"What is it, Emma?" Regina finished stirring her coffee and popped the lid on before swiftly moving across the house, calling back to the voice that summoned her.
She found her standing in the living room with a half-eaten bear claw in hand looking as if someone had just insulted her entire existence. This naturally prompted another question along with a raised brow.
"What happened, sweetheart?"
"Did you eat my bear claw?" The next thing Regina knew, Emma was shoving the pastry into view, accentuating on the bite marks. "It was whole just a minute ago. I turned around to look for my phone and when I found it, I saw this- this… crime."
Regina's eyes narrowed. "I was in the kitchen. You know that if I wanted one of your bear claws, I would ask… Or purchase extra. Are you sure you didn't take a bite before turning around?"
Her wife did tend to forget things in the short term. That was why she often forgot her phone on the nightstand or sometimes left the orange juice out in the morning without pouring herself a glass. She had too much going on in her mind and Regina could stare in awe at how she managed to chaotically organize it.
"Yes, I'm sure. I would have tasted it."
"This is coming from the woman who – last night – blatantly ate the rest of my pie in front of me, got up to get more, and came back accusing me of eating too quickly."
"I have witnessed firsthand you scarf down a slice of pie when enticed by more-"
"And you forgot to bring it. Instead, you brought the whipped cream of all things."
Emma's lips parted as if she were to refute but the inner cogs of her mind clicked into place as she remembered the prior night's events and her face darkened. "You know what?"
"What?" Regina offered a sly grin.
The blonde pressed her lips together before turning to grab her keys off the coffee table. "Nothing. I should probably get going before I'm late."
Regina snorted and watched as her wife flustered about gathering things she needed. "Where's Henry?" Emma stiffened, back facing the older woman, and stood straight up.
"Uh… Last I saw him, he was playing with that little dinosaur thing your sister got him." She took a few steps forward and peered around the couch.
"I told you to keep an eye on him for five minutes. You are astounding sometimes."
"Look!" Emma snapped, whipping around to face the approaching older woman, halting her step as she was caught by the sudden hostility. "I'm fucking tired. I don't want to do this right now. Never mind that I go to work for how many hours? Nine? Ten? And only to come home not knowing when I get called back in for extra time and extra money that we don't have-"
"You've never once been called in, so do not play that card now. Do not blame this on me, Emma." She had lost count the times Emma had promised her there was nothing to worry about – that she had this – and Regina needn't lift a finger to help. She was taking care of Henry.
When she recounted Emma's words, the younger woman merely sighed and shook her head before grabbing her jacket that was draped on the back of the living chair. "I'm just saying that there's a lot of pressure on me."
"And there wasn't any on me while you were in school and I was paying nearly twice the amount on rent?" Regina took a step toward her, stopping her from leaving.
Emma stared at her for a moment, processing the words before they registered, and she bit, "But you sure as hell had a chunk of change to help you from your mother."
"Of course, but that quickly diminished from doctors' appointments and missed rent when ends didn't quite meet. Are you going to blame Henry, now, too?"
"No, of course not." Briefly, she looked away, but the broken contact only lasted a moment before she returned with a vengeance. "Who the hell's pulling the bullshit card now? Why the fuck do you need to bring Henry into this?"
Regina was stunted for a moment. Out of anger, she hadn't realized what she had said, but that didn't mean Emma was able to rake in all the winnings. "I'm not bringing him into this. You're the one blaming me for blowing through my inheritance like it wasn't used to keep a roof over your head and food on the table."
"I am not blaming that on you. What the fuck?" Emma scoffed, her face reddening. "I just meant-"
There was something underneath her skin that itched. "What did you mean? That it's difficult being a responsible adult with bills to pay and mouths to feed? It certainly is, especially when there are three people and only one person working in this economy."
"How do you think I feel n-"
"Is someone missing a little monster?" A voice carried from behind the two, cutting Emma off. When Regina turned she was met with another adorable smile and her sister's playful snark. "I saw him trying to escape through the kitchen. Was halfway in a cabinet before I got to him."
The little boy's grin only brightened when his brunette mother neared him, arms open. He gladly accepted, eliminating all traces of the prior argument as soon as his sweet voice sang, "Mommy!"
"What have you here?" Regina asked, examining the little red stegosaur clutched in his hand. He waved it in the air enthusiastically, spouting, "Dino!"
"He sure loves that thing," Zelena commented. Her entire face could have melted the way she fondly looked to her nephew.
"That's because Aunt Z gave it to him."
"Sorry to interrupt your chit-chat about our ever so precious son, but did you so happen to take a bite of a bear claw, Zelena?" Regina felt as Emma stood beside her, raising the hairs on the back of her neck, but at the same time burning her stomach from their prior argument.
Zelena stared at Emma as if the woman had offended her. "Uh… No? Why would I touch that thing?"
The deputy's eyes narrowed. "'cause I still haven't found a perp and I sure as hell didn't commit these foul acts."
"Have you ever thought of asking your son?"
"It would be impossible. He was across the room when I turned back, and it only took a second for me to find my phone." Emma sighed in defeat, her eyes narrowing on the two women. "I swear, I will find out who ate my doughnut if it is the last thing I do."
Her wife sure had a way of creating drama out of something so simple. Regina merely shook her head as Emma left the room and shared an amused look with her sister.
