Work Header

Close Quarters

Chapter Text


Emma was panicking. Not the sort of panicking where one would wave their arms in the air like Kermit the Frog while screaming. It was more of a silent internalized panicking that teetered on the edge of screaming out loud and running away. She kept looking at Regina, hoping the other woman would have something to say or at least do something. Emma made a jerking move to yank her hand away from Regina's, but her companion held on with a firm grasp. She knew she wasn’t the only one panicking. She could see Regina’s jaw tighten as she clenched her teeth together.

“No more running…” Regina mumbled to herself. Her hands were getting clammy. She could feel it and she was pretty sure Emma could too. Then, a sort of light went on over Regina’s features as she smiled calmly and walked over to where Elsa and Kida stood. “Hi, Elsa. I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure just how long you’d be before you got here. The ship won’t be boarding for a few more minutes, I think.”

Elsa folded her arms and smirked, “Regina Mills, you don’t get to use that sales smile on me. Can we please stop pretending that Emma isn’t your girlfriend now?”

“Wait, she knows?” Emma asked as her voice hitched an octave higher. “I thought no one knew.”

“I didn't know,” Elsa replied before Regina could defend herself. “But you’re both horrible at hiding it. You didn’t really think no one would pick up on it? Regina, do you even realize how little you smile unless you’re getting a text from Emma?”

“I... what? Are you serious?” Regina asked. She suddenly tilted her head towards Kida and frowned, “I’m so sorry you’re getting involved in this.”

Kida held her hands up and smiled, “Don’t mind me. I’m here for Elsa.”

The blow horn that signaled the boarding time of the Hornblower suddenly echoed across the pier. Regina’s timing had been wrong, but she couldn’t have been more thankful for it than she was now. Using the moment to break up the conversation, she suggested that they board the yacht and get a drink. She certainly felt like she needed one at this very moment.

Emma caught up with Regina as they walked down the pier to the yacht. “Are you sure about this?” she asked warily.

Regina nodded. “I can’t keep hiding us. I’m terrified of my own anxiety, but I’m only holding us back. We’ve been having so much fun this weekend. I would rather not go back to just pretending it’s not happening.” Emma visibly relaxed and took Regina’s hand in her own again. Regina flashed a quick smile towards the sheriff and held up their joined hands. “Just, don’t let go. Non-literally, of course.”

“One day at a time,” Emma reminded her. “We’ll live in the future tomorrow.”

Regina half snorted a laugh, “More wise words from Sheriff Swan?”

“Hmm… more like they’re my dad’s quips. He and mom really have these weird sayings and one-liners that they think are so clever. Their personal one is ‘I will always find you.’ Honestly, I think it’s kind of annoying.” Emma groaned. They walked onto the boat and moved to the side so that Elsa and Kida could catch up to them. The crowd of people that were also boarding had managed to separate the two couples, but at least gave Regina and Emma a moment to talk. 

Once Elsa and Kida caught up, they checked in with the hosts of the dining cabin to get seated at their table. They were seated near a window at a white linen table for four. Before Elsa could drill Regina again with questions, a woman in a black button up shirt that was obviously too big for her, approached their table; service was quick, but of course, they did only have three hours on the water to have dinner and entertain themselves. Regina promptly ordered a bottle of champagne to start their dinner. Of all things, she had to order the Dom Pèrignon. 

Elsa raised her eyebrow at Regina from across the table, signaling her disbelief that she ordered the most expensive thing on the champagne list. Either Regina was in a celebratory mood or she just threw her last care out of the window.

"Hey, so...Kida, it's good seeing you outside of Tiana's." Emma said, breaking the strange silence that settled amongst them.

Kida pushed an errant strand of platinum hair behind her ear and smiled. "Thanks. When Elsa asked me to come with her, Tiana immediately took me off the schedule so I could have the night off."

"That's really sweet of her. We all really like Tiana and her place is a great addition to the neighborhood." Regina said. She had lightened the clamping of her jaw on her teeth, but she was still feeling the tendrils of panic wriggling around in her stomach. It was a struggle, to suppress her emotions that felt as if they would drown her with their intensity. It was anxiety of her own built up worries, that she was fighting against. It took on a physical manifestation in her gut. But what was it really? Was it the idea of anyone knowing that she was in a relationship? Did she even really know the answer herself? She had told Emma that she wanted to not come out about their relationship for fear of her own preemptive thinking. That she was afraid of building walls too high for Emma to break down. Could there have been something more than just that? Regina wasn’t sure, but it lingered there in her heart, whispering more quiet words that made her anxious.

It wasn't long before the server returned with the bottle of champagne, glasses and an ice bucket on a stand. After ceremoniously opening the bottle and making a bit of small talk, they were served half a glass each and the remainder was left in the bucket to top off their glasses as they chatted. She took their orders for their entrees quickly, then finally left the table so they could talk.

Elsa folded her arms over her chest. "So, can we hear the story now?" She picked up her champagne glass and sipped at it, taking note of the bubbles that rose to the surface and released the scent of the wine. If going out to dinner with Regina had taught her anything, it was to never just drink anything without taking a moment to appreciate what it is. Now she found that it was her natural inclination to do so. 

Regina sighed in defeat, although she wasn't quite sure if she was actually being 'defeated.' She glanced at Emma for a moment, then gave her a reassuring smile. She would get through this and she wouldn’t keep her head down. Not this time. ”Okay, fine. Yes, we're dating."

"Since when?" Elsa urged, her smile growing bigger as she leaned forward. 

Emma shrugged, "Around the time that Regina's mom came to visit. She doesn't know, though."

"Actually..." Regina started hesitantly. "My sister knows."

Emma bit her lip. "Um... I know."

Elsa's focus darted back and forth between Regina and Emma as she quietly listened in. Regina narrowed her eyes at Emma and frowned. "What do you mean?"

