A/N: As promised, here is my very first SQ Christmas ff! :) Now, I do remember saying I wouldn't post it until it was complete, but I am highly enjoying it so much, you know me, I needed to share it with all my lovely, loyal readers and followers. 'Tis the season after all! Happy reading and I can't wait to hear what all of you think of these first three chapters.
Christmas was always one of her least favorite times of the year for her. In fact, not to sound like a total Grinch, but she hated it. Don't get her completely wrong, the only reason she only still celebrated it was to provide her son Henry with joy. Because she loved seeing him happy and spending their December vacations at their family cabin with all their family, is what made him happy. As well as the gifts.
Regina would love Christmas to the fullest if she didn't have to spend it with her family. She would in fact be happy if it was just her and her son, because at least Henry wouldn't nag her about finding someone to marry. Or when is she going to finally settle down with someone worthy of her and Henry? Or be a constant reminder that she was almost forty and still phonetically single. But the one thing she hated the most about these traditional family reunions? Her sister. Zelena loved nothing more but to rub her perfect little marriage in her sister's face and how perfect her husband Robin was. Every. Single. Time.
But she wasn't about to let them ruin this Christmas for her. No way. Not this year.
This year would be different. Better.
Especially when Daniel (Her boyfriend) because yes, Regina had a boyfriend- hich her mother was already ecstatic about. Okay, so their relationship had only started about three days ago, but things were going great, for just three days into their relationship. Has she met his family? No, but she is hoping that this week at their family cabin will change all that. After all, that's what the Christmas season is all about, right? Everyone coming together and meeting each other's families.
She was thankful for him, because at least with him by her side to lean on for support, she wouldn't be driven crazy by her nagging mother or her too crazy, too happy sister. Her brother and her father however were fine. As far as Regina was concerned, they were the only normal ones in the family.
The brunette pulled on the zipper of her luggage, setting it aside to be packed into the car for tomorrow's trip, already mentally preparing herself for an entire week without any cell service or any calls from work. Actually, she could do some time away from work, she was more than fine with that. Cell service, well… if you were lucky, you'd get some.
The famous Grinch melody played out on the living room TV while she entered, her eyes scanning quickly, not spotting her son anywhere plopped on the couch in his red flannel pajamas.
"Henry, leave those cookies alone. They are for our trip." She told her son, who froze in the kitchen just as he was about to open up one of the plastic containers to sneak a delicious sugar cookie into his stomach before bed.
"But we made like a hundred of them! Can't I have just one?" Henry whined, walking back into the living room just as his mother turned off the cartoon.
She threw a glare her son's way, that glare that would always make him slump his shoulders and sigh in defeat, because he knew it was a no winning battle.
At the ring of her cell phone, and Daniel's name popping up on her lit screen, she urged Henry to make sure he had packed his toothbrush while answering the call with a hopeful smile, "Hi, darling. You're still meeting us there tomorrow, aren't you?"
"Regina. We need to talk."
"Okay." Her brows furrowed, listening to a difference in his tone. A difference she didn't quite want to grasp onto yet. "I'm listening."
"This isn't the type of conversation I want to have by phone. It needs to be in person."
"Well, Daniel," She glanced over at the clock mounted on her wall, "It's nine o'clock and it's very cold out-"
"I'm just in a bar around the corner. Come have a drink with me and we'll talk. Please."
From the tone in his voice it sounded serious, leaving her with no other choice but to agree, making sure Henry was settled into bed, her neighbor Kathryn welcomed herself to her couch, watching her traditional sappy hallmark movies on TV. Because there was no way she would leave her son alone, even if this bar was around the corner.
"Thank you again for coming on such short notice." Said Regina, wrapping her scarf around her neck while gathering up her keys from her glass tray. "I'll only be a minute."
"Please, go, have fun. By what you told me, the man has something important to say." Kathryn smirked, popping a single popcorn into her mouth, "Maybe he'll give you an early Christmas gift and pop the question."
Regina's brown eyes grew wide, "Do you think?"
"Well, what else could be so important that he didn't want to do here? I mean," Kathryn rolled her eyes, "a bar isn't my ideal place to be asking for a hand in marriage, but poor guy is probably a bundle of nerves right now." She waved her hand her way, rushing her out the door, "Now, go. Don't make him wait. You can tell me all about it when you come back."
Regina flashed a pearly white smile, hurrying out the door, leaving Kathryn to face the television again, placing another popcorn into her mouth, speaking to herself while she shook her head, "She's getting dumped."