"How do you put up with that?"
"This nagging little notion that I love her," she said with a light chuckle.
"Hey! Mom's here with Neal!"
Emma's voice brought her into the foyer where Mary Margaret stood with a squealing toddler in her arms. The blonde quickly mumbled something about being late and slipped through the door.
"Henny!" Neal reached for the little boy in Regina's arms making it rather difficult to keep Henry in her grasp as she started to squirm excitedly, waving his dinosaur toy.
"I got dino!"
She had no other choice but to unleash her little monster to meet with his "friend" as he understood Neal as. The two babbled to one another with their limited vocabulary and shared each other's toys.
"These two are adorable," Mary Margaret commented, slipping Neal's diaper bag off her shoulder to hand to Regina. "I hope they'll be best friends when they're older."
"Well, they certainly are now. Of course, it's not as if I know many people that have small children." She crossed her arms lightly and stood back watching the two toddlers, her heart squeezing inside her chest. She wondered if Henry would be excited to gain a sister.
"I'm sure that will change, especially when you start working again. He'll meet new friends at daycare." Regina pressed her lips together and nodded, wondering if that day would ever come. The argument with her wife came back to mind and she frowned. Mary Margaret offered her a light smile before clapping her hands together. "I suppose I ought to be off as well."
"Of course. Are we still on for dinner tonight?" she asked, following the other woman to the door and held it open.
"Yes! I'll pick up David after work and be right over."
"See you then."
Regina watched her leave through the crack of the door as it closed behind her. It was Emma's idea to invite her parents to dinner. They hadn't sat down together since they returned to Storybrooke and even then, it was at Granny's for a handful of minutes.
She didn't have to worry about cooking until later. For now, she turned toward the little tots that remained in the middle of the foyer with their toys, playing separately but having some sort of conversation between them.
"Come on, you two, let's get you some breakfast." After many failed attempts to get them to put their toys away, Regina was finally able to herd them into the kitchen. It wasn't long until they were finished with their breakfast and passed out in Henry's room, sharing her son's bed.
This left her to herself for at least ten minutes until one of the children decided to wake up. Regina left Henry's room to seek her sister out, deciding to use this time for another much-needed conversation with Zelena.
There was always some sort of doubt brewing within Regina when she watched her sister. As time passed and they reined in more supplies for the expected arrival, she noticed a deterioration in Zelena's mood. It always planted seeds in her mind, especially as they grew closer to the due date. She didn't want to take a daughter away from her sister.
"Zelena, I have to ask-" She began upon spotting the very woman in the living room.
"Regina, Gods, I love your concern but for the last time… I'm sure."
But Regina didn't submit to her reassurance this time and touched her sister's elbow. "You aren't." Zelena's eyes narrowed. "Don't give me that look. You hate going into the nursery."
Her eyes faltered for a moment and Regina could sense the uncertainty again, but her sister spoke with rehearsed words, "I have already made up my mind."
"Then why do I sense that you haven't?" Regina continued to stare at her, eyes slivered. "Do you think me to be so… simple?"
"Simple?" Zelena snorted and backed away from the younger woman, looking to occupy her idle hands. "Hardly. You might have done some questionable things, but simple you are not. It's just-" She sighed, pausing with one of Henry's toys in hand.
"It's just, what, Zelena?"
"It's just that…" Regina stepped closer when Zelena's words had quieted. Maybe she was finally getting through to her sister. "I'm scared, Regina. I'm scared that… I won't be able to take care of her. That I won't be able to give her everything that she needs. That I'll be like…"
When Zelena turned to face her sister, Regina saw the beginning of tears brimming her eyes. "She was terrible. To you. To… everyone."
"You aren't like her." Thinking back to Cora's questionable parenting skills, Regina shuddered. She had the same fears before and during her pregnancy with Henry. It had taken Emma many tries to reassure her that she would never be like her despicable mother. Though, some days when she can feel the anger and the irritation buzzing within her brain, she feared Cora was always there, lurking, waiting.
When she recounted these same fears to her sister, Zelena laughed humorously, saying, "You are the polar-opposite of Cora. You have a heart."
"And so do you, Zelena. You care about your daughter's wellbeing. More than I can say for mother."
"She cared about you, baby sis, just in her own twisted way."
"Perhaps." Regina collected her son's toy from Zelena and perched upon the couch, arms resting on her knees. She looked up to her sister who still stood, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. "I really want you to keep her."
"Why is this so important to you?" she asked, arms crossing, then falling to her sides as she began to pace immediately after. "I thought you and Emma wanted another child? This is the perfect opportunity to give Henry a sibling."
"But I don't want to take that child away from my sister."
"You aren't taking her away from me."
"It feels as if I am when you talk and act the way you do, Zelena." She wanted to wring her neck, or at the very least, knock some sense into her. Regina's fingers dug into the poor toy held captive in her hands, aching them. "I don't want you to regret your decision and then blame me for it."
"Why would I ever blame you?"
She was taken aback. Naturally this question would be posed if she were to bring the topic to light, but she didn't necessarily have an apt response to it. There were many reasons she could think of, but none of them were brought forth to her mind. "I…"
"I understand," Zelena apologized. "I… I know why you think I would blame you." Finally, she sought out a spot to perch beside her sister, fingers curling into her palms. "But I promise you that I won't. I'm not ready for this… for motherhood. I never was."