"W-well, I mean I had an idea that she knows. Your sister didn't say anything outright, but, she definitely let me know the conditions of dating you." Emma confessed. Regina still looked confused and a little aggravated at this point. She picked up her champagne and took a bigger swig of the liquid, wincing as the carbonation hit her throat the wrong way. "When I drove you guys back to the St. Regis that last night your family was visiting, Zelena let me know she'd lay the law down if something were to happen to you."

Regina sat back in her seat and grumbled as she finished her champagne, which Emma quickly refilled halfway. "That sneaky ginger witch...the reason why she was that confident was because she saw us. She was sitting in that armchair in the living room and you can see the top of the stairs from it. I tried to play it off but she admitted she saw me kiss you that first time." Not even realizing her glass had gone empty and that Emma had refilled it, Regina took another large sip. Elsa and Kida passed a glance at each other and grinned. This was getting interesting.

“I don’t get it,” Elsa said as she took the champagne bottle and topped off everyone else’s glasses. “So this has been going on for a few months now… Why hide it? First off, you two are a really good looking couple. When we saw you outside, you look really happy…so, I guess I’m just confused about why you wouldn’t tell any of us. We’d all support you.” 

Regina bit her lip and looked out of the yacht’s window beside her. How could she tell her best friend that she’d been hiding her relationship? A new girlfriend should be something to be excited about, something that someone would share with their closest friends. But she had kept it from everyone, even Elsa. She’d have kept it from her sister if Zelena hadn’t been so criminally observant and sitting in the right place at the right time. Admitting the reality of being in a relationship with Emma Swan, accepting that she had feelings for the plucky blonde sheriff, and going so far as sharing it with friends would make it real. It would turn it into a tangible thing that they would have to face and accept. Regina hadn’t been sure she was ready to do that. She’d seen enough of her relationships go through a sort of emotional gauntlet and maybe there was a part of her that thought if she pretended it wasn’t happening, it wouldn’t ever go down in destructive flames.

But after the last day she had spent with Emma, just the two of them playing in the city and actually having the freedom to act like a couple, she realized that hiding was only keeping them from growing. The futures she imagined in her head could never exist if she never gave their relationship the chance to try to move towards a future. It was Emma who helped her see it. But she didn’t react the way she had expected. She was gentle and supportive; she gave firm advice but wasn’t forceful about it. There was no ultimatum or pushing towards a solution. It was only Emma quietly agreeing to stay beside her and to move at the same pace in their relationship. If they continued this, it remained to be seen. But that was the promise she was given now and that was what pushed Regina forward now.

It was Emma who spoke first, breaking the revelation of thought that had passed through Regina’s consciousness in mere moments. “We wanted to take things slow. I guess we were just being extra cautious because we live together. Could you imagine how weird things could get if we rushed into everything, started sleeping together and then broke up, but lived in the same house? Talk about uncomfortable!” She laughed, making the situation a bit more jovial. But in a brief moment, she caught Regina’s eye and smiled. It was her way of showing her support for the woman she cared about. For Regina, that spoke volumes.

“I think that’s really smart of you,” Kida said quietly. Elsa looked at her companion and smiled. Kida was slightly younger and still in college compared to herself. But the girl was wiser than she appeared and Elsa found it rather attractive in itself. “It’s weird, you know? We live in a society that’s now reliant on Tinder and iPhone apps to find a date. Then they hook up, go out for a few weeks and break up. The modern relationship barely lasts longer than a raindrop in California. What you’re building is something that is meant to last and I think that’s really important in this age.”

Elsa nodded in agreement, "Regina, if you and Emma want to keep things private still, we respect that. I just want you to know that your friends will support you. Mulan, Aurora.. Belle and Ruby, and of course, myself. We've all been watching the two of you and have been wondering when you would finally get together."

A sense of relief settled on Regina's shoulders and perhaps her entire body relaxed for it. She reached over and squeezed Emma's hand, then smiled at her friend across the table. "No, we're done hiding. We're probably not going to climb on top of the Golden Gate and shout it to the world, but there's no reason to pretend this isn't happening." 

Emma felt lighter somehow. She wasn't sure if she had been weighted down by their secret, but it certainly felt relieving to let it go. She leaned over and kissed Regina's temple lightly. "We'll tell the others personally, though. They're our friends and it's probably better if we tell them face to face instead of texting or something."

"All right, newlyweds," Elsa teased their starry eyed gazing. "This is now an official double date."

Time around them seemed to take its cue as the first course salads arrived. The champagne was gone, so the next moment Regina caught the attention of the server, she ordered a bottle of the highly acclaimed Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon for the table. Kida politely declined the empty glass and settled for water since she had to work the next morning. Elsa commended her on her sense of responsibility and playfully offered to drink her share of the wine.

They chatted throughout dinner, Regina and Emma regaling their jaunt through the Academy of Science and their excursion into the nightlife of the city the night before. Elsa shared the horror stories of putting together her sister’s wedding, since Anna still lacked the interest for the details beyond the reception and how much chocolate she wanted for dessert. They asked Kida about her major and she lectured them on her archaeology courses and how it was her dream to go on research digs in foreign countries. 

Music started up and all around the yacht, people got up from their tables to dance on the center dance floor. Given the size of the venue and the atmosphere of the crashing waves around the ship and the glow of the lights from the city, the whole room felt like some sort of elaborate wedding celebration. Elsa was determined to make the most out of the evening. She hardly ever went out, except to dinner once in awhile with Regina or Anna and Kristoff. Afternoon coffee at Tiana’s or movie night at Mulan’s was hardly worth calling a night out. She excused herself from the table and tugged Kida’s hand, guiding the younger girl out onto the dance floor. Regina and Emma watched for a bit as awkward dancer Kida tried to keep up with Elsa, who was surprisingly graceful. After a bit more urging from across the dance floor, Regina and Emma joined Elsa and Kida.

The music wasn’t like the upbeat Latin tunes from the Tonga Lounge or the jazzy swing music from the Top of the Mark. This time, it was a mix of top 40 pop songs from the last three decades that really added to the whole wedding reception vibe. The girls danced anyways, enjoying themselves and even breaking apart for a bit to dance with strangers. The other diners were friendly and whether they were dancing with men or women, everyone seemed to be having a good time. 

After some time on the dance floor, Regina ducked out by herself to the upper deck for some fresh air. She stood against the railing, admiring the city from across the water as the yacht passed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. She inhaled the crisp bay air, enjoying the sharp chill on her face. The music from below faintly passed through the glass windows and became a soft thumping beat in the background.

Dinner was not exactly something memorable as far as the food was concerned, but Regina was happy with how the day went, even if her secret relationship with Emma was out in the open now. She felt relaxed and relieved that she didn’t have to hide, although she reassured herself that it was for a good reason and it helped put a good foundation stone in for something much more meaningful and long lasting compared to her previous relationships. There was only once that she felt this sort of connection with anyone.

“Why are you out here all by your lonesome?” a voice asked behind her. Regina turned around and found Elsa walking up to her, holding her dress hem up as she glided towards her friend in some impressive ice blue heels.

“Cute shoes,” Regina commented as Elsa joined her side.

“Thanks. They were on sale at DSW. What are you doing out here? Emma’s quite the dancer. She may still be going at it with Kida and some random people on the dance floor.” Elsa laughed.

Regina folded her arms over her chest and leaned against the railing. “It was getting stuffy in there. I needed some fresh air.”

Elsa tilted her head to the side slightly and gave her friend a warm smile. “You look happy.”

The hotelier looked up at the night sky, through the splotchy clouds that blocked the starlight as she brushed a bit of hair away from her face. She looked back at Elsa and smiled back, “I am. I’m sorry I kept this a secret from you, Elsa. You’re my best friend and I really wanted to tell you.”

The platinum blonde waved her hand, “Stop apologizing, Regina. I get it. You’re not the only one who gets relationship anxiety. Honestly, I’m at a complete loss at what to do in this sort of situation, but luckily Kida is incredibly patient.”

“How’s that going, by the way?”

“Slowly. Which works out for both of us since I’ve got work, she’s got school and I really don’t know how to go about this whole dating thing. It’s pretty new to me. I’ll take any tips if you’ve got them.” Elsa grinned. “But I’ll be honest, Regina. I’m really glad you and Emma are together. It’s just one of those things that is so mismatched it’s perfect.”

Regina narrowed her eyes at Elsa and shivered slightly. “What do you mean?”

“You two are almost complete opposites. The rough and rugged sheriff with the high class city born hotelier? It’s almost right out of a movie. Like you two are the RomCom characters that clash heads and then over time and bickering, you grow into a loving relationship.” Elsa explained. She laughed at the idea in her own head. “I’d pre-purchase tickets for that.”

“What sort of title would that movie have?”

Elsa giggled, “Swan Queen?”

“I get the ‘Swan’ part because of Emma’s name but why ‘Queen?”

“Doesn't your name mean ‘Queen’?” Elsa asked as she craned her neck to the side with a smirk.

“Oh… you’re right, it does.” Regina laughed. “Thanks, by the way.”

“For what?”

Regina smiled. “For letting Emma and I have this weekend together. It would have been fun with you, but I think just spending time together really put some perspective into our relationship.”

Elsa shrugged a little and pushed back some hair that was blowing in her face with the wind. “It was unintentional, I really did have to sit Anna down and make her do some wedding arrangements with me. Kristoff was more involved than she was. But I’m glad it worked out for you.” 

“There you two are. We were looking all over for you.” Regina and Elsa turned around to find Emma and Kida half jogging towards them while both carrying two drinks. It was less jogging and more walking with energetic steps. Emma smiled as she approached her companion and offered her a drink. “Blanton’s Manhattan, on the rocks.”

Regina pouted, “I don’t drink my Manhattan on the rocks, though.”

“Trust me, it was safer this way. Wasn’t sure where you went, but Kida and I decided to get you two something to drink. Didn’t want to lose half of it walking around.” 

“How thoughtful. Thank you,” Elsa took the drink that Kida offered her and nodded slightly. “What is it?” She eyed the drink in her hands, which looked like water with ice.

“Sapphire and tonic,” Kida replied. “But if you’re not a fan of gin, this one is a Ketel One and tonic.” Holding up the similarly colored drink for Elsa to see, Kida pushed her long hair back with her free hand and shivered. 

Elsa smiled and sidled up to Kida’s side and pressed her side against her. “You’re cold. Why don’t we go inside?”

Kida nodded thankfully, “You’re not cold? You feel like ice.”

“The cold doesn’t bother me,” Elsa replied with a smile. “But let’s head in. I’d feel awful if your memory of our double date with these two is that you were turned into an ice statue.”

“Sounds like a good plan. Regina? Emma? Are you coming?” Kida asked. Elsa was already halfway towards the stairs that led back into the cabin.

“Be there in a second. We’ll meet you two at the table.” Emma said. Once they were gone, she turned back towards Regina who had her back against the railing and was quietly sipping at her Manhattan with a straw. “Has anyone ever told you that you look stunning?”

Regina half-laughed, “Is that the best you can come up with? Here I have a world class personality and you’re complimenting my looks? You’d think with all this feminism in California, you’d have come up with something better than that.”

Emma bit her lip nervously and took a sip of her whiskey. “Um… well, I didn’t really know what to say… but… I just…”

“Oh, relax.” Regina sighed as she stepped closer to Emma and kissed her lightly. She lingered for a few seconds more, just to enjoy the feel of Emma’s lips on hers for a moment longer. “You taste like whiskey,” she whispered.

The blonde laughed, “So do you.”

“This weekend has been amazing, Emma.” Regina said quietly. She pressed her forehead against Emma’s, purposefully keeping her lips just a breath away from the blonde that every word brushed her lips like spoken wisps.

Holding her drink in one hand and snaking her arm around Regina’s waist, Emma pulled the other woman closer to her so that their bodies were pressed together. “I’ll admit, I didn’t imagine we’d be here like this when I first moved in with Mulan and Aurora. But I’m glad things turned out the way they did.”

“What would you have done if I actually didn’t like you?” Regina asked with a devious smirk.

“Probably annoy the shit out of you because I would still constantly try to get your attention.” Emma laughed. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m incredibly stubborn.”

“No, I’ve definitely noticed that.” 

Emma leaned in and kissed Regina’s jaw before pulling her closer in an embrace. Regina was so focused on being held by Emma that she hardly noticed that it was cold anymore. Maybe it was still cold and she had gone numb or perhaps Emma Swan had a way of blocking it. Either way, all she could focus on was the woman who held her so close, as if she would float away if she didn’t. 

“Regina…” Emma whispered in her ear. “I…”

A lump formed in Regina’s throat in anticipation for what Emma might be saying. She guessed at it, wondered if Emma would actually go through with it and held her breath for moment trying to gauge her own reaction. If Emma said what she thinks she’s going to say, Regina had no idea how she would respond. Were they at that point in their relationship? She had always been wary of those words. She had only heard them sincerely, from one person before. All the others had said it half heartedly or as a way to try and preserve a relationship that Regina was already cutting off. Over time, they became just words. But right now, from Emma… if she were to say it, Regina was almost ready to believe it.

But the blonde seemed to be frozen in her own thought. Regina frowned slightly and kissed her cheek. “What is it?”

“I… sorry, I’m thinking of how to say what I want without my brain jumbling it all up,” Emma explained. “I think, after that first time I heard you sing that song… the Sam Smith one, after that I’d have done anything for as long as it takes to get you to like me.”

Regina laughed a little and touched her cold fingers to Emma’s cheek, “Emma Swan… I already liked you when I sang that. I remember it very clearly. I was driving back home from work and the thought just hit me. You irritated the hell out of me and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t like you had done anything to me. But I just felt drawn to you and being attracted to you certainly wasn’t the first thought that came into my mind. And then I realized that you irritated me because my own emotions didn’t know how to behave towards you. I didn’t know how to act towards you.” She kissed Emma again, smiling inwardly as she felt the other woman relax against her. She realized that she had been tense the entire time. “Well, you certainly didn’t make things better for yourself with your eBay comments.”

Emma blushed, “Sorry… I mean, I’m really sorry about that. I don’t think Mulan and I knew how to react. You kinda swept in with a lot of style and class with your suit and your Louboutin shoes and that Tesla. Which, by the way, I thought was incredibly hot and presumptuous at the same time.”

“Presumptuous?!” Regina slapped her open palm on Emma’s arm lightly. “You’re lucky I like you now.”

“Yeah, I really am lucky.” Emma replied. She kissed Regina again, this time lingering as long as she could, as if she could lose herself completely in the moment. She pulled away and smirked playfully, “So wait, you mean to say you were mean to me because you like me? You really are a 10-year-old boy in there!” 

Regina pulled away and took another drink from her glass. “You know, I was fantasizing about what we could do when we get back to the room, but now I’ll just keep it to myself.” She started walking back towards the stairs to the lower deck while Emma stood right where she left her with a gaping space in her arms where Regina had stood. She looked back to flash a devious smile at Emma before starting down the steps.

“H-hey! Wait! Reginaaaaa…” Emma whined, hurrying after her. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!”

The remainder of the dinner cruise was spent chatting with Elsa and Kida over their last drinks as the yacht did its last turn past Alcatraz and back towards the pier. After standing on the street under a light for a good twenty minutes finishing their conversation, Regina and Emma took an Lyft back to the Fairmont while Elsa and Kida walked back to where Elsa had parked her car. 

Chilled to the bone from being out on the water, Regina announced that she would warm up in the shower. The night wasn't even close to being over, but the day's activities were finally taking their toll. While Regina showered, Emma called down for a bit of late night room service. By the time Regina was done and changed into her pajamas, two Irish Coffees sat on the table in front of the television. Emma was curled up in her flannel pajama pants and a Giants t-shirt with her hair pulled up into a half-hearted bun. She looked up and saw that Regina was making full use of the luxury terrycloth robes the hotel provided. It was oversized, but she moved comfortably in it.

"What's this?" Regina asked with a smile, knowing full well what the cream topped drink was that Emma held up for her.

"Nightcap," Emma replied. She moved over on the couch to make room for her girlfriend. The fact she could give Regina that title made Emma grin, effectively convincing herself that she looked like an idiot.

"You haven't had enough to drink?" Regina asked as she settled into the couch next to Emma. The blonde still smelled of seawater and a faint hint of outdoorsy musk that somehow translated into allure in Regina's senses.

"We spread our drinks out so much that by the time we got in the Lyft, I was sober again." Emma took a sip of her coffee and winced as she burned her tongue slightly. "Not that I want to be drunk or anything. It's our last night here and I figured it'd be good to relax."

"It's been a good weekend. I'm glad we got to do this." Regina mused. She sipped at her drink and licked at the cream that managed to stick to her lips.

"Me too," Emma answered. She leaned forward and reached for the remote, lazily flipping through the late night hotel channels. Not that there wasn't much on. Anderson Cooper, a Metalocalypse rerun, old Family Guy episodes and infomercials were the bulk of what the simple channel selection had to offer. She flipped the channel again after a commercial for a Ninja chopper and blushed when the television showed a couple mid-sex scene. She checked the channel listing and rolled her eyes, "HBO. Go figure. Must be Real Sex reruns."

