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Wrong Timeline, Right Storyline

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“Hey! Can I ask you something?”

Emma’s eyes shot skyward after she looked up from her computer screen. Regina was stood in the entrance of the kitchen wearing one of Emma’s oversized hoodies. Her long hair was pulled back into a messy yet still elegant looking braid, and the blonde thought that she would actually be quite attractive—if it weren’t for the fact that this had been the 100th interruption during her 2-hour research project on time travelling. Which she was only doing because of the woman who seemed hell bent on not allowing her to accomplish anything. “What Regina?” She groaned.

“Do you think Emma would like these?” She asked, holding up a pair of fuzzy socks that had a cat on each one of them.

Emma stayed silent for a moment, completely ignoring the question, as she eyed the objects in Regina’s hand. “Have you been rummaging through my things… again?”

The brunette stood frozen with her arm still stretched outwards. She looked as if she was attempting to think of a plausible cause to deny that question, but she came up short. “Yes,” Was her chirped answer, but she was quick to add “but there’s a good reason for it” before Emma could say anything about it.

“I’m sure there isn’t but go ahead.” The blonde said as she sat back in her seat, giving up on the possibility of finding a scientific explanation as to why there were suddenly two Reginas in her life when last week there was zero.

“Well, I’ve been gone for a couple of days now, and my Emma and our kids must be worried sick about me. I just thought I’d bring her back something to apologise for my absence.” She shrugged and dropped her arm. “…Like these socks. They’re much softer than the material we have at home.”

Emma flashed her an incredulous look and tilted her head to the side. “You’ve literally taken one of my necklaces for your daughter, one of my gold medals for your son, and now you want my favourite pair of socks as well for your Emma?” She waited for the brunette to show some sign of remorse or to at least to realise that Emma’s apartment didn’t serve as a gift shop while she was taking this unexpected vacation. But it was clear that Regina didn’t see anything wrong with the picture. “Fine, take them.” She sighed, and Regina tilted her head in a very queen-like manner.

“I knew you would see things my way.” The socks were gone in a matter of seconds, and Emma thought that by this rate Regina will have magicked away everything in her apartment by the time she left. “What are you reading about?” The brunette asked as she shuffled up behind Emma to peer over her shoulder.

“Time travelling, or at least I’m trying to anyway.”

“Why?” She scoffed, and Emma glanced at her from over her shoulder. “Time travel doesn’t exist in this reality, because magic doesn’t exist in this reality.” Regina stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. And sure, before that night in the library, Emma would have also dismissed the concept of time travel as impossible. She also would have dismissed magic as illusion, but clearly there were things at play that she was unaware of. “So, you won’t find anything on—whatever that device is called.”

“It’s a laptop, and why are you only saying something now?” The blonde sighed in exasperation.

“I didn’t know what you were doing.”

“We agreed that we were coming home to figure out how to get you back to your realm. I thought that what I was doing was clear.”

“Not really, no.” Regina deadpanned, and Emma let her shoulders sag as she flashed the other woman a meaningful glare. How could the other Emma have fallen in love with this Regina? She was infuriating.

“Then how do you expect us to get you back to your timeline? Surely you don’t think this little shopping spree you’ve been carrying on with around my apartment will do the trick do you?”    

“Oh no, I’ll get back to my timeline the same way I got here.”

And there was a thought that only just seemed to occur to Emma. How did Regina get here, and why was she speaking as if she already held all the answers to every question Emma could possibly have? She was very unconcerned for someone who was seemingly trapped here. “Which was…”

“Magic.” Regina supplied. “And also, there’s a portal in the library.”

“What?”

“Yea.” As if Emma should have known all along. “It’s been there since the beginning of time.”

“Then why didn’t you just hop back in once you realised that this was the wrong timeline?”

“Because it’s clearly not that simple.” She mumbled before turning and opening the fridge. Emma watched as Regina pulled out the carton of leftover Chinese food and pulled down a plate. Green eyes clocked the way the other woman moved around the kitchen so effortlessly. It was almost as if she’d been there before, but that couldn’t be right, because this was the first time any Regina had ever set foot in her apartment. She was sure of that at least. “The thunderstorm that was happening the night I appeared here destroyed the portal and apparently threw me completely off my course.”

“So… you were already time travelling before you got here?”

“Yes.”

“But can’t you just—" She motioned with her hands to try and imitate the way Regina used her magic- “I don’t know, poof the portal back into working order?”

The brunette contemplated that before shoving her food into the microwave and turning to lean against the counter. “I could if this timeline had magic. But apparently you guys operate on science, and unfortunately that means that I can’t just use magic to fix the portal… Though, that is the only thing that will fix it.”

“Why can’t you use magic? You’ve literally been using it since you got here.”

“Well yes, my magic comes from within, however that magic is only sustained by being in a land where magic exists. Do you follow?” She asked at the same time the microwave dinged. Emma shook her head. “Think of it like this, a fish breathes easily under water, but it slowly suffocates and dies when you take it out of water.”

Abject horror flashed behind Emma’s eyes. “So, you’re telling me that you’re going to die if we don’t get you back?”

“No…” She took her food and plopped in the chair opposite of Emma. “I’m saying that my magic does, however. I’m weakened by this lawless land, and simply put, I just don’t have enough magic in me to fix the portal. But I do have enough magic to perform small tasks such as transporting and—”

“Stealing my things for your family.”

“It’s not stealing when I’m giving it right back to you, besides its your family too.” She shrugged and daintily put a fork full of noodles in her mouth. “Just not in this reality.”

“So how do we get enough magic in a land where magic doesn’t exist?”

“I’ve already told you… we need Regina.”

“For what exactly?”

Why, true love’s kiss my dear. True love just so happens to be the most powerful and potent magic there is, and that actually does exist here.”

“You literally just said there is no such thing as magic here.” She huffed in frustration. “So that makes no sense.”

“Of course it doesn’t. You are governed by the laws of science, and science deems magic to be incomprehensible— or even imaginary. Trying to make sense of magic in a scientific world is like—” she searched the ceiling as if there were a list of things for her to possibly say— “I don’t know, me believing that Regina is actually straight.”

“That also doesn’t make any sense, because Regina actually is straight in this reality.” She massaged her temples in an attempt to fight away the beginnings of a headache. “I don’t understand anything anymore.”

“Look, all you need to do is woo Regina, and share true love’s kiss. I will do the rest.”

“What is the rest?”

“So, because Regina and I are intimately connected…” To which Emma made a face of disgust. “I will be able to draw in the magic from her to gain enough power to fix the portal and get back to my family.” Regina said before eating another fork full of food. “But I’m afraid I cannot say it in any simpler terms than that.”

“But how, Regina is not magical.”

“That’s true, but magical things still happen even in a land where magic doesn’t exist.”

“Like true love?”

“You are correct, my dear… It feels something like your heart racing, and butterflies in your stomach. It’s the intoxicating high you feel when you’re around her. That’s the magic, and that’s what I need to get home.”

“But that doesn’t sound like magic, that just sounds like—”

“Love?” Emma nodded. “Yes, do keep up dear, that’s exactly what we’ve just discovered. Love is just magic in its purest form.”

The blonde raised her eyebrows and wondered when this fiery woman sat in front of her transformed into a total pile of mush. “You really are from a land of fairy tales, aren’t you?”

She cocked an eyebrow at that, but said nothing as she continued to eat, and not for the first time that evening the blonde wondered how in the world any of this was happening.  

X

The thought to check her phone didn’t even cross her mind until after alternate Regina was soundly tucked away in her bed and Emma laid in a bundle of blankets on the couch. She’d completely forgotten that she was supposed to be expecting a text from her Regina. “Wow.” She muttered to herself and smiled at the ludicrous thought of referring to the other woman as hers. Yet, it did spark an exciting curiosity within her that left her feeling a bit giddy… as if she were a teenager again.

She chuckled and brought her phone screen to life. There had only been one simple text and it read:

Come see me again tomorrow?

She was smiling so hard that her cheeks were actually hurting, yet even with this newfound excitement, she still couldn’t help but feel like maybe these feelings would suffocate her somehow. Alternate Regina had been adamant that they belonged together, but Emma couldn’t see how that was going to happen from where she was standing. Regina is straight and in love with someone else. She politely told herself and pushed down those childish feelings of excitement as she typed her response.

Doctor Cupid: Where should we meet?

Her phone buzzed almost immediately.

Shy Girl: Same place, under the Oak Tree around noon? I liked talking to you earlier. I’m sorry I had to cut it short.

She really tried not to think to much into that, but she couldn’t help that she was swooning just a little bit. Regina was beautiful, sweet, and funny… of course she was flattered by the attention, anyone would be.

Doctor Cupid: Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Shy Girl:  Goodnight Doctor Cupid.

X

The next morning, she didn’t even have to tell alternate Regina that this timeline’s Regina wanted to see her again. The woman already knew. And she wasn’t any help at all when Emma asked for advice on how to broach the hard topic of Robin. She just sleepily shrugged and mumbled something about how much more comfortable the beds are in this timeline. She missed Emma’s unamused stare as she snuggled deeper into the blankets.

So, the blonde got ready in relative silence with few distractions. It wasn’t until she reached the door that she heard Regina call out to her. “Don’t overthink too much. I know you have a tendency to do that… Just go with it. I promise you will like where things end up. There are countless other versions of you that will back me up about that.”

Emma smirked. “And you’ve met them?”

“I’ve met a few different Emmas in my time.”

“Really? Like how many?”

“I don’t keep count. But there are plenty of you.”

“Really? How do you meet so many of me… and does your Emma get to meet other Reginas?”

Regina sighed and turned to go back to bed. “You ask way too many questions. It’s much too early for this.”

“It’s almost noon.” Emma said with laughter thick in her voice.

“Time works differently in my realm, something about the time zone... I need more rest.”

“You’re a liar, but I have to go, so you win this round.” Emma said as she twisted the handle to leave.

“Oh, and Emma? If I’m gone when you get back, then just know that it worked, and I’ve fixed the portal and returned home.”

The blonde quirked an eyebrow. “What worked?”

“The kiss, obviously.”

“But how do you know—” Regina groaned and shook her head before she flicked her wrist, and with that simple motion, Emma disappeared in a flush of purple smoke and reappeared on her campus grounds.

“That little minx.” The blonde said under her breath feeling more amused than she was annoyed.

Her green eyes scanned the vicinity and found her Regina exactly where she said she would be. Emma let a smile spread across her face when as she made her way over, studying the brunette who had yet to spot her. Her short hair was windswept, and she wore a long blue dress that was made of a material that flowed freely in the wind. She was absolutely breath-taking.

Emma sighed and dropped her gaze for a moment, she had to dutifully reminded herself not to get carried away with thoughts of alternate Regina's words. True love, kisses, and all the other things... even if her heart felt light the moment, she laid eyes on her. And even if she felt warm enough to melt when those brown eyes finally spotted her coming. Nope, she most certainly wouldn't get carried away... And she still struggled to think of these feelings as true love. A crush, maybe. But, true love? 

Regina smiled at her and pushed a few stray hairs out of her face before she waved... Emma waved back, feeling like her limbs had suddenly been replaced with putