.”

Emma giggled, watching Regina’s shy expression as she looked up at her. “They’re always talking. You probably don’t wanna know what I’ve seen.”

Regina arched a brow and Emma chuckled, and luckily for her Regina decided to just skip over that. “They keep talking about how much Roni is helping them…”

“She’s a powerful character, I wish I’d had someone like her and Blackwell when I was a kid.”

“We had Xena and Buffy.”

“They do too. But do you know what makes Roni different?” Regina shook her head and Emma smiled, her eyes sparkling as Regina studied her like she so often did. “You. They see themselves in Roni because she’s real, you understand what they’re feeling, what she’s feeling, and it shines through like a beautiful rainbow beacon of hope.”

Regina shook her head, a chuckle rumbling out of her as she looked back down at her lap. “They also say they want Roni to step on them…whatever that means.”

“See, now that is a whole mood.”

Regina turned her body, her back resting against the corner of the couch as she glanced over Emma, studying her closely. “You going to start reading or just keep staring at me all night?”

“You saying I can’t do both?”

Regina rolled her eyes and grabbed her script from the table, looking at Emma expectantly until she started reading it, scene by scene Emma started noticing something kind of remarkable. She saw Roni, she heard Roni, she felt Roni in every line, in each passing second, she felt the way her eyes would roam over her body, teasing, contemplating, challenging.

God, it was thrilling and intoxicating and Emma wanted to leap across the couch and shower Regina in kisses all over her face because she was there and she didn’t seem scared.

“What?”

Emma laughed, joyous and full and Regina’s confusion only increased. “You’re remarkable, you know that?”

Regina’s nose scrunched up at the praise, and that was the first sign of her that made Emma laugh more.

“You’re so weird sometimes.”

Emma stretched her leg out nudging Regina’s knee with her foot and getting a glare in return before her eyes went back to the script, reading them into their next scene and falling back into character like it was just that easy again.

Emma loved every minute of it.

 


 

Regina was staring up at the roof, watching the way the lights from the TV reflected on it, her thoughts wandering here and there while Emma’s fingers ran lazily through her hair, she wasn’t even sure when she had laid down in Emma’s lap, wasn’t sure when their relationship had turned that way, that easy.

They could ask and take what they needed without fear of judgement and Regina would never admit to craving touch or affection but Emma let her take it without questioning and it made her feel safe.

But that was just Emma, her safe space, a shoulder to lean on, and she was glad she could be that for Emma too, when she needed it. Part of her figured that maybe she was laying in her lap because it seemed to calm Emma, her fingers running through her hair in a trance and Regina could feel the tension in her body ebbing away just as her own did. 

The comfort of her presence and touch should be frightening but it was hard to be scared when Emma was around, or maybe it was just hard to think when her fingers were combing through her hair.

She almost wanted to run a test, form a theory on what this was, but that part of her brain fizzled out rather quickly when Emma’s nails scraped over her scalp and she barely caught the little content moan before it left her mouth.

“You’re tired.”

Regina hummed, her eyes blinking as they looked toward Emma and she felt a lazy smile on her lips forming as she looked up at her. “Relaxed. You’re very good at that.”

Emma chuckled, her nails resuming the scraping across her scalp. “When you get like this I’m almost shocked I don’t hear purring.”

“Last I checked I wasn’t a cat.”

Regina smirked and reached for Emma’s hand on the back of the couch, pulling it down to rest against her middle as she lazily played with Emma’s fingers.

“Same…”

Regina slapped the back of Emma’s hand and turned her head to look at the TV, wondering for the first time what Emma had put on and chuckling as she realized it was their own show, the volume was on low but their faces were taking up the screen.

She adjusted a little bit more, trying to get a better look of the screen while Emma’s hand that was combing through her hair was forced to move with her, but it just combed through the hair on the other side of her head.

“Wait…” Regina said, eyes moving to look at Emma as a thought struck her. “When did you take down my hair?”

Emma simply laughed, her eyes stuck on the TV and Regina let herself do the same, although her focus kept being pulled back to the soothing feeling of Emma’s fingers in her hair.

 


 

They were on location at the Lonsdale Quay, wrapped up in their large coats as the chill from the ocean seeped into their bones. Regina stood at the railing, overlooking the water and watching the sea bus slowly move across the water to the other side of the city.

“It’s beautiful here.” Regina looked over at Emma and flashed her a lazy smile before she looked forward again, hearing the quiet muttering of fans and crew alike. “I can’t feel my ears though.”

Regina chuckled, turning to look at Emma more closely to see her ears red from the cold and also the pinking on her nose. “Why didn’t you wear the earmuffs they gave you?”

“I lost them…”

Regina shook her head at Emma’s pout. “What do you want me to do about that?”

“I don’t suppose you’d let me burrow my head in your jacket, would you?”

“Most certainly not!”

“Damn.” Emma said even as a grin curled up on her lips and warmed Regina’s heart. Turning fully around she looked past the empty fountain to the little market across from them and at the fans that were trying to get a look at what was happening. “They’ve been tweeting about us all morning.”

“Well, that’s not exactly new.”

Emma glanced at her and Regina smiled as she mirrored her position, her elbows resting against the metal railing, smiling at the little groupings of people on the large Q tower on the building, noticing the cameras pretty quickly.

“I think they’re starting to pick up on the change.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I saw a post saying that it looks like the show is leaning more into the attraction.”

Regina grinned, raising her hand she waved at the little group of fans conquering their fear of heights to get a glimpse of them. “They’re a clever bunch.”

“Stop teasing them.” Emma giggled, nudging her as they watched the fans freaking out on the steps of the tower. “We don’t need them passing out and falling to their deaths.”

Regina turned to look at her, warmth filling her chest as she saw Emma’s pink ears and how adorable she looked in her large jacket. Her hand reached out on its own accord to rub the tip of Emma’s ear with her thumb, trying to bring some warmth back to it.

“You’re going to kill them, Mills.” Regina gave Emma’s ear a tug and cackled as Emma yelped and turned out of her grasp. “Be nice!”

“I’m never nice, Swan.”

Emma started laughing, her eyes running over her, and Regina’s head tilted in confusion, unsure what to do with the scrutiny. “Right, sorry, I made a mistake, I thought I was talking with Regina but it turns out I am talking to her playful twin, Roni.”

“Idiot.”

Emma’s face contorted in that stupid adorable smile as she looked her over once more, slipping into her space so Regina was forced to tip her head back to meet Emma’s eyes while Emma’s hands moved to adjust the collar of Regina’s coat. “I’ve missed you, Perez.”

“And you’re still an idiot,” Regina finished with a flick on Emma’s ear and Emma yelped again, her pout prominent as she covered her ear with her hand, both of them shocked to hear giggling fill the area.

“They saw all that, didn’t they?”

“Most definitely.”

Emma chuckled, and Regina felt her cheeks warm as they both looked toward the random groupings of fans and waved. “You think that’s ending up in the rumour mill?”

“Without a doubt.”

Regina arched a brow and Emma turned to her with a mischievous grin. “Wanna make out and really get a rile outta them?”

Regina lightly slapped Emma’s arm, looking at the fans and the crew, feeling Emma move impossibly closer. “I will give away all your bearclaws.”

Emma let out a shocked gasp and Regina looked back over at her and Emma’s expression softened, Regina hated how Emma always knew when she was bluffing because it made threatening her so much more difficult.

Regina leaned against the railing again, although this time she was slightly leaning toward Emma, feeling her warm radiating on her arm and Emma’s eyes on her, as she took in their surroundings again. “I’m going to miss this…”

“Standing out in the cold while a bunch of adoring fans giggle every time you look at them and getting a glimpse of Leroy’s ass crack every time he bends to do something?”

Regina shook her head, her smile affectionate as she nudged Emma with her elbow. “Everything but Leroy’s ass crack.”

“Me too…but we’ll be right back here filming in the summer.”

Regina hummed, her eyes locking onto a fan’s face as she let out a sigh. “You ever think about how much this show has done and just…”

“Get overwhelmed and wanna cry like a pathetic baby?”

“I was going to say feel proud…”

“Oh…”

“Places, ladies!” They looked toward their director and a sigh fell from her lips as she pushed off the railing and started slipping off her coat to hand to Nova on the way, hearing Emma’s footsteps following behind her.

 


 

Their lunch break came fast and instead of going to craft services, Emma thought it’d be fun to take a look around the market.

“Hey.”

Regina took one look at her and shook her head and said around a chuckle. “What do you want?”

“How do you know I want something?” Emma pouted, looking around Regina who was sitting on a set chair under one of the tents.

“Because you always get that look on your face.”

“I do not!”

Regina chuckled and shook her head, her eyes skimming over Emma’s face before locking with Emma’s and looking at her expectantly. “Well?”

Emma rolled her eyes, hating that she could read her so well. “Wanna come with me to the market?”

“Why?”

Emma shrugged, burying her hands in her pant pockets. “Thought it could be cool to look around, some of the PAs were talking about it, apparently there’s this really good candy shop and a fruit stand and other cool stuff there.”

Emma watched Regina’s eyes light up slightly as she turned toward the craft services table where the crew was gathered. “You think they have heat?”

“I would assume so.”

Regina’s mouth spread into a smile and Emma knew she’d won, although she wasn’t expecting Regina to practically leap off the chair and grab hold of her hand to tug her toward the building, Emma’s attention pulled to how cold her fingers felt against her warmed hand from where it had been in her pocket just a moment ago.

“Want to run lines tomorrow evening?”

Emma blinked, looking over at Regina and smiled. “Yeah, sure, I’d love that.” Their hands swayed between them and Emma absently ran her thumb over the back of Regina’s as they walked.

“Your place? I can meet you there after my last scene, since it’s closer.”

Emma turned to look at her, her mouth gaping open in shock. “You want to go to my condo? Wow, I’m in shock.”

“It wasn’t horrible the last time I was over.”

“How sweet,” Emma gushed, not noticing they were approaching a group of fans since her eyes were busy taking in Regina’s profile as the wind blew her hair in her face.

Regina tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and turned to Emma, her eyes sparkling as she replied. “Yeah, and I have to murder Zelena anyways so I thought I might as well just wash up at your place after.”

Emma opened her mouth about to respond when they heard an excited squeal and turned in time to see the group of fans pressed close together.

“Hi!”

“Hi,” Emma came to a halt and Regina stopped next to her, both forgetting their tangled hands as they looked at the young women.

“Hey,” Emma smiled at the deep tone of Regina’s voice, the slightest hint of Roni’s accent still in her it that the fans also seemed to notice since Emma was certain she saw them nearly turn into mush at their feet.

“It’s cold as balls out, don’t y’all think?”

“Emma,” Regina hissed while the fans giggled, Emma confused by the eyes that kept moving over them but didn’t think much of it when she felt Regina’s glare burning into her skin. “Manners.”

“I didn’t say I was freezing my tits off and either way, I don’t think they mind.”

“I swear you were raised by wolves sometimes.”

Emma smirked, turning to look at the fans then Regina as she leaned in close, stage whispering as her eyes locked on the three young women in front of them. “You better hope these young ladies don’t post that because my mom would take great offence.”

“What if I told you I talked to Ingrid last week about your poor manners and she agreed?”

Emma turned away from the fans, leaning in close to Regina’s ear and grinning to herself as she whispered, “bullshit,” her lips brushing against the shell of Regina’s ear as she spoke.

Regina huffed and they were pulled out of their bickering by their giggling fans, both of them looking at the young girls in confusion.

“You two are so cute!”

Regina’s eyebrows jumped high on her forehead and Emma felt her cheeks warm the slightest bit. “Be honest, she’s cuter.” Emma nodded toward Regina and she didn’t have to see Regina to know she was rolling her eyes.

“Emma,” she turned to Regina at that tone, frowning slightly as she felt a tug on her hand, remembering their tangled hands seemingly at the exact moment Regina did. “Lunch?”

“Ah, right.” Emma turned to look at the fans and she suddenly understood why their eyes kept wandering down and apparently it was not because Regina looked amazing in her jeans. “We have to go get lunch but if you three stick around we’ll come find you after we’re done shooting.”

“Okay!” “Bye!” “Thank you!”

Emma smiled at the three friends, waving with her free hand as Regina tugged her toward the door not far off, her hand falling away a few seconds later and Emma suddenly really missed it.

 


 

They walked around the little market, their hands brushing as they walked, looking at each little store and kiosk and pausing at the food court located at the back to look over the selection of food while Regina picked at her basket of raspberries.

They easily felt the eyes on them, knowing their fans were probably all around them, but they tried not to focus on that or the fact they’d probably find pictures of them later.

They talked quietly, their voices low as they discussed the many things they saw, Emma’s eyes following Regina as she stopped at a kiosk that had a bunch of rocks and crystals on display. Regina looked each over, browsing and talking to the shopkeeper, asking questions and admiring their collection and Emma’s attention kept going back to Regina even when she would break away to look at the baskets of polished rocks, all of different brilliant colours and shapes.

Regina came out with a few things, Emma having bought one beautiful purple stone that oddly reminded her of Regina. Their tones remained low as they talked about it, Regina telling her about the names of the stones and their purpose while they wandered over to the sweets shop which had large lollipops on display at the front, its glass displays held all kinds of chocolates and some fresh fudge and peanut butter cups that had Emma practically drooling.

Regina started talking to one of the workers while Emma just drooled over everything, eventually spotting the candy section where all the bright colours made her feel like a giddy child; she tugged Regina by the hand to the back area to look at the rock candy and even more lollipops around containers full of loose candy.

Regina chuckled at Emma’s excitement and teased her while Emma bribed her with treats for their next movie night. They went back to the front and Regina bought a few peanut butter cups and some of their mint fudge that she sampled while Emma bought her own treats, which were considerably way more than Regina.

“You have to try this,” Regina whispered, holding out a piece of the fudge and Emma took it from her, humming in pleasure at the delicious taste and soft texture.

“Shit that’s good.”

Regina nodded, her eyes sparkling with a childlike excitement as she sucked her fingers trying to remove the sticky residue from them and Emma just smiled dumbly at her.

Regina tilted her head in confusion before turning back toward the shop, her eyes bouncing around it to take in all the candy and chocolate on display.

“I saw cookies back there,” Regina’s voice was that same whispered tone and Emma nodded; grabbing her bag from the counter she signalled for Regina to lead the way.

They bought a few more things, food and random knick knacks, they found themselves laughing at the funny sayings on dishes and oven mitts; Emma even bought herself a ridiculous apron that had made Regina laugh out loud.

Eventually a PA found them and they were led back to set. They later remembered the eyes on them when they saw the pictures of them in that little kitchen supply store or in front of the candy store, close and laughing and teasing. Emma was unexpectedly faced with her own look of love as Regina had laughed at the apron she’d thrown on over her suit. Whomever had taken the shot, had had amazing timing.

It was weird sometimes, their lives on display on the internet, fans discussing their friendship or whatever else it may be. It was always supportive, Emma was grateful for that, since she worried about what Regina may do if it wasn’t.

But although it was weird being watched, Emma saved all the pictures she found, a memory of a wonderful day out with her best friend between the chaos of work and their fans.

 


 

Regina knocked quickly at Emma’s front door, her hands buried in her coat pockets as she heard muffled cursing and a bang, a faint smell of something burning meeting her senses as the door was flung open to show a frazzled looking Emma.

“I cooked.”

“I see that…” Regina said, cautiously moving into the condo and looking toward the kitchen to see dishes and pans strewn about, a mess of tomatoes and cooking utensils lying all around. “What is it?”

“I made tacos…”

Regina chuckled, shaking her head as she looked at the mess in the kitchen and at Emma in her new apron. “Did you now?”

Emma winced, moving past Regina into the kitchen to stab at the beef in the pan. “I tried to make tacos?”

Regina pressed her fingers to her lips to stop from laughing, shaking her head as Emma tossed the pan back on the stove with a loud clang. “Oh, Emma…”

Emma turned to her with a pout. “The website said it was easy!”

The laughter shook Regina’s body as she looked at the utter chaos in the kitchen, wondering how Emma had survived so long on her own if she couldn’t manage to cook ground beef without nearly burning her house down.

“Shut up! It’s not funny!” Emma yelled through obvious laughter and Regina ran a hand through her hair before nodding to herself and turned on her heels to hang up her coat. “Where are you going?”

“I’m putting my things down.” Regina said as she leaned against the wall to unzip one of her knee high boots, looking up when she felt Emma’s eyes on her.

“Next time I’m ordering in.”

Regina shook her head as she chuckled, letting her boot fall to the floor before moving to the other, Emma’s eyes still on her. “What?”

“Nothing,” Regina looked up at her, frowning in confusion at the almost whimsical tone of her voice, but then the smell of burning beef invaded her senses again and her nose scrunched up.

“Can you open a window or something?”

Emma jumped into action, nodding quickly as she moved across the open space to pull open the balcony door while Regina moved back into the kitchen, rolling up her sleeves as she stared at the monumental mess in front of her.

“Help me clean up.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Emma sassed and Regina rolled her eyes while Emma held out the garbage can for Regina to scrape the beef into, tossing the dishes in the sink and running hot water on them while Emma threw the scraps covering the counter in the garbage too.

“How did you manage such a mess making tacos?”

“My mom says it’s a talent.”

Regina glanced back at her and Emma moved forward, silently helping with the dishes. “I’d say so…”

“I looked up easy recipes online…how was I to know beef could be such a bitch.”

Regina shook her head slowly, still trying not to laugh her ass off but it was hard when Emma was sporting that ridiculous apron that said ‘it's not burnt… it's grilled to a perfect crisp’ it was just too perfect. “At least your apron is accurate.”

Emma rolled her eyes, wetting her hand under the tap and flicking Regina with water. “I’ll have you know I didn’t burn it that badly.”

Regina wiped the water off her face with the back of her hand, her glare deadly as she pointed at Emma with the wooden spoon she was washing. “Watch it or I’ll leave you to starve.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Emma gasped in mock horror and Regina jabbed her in the side with the elbow making Emma chuckle as she put the clean frying pan off to the side.

“I take it you only have pasta?”

“Yeah…”

“Alright,” Regina sighed, handing over the now rinsed wooden spoon she looked around Emma’s kitchen. “I guess we are making that tonight and next time I’ll just… bring something.”

“You’re the best,” Emma breathed, hugging Regina to her side and pressing a kiss to her cheek which had Regina rolling her eyes again.

“I trust you can boil a pot of water without killing us in the process.”

“I think I can manage.”

Regina nodded looking around the kitchen for something to dry her hands on before grabbing the bottom of Emma’s apron. “I believe in you.”

Emma rolled her eyes and Regina patted her cheek before she headed out of the kitchen to pull a few things out of her bag and head into the living room, having a few things to take care of.

 


 

Regina was sitting on the floor in Emma’s condo, her legs crossed under her as she typed on her laptop sitting on the coffee table, Emma’s knee against her shoulder and here and there she felt Emma lazily playing with her hair or bumping into her as she tried to get comfortable.

“How do you always sit so straight?” Emma chuckled poking Regina’s shoulder which made Regina pause in her work.

“Good posture.”

“You know when you get into Roni mode your posture goes to shit?”

Regina’s hum in agreement was cut off by a surprised gasp as Emma’s thumbs pressed into shoulders, kneading at the muscles. “What are you doing?”

“Giving you a massage.” Emma said before pausing. “Unless you’re not comfortable with that…?”

Regina’s lips pursed in thought, her eyes flicking over to Emma; feeling the soreness in her muscles she let out a sigh, her eyes staring at her computer screen as she gave in “no, it’s fine.”

“Okay!” Emma chirped, shifting on the couch behind Regina as she massaged her shoulders, Regina tried reading over her notes on the screen but the more Emma worked her muscles the less she was able to focus, so she decided to switch over to twitter, scrolling down her timeline and ignoring her chaos of notifications for the moment.

“Oh that’s so cute!” Emma gushed from behind her, her thumbs brushing up the back of her neck as she leaned in closer, her chin resting on top of Regina’s head as she looked at the fan drawing of their two characters cuddling.

“It is…” Regina breathed, clicking the image to make it bigger to properly study it, a gasp leaving her lungs as Emma’s thumbs slipped down the back of her shirt to massage the back of her neck.

“They’re so talented. There’s this one girl, she tags me in her art all the time it’s so cute… I can’t remember her name though…I think it starts with a K I don’t know though.”

Regina hummed, her head lulling forward for a second as Emma worked on a tense muscle. “I saw one last week…mmm,” She trailed off and Emma giggled behind her.

“Well, I guess I’m at least good at massages.”

“Very.” Regina breathed then came back to her thought, her eyes blinking to clear her head enough to finish. “I saw a piece of art last week of Roni holding up a lesbian flag…” She sighed again and she gestured lazily to her phone on the table. “I saved it.”

“Oh yeah? How you feel about your likeness displaying a lesbian flag?” Emma asked, her fingers just running lazily over her skin now.

“Honestly?”

“Always.”

Regina turned to look at her, a smile on her lips. “I cried, she looked so happy in the image, I long to feel that way one day.”

“You will,” Emma leaned forward, pressing a kiss to the top or Regina’s head as she looked at Regina’s computer screen. “Check your notifs, they’re driving me crazy.”

“And I thought I was the bossy perfectionist,” Regina threw back and moved her mouse across the screen to click on the notifications bar.

“You are, at least when I haven’t massaged you into blissful submission.”

“You have done no such thi–” a deep sigh was pulled out of her as Emma’s fingers pressed into a tense muscle. “Not fair.”

“They tag you in a lot.”

“You too.” Regina threw back, scrolling past sets of photos, conversations in her tweets, a few other posts, pausing here and there to look at this and that, Emma’s thumbs back to running soothingly over the back of her neck as she read the messages from over Regina’s head, her legs eventually hanging off the couch on either side of Regina’s shoulders.

“Hey, what’s that?” Emma’s hand pointed to a tweet, nearly missed in a sea of others, but her eyes had locked onto the blue link and then skimmed over the words written under it. “They made you a gift.”

“What do you think it is?” Regina asked, her voice unsure and a little surprised as she clicked onto the link, Emma didn’t bother to answer as she reached past Regina to maximize the video screen.

“This is exciting,” Emma whispered and Regina relaxed back against the couch, the room falling silent as the fans each held up pieces of paper with messages on them, each saying thank you and some going a bit more into detail, Regina felt the emotions gather in her throat as she stared at one young girl with a lesbian flag behind her and a piece of paper held up that said, ‘thank you for giving me the courage I needed to come out.’

Emma’s fingers ran over the back of her neck again, soothing as Regina pressed a hand to her lips when tears started to pour from her eyes, not having realized what an impact she was making.

She heard a sniffle behind her and blindly reached across her, Emma’s fingers tangling with hers instantly, as they watched all these people on the screen of her computer. Happy and crying, all their emotions prominent and when it ended, they let silence surround them, only a few gasps and sniffles were heard.

“You okay?” Emma eventually husked and Regina nodded slowly, her head turning and tipping back so she could look at Emma, her head resting against her knee, their hands still tangled together. “That was…”

“We’re making a difference.”

“We are,” Emma husked, removing her hand from Regina’s to brush the tears from her left cheek and even after they were gone, Emma’s hand didn’t move, her thumb still lazily and soothingly running across her skin.

“Emma…”

“Yeah?”

Regina blinked slowly, feeling the tears catch on her eyelashes before her vision cleared and she found Emma looking down at her so patiently her heart expanded; she brought Emma’s hand to her mouth, pressing a kiss to the middle of her palm and watched the way Emma’s eyes softened at the gesture.

“Thank you,” she said against her hand and Emma smiled, cupping Regina’s jaw and running her thumb over her face again, tracing the smile lines by her mouth.

Emma’s eyes eventually left her face, looking back at the computer screen and laughing at whatever she saw there. “Watching fan videos in your free time, Mills?”

“Only the ones you send me, Miss Swan.”

Emma chuckled, leaning forward to click on one of the suggested videos practically shoving her boobs in Regina’s face to her utter shock before she leaned back and Regina was frozen in place until the music started and she slowly turned back to the screen, leaving her head resting against Emma’s knee.

 


 

March 31st, 2017

 

 

It was almost surreal to think about how this was the last day they’d be on this lot, for what could be months; the last day with all these people that had become like a weird family to her. After spending 16 hour-days together for so long, huddled closely in cold winds and under umbrellas as they worked endlessly on this project.

