I know. I know. It's been more than a year since we've posted, but things got crazy and hectic for us and then election season took over and that was mentally exhausting, for all of us. We've been hyper-focused on the news, quietly typing and brainstorming away on this story but never quite having the energy to finalize a chapter. BUT we have been writing and with this recent EXCITING news, we were so happy that we wanted to keep the good news coming! So we've updated and have three additional chapters already written! So, do yourself a favor, re-read the last or two, even we had to, and then enjoy this new update!

We always love your comments and feedback so feel free to leave your thoughts! Until next time!

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"Are you sure they're closed?"

"Even if they weren't dear, your hand is covering them."

"Oh yeah," Emma laughs and she can feel her breath on her neck. It feels just as safe as it does sexy.

"Alright, are you ready?"

"Emma," she exasperates and Emma places a quick kiss to her cheek and places her left hand on her stomach, just before removing her right hand from her eyes.

It takes a moment to adjust her eyes, but when she finally does, they immediately well up with tears.

"Oh my god."

It's...so much better than anything she could've possibly imagined.

The walls are a forest green, and just like Emma had said, there were strings of animals that filled the walls: giraffes, snakes meandering up the tree and even a lion mid roar.

But the best part, the very best part is the family of five monkeys, linked together from one tree to another all holding the reddish-green fruit, and spelled across each one is M-A-N-G-O.

"Em."

Emma's right hand comes to her waist and, out of what's become habit, she covers both of hers with her own hands.

"Em, I cannot believe you did all of this. It's...incredible."

"Well, I can't take too much credit! Belle's drawing made it so easy. The hardest part was just the edges, but she and Ruby were lifesavers."

"We need to get them something to thank them. This is...this is too much."

She shakes her head. "No such thing for this one."

Fingers lightly tap her stomach and she sighs. Never in a million years did she dream she'd be this happy.

Things between them have been perfect over the last week. No tears, no dramatic reappearances of ex-boyfriends or ex-best friends. Just them.

And if these past 7 days are anything to go by, then she could do this. They could surely do this.

"I have to admit, it came out even better than I expected! And now that the room is done...you know what that means…," Emma comes around and faces her, wagging her eyebrows.

She can't help but throw her head back in laughter.

Emma has been asking, or rather begging, to go shopping. She's been dying to fill the drawers of the dresser they had already picked out.

"Emma."

"Oh come on! You said after we were done decorating we could get little clothes and lil tiny baby shoes. You said."

Her hands effortlessly find Emma's waist, pulling her in.

"And I'm not going back on that, but I don't want you to go overboard on shopping. That's what baby showers are for. Our friends are going to buy us so many clothes, Mango probably won't be able to wear it all because she'll grow out of it too quickly."

"Babe, come on! It's our first kid! We're expected to go overboard!"

She sighs, knowing very well she isn't going to win this battle.

"Fine. Fine. But I'm enforcing a $100 limit and I expect receipts."

"What?! No, I'm not respecting that boundary and also I'm not going alone!"

"Em, I'm tired. The kids put me through the wringer today. Every time I asked them to do anything, it was nothing but tears and screaming. I'm in no mood."

Emma looks at her thoughtfully and she's sure she's going to try to talk her into it, but after almost a full minute, she just nods.

"Okay, tell you what. We'll postpone baby shopping and...I'm gonna fix this."

Her brow furrows, "Fix what?"

"Your bad day."

"Well, I wouldn't call it ba-,"

"Bad, long, troublesome, whatever you want to call it, your girl's got the cure."

Emma takes her hand and guides her back out of the room and down the stairs.

She's not one for surprises or deviations from the plan, but Emma calling herself her girl is doing something to her and so she decides that whatever Emma has in mind, short of shopping, will be a yes.

"What are we doing then?"

"Well you, my dear, are doing absolutely...nothing."

"Nothing? Em, I need to make dinn-,"

Emma shakes her head and pushes her gently until she's sitting on the couch. She watches as Emma pushes the chaise closer so that she can kick her feet up, which she also assists with.

"Nope, nope, nope. Absolutely not. I'll take care of dinner, and the dishes and anything else you may need me to do, but you are going to relax tonight and let me handle everything else."

"Em-,"

"Nope," Emma shakes her head resolutely and grabs the TV remote, turning it to her favorite guilty pleasure: Property Brothers.

"You sit back and enjoy an evening of relaxation. You deserve it."

She leans down to place a kiss on her forehead before disappearing to the kitchen.

After a few minutes of listening for grumbling or complaining or any signs of Emma struggling in the kitchen, the only sounds that emit are the soft clanging of pots and pans.

She gives it another 5 minutes before finally settling back into the couch and enjoying the episode in front of her.

I could get used to this.


"Alright, I know it's forbidden, but dinner is served."

"Emma not on the-,"

"Come on, we're both adults. We can eat on the couch just once. Plus, you can't tell me you're not totally comfy."

She sighs, unwilling to admit that she finally got the pillow in the perfect spot to support her back.

"Fine. Just this once. "

Emma sits down next to her, setting down her glass of water on the hardwood next to the couch.

"Are you not eating, dear?"

"Nope, I am. But I'm gonna feed you and figured it was easier with just one plate in my lap. I told you, I'm taking care of everything tonight."

"Emma, rough day or not, I can surely feed myself."

"Yeah, but it's your night. You shouldn't have to lift a finger."

"My night?" She arches an eyebrow.

"Yes, I'm officially dubbing this baby mama Monday."

She rolls her eyes. "I'm afraid to ask what that means."

"It means you, dear , can have whatever you want tonight. You want to be fed?" Emma lifts the fork of spaghetti (one of 4 dishes she can cook successfully) to her lips and she wastes no time parting her lips.

"Then I'll feed you."

She's surprised at just how good the pasta is and moans in appreciation.

"You want a foot rub? I'm on it. You want a bubble bath, I can run that for you."

"Mm. Let me guess, you'll also graciously jump in to help me?"

Emma's lips turn up as she puts another fork full to her lips.

"Only if I'm invited. It's your night, babe."

Regina rolls her eyes but accepts the bite anyway, swooning hopelessly when Emma uses her thumb to wipe a bit of the sauce from her chin.

And then her stomach tightens as she watches Emma suck it off of her finger.

It's not meant to be sexy. That much is obvious by the way that Emma isn't even looking at her, but that doesn't stop the visceral reaction within her.

She hates how much Emma affects her, even when she's not trying. She sighs at herself and vows to blame it on the hormones.

"So, uh, how was your day?"

Emma immediately looks up, eyes wide. "Oh my God! Yes, my day! That reminds me that I have something for you!"

Her heart nearly stops as Emma all but throws the plate onto the couch as she gets up. She grabs it to avoid a mess, but has to admit, she has enjoyed being fed so she'll wait until Emma comes back to have another bite.

"Okay, okay. Eyes closed!"

"Emma, no. Just give me whatever it is."

Emma sighs but doesn't put up a fight. "Okay fine. Whatever. Ruin this amazing surprise."

"I will. Give it to me."

Emma hands over a large envelope and she doesn't control her eye roll.

"Em, since it's apparently my night, I'm putting a hiatus on baby pamphlets and other child-related literature. I just don't have it in me tonight."

"Okay, first of all, thank you for accepting that I'm making baby mama Mondays a thing."

"That's a very tentative title," she interjects.

"Second of all, just open it! I swear it's nothing baby related."

She narrows her eyes in warning, "It better not be."

"It's not. Well, at least, not directly."

She sighs as she runs her fingers under the tab of the envelope to find that it's already been opened. She flips it open and pulls out a letter and booklet.

"What is this?"

"Just read it, woman!" Emma's bouncing on her knees now and that makes her even more anxious.

"Dear Emma, thank you so much for your interest in returning to IMG Modeling Agency. As you know, our scouting process is rigorous and less than 2% of applicants are accepted each year, which is why we want to congratulate you on being chosen to join our prestigious and world-renowned team! We are excited to welcome you back and hope that you'll enjoy this complimentary care package as our way of saying "congratulations." You can expect more inform-Emma, this," she looks up to find her biting her lip, clearly anxious.

"Emma. I know you threw it out the other day at lunch, but I had no idea this was something you were actually interested in pursuing."

"Yeah, well, I mean I needed a job and I really did love working on that Calvin shoot. I was younger then and didn't take it seriously enough and thought that paycheck would last forever because I'd never seen so much money in my life. But, with Mango on the way, I needed something that was good money but also allowed me to make my own schedule. I've worked with them before and they're great. I get brand preferences and can put a hard stop on my shoots and I can take time off whenever I want. There's a little bit of travel, but it should never be longer than a few days at a time and that's just when we're into a good groove with Mango. Just if you're comfortable with it. Seriously."

It's obvious that Emma is nervous, but the excitement lights up her eyes and it makes her giddy as well.

"This is wonderful. Really, Emma, I certainly hope this doesn't sound condescending, but I am so proud of you, dear."

Emma blushes and tries to distract from her obvious embarrassment by reaching for the plate in her lap, creating a spoonful.

Emma holds it out to her, but she shakes her head and proceeds to peruse through the booklet.

"Wow, they've worked with some amazing models in the past. Is this something you see yourself making a career of or is it just a right-now thing?"

"Mm," she patiently waits until Emma is done chewing, "I don't really know right now. I mean, I really do love it. It's fun and I find it easy, but I don't know if I'd want to do it forever, you know? But it's definitely great right now while I figure everything out. I was also thinking of maybe taking a couple of online courses too. Again, just after we get into a good groove with the baby. But...yeah."

She shrugs casually and her attempt at being so blase has her curious. "What kind of courses?"

"Oh, I don't know. I know it's gonna sound silly or crazy or whatever, but I was...a long time ago, I wanted to go to film school. I wanted to be the female Stephen Speilberg."

Her eyebrows jump at that. "Really?!"

She laughs and holds out the fork for her to take another bite; this one she accepts.

"Yeah, really. When I...when I first moved in with Ingrid, I was still sort of unsure of everything. Unsure if it would last, if she would keep her word about me staying with her and so I would still act out. Still ditch school, still talk back to teachers. So one day, they finally had to suspend me. I had a ton of work to do and couldn't go to school and obviously, Ingrid knew I wouldn't do it if I was at home by myself so she brought me to set. I'd sit in her chair on set and do my work, but honestly, it was all so interesting that I got almost nothing accomplished. I'd just watch the crew work for hours, but especially the director. I always thought the director was just a camera guy, but the woman who was directing on this set was incredible. She had her hands in everything. She would angle the camera, she'd position the actors or show them how she thought the lines should be delivered, she'd suggest songs to the guy in charge of the music. It was all just so awesome. And ever since then, I've wanted to work as a director. But you have to go to school for that and I'm not really the school type. But...I'm not going to be young and beautiful forever. Gotta start thinking of what's next past selling these good looks for money."

She rolls her eyes at that. "Forever young? No. Beautiful? Always."

Emma chuckles at that and hides another blush by looking down at the almost empty plate, gathering one more forkful of pasta.

"Ew, shut up."

They both share a laugh and finish dinner in silence.


"Kat, I kid you not, Emma is going to be the death of me."

"Oh, Lord! What did she do now?"

"That's just it. Nothing. Everything! I mean, this woman drew me a honey and lavender bath and put on some smooth jazz. She's currently doing the dishes and I'm enjoying what she's now dubbed 'Baby Mama Monday.' It's like, every time I think I can't love her any more, I find a way to love her a little more. It's really becoming annoying."

Kat laughs on the other line and she leans back and closes her eyes.

"Okay, I'm not going to lie. That sounds incredible. I don't think Jeff has done anything that romantic since we first started dating."

"Well, maybe you should start a fight, withhold sex and see what comes of it!"

"Maybe I should. Jesus. Though, how you've gone without sex this long is beyond me."

"Honestly, it hasn't been too tough. I've just recently gotten over the morning sickness, so I'm feeling less icky. Though, to be honest, she's been so sweet tonight, all I want to do is…," she sighs and checks for noise to make sure Emma's still downstairs in the kitchen.

"Ooooh, I know this is going to sound crazy coming from me, but why not? It is your night."

"Yeah, but it's confusing for her. Honestly, it's confusing for me too. We're progressing and co-parenting and throwing sex back into the mix just feels dangerous but god…,"

She throws her head back and can't help that her hand inches across her belly, even though Kat is still definitely on the line.

"Woah there, should I let you go?"

She laughs but doesn't move her hand from just above her sex. "No no. Nothing's happening tonight. But I should go. I do want to enjoy this bath before it gets cold. See you tomorrow?"

"Yes indeed. Enjoy your night and stay away from her God-given bits!"

She rolls her eyes and hangs up without a goodbye.


Keeping that promise had seemed all but impossible when Emma had come in 30 minutes later and dried her off?! She'd used her softest towel and talked to Mango the entire time, but the worst part was the completely respectful kiss Emma had placed on her cheek when she was finished.

And that feeling, the feeling that Emma was somehow content with just a peck on the cheek, had then somehow left her livid.

The rational part of her concludes it's just the hormones, but that certainly hadn't stopped her from pulling away when Emma tried to help her into her panties.

"Oh sorry. I can let you have your space."

And somehow, that perfectly reasonable response had made things even worse.

"Yes because God forbid you have to touch me."

It's obvious by the look on Emma's face that she's wildly confused, but she says nothing verbally and just shuts the door.

The time alone brushing her teeth and washing her face doesn't help either.

She's had 20 minutes to stew in her own, completely unjustified, anger, and when she emerges from the bedroom and heads downstairs in what she would consider her skimpiest pair of pj's, she's even more furious at the fact that Emma seems oblivious.

She continues to dry the last of the dishes while making small talk about their next OB/GYN appointment on Thursday and finally, she snaps.

"Are you fucking someone else?"

The way Emma nearly drops the glass she's holding would be comical, if not for her anger.

"W-what?"

"You heard me, Emma."

"Uh, I mean, yeah I heard you. I just-,"

"It's quite a simple question dear. Are you fucking another woman?"

Emma shakes her head and places the glass in the cabinet. "No, I'm not and why would you ask me that?"

She turns back and leans against the counter, forgetting the dishes momentarily.

"Look me in my eyes and tell me you're not with anyone else."

Emma's eyebrows knit together. "Wait, with someone or fucking someone? Those are two different things."

She scoffs. "Either, Emma."

"I mean, no. I'm not doing either. Or, anyone…?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"I'm not! I just...I don't know where this is coming from. It's really throwing me off," she laughs nervously. "Where's this coming from exactly?"

She rolls her eyes again. "Nowhere, I was just asking a question and now it seems like you're being defensive."

Now Emma looks taken aback. "Defe-what? What are you talking about? You asked a question and I answered it. How is that me being defensive?"

"I simply asked if you were seeing other people and you seemed to get upset."

"Well, yeah because I'm not with anyone else. Why would I be? I'm with you. "

Before she can stop herself, before she can think it through, she blurts, "We're not together."

The faint smile on Emma's face dissolves immediately and she clears her throat.

"Yeah, no. I got that. I just meant, my focus right now is on you and Mango so no, I'm...I'm not with anyone else."

"Good."

Their eye contact is pervasive. It's penetrating. It feels like Emma sees straight through her soul and she's eventually the first to look away.

"Would it bother you? If I was seeing someone else?" Emma asks casually as she resumes her drying.

She tries to scoff as if the idea is ludicrous, but unfortunately, it comes out more like a choke.