"No, Regina. Just… I made up my mind long ago. Can we just put this to rest?"
Regina wanted to argue with the older woman, to wring out her doubt, but Zelena's tired eyes gazed into her own and she sighed. "Are you prepared to have dinner with Emma's parents?" she asked.
"Should I be worried?"
"No. They're nice people. Though, Mary Margaret – her mother – can be a bit… nosy."
Regina chuckled and stood. "Would you like to help me with dinner later?"
"Please. At least I wouldn't feel like a bump on a log." Zelena's eyes were on the younger woman's form and she tensed as if to get up, but she grabbed the television remote instead. "Checking on the tykes?" she questioned before Regina could come up with a quip about her sister's usefulness.
"Yes. I'm sure they're up there already destroying Henry's room. I'll be back in a moment. Additional company is to be determined."
Emma was walking through the door for lunch before either of the two knew it. They pulled from their idle conversation as Regina stood to head toward the foyer with Henry and Neal in tow. She was expecting to be greeted by her wife's smile as it usually was, but when she met her in the kitchen, it was nowhere to be found. She frowned.
"Hey," she greeted Emma, setting the two children into their high chairs.
"Hey," Emma muttered lamely, already on the prowl for lunch, opening cupboard doors.
"What would you like for lunch?"
"I can get it myself."
Regina felt the tension from earlier once again and wished for it to immediately disappear. She already felt as if she had too much on her plate and fighting with her wife only added to the mess. "Emma…"
"Not now, Regina. I'm not in the mood for it."
"Fine," she simply said, pulling the peanut butter off the shelf. "I can make you a sandwich if you want, or a couple. I'm making them for the boys, anyways."
"I can-" When she turned toward her wife, Regina's brow quirked. Defeat deflated her. "Sure. Thank you."
With a pleased smile, Regina began preparing lunch. It was quiet aside from the boys' absent chatter and the occasional slap of a tray. Briefly, she turned to see if Emma had left, but she saw the familiar golden locks swishing as Emma cutely greeted her son and brother.
"Is mommy making you a sammy?" she asked in her, must Regina say, most adorable childish speech. "And, uh… Sh-… Gina? What are you to Neal, technically speaking and stuff?"
"I believe it'd be a mouthful to say 'sister-in-law' to a one-year-old." The older woman hummed, bringing over two sandwiches to plop onto each tray. "I'm just 'Gina' to him, dear. We aren't speaking with technicalities since he is so young and anything else is… unsuitable."
"Makes sense," she said, fluffing the hair on her brother's head. He gave her a dirty look, earning laughter from the two women.
"You have a knack for pissing people off."
"Yeah, well, it's what I do."
Regina could feel a heaviness in her chest. She turned to see Emma's back. "But we still love you."
"I guess," she muttered and poured herself a glass of the kids' chocolate milk. Something within Regina bloomed a helpless smile as she began preparing more sandwiches. "Want some, baby?"
"Sure, thank you." Regina slid a plate to Emma and continued to make her own lunch. "We'll have to pick some more up. We're almost out."
"Yeah, maybe I'll run by the store after work."
"We can go tomorrow. It's Saturday."
Emma made a soft noise and took a swift drink of her milk. "I still have to work."
"Since when?" Regina leaned against the countertop and picked up a sandwich. "You usually have the weekends off."
"Don't you pay attention to me when I tell you shit?"
"Excuse me? I do. I don't recall hearing you say anything about a schedule change."
"Yeah, well, it fucking happened. Now I have to work Saturday mornings to catch up on paperwork."
Regina poked her head up to look at the toddlers happily making a mess with their lunches. "Need I remind you to watch your language around the kids?"
"Who the fuck cares? They're going to learn it anyway."
"What is up with your attitude today? Gods, I feel like I'm dealing with a teenager." She pushed away from the counter, shaking her head.
"Oh, don't act like you're so innocent. You've been up my ass all week."
"What? Asking you to do chores?"
Emma rolled her eyes and Regina swore she was about to rip them right out of her skull. It was then that she decided to take a breath, realizing her anger was in no place that it should be. How could her wife jump on just the right nerves?
"Not just chores. You've been bitching about… everything!"
"Great argument, dear." Her wife wasn't great at arguments Regina found out. But her voice was loud and angry enough to upset the once happy toddlers. As Regina went over to calm them down, reprimanding Emma, Zelena popped into the room.
"I'll take care of these two," she whispered. Within those moments, Emma had disappeared.
Regina wasn't about to let her walk away and sent out for blood, finding her in the foyer preparing to leave. "Running away again?"
"Oh, shut up," Emma snapped, collecting her keys from the dish. "I have to work unlike somebody around here."
"Is that petty jab meant for me?" She blocked the blonde's exit by standing in front of the door, glaring at the younger woman as if daring her to pass. "Unlike you, I do not have connections to just get a job. I have to wait."
"And who wanted to move here on a whim? Sure as hell not me. I wanted to stay in Boston." Emma crossed her arms, trying to keep herself calm.
Her words certainly did strike a chord within Regina, sending her down a spiral. What argument had she with that? It was her doing. She was scared. But was that worth having this tension? To have her wife hating her for leaving her dream job? To be stuck in this dead-end town?
