Regina felt like home no matter where Emma went.
If she was with that brunette, she felt peace in her heart and serenity in her soul.
A house was just that, or an apartment, yet when she stepped foot into that familiar white manor, she felt something stir inside of her; something warm and something bittersweet. They were the memories she and Regina shared, where their life had started together and where it would ultimately end.
The thought of that didn't scare her, nor did it daunt, because it sounded like the perfect ending; something that she thought she would never get the chance to have. And now they had returned to the prominent domain with their son - the family they first discussed in the very bed she stood at the end of.
She smiled at the familiar frame and the silken sheets that she swam in every night with her love by her side. The ones that she couldn't wait to dive into later this evening after, hopefully, the last long and exhausting day of unpacking the life they brought with them from Boston.
Emma would be lying if she said she wouldn't miss that city and the friends that inhabited it, but a part of her was glad that she was back in the calm life of Storybrooke. Sure, nothing exciting may go on and the hustle and bustle of the busy city streets that she once basked in would be gone, but this town held a certain charm to it; something that made her feel welcome and known; at home with the people and the scenery she grew to know and love.
Something encircled her waist, bringing her gently back to reality as she leaned into the familiarly sweet warmth it provided. Regina was behind her, humming into her golden curls and she knew the woman was happier than she had ever been.
"Henry's passed out." Her voice rumbled like the distant thunder she always yearned for. Storms were always something she enjoyed and Regina was her favorite.
"That poor kid. He doesn't know what to do now that he's in this big ass house." Emma chuckled because she witnessed that little boy crawling furiously around the first level, screaming excitedly with his favorite panda plushie, shouting at his mothers incoherently.
Regina and Emma had to trail after him once they realized the mess he started to make, wanting to make sure his toys saw the new play space as well.
"I know," Regina purred fondly and shifted to rest her chin on the blonde's healing shoulder. It still ached from time to time, but she would like to think she was back to normal, like everything else.
"Mm, I honestly feel like turning in for the night," her wife spoke when Emma lost herself in silence and the steady beating of the brunette's heart against her back.
"Me too, but we only have a couple boxes left in the living room to get and then we're golden." There was a soft groan that emanated from the woman behind her and she stifled a giggle, her lips frozen in an amused grin. "I'd rather not have to deal with it tomorrow, you feeling me?"
"I certainly am." Emerald orbs widened when one of her breasts were squeezed and this time the laughter was released, surprised.
"Okay, not what I meant, Gina."
"Come on, let's finish up." The brunette pulled away from her and when Emma turned, she saw the humor that glinted in those magnificent chestnut eyes. Gods, she could drown in them.
"Then you can feel me up later, yeah?" Purring softly, the blonde turned and headed out of their bedroom to the boxes that awaited them downstairs, Regina quickly following suit with a quip.
"You like it, my swan, do not lie."
"Of course I do," she responded, jogging down the stairs. "That's why I married you. Y'know, so you could feel me up whenever you're horny, or not. I guess whenever you want, 'cause you touch my butt a lot."
Sweet, melodic laughter filled the air behind her. "I wouldn't talk, Emma. Your hands are constantly on my ass, especially in public as some weird way to establish your dominance over other people."
"That's because I want other people to know your cute little ass is all mine." And, as if to prove some absent point, she whipped around and slapped her hand against her wife's ass, ending it with a hearty squeeze and a soft, surprised squeak. The brunette didn't look pleased, instead, her eyes slowly narrowed.
"If you are through with groping me, we must get the rest of these boxes unpacked before Henry wakes up." Sniffing as if none of it ever happened, Emma removed her hand and marched toward the living room once again, her wife following near.
It wasn't long until the two of them had dropped onto the couch with open boxes and items scattered here and there. Regina was about to rip the tape off the next box when a loud ding-dong sounded, making Emma jump in her spot.
"Fuck! I forgot how loud that damn thing can be."
The brunette was already pushing the stack of boxes away to stand, hurriedly making her way toward the foyer. "Yes, and perhaps too loud. I'd rather it not wake Henry prematurely."
So, before the doorbell could be rung a second time, she disappeared to answer the door while Emma remained behind, halfheartedly picking through the current box before her, ears open for who might be at the door. Who would visit them at such an hour? Sure, it might have only been about six in the evening, but her friends and parents knew better than to bug them today.
Her answer soon came in the form of a name spoken by her wife.
"Zelena?" She muttered before picking herself up off the couch to join her wife in the foyer. For some odd reason, she was brought back to a time where the name was foreign and the emotions high. This time, she didn't need to hide so she took the space by her wife's side, eyes on the redheaded woman in the doorway.
The last time she had seen her was shortly after the two got engaged when they visited New York City to check out Cora's condo. Regina wanted to clean it up and move out the things they couldn't sell before she would put it on the market. Emma couldn't blame her for not wanting to keep anything that her mother had given her - of course, aside from the upgrade on her Mercedes that wasn't thirty years old.
But, nothing did get sold in the end because as they were sorting through her mother's personal affects, which were few and far between, they came across her address book and found a crumpled paper with Zelena's name and number. Regina, believing that her sister needed to know of their mother's death, called her up. It wasn't long until the two had fallen into conversation and the brunette, having inherited her mother's items and only had the desire to rid herself of them, decided to hand them over to Zelena, instead.
The redheaded woman was surely sitting pretty in New York, what with her new condo, expensive vehicles, and the law firm under her, but when Emma looked at the woman on the other side of the threshold, she looked everything but put together.
Frazzled was a word that came to mind along with desperate and scared. And when the woman was invited in by her younger sister, she saw why.
"You're pregnant?" Regina caught the answer the older woman had spit out, bringing Emma into the conversation. Her eyes immediately zoned to her middle and the swollen belly that protruded from it. She definitely was and pretty far along by what she could tell.
"Yes," Zelena admitted, shamefaced, her hands pulling the coat she wore tighter around her.
That struck Emma as odd. It was July. Why would she be wearing such a heavy thing? But, then again, there was always a nip in the air here in Storybrooke.
"And what brings you here, Zelena?"
"I-I'm…" Shaking her head, the older woman barged between the two, her eyes on the living room and the boxes that were still scattered around it. "Are you moving?"