"No, dear, you're free to do what you want. We're both adults."

Emma smiles to herself as she places the last plate in the cabinet. She dries her hands on the towel, hangs it up, and comes around the island, approaching her from behind.

An arm snakes around her chest gently and lips rest at her ear and she feels it all the way down to her core.

"You don't have to worry baby. I'm all yours."

Emma places a kiss just under the shell of her ear and goes to pull away, but her hands come up (involuntarily, she swears) to hold her right where she is.

She hates herself for needing the assurance, but it doesn't stop her from asking Emma to, "Say it again."

Emma's sigh lands hot on her neck and she whispers it again.

"I'm yours."

She kisses Emma's strong forearm and repeats it for good measure. "You're mine."

"You know...it's still your night."

"Oh yeah?" She sighs, leaning her head back to give Emma more access.

"Yeah. So you can still have whatever you want."

Her 'yeah?' comes out breathy as Emma's right hand gently squeezes her breast, clearly testing the waters.

"Yeah. Just tell me what to do. Tell me what you want, Gina, and you can have it," she says just as her hands graze over the hem of her shorts.

"Emma."

"Just say the words."

"Fuuuu-,"

"Come on, baby," but using her words feels impossible when Emma's biting her ear and running the tips of her fingers over her clit through her pajamas.

"Emma, I-,"

"Yes?"

"I want you."

She feels Emma's sigh of relief on her neck and it sends chills through her body.

"Can I go inside?"

She nods furiously. More than ready for any sort of contact.

Emma's fingers immediately cross the threaded threshold and she shakes at the first contact.

She shivers and grabs hold of her wrist, not to stop her or guide her. Just to feel her muscles flexing as her fingers brush over her clit.

She shakes again as Emma slides a finger in and the urge to cum at the contact is so overwhelming that her nails dig into Emma's arm, just to hold it off. And that all the encouragement Emma seems to need.

Emma spins her chair around effortlessly and within seconds, she's pulled closer into strong arms, teetering on the edge of the chair.

Emma's hands grip her thighs, nails digging into her bare skin impatiently, "Can I kiss you?"

She nods quickly, wrapping her hands around Emma's neck. "Please."

Emma dives in immediately, clearly desperate.

She'll never get over how soft Emma's lips are. She'll never get used to how they fit together so seamlessly.

She willingly parts her lips to make room for her tongue, and the moan that escapes her is uncontrollable.

Emma laughs softly into her mouth and her hands slip under her legs.

"Hold on, babe," and without any other warning, she lifts her easily off the chair.

"God, I love when you do that."

She laughs again and walks them around to the other side of the kitchen.

"Em, no," but her smile is wide and mischievous as she says it.

"Oh come on. It'll be a first for us," she coos as she places the edge of her dining room table and as Emma settles between her legs again, she issues no more complaints about location.

Their lips meet again, this time in less of a hurry as Emma inches her fingers up her shirt but makes no move to remove it.

She reaches out to grab at the waistband of Emma's shorts and is more than ready to take the lead when Emma's hands find their way to her neck, then her cheeks and suddenly she's looking Emma in the eyes.

They stare at each other for upwards of a minute before Emma sighs.

"Gina."

She shakes her head immediately, somehow knowing what's coming next. "No, don't stop."

But Emma sighs and gives her a too innocent peck.

"You know I want to, God," she sounds as though she's in pain and it makes her wonder what's going on in Emma's head.

"Well, good because I want to as well," she whines, kissing Emma's chin.

"Yeah but I...I just want it to mean the same thing to both of us. I need it to."

She sighs her mouth opening but closing again as Emma continues.

"Look, I know you're gonna think I'm trying to guilt you into this, but I'm not. I swear. I just...I could have sex with anyone ."

Her eyes narrow, very curious where this is going. "Get to the point dear."

Emma's laugh hits her lips, as she leans in to kiss her again. "I just mean that I want to feel like it's different with you," she says as she pulls back slowly, only an inch. "If we're doing this," hands gently squeeze her thighs and it instantly reignites the flame. "I want to also be doing us."

The vulnerability in Emma's eyes makes her hold her tongue on a rare "you could be doing me" joke, and she decides to use this moment to test the waters.

"Emma," her hands lay flat on Emma's chest and she can feel under her fingertips the consistent beat of her heart, "you know I love you. So much. You're unexpectedly thoughtful and you're so good to me and you're going to be so good to our little boy or girl."

Emma swallows and looks down at her hands, "W-why does this feel like you're breaking up with me or something?"

She has to chuckle at that, albeit sadly. "It's not. But therein sort of lies our problem, dear. I say something kind about you, tell you what I love about you, and you hear breakup. I say I love you and I can feel your heart skip a beat, but can you say it back to me?"

Emma shakes her head, still refusing to make eye contact. "That's not fair. You know how I feel. You knew before I did."

"Yes, that's true. But I want you to be able to say it. You light up every time I say it. I deserve to feel the same."

"You said I show it. You said you felt it."

"I do feel it, Emma, in every little thing you do for me and Mango, but I'm not going to spend my whole life assuming you love me. I want to be with someone who's going to say it back, someone who can tell me I'm the love of their life. I'm sorry if that seems selfish?"