"Gina, wait. I didn't…" Emma's arms dropped within an instant as she narrowed the distance between them.
"I know what you meant. And it's true. It's my fault that you're here and not in Boston working with Graham. You can say it, Emma. You're angry. You've been angry. You blame me for it all and you hate me because of it."
"Hate?" The blonde laughed. She touched her cheek gently, igniting flames underneath her skin. "No, baby. I could never hate you. I just… How I've been acting is inexcusable. I'm sorry."
"Why are you apologizing to me?" Regina felt bewilderment in her wife's apology. "I should be apologizing for ruining your life. Your dream."
"My life? My dream?" Again, she laughed. "Baby, you're my life and our family is my dream. Working in Boston, or rather working in law enforcement… That was just the superficial answer I thought I wanted."
How did we ever manage to get to these situations? she asked herself. Regina didn't know, but the one thing that she did know was that she was lucky to have her adult-child of a wife.
"Don't cry, baby. I'm sorry…"
"The one thing you should be sorry for is cursing in front of our son."
Emma smiled, brightening Regina's heart. "I am sorry about that. I just… It's still hard to watch my mouth. All I heard as a kid was that kind of language."
"Just… try a little harder. Or, at least try to not get him to say those words."
"I will," she said and touched the older woman's fingers. "And about you working. I'm… I'm sorry about bringing it up. You can honestly not work for as long as you want. Taking care of the kids is enough."
The brunette frowned, looking to the ground. "I wish I was working, Emma, honestly."
"I know, baby. I-I'm just stressed out right now and I don't know what to do."
"I know, sweetheart. Come here." Emma immediately fell into Regina's open arms, head resting underneath the older woman's chin. "I'm sorry. You did try to contribute when we were living in Boston and it was my fault for not accepting that. Nothing is your fault."
"It's not yours, either, Gina. We just… hit a rough patch. We'll get through, especially after there's an opening at the school."
"Speaking of," Regina started as she released Emma from her grip, a crooked smile on her lips. "I did get into contact with Principal Gold and he mentioned that there will be a position for a substitute teacher next semester. Of course, he's still looking over applicants… And he does plan on retiring soon to run his pawn shop."
"Yeah," Emma agreed, allowing a smile to grace her. "See? Things are already starting to look up for us. Maybe a permanent position will open soon. Maybe you'll be the principal?"
Regina wanted to scoff and say the probability of such a thing would be, well, improbable, but she couldn't wipe her wife's adorable little hope-filled smile from her face. So, instead, she leaned forward and gave her a peck on the lips. "You should be leaving before you go over lunch break."
"Yeah, I know. I'm just not looking forward to the swamps of paperwork that my dad's gonna force on me. I swear, he's even more paranoid than you."
"We are merely worried about your well-being, Emma. I nearly lost you."
"I know, I know. But-"
Regina shushed her with a finger, smirking at her wide-eyed wife's response. "You need to take care of yourself."
"We do, Gina." Emma resigned, gently taking her wrist and kissed her knuckles. A pleasant electricity climbed up her arm and buzzed throughout her body. "I can see that you're stressing out, too, about a job, and taking care of Henry, and worrying about your sister…"
"We're parents now, Emma, our lives from now-forward will be stressful."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean we can't chuck Henry at my parents for one night, or a weekend, and have a nice little date or something."
As much as Regina wanted to argue, the idea was certainly intriguing. She could picture curling up on the couch with Emma eating takeout and watching movies.
"See? I knew you'd like the idea."
"Your parents have Neal to worry about, Emma. We can't dump another toddler on them," she countered, lips pressing together.
"Yeah, but we could return the favor sometime. Plus, you've been looking after my brother during the days, anyways." Emma always found a way to worm her way into Regina's heart and get what she wanted.
"Why do I put up with you?"
"'cause you love me?"
"I do," Regina sighed, but was intercepted by a pair of lips dusting her face and turning it pink along with Emma's chiming laughter that followed.
"Gods, how can you get anymore adorable?"
"Mmph, you have to return to work, honey. As must as I enjoy your affection, I don't want to get you into trouble." She took Emma's hand and turned them around, but never let go. Oh, how much she wished she could stay in bed all day with her wife again. During the summers, that's how they spent much of the day when they had nothing else to do. Just being in Emma's company was enough to live blissfully unaware of the world.
"I know," Emma complained, squeezing Regina's hand. She didn't let go, either. "How 'bout we make out a little and I'll go into detail with David until he says that I'm off the hook?"
"… excuse me?"
"What? I said nothing."
"Have you done this before, or…?"
Emma's face suddenly grew pink and she quickly diverted her gaze. The older woman could feel the tightness of withheld laughter in her chest, trying to burst, but she kept it at bay. Gods, how did she ever get lucky enough to marry this woman?
"Look, we do a lot of things on my lunch break and sometimes I don't make it back on time."
"Blame me, hm?"
"N- I'm not blaming you!" More blood rushed to her flushed cheeks and finally did Regina release her laughter.
"Alright, you need to get back. We're having dinner later with your parents and I don't want it to be any more awkward than it needs to be."