It was a quiet bar for the night, always busy given the time, but it had a very homey and welcoming feel to it. There was a fireplace burning to the right as you walked in, which provided the place with a soothing warmth after dealing with the snow and coldness of outside. The missile toe just above the door, the Christmas tree brightly decorated in the far corner, followed by the low Christmas music playing around the establishment.
Regina smiled, seeing Daniel wave his hand at her, standing from the small round table he was sitting at, pulling her chair out for her as she quickly joined him.
"Thank you for coming." He sat back down, slightly nudging her already ordered drink her way.
"Well, you made it sound important over the phone." She smiled sweetly at him, her nerves settling into the pit of her stomach.
"It is." He nodded, taking a moment's pause to take another sip of his scotch before him. Finally gathering up the courage to let his words out once he felt the liquid burn the back of his throat. But not before clearing his throat, "Regina-"
"I do." She blurted out, leaving the man to stare at her with a raised brow.
"What?" He chuckled, seeing as the brunette's smile slowly began to disappear, her expression turning questionable.
"Isn't…?" Her brows furrowed, feeling utterly confused, "You're not…? You're not proposing?"
Daniel's color ran from his face down to his feet, "Proposing?" A nervous chuckle escaped him, "Wow, this just became much harder."
And for the remainder of that moment, there was silence.
"Why," Daniel's brows furrowed once again, chuckling, which to be honest with every chuckle he released it made Regina want to just punch his face in, "Why would you think that I was going to propose?"
God, did she feel like such a fool. Of course he wasn't going to propose. Why would he? They've only been going out for three days.
That's when Regina decided to pretend and laugh it off, "I didn't." She shook her head, "I was just kidding. Of course you wouldn't propose, I mean why would you? We've only been going out for three days. I mean that would be ridiculous to purpose after three days."
"Exactly." Daniel chuckled, feeling a bit relieved, even if he knew that Regina's laughter was just pretend. "Listen, Regina. I know I said I would go to meet your family this weekend at the cabin but, here's the thing…" He paused, "I-"
Daniel's eyes looked over at a smiling blonde in a red leather jacket and grey scarf, while Regina's head turned to stare at her in wonder as to why this stranger (a beautiful stranger) but a stranger no less was standing so close to her now and placing a kiss on her cheek as if they knew each other.
"I'm sorry I'm late." The blonde smiled at the brunette, her green eyes slightly glaring into her brown orbs, indicating her to go along with her little display. "Traffic, you know- New York."
"Excuse me." Daniel spoke, gathering the blonde's attention, "Who are you?"
"I'm so sorry. Where are my manners?" With another bright smile that could light up a room, the blonde stranger extended her hand across the table to him, "Emma. Emma Swan. You must be the boyfriend?"
Daniel's brows furrowed, shaking her hand in greeting, "I… am. Who- I'm sorry, who exactly are you?"
She quickly gave the shocked brunette a questioning glance, smiling a pearly white smile at her that Regina wasn't sure if to be frightened by it or weakened at the knees. Especially when she felt the woman's own arm make its way around her from behind, arm casually resting against the chair.
"You haven't told him yet, Gina?" Her saying her name surprised even more, but Regina continued to be too surprised to speak. That's when this woman kept pulling on the reins, looking over at Daniel with the same pearly white smile, "Well," she cleared her throat, "Daniel, is it? I'm sorry to have to do this to you here, now, especially around this time of year, but Gina and I we've been…" Her eyes moved over to the still shocked brunette who couldn't even feel herself blink, "seeing each other for quite a while now and well, as great of a woman she is, she just didn't have the heart to tell you, but I convinced her that it's time to be honest about it. After all," She smiled over at Regina, her hand squeezing at her shoulder, "You can't deny true love. Isn't that right, munchkin?"
Daniel gawked, his eyes shifting back to Regina who looked just as dumbfounded. He stammered to get words out, "Is this true?" He asked the brunette, who absolutely couldn't find her voice. He chuckled, throwing some money on the bar and gathering his coat, "Wow, well now I feel like a total idiot."
"Daniel-" Regina finally spoke, only to be interrupted by him.
"No. It's," He chuckled, "It's alright, you know. I'm glad." He paused, locking eyes with the brunette, "I'm glad you found someone who is worthy of you. I just wish I didn't have to find out like this." His eyes met the blonde's, who still stood by Regina with her arm propped onto the back of her chair, "It's nice meeting you. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Daniel." She smiled, grabbing the now empty seat beside the brunette, holding onto her drink, "Whoa. That was brutal, huh?"
