Author Note: Set in the world they would have now on OUAT if the 'Dark Swan' storyline never happened and Emma and Killian weren't a couple. Enjoy & review!
"Have you been getting enough sleep?"
Emma looked up from her coffee, which she had been stirring for two full minutes, and blinked.
Regina sighed and cocked an eyebrow. She leaned forward.
"I mean this in the nicest way possible - you look like crap."
Emma chuckled and took a sip of coffee. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and nodded.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just being woken up by Neal a lot lately. He's teething."
"Ah." Regina leaned back in the booth and sipped her coffee.
Emma was lying. She lay awake until the early hours of the morning, the night feeling endless and rain pouring outside, wishing for something she knew would never come. Sometimes, she'd climb into the bug and drive past Regina's house. She'd sit in the cold outside in her car, engine off, waiting for Regina to bring her inside. To kiss her, finally. To ease her midnight sorrow and heartbreak. Because she was in love. And Regina would probably never know.
"Mhmm?" Emma snapped back to focus and saw Regina looking at her expectantly.
"I asked if Henry had told you about his chemistry project. Are you sure you're alright, dear?"
Dear. Emma knew that it wasn't a term of endearment so much as a part of Regina's vocabulary that came from her upbringing. That it didn't make Emma any different than someone Regina had ripped a heart out of. Except that's what she was doing now, without knowing it.
"Yeah, he did. Creative kid," Emma mumbled, taking another gulp of coffee. It burned her tongue, but she barely noticed. Her heart was pounding.
Regina frowned and reached out to touch Emma's wrist. Emma took the final gulp of coffee and jumped up from the table, dropping a crumpled $5 bill next to her empty mug.
"I'm sorry, I forgot that I have somewhere to be," Emma said, making a break for the door. Luckily, the other patrons at Granny's were too engaged in their conversations to really pay attention to what was happening.
Regina got up in a more ladylike fashion and speed-walked out of Granny's. Emma was halfway down the block, but Regina's boots had a low heel and she was determined.
Emma turned, blonde curls whipping her face. She could speed up and run towards the woods or she could face her problems for once in her life. She didn't have much time to choose.
"Emma," Regina repeated, coming to a jog and stopping in front of her. "What's wrong? You're acting stranger than normal."
"I… I don't want to talk about it. I'm sorry for leaving like that," Emma said. "I just -"
"Just what?," Regina asked. She had a kind look in her eyes. A let-me-help-you-solve-whatever-problem-you-have look. Warm and maternal and loving. It made Emma want to burst into tears.
"I know I don't have much to offer," Emma started quietly. "But I… I love you. And I want you to leave Robin for me. I want to be a family. You, me and Henry."
Regina looked stunned. Her beautiful crimson lips parted and she was speechless. Emma may have been the first person to ever render the queen speechless.
"Emma, I can't just -"
"Pick up and leave everything? You can. He has a child with your sister, who we both know will never let go of him."
Regina knew she was right. Deep down, in her heart of hearts, she knew. But she didn't want to.
"He didn't know - it's not his fault," Regina said, biting back tears. "And we can work past it."
"If it was meant to be, would it be this hard? Regina, we could work. It wouldn't be easy, but it would be way more worth it than this uphill battle you're fighting. I will give you everything, Regina. I will be open and a good co-parent and I will try to be better about doing laundry and I will be anything you need. Just leave him, please. Don't you see what I can bring?"
"Oh, Emma," Regina said softly, reaching for her hand. "I know you could do all those things. But…"
Emma shook her head and took a step back, her hands out of Regina's reach.
"But what? Do you know how it felt when we went and found him in New York? How I was torn apart when you called his name and ran into his arms?"
Regina knew heartbreak. Not that specific type, but she was sure that it had been painful. Like a dagger to the chest.
"Emma - look, it's not like I haven't thought about it, alright?," Regina said. She bit her lip. "I have. But I just can't."
Tears were forming in Emma's eyes.
"You don't have anything to prove. Leaving won't make you out to be weak. You'll be better off. Even if you're without him but not with me. Please, Regina," she pleaded. "Leave him."
Regina stepped forward and took Emma's hand in hers. "Emma, listen to me. You are special - a wonderful mother, strong, brave, fearless - and I admire you so much. And I do love you, but not the same way that I love him. And I need to see this through, for myself. For all he and I have been through."
Emma took a deep breath and tried to collect herself. The mature, adult thing to do is accept it and wait to fall apart until you're alone, she told herself. Be a grown-up about this.
She nodded slowly. "I understand," she choked out. Don't cry til you're alone. Don't do it.
Regina's face fell. She knew Emma was lying, trying to make it okay when it clearly wasn't. She pulled her hands from Regina's grasp gently and Regina almost whimpered.