"We just moved back," Regina answered, though her words were clipped and impatient as she followed her sister away from the living room and toward the kitchen. "Now, what are you doing here?"
"You're my sister. You love me, don't you?" Emma knew her wife couldn't deny the connection between them after they had met at Cora's condo - now Zelena's. The two had talked for hours and even laughed with one another.
But, digressing, Regina had volunteered herself to be there for Zelena if she needed anything and the redheaded woman offered the same. With Cora out of the way and their growing tolerance, the two had kept in contact sparingly over the years, but this latest information was certainly new.
Emma found herself standing alone in the foyer, closing the front door, before she gained enough wit to follow the two into the kitchen.
"Tea would be lovely, thank you." Emma had found Zelena on one of the stools pulled up to the island while Regina buzzed about the kitchen, digging into cupboards as she asked which tea her sister would like.
The blonde decided to help and filled the kettle with water, soon replacing it back onto the stove to heat up.
"Thank you, my swan." Regina purred, pressing a kiss to the blonde's cheek when she passed her with a mug and a tea bag. A brief moment of silence passed as Regina filled the mug with hot water and turned to give it to her older sister, Emma following her around like a puppy.
"What happened to the condo?" The brunette finally asked, watching as Zelena cupped the mug in her hands.
"I had to sell it," she admitted, green eyes falling to the dark, steaming liquid.
"Sell it? For what? How?"
"I… had no other choice. After the firm went under, I was left in massive debt. Mother's business…" Zelena tsked, her upper lip curling. "She screwed me… Or, you. Once I got everything settled and started to look into things and speak with her partners, she was hanging on by the skin of her teeth. Things were starting to go sour, she was losing clients, business wasn't coming through. There was a more relevant competitor in town." Snorting, she took a sip of her tea, only to recoil when she found it too hot. "Her partners were planning on selling out. They were trying to convince her to do the same."
Regina was quiet once again, those animated brown eyes reflecting a distant memory. "That must be what she had meant."
"Meant what?" The older woman queried, forest eyes moving from the brunette to the blonde as if Emma knew.
"She said she was going to let the business crumble, that I didn't have to take it over. One of those times she came over here, pleading for normalcy between us. But she changed her mind… I…" She shook her head, frowning. "I wonder if this was all going on around then. It makes me doubt that she had an illness."
"Are you saying she might have been lying about it?"
Regina merely shrugged. "You were with her often toward the end, I figured you might have known."
"She never mentioned any problems to me." The auburn woman's brows furrowed. "I remember her going to the doctor, having these appointments about once or twice a week. Honestly, she never opened much to me about those things. She was a very private woman."
"Emotion was not something that came easily to her." The brunette sister sighed and leaned against the island, Emma's hand massaging along her spine. "The only personal thing we found was a box in her closet."
"Yeah, that's the one I found." Emma chimed, fingers dancing down her lover's back and over her rump. "And what was it, anyways?"
"Pictures. Of her. Of me. Of… my father." A sad smile graced her lips. "Letters. I remember seeing letters and her will and… There wasn't much. She never had much, not even when I was younger. She attempted to erase her past, I knew as much. She wanted nothing to do with her father." Bitter laughter fell from her lips. "I never met him. I never met any of my grandparents. She isolated us; me."
"I think I may have you beat," Zelena commented, a humored smirk on her lips. "I never met my father. She refused to tell me who he was and she never bothered adding him to my birth certificate."
"That sounds like her. One to write people out of her life. I'm surprised she didn't let everything of hers perish the way she was acting toward me." Then she paused for an intense moment and Emma could feel her muscles tense underneath her ever moving hand.
"What is it?" Zelena detected the sudden shift.
Shaking her head, Regina released a sigh and let herself relax. "I was wondering why she would want me to have these things if they were only going to slip away."
"Perhaps she thought you could fix the firm?" The brunette teacher merely snorted. "Alright, I know. Perhaps she knew you would turn to me, then… In the end, you know?"
"She also said she only had one daughter in the end. But, with that woman, who knows what she truly ever meant." She pushed away from the island, Emma following suit as she was gently ushered back. "But does it really matter, Zelena? Whatever she might had intended, it didn't work."
"It was irreparable by the time I set foot into it. Delay or not, the firm had been in a major financial hole for a few years. Mother never once mentioned anything like this to me, but why would she? She used the damn thing as bait to reel me in." A snort later, Zelena took a sip from her cooling tea and closed her eyes, a drawn breath releasing soon after. "I was lucky to get out with what I did - my dignity and a few bucks. Oh, and not to forget my lovely DeVille." Muttering something profane, the eldest sister stuck her nose in her tea.
"Even the cars?"
"What? Oh." Zelena's eyes went to Emma who, for whatever reason, wanted to know the fate of those beautiful creatures. She couldn't help but to touch each one of them much to her wife's discontent. Unfortunately, Regina wouldn't let her keep one. "I had to, yes. I needed some sort of money to sustain me for a few years. It got me this far - barely. It paid for a nice deposit and a few months' rent. But, with the way things are now… Well, I got let go from my job and that doesn't pay for a roof over my head."
The room was silent for a moment, Emma knowing she shouldn't spout a word as her wife thought. What sort of comfort could she offer? "So, you're telling me that you have no place to go?" The brunette finally spoke, her words careful.
Emma could hear the audible swallow in the stead of a response and immediately knew the answer.
"I was hoping you could help me out." Zelena blurted and continued before Regina could even part her lips. "And before you assume I came here to live off you, all I am asking is for a chunk of change - something to last me for a bit until after the baby is born. I will pay you back, if need be. Call it a loan."
The brunette's eyes darkened slightly telling the blonde that wasn't what Regina had been expecting to hear. "Money?" She asked, slowly, quietly. "How much are we talking?"
"Well, only until after the baby is born, then I could find another place to work. You see, I plan on giving her up for adoption. I simply do not have time in my life for a child." She rambled and kept on before the numbers finally uttered themselves from her lips. "I was thinking about ten grand should do it."
"What?" Regina echoed Emma's immediate thought. The English teacher paced about the kitchen heatedly, her face filling with blood as those dark, chestnut eyes fought to keep on her sister.
"What?" Zelena asked, voice laced with a naivety that had her younger sister's nostrils flaring. "You have Mother's generous inheritance under your belt, don't you? Ten thousand is nothing more than a pebble compared to your mountain."
A snort echoed in the room before that very brunette paused before her sister, hand flattening on the cool counter top. Zelena shifted slightly as she was faced with the intense glare that wouldn't leave her, no matter where she tried to look.
"I believe you have overestimated Mother's inheritance. Sure, we did gain a hefty sum, but we also had to dig into it for moving and lodging expenses. I had no job because of her for the first year and Emma was in college. And then things come up and bills are high, and then we were trying for a baby…" She shook her head, a frown claiming her lips.
"You mean to tell me you blew through… What? Millions?"
"Millions?!" A flash of amusement reflected in her eyes and, for a moment, it looked as if Regina's mind had finally snapped. But she returned to herself, cool and calm, as she spoke. "Perhaps she was worth as much years and years ago. But, as I had discovered, her assets weren't as I had expected and, with what you had been telling me, I know why. Of course, that doesn't mean it wasn't a lot, but…" Shaking her head, a sigh left her lips once again.
"I'm sorry, Zelena. But I cannot spare that much right now. We're still struggling as it is. I already have to dip into that money again to make repairs on the house and we had to have an inspection to make sure it was safe to inhabit and I wanted to save for Henry's college fund and…" She shook her head, losing her breath, and that was when Emma held her in her arms.
The past few months had been rough on Regina what with Emma's accident, dealing with their landlords, and moving, only to find out things had fallen through and more money had to be wasted, all on top of taking care of a wild one-year-old.
Regina buried her head in her wife's sweet, honey hair and breathed for a moment, catching her sanity before turning back to her sister. "I regret this, I truly do. I wish we could help you and I know it may seem selfish, but-"
A hand stopped her. "I understand, Regina. You have a family of your own to worry about. I was really hoping you could spare the money." Zelena frowned, eyes on the couple before her emerald gaze fell to the porcelain bottom of her mug. "I don't have anyone else and I've tried to take out loans, but I have nothing to use as collateral. I'm too afraid to use my car because it's all I have left and if push comes to shove, I might have to live in it."
Emma could hear the red-haired woman's accented voice grow thicker as each word came and it was only a matter of seconds before the crystalline tears were falling down her rosy cheeks. Regina parted from her blonde wife to hold her sister, squeezing her tight.
"Listen, Zelena. We may not have the money to loan you, but we certainly have the room." Zelena sniffled something in response, something that Emma couldn't hear, but Regina's next response filled her in. "You can stay here with us. We have plenty of room."
"Wait, what?" Emma, catching on, squawked and moved toward the sisters, her jade eyes widening.
"I-I wouldn't want to intrude."
Regina shook her head and stepped back to wrap an arm around her wife, giving her a squeeze that told her she had to agree. "N-You'll be fine, Zelena. Gina's right." Emma offered her wife a dubious smile before flashing it to her sister-in-law. "We can't just let you live on the streets, you know?"
"Right. Especially since you're pregnant." Regina added, fingers curling into Emma's side. "We have the den that you could take. It's private and away from everyone. It has its own bathroom and a kitchenette. It would be like your own place… that you don't have to pay for."
"Oh, you don't need to do me any favors, little sis."
"But I want to. Besides, what will you do?" Regina took her sister's hand into her own. "I am assuming the father is out of the picture or else you wouldn't be here. Unless he is that much of an asshole. I cannot say I'm not curious."
Short, abrupt laughter bubbled from Zelena's lips and left as soon as it came. "Can we go somewhere else? This stool is becoming… uncomfortable. I have a watermelon attached to me."
It was the brunette's turn to laugh as she gently helped her sister out of the stool. "I know what you mean. I've been there, dear, and it can be quite unpleasant." The three women made their way out of the kitchen as Regina led them back to the living room.
Emma nearly groaned when she saw the abandoned boxes where they had left them. "Hello, darkness, my old friend," she mumbled before taking her place once again, hands immediately digging into the open box.
Regina, on the other hand, helped Zelena descend into the armchair before occupying the spot next to her wife, her attention on the redheaded woman with an expectant stare.
"Oh, I know you're just burning to know how I managed to get myself knocked up, hm?" Zelena seemed to smirk as she leaned against the chair, her fingers digging into the arms. "It's not very exciting, I must confess. He was a client, an old one. Well, he wasn't old but you know what I mean." A giggle left her lips and when Emma looked up, she saw her darkening cheeks. "He was someone I met in passing when I was speaking with mother and someone I got to know after I took over. He was very faithful - to the company, at least."
The air was met with bitter silence that Emma only found growing as she quietly went back to work, cleaning out the current box and moving onto the next.
"Did he cheat on you?" Regina asked in a gentle tone, ceasing the awkward break.
But Zelena shook her head. "No, he cheated on his wife. The bastard was married, but that didn't stop me from loving him." She offered a small smile. "Things were ending before they began. By the time I told him that I was pregnant, he decided that he loved his wife more, and the child they shared."
"What did you do?"
"I accepted the fact that he didn't want me and was happy for his wife. He had a family with her before he did with me. What was I to do? Stop him? What right have I?" She snorted softly, those slender digits turning white as she dug them into the arms of the poor chair, but she sighed and released her deadly grip, slumping. "Like I said, what does it truly matter? I plan on giving the child up for adoption."
Those words had Regina frowning and reaching out to touch her sister's wrist. "Why?"
The older woman's face softened. "I am in no state to raise a child and, besides, if I wanted a family, I would have had one a hell of a lot sooner in my life. I mean, look at me! I'm in my forties, I've failed at my career, and I'm no more worth that than the gum on your shoe."
"Oh, don't you say that." Regina frowned and took her sister's pale hand into her own, giving it a squeeze. "You've just had a run of bad luck, but things will turn around, trust me." She offered a smile, but it turned lopsided. "I feel as if this is my fault…"
"How is it your fault, Regina?" Zelena quirked a brow.
"Because I'm the one that let you handle everything. I-"
"Didn't know what the firm was going through and wouldn't have known. I at least knew what to do, it was just, unfortunately, too late to save it." Regina's frown remained. "Listen, let's just forget about that. Mother… She just pisses me off. I'd rather keep her as far away from my mind as I can."
"I second that."
"Me too!" Emma piped up from her spot, a cute little smile on her face. "I mean, after all the hell she put us through, come on!"
Her brunette wife chuckled softly and took the blonde's hand in her free one. "I know, sweetheart."
With an absent smile, Zelena drew the attention back to her. "Who knows what she would say about my situation."
"Well, she did want grandchildren." Regina snorted softly, but kept her composure. "But, I digress. We don't have to worry about her thoughts. Now, mine, on the other hand…"
"Regina, please. I have made my decision long ago."
"Then why would you put the effort into finding out the gender?" The brunette hummed and Emma knew she was going to fawn over the subject because there was that special glow in her eye again; that same one she had when she was pregnant with Henry. "It's a girl, I heard, correct?"
The redhead let out a resigned sigh, succumbing to a slow nod. "Yes, and the only reason why I found out was because the doctor asked and I figured, hey, why not? It's not as if I planned much else other than the next appointment."
Another frown was donned on Regina's face. "How far along are you?"
"About six months, right now." Green eyes fell to protruding fabric of her black dress top and fingers twitched, but never made contact. "She kicks me a lot, especially when I lay down for the night."
"Henry used to do that to me, but he eventually stopped." Regina purred softly, her brown eyes sparkling.
"I used to have to rub her belly to calm him down."
"And sometimes you'd be snoring before you were finished." A fond smile was given to the blonde and the latter grinned in return, leaning into the brunette's warm side.
"Yes, well, I wish not to get myself too attached," Zelena said and flattened the palms of her hands on her thighs. She was silent for a moment as Regina frowned and dug through the box before her and Emma returned to her own. "You know, Regina… I-I was going to ask…"
The brunette pulled out a knick-knack of a pearl colored ceramic horse and kept it in her hand, dark eyes raising. "What is it?"
"I just… I don't know." The older woman licked her lips. "Never mind that. I… Thank you for allowing me to stay here. I truly do appreciate it."
Olive fingers turned white as they pressed into the delicate horse. "Of course, Zelena," she said, turning to her sister, a smile stretched wide across her crimson lips. "You are my sister, after all."
An absent smile crossed Zelena's features. "What do you have left to unpack?"
"Just these items, I believe. We have been here for about a week, now, slowly going at it while Henry is asleep." Regina moved to pull out another decorative item and put it aside, sighing softly.
"How is my little nephew doing?" Her sister shifted slightly as she watched, that grin on her face widening. "He isn't troubling you too much, now, is he?"
The brunette shook her head and chuckled, picking the rest of the items out of the box. "Oh, no. He's actually a sweet little boy when he isn't hyped up on the sugar Emma tends to give him." A chestnut glare was shot the blonde's way.
"Hey! How can I say no to his cute little face? He's like you, y'know?" Giggling, she shoved her hand into the newly opened box only to pull out another box, though one that once held shoes. She peeked inside when the brunette snorted and turned her attention back to her sister.
"He's excited about the house. It's a lot bigger than he's been used to." The brunette teacher chuckled softly.
"So, when do I get to meet him?" Zelena asked, hands pressing into her knees. "I assume he is asleep from what you've told me."
"Oh, yeah. We finally got him down for a nap before dinner. Took forever to stop him from exploring and clean up the trail of toys around the house." Emma chirped and shoved the shoe box onto her wife's lap, earning another scoff and a dirty look.
"I'm doing something, dear."
"Yeah, but those are your pictures. I donno what you want me to do with them." The blonde offered her a cute little smile before going back to her designated box as her wife opened the lid off the one she had received.
"What pictures are those?" Zelena asked, peeking over at her sister's lap.
The brunette, silent, dug through the photographs, an absent smile on her lips. She lifted the one in her hand and showed it to the older woman, murmuring. "The ones mother kept. This is the only one of my father. It's when he first took me to the stables as a little girl." The picture was shown to Emma, next, and she gazed upon the smiling faces of a very young Regina on a chestnut horse and a slightly husky man with greying hair standing beside her.
"Oh, baby, you look so cute." The blonde lifted her gaze and found a liquid smile on her lover's face. "Didn't you have more photos of your father?"
Regina nodded and tucked the picture back into the box, sifting through a few more. She caught glimpses of them as they were ruffled through; more of a youthful version of her wife and a few with Cora, looking as bitchy as ever. "In my own personal collection. I had to hide it from my mother because, like everyone else, she wanted to erase him from her life."
Emma touched her wife's knee as the brunette handed the box to her sister and returned to unpacking. "I'm sorry, Gina."
"Don't be. I have my memories of him and the few pictures I had collected. Why don't we finish up here so we can eat dinner?"
The next day they decided to treat themselves to Granny's; some place that Emma hadn't stepped foot into for what felt like forever, even though they made it mandatory to stop in every time they made their way to Storybrooke.
The blonde sat up to the counter while her wife, son, and Zelena found a booth toward the back. She drummed her fingers on the pristine surface as the man next to her smiled and she returned it awkwardly, not quite recognizing the face and hoping that he wouldn't attempt to talk her up.
"Can I get you anything?" A woman's voice asked, pulling her away from the brief encounter. She nodded when she saw a blonde's polite smile reflecting her own.
"Uh, sure. You know, can I get a grilled cheese, please? With the crinkle cut fries." Emma grinned, mouth already watering at the mention of the dish. Gods had she missed it. Granny always made sure to put extra cheese on the sandwich. "And a Coke with no ice. Makes it watery, you know?"
The waitress nodded and jotted down the order. "Anything else?"
"Yeah! When it's done, could you bring it to the table with the cute little baby at it?" Emma hooked a thumb over to Henry who was currently being settled into a highchair by her very precious wife. "Their order's gonna be on the same tab."
"Of course! Will that be all?"
"Yeah." The blonde curled her fingers into her palms, letting her eyes wander before drawing back to the waitress. "Hey, is Ruby in today?"
"Yes, she's in the back. Would you like me to get her?" When Emma nodded the girl was off and she smirked, eyes falling back to the man who now looked at her, eyes narrowed. There was something familiar about him, the more she ended up staring at him and his dark hair.
"Emma Swan, right?" His voice rumbled when he spoke and she nodded, her own brows furrowing, trying to wrack her brain for a name.
"Yeah…? I'm sorry, but I don't-"
"Hey, bitch! Are you flirting with Jefferson over here?" Ruby's words caught her attention and she saw the lanky brunette standing in the doorway of the kitchen, her straight, chocolate hair framing her face.
Then it hit her when the name registered; Jefferson. His features grew familiar and perhaps it was because he smiled instead of scowled, but there was still something about it that made her want to deck him. His white teeth were far too straight. "Remember me now?"
"Yeah, I do." She muttered and looked to Ruby who had managed to sneak on the other side of the counter and pulled her into a hug.
"It's good to see you! Finished unpacking finally?" When she pulled away, offering her signature wolfish grin and chuckled. "Where's Regina?"
"Oh, she's over there with Henry. I decided to surprise you, first. And, of course, order some food."
"Of course. Who's that chick with her?" The brunette waitress settled into the empty seat beside Emma, dark eyes on the two who were currently giving their order to the same blonde waitress who had taken hers.
"Zelena, her sister," she answered, twirling around to face her best friend. "We're letting her stay with us for a while."
"She looks familiar…"
"Probably. She was here years ago before we moved." Emma shrugged slightly and leaned forward. "So, tell me, how have things been running the diner by yourself?"
Ruby looked at her for an intense moment and she found her answer in the way her lips pressed together. "It's shit, to be honest, and hard. I don't know how Granny did it. I have to go to the hospital and ask her how to do something, like, constantly."
"Just going to ignore me over here I see." Jefferson broke into their conversation and when she turned she was met with his smirk.
"Wasn't planning on talking to you, jerk. I still don't like you." The blonde narrowed her eyes.
"Yeah, and she's married, so you aren't getting into her pants, horndog." Ruby laughed and popped up from her seat to nudge him before rounding the counter when a customer approached. "And I'm pretty sure she still hates you for insulting her wife."
Those words had the man laughing, his tear-filled eyes landing on the blonde. "Wife? And, tell me, who is your wife? I don't recall ever insulting one of your friends."
"Thanks, Ruby." Emma muttered and stood, herself, prepared to join her family. "And goodbye to you." Before he could say another word, she quickly found her solace in her wife as she settled into the booth.
"The waitress brought your soda, dear." Regina slid a glass toward her, a smile stretching across her crimson lips. "Who was that you were talking to?"
"Remember that douche Jefferson?" The brunette's brows knitted together. "He was the one that I punched in high school for talking shit about you."
"Shit!" Henry's voice squealed and Emma felt a sharp sting on her arm.
"How many times do I have to tell you to mind your language around Henry?"
Zelena snickered from her side of the booth.
"Sorry, baby." Though, she had to admit, of the few words that Henry had picked up, that was one of them. She looked to the baby, though, and attempted to use her stern-mama voice. "No, Henry. No saying that word, okay? It's a bad word and mommy will keep hitting me every time you say it."
"And how many times has she hit you thus far?" Zelena's amused voice queried.
Jade fire shot straight out at the woman across from her, nose wrinkling.
"Oh, probably too many to count. Our Emma here has a potty-mouth on her." Ruby answered in the stead of Emma's response, smirking down from her position, a hand ruffling Henry's brown locks. "Gods, girl, I can't believe you're making your one-year-old have a bad mouth like you."
"Hey, I didn't mean to! It's… it's a hard habit to break, you know?" Emma sipped from her soda. "Gina does it, too."
"Not as much as you do, my love." The brunette seated beside her purred and leaned over to press a warm kiss to her cheek. "He will learn not to use such language. Unfortunately, now, he is very impressionable and does not know any better. They are merely sounds, after all."
"Like cake." Ruby snorted and slipped in beside Zelena, turning to the very woman. "I discovered that was one of, like, three words he knew at his first birthday party."
"Gina's fault!" Emma quickly muttered, earning another smack to her arm. She wrinkled her nose. "You know, that's called spousal abuse, or something."
"Do you want me to tell you how many bruises you gave me after hitting me with a controller for playing a game?" The brunette teacher quirked a brow and Emma deflated a little, eyes on her son whose hands were currently smacking against the plastic tray.
"I'll save you," Ruby quickly said, grinning from ear to ear. "Jefferson said he was gonna come over here and say 'hello.' He's curious, now, since you left him in the dust."
"He can say hello to my damn fist."
"Emma! I swear to Gods-"
"You shouldn't swear, Gina, that's a bad thing." She smirked and prepared for another hit on her already reddening arm, but was spared as much when she heard a masculine voice.
Regina's chestnut hues widened slightly when she gazed up at the source and they quickly burned when they recognized it. "Jefferson. It has certainly been a while."
"Yeah, I haven't seen you around, lately. What's up?" He leaned against the booth on Ruby's side, well-away from Henry. Emma drug the high chair over anyway. "You know, you were always one of my favorite teachers. I could never forget you."
"You mean her ass," Emma muttered and scooted away from her wife before the brunette could reprimand her for cursing again. "I never forgot what you said."
"I was a stupid kid." Jefferson's eyes darkened. "That's behind us now."
"If you say so. Anyways, what do you want?" She shifted in her seat, a hand dropping to grip Regina's thigh.
"Well, you did leave me in the dark about your wife." He smirked, though it faltered when he noticed where the blonde's hand had fallen. Brows knitting, he laughed and shook his head. "Oh, hell no. There is no possible way that you married ."
Emma let a smirk haunt her lips and scooted closer to the brunette teacher. "Well, I hope you're hungry 'cause you'll be eating your own words."
"She can't be gay." Desperate now, his dark gaze fell to the older woman but Regina merely hid herself in bubbling soda. "Right?"
"Fortunately, she is." With a soft hum, the blonde leaned over to press a kiss to the brunette's cheek. "We would have invited you the wedding, but, uh, we don't really like you, no offense."