Regina turned back to stare at the blonde, calmly taking a sip of her beer, after she watched her now ex-boyfriend head out the door.
Emma gave the shocked woman a quick glance, shrugging a single shoulder, "Sorry for getting involved in your personal business. I just," She sighed, "I've been sitting here for a good while, and I heard him talk over the phone. That guy was cheating on you, alright? He made you come all this way here just to break up with you."
Regina scoffed, her hands on her hips, "And that gives you the right to get involved in my personal affairs?"
Emma shook her head, swallowing the bit of beer she had drank in, "Again, I apologize, but the guy had it coming. It was either you or him walking out of here looking all humiliated and dumped, I couldn't allow that to be you."
"And why would you care so much about what happens to me?" Regina asked, her breathing coming to a halt as green eyes locked into her own. The dim lighting of the bar making their color stand out more.
Emma shrugged, "I just wanted to help. No one should get dumped around this time of year. Especially not someone as beautiful as you."
The brunette chuckled, "Oh, I see. So, is this what you do? Just wait for a damsel in distress just so you can come in like some knight in shining armor and ride her off into the sunset?"
When the blonde smiled, Regina's eyes couldn't help but look right at those pearly whites. She's seen smiles before, but never one quite like this.
"Something like that." She joked, taking one last drink of her beer bottle.
The brunette's brow raised, "Well, Ms…" Her eyes squinted, trying her best to remember the blonde's name.
"Oh, you can call me Emma." Emma smiled a dimple cheek smile.
There was a pause, because apparently in that moment just as this crazy woman smiled, those dimples on her cheeks were just too adorable to look away from.
"Ms. Swan." She decided to remain formal, "I appreciate you stepping in to my rescue, as slightly inappropriate as it may have been, but-"
"You're welcome." She smiled again.
"But," Regina glared at her this time, "I am not a woman who needs saving. I was perfectly capable of handling the truth of this unfortunate incident on my own."
"Oh, I have no doubt about that. I mean you seem like a strong, independent, headstrong, responsible woman." Emma stood from her seat, paying for her drink, putting her gloves on her hands to cover them from the cold weather.
Regina's brow raised, "Now you're flirting with me?"
"Well…" She stood before the beautiful brunette, because yes, Emma did think she was quite beautiful, "correct me if I'm wrong, but you are single now."
Regina couldn't help but scoff at that, as well as let out a small chuckle, "And automatically you think you can just sweep me off my feet?"
"I'd say that's a definite possibility." Emma smiled, for the third time tonight.
This time, the brunette just scoffed, turning her attention to her untouched drink. Her fingers stirring the thin straw sitting inside the glass.
"What, you don't think I deserve a chance?" Asked Emma, her question filled with as much confidence.
Regina stood from her seat, gathering her black trench coat, placing it one sleeve at a time on her body, reaching for her red scarf next and wrapping it around her neck. "That's right, I don't."
Her brows raise up to her hairline, "Everyone deserves a chance. Especially at love."
Regina couldn't help to laugh this time, "Did you not see that the person who walked out of this bar a few minutes ago was a man and not a woman? I'm afraid love is out of the question. Also, not that it's any of your business, but I do have a son. So, anyone who would want to be with me would have to accept him as well."
"Oh…" Emma blinked, until a smile appeared, "Well, lucky for you- I love kids."
Regina chuckled, shaking her head as she extended her hand out to her, "Goodbye Ms. Swan. It was… very interesting meeting you."
Emma shook her hand, providing her with another smile once again, "The pleasure was all mine, Regina. Good luck on your family gathering."
The brunette blinked, "May I ask just how you know about that?"
Great. Just when this woman appeared to be some type of knight in shining armor only to be a total stalker. This isn't what Regina needed this Christmas.
"I'm a good listener." Emma smiled, "Have a Merry Christmas."
Regina's brows furrowed, her head following the blonde as she calmly headed out the bar and out the front door. The bell above the door rang on her way out.
She chuckled to herself, shaking her head at the crazy, yet charming woman. Then sighing at the thought that she would be arriving miserable and alone to her family gathering this weekend, she was the next one to walk out the door.
"Henry, I'm watching you with those cookies." Regina threw a glare at her son, who was waiting patiently in the car to leave on their trip, but still trying his best to get his hands on a cookie.
"Aw, mom!" Henry whined inside the car.
Kathryn walked up to the brunette, a bright smile, shopping bags hanging from her forearms.