"Y-yeah, gotcha. Didn't quite think about that." The blonde sheepishly dipped her head to kiss Regina before finally pulling away from the older woman to leave.
Regina was left behind calling after her and already missing the sweetness of her lips.
"Why are you two the most sickeningly sweet couple?" Zelena's voice startled Regina from her momentary daydream. She whipped around, her own face no doubt darkening. "And how can you go to that after what I walked in on in the kitchen?"
"Why are you the most nosy sister?"
"I can't help that I like to… wander sometimes."
"Wander, hm?" They both laughed for a moment before Regina realized Zelena had appeared alone, or so she had found out when peering around the older woman.
"Don't worry. They're playing with their toys in the living room."
"Thank you for taking care of them. I…"
"I'd ask if everything was alright between you and Emma, but-"
"I think we have everything sorted out now. We've had a lot going on since we've moved."
"Yeah, I heard." Zelena gestured toward the living room. Regina followed her there, immediately being greeted by Henry whose face lit up when he saw her.
"Henry!" she greeted and knelt to give him a hug and a kiss on the head. "Are you playing with Neal?"
"Yep!" After she released him, he instantly went back to grabbing at the scattered toys, though his eyes were on the cartoons playing on the large screen above.
Regina couldn't help but to smile at the little boy and took a seat on the couch beside her sister, engaging in idle conversation as she attempted to actively avoid the cheery voices of the television show that she had suffered through countless times.
"Thank you for helping me with dinner." Regina said, setting down the final dish onto the dining room table. Both Emma and Zelena were setting up the dinner table.
"The very least that I could do," Zelena said, finishing up with her chore before turning away, muttering something about napkins.
Emma remained, saying, "Same. After our stupid fight earlier…"
"Don't worry about it, sweetheart. Let's just get through dinner with your parents first."
It wasn't long until the doorbell rang bringing David and Mary Margaret with it. They shared a moment greeting their son before everyone sat down at the dinner table. It was met with idle conversation for a while, asking one another about their days that Regina eventually zoned out of after spilling her share.
It was one question, though, that finally brought the bored woman back to the conversation: "So, Zelena, what are your plans after the baby is born?" Mary Margaret asked, as nosy as ever. Regina remained quiet, though, sharing a look with Emma who wore the same exasperated expression.
Her sister, on the other hand, was taken aback as she was added to the conversation and set her fork down. "Well… I do plan on seeking employment here in Storybrooke. I would like to remain here to be closer to Regina and make up for lost time." Regina smiled when the older woman looked her way. "And I have nothing elsewhere."
Emma's mother seemed to accept the answer with a slow nod. "Maybe you can open your own law firm. I remember Regina telling me that you were a lawyer."
Regina wanted to hide for her wife the way Emma looked, eyes wide and on her mother as she lightly snapped, "Mom!"
"What? I only asked her a question!"
"We talked about this. Zelena doesn't-"
"It's alright, Emma." Zelena interrupted the blonde woman and grinned politely at Mary Margaret. "It would be difficult to establish a footprint and, regardless, I don't have the funds. And, honestly, I'd rather not dive back into the trade. I was thinking more along the lines of working at the library or somewhere… quiet."
"Of course. I'm sorry."
Silence consumed them, allowing a break from any more intruding questions. Regina humbly ate her meal, smiling at Emma when the younger woman cast several glances her way. She couldn't help but to muffle a chuckle at her precious wife.
"What?" she murmured, still grinning. "Do I have something on my face?"
Emma's face bloomed with shame. Quickly, she shook her head and stuffed a bite of food into her mouth following the words, "You're just so pretty."
"What are you two giggling about over there?" Regina hadn't even realized how loud her surprised chuckle had grown until David had spoken. She joined Emma with a reddened face.
"Your daughter just being Emma."
"You cannot believe the amount of moments that I have witnessed between these two, confused." Zelena smirked, waving her fork between the two in question.
David laughed. "Oh, I can believe it. I've had my fair share of walking in at the wrong moments."
"Don't tell me you've caught them in the middle of se-"
"I will stop you right there before we make this dinner anymore awkward." Regina knew exactly where her sister's thoughts veered and wasn't prepared for more hard stares from Emma's parents. Sometimes she still felt their judgement toward her relationship with Emma and it made her skin crawl with a sense of shame she didn't know if she should have.
"And before you say anything, dad, I don't want to have to talk about the creepy noises I used to hear at night in my bedroom."
"What creepy noises?" Mary Margaret asked obliviously, or at least it hadn't quite caught up with her until after she asked, and the entire party went quiet.
"And you made it awkward. Thank you, Emma." Regina glared at her wife, but gods those puppy eyes stared back at her and she shattered into a million pieces, even if Emma's face told of her shame.
"So, Regina?" The woman looked up when her name was called and was met with Mary Margaret's flushed face. "How were the boys treating you today?"
"I wish I could say they were angels, but Henry started to throw a small tantrum when I told him to put his toys away for dinner. Then, of course, Neal started to get upset as well and…" Regina spaced off during the moment when two sirens were blaring in her ears. Henry always seemed to act up more with Neal around while Mary Margaret said Neal was a monster by himself. Children. And here she was adding another to the mix soon enough.
"I can't imagine. I'm sorry." Mary Margaret looked to her son who played naively with his leftover food. "Usually he's pretty good with Henry."
"Today was a… tense day. It wasn't their fault." She felt Emma touch her leg and smiled, her heart slowing to a steady beat. "When you came in, you said you wanted to tell us something."
Mary Margaret's entire face lit up when she was reminded of the quick words Regina had nearly forgotten. Talking about the kids brought it back to her memory because that was the schoolteacher's distraction from said topic. "Oh, yeah! David and I have something exciting to tell you!"
"You're not pregnant again, are you?" Emma was the first to speak and Regina knew she was also guilty for wondering.
David's laugh answered the question. "Gods, no. Definitely not right now." He looked to his wife, both grinning from ear to ear when they made eye contact.
"We're buying a house!"
For some reason, Regina just couldn't bring the enthusiasm. That was all? But, of course, it would be a huge milestone for the small family since, as far as she knew, they had only lived in the apartment together. She forced a smile anyway, far behind her wife who perked in her seat with a grin as big as her parents'.
"That's awesome!" she said, leaning forward. "I'm glad that you're finally getting to do what you wanted. A house, a family…"
"This is just a bonus, Emma. You were what we wanted." Mary Margaret gushed, and Regina leaned back in her chair, sharing an awkward look with her sister.
She wanted to gag at how sickeningly sweet they were with one another sometimes. Yet, during these moments, Regina couldn't help but to think of what Mary Margaret had said to Emma years ago. Sometimes it was difficult to imagine the woman capable of hurtful things, but she did have her own experience with Mary Margaret, as well.
"… and I'm glad I get to share that with Regina, too." Regina parted from her thoughts just in time to hear her name come from honeyed lips. When she looked up, she was met with her sweet smile once again and sighed.
"As sweet as this conversation is, let's not leave Zelena out." Regina smirked in her sister's direction, catching the older woman off guard.
"Oh. I'm fine right where I am." She looked to her empty plate for a moment, then to the two toddlers beside her before grinning. "Well, so long as no one upsets the little ones." Regina had a feeling she was directing that statement toward her and Emma, and promptly gave the older woman a dirty look. It was lost amongst the newest chatter, especially after they shifted from the dinner table to the living room to further catch up.
When it was finally time for the Nolans to leave, Regina felt mentally exhausted. She had been far too used to spending a significant amount of time with toddlers than actual adults and the conversation got away from her after Mary Margaret took control.
"Your mother can certainly hold her own in a conversation."
"Tell me about it," Emma sighed, rinsing the dish Regina had handed her. "I think I zoned out a couple times."
"Now, that's your mother. Aren't you supposed to show some respect?"
"Oh, don't tell me you listened to everything that she said beyond the house." When Regina merely replicated Emma's narrowed eyes, the latter smirked. "Hah! I knew it."
"Well, she does drag on with far too much enthusiasm. How on earth is that woman so positive?"
Emma merely shrugged. "It was a bit much for me, too, but I got used to it."
"More like zoning it out." The brunette snorted in amusement at her own words.
"You're such a dork, Gina."
The younger woman shook her head as she flicked the water off her hands. "I'm about ready for bed."
"Since when do you like going to bed before midnight?"
"Since I have to get up early for work?"
"Fair enough," Regina said, frowning as she followed behind her wife. She couldn't help but to feel that little rock that planted itself in the pit of her stomach. Why couldn't she get rid of it?
"I'll stay up for a little bit with you if you want?" Emma paused on the stairs, turning to look down at the older woman. She wore a half smile, as if trying to shake that pesky feeling out of her wife. Regina returned the smile only partially before shaking her head.
"It's fine, sweetheart. I'm ready for bed, anyways."
"If you're sure." Emma proceeded up the steps.
It was quiet between them until they reached outside their bedroom when Regina stopped, saying, "I'm going to check on Henry." Emma nodded, muttered something about changing, and went ahead. The brunette crossed the hall to their son's bedroom and poked her head in to see a little lump snoozing peacefully in his crib.
"Is he still asleep?" Regina nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the question behind her and turned to glare at her wife whose meek smile was met. "Sorry, baby. I thought I'd check on him with you."
Taking her heart out of her throat, she continued into the room, using the hall light to guide her way to Henry's crib. It was then that she saw an additional lump and noticed that Millie had curled up next to the little boy. She had always loved him since the day they brought him home. The little cat barely left Henry's side, of course, that was when he wasn't being a little monster toward her.
"He had a busier day than usual."
"Yeah, he passed right out." Emma commented. Regina felt something wrap around her waist and hummed when she automatically leaned against her wife, eyes never leaving the little boy. "Sometimes I still can't believe it."
"Believe what, dear?"
"You… Henry… This…" Emma pressed her lips together and slightly dug her fingers into the older woman's hip. "Sometimes I get so caught up in life that I just forget about it, but then there are those moments… Silent moments that I take a step back and look at what I have. How the hell did I ever get so lucky to even have met you?"
"You moved here, with the Nolans, and walked into my classroom."
Emma snorted. "Sometimes I forget that you were my teacher."
"I like not to think about it." And she didn't, not anymore. But whenever she was reminded of how their relationship came to fruition, and when, she felt sick. How did she ever allow herself to fall for one of her high school students? But she could never regret it, not with what she had now.