Per Dr. Hopper, she's doing her best to not get upset but to evenly express what she wants or needs. If she gets upset, Emma will too. If she escalates this into a loud discussion, Emma will interpret it as an argument. So she remains close, kissing Emma's forehead after a long moment of silence.

"This isn't a no to us. We've been good lately and I want to keep that up, but at the same time, you know exactly what I want. I know it may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, it's everything. You're probably right to table the sex though. That...that was a lapse in judgment."

She tries to laugh and scratches Emma's chest with blunt nails to get her to at least lighten up.

"What if I can't, Regina?" Emma asks, finally looking up.

She sighs, briefly lamenting how the night is turning out. "Then you can't, Emma. I'm not going to force you."

She tries to shrug nonchalantly, but the pained look in Emma's eyes tells her it's not really working.

Because Emma's a little dense sometimes but not a complete idiot.

If she can't, then they can't.

Emma's sigh sounds so depressed that she can't help but laugh this time. "Emma, no offense, but you're ruining what's supposed to be my night."

Emma takes another deep breath and gives her a quick peck on the cheek. "You're absolutely right. I'm sorry. Dishes are done, food is put away. Anything else I can do for you tonight? Need me to install a shelf or something? No actually, can't do that. That'll turn you on too much," Emma adds on, solemnly.

Her instinct is to deny it then she remembers just how much her body loves watching Emma construct things.

"Yeah no, that's dangerous territory," she chuckles. "But hey," she lifts Emma's chin so they're looking right at each other. "Thank you for tonight. This was exactly what I needed and I appreciate it. It...means more than you know."

"You...you mean more than you know so it's...yeah, it's nothing. Anything for you."

Emma awkwardly bumbling through her feelings is easily the cutest and saddest thing she's ever seen.

She gives her another quick peck on her cheek and scoots off the table, Emma needlessly placing a hand on her hip to help her.

"So, I'll see you Thursday unless…,"

Three days is a long time, but maybe space will be good for them.

She nods. "Thursday it is. Don't forget, I have that solo session with Dr. Hopper so I'll meet you at the office afterward."

"Oh yeah. Right." Emma's brow furrows with concern, still likely uneasy about her therapist talking one on one with her….whatever she is to Emma.

The walk to the door is quiet, and as always, it feels like they took two steps back.

She opens the door slightly, not quite ready for Emma to leave, and leans on it.

"So Thursday."

Emma chuckles. "Thursday. Try not to miss me too much. Or talk too much shit about me to the doc."

That makes her laugh, "No promises. On either of those."

Emma sighs leans down to kiss her on the lips and then leans down further to give Mango a kiss. "Have a great night, ladies. Bye."

The door closes with a quiet click and she leans against it, sighing deeper than she has all night. It's been a weird, emotionally charged night with Emma here, and yet Emma leaving brings no peace either.

Even on their worst days, she'd still rather be with her than without.


They sit in silence for the first 5 minutes before she finally caves.

"Is there...a particular reason why you wanted to do this doctor?"

He smiles briefly. "I thought it might be helpful. I realized that Emma has individual sessions, then there are the couples sessions and yet, you never get the opportunity to share your emotions in a safe space without the presence of another."

She nods. "So what do you want to talk about?"

"You know that's not how this goes."

She nods. "Fair enough."

"You seem uncomfortable."

"I just don't think this is necessary. Emma and I have problems which is why we come here. I don't know what to talk about when it's just me."

"Well, I appreciate your honesty."

Silence.

She sighs knowing he could do this for a whole hour and she can't justify either of them paying that bill for an hour of...nothing.

"We had a spat on Monday."

He jots it down. "What about?"

"I was...all over the place. I mean, I hate when men say that pregnant women are emotional and crazy but...I think I was a little...emotional and crazy on Monday."

He nods. "Perfectly understandable. I'm no expert on the matter, but your body is going through a lot of changes so it's perfectly understandable that you might feel out of sorts. How did Emma react?"

She chuckles at that. "She was...understanding about the whole thing. She...the whole night was about me, she took care of everything. Dinner, dishes, ran me a bath, the whole 9 yards. Then I snapped at her, accused her of seeing someone else, and...still, she held me and told me I had nothing to worry about."

"And how did that make you feel?" She looks right at him and rolls her eyes. Earning her a small smile in return.

"Loved. Appreciated."

"And did you tell her that?"

"I...did, maybe not in so many words. But yes, I told her I loved her and it...she didn't flee or start a fight. In fact, I could feel her heartbeat skip and then speed up. We were so close that I felt her breath hitch when I said it. It was like...I felt how much it meant to her to hear it and then got a little angry...because she doesn't give me the opportunity to feel that way."

"Hm." He nods and takes almost a minute to write his thoughts down so while he writes, she talks.

That's the whole point of this anyway, right?

"And I just...I don't want to be that person. I don't want to withhold parts of myself as punishment because she's not there yet, but it's just frustrating. I just want us to be on the same page. I won't be made to feel like I'm the only one in love. I can't live like that."

"But...you're aren't the only one in love. It was my understanding that that had already been established."

She grinds her teeth, a bad habit from her teenage years.

"Why does it bother you so much that Emma doesn't say "I love you?"