"I have to go," Emma whispered. "Have a nice day, okay? I'll see you…"
She turned and walked away, stuffing her hands in her pockets. Not until she got into the bug did she break down in tears and lay her head against the steering wheel.
Regina got home and immediately went to her bedroom. She tore off her coat, scarf, black silk blouse and jeans and crawled into bed in her underwear, pulling the blankets around herself.
She loves you, you idiot. She opened up to you. Emma Swan, the human vault, was vulnerable. And you crushed her heart without even removing it from her chest. You're awful.
Her phone buzzed and she reluctantly got out of bed and fished it out from her purse. Crawling back into bed, she typed in her passcode and saw a text from Robin.
Robin: Hey love! Lunch at 1? We can have a picnic at the troll bridge.
Regina: I'm not feeling well, actually. I was about to take a nap.
Robin: Oh, dear. Can I bring you some soup?
Regina: Thank you, but I'm not hungry. I'll let you know if I feel better after I nap.
Robin: Alright. I love you!
Regina. Love you too.
Regina placed her phone on the nightstand and burrowed deeper into her blankets, trying to escape into the sweet release of sleep.
Emma sat in the bug on the troll bridge, playing Fruit Ninja on her phone. An inane task to partake in on a dark bridge at 11:27 p.m. and something she could be doing at home, but she needed to think away from her parents cooing over her baby brother. She loved them, but it was getting to be a headache to share such a small space. She couldn't just drink her pain away and watch a horror move like she usually did when she was upset. Of course, she did have booze in the backseat. But unless she wanted to sleep in her car on the bridge, she needed to stay sober tonight.
Someone knocked on her window and she dropped her phone. She picked it back up and switched on the flashlight.
Regina opened the car door and squinted. Emma quickly turned her flashlight app off.
"Um, hi," she said as Regina made herself comfortable in the passenger seat. "What are you-?"
The blue silk peaking out from under Regina's coat alerted Emma to the fact that Regina was wearing her pajamas.
"Emma," Regina said shakily. "You were right. I've been tossing and turning for hours and going over what you said."
Emma just stared at her. Regina had gotten out of bed and driven across town for her?
"How did you know where to find me?"
"There's only so many places in this town to brood late at night when you live in a cramped loft with a newborn and his hapless parents," Regina said with a bit of her trademark sass. Emma wanted to laugh, but she was still too shocked.
"Zelena will never let go of Robin," Regina continued. "And I've known it for some time now. You're right."
Emma sighed. "I'm sorry. I was too harsh earlier. It wasn't fair."
"It was," Regina said firmly. "We can't work past it and I shouldn't waste my time when there is someone who can give me what I need, who I can trust."
Emma blinked a few times. Regina's words hung in the air but neither one was doing a thing. Finally, Regina leaned in and kissed Emma on the lips gently. Emma kissed back, but barely, still processing what was happening.
"Emma, I'm so sorry," Regina whispered, pulling back. "When you walked away earlier, and your hands slipped away from mine, I felt… I was devastated. I felt like I was losing you forever. Like I had ruined you and broken your heart and lost my chance." A tear rolled down her cheek.
Emma reached out and wiped the tear away, a tiny smile making its face onto her face. "Really?"
Regina nodded. "Yes."
Emma's face broke into a grin. One of those oh-my-god-I-can't-even-believe-it grins. Regina smiled and laughed with relief. She leaned in to kiss Emma again, this time deeper. Emma murmured happily and fell into her.
"I meant what I said about not loving you and Robin the same way," Regina whispered in Emma's ear as Emma kissed her neck. "You feel like home. I love you like you've always been beside me, like family."
Emma cupped Regina's face. "Do you really mean that?"
Regina nodded. "I do. I'm going to leave him, Emma. I'm done."
Emma smiled and pressed a small kiss to Regina's lips.
"We can be good together, I promise. I meant every word I said," she said with a smile. Regina matched her smile with an even brighter one.
"No, we can be great," she whispered, stroking Emma's hair. "Thank you for showing me that."
Emma couldn't do anything but smile. She let go of Regina and tucked he hair behind her ears.
"So what now?"
"Now, we go home," Regina said. "Because it's frigid in this car and I have a lot of warm blankets and spiked cider and a big fireplace."
"I like that," Emma said. "Meet you at your place? I'm assuming your car is around here somewhere."
"Actually, I used magic to get here. I couldn't wait the time it would take to drive," Regina blushed.
"Oh, is that so?," Emma asked. She winked. "Well, buckle your seatbelt. Don't tell the mayor or the sheriff, but I'm gonna break the speed limit a little bit."
Regina laughed. "Secret's safe with me."
Emma started her car and took off down the road back to town. For the first time, she didn't feel alone.