Jefferson scoffed softly and pushed away from the booth, eyes falling to Henry who only seemed to watch him with large, brown eyes. "Don't tell me you have a kid together, too."
"Man, don't you have a kid, Jefferson?" Ruby butted in before the blonde could make a comeback. "Grace, wasn't it?"
Emerald eyes widened on the man who shrunk in his spot, eyes searching for the exit as if he were about to make an escape. "You have a daughter?"
"Uh, yeah," he answered quietly, letting his gaze fall back on the table.
"Yeah, I was surprised, too. Bitch was married for two seconds, too." Ruby smirked and kicked his ankle. "I didn't think anyone would wanna sleep with him. Maybe Victor, 'cause he'll stick his dick in anything that moves and they're, like, attached at the hip."
"No we aren't. He hates me." Jefferson tugged at the lapels of his jacket, nose twitching. "And shut the hell up, Ruby."
"Both of you need to shut up because I am not having you swear in front of my son." Emma glared at the two, though she could feel the way Regina burned holes into the back of her head. "Shut up, Gina."
"I do not want to hear you talk, Emma."
Shifting in her seat, she brought a smile to her former enemy. "So, what happened, there? Get divorced?"
"No, she died." He pressed his lips together and the smile melted away from Emma's face. "There were complications… Uh, look. I have to pick my daughter up from her grandma's. See you around."
And before Emma could say another word, he was wandering out of the diner, the image of his dark eyes haunting her. "Well, now I feel like an ass."
"Probably no more than I did when I found out." Ruby took the blonde's hand and squeezed it, offering a forlorn smile. "I saw them around, you know, before everything. They opened some tailoring shop in town. I mean, she was good for him, but I thought she left him. I didn't even know she was pregnant. They never came around often and I was dealing with Granny."
"I am glad that he has matured, at least." Regina's voice rumbled from beside her blonde wife. "We should visit him, sweetheart."
"Yeah, now that I feel like sh-… poop." She took a sip from her Coke and looked to the diner's entrance.
When Ruby stood and spoke, she drew the blonde's attention away from her impending thoughts and smiled. "Sorry to make things awkward. I'm gonna go get your guys' food." She smiled down at Henry whose hands slapped against the tray once again and squealed. "Yeah, little man, Auntie Ruby's gotta get some food in your hungry little belly."
"What did you order him?" Emma asked when the brunette waitress left.
"Grilled cheese, darling." The blonde could feel the smile surging within her before it burst across her face in a pleased grin. "Exactly why I did it."
"Man, I can't wait to come here for lunch, like, everyday. I miss the hell out of it." She scooted closer to the warm teacher and pressed against her, hand curling into the olive one resting on the table.
Regina shook her head with a soft chuckle and turned her hand over to squeeze the younger woman's. "Well, I do suppose it will beat your habit of doughnuts, yes?"
"No." Emma smirked and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "David likes to bring a dozen in each morning and eats like half the box."
"And no doubt you will demolish the rest." The brunette quirked a brow.
"Oh, hush! I exercise-"
"I do! Shh."
"Getting up from the sofa to get yourself a drink does not constitute as exercise, my love."
The blonde crinkled her nose and broke her hand free from Regina's to turn her chin, stealing a kiss and silencing any further argument.
"You two are so sweet." Zelena murmured softly, hands under her chin as she watched the two lovers before her. "I believe I have made my decision."
The two paused briefly, both pairs of eyes falling on the redheaded woman. It was Regina who spoke, her voice quiet, curious. "What have you decided?"
Though, Zelena seemed to keep her words to herself for a moment, lips pressing together as she sought out something within the diner. Her fingers closed in on themselves as she released a breath. "Have you two planned on more children?"
"Well, perhaps in the future, yes." Regina nodded, answering as she would when the question would be asked. "Adoption was something we discussed, or fostering- Pray tell, what does this have to do with your decision?" It took her only a second to realize before her chestnut gaze widened and Emma couldn't help but to let her heart swell inside her chest at the sight. "Are you saying-"
"That I would like for you two to adopt the baby? Yes." She nodded slightly, a smile on her lips, though it seemed a little too forced. This had the blonde frowning despite the soft sound that escaped her wife's lips. "Would you?"
"I-I… Yes, of course. I-I would… I mean- Emma?"
"Huh?" Blinking, Emma found herself staring into those deep brown eyes before nodding slightly. "It would be a bit sooner than expected, but… Yeah, you know? It's your sister's kid. I wouldn't want her to be sent to a bad home or anything."
"That is exactly why I was thinking of you two." Zelena shifted slightly, the booth's material squeaking underneath her weight. "Money was not the only reason why I had approached you, Regina. I know you and I know that you would give her a good home and that you would love her so very much."
The brunette teacher shook beside Emma and she saw a tear slipping down her cheek. "We would. We would treat her like our own and she would have a wonderful home." She reached out to take her sister's hands. "Are you sure, Zelena? Are you sure that you want to give her to us?"
"Of course, Regina. I couldn't allow her into whatever system there is. I trust you. Both of you." Her shimmering green eyes landed on Emma and she smiled, but something held it back. She briefly wondered if Zelena truly did want to give her daughter away, but it wasn't in her place to question.
"Yes, of course, Zelena. But… I mean, are you sure you want to give her up?" The older woman nodded quickly, her eyes peeling away from the two and falling to the patrons in the diner.
"I am. I am not at a point in my life to raise a child." She offered her a weak smile and squeezed the younger woman's hands. "I know you will love her well. Henry has a good home with two wonderful mothers. Please…"
"Alright," Regina murmured, voice cracking. "Okay. If you are certain."
Zelena nodded. "Let me know if this is too much for you, Regina. I do not want you to accept what I am throwing at you just because I am your sister. Think about it, okay?"
"But I am certain, Zelena-"
"I know. I know. But I want you two to talk about this on your own, alright?" When Regina nodded, Zelena seemed to relax and drew her hands back to herself. "Thank you, Regina. I do truly appreciate all of this. It's…"
"You're my sister, honey. Remember what I told you?"