Always being one of those hyped up people for Christmas.
"All set for your trip?" She asked Regina.
"All set." Regina sighed, shutting the back door after she placed her last luggage inside.
"Well, have fun and don't let your family stress you out too much."
Regina chuckled, "Wishful thinking."
Kathryn gave her friend and neighbor sympathetically, her hand providing her bicep a gentle squeeze, "Don't worry. You're not the only single woman on this earth."
"Tell that to my mother." Regina smiled one last time, pulling her friend into a tight hug, "Goodbye, Kathryn. If you change your mind, you know where to find me. You're always welcomed."
Kathryn smiled back, waving goodbye to Henry, "Bye, Henry!"
"Bye, Kathryn!" Henry waved, excited to be getting on with his grip, already knowing too well to buckle up, even if he was sitting in the back seat.
Lastly, Kathryn waved them off, seeing the brunette's black Mercedes getting smaller and smaller by the minute.
The drive was a bit long, but it's always something Regina appreciated as she sang Christmas songs in the car with Henry. It was actually her most favorite part of their yearly festive trip. Well, more like her only, because after they always arrived, the stress of dealing with her family would begin.
"Mom?" Henry called out from the back seat as yet another Christmas song ended.
"What?" Regina smiled happily, looking at her song through her rear view mirror.
"Is Daniel going to meet us at the cabin this weekend?" The boy innocently asked his mother.
His mother's smile was gone but the brunette quickly recovered it, "No, sweetheart, he's not."
"Why not?" Henry's head tilted.
"He's… busy, Henry." She sighed, "I'm afraid we are on our own for a whole week."
"I bet grandma and grandpa are going to be disappointed."
Regina cringed at his words, knowing all too well that he spoke the truth. She would definitely be hearing how she needed to be more outgoing and less of a workaholic, and she needed to be more open minded about her relationships.
"Yeah," she murmured under her breath, "me too."
Another thing Regina loved about their Christmas family gatherings? Her father's welcoming hugs.
*Grandpa Henry!" The boy rushed over to his loving, beaming grandfather. His little body became lost within the older man's coat and body.
"Little Henry!" Older Henry, or Big Henry as he was sometimes known, proud to share his name with his only grandchild. His happy grunts vibrating within him. A smile so pleasant to look at, just like the twinkle in his eye. "My favorite grandson!"
"I'm your only grandson!" The boy's smile grew.
He chuckled, ruffling the boy's hair playfully, "Right you are, my boy. Right you are."
Regina smiled. At least she was always the winner in that department and has been the only one in the family to provide her mother and father with the first grandchild. Something done right.
He leaned in, his voice a whisper, "Now, run along inside, I think grandma's cookies are about ready and warmed up for you."
Henry's brown eyes grew, his little body quickly running inside the house.
"Henry, don't eat too much, or-" Regina grunted, seeing her son not even acknowledging her warnings of what happens every time he goes overboard on Grandma's cookies.
Finally older Henry chuckled, a smile flashing before his daughter, arms already extended out, wrapping around his daughter's form just as soon as she welcomed herself into his warm and loving embrace.
"My darling, Regina! Mwah!" He placed a kiss beside her temple, as she greeted him right back, his head turning her way, "You look more beautiful every time I see you."
"Of course I do. I took all your charismatic and fashionable looks." She smiled.
A laugh escaped her father, his arm wrapping tighter around her form, "You sure did, my darling! Come on, we'll get your luggage settled in later. Come inside, it's freezing out here." His boots crunched along the snow covered floor. His head looking around for any sign of Daniel, "Hey, where's- where's uh…?"
"Daniel." his name being murmured from under her breath. Regina quickly cleared her throat, brushing back a strand of black hair from her face, "He's uh- not coming, daddy, he…" She watched the older man's expression look at her rather confused, "He's just not coming." She smiled, trying her best to lighten up the situation.
Henry paused his walk, giving his daughter a sympathetic look.
The brunette raised a hand before him, "I'd rather not talk about it. Besides, I'll be fine."
"I have no doubt about that, my darling." Henry continued his walk, "I'm more worried about your mother. She's going to have a field day."
Regina rolled her eyes, sighing, "I know."
"Why, Regina, whatever did you do? You see, this is why you should be more outgoing, you really shouldn't work so much, dear. I mean, my God, be more open minded about relationships- you aren't getting any younger. Do you know what you're doing to my heart? You're breaking it. Do you want to die miserable and alone?" Both father and daughter quoted the woman to a key, entering the cabin.