Regina smirked as Emma changed the channel again. "You can watch if you want. It's not like I'm a prude."

Emma shrugged, trying to play off her nervousness. She could still smell the shampoo in Regina's hair and having her so close was toying with her senses and better judgement. "I-I'm not into that kinda thing," she stuttered, obviously trying to cover up her interest.

"I thought you said this morning that you've fantasized about doing things to me," Regina teased her as she shifted her legs and somehow managed to loosen the robe around her, revealing her blatantly sexy nightwear. Emma swallowed a knot in her throat. Regina's nightwear was different from the yoga shorts and t-shirt she wore at home. Tonight it seemed as if the woman specifically pulled out a satin and lace chemise in royal purple with white embroidery at the laced edges. Regina leaned in closer to whisper in Emma's ear, as if she immediately could sense the blonde's nervousness. "Things like on the tv just now?"

Emma practically froze in place. She didn't know if she should respond, but she feared that if she did, she'd lose any semblance of self-control. Regina was definitely toying with her now. Emma’s deductive reasoning fired off questions in her head at a million thoughts per minute. Was she dreaming? Was there something in the Irish Coffee? Maybe she was passed out drunk and this was a hallucination? No. All of the answers were no. This was a real thing and Emma was too busy freaking out in her own head. She needed to focus. Suddenly things were happening at breakneck speed. The weekend shifted completely from having a secret relationship with incredibly G-rated intimacy to encroaching upon NC-17 territory. Regina leaned in and nipped at Emma's ear. The neurons in her brain fired so quickly that Emma nearly lost consciousness. She put her hands on Regina's shoulders and gently pushed her away. "Wait."

The look in Regina's eyes reflected utter confusion. Emma grimaced internally as the woman next to her frowned. "What...I don't understand... You mean you don't want to do this with me?" Her voice cracked slightly, doing little to mask her feelings of disappointment, unworthiness and rejection. Regina's exes had always found her irresistible. She had a consistent history of seducing a woman within one or two dates. Was her sexual appeal completely lost to the one woman she actually wanted to build a relationship with? All of her fears and anxieties took a new form. Now they began to manifest as feelings of being inadequate, unappealing, and worthless. She blamed herself. She pushed Emma in all sorts of directions and she never really made her feelings clear. This was going to end badly.

Emma noticed the change in Regina's behavior. It was instantaneous and incredibly obvious as Regina shifted from emanating sexual energy and aggressiveness to becoming withdrawn and on the brink of tears. She ran her hand through the back of Regina's hair, tangling her fingers through the dark waves and half curls. "God, no... That's not it at all. You... Jesus, I don't even know how to describe just how incredible you look and how turned on I am right now." Emma explained as she bit her lower lip. "I just want to make sure... Please don't do something you're not ready for just for me. Yes, I want you. But I want you to want me to want you...if that makes any sense. Oh my god, I'm talking in circles."

The relieving warmth of Emma's words resonated through Regina's body. The fear that was building up scurried back into the recesses of her mind. Her confidence returned and with it, the need to feel Emma's hands on her returned, even stronger than when she first got out of the shower. She removed her robe completely and although the air in the room was slightly cooler, her body felt like it was on fire. She slipped one leg over Emma's hips and straddled her thighs. The blonde's hand moved from being tangled in Regina's hair to fall comfortably at her waist. She touched her forehead to Emma's as she draped her arms over the other woman's shoulders. "Stop talking. I want you so much I can hardly think straight. I don't want to hold back anymore. So, please...don't you hold back either."

Regina took Emma’s other hand and placed it on her hip. Instinctively, Emma wrapped her arms around Regina completely and pulled her close, pressing their bodies together. She could feel the warmth of Regina’s skin, the comforting weight of her body and the seductive heat of her breath as she leaned in towards her neck. The moment Regina’s lips touched the skin on her neck below her ear, Emma’s sense of control flew out of  her hands. Everything she had been holding back came boiling to the surface of her consciousness and took over.

Emma turned her head to catch Regina’s lips with her own, establishing that familiar connection between them. Regina felt the change, even a slight one, in their kiss. It was laced with desire and it created a heat that spread from the center of her chest throughout her entire body. She wanted more. At this point, she could no longer be satisfied with just kissing Emma. She needed to touch her, to feel her completely. This was it and there was no turning back. 

“Whatever you want to do,” Regina whispered, “I’m all yours, Emma.” She received another impassioned kiss as an answer to her admission. Her heart raced and she could feel her skin tingle with excitement as Emma’s hands grazed the satin of her chemise down to the hem where the lace touched her thighs. Warm fingertips eased the lace edging upward to her hips and pushed the nightgown up to her waist. Emma pulled back from the kiss to look directly into Regina’s brown eyes. There was a lustful darkness there that drew Regina in, as if the bright green irises she had grown accustomed to were now beckoning her into a darkened forest that would swallow her completely…and she welcomed it. She wanted nothing more than to absorb Emma’s presence, her entire being and wrap herself securely in it. 

Emma rubbed her thumbs on Regina’s hips for a moment and she stared directly at the woman straddling her. She felt words wanting to tumble out of her mouth, but nothing sensible pieced itself together. There was nothing she could say at this moment that would make sense. Everything she wanted to say, she would have to do it with her hands and her lips. She moved her hands upwards on Regina’s waist, hooking her thumbs on the chemise to continue pulling towards the ultimate goal of removal. 

Growing somewhat impatient, Regina placed both of her hands on Emma’s and helped her pull the nightgown over her head, then held it out to the side before dropping it seductively. Emma sucked her breath inward as she took in the view of Regina’s bare, olive hued skin, the curve of her breasts, the barely visible definition of muscle on her stomach. Emma ran both of her hands along Regina’s back, purposely brushing her fingertips along her spine, causing the other woman to release a ragged sigh and arch her chest forward. She could feel Regina’s hips press into her. Her body was almost pleading for itself. Emma rewarded her eagerness as she place one hand beneath Regina’s breast, lifting it slightly to her lips. 

Regina felt like her body would melt from the touch. She leaned forward, scolding herself internally as the movement made Emma stop playing with her breast. Although she would’ve loved more attention, she wanted to feel Emma’s skin against hers. Regina reached behind Emma’s back and pulled her Giant’s shirt up and over her head. It also landed somewhere on the floor near Regina’s nightgown. Emma shivered slightly and pulled Regina against her for warmth. They sighed at the contact, enjoying the comforting sensation it gave them to feel their bodies pressed together. Regina leaned her head against Emma’s for a moment and smiled at her. There was a silly tickle in her heart that she could only equate to contentment. Then she bent down and bit gently at Emma’s neck. “I didn’t say we should stop…”

“We’re not,” Emma replied. She was surprised by the sound of her own voice, lost in its husky sensuality. “But these have to go.” Her fingers tugged at the royal purple panties that Regina still had on. 

Regina ran her hand through her hair as she slid off of Emma’s lap and stood up to shimmy out of the offending fabric. Once she had shed the one thing she had on, she returned to her position on Emma’s lap, straddling her legs and very literally opening herself up to the woman’s attention. But Emma didn’t want to squander the moment. She rubbed her fingers on Regina’s thighs and along her hips again. The need was too great and Regina’s voice came out as a pleading whimper to feel Emma’s hands. 

Using one hand to support Regina’s back, Emma ran her fingertips up along her waist, across her breasts and down the center muscle line of her stomach before stopping to tease Regina’s inner thigh. “You’re awful…” she growled.

“Shh…” Emma hissed quietly. Her fingertips explored Regina’s body. It was no surprise just how wet she had become, just by Emma teasing her. There would probably be payback for this, but Emma decided it was worth it. After a few moments of playing around, she was unable to resist herself either. She pulled Regina to her, drawing her down in another fervent kiss as she entered her with one slender finger. 

Regina let out a low growl, as the sensation sent shivers through her entire body. It was as if she waited for this for god knows how long, like it was some sort of unknown thing she craved without ever having experienced it. She pressed her hips into Emma again, riding her deeper. The blonde was surprisingly perceptive and slipped another finger into her. Regina shuddered and leaned her head on to Emma’s shoulder, wrapping her arms around her as if she was the only thing keeping her grounded. She reached up to tangle her fingers into Emma’s hair. Regina half snarled in frustration as the loose bun stopped the wandering of her hands. She managed to find the hair tie that held up Emma’s long, straw-colored locks and removed it as carefully as possible. Emma shivered slightly as her hair came cascading down her back and Regina’s fingers played across her scalp. Regina hardly noticed how her hips moved naturally, as Emma kept pace by curling her fingers into Regina’s core. Her thumb found its way onto her clit and she used it as an anchor while Regina rocked her body against her. She was close and they could both feel it. The pressure from Emma’s thumb cause Regina’s vision to go blurry as her climax rippled from Emma’s fingertips to her entire body. She cried out pleasurably into Emma’s shoulder, gripping her body tightly against her as she rode out the orgasm. Emma could hardly contain her own arousal, watching Regina shudder against her and slow the movement of her hips to a gentle rocking. She moved to pull her hand away, but Regina’s muscles tightened around her fingers, nearly locking them in place. 

“Don’t… move…” Regina sighed as her body stilled and she breathed deeply to calm her heart that raced uncontrollably. “You feel really good… I mean… I feel really good. Or… I’ll stop talking now.”

Emma smiled. She kissed Regina’s forehead as she let her lean against her for support. As her body began to relax, she moved her fingers just slightly. Regina shuddered again and sucked in her breath. “Sorry… I’m going to move my hand.” A silent nod was all she received before she slowly pulled her hand away. Regina sighed from the loss of contact, but she smiled contentedly. “You okay?”

Regina nodded again and kissed Emma’s neck from where she lay her head. She just needed a moment to catch her breath. That had to have been the first time that she came so hard that she couldn’t breath. But she wasn’t through with her girlfriend. Not yet. She kissed Emma’s neck again, then below her ear, then back down along her collarbone. Emma sighed in response and tilted her head back. 

Regina’s hands wandered down from Emma’s neck as she drew light lines across her shoulders and chest with her nails. Emma made a sort of satisfied humming noise as Regina trailed soft kisses along the lines she made across her chest, stopping briefly to give attention to each breast as she moved across her body. Emma reached up and brushed her hand through Regina’s hair, curling her fingers through her dark locks as her girlfriend slid off of the couch and onto the floor in front of her. 

“These need to go. They’re in my way.” Regina instructed, tugging loosely on the waistband of Emma’s flannel pants. With little hesitation, Emma shed the last few pieces of clothing she had on and shook out the tangles Regina had put into her hair. “I like your hair down like that.”

Emma blushed slightly as she settled back down onto the couch. “Really? It’s long and messy most of the time.”

Regina pushed herself up towards Emma and leaned forward for a soft kiss. She smiled as she pulled away, settling back down on her heels in front of Emma. “You look good no matter what. Now… enough talking. We weren’t finished.” Her hands slid onto Emma’s knees and up her thighs, gently pushing her legs apart. 

Emma pulled her breath inward, already self conscious about her state of undress and the obvious result of her arousal that was likely staining the couch. A creeping thought of how many other people may have used this couch for the same thing threatened to invade her mind, but she shook it out as quickly as possible. This was easily achieved as Regina playfully ran a fingertip through Emma’s wet center. 