The season was coming to a close, tarps were already covering many sets they had finished using, tears were being shed as they once again prepared to say goodbye for hiatus, with the looming uncertainty of their little show being renewed for a second season.

And, as Emma looked around the lot, at her colleagues gathered around at their desks and talking among each other, at the home base for these characters, all the memories imprinted on each surface, it filled her chest with a weird sense of grief and pride. They had made something amazing and changed so many lives in the process; and this might be the last day she sees all these people for about 5 months.

She just wanted to wrap everyone up in a bear hug and never let go, she couldn’t help but stand there and watch them, to listen to the laughter and ribbing of the others, they had become an almost odd group of siblings and they still had so much left to do.

“Stop moping,” Regina husked in her ear, her chin pressing into her shoulder and Emma smiled as it mixed with the memories of their last scene in the pilot.

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

Emma turned to look at her when she moved to stand next to her and she didn’t even think as she slipped her arm around Regina’s waist and pulled her against her side, Regina chuckling lowly as she stared at their group of friends.

“It’s weird sometimes.”

“What? Me tolerating your presence?”

Emma squeezed her hip, her eyes trailing over Tamara and Zelena who were standing in front of the other three cast members who were sitting at their desks, their laughter loud and joyous.

“You think this will be the end?”

Regina shrugged and Emma smiled, Roni was all she could think from the gesture, noticing the slight slouch of her shoulders leaning against her.

“I don’t know, but I hope it isn’t. I personally wanna see Jefferson die.”

“You saw him get shot yesterday, isn’t that enough?”

“Never,” Regina breathed and Emma glanced over at her, her heart clenching at the sight of that devious little smirk on her lips.

“Would you two idiots stop loitering and come over here?!”

They looked toward Ruby, the group waving them over and Emma’s arm slipped away as they walked further onto the set, completely in step with the other.

“Whatcha laughing about?” Emma asked as she hopped up onto the desk and Regina did the same, their shoulders and thighs pressed together.

“We’re reminiscing.”

“Did I ever tell you all about the time Emma nearly broke her hip?” Regina grinned and Emma nudged her.

“Start and I’ll tell them about your flub.”

Regina snapped her head toward her, her eyes dangerous in the dim light; Emma knew she would never tire of that sight.

“You know,” Tamara started with a smirk, sitting on the steps up to the platform where Director Moore’s office was located. “We never finished the game.”

“What?”

“Nobody ever got a picture of you napping!”

“That’s because Regina never sleeps.” Zelena threw out with a smirk, hands on her hips while Regina rolled her eyes at them.

“Guess you’ll have to keep trying then.”

“It’s on, Mills.” Tamara said with a sparkle in her eyes and low laughter surrounded them.

Emma nudged Regina’s knee and Regina bumped her shoulder, Emma feeling her heart quicken as she remembered the secret pictures she had of Regina passed out in her lap or just curled in the corner of the couch. Nobody knew about them, she’s pretty sure Regina wouldn’t let her live it down if she knew and there was just no way to explain them really, and Emma wouldn’t want to break her trust by sneaking a picture of her sleeping and posting it. It felt different with Regina, especially since she knew her trust was hard to get.

“You know, we should take a picture, final scene.”

“We should go live!” Ruby said, her head tipped back as she spun her chair around, swaying when Marian stuck out her arm to stop it before Ruby made herself sick.

“Now?”

“Later.”

“Five minutes, everyone!”

“I don’t want it to end.” They all looked toward Rogers with his sad eyes and pout, and Ruby walked her chair over to him and wrapped her arm around his hips, resting her head against his arm, making him laugh slightly.

“Let’s go grab dinner, like we did when the pilot was over.”

“Same place?”

“We could try…” Emma frowned, looking over to Regina who was watching them silently. “I’ll call after this scene.”

They all shared a smile, Regina leaning her weight the slightest bit against Emma and she smiled, looking around her. This was a milestone, really, a year later here they were, about to wrap for the season. Friendships had been forged and it felt like they were solid, like they could last for life, it was going to be weird not seeing all of them for months after seeing them nearly every day for the last 8 months.

 


 

She was standing close to Emma, their chests brushing against each other with each shallow breath as they stared into each other’s eyes; Emma’s hands gripping her elbows while Regina’s were on her waist, under Blackwell’s usual blazing, no other sound around them but their own breathing.

Regina’s eyes moved over Emma’s face, missing the little freckles she knew were hidden under the layers of makeup, her eyes filled with emotions that weren’t her own; fear and anxiety pounding in both their chests, but there was something else in her eyes, something that was always there every time they practised, lust.

Emma’s grip tightened, closely watching her mouth as a gasp burst from Regina’s lungs, green eyes searching her face as she swayed the slightest bit forward.

A noise was heard from behind the door, locking them in the closet, and both their holds tightened, looking from the door back to their faces.

“What now?” She whispered, Emma’s thumb brushing over her bare elbows and she felt the touch burn through her veins.

“I don’t know…”

Regina bowed her head forward and Emma unconsciously did the same, their foreheads pressing together as they waited, their breaths ghosting over each other’s lips.

“Cut! That’s a wrap on Emma Swan and Regina Mills!”

They heard the loud applause and a laugh rumbled out of Emma, ghosting over Regina’s lips again and vibrating through her body, and she shifted her head to the side and slipped her arms around Emma’s waist, pulling her into a hug that Emma was quick to return.

“Great work, Mills.”

“You too, Miss Swan.”

Emma’s thumb brushed over the back of her neck in a lazy pass before she pulled away, her smile wide and excited, and Regina let a laugh finally fall from her lips, a weird contrast with the fake blood on Emma’s lip.

“Emma! Regina!” They turned just in time to catch Ruby leaping into them, excited laughter filling their ears and long arms circling their necks in a double hug they both returned, Regina a little slower than Emma.

 


 

Laughter and loud chatter once again filled the sound stage, as Regina sat on her character’s desk talking happily with Marian and Zelena about something Emma couldn’t hear amongst the noise.

Mary Margaret was chattering on about their chemistry, her hands moving all around and gushing about how it felt like they were really in love and Emma was trying really hard not to squirm awkwardly, trying to be polite and respond back, when all she really wanted to do was be back with Regina.

Something Ruby didn’t miss the second she stole her away from their showrunner, teasing her about Emma’s longing gaze in Regina’s direction.

“Just like, go over there already, the longing is honestly painful to witness.”

Emma blinked, looking at Ruby in confusion and Ruby just rolled her eyes, grabbing Emma’s hand to pull her across the room to Regina.

“Hey, Duckling,” Zelena smirked, locking eyes with Ruby, and Emma tried not to squirm as she could practically hear their silent conversation.

Emma’s eyes eventually moved to look at Regina, who still had a little bit of the fake blood speckling her neck, and her expression was curious as she looked back at Emma, that same searching expression that always made Emma feel like she was on full display.

“Hey, Zelena wanna come with me to grab a snack?”

“I would love to, Ruby.” Zelena grinned and walked off leaving her and Regina alone at the woman’s desk.

“Hey,” Emma whispered as she took a step forward and Regina chuckled, low and deep as she looked over Emma slowly.

“Why are you acting so weird?”

Emma shrugged, looking at all the people around them, a smile slowly curling on her lips as an idea struck her, and she looked at Regina, watching a brow arch in question. “Wanna get outta here?”

“You mean leave the party early?”

“Yeah.”

A grin curled up Regina’s lips as she leaned in closer, her voice low and husky as she said, “now we’re talking, Swan.”

Emma shook her head with a laugh, holding out her hand for Regina to take and after a long moment of Regina staring at her fingers, she finally took Emma’s hand in hers before slipping off the desk, letting Emma tug them through the group of people.

“Where are you taking me?”

“You’ll see.”

Regina caught up with her pace and leaning in close to her ear she teased. “Usually a woman has to buy me dinner first before I let her whisk me off to an unknown location.”

Emma gave her hand a tug and Regina cackled, their fingers slowly intertwining as they slipped out of the studio. When a drop of rain fell onto Emma’s face, she halted their pace to look up at the light rain falling down on them.

“Are we just going to stand out in the rain all night or…?”

Emma turned to her with a smile, and her breath caught in her throat when she saw Regina also looking up at the sky, purple and orange with the setting sun shining through clouds. Drops of water rolling down her face, her profile looking like it was carved from marble.

She watched a raindrop fall to Regina’s chest and blinked slowly, Regina’s thumb brushing over the back of her hand as she finally looked back over at her.

“What?”

Emma shook her head, trying to keep the mental image in her mind of how peaceful she’d looked for those few short moments.

“Nothing.” She breathed and gave Regina’s hand a tug as she pulled them through the lot, rain falling against them and making goose bumps rise on Regina’s bare arms.

“Well, aren’t you presumptuous.” Regina teased as Emma pushed open her trailer door and tugged her inside, she was always so flirtatious when she was still coming back from hours of playing Roni.

Emma glanced over at her as she dropped onto the couch, her legs spread as she silently watched Emma move to the back room. “You cold? You look cold.”

Regina chuckled and Emma glanced back at her to see her running her fingers through her damp hair; the rain creating darker spots on her black tank top, the water damp against her bare skin, making her almost sparkle.

“You’re staring again.”

“You’re wet.”

“So are you,” Regina smirked and Emma felt her skin burn with a blush and was just really happy it couldn’t be seen. “You know when you blush the tips of your ears turn pink too?”

“Why must Roni be such a flirt,” Emma muttered and Regina’s cackle followed her into the back room where she changed from her suit into her street clothes before grabbing one of her many hoodies from her bed for Regina. “Here.”

Regina caught the sweater tossed to her and her teasing grin softened, and Emma could see more of Regina shining through as she hugged the hoodie to her body for a few seconds before slipping it on over her tank top.

“C’mere.”

Emma studied Regina curiously, but did as she requested and dropped onto the couch next to her; Regina’s knee skimming across her thigh as she turned, her hands moving to Emma’s hair, tugging at the bobby pins and Emma turned slightly for Regina to get a better angle.

“Thank you.”

Regina hummed as a response, and Emma let her eyes fall shut as she felt the bun unravel, her hair tickling the back of her neck as Regina unwrapped the hair tie and a sigh escaped Emma’s mouth as she felt it loosen.

“How’s your head?”

“Numb.”

Regina chuckled, her fingers combing through Emma’s hair and slowly massaging her scalp.

Emma let out another sigh, staring down at the makeup wipes in her lap and wishing to see Regina when she remembered the mirror across from them and her eyes moved to it, seeing that curious and thoughtful expression on her face, making warmth fill her chest, because Regina was always so cute when she was deep in thought.

Her eyes dropped to the little spattering of fake blood still on her neck, her grip on the wipes tightening as she turned her head, causing Regina’s fingers to fall away and that curious expression to intensify, an obvious question on her face.

And so Emma turned around fully, Regina’s eyes studying her as they looked for an answer and found them in the open box of makeup wipes.

Emma reached out, tipping Regina’s head back and to the side, she brushed her hair to the side as she carefully wiped off the blood, Regina’s eyes burning into her, just watching silently, studying her in that oddly familiar way.

Regina’s eyes watched her as she carefully wiped away the heavy makeup from her face, her lips still stained from her lipstick turning them a dark pink that drew Emma’s attention in before she grabbed another wipe, Regina’s eyes falling closed as Emma focused only on removing her makeup.

She felt fingers on her calf, just resting there and they made her smile, looking down to see just the tips of them peeking out from the sleeves of Emma’s blue hoodie, her face free of makeup making her look years younger, and Emma couldn’t help but to lean forward and press their foreheads together, and a sigh rumbled out of Regina’s chest as her fingers moved to brush over Emma’s jaw.

“I’m going to miss this,” Emma eventually confessed and Regina’s nose bumped hers in an attempt to comfort, and the gesture made her smile even as heavy tears burned in her eyes.

“Me too,” Regina whispered, their hands tangling between them, as their breathing filled the space around them.

Emma pulled back after a few long moments, playing with Regina’s fingers while she met her gaze over her eyelashes.

“We could still do movie nights?”

Regina’s lips pulled into a smile, “we better.”

Emma laughed happily and let go of Regina’s hands, pulling at her shoulders to tug her against her chest in a hug; Regina quietly muttered in complaint but didn’t move to try and escape it, not even when Emma pulled them down to the couch, hugging Regina against her chest, loving the feeling of her weight on top of her, her scent completely surrounding Emma and her breath ghosting over her chest as she laughed.

