Once again my refusal to write something cute ended up being ridiculously cute. Maybe I'm sorry, maybe I'm not. Someone has probably written something like this before but I haven't read any so hopefully this isn't too similar to anyone else's work.
Emma had known this subject would have to come up at some point, she just hadn't expected it to be quite so soon. She hadn't quite prepared herself for the accusing tones and the not-so-subtle glares that she knew all too well would be aimed in her direction from the people she cared about most.
"You're planning to go back to New York?" Regina questioned, appearing at her side in the buzzing diner with a perfectly arched eyebrow as soon as she'd heard David mention the possibility of her leaving, again, with Henry.
"I don't think we should talk about this right now," Emma insisted. Today was supposed to be about Snow and David celebrating her new baby brother; it was not supposed to turn into another argument about all the things she was doing wrong with her life. "Just drop it, ok?"
She should have known better, it was who they were. Even in the midst of a high profile public event (as far as the little fairy tale town in Maine went), none of them were ever going to 'drop it' and expecting them to just be ok with it was wrong. If they didn't let out their frustrations at her the thoughts would swim around in their heads until she did decide to bring it up or until someone, most likely Snow, made a snide comment, and then it would only get worse.
Snow, Henry, and Hook all tried to talk first over the top of each other with similar questions along the lines of 'why' and 'when'. Both David and Robin stayed quiet, looking sheepish with no apparent way to drive the conversation down a less explosive route.
Then there was Regina, whose voice she heard the clearest amongst them all. "Emma," was all she said and it sounded aspirated, like she wasn't sure herself if it was the beginning or the end of a sentence. She didn't know where to start or how to finish. She sounded the way Emma felt.
"Don't," she pleaded, shaking her head and making her way out of Granny's into the cool afternoon air in an attempt to calm her mind. Taking in her too-sweet surroundings; the fairy lights that draped the shrubbery and lit up the evenings, the quiet roads, the proud sign announcing the towns name to all who resided there, the gentle ticking from the clock tower in the distance that acted as a source of comfort – Emma let herself become consumed with only a few of the things she would be leaving behind.
She knew she was disappointing them all again by not being the person they wanted her to be. She knew she should take some responsibility for that at least and explain her reasons to help them understand that it wasn't because she didn't want to be around them, it was just the way things had to be. Snow had said it herself plenty of times; she had given Emma up so that she would have her best chance in life. And now Emma would give them up so that they could have their best chance, so that they could be the family they always wanted without her there to get in the way and cause more trouble. So that Henry could have a normal life and Regina could be with Robin and Hook could go back to doing whatever it was that he did, sailing the seas and searching for treasure probably and finally stop chasing her around. This couldn't be her home, not when she would only be making things worse for everyone else by staying.
The door swung open behind her and slammed shut shortly after in rushed sounding movements. She heard Regina's husky voice call after her again, "Emma!" She had followed her out, Emma knew she would, and then came the click of those ridiculously high heels she wore to give her what she deemed 'a more authoritative stance', as if anyone besides Emma ever noticed how small she could become while she was reminding them of exactly who was in charge.
To everyone else Regina was the fierce woman who wouldn't hesitate to follow through with her threats, she was the Evil Queen, she was the woman who they flinched away from when she so much as twitched an eyebrow for fear that a murderous entity of the magical variety would release its wrath upon them and their loved ones. But she was not that person to Emma, never to Emma. Yes, she knew that version of Regina still lurked inside her, it was a part of her the way the foster kid who didn't belong would always be a part of Emma, but she was not a murderous evil villain. It was easy for everyone else to forget they came from different worlds when the fairy tale land and story book characters around them were all they had ever known, but for Emma she knew and understood the stark difference between that and the real world, the world she still considered 'hers'. The rules were different here and possession of magic made them even more different still. It didn't excuse what crimes Regina had committed in the past, and goodness knows there were plenty of them, but it did make the whole situation a lot more complicated than good and evil, black and white when there were other factors involved.
Emma paused and turned towards Regina, giving her enough time to catch up. "What do you think you're doing?" Regina asked when she reached her. Her voice was harsh but not in the way Emma expected. She sounded upset, afraid even, but not angry. She had expected that deeper tone Regina got when things weren't going her way and she was unable to control them but she was going to try to anyway. She had expected her to be shaking in anger, refusing to let her have any say in Henry's welfare without her consent although Emma had thought they were both over that now (and apparently she had been right).
Emma resisted the urge to roll her eyes and spit something about going for a walk, knowing it wouldn't be appreciated right now. After all these years she had grown to know when to pick her battles against Regina.
Emma sighed. "New York is better for everyone. Henry had friends there, he was doing well in school, it was safer for him, and now Snow and David have the baby, they don't need me taking up space in their apartment. They might think they want me to stay right now but eventually they'll want me to leave anyway, that's what happens when people replace you with something better."