Whether she audibly begged for it or if her body just gave Regina the signal, the other woman responded almost immediately with two fingers sliding into Emma’s heated core. Just the feeling of Regina’s fingers entering her was enough to black out Emma’s consciousness. She leaned back against the couch and closed her eyes as she idly played with Regina’s hair. Emma wasn’t sure if she really cried out the moment she felt Regina’s tongue touch her clit or if it was just in her head, but she knew she reacted. The sensation was so intoxicating that she was quite convinced that she had gone into some sort of trance. With her eyes closed and her senses only focusing on the heat of Regina’s tongue on her, the feeling of her fingers filling her and curling against her most sensitive places, Emma was so close to the edge she thought she might fall into an actual abyss. 

Regina, having had several flings and lovers throughout college, had always taken into account that not all women would be the same. But Emma, somehow, was something she had never experienced and she couldn’t get enough of her. The feeling of her body responding so willingly to her touch and the mere taste of her kiss, her skin, her wetness, was enough to give Regina a lustful high. The moment she touched her lips to Emma’s clit and sucked on it gently was the push into oblivion that made Emma arch her back and reach out for Regina’s shoulder. Her fingernails dug into her skin as she came, though Regina pushed her orgasm as far as she could by continuing to toy with her clit on her tongue and press into her rhythmically with her fingers.

Emma snapped her eyes open as her orgasm died down and her body became extremely sensitive to Regina’s touch. “Stop… I can’t…” she pleaded through raspy breaths.

Regina smiled to herself as she gave Emma’s inner thigh a final kiss before sitting back and slowing removing her fingers. She looked up to find the blonde with her head back, sweat forming in tiny droplets on her forehead and her hand over her chest as she tried to breathe. Satisfied with herself, Regina got up and titled her neck slightly to stretch it before sitting down next to Emma and wrapping her arms around her. “Are you okay? Breathe slowly.”

Emma laughed at herself. “I’m fine…I just need a moment.” After a few more slowed breaths, she yawned and drew in enough air to settle her lungs. “That.. was incredible. Definitely worth waiting for.”

Regina stood up again and held her hand out to Emma. “Come on… it’s cold out here. Let’s get into the bed.” 

“All right,” the blonde replied as she untangled her hair again, then reached down to collect their clothes. 

“Leave it,” Regina instructed. Emma looked up at her in confusion. It wasn’t like Regina to leave clothes laying around. Maybe she was too distracted to care? She wasn’t sure, but she left the clothes where they lay anyhow. “We can get them in the morning… I’d rather sleep with you like this.”

Fireworks went off in Emma’s head with the excitement of being able to sleep next to Regina with nothing between them. She followed her into the bedroom where, despite being completely naked, Regina still kept up with her routine of washing up and brushing her teeth before getting into bed. Emma did the same, although it felt weird to walk around completely naked. She had been used to walking around the house in her underwear, but not completely nude. She always had roommates or her family, so even wearing just her underwear was living it large. 

When she came out of the bathroom with minty fresh breath, clean hands and face, she found Regina curled up on her side under the covers. Emma slid in next to her, taking a moment to get used to the feeling of being naked in a foreign bed. Regina waited until her girlfriend was comfortable before moving her pillows around a bit to sleep closer to Emma. She found a spot as the little spoon and pressed her back into Emma’s torso. 

“You’re really warm,” Regina muttered quietly. “Except your hands. They’re freezing.”

Emma smirked and wrapped her arm around Regina’s waist, pulling her as close as possible. “They’ll warm up. Sometimes I’m like a heater.”

“I’ll kick you off if you burn me up in the middle of the night,” Regina warned her with a smirk. She pulled away for a moment to reach over and turn off the light beside the bed, then settled back into Emma’s arms. “Thank you, by the way.”

“For what?”

Regina shrugged, “For everything this weekend. Going out, drinking together, dancing…just everything.” She turned again to face Emma and kissed her softly. “Now that I know how incredible you are with those hands, too… you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of me.”

Emma laughed. “Hey, I’m stuck, too. I’ve found a girl with magic in her fingers and there’s no way I’m giving up on that.”

“I’m not staying with you just for the sex, you know. Which, I have to admit, was incredible. But don’t let that get to your head.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Regina smiled and turned one more time to resume her little spoon position. “I really do like you, Emma.”

“Me too, Regina.” Emma replied. She kissed Regina’s shoulder before laying her head down on the pillow and closing her eyes. “Goodnight, babe.” But the silence and soft breathing from her girlfriend was the only reply Emma got and it was more than enough.

Mulan and Aurora pulled into the driveway of the house, expecting to still find it empty. It was already 4:00 in the afternoon when they finally got home, but Regina’s Tesla and Emma’s Bug were both parked in front of the house. 

“Guess they came home early? Maybe the weekend wasn’t that fun.” Mulan said as she put her Fit into park.

“It’s movie night, remember? They’re probably waiting for us. I wonder if Belle and Ruby are here too.” Aurora pointed out.

“Oh my god, I totally forgot today was movie night! I hope they ordered a pizza or something. That food up in Napa was swanky, but I could totally use some grease.” Mulan unloaded their bags out of the trunk and purposely tried to be tough by carrying all of them at once. Aurora followed her to the door with Mushu in her arms.

“Well, hurry up and open the door. Mushu probably needs to pee.”

Mulan struggled with her key for a moment, then managed to unlock the door and push it open with her toe. Regina looked up from her spot on the couch and got up to hold the door open. “You know… you could’ve texted one of us to open the door for you.”

Aurora shrugged, “Mulan didn’t think of that.” She set Mushu down and he barked gratefully before running towards the back door. “Poor guy held it in the entire ride home.”

“Hey, you’re back!” another voice greeted them from the living room. Belle looked up over the back of the couch and waved. Elsa turned around as well to offer a greeting. “Sorry, it’s just us right now. Emma and Ruby went off to go buy some drinks and pick up dinner.”