After a few seconds Regina squirmed around a bit until she was comfortable, her hand resting against her chest and her fingers tracing over her skin lazily, while Emma’s hand gripped her hip, her lips resting against Regina’s forehead like this was the most natural thing in the world.

Not on the soundstage with the rest of the cast and crew, but laying together on Emma’s couch, in comfortable silence after a long, emotional day.

 


 

May 5th, 2017

 

 

Regina was busy making the snacks for their almost weekly movie night, which sometimes was mixed with viewings of the new episodes of their show as they aired but even then with their slow weeks without having to film they met every Friday, snacks and easy conversation. Refusing to let their routine change over the hiatus.

She was taking the tray of cookies from the oven when she heard Emma’s trademark knock and Regina smiled to herself, placing the tray on the counter, pulling her apron off as she walked quickly to the door, her hands fixing her hair on autopilot as she went.

“I brought pizza!”

“I see that,” Regina took the large box from Emma’s hand and led the way inside, trusting Emma to lock up on her own at this point.

“Thought we could experiment tonight.”

Regina tripped over her own feet as she turned the corner, her eyes wide as she turned to look behind her, finding nothing but empty space as Emma was still at the door removing her shoes. “What?”

“I got supreme lovers,” Regina arched a brow as Emma came into view, her eyes wide and innocent as Regina just blinked at her. “The pizza, it’s what it’s called.”

“Right…” Regina said, continuing to walk toward the kitchen as Emma rambled.

“Pepperoni, sausage, beef, mushrooms,” Regina placed the pizza on the island, pulling the box open to look at it. “Green peppers and red onions.”

“I see that…” Regina picked a mushroom off and popped it into her mouth before turning to look at Emma.

“I know we usually get pepperoni but I thought–”

“We could experiment?” Regina said with a teasing smirk and Emma rolled her eyes, placing her tote bag on one of the bar stools. “What else did you bring?”

“Well, since it’s my night to pick, I brought a few movies from hom–” Emma cut herself off and Regina looked up just to see Emma glaring at her. “Would you stop eating all the toppings off the pizza?”

“No.”

Emma let out a disbelieving laugh and stepped closer toward her and Regina looked at her innocently. “And you call me a child.”

If she was calling her childish, Regina had no choice but to go all out, sticking her tongue out at Emma making her start to laugh, but it faded out quicker than she’d have liked as Emma stared at her, her mouth gaping open slightly.

 


 

“What?” Emma heard Regina ask but her brain was still trying to formulate thought after what she was sure she’d seen on Regina’s tongue.

“Stick your tongue out again.”

“What?” Regina asked with a laugh, closing the pizza box before turning to walk away.

“Do you have a tongue piercing?” Emma said and watched Regina come to a sudden halt, her head turning to look at Emma and her right eyebrow very slowly arching up, but all Emma could see was that scar on her tongue.

“No.”

Emma rolled her eyes and stepped closer, Regina turning around to face her, her arms crossed over her chest and her chin held high as she met Emma’s eyes. “Did you have a tongue piercing?”

Regina rolled her eyes with a heavy sigh, turning her back to Emma as she moved the cookies onto a cooling rack. “I had a rebellious stage…”

“Wow…” Emma breathed, her mind swimming with so many improper thoughts and images. “Wow…”

“You okay, dear?”

“Great.” She squeaked, flashing two thumbs up that made Regina chuckle while Emma inwardly face palmed.

“It was during my road to self-discovery.”

Emma nodded slowly, her eyes trailing over Regina’s body wondering what else she might have pierced or at least once pierced. “That when you got the tattoo too?”

“Maybe,” Regina said, a teasing lilt to her voice before she turned to her cupboards and pushed up onto her tippy toes to grab plates for them.

Emma’s eyes trailed over her body, remembering her in that swimsuit 5 years ago and trying to figure out if a tattoo had been noticeable then, but she didn’t remember anything, so either she was lying, it was in a place not visible, or she’d gotten it in the last 5 years.

“Stop staring at my ass and bring the pizza into the living room.”

Emma’s eyes jumped up to see Regina smirking at her over her shoulder. “I was just thinking…”

“About my ass?”

Emma blew out an annoyed breath and grabbed her bag and the pizza and headed into the living room, hearing Regina’s teasing laughter behind her.

 


 

Regina was leaning into Emma’s side; pizza box, bottles of beer, and other foods cluttering the coffee table as they watched Ghostbusters, Emma’s hand moving lazily around her shoulders as she laughed and commented on scenes.

It reminded her of film study back in college, of late nights dissecting movies; but with Emma it was less technical, it was like she was watching it through her eyes and she found she kind of loved the movie more the way Emma saw it.

“Stay puft marshmallow man!”

Regina chuckled, an affectionate smile on her features at just how adorably excited she was about a fake giant marshmallow man.

“I love him.”

Regina was about to open her mouth when both their phones went off, which was rather odd to happen, but they knew they were expecting a call eventually, both sharing a look as they sat up and reached for their phones, Regina’s on the coffee table under a clean napkin and Emma’s buried in the couch cushions.

Regina looked down at the caller ID and her heart clenched. “It’s Mary Margaret.”

Emma paused the movie as she finally retrieved her phone, “David.”

They shared a look before they swiped their fingers over the screen and held the phones to their ears.

“Hello.” They said at the same time, sharing a brief smile before Mary Margaret’s voice met her ears.

“Hello, Regina, I hope I’m not calling at a bad time.”

“No, not at all.”

She looked at Emma as she heard her say something similar, wondering briefly if their voices were picked up on the other’s call. “I have some unfortunate news…”

Regina’s heart sank and she reached out blindly, feeling Emma’s hand in hers instantly, their fingers tangling together and holding on tightly as their world seemed to shatter.

Chapter Text

 

“I don’t understand.” Emma said and Regina looked over at her, Mary Margaret’s voice fading away as she saw tears burning in Emma’s eyes. “The ratings were really good for a junior show.”

She brushed her thumb over Emma’s knuckles as she tuned back into Mary Margaret, “we’re so sorry, Regina, we were really excited to continue this journey with you.”

“Of course.” Regina said, voice guarded and anger burning in her chest, it didn’t make any sense but this was what happened to shows that tried to make a difference, wasn’t it?

Emma tugged on her hand and she looked over at her, their eyes meeting as Emma said her goodbyes to David and Regina did the same with Mary Margaret. Emma tugged at her hand again and Regina scooted back over, Emma falling against her shoulder and Regina blindly ran her fingers soothingly through her hair, emotions warring in her chest until Emma’s hand fell on her belly, her thumb soothingly brushing over her silk camisole.

She couldn’t believe it, she didn’t want to believe it. There was still so much she wanted to learn and to explore with Roni, and with her relationship with Blackwell.

“It’s cause it was gay isn’t it?” Emma’s voice met her ears, detached and sounding nothing like herself.

“I don’t know…” Regina sighed, her heart cracking further in her chest, trying to feel calmed by the feeling of Emma’s hair slipping through her fingers and her hand on her belly, but she didn’t know how to process it. Regina had been scared of even the possibility of the show ever ending, and now that it was here, now that the show was over, she found she still couldn’t accept it.

“I don’t really wanna watch a movie anymore…”

Regina let out a bitter sounding laugh, her cheek resting against Emma’s hair as she held her close. “Me neither…”

“Wanna turn on your lamp and cuddle under the stars?”

“Sure…” Regina smiled against Emma’s hair and she let the woman pull away, watching her move around the room and flicking on the lamp, the stars blanketing every surface and sparkling on Emma’s skin and hair, making her into a glowing beacon and Regina just wanted to be in her arms, to watch her all day, to sway in the silent room to the beating of their own hearts, to listen to her ridiculous stories and theories.

“Emma…?”

Emma looked over at her from the DVD player, eyes curious, and Regina felt her heart constrict at the sight.

“Hey…” Emma said in a soothing voice, taking a step forward, like there wasn’t a table between them and Regina stood up, moving across the room faster than she thought she could manage, her arms wrapping around Emma’s neck and she burrowed her face against it, able to smell the comforting mix of her shampoo and her natural scent.

Emma’s arms circled around her fast, keeping her grounded as her mind suddenly panicked over everything she was losing with the end of the show…and the one thing she refused to lose.

“I got you…” Emma said, her lips moving against her shoulder as she talked, and Regina held on tighter.

She slowly felt Emma smile against her neck, a hand in her hair cupping the back of her head and then very slowly, like she was pulling from a distant memory, like she was unsure about what she was about to do, the gentle sound of Emma humming met her ears, vibrating through her and it didn’t take her long to pick up on the song, pulling her back in time to a year before and bickering through doors and final goodbyes as Emma quietly hummed Despacito.

She felt her own laughter rumble through her echoing in her chest, and she held on tighter, remembering all she could and how grateful she was for this show, sure it was ending too soon but it had brought her so much and she didn’t want to lose it.

Eventually the song came to an end and they were left once again in the silence of the room, swaying slightly as Regina nuzzled her nose against Emma’s neck, relaxing fully against her. Long moments passed before Emma tugged them back to the couch and Emma pulled Regina on top of her before Regina burrowed into the back of the couch, resting against Emma’s side while slim fingers combed through her hair and the beating of Emma’s heart sounded in her ears, slowly lulling her to sleep.

 


 

Regina’s phone rang early the next morning, causing her eyes to blink open to stare across the room at her phone lit up and ringing its familiar tune.

“Why.” She heard Emma groan, her voice deep with sleep when she looked up to see her rubbing her eyes.

“Emma?”

“What time is it?”

The ringing stopped and she looked from her phone up to Emma again, pushing up the slightest bit she squinted, everything too clear and then it hit her. “Fuck!”

“R’gina?”

“Contacts, Emma!”

Emma yelped as Regina threw herself off of her, pressing down on a thigh and stumbling off the couch as she made a beeline for her bathroom upstairs.

“Shit!” She heard from downstairs and she knew Emma was finally awake enough to realize. “We fell asleep!”

Regina had to laugh at it, there was really nothing else she could do, hearing fumbling downstairs as she fought with her own contacts, cursing at herself, but glad they at least were easy to remove.

She grabbed a pair of glasses she kept on her bedside table and slipped them on as she padded back downstairs, a bottle of eye drops in her hand as she found Emma in the guest bathroom, pouting in the mirror.

“I got eye drops if you need them.”

“That’d be great,” Emma said with a grateful smile, both hearing her phone blaring from the other room again. “Shouldn’t you get that?”

“It’s 6am, they can wait a few more minutes.”

“What if it’s an emergency?” Emma asked while she sat down on the lid toilet and Regina smiled, approaching her with the small bottle and standing between her open legs.

“I’d like you to keep your vision.”

Emma smiled softly and Regina urged Emma to tip her head back before she took the top off the drops and squeezed a drop in each eye, her thumb brushing over Emma’s cheek when she was done, wiping away the excess drops that escaped her eyes.

“Thank you,” Emma breathed, hands on Regina’s hips, burning through her thin silk shorts, their eyes locked as Emma’s thumbs brushed over her hips just over the hem.

Regina opened her mouth to reply when her phone rang yet again and finally she stepped back, Emma’s hands falling from her hips, her fingers brushing against her bare thighs in the process.

“I should get that.”

“You should.”

Regina smiled and turned to leave the bathroom, casting a glance in Emma’s direction before she stepped over the threshold and walked back into the living room.

She picked up her phone, staring down at her caller ID and shaking her head, “of course,” she chuckled to herself before answering the phone. “Hello, Zelena.”

“What took you so long?”

“It’s 6am, I was sleeping.”

“Right, time zones.”

Regina rolled her eyes and dropped onto the couch, pulling her legs onto the couch and crossing them under her as she stared at the mess they’d left behind. “I am assuming you heard the news.”

“When I woke up I had a missed call and then texts from everyone but my own sister, and strangely enough, one Emma Swan.”

Regina rolled her eyes again, turning her head as she heard Emma enter the room, moving to start cleaning up their mess. “I am not nearly awake enough to decipher your true meanings.”

Zelena laughed and Regina couldn’t help but smile, eyes following Emma as she carried the empty box of pizza into the kitchen, a cookie held between her teeth.

“It was your movie night yesterday was it not?”

“Zelena…”

“Fine, I’ll drop it.”