"That's not true," Regina told her, sounding confused and yet there was understanding there, as if she could see where the blonde was coming from. "They haven't replaced you; you're part of them, part of their family. Not even they could do that as much as I might have insisted otherwise at one point." The skin between Regina's eyebrows crinkled as she went on, thinking of how the King had used her to replace Snow's mother, but then she was reminded of the way Snow took after her mother with as much fairness and grace as she could muster in any given situation, even when it didn't seem to come as naturally to her. She may be stubborn and self-centred and naïve at times but it was overshadowed by how much she had to care about everything, traits Emma had inherited though in a different way. Where Snow was taught to be open in her affections to show sympathy and kindness towards all people, Emma ran partly for fear of hurting other people and partly for fear of being hurt herself. "You have everything here, your family, your friends and Henry was doing just fine before New York, curse or no curse. You can't just run every time you feel on edge," Regina continued.
"That's not what I'm doing," Emma ground out in response. "This is what's best for everyone." At this point she was no longer sure who she was trying to convince more, herself or Regina who had a way of making her feel at ease even when she wanted to scream in her face. Her eyes fixed on a distant point in a feeble attempt to not give her uncertainty away. "There's nothing keeping me here. I feel like I'm constantly waiting for something, a sign, anything to tell me this is where I'm supposed to be and why."
Emma smiled painfully and Regina took a step forward as if she wanted to reach out to her but wasn't quite sure how to yet. "What do you want me to say?"
"There's nothing you can say," Emma spoke defeatedly, looking as though she wanted to walk away again.
"Then talk to me," Regina seemed to beg and something inside Emma felt as though it were snapping from hearing the desperation in the voice of someone who was usually so strong in any given situation, desperation that she never thought anyone, especially not someone like Regina, could feel towards her.
Emma frowned, not sure where to begin or if there was even anything she could say herself. Her mouth opened and closed a few times until she noticed Regina's lips had drawn into a thin line, displeased with her goldfish impression. In the end she managed to choke out, "It's not as if you even care whether I go or stay as long as Henry's here, right? It doesn't matter."
"It matters, Emma. You matter." The confusion reappeared on Regina's face as she spoke. "I want you to stay and not just because of Henry." She tried to catch the blonde's eyes as she spoke in an attempt to make her understand in that way only she ever seemed to be able to and gulped as though it were difficult for her to continue. "I've tried so hard to get along with everyone else in this town, and it's getting better, but with you I don't have to try. With you, everything is easier, everything has always been easier. I want you to stay," she repeated her earlier words.
"Then give me a reason." Emma's eyes glistened with tears and now she was the one who was begging. She knew what she wanted Regina to say, she could feel it always lingering in the atmosphere between them, but she didn't want to push too hard. She was too afraid that her feelings would be one sided or once again lead her to getting hurt like she had been with everyone else; being given up by her parents, being given up by potential adoptive families, Neal leaving her and then dying, Graham dying, giving up Henry, the list could go on. She needed to know. She needed Regina to vocalise the three words she felt.
She knew it wasn't fair to need Regina to be the one to take the first step. After all, they were both as broken as each other, destined at this point to never be completely whole because they had both lost so much. But this was the only way she could think of to settle things. If what she felt was real then maybe she wouldn't feel such a strong urge to run, to protect herself, because this time she wouldn't be feeling it alone.
"Because you make me want to be better, because you believed in me when no one else did, because I care about you, because…" Regina caught Emma's eyes with her own and locked onto them as she stammered, "because," deep breath, "I love you."
Emma's head was shaking in disbelief, her loose hair whipping against her cheeks as tears began to lightly fall and a sad smile crept onto her face. Regina caught her breath and stepped forward again, knowing this time she was able to reach out and take Emma's face in her hands. "Go, if you think that's what'll make you happy then go back to New York, I can't stop you, not really, but I love you and I want you to stay," she explained with a steadier voice and more certainty in her words than before, her eyes still fixed longingly onto Emma's.
Emma lurched forward, crashing their lips together and sinking her hand into the back of Regina's hair just enough to grip onto it, taking pleasure in the way Regina so willingly allowed her to take control, in the way she had to reach up slightly to maintain the contact with Emma even in those heels, in how her body moulded against her own. None of this was going to be easy but in the end she knew it was going to be okay.
They kissed each other with the type of urgency that could only come from three years of pent up frustration, from three long years of being so close and so far apart at the same time, both feeling the reluctance in the other to pull away, not caring if anyone saw them from the window of the diner.
When they finally came up for air, Emma murmured against her mouth, "You make me happy," in response to Regina's earlier statement, almost moaning at the sound of Regina's heavy breathing, their lips just barely whispering against each other's. "God, Regina, one dumb argument with you makes me happier than a lifetime in New York ever could." Just like that all the other excuses that had been swimming around in her head convincing her to leave disappeared. This was her home. This was where her heart was. This was where she belonged, right here with her family, her parents, her brother, her son, and Regina.
Regina cleared her throat. "I think we should go back inside," she shivered, unsure whether it was from the cold or her proximity with Emma who was about to answer her when something lit up in the distance, catching the corners of their eyes.
They both turned their heads towards the funnel of light shooting up into the sky.
"Magic," they breathed in unified bewilderment.
Hopefully this is in character as Regina has been a lot... shall we say tamer? lately. And I hope it didn't sound emotionally blackmailing because I was aware it could come across like that so I tried to steer clear. If you think it does and have a way I can alter it, please let me know.
Don't forget to leave a review, lovely or not I will love you for it either way! Don't be afraid *narrows eyes*.