"Sorry, baby," she murmured and pulled away from the older woman. As the two left the nursery, Emma said, "But look at what we have together. I don't think we would have ever gotten together if we never met there."
"Good thing we do not have to think of such things, dear," Regina said, flicking off the hall light as Emma pushed their bedroom door open.
It didn't take them long to slip into their nightclothes and under the blankets, Emma wrapping her arms around Regina. This was home to her no matter where they were. She was easily able to fall into the darkness pulling behind her eyes, that was until a hand reached in and gently pulled her out with whispered words.
"I love you, goodnight, Gina."
Regina's entire being felt as if it glowed at her words. She didn't care how often they said those words to one another, each time felt different; sweet; sincere. Humming softly, she pressed back into her wife, feeling as she was squeezed and pulled closer.
"I love you, Emma. Sweet dreams."
"Goddammit! Now it's gone!"
It wasn't a morning unless Emma was complaining about something going awry. Regina quickly finished pouring juice for Henry and found Emma in the sitting room once again, boots on, but loose and untied. "What's wrong now?"
"Someone stole my bear claw."
"Now it's missing?"
"Uh, yeah!" She gestured toward the empty plate in vexation. "It was there literally a minute ago."
"I don't appreciate your tone." Regina held a sippy-cup of orange juice up. "I was in the kitchen. You can't blame me again."
"She's been in the bathroom since before I went to the kitchen. Have you asked our son?"
"He can stand up to the table." Regina's eyes immediately went in search of the little boy and frowned when she couldn't find him. "Wherever he is."
"Don't look at me like that!" Emma countered Regina's accusatory stare with a sneer. "He couldn't have gone far."
Just as Emma finished speaking, Regina spotted familiar brown hair as Henry rounded the couch on unsteady feet, something clutched in his little fist. But, that was the least of her worries. "He's walking!"
"Wai-what?" Emma whipped around just in time to see the little boy look up at her, swaying gently as he stopped. "Is that my bear claw?"
"When did he start walking? Have you seen him walk?" Regina couldn't care less about Emma's bear claw. She just witnessed her baby taking his first steps, or rather the first that she had seen of them.
"Wh… No? He's been crawling," Emma answered and leveled herself with their son, eyes narrowed. "Have you been taking mama's bear claw?"
"This is a milestone in Henry's life and you're still worried about your bear claw?"
"What? It's the only thing I get to eat in the morning-"
"You can't tell me that there aren't any doughnuts at the station." Regina knelt next to Emma and smiled gently at Henry whose eyes were wide now that he was surrounded by his mothers.
"I-I'm sorry. This is… amazing. I mean it. I mean… he's walking, finally!"
"Oh, no, you don't get to celebrate now." Regina crinkled her nose playfully and was soon bumped by her wife. "Do you think he was learning from Neal?"
"Did you see him walking yesterday?"
"I wonder if he was yesterday when my bear claw went missing…"
"Ah, yes, great work, detective."
"Uh, Regina?" Zelena's voice stopped Emma's quip and took the brunette's attention. She frowned when she saw her sister's scrunched expression. "Is this a bad time to tell you that I'm in labor?"
"Now?" She quickly stood.
"I didn't exactly choose to ruin a unique family moment," she bit.
"I didn't mean-…" Regina looked to her wife who nodded.
"I'll call David and tell him I'll be late."
"Thank you. Do you have everything, Zelena?"
Her sister looked at her as if she grew a second head. "Do people really pack overnight bags?"
"I don't know. Do you wish to debate this now, or later?"
Zelena stared at her for a long moment. "You certainly are my sister."
"Indeed," she chimed with a light smile and Zelena's face scrunched in response. "I need to get my shoes, then we'll go."
After collecting her shoes and car keys, the two were out the door and on their way to the hospital with Regina attempting to reassure her sister that everything would be alright. Zelena was panicking as they neared the hospital after the delirium of pain from her most recent contraction.
"Gods, I can't do this," she said, fingers digging into her thighs.
"Well, it's a little too late to go back now," Regina quipped, earning an annoyed sigh. "Listen, Zelena, I'll be here with you every step of the way, okay?" When the older woman remained quiet, she prompted her again, "Okay?"
"Okay. Gods, you're a pestering little sister." As much as Zelena tried to hide it, Regina could see the struggling smile in the corner of her eye and felt a warmth bloom within her chest. "I suppose it won't be long until you see your new daughter."
That warmth quickly vanished. "Yeah," she said softly and let silence take them until the hospital came into view. She heard Zelena's breath hitch. "Are you ready?"
"No," Zelena answered, knuckles turning white. "But, let's get this over with."
An aching hand and a slight piercing behind her eye later, Regina was smiling at a pink little baby girl whose eyes gazed about in innocent wonder. Zelena hadn't wanted to hold her, so she was left to the task. It reminded her of holding Henry for the first time and the overwhelming warmth of emotion that drowned her. It was strange the way that it made her cry, but it was also strange that the baby was here now, and in her arms.
"She's so sweet," Regina cooed, eyes falling to Zelena's longing gaze. The warmth that had once washed her turned ice cold, reaching into her chest and gripping her heart tight. "Do you want to hold her?"
Her sister hesitated as she eyed the newborn, then let her gaze flicker to Regina's face. She pressed against the hospital bed. "I don't think so…"
"She won't bite."