"It doesn't," she can't for the life of her figure out why she felt the need to lie.

"It must."

"Well I mean of course it does because I want to hear it, too!"

"But Regina, you said the other night you felt loved by Emma, correct?"

She rolls her eyes again, but nods.

"And you've said that you feel appreciated by her?"

"I do," she sighs.

"And do you feel safe when you're with her? Both physically and emotionally?"

"Yes."

"So...if you feel loved and appreciated and safe, which I would consider key components in a healthy, loving relationship, then why does it bother you so much that Emma doesn't say "I love you?"

She shakes her head, unsure how to answer that. She hears him, she does. It doesn't make sense to her either, why the words matter so much when even she would say that actions prove more than words ever could.

"Because, the way I see it, if you had to guess whether or not she loved you-,"

And suddenly, those words trigger her.

"I shouldn't have to guess! That's just it! I shouldn't have to sit here and analyze whether or not my girlfriend loves me! I shouldn't have to say well if she does a and b then she must feel c. And more than that, I'm not going to raise a child with someone who leaves us both wondering! I can't do it! I refuse to bring a baby into a situation where they're always questioning whether or not they're wanted or feeling like some sort of an...accident because one of us doesn't know how to open up!"

She's out of breath and probably looks crazy as she comes down from her rant, but he just sits still and silent.

Patient as always.

"I apologize if this feels as though I'm overstepping, but...is that how you felt growing up?"

"What?" Her eyes narrow.

"Unloved? Unwanted?"

She scoffs. "My childhood is hardly relevant."

"Are you sure? Because...nothing about Emma suggests to me that she has anything less than absolute love and adoration for your child. Do you feel differently?"

She sighs and runs her fingers through her hair, a bad habit inherited from Emma herself.

She can't bring herself to say anything she doesn't mean when it comes to Emma so she's forced to shake her head.

"No, she loves Mango already and she's really excited about this."

He leans his head side to side, seemingly thinking of what to say next. "I might...I might say she's more than just excited. You know, when she first came back to me, she sat through the first ten minutes of our session looking panicked and shaken. I thought it was because she was struggling again with the nightmares or perhaps the fears of abandonment had returned. And I thought, what an unfortunate regression. But finally, I asked her what made her come back and she told me, verbatim, that she had found something 'good' and 'one-of-a-kind' and ruined it because she was scared. And she didn't want to be scared anymore."

"Scared...of me?"

He purses his lips. "More the idea of you than you yourself, I think."

She nods. That makes sense. She would have guessed that.

"Without revealing anything that would be legally troublesome for me, I will say that I've known Emma for a very long time and I think...the way that she was raised has led her to think that she, for some reason, deserves to be unhappy or...perhaps, alone. And we worked for years to combat that line of thinking. We talked endlessly about what it looked like to accept Ingrid's kindness and love, without waiting for the other shoe to drop, until we were able to turn that talk into action. Then you appeared and...I think you might've seemed too good to be true. Too kind, too understanding, too open and too loving."

"And it went against everything she thought she deserved," she finishes for him and he nods.

"I will say though that I've seen more growth in Emma over the last 5 months than I ever thought possible. So, that brings me back to my initial point...I don't think that this fear, about whether or not she verbalizes her feelings, is about her at all."

He crosses his leg and she does the same.

A standoff of sorts.

A battle of who will crack first. Regina or the hour that is quickly dwindling down.

2 minutes.

She's proud to see that in the end, she stands her ground the longest, but apparently, he will not be deterred.

"You seem quite adamant about not talking about your upbringing."

"Because there's nothing to talk about."

"Are you close to your parents?"

"No, my father is dead and my mother is a frigid bitch," she says coldly.

He nods and looks down at his notes and she chides herself for falling into that trap.

"I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing."

"It's fine. It's irr-irrelevant," but the words get caught in her throat because they're far from the truth.

She misses him every single day. Wishes he was here for all of it. Wishes he could've met Emma and their baby. But...that'll never happen and she doesn't even realize she's crying until a tear slips from her chin to her hand.

"You two were close?"

She sighs heavily and wipes her cheeks. It's obvious she's not going to leave this room without him prying about her parents so she may as well stop fighting it.

"Yes, we were. I was a daddy's girl."

He writes and doesn't bother looking up as he asks his next question, "And your mother?"

"Like I said...she was...cold."

"And what is she like now?"

She shrugs. "I don't know. She...she lives in New Haven and I hardly speak to her. I can't remember the last time we spent a holiday together and I'm certain she forgets my birthday every year."

His eyebrow raises at that.

"The card comes late every year. I call her every year to thank her and she always says 'sorry it's belated dear. You know how busy things are and all that.' I didn't realize retirement could keep a mother busy enough not to at least call on her daughter's birthday," she adds rolling her eyes.

He nods again and she wonders if it's all his neck knows how to do.

He stares and waits and so she continues, knowing that if they don't cover it all now, they'll just have to unpack it again next time. And she'd rather pay for an hour of silence than another hour of talking about Cora.