“Thank you.”

“Where do you keep your coffee?” Regina spun toward the sound of Emma’s whisper, Zelena’s laugh sounding through the phone and she let out an annoyed sigh. “Bottom shelf, over the coffee maker.”

“Thanks, sorry.”

Regina reached out, covering Emma’s hand on the back of the couch with her own before it slipped away and she focused back on Zelena.

“How are you holding up?”

She was honestly surprised by the change in topic and she let out an exhausted sigh. “Better than last night, how’re you?”

“Ready to burn down the whole studio.”

“And I thought arson was my thing?” Regina teased as she leaned back against the couch, her eyes falling closed as she listened to Emma moving around her, cleaning up the living room, and Zelena on the phone.

 


 

Emma sat in her living room, staring at the pulsing bubbles on her computer screen, hearing the trademark skype ringtone as she waited for the others to join the call.

Marian popped up on the screen first, looking behind her quickly before flashing Emma a large smile. “Hey! How’re you?”

“Alright, you?” Emma looked as another of the pulsing bubbles vanished and she was met with Rogers’ face.

“Sorry.”

Emma flicked her eyes back over to Marian and giggled as she saw the wild head of curly hair duck behind Marian’s chair. “Seems we’re being spied on.”

“Roland!” She yelled and scooped the boy up, his laughter filling the call and the first thing to welcome Regina, Zelena, and Tamara as they joined in.

“Sorry I’m late! My internet was acting up,” Regina said, Emma looking toward Regina’s square and smiled as she saw the backdrop of her kitchen as she sat at her island for the call.

“It’s okay, we’re still waiting on Ruby, Mary Margaret, and David.”

“Hi!” Roland’s voice broke through and Emma’s heart warmed at the way Regina’s eyes lit up at the sound, the days Roland visited the set were some of Emma’s favourites, the little guy was a delight and seeing that softer side of Regina as she played with the boy always made her day.

“Oh! I didn’t know the cutie was joining us?!” Ruby’s voice alerted her presence and shortly after Mary Margaret and David’s face appeared on the screen as well.

“Looks like that is everybody.” Tamara said, the skyline seen behind her through the large windows in her condo.

“Great!” Mary Margaret said and they all looked toward her while Marian’s mother came into the room to grab Roland and leave them to their meeting. “I’m so glad you all wanted to do this.”

There were mumbles of agreement and Emma’s eyes once again found Regina, her eyes were focused on the screen but she could see the top of her pen moving over a piece of paper and she just knew she had notes.

“When are we allowed to announce it was cancelled?”

“The network is already planning on releasing a statement, David and I have of course began crafting one as well, I think in the next day or so it will be announced and we can all post about it, if you wish to.”

Again there was a collective muttering of agreement, Emma looking at all her castmates’ faces, the sadness prominent in them all, Emma had never seen David look so sombre, and definitely not Ruby.

“I don’t want this to be the end…” Ruby’s voice was so small and Emma felt her heart crack, wanting nothing more than to reach out and hug her but she’d gone back to Oregon to see her Granny about a week ago.

“Can’t we do something?” Rogers asked, his eyes pleading with them.

“David and I are talking to some people, we don’t want to give it up either.”

Emma felt an ache in her chest and as she looked at all the faces on the screen.

“The fans will be crushed…”

Emma looked at Marian, tears in her eyes as they all thought about the fandom, they were such an excited and powerful bunch and they only seemed to grow in size with each episode. Emma could still remember the day Roni’s coming out episode had aired, she had never seen anything so powerful, she had cried at the reaction of the fans and also Regina, who was so nervous the week and hours preceding it and then the joy that had filled her up the second she saw the fans’ reaction.

She looked over at Regina now, there were tears shimmering in her eyes but she refused to let them fall as she tried to keep a hold on her emotions.

“It’ll break their hearts… they had hope for a story for them and…” Regina shrugged, anger in her tone and a burning in her eyes, she had quickly become so protective of the bunch.

“We’ll figure something out,” Mary Margaret reassured, bringing the attention back to her. “I’m so sorry, to all of you, I hope this isn’t the end but…”

“It was a great journey though,” Emma breathed, “we all had fun, didn’t we?”

“We did.”

“This was the best year of my life,” Ruby said.

Emma’s smile was wide, her eyes moving to look at Regina as she remembered everything from the year, her attention so lost on whatever she was doing that she missed the way Emma smiled so wistfully at her as she breathed. “Me too…”

And Emma was too busy staring at Regina to realize the way the others seemed to share a look, well, all of them but Mary Margaret and David.

“Remember when Emma tried bribing Ashley with a chocolate bar to leave her hair down?”

There was a resounding burst of laughter and Regina met her eyes as she was pulled back into the conversation.

“How about our trip to Science World?” Tamara laughed and Emma remembered how excited Regina had been as she looked at everything. “I suddenly had a lot of sympathy for my teachers. Corralling you all was exhausting.”

“What about when Leroy got us lost going to that lake.”

“I’m going to miss it…”

“Leroy getting us stranded on the side of a road?” Regina asked and Emma chuckled as Ruby rolled her eyes.

“No, hanging out with you all.”

“Me too…” Everyone said at the same time, the sounds of their voices together feeling like a bond was formed, stronger than what they already had and they all smiled, memories running through their minds.

“Okay, remember when Regina carried Emma across the room?”

“What even was that bet?!”

“I had never been so happy to lose…” Emma sighed and everyone laughed again, Regina giving Emma a soft look.

“Oh my god! When Tamara slipped on that patch of ice!”

“I nearly broke my ass!”

The laughter was loud, tears running down their faces from laughter but also the loss of their show, but they just kept going on, story after story until they heard a sniffle and their eyes were pulled back to their showrunners, they had almost forgotten they were there. Emma unsure of why Mary Margaret was even crying.

“You’ve all become a family…”

Emma looked away from her image, her eyes bouncing over each and every face before falling back on Regina, her smile growing along with the rest of them.

“Yeah, guess we have…” Tamara said and low chuckles filled the room before they were cut off with a sad sigh as reality came flooding back, silence lagging on before they went back to discussing what happened next.

 


 

Regina spent over a day formulating her post, choosing pictures, everything to make sure it just perfectly expressed how she felt about this show. It was hard, thinking about it being over and posting about it, making it official.

She and Emma had spent the night before sending images back and forth while talking on the phone, trying to coordinate their statements and have someone to bounce ideas off each other.

Mary Margaret and David had posted their Instagram posts not long ago and Regina just couldn’t bring herself to press ‘post’, her eyes scanning over each word, tears burning in her eyes as she stared at one of the last selfies she’d taken with Emma on set.

She heard the knock on her door and let her head fall against the back of the couch, looking toward the hallway as she contemplated getting up or just leaving it, but eventually she pulled herself up from the couch, holding her phone in her left hand as her right smoothed out her hair, knowing she probably looked like a mess but there wasn’t much to be done about it.

“Hey,” Emma said as soon as Regina opened the door and wordlessly she let her in. “Thought you might need some moral support, I know I do.”

“Did you head over as soon as you got the notification?”

“Maybe.” Regina shook her head and padded back toward her living room, feeling Emma watching her as she went. “I can’t make myself click ‘post.’”

Regina looked behind her over the couch as Emma walked toward her, and Regina silently patted the cushion next to her. “Me neither…”

“You do mine and I do yours?” Emma asked as she sat on the far side of the couch and then patted her thigh making Regina chuckle, she was positive at this point that Emma got just as much comfort out of it as her.

Regina shifted closer to Emma and rested her head against her thigh before she unlocked her phone and held it toward Emma; and once it was removed from her hands, Emma’s replaced it.

“Count of three?”

“Sure.”

They both took in a deep breath, Regina’s eyes scanning over Emma’s message before she finally said, “one.”

“Two…”

Regina looked up at Emma’s face, seeing the frown on her face and her heart ached more. 

“Three.”

She watched Emma click post and did the same a second later, silence wrapping around them as they traded phones back.

“Guess it’s official now…”

“Seems like it…”

Emma stretched her arm out and Regina grabbed onto her hand, holding it against her stomach, her eyes searching out Emma’s and when they met, she saw the tears rolling down her cheeks.

She brought Emma’s hand to her lips, pressing a sincere kiss against it, feeling Emma’s hands playing with her hair a few seconds later and she smiled, placing Emma’s hand back against her stomach and holding it there with both of hers, their phones abandoned as they sought comfort in each other’s presence.

 


 

Regina decided to cheer herself up with a shopping trip. Bags were already hanging from her fingers from a few other stores as she wandered around Nordstrom, the music filling the store and the feel of fabric under her fingers, was a comfort she could never explain.

She placed her bags and purse in front of a mirror as she slipped on a blazer she liked, flicking her hair out from under the collar and wondering if it was time for a haircut as she combed her fingers through it. It was almost weird seeing it straight after not bothering with it for so many months, maybe she was just missing Roni.

Regina slipped her hands over the sides of her pencil skirt as she turned to check the way the blazer hit, her eyes scanning over her appearance when she heard her phone ringing from inside her purse, her lips pulling into a frown as she dropped her hands to her side and bent over to dig out her phone.

She looked down at the caller ID and let out a sigh, tossing her hair to the side as she straightened up and placed the phone against her ear. “Hello, Zelena.”

“I have no time to address that tone so I’m going to ignore it.” Regina rolled her eyes, a playful smirk curling on her lips as her eyes flickered over her face in her reflection.

“What can I do for you this fine afternoon, my dear sister?”

“Again ignoring the tone.” Regina’s lips pursed to smother her growing smile while Zelena continued. “Have you checked twitter today by any chance?”

“No…” Regina’s eyebrows furrowed as she tried to think about what might be going on. “I have been avoiding it.”

“I suggest you take a look.”

Regina squinted her eyes, she was about to pull her phone away from her face to open the app when Zelena decided she didn’t have any patience and yelled. “We’re trending!”

“We are trending?”

Zelena laughed at her suspicious tone and Regina pouted, looking around her to make sure nobody was watching her. “The fans, since yesterday they’ve got Save Operation Cobra trending!”

“We’ve been trending for a whole day?” The surprise was evident in her voice and the slight raise of her eyebrows, and she heard Zelena laughing in her ear again.

“Yes, and the numbers are still climbing!”

“Oh shit…”

“Fans really wanna see you make out with Emma.”

Her eyes rolled far back into her head at that comment, her hand moving onto her hip, “Zelena…”

“You’re too easy!”

“I’m going to hang up on you.”

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic.”

Regina looked around her again, and let out a long sigh. “We have really been trending for a day?”

“Yeah, we have.” Regina watched as her own smile spread across her face, thinking of the fans she’s met, of the art and videos she’s seen, of the kind messages, and just the overwhelming support and happiness for Roni she’s gotten.

She wondered if Emma knew yet, of what she would say, the hope bubbling in her gut at the thought that this might not be over after all, that they might get to show more of their characters’ journeys together.

“I can hear you thinking about her from here. Just like, go call her.” Zelena said and before Regina could answer, the line went dead and she frowned down at her phone in confusion, Zelena was so weird sometimes.

Regina looked back at her reflection, biting the inside of her cheek and tapping her phone against her left palm as she thought. Her mind coming to a fast decision and she pulled off the blazer, and picked up her bags, slipping the hanger on the rack as she moved quickly to the store exit, she had somewhere to be.

 


 

When Emma threw open her apartment door she was not at all expecting to see Regina on the other side, drenched from the rain and with a megawatt smile on her face.

“Uh…” Emma’s eyes scanned slowly over her then moved to the windows lining the far wall of her condo, watching the water beating down on them, then back to Regina who was just in a skirt and silk button up.

“We’re trending!”

“What?”

Emma blinked at her dumbly and Regina laughed, looking past her and into the condo, “are you going to let me in?”

“Right,” Emma stepped back, looking between Regina and the storm once again. “What?”

“Trending, on twitter!” Emma’s head tilted in confusion, turning to look at Regina, her eyes scanning over her soaked appearance.

“And you got so excited about it you forgot a coat?”

Regina rolled her eyes, turning her head to face Emma. “I was out. It was sunny all day.”

“It’s Vancouver.” Emma said, watching Regina slip out of her heels, the water dripping from her clothes onto the ground. “How far away did you park?”