Regina had enough of her sister's hesitancy and stepped forward, bending to gently transfer the little girl over. Zelena was frozen in her spot for the longest of moments, arms cradling her baby, staring at the newborn as if she were a foreign object. Then, suddenly, tears began to form in her eyes and Regina knew exactly what she was experiencing.
"Take her. Take her." She kept saying the words, attempting to give the baby back to Regina, but she refused, shaking her head. "I-I can't."
"I can see it, Zelena," Regina said softly. As much as she wanted another child, as much love as she already felt for that little girl, she had to let go. She was tired of fighting, and in Zelena's eyes, she could see it, too. "Do you want to keep her?"
Zelena opened her mouth as if she were about to protest once again, but no words were summoned.
"Do you want to keep her?" she asked again, feeling a piece of herself tear away with the question.
"I-I can't, Regina. What about Emma?"
"Emma and I have discussed this many times and she is fine with whatever decision you choose." Regina knew that Zelena was pulling at strings, looking for anything to keep from expressing her deepest desire. But she ran out of excuses and the brunette prompted her again, gently, "This is your chance to say what you truly want, Zelena."
Zelena's gaze fell back to her daughter and the soft noises that she made and the sparkle in her glazed eyes and she broke down, sobbing. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry... I do… I'm so sorry, Gina…"
"Don't apologize." The tears in her own eyes broke free as she smiled. "We will help you, honey. We're here for you. Always."
She sniffled and turned her gaze. "I don't… It feels different holding her than just watching you…"
"I know," Regina hummed softly. "I immediately fell in love with Henry on an entirely different level than before. It's like a light; a warm, sweet light."
"Yeah, I suppose it's something like that. It's just… there." Zelena pressed her lips together, eyes falling to her daughter. A smile stretched her lips into an upward curl. "I didn't know it would be this strong. I thought I could handle it."
"I'm glad that you held her." She could feel her heart expand. "That you want to keep her."
"I am, too. I'm just…"
"Terrified?" Regina finished, recalling her sister's previous answer to the question in their past arguments. When Zelena nodded, the younger woman sighed and gently touched her arm. "Like I said, Emma and I are here for you. We may not have a lot of experience, but we do have some. Plus, you are more than welcome to stay with us for as long as you need to."
"I will be acquiring a job as soon as I can." Regina merely nodded, recalling another conversation that she had had with her sister. Zelena had planned on staying with her sister until she had earned enough money to move out on her own; she even had contemplated staying at the Bed and Breakfast if nothing were available. Regina knew her sister was itching to get out again, to be independent.
It was something to be planned for further in the future.
"Have you thought of any names?" Regina asked, her voice thick as she attempted to keep the rest of her tears at bay. She honestly couldn't tell if she was disappointed or relieved.
"Actually, yes." Zelena dipped her head in shame. "Before I came to you… I had tossed about the idea of names as a mere fantasy, thinking about life if I could keep her. What I would name her."
Bittersweetly, she smiled. "What is it?"
"That's a beautiful name," Regina commented and lightly grazed her fingertips over Robyn's small fist. "For a beautiful girl. How did you think of it?"
"It was his name."
"I know it may seem silly that I'd name my daughter after him, but…" Zelena sighed. "Even though he tore my heart to shreds, he was everything to me for a short time. Besides, I've always liked the name. The birds are beautiful, aren't they?"
Regina chuckled softly. "Indeed. It reminds me of Emma and her reason to keep her last name Swan… Well, until we married, of course."
Zelena smiled, relaxed for the first time. It was a moment before she spoke again, saying, "Thank you for being the best sister one could ask for."
"Look at you getting sentimental." Regina teased, allotting for the two to share a quiet laugh. "But, in all seriousness, even if we didn't get off on the right foot to begin with, I couldn't ask for anything better. I've always wanted a sister and I'm glad that it turned out to be you. Oh, don't cry on me again…"
"Oh, shut up."
Regina smiled widely. "I love you, you know that?"
"I love you, too."
A/N: It has been a while, hasn't it? Funnily enough, my computer's hard drive broke (which would be the third time a computer went caput during this series (including original)) but that was awhile back, and I have since gotten if fixed (plus a new laptop anyway). But there's no excuse but my procrastination and a lack of will to do anything. I'm not sure if it is a loss of inspiration (because I still have ideas for this story) or the uncertainty of how I should approach writing it (like during the dinner scene, what do people conversate about? I'm terrible at conversation), or just that thing where I want to do something, but I don't feel like doing anything? Regardless, I ought to find some way out of that endless loop because I miss writing (even if it may be shitty sometimes). Maybe I should take a writing course next year, since I am taking online classes now, but I did something similar in high school and none of that stuck (and I found that I really suck at poetry). Rambling, sorry.
Regarding the "story," is it becoming boring? I feel that it is because there really isn't too much going on and that sort of factors into if it is even worth continuing. I mean, I have maybe an idea or two left, but they aren't really... I don't know. Do you guys like reading about stuff like this? Not that I'd really add any true drama or threat to the story (or at least I hadn't thought about it). Maybe it's a dead horse and I'm beating it.
On another note, I hope that you enjoyed! And if you didn't, thank you for reading, anyways. Enjoy your days!