"My mother is the least warm person I've ever met. I know that I've been considered standoffish, but she gives me a run for my money. I think she liked my father at most and tolerated me at best. She hated that I was closer with him and that we didn't share any commonalities. She wanted me to pursue chess in high school and when I told her I preferred equestrianism, she actually rolled her eyes and called me a silly, thoughtless girl, like something out of a Jane Austen novel. When I told her I didn't want to go to Law School, she-," she scoffs as the memory plays out before her eyes again, "she told me 'that's such a disappointment. But, of course, I should've expected it.' As if...all I'd ever brought her was disappointment."

She blinks rapidly, refusing to let a single tear fall for her mother who couldn't care less about how hurtful she had been back then.

Back then? She still doesn't give a damn.

"That must've been quite painful to hear."

"It was, but my dad being there to support me meant everything. He was the one that encouraged me to...follow my instincts and my heart, even knowing how much it would upset her."

"Are you afraid that you'll parent like your mother?"

She looks up instantly, wide-eyed. "No, of course not. I intend to be the exact opposite. "

He nods, "And what about Emma? Do you think that she'll be like your mother?"

"No...I….no?"

His eyebrow raises again, urging her to continue. "I just...I'm not afraid of either of us turning out like her. At least not intentionally. I just...I know how much it hurt me to never hear it from her. That she was proud of me. That she loved me. And I just don't want to subject our child to that. She struggles to say it to me and that's...hard, but I don't want to have to reassure our kid that mommy loves you, she's just...weird and thinks if she says it to you that you might leave her."

He purses his lips once more and sets his pad and pen to the side.

"I'm going to be honest with you Regina because I think you can appreciate honesty. I think you struggle with your mother not because you felt unloved but because you weren't loved, at least not in ways that made sense to you. It sounds like your father loved you in ways you could understand, he perhaps was the primary caretaker, encouraging and supporting you endlessly while your mother loved you in ways that were harder to see. But Emma's love for you can be seen. It can be felt, even by me. It's in the way she came here of her own accord. It's in the way she talks about you and...Mango when you're not in the room. It's in her voice, it's in her eyes and it's in everything she does for you both. And...children are perceptive. In the same way that you took your mother's actions and attributed them to mean that you were unloved...I imagine that your child will look at Emma's actions and think the exact opposite, even if the words go unspoken. So...if you're truly worried about that, I would say that you have nothing to worry about at all."

She falls against the back of the couch and lets out a steady breath.

Without even realizing it, that's exactly what she needed to hear and it's in that moment she decides he's worth every penny.

"You're right. I'm just...projecting."

He nods solemnly. "And that's okay. Or rather...understandable that you might. But you know who Emma is and, more importantly, who she isn't. Let that reassure you in times of doubt."

She nods as he uncrosses his legs and picks up his paper again.

"Alright, the thing you most hate. Homework."

He's actually been so surprisingly helpful that she can't bring herself to roll her eyes and even he seems impressed.

"Now, I'm willing to bet that you haven't communicated any of these concerns to Emma, but I think it would be helpful to do that. I do not recommend mentioning that you don't want Emma to be like your mother, it'll likely make her insecure that you find them to be similar. But certainly, share with her what it was like growing up for you. The good...and the bad and let the conversation evolve from there. Alright?"

"Sure. I'll...sure."

He offers a big smile and stands. "Thank you for coming in today, Regina. I appreciate you being open and brave."

Again, the urge to roll her eyes doesn't come. She can see why Emma comes back. Everything he says...and doesn't say...is always right on time. Right when she needs to hear it.

"Thank you."

He nods and walks her to the door and she somehow leaves feeling lighter and heavier all at once.


"You know...I've been meaning to ask but didn't want you to be mad or anything. But..did you...were you thinking of…"

"Just say it, dear," the words are short but her tone is quiet in the lobby, patiently waiting to be called back to the exam room.

"Well, I just...you know my mom and David can't wait...for the baby. And I just...wasn't sure if you had told your mom or any of your family?"

"My mother is my only family."

Emma shifts, clearly uncomfortable. "Yeah, so how did she take it?"

"I haven't told her," she doesn't make any eye contact, choosing instead to open this month's issue of Baby Magazine.

"Oh."

"Yes. Oh."

Emma bristles at that and sits back in her own chair, picking up that she has no interest in talking about this.

And maybe if she and Dr. Hopper hadn't just opened her mommy issues wound, then she'd be more receptive to this question. In fact, she's surprised Emma hadn't asked sooner but she's nothing if not respectful of her boundaries.

"Are you embarras-"

"Regina, you can come on back."

Her head lifts at both of those things at the same thing and for a moment, she can't figure out which way to look, towards the nurse at the door or Emma, who just stands quickly, holding out a hand for her.

After a moment, she swallows and takes her hand, not needing the help but definitely needing the comfort.

She thinks you're embarrassed of her! And why wouldn't she feel that way? You've met her family. Vacationed with them! And yet, you've never even mentioned to your mother that you've met someone, let alone that you're having a baby.

And why should she? In her defense, it's been at least four or five months since she's even talked to her mother and over a year since she's seen her in person.

She tells herself there had been no time. No good opportunities to mention it, but she's creating another life so she reasons she probably should've made time.

She thinks about it the entire time while she changes. And then has even more time to think about it while Emma sits in what she calls the "nervous dad" chair, refusing to make eye contact.

She looks downright dejected and while it would be a lie to say avoiding her mother had nothing to do with Emma, she needs to say something.

"About earlier…," but Emma shakes her head immediately.

"Nope, don't worry about it. I get it."

She sighs. "My mother and I just aren't close the way you and Ingrid are."

The look on Emma's face, two seconds away from rolling her eyes, tells her it was the wrong thing to say.

"You're having a baby. Don't you think she's going to be a little upset that you've waited this long to tell her?"

"Oh, I'm sure she'll be upset. Emma, I'm unmarried and pregnant, she's not going to be thrilled either way."

"And if we were married?"

Her breath hitches at the look of...hope?...fear?...in her eyes as Emma blushes furiously.

"I'm not...I didn't mean that as like a…," she forces her hands out, palms up, in front of her, but she's not sure what the gesture is supposed to stand in place for.

"No, of course, I know." She pulls at her medical shirt just for something to do that doesn't involve thinking of Emma in a tux waiting for her at an altar.

"I only meant like...would she take it better if you were married? Even though I'm a woman?"

She sighs. "Em, she had a doctor or a lawyer in mind for her only daughter. So anything less than that is unacceptable. This is made even more complicated by the fact that you're a woman. Which then makes the pregnancy part...even more…,"

She lets the sentence die out because surely it doesn't need to be said.

"So...how are you going to explain this?"

"I have absolutely no idea Emma but I know what I'm not going to start with and that's with your genitals."

The hurt that flashes on Emma's face cuts almost as deep as Emma denying she loved her on Thanksgiving.

"I...Emma, I-,"

"Well, hello ladies!"

She has to hold back an annoyed glare at Reese who walks in, all smiles as usual.

"Hi, Dr. Wilkins."

"How are you both feeling today?"

"Good. The morning sickness is finally gone for good I think. Knock on wood."

She nods and jots it down on her clipboard. "That's wonderful! And you, Emma?"

Emma's tight smile doesn't go unnoticed, even as she lets out what seems to be a cheerful, "Great thanks!"

Dr. Wilkins smiles politely, but after that, she doesn't attempt to make small talk with Emma and Emma doesn't ask a million questions like she usually does.

"I tell you, you're sure to have a dancer on your hands because this baby loves to move around."

She leans back and just takes in the blurred black and white image. "She's getting so big."

"She?" Dr. Wilkins raises an eyebrow.

"Just a hunch. We haven't opened the envelope but we've just got a feeling."

She nods and smiles but doesn't say anything and she wonders if they're way off. And then considers if she wants to know that they're way off or would she rather wait and be pleasantly surprised? And by the time they get to the delivery room, thinking they're about to welcome a little girl into the world, would anything other than that be considered a "pleasant" surprise?

Of course it would. We'll love her, even if it's not a her at all.

"Have you considered names yet?"

"Not really. Guess we should start really getting a list together."

"I'd encourage that. I'd also suggest putting together a birth plan. We can discuss it during your next visit. I'm going to be honest with you, it likely won't go at all to plan, but it does tend to bring new parents some comfort in those final weeks."

She nods and watches Emma do the same, albeit a little more absentmindedly.

"Emma, you're awfully quiet today." The doctor laughs to herself, but quickly stops when she realizes she's the only one. "Uh, did you have any questions before we wrap up?"

"No, not today."

"Well, alrighty then. If anything pops up, you've got my info."

Emma gives her a small grateful smile and stands. "Thanks, doc. Gina, I'm gonna wait for you outside."

She doesn't know why, but her heart feels like it breaks a little at the sight of Emma leaving. It's unlike her and only speaks to how hurt she is about the fact that she hasn't told her mother about the baby.

She swallows and looks down at her hands, refusing to make eye contact with the doctor.

She hears her remove the tools from the table and graciously takes the cloth to wipe off her ever-growing belly.

"Regina, I know this may not be the best time because that was a tad...tense, but I did want to speak to you alone, so this works out. Umm, I just wanted to take the time to...reassure you that everything is looking good with the fetus."

Her eyes widen at that, not realizing there was ever reason to be concerned.

"Should I have been worried?"

"No, no. I just wanted you to know that despite...Emma's condition, it doesn't appear that she passed along anything genetically abnormal to the-,"

"There's nothing 'genetically abnormal' about Emma and even if she had...even if there was a possibility that it could be passed down, we'd deal with it! I'd still want this baby."

Reese's eyes widen. "Regina, I didn't mean any disrespect nor would I ever suggest to you that you…," she sighs but doesn't seem to have the heart to use the word which is just as well because she doesn't even want to think about the suggestion.

"I simply wanted to ease any concerns, if you had them, that your baby was perfectly healthy. That's all."

"Well, I don't have any concerns Dr. Wilkins."

Her lips tighten into a smile, but she's clearly affected by being spoken to so formally. And she doesn't mean to be so rude. But first Emma and now this? It's too much. Too many people making a big deal out of nothing and making her seem like the bad guy in the process.

"I'm happy to hear that, Regina. You've got no reason to worry, so continue doing what you're doing and I'll see you next month."

There's no time to say thank you, or more importantly 'sorry' because she's gone in an instant.

She throws her head back against the bed and sighs. Somehow, she's become exhausted.

And as she lays there alone, for the first time since she met Emma, she feels like the one in the wrong. Like the one who just ruined a good thing.