"That you'll always be there for me, no matter what, et cetera, et cetera?"
"Remember that." The brunette offered her a sad smile.
Silence followed until Henry's shrill squeal filled the air and Emma felt as if she jumped quite literally out of her skin. "Jesus, kid. Calm down!" When she looked to him, she knew why he had squealed; there was food.
She could feel her stomach grumble when her own plate was set in front of her and licked her lips. Regina adamantly switched placed with her wife so she could help Henry with his sandwich, though he kept pulling it away from his brunette mother, sternly muttering gibberish and Emma would have liked to think he was telling her that he could feed himself. He certainly did inherit Regina's sass.
"Man, what the hell happened while I was gone?" Ruby laughed as Belle set a plate of lasagna in front of Zelena. Emma hadn't even noticed the quiet brunette had approached, but she was just that; quiet.
"Personal shit, you nosy bitch." Emma was ready to pop a fry into her mouth but it fell back onto her plate when Regina elbowed her hard in the ribs. "Jesus Christ, Regina! That hurt."
"How many times must I tell you to watch your language around Henry?"
"Well, she said it, too!" The blonde pouted into her grilled cheese and Henry only seemed to laugh. He was an evil little baby.
"Child," muttered her wife before offering a smile toward the younger women that still lingered by their table. "How are you girls doing?"
"Well, you know, freaking out trying to juggle the diner and take care of my granny." Ruby answered, a light smile appearing on her face when Belle had taken her hand.
The blue-eyed brunette grinned politely. "And I've been making sure she doesn't go off the deep-end. Or else I'm just working in my spare time."
Regina chuckled softly and brought her attention to the perfect square of lasagna placed before her, bringing up a fork to cut off a corner. "You two should come over for dinner some time."
"Oh, come on! Don't bring them over." Emma teased, smirking up at the two brunettes who glared at her. "Not until they invite us to their damn wedding."
"Oh, are you two getting married?" Zelena asked, her fork dropping back onto her plate.
Ruby only scoffed and crossed her arms over the white button up blouse. "No. But Emma seems to have this little notion that we are."
"Only because you guys have been going out for as long as us." The blonde popped a fry into her mouth.
"Yeah, but we've broken up a couple of times." The waitress muttered and played with a scarlet streak of hair.
Emma dropped her half of grilled cheese and regarded her friends with wide eyes. "When?"
But Ruby merely shrugged and hooked a thumb behind her. "I've got to get back to work. Uh, enjoy your meals and lemme know if you need anything else." Before Emma could utter a protest, she was off and Belle followed, shrinking under the scrutinizing stare her blonde friend gave.
"They broke up before?" Emma couldn't seem to climb that little mountain of a thought and played with a french fry.
Regina's hand went to her thigh and squeezed it. "We have had our arguments, my love, and we nearly broke things off, as well. Things happen, but they are still together."
"Maybe," muttered the blonde and stuffed that fry into her mouth, thinking about the true integrity of her best friends' relationship.
"... Then she was forced to put on the red-hot shoes, and dance until she dropped down dead."
"I'm glad he can't understand what you're saying or else he'd probably be having nightmares," Emma said, peering into the crib at the baby who was fast asleep, curled underneath a warm blanket with his favorite plush in hand. A smile curved her lips as she moved the blanket up and looked down at her wife who still sat in the rocking chair, a thick book of Grimm's fairy tales in hand.
"Who was the one that decided to buy the book and want to read all the stories?"
"Uh… you?" Sheepishly, the blonde curled her fingers between the small bars of the wooden crib, keeping her gaze away from the burning one. "Okay, but, you have to admit, the binding is neat."
"Neat." Regina rolled her eyes as she gently rocked, fingers moving along the ribbed spine.
"And you were curious, too!" Emma smirked and finally turned toward her. "Oh, don't worry, we'll let him read the Disney versions when he does grasp what we're saying."
"By then, he'd be scarred for life." The brunette grinned darkly.
"Hey! People told these to their kids at some point before someone decided to make them more child friendly."
"So we must subject our own child to them?"
Emma smiled and pushed away. "It's my job to scar the kid."
"You know, baby, I never noticed how soothing your voice can be." Shaking her head and dropping the subject, the blonde collected the book from the brunette woman to replace on its shelf next to a row of its child-friendly counterparts. "Sometimes I find myself being put to sleep by it."
"I am certainly glad that I can put you to sleep while talking." Regina narrowed her eyes as she stood, carefully dragging the chair back into its corner, muttering, "Shows how much you truly listen to me."
Blood filled the blonde's face. "No, no. I mean… When you use that tone. It's… calming, quiet. Sometimes you talk like that when we're going to sleep. It's like a lullaby, or something." Offering a sheepish smile, she pressed a quick kiss to the older woman's cheek. "It's a good thing. I like it."
The brunette snorted softly and moved toward the crib to check on Henry, a soft smile on her lips. "At least it works to put our son to sleep."
"My sentiments exactly. He can be wild and sassy like you." Emma allowed one last glimpse to the sleeping baby before taking her wife's hand and slipping from the room, flicking the light switch as they went and promptly ignoring the scoff. "Man, to think we're gonna get another one of them."
Emma explained as they descended the stairs, "Zelena's baby."
"Oh, yes. Of course." A light smile touched her pink lips, but her eyes crinkled uncertainly.
"Uh-oh. Having second thoughts about accepting her offer?" The blonde frowned slightly and curled onto the sofa in front of an abandoned box - the last box.
Regina joined her, shaking her head. "No, of course not. It's… I suppose I wasn't expecting to bring another child into the family until Henry was a bit older."
"Yeah," she agreed, slowly pulling out a large, glass-encased candle. "Two babies are gonna kill the hell out of us."
The brunette helped her, emptying the box of the other remaining candles and the hand towels that they were wrapped in. She sighed, holding the final one in hand. "How do you feel about all of this, sweetheart? It was sort of just thrust upon us and I just agreed to it all."
"Honestly?" Regina nodded, quiet. "I'm scared, you know? Two babies?" Emma chuckled a bit and tore down the box, throwing it among the others. "But I think we can handle it. We have some experience under out belts, now. And, besides, I don't want her thrown into the foster system like I was."