“Thank god, we’re starving.” Mulan sighed. “What are we eating?”

“They’re getting Indian food from High Peaks Kitchen,” Regina answered as she closed the front door. “We ordered you some palak paneer, Aurora.”

“You guys are the best,” she grinned in response. “Let’s go get washed up and put our stuff away before Em and Ruby get back, Mulan.”

“Okay.” They disappeared into their bedroom while Regina returned to the living room with Elsa and Belle.

This week was Ruby’s turn to pick a movie, so Inglorious Bastards sat ready to be played while Regina, Belle and Elsa poured themselves a bottle of wine. Mulan and Aurora joined them soon after. Mulan grabbed a few beers from the fridge and a wine glass for her girlfriend. They were just getting settled when Ruby and Emma came through the front door with two paper bags full of food. The scent of curry permeated the brown bags as they set them down on the coffee table.

“Glad you guys made it back okay,” Emma said to Aurora as Mulan got up to get utensils for everyone. 

“The drive wasn’t so bad, but there was traffic come back. Napa’s a nice place to visit, but it’s so hoity-toity. It was a nice weekend. How was the city?”

Elsa smirked, “Dinner on the Hornblower was nice.”

Belle gasped, “Oh! Did Kida go with you? Is this a thing now?” She took the warm box of rice and tandoori chicken from Ruby who was pulling boxes out of one bag.

“Yes, Kida came with me. We had a good time. I don’t know if anything is ‘official’ but we’re just spending time together,” Elsa said as Emma handed her a box with lamb rogan and rice. “Thanks, Em.”

Mulan returned with utensils and plopped down on the floor next to Aurora’s feet. “I only heard part of the conversation. Anything else fun happen over the weekend?”

Ruby dug through the bag and pulled out two boxes of plain and garlic naan for everyone to share. “Oh, Belle and I went out to dinner at Dirty Water. Not too bad. Great drinks. Totally watched this guy try to propose and get turned down by his girl. It was kinda sad, but amusing at the same time.”

Emma pulled out two more boxes from the bag she had been digging through. In one box was her own chicken korma, then she handed another box to Regina and sat down next to her. “Here you go. I got you the lamb vindaloo since you didn’t answer my text.”

“Oh good, you read my mind,” Regina grinned as she took the box. “Thanks.” She leaned in and kissed Emma lightly before reaching over and picking up a fork from the center of the table.

Mulan’s jaw dropped. “Wait… wait, wait, wait, wait, WAIT. What the hell was that just now?”

Emma looked up with confusion. “What?”

Aurora reached down and gently tapped on Mulan’s jaw to remind her to close her mouth. “So…is there something you two wanna tell us?”

“Oh, right,” Regina said with a smirk. She knew they were going to ask and instead of trying to make a big ceremony out of it, she and Emma had agreed to just be natural with it. “Yes, this is actually a thing now. I’m dating Emma.”

Ruby slapped her hand to her forehead, “God damn it, Emma! You made me lose $50!” She reached into her wallet and pulled out a $50 bill she had been holding and passed it to Mulan. “But I’m totally happy for you.”

“What the hell?”

Mulan laughed, “Guys, we’ve had a feeling you two were seeing each other for like, hella weeks. Ruby and I made a bet if Emma would actually say anything to her cause you’re work-wives. I bet that you wouldn’t say anything to her.”

Emma laughed, “Sorry, Rubes. I hadn’t even told my mom and you know how she always manages to get everything out of me.”

“So, why was it a big secret?” Belle asked as she opened up her dinner. “Mulan’s right though. We all had a feeling you two were dating already.”

“We had our reasons. We weren’t ready to tell anyone if we weren’t even sure what we were doing,” Regina explained. She tried to make it as simple as possible. 

Mulan looked over at Elsa, who was the only one not reacting and was neatly mixing her sauces into her rice. “Did you know, Elsa?”

The platinum blonde looked up and smiled, “Not until this weekend. I mean, I had a feeling. We all did. But it just so happened that my timing is impeccable.”

“Actually, the only person who knew was my sister. But that’s also because she’s frighteningly observant.” Regina said.

“Yeah, she is,” Emma grumbled. 

Regina laughed as she rubbed her hand along Emma’s back. “Relax, she’s a harmless monster. Zelena’s all talk.”

Mulan was grinning from ear to ear, holding her hands to her mouth as if trying to hide behind them. She looked up at Aurora who was smiling back at her. “The ship!” Aurora cheered.

“It sailed!” Mulan answered. She giggled excitedly, “Augh, you guys are so cute I can’t stand it! It’s like we’ve been waiting for this to happen and now that it’s a thing I’m so giddy! Sorry, I’m like a little kid.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Thanks, I think. But I’m glad we’ve got you guys as friends and that you’re all supportive of it. Do you know how awkward it is when your friends don’t like your girlfriend? Seriously, it’s so weird. You five, you’re good friends.”

“Yeah, friends who are hungry and want to watch Tarantino!” Ruby insisted.

“All right, all right,” Regina laughed as she picked up the remote and pushed play. “Since it was your week to pick the movie, Ruby.”

“Now it’s official,” Emma said quietly as she leaned into Regina’s side slightly. Her girlfriend smiled back at her before pushing her back with her shoulder. 

“Now it means that I can do this,” Regina grinned as she reached over and stabbed a piece of Emma’s chicken with her fork and popped it into her mouth. “I like being ‘official.”

“Shh!” Ruby hissed, “Tarantino time!”

Regina rolled her eyes at Ruby and grinned. It was the perfect way to end one of the best weekend of her life. Surrounded by the best friends she’s had since she was a child, a girlfriend who made every thing around her feel like new and a house filled of warmth, comfort and the family she found out here in California. Leaving New York was worth this and for once, Regina didn’t have a single regret.