“It’s Vancouver,” Regina said with a smirk, her eyes flashing with humour which made Emma smile as she watched Regina unbutton her soaked top.

“Towels are in the bathroom…” Emma said while she walked toward her bedroom to search for a change of clothes. “Why are you here? I thought I wasn’t gonna see you until Friday?”

“Trending, Miss Swan, since yesterday.”

Emma turned her head to look at Regina who was now standing in the doorway of her room towel drying her hair, the buttons on her top down to her belly button revealing a silk slip.

“Since yesterday? 24 hours?” Emma asked, her brain still trying to process not only Regina’s surprise appearance but her drenched state.

Regina laughed and stepped forward, tossing the towel on Emma’s bed as she stopped in the middle of the room, her hair slowly beginning to curl.

“Yes, the fans, they want to save our show.”

“Wow…”

Regina placed her hand on her hip and Emma’s eyes moved down to it, following the water rolling down her bare legs.

“I’m starting to wonder if you’re hearing anything I’m saying.”

“I am, I definitely am; you are just, very wet.”

“I’m well aware, dear.”

Emma turned back to her dresser, staring into the depths of her many, very ridiculous pyjama options.

“Do you have the AC on?”

Emma turned to look at Regina and her eyes popped out of her head before she snapped her head back around, quickly deciding spongebob boxers were way safer than Regina Mills dripping wet, in nothing but a silk slip.

“N-no, nope, no AC, probably just cold cause you know…you’re wet…”

She heard the faint creek of her bed and turned her head again to see Regina sitting on the end of it, squeezing the water from her hair some more and drying off her arms and legs.

“I suppose so. Do you have a sweatshirt?”

“You know I do.”

“Just get me one of those, I’m going to go hang up my clothing.”

“No pants?!” Emma called after Regina’s retreating form, a small squeak escaping her mouth as she internally screamed and went into her closet to grab the largest sweater she owned and then headed toward the bathroom.

“I got your hoodie…” Emma froze, smiling softly at Regina who was on her tippy toes hanging her skirt over the rode of the shower curtain, noticing the goosebumps covering her skin as another drop of water fell from her hair and happily rolled down her bare shoulders.

Emma placed the hoodie carefully on the bathroom counter before grabbing a dry towel and then approached Regina and hung it over her shoulders, she was pleasantly surprised when Regina leaned the slightest bit back.

“You’re freezing.”

Regina turned to face her, her hand holding the towel around her as she carefully studied Emma’s features and Emma just smiled, both hands rubbing up and down Regina’s arms to warm her up.

“They’re trying to save our show, Emma.”

Finally the news seemed to bypass all of Emma’s other thoughts and her smile spread wide and quick across her face at the understanding. “No way.”

“Zelena called me, and I checked myself, trending worldwide since yesterday.”

“Holy shit…” Emma laughed and Regina’s smile soon matched hers as Emma wrapped her arms around Regina’s waist and hugged her tight, even going as far as to lift her from the ground.

Regina’s laughter flowed into her ears when her hand tangled in her hair, holding on before Emma lowered her back down and looked into those beautiful happy brown eyes of hers.

“To hell with going quietly,” Regina grinned, her hands now cupping Emma’s cheeks and god, Emma had never wished for something harder…okay so maybe she had, but this wish was still up there.

“I always did believe in going out with a bang.”

“You would.” Regina’s smile softened and Emma found her heart expanding in her chest, her hands on Regina’s waist, her head tilted as she studied her features. “Did you say something about pants?”

Emma laughed low and deep then took a step back, looking at wide curious eyes as Regina just watched her in return. “I asked if you wanted pants too, or just the hoodie.”

“The hoodie is fine,” Emma nodded and held out the item, trying not to look down at Regina’s bare thighs.

“I’ll go make some cocoa.” Emma turned on her heels, leaving the bathroom, just catching Regina bring the sweater up to her nose before she moved out of sight and Emma’s heart skittered over the next beat.

 


 

Emma stood in her kitchen, mindlessly stirring the pasta as she watched Regina in her living room, once again sitting on her floor focused on the computer, Emma’s computer, and in nothing but a slip and Emma’s largest hoodie which reached a little less than mid-thigh, and sitting like how she was, it covered way less than that and… well Emma was starting to think she’d died and this was her own personal hell.

It’d been hours, and her hair had dried in thick and wild curls and she had on her adorable thinking face as she scrolled through twitter, looking at everything their fans were saying and Emma was just trying really hard not to die at the sight.

She was insanely hot and incredibly cute, how she looked when she got excited, the way her face lit up and her eyes sparkled, it was the most beautiful thing Emma had ever seen. Her voice got a little higher, her hands gestured wildly, and her smile, so bright and beautiful it could light up the whole city, Emma was sure the mere sight of her nose scrunched up could bring her to her knees, it could cause a whole population to stop and just stare because it was beautiful, she was beautiful.

She wasn’t sure what would kill her first, how cute she looked when she was excited and explaining something she was reading online or how insanely sexy she was when she was focused on an important task.

“Focus on the food, Miss Swan.”

Emma blinked, looking down at the pot and frowning, “It’s not like I can burn pasta.”

“Can never be too safe with you.”

Oh yeah, and then there was her voice, the deep tone it fell into when she was being obnoxious, Emma loved that too, her voice and when she was being an asshole.

“You could always do the cooking.”

“I tried, you told me to stay here,” Regina said, her hair swaying as she turned her head to look at her and Emma’s heart constricted in her chest.

“Yes, because you are my guest.”

“And you can’t stop staring at my legs.”

“That too.”

Regina smirked, her eyes moving back to the computer and Emma loved that too, how satisfied she looked whenever she knew Emma had found her distracting, it was like she was winning some battle that Emma has no memory of joining but was not at all angry about it.

Emma looked down into the pot, stirring the pasta and lifting the spoon to check the noodles, her eyebrows furrowing as she tried to figure it out. “You think it’s done?”

Emma heard rustling and was just glancing up when she felt a presence next to her and turned her head to see Regina sidling up next to her and placing her hand on her lower back as she pushed up onto her tippy toes to look at the pasta, her lips pursed and her brows crinkled in thought.

“Few more minutes probably.” She said even as she reached over and took a noodle from the spoon, popping it in her mouth, already nodding to herself as she moved to walk back into the living room. “About 3.”

Emma spent those three minutes wondering how she made cooking seem sexy and her only conclusion was this is what love did to people, not only did it make everything the person did insanely adorable, but also sexy as hell.

 


 

It had been a week, a whole entire week and the fans hadn’t stopped, they kept the show trending, they kept tweeting and campaigning all day, every day for a week and it was starting to get noticed more and more.

They had started talking about it amongst the rest of the cast, they even liked and retweeted somethings and that just spurred the fans on.

It was remarkable, the love they had for this show, it nearly brought Regina to tears most days, to know they loved it as much as they did, that it had helped them in some way, that it was part of their lives.

Regina felt the fight burning in her veins and she didn’t even think twice about it when she posted her first tweet, thanking everyone for fighting for the show, encouraging them to continue tweeting and letting them know she wanted this as much as they did. Regina wasn’t ready to give it up, to let go, to move onto another character and another city, and to leave behind all that they’ve built. No, Regina Mills never ever gave up without a fight, it just took their fans to make her realize she didn’t have to this time either.

 


 

Regina was laying across the couch, her hands splayed across her belly, Emma’s hair tickling her bare thighs from where she was sitting on the floor and texting Ruby, the sound of the TV just white noise in the room while they just sat together.

“We should do a live,” Emma eventually said and Regina opened her eyes to look at her, her hair brushing against her thighs as she turned her head, green eyes looking at her expectantly and Regina just wanted to reach out, to trace her fingers over the freckles on her face.

“A live?”

“Yeah, like on Instagram,” Emma said, turning her body and leaning her arm on the couch cushion, her fingers accidentally brushing the side of her thigh.

“To talk about the show?”

Emma nodded and Regina felt the warmth expand in her chest as she saw her dimples pop and the childlike excitement in her eyes.

“Yeah, answer fans’ questions, discuss fun memories, get the word out more that we’re fighting for this show.”

“I suppose that could be fun.” Regina felt her smile slowly curling on her lips and when she pushed up onto her elbows Emma’s eyes followed up, her wide smile shifting to something softer. “What?”

“The fans would really love it. We should do it tomorrow or Sunday, most people got free weekends, right?”

Regina hummed, her eyes tracing over Emma, wishing she were on the couch with her, her comforting scent wrapped around her body.

“You could stay over and we could do it in the afternoon.”

Emma twisted more, eyes sparkling with mirth as a grin curled on her lips. “Are you propositioning me, Miss Mills?”

“Most definitely. Take me now, Miss Swan.”  Regina deadpanned.

Emma let out a bark of laughter before pushing up onto her knees, her mischievous eyes, making a brow slowly rise on Regina’s face in the seconds before Emma said, “As you wish!”

Regina let out a shriek of surprise and laughter as Emma’s hands attacked her sides, tickling mercilessly, not stopping even when Regina turned on her side to try and trap one hand.

“Emma! Stop it!”

Emma stopped as ordered, her smile crooked as her upper arm laid across Regina’s thigh and her hand on Regina’s side, her silk tank top bunched up enough that Emma’s thumb brushed lazily against her bare and heated skin.

“I love your laugh,” she said whimsically, while letting her head rest against Regina’s bent thigh and she couldn’t help but smile back, reaching out to gently comb her fingers through Emma’s hair.

 


 

Regina looked down at Emma’s head in her lap, who was breathing even with sleep and a few stray blond locks of hair in her face; she looked absolutely breathtaking. It was almost hard to breathe as a rush of emotions suddenly filled her up, her smile soft as she reached down to brush the hair off Emma’s face to get a better look at her, trailing her finger down the slope of Emma’s nose as her eyes categorized each feature.

She was beautiful, that was always obvious, it was the first thing Regina had noticed about her 5 years ago, how gorgeous she was. She brushed the back of her knuckles over Emma’s cheek, her skin soft to the touch.

Her heart thudded in her chest as she looked down at her, hearing a sleepy hum escape Emma’s mouth and she let out a small breath. She didn’t want to look away, she didn’t want to wake her either, but she knew she had to.

“Emma,” she whispered, finger brushing along her face, “Emma, wake up,” Emma’s brow furrowed and Regina smiled, smoothing it out with her thumb and watching as green eyes slowly fluttered open and met hers.

“R’gina?”

“C’mon, time for bed.” Emma groaned but slowly sat up, Regina’s hand falling away as she watched Emma comb her fingers through her hair. “I got pyjamas upstairs you can borrow.”

“M’kay,” Emma yawned and Regina smiled softly at her before standing from the couch and holding her hand out for Emma to take.

She dragged her to her feet, her sockless feet dragging as she practically stumbled behind her up the stairs, her glasses and contact cases in her other hand.

“The contact solution is in my bathroom,” Regina said, gesturing to the ensuite as she walked into her closet, digging for pyjamas for Emma to wear.

Regina walked out of her closet, the pyjamas in her hands but as she looked up, she found Emma curled up on the covers in a tank top and her underwear.

She could be mad that Emma fell asleep in her bed but she found an affectionate smile curling on her lips as she watched her sleep for a few moments before going to get ready for bed herself.

Once she was ready she approached the side of the bed Emma was on and looked down at her, her eyes trailing over Emma’s body as she tried to figure out how to get the blanket from under her, she really hated to wake her again but she really had no other option.

“Emma.” She whispered, sweeping Emma’s hair over her shoulder, her thumb soothingly running over her skin hearing a small grumble in repose. “Get under the covers, darling.”

“Kay.”

Regina bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from smiling as she watched Emma clumsily burrowing herself under the covers, pulling them under her chin as she snuggled into Regina’s pillow.

“Goodnight, Emma.” She said before leaning down and pressing a kiss to Emma’s temple; then moved to turn on the lamp on the other side of the bed before turning off the large light.

Regina looked around one more time before she moved to her side of the bed, she looked at Emma’s back and the hair tumbling over her pillows and she felt her heart constrict again before she slipped under the covers; curling up so her back was facing Emma’s she turned off the light, her eyes drifting shut with the comforting sound of Emma’s breathing filling the room.

 


 

Emma woke up early the next morning, the faint sounds of birds chirping pulling her out of sleep, and it took her a minute to notice the feeling of a warm body pressed against her front though she knew instantly who it belonged to.

Emma smiled against her neck, burrowing her nose between it and her shoulder she took a deep breath, warmth filling her up at her familiar scent.

They fit together so perfectly, Emma couldn’t stop thinking about how good it felt to hold her in her arms like this again; they cuddled tons, probably more than Emma has with anyone in her whole life, but there was still just something about the way Regina hugged her arm to her chest when they spooned.

Just like five years ago, Regina had Emma nearly pulled on top of her, held to her body as close as possible, and Emma revelled in the feeling of their bare legs intertwined, of Regina’s body warm against her front. Emma took another breath and melted against her, her mind only able to come up with one thing this feeling brought, and that was home, Regina felt like home, she realized, holding her like that was safety and warmth and comfort, and Emma never wanted to let go.

So she didn’t, not for a long time, not until her greedy stomach demanded food and her annoying bladder demanded to be emptied.

After going to the bathroom and pulling on the pyjama shorts Regina had left out on the chaise for her, Emma headed downstairs, her goal was to make breakfast, and well to make Regina believe her when she said she could cook most things.

And pancakes were her specialty, and she planned on spoiling her for not murdering her last night when her half asleep mind had thought it was a good idea to strip down to her underwear and fall asleep in her bed.

Regina eventually came downstairs, half asleep and in search of coffee, her hair in complete disarray and a frown on her face at the mere thought of being awake so early, and Emma found it too cute.

“You’re making…pancakes?”

Emma grinned at her, pouring her a large cup of the super strong coffee and sliding it across the island. “It was either that or your famous breakfast tortillas but I didn’t want to outshine you.” 

Regina eyed her but the coffee was more interesting at the moment so she went for that and Emma went back to her pancakes, feeling Regina’s eyes on her the whole time, picturing her furrowed brows and tilted head; she was being studied again and it was as unnerving as it was thrilling.

She put a few pancakes on a plate and slid it across the island too, syrup and cutlery passed over next and Emma watched her expectantly as she waited for her to eat it.

Emma knew one thing about Regina after a year of early mornings and that was that she was happiest when she was fed and gifted caffeine but she remained rather quiet in her gratitude, sometimes she got a thank you, but most of the time she only got a small smile, today seemed like a smile kind of day.

After Regina took the first bite, her eyes focused on her plate and Emma turned away to get her own food, but was surprised when she heard Regina’s sleepy voice meet her ears.

“They’re delicious, thank you.”

“No problem.” Emma flashed her a smile and Regina returned it, Emma’s chest expanding with love and pride, trying really hard not to whistle a happy tune because finally she had done something right in the kitchen.

 


 

They both posted to their instagram stories and twitter that morning about their live, and the immediate freak out amongst the fans was rather entertaining. They spent their morning reading reactions and conspiracies about what it would be about. Sometimes it was fun watching so many people lose it from just one post.

There was also some bickering over why they had to go live on Regina’s Instagram instead of Emma’s, turns out, “my house, my Instagram” is an insanely powerful argument… especially when paired with threats of not giving Emma leftovers for a month.

It was a gorgeous day out, most of the spring had been filled with rain and a rather chilly temperature so with the sun out they both thought it’d be nice to do the live on Regina’s back deck.

Which left Emma with 10 minutes until noon to set up Regina’s phone, trying to get it just right so both of them would be in the frame. Her lips pulled down as she pulled the chairs as close together as they could go, contemplating for a minute just having Regina sit in her lap before said woman walked out, pitcher of iced tea and glasses stacked together, her brow arched in thought.

“You know there’s a lounge chair over there we can sit in, right?” She nodded her head to the left and Emma turned, staring at the big chairs.

“Well, that would have been nice to know 10 minutes ago.”

Regina rolled her eyes, putting her things on the table and stepping off the patio and strutting toward the chairs, leaving Emma to figure out how she was able to walk in grass with such high heels.

“A hand, Miss Swan?”

“Uh…” Emma looked at the phone and the chairs lined up and quickly moved them out of the way of the perfectly placed phone before she jogged toward Regina.

Regina kicked off her heels and grabbed hold of the end of the chair and Emma picked up the other side, walking backward across the yard, her eyes glued to Regina with her perfectly styled hair and makeup, who was focusing intently behind Emma as she guided them (and the chair) to the patio.

“So you made us ice tea?”

“Yes, or would you have preferred a beer?”

“Ice tea is good,” Emma smiled, glancing behind her as they approached the table, Emma turning so the back of the chair was facing the fence, giving them room to slip in on the other side.

They heard a beep of the timer had Emma set on her phone and they froze for a second. “Passcode is 3776, get it set up. I need my shoes.”

“Nobody is going to see your feet, Regina! Heck nobody is gonna see below your torso!”

“Some of us like to be presentable, dear.”

Emma rolled her eyes, combing a hand through her hair as she slipped around the table and onto the chair, poking Regina’s phone carefully to get it to light up before entering the 4 digit code and opening Instagram, her alarm went off again telling her it was officially noon.

With her lower lip between her teeth, she cast a desperate glance to Regina who was walking back across the yard before clicking on the ‘go live’ button, but her attention was stolen by the sight of Regina who was frowning adorably down at her dew covered feet with her heels dangling from her hand.

“Regina…we’re live.”

“My feet are wet.” She complained dropping down onto the chair and placing the shoes next to her when she slid next to Emma.

“Nobody is going to care about your feet.”

“I care,” 

Emma couldn’t help the dumb expression she got on her face and Regina’s head tilted as an eyebrow slowly rose on her forehead. “What?”

“Nothing.”

Regina smirked and Emma was about to ask what that was about when she felt her wipe her feet against Emma’s jeans, her mouth falling open in shock while Regina cackled, bending down to put her shoes on.

“You did not just use me as a towel!”

Regina straightened back up, tossing her hair in the process and her eyes finally locked on the phone, mouth falling open as she stared at it. “Emma, did you say we were live?”

“Yeah I– oh.”

They both looked into the phone then, where fast messages were covering the screen and Emma started giggling while Regina slapped her arm.

“Apologies, everyone, next time I will be sure to handle things.”

“I’m sure they don’t mind and would agree with me that they don’t care if you’re barefoot or in what,” Emma paused glancing under the table, “4 inch Louboutins?”

Regina flicked her hair, righting it perfectly as she looked toward the camera, her chin jutted out as she said, “some of us care about our appearance.”

Emma grinned, “awe, you’re nervous.”

“I am not!”

Emma grinned at her vibrato, loving when she got all flustered, knowing that by not giving her the reaction she wanted it only made her more frustrated. Emma then turned to the phone, looking at the incoming messages.

“They think it’s cute too.” Regina huffed, Emma seeing her little pout on the phone screen and trying not to giggle, “oh, they also want you to step on them. Apparently the shoes do matter; you win this one, Mills.”

Emma turned, smiling as she saw the little blush on Regina’s cheeks. She could flirt with anyone, loved it really, but the second she was faced by things like this, her brain seemed to short circuit.

Regina cleared her throat, sitting straight as an arrow and Emma bit the inside of her cheek as she watched the buttons on Regina’s shirt strain with the action, the fans in the comments sending nothing but gibberish at this point.

“Well, welcome to our live, everyone, we wanted to do something special to properly thank you for all your efforts this last week in trying to save our show. We really do appreciate it.”

“Yeah, everyone from the cast and crew, you have just…” Emma’s smile was wide, looking at the hearts covering the screen. “We love you all so much, we’re not ready to say goodbye either and we will do everything we can to save it.”

Regina’s hand landed on her thigh under the table soothingly, and Emma turned to look at her, not even having time to think about covering the adoring smile on her face as she looked at Regina.

“Thank you all, for this, even if it doesn’t get saved knowing so many of you saw just how special this show and the characters were, it means so much to us.”

Emma stared at Regina for a few long seconds, her hand moving to cover Regina’s on her thigh and Regina turned to look at her, her expression softening as Emma’s thumb brushed over her skin.

“Well, now that the sappy stuff is out of the way let’s have some fun, hmm?”

“Yes, we will be answering some of your questions and perhaps share some stories.”

Emma nodded, leaning into Regina as she dug her phone out of her pocket and Regina rolled her eyes and leaned across the table, her eyes squinting as she looked at the comments.

“What is it like working with my sister?” Regina said the comment out loud and Emma let out a bark of laughter, straightening up and opening the live on her phone, the volume turned down so she could at least see the comments a lot closer as they came.

“Zelena is wonderful.” She answered.

“Zelena says to stop lying.”

Emma watched in her phone as Regina rolled her eyes, before glancing over at Emma and then back to the phone. “You got me, she is horrid to work with. Can’t act to save her life, truly have no idea how she got the job.”

“I would have to agree, she is such a diva, remember when she punched me in the ovaries?”

Regina barked out a laugh, and smirked at her phone. “But really, although working with your sibling isn’t always the best, it has been a wonderful experience, I have learnt a lot from her this past year.”

“Yeah, me too.” Emma grinned, looking up from the live on her phone to Regina’s, “she has taught me that anything can be dirty if you try hard enough.”

Emma watched the comment on the screen pop up, Zelena’s name and just a capitalized “HA” that had Emma letting out a long sigh.

Emma looked back down at the phone, Regina’s hand leaving her thigh and Emma watched her reach across the table to grab the empty glasses, looking up just as Regina placed the cup in front of her, smile soft again as she slowly turned to meet her eyes.

“Would you like some?”

“Please.” Emma smiled and looked back at her phone, nodding her head as she tried to find good questions. “Oh this one is fun! Who won the sleeping game? Regina, since nobody got her sleeping.”

“I wasn’t playing, and I thought the winner was whoever got the most pictures of people?”

“Rules changed.”

“To what?”

Emma turned to look at her and very seriously she said, “you are very elusive to catch sleeping, you know that? You became like the top prize, winner takes all.”

Regina gaped at her, “so you all got caught and the tiebreaker was me?”

“Yup!”

Regina shook her head, turning to look back at the phone and Emma nudged her. Regina nudged her back before sipping from her iced tea.

“Where are we?” Emma read the next question.

They both glanced at each other and Emma chuckled, her eyes looking around Regina’s large backyard with its tall trees and perfectly kept lawn and garden, thinking about Regina catering to the plants in her free time.

“We are in my backyard.”

“Thought it’d be nicer than my tiny condo.”

“More food too.”

“I get better takeout!”

“Tacos.”

Emma pouted, turning to look fully at Regina, “ground beef is harder to deal with than you’d think!”

Regina waved her off, her eyes back on the phone while Emma just kept pouting for dramatic effect and maybe also in hopes Regina would pity her enough to show her some comfort.

And she did, without looking away from the screen her hand brushed Emma’s hair over her shoulder and lazily rubbed her back. Emma smuggly noticed the freak out in the comments section again; who knew this would be so fun.

 


 

Regina eventually found herself loosening up as they answered more fans’ questions and just talked as they always would, her posture remained straight but she pulled her legs up onto the chair, crossing them under her, Emma’s hand splayed across her knee and lazily running her thumb along it while she talked.

“What do we think about PrivateSergeant?”

“I think it’s fucking amazing!”

“Language, Miss Swan, there might be kids listening,” she whispered and Emma nudged her shoulder playfully.

“If they are old enough to watch our show they probably already know all the big bad swears, Mills.”

Regina rolled her eyes and focused on the fans again, hoping to meet their eyes as she said, “I love it, this is my first gay ship but all of you have been incredibly kind and I’m just glad it’s with someone as kind and supportive as Emma.”

“Yeah, same, working with Regina is probably the greatest experience of my life. From day one she’s been nothing but kind, she checks in, makes sure I’m comfortable when we do stunts.”

Regina watched Emma turn to look at her on the phone screen and she turned too, their faces incredibly close, but the proximity was nothing they weren’t already used to.

“She is incredibly caring and professional, we have built a lot of trust this last year; at this moment I’m pretty sure I would trust her with anything.”

Touched, Regina gave her a soft smile, her hand finding Emma’s on her knee and squeezing before turning away, blinking the tears out of her eyes and focusing back on the screen.

“We’re best friends.” Emma breathed and Regina’s smile grew the slightest bit as she leaned into Emma.

“I think the trust we have formed helped a lot when playing Blackwell and Roni, we knew that whatever happened the other had our back, and I think that really transferred well on screen.”

“Yeah, and a mutual understanding that you can really pack a punch.”

Regina slapped her hand under the table and decided to read the next question. “Was anything improvised?”

They both pursed their lips in thought, trying to remember what had made it on screen; answering with ‘their chemistry and attraction’ wouldn’t probably be the smartest so Regina dug for scenes while Emma’s thumb tapped lazily against her knee.

“I mean, all the scenes where we’re in the background, that’s just us, they liked having the other characters seen so we were sometimes told to eat lunch on set or just sit around.”

“There was also that scene in the pilot.”

“Which one?”

Regina rolled her eyes, turning to look at Emma, “about your hip.”

“Ah, right, because you really did hurt me.”

“You fell on a pebble.”

“You threw me on a pebble.”

Regina pinched the back of her hand and Emma yelped, pulling her hand to her mouth to suck on where it hurt.

“Honestly, there has probably been more than there should have, Emma and I have a very easy banter, and I think, at some point they just stopped trying to control it.”

Emma nodded, removing her hand from her mouth to say. “My favourite unscripted moment was you drawing. Jacinda was so annoyed with you.”

“It just gave Roni some depth.”

“When did you find out Roni was a lesbian and what was it like filming that scene?”

Regina paused at the question, feeling Emma’s hand on her knee again, sturdy and comforting; which Regina covered almost instantly, wrapping her fingers under Emma’s palm and squeezing, though her face remained unaffected.

“They told us after winter break that they were taking that route, it wasn’t until I got the script for that episode that I found out about that scene and although it was a very relaxed moment, it was important to Roni; to come out to her colleagues, the people that she must depend on to keep her safe, there was a lot of trust there and a lot of emotion. I was determined to make it perfect for her, and everyone watching.”

Emma squeezed her hand and their fingers slowly intertwined, Regina’s smile growing as she felt her chest expand, and she pulled Emma’s hand into her lap, holding it in both of hers, resting against the side of her bare foot.

“What would we want to happen in season 2?”

Regina barely kept in her laughter as she thought about her one and only wish, the sound coming out as a snort while Emma squeezed her hand and bit her cheek to keep herself from laughing too.

“I would like to explore Blackwell’s backstory more, we didn’t get much of a chance to really dive into it and there’s just a lot left unanswered.”

Regina nodded, “I would also like that for Roni, and to further explore her relationship with Blackwell, we never really got the chance for that.”

Regina’s eyes widened at the blur of comments on the screen, most yelling things like Viva La PrivateSergeant and was it going to be canon?! And she chuckled, glancing over at Emma as she brushed her thumb over her hand, watching her face as it softened and her heart fluttered in her chest at the sight.

“I’d also like some fun undercover episodes, Blackwell would hate it and we know Roni would have a blast with it.”

“I must admit I rather enjoy breaking Blackwell’s balls.”

“I know,” Emma’s voice was lower, almost a deep growl and Regina’s stomach did flips, for some reason it set fire to her veins.

“It’s not my fault you’re both so easy,” Regina teased, her hand moving unconsciously to give Emma’s ear a little tug before running her thumb over the top of her ear.

“Face yourself and see how hard it is.” Regina smirked, a rather inappropriate comment stirring around in her mind and by the way Emma rolled her eyes she just knew she’d realized what she was thinking. “I hate you.”

Regina gave her ear another tug before dropping her hand back down to cover Emma’s. “No you don’t.”

Emma let out an annoyed sigh and Regina leaned forward to read the next comment she saw.

 


 

After the live they hung out a bit longer in the backyard until the late afternoon chill set in and they went inside, Regina heading toward the kitchen to make dinner and Emma followed after her, sitting at the island to watch her prepare the food in silence, there wasn’t any question whether or not Emma would join, it was just decided upon and Emma wasn’t going to argue.

She offered to help a few times but was told repeatedly ‘no’ since she’d made breakfast, so after the third time which resulted in a very convincing threat of pineapple on pizza, Emma decided to shut up and just rotate between watching and scrolling through twitter.

Emma didn’t see much on her official account but the second she decided to switch into the fan account she hadn’t used in a while, she was shocked into silence.

There were dozens of clips and screenshots of their live, along with other tweets, the one that first caught her eye was in all caps screaming that she was sure they were holding hands under the table, which they were, but how did they know that?

She watched the clip with the volume still down and watched her arm be pulled across Regina’s lap and felt heat rising to her cheeks.

They were repeatedly called cute or adorable, that was nothing new, really, but there was also Emma’s words quoted about Regina being the real source of the drawing for Roni, and a close up picture of her and Regina’s hands from an episode, charcoal on them both, and a cropped selfie of Emma’s zoomed in on the drawing of a naked woman she had on her mirror, luckily not much was shown, but Emma was going to be hanged by Regina if she found out about it.

But besides the theories and the screaming about how cute they were together, and the repeated shots of Regina tugging at her ear, well there was just a lot of love and support for what they’d said and it seemed to have rejuvenated their fight, just them supporting the ship and wishing to explore it more seemed to mean everything to the the fans and Emma didn’t fully understand it while at the same time she did, but she was sure Regina would, she always did.

 


 

Their little Instagram live got more attention than they ever thought it would, word that they were also fighting for the show got out and they both received messages from several media outlets requesting comments on it, which they jumped at.

Mary Margaret ended up becoming more vocal, even doing a few interviews herself, it became a cast effort to bring it back, the whole fandom backing them up as they went live, tweeted, talked to reporters for small websites and even as the weeks progressed, got invited to shows for interviews.

The spark never died, the fight seemed to just grow and grow, updates came in almost daily for word on their show, networks interested, deals offered and lost, because they wanted something Mary Margaret refused to bend on. Mostly, their little ship, she wanted it as a main focus and some networks did not.

Fans asked Netflix, Amazon, and even Hulu to revive their show, it was remarkable to watch, to be part of, a bond even stronger than before was formed between all of them. They did lives as much as possible, Regina even becoming more relaxed as she talked with the fans in some impromptu sessions.

When the day came that it was their time to head out to LA to be on a talk show, Regina was nervous but excited, Emma talked her through each point like she was her PR agent and it was oddly comforting.

They were sitting side by side on a large couch, the last guests of the day, a small segment but they took it, smiling brightly at the host and answering all their questions.

It was easy, maybe because they had each other, an unspoken language that had only grown since the last time they were sent out to do press. They communicated through looks and touch, unaware of what they were doing because it had just become so natural for them to reach out, a hand placed on a leg or arm, eyes communicating whole paragraphs.

An easy chemistry and flow that the host couldn’t resist mentioning, couldn’t resist who their fan base was and what they wanted to see in the next season. It was becoming obvious that they were the backbone of this whole thing and they were the ones drawing people in, their chemistry, their friendship, it made people intrigued, to want to get a piece of that action.

And they knew that, it’s why they had become so vocal, they were now just waiting for the right offer to come up… hoping it would be soon.

 


 

“I’m getting flashbacks to our press tour in September.”

Regina looked over at Emma who was sprawled out on one of the beds in their hotel room, part of her wondering why they’d chosen to stay there over their own places, because it was just easier or maybe it was because neither wanted to be away from the other.

“At least we don’t have to fly back at 5am to film.”

Emma leaned up on her elbows and Regina lowered her mug, her head tilting in question as she watched Emma silently.

“I kind of wish we did… I know either way we wouldn’t be filming right now but… I miss being on set, those people, I just… I need this to work.”

Regina sighed, taking the few short steps to Emma’s bed and sat down next to her, resting the mug in her lap she reached her right hand out and gently brushed Emma’s hair from her face. “I know… I do too.”

Emma shifted so all her weight was on one elbow so she could catch Regina’s hand in hers, holding it delicately between them.

“Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, that the show being saved is all up to us.”

“It’s not, it’s up to the networks and Mary Margaret and David.”

“I know…”

Regina squeezed Emma’s hand, her eyes softening as she met Emma’s, feeling a fluttering in her belly as Emma placed a chaste kiss to her knuckles and then gave her hand a little tug as she laid back down, pulling a chuckle deep from within Regina’s gut.

“Watch it, hot tea.”

“I am watching, sexy.”

Regina swatted Emma’s side and stood from the bed but Emma caught her hand to stop her and Regina looked down into her eyes and she couldn’t ignore the clenching of her heart, the silent request in Emma’s eyes.

“Fine,” she said, placing her mug on the bedside table and slipping off her glasses before she lowered herself back onto the bed and waited for Emma to scoot back just enough for her to lay down.

A deep sigh echoed through the room as Emma’s arm wrapped around her middle and she had no idea who it had come from, maybe both.

She shifted back a bit until she was completely flush with Emma’s front, her hand covering Emma’s on her belly as she felt Emma’s lips brush against her shoulder before burrowing her face in Regina’s hair, a sigh escaping her mouth and sending goosebumps down Regina’s body.

“If you tell anyone I let you spoon me…”

She felt Emma smile against her neck and she smiled too, moving her hand from Emma’s under her chin and Emma moved in tighter, tugging her closer to her body before her fingers drew lazy patterns on her belly, it was as comforting as it was maddening, her skin felt like it was on fire.

She tried not to think about it, about Emma like that, because they were friends now, best friends, her attraction needed to stay on its far back shelf in her mind so she didn’t do anything stupid and ruined one of the few good things in her life.

A quiet mantra filled her thoughts for a long time until Emma’s comforting touch seemed to push out any conscious thought and her eyelids became too heavy to even attempt to open. Everything became a mix of Emma, an intoxicating feeling that pulled her under, until she felt sleep tugging at the back of her mind, the last thing she felt was Emma’s lips brushing softly against her neck, a kiss or something else, she didn’t know, but the gesture grounded her, it wrapped around her mind and implanted in her dreams so they were filled only with Emma.

 


 

June 16th, 2017

 

 

They decided on movie night at Emma’s condo that week, Emma ordered from her favourite Indian restaurant and made sure her place was perfectly clean for when Regina arrived.

At exactly 6pm Regina knocked at her door and Emma rushed toward it, flinging it open and smiling brightly at the flawlessly dressed woman.

“You know you can just come in jeans, right?” Regina shrugged and brushed past her, nearly taking her out with her duffle bag that made Emma pause. “Whatcha got there?”

“Pyjamas to change into, change of clothes for tomorrow if I’m too tired to drive, toothbrush, the movies, and a Tupperware of freshly baked cookies.”

Emma chuckled, leaning against the closed door and watched Regina remove her shoes and wondering when they had gotten to overnight bag level but then she remembered she had started bringing the basics to Regina’s house somewhere back in April.

“I ordered in.”

Regina looked up at her, her hair falling in loose waves around her face, and Emma wanted to reach out and tuck it behind her ear. “I noticed, it smells wonderful.”

“Yeah, best place, you wanna get changed first?”

Regina nodded and grabbed her duffle from the bench, offering Emma a small smile. “I won’t be long.”

“Kay.”

Emma watched her silently slip into her bedroom before she turned around to set the food onto the coffee table along with plates and cutlery. She dropped to the floor, legs crossed as she opened each container and grabbed some food for herself, not turning as she heard Regina’s footsteps behind her.

“What is even the point of the island if you never use it?”

“I happen to prefer dinner and a show.” Emma smirked, turning to look at Regina when she saw movement in her peripheral vision and she nearly choked on her bite of buttered chicken.

So much leg, just right in front of her face, it was… not what Emma was expecting and she should be used to it by now but this was different because the little shorts Emma was used to, they were adorable but no, today Regina had decided on a black negligee, thin and silk and legs.

“Are you okay, darling?”

Emma nodded as a hand cautiously rubbed her back and Emma turned her eyes to stare at the blank TV. “Fine.”

Regina frowned at her but nodded, straightening up and moved toward Emma’s TV, bending over to place the movie in the DVD player and Emma’s eyes shot up to the ceiling.

She was wondering what she had done recently to deserve to be tortured like this, wondering if Regina was aware of her feelings, if she did these things on purpose or if she was just blissfully unaware of everything around her.

“I expect no complaints, Miss Swan, I sat through that robot movie of yours, you can sit through a classic such as this.”

“Robo– they were aliens!”

“They were robots that turned into cars, Emma.”

Alien robots!” Emma said, waving her fork around as Regina moved to sit down next to her, Emma glaring at her. “It’s a classic.”

“Transformers is not a classic, Casablanca is.”

Emma rolled her eyes and looked at the