Regina remained silent and dropped the candle onto the table before taking her blonde wife's hand, curling her fingers between ivory.
Emma sighed contentedly. "And even if she gets adopted, she might end up in a bad place. I don't- I would rather keep her here, with us, knowing that she'll have a good home, a good childhood." She felt her brunette move closer, leaning into her side, and wrapped an arm around the teacher's waist as she nestled. "I mean, that's why I wanted to foster, too. When Henry was older, of course. Just to give someone a better life. These kids deserve that."
"Indeed, my love," Regina purred from her neck and pressed a kiss to the light skin. "That's why I love you. You're compassionate."
"Nah, baby. I just think the world can be a shit place and good people fall into it. I'm glad we rose above to give Henry a good life."
"I am, too," murmured the brunette, laying her head on Emma's shoulder. She released a long sigh, eyes on the coffee table and the cat that was sitting atop it. As soon as she made eye contact, Milly meowed and launched herself onto the brunette's lap, earning a recoiling "oomph!"
Emma laughed, rubbing the young cat's head. "I guess I stand corrected. We will have three children."
"Four," muttered Regina, sparkling brown eyes on her lover.
"You turd." The blonde crinkled her nose and nudged her.
"Oh, now you use alternate words for your curses." Rolling her eyes, the brunette trailed her fingers along the cat's spine. "And you fully support my accusation."
"Oh, you love me, shush." Her pale fingers were soon at her wife's sides - her ultimate weakness. Poor little Milly decided against getting in the middle of this one as the teacher squealed with laughter and bailed from Regina's lap to clean herself on the recliner.
"Stop!" Regina shrieked, squirming and flailing against the cream cushions as Emma hovered over her, relentless. "No no no! Please!"
Emma giggled in spite of the little brunette's reddening face and the tears that escaped the corners of her eyes. Both rumbled with laughter as the attack continued until the blonde was kneed in the abdomen and fell off onto the couch, clutching herself.
"Fuck! You're lethal," she groaned, wheezing and coughing dramatically.
Regina eyes went wide immediately. "Oh, Emma! I'm sorry!"
But Emma laughed, despite the forming bruise on her stomach, and peeked up from her knees. "It's fine! I swear! I knew what I was getting myself into and it was about time. Ow, fuck!"
Along with her kneed insides, her arm stung. She glared.
"And that, my love, is for tickling me." Regina wrinkled her nose. "You know how much I detest that."
"I know." The blonde pulled her hand away from her reddening arm and forced a pout. "You're going to bruise me some day."
"Like you do to me, dear?" Quirking a brow, the brunette's eyes slid to her wife's arm before drawing her lips to the smooth surface. Emma shivered. "It's decided, then."
"Huh? I mean, I guess. You can bruise me if you want." Her brows waggled. "Even though you do in bed sometimes."
"That is not what I had meant." With a snort, her lips paused on the blonde's shoulder. "I meant about the baby."
"Oh, yeah." Emma nodded solemnly, though the soft mouth attaching to her neck had her giggling softly. "Yeah, yeah. I mean, we're not gonna let her go to some stranger and your sister wanted us to. I guess… I guess we're getting a daughter, huh?"
The older woman hummed softly and she felt her smiling against her skin. "I wish Zelena would keep her, though. She has lost so much already."
The blonde frowned, seeking her wife's hand. "But we can't force her to."
"I know, sweetheart."
"And at least this way she'll stay in the family - the baby. Zelena can see her whenever she wants."
That brought a smile to Regina's frowning lips, but it was bittersweet. "That is true…"
Emma turned toward the teacher and cupped her cheek. "Hey… We've got plenty of time to prepare or… you know, convince her."
Regina nodded slightly, her eyes falling to the younger woman's lips before shifting to meet her gaze.
"And, she'll be staying here, so we can help her."
"Emma," she said, sighing, "do you really want this baby?"
Her brow furrowed as she attempted to add enthusiasm to her nod. "Of course I do, baby. But, you sound like you don't…"
"Oh, honey, I do." Her smile melted Emma's heart and spread its warmth throughout her. "I just want my sister to be happy. I want to make sure she is making the right decision and won't regret it."
"Yeah, of course." Emma nodded. It was numbing, these thoughts. They were talking about adopting another child while she was still grasping the idea of Henry. But, in the end, she would always follow her wife and do what made her the happiest.
"We should sleep on it. This is much for one day."
"Yeah," she agreed quietly, letting her fingers drift along the brunette's olive-toned neck. She enjoyed the way Regina trembled underneath her touch.
"You're perfect," Emma whispered after a moment of silence, a little tug pulling at her mouth.
Regina's face immediately darkened. "Far from it, my love," she murmured and licked her lips, eyes falling once again.
"You are to me. You're everything I've ever hoped for." Her pale digits slid through dark, fragrant tresses and hummed at the familiar silken feel. "And more." With a little smirk, she curled her fingers into those soft locks and brought Regina forward until their lips met.
Emma's head swam in her brunette's familiarity and lost herself in a sea of exploring hands and sweet lips.
It wasn't until she heard Regina's sharp cry was she grounded back to reality, her hand underneath the brunette's satin nightdress, caressing her treasured spot. Music filled her ears, the special melody that her wife could only sing. Her entire body burned, the fire setting forth from the short nails that dug into her flesh.
"Are you alright, Regina?" Zelena's voice quickly quenched any fire. Emma looked up, eyes wide, on the woman who stood in the doorway, jaw slack. "Oh, Gods, I-I apologize! I hadn't known that you two were…"
"It's fine!" Emma squealed, pulling her hand from her wife as blood colored her face pink. "I-I guess we forgot and… heh."
Regina, the poor woman, always getting traumatized by one of her family members walking in during an intimate moment. She quickly pulled her skirt down and stood, though swayed slightly. "We will, uh-"
"I-I'll go ahead to the den, Regina. See you in the morning." Thawed from her shock, Zelena scurried from the room. In the distance, the door to the den was slammed shut.
"We really ought to be careful, huh?" Emma joined her wife, pressing a hand to the small of her back to steady her. "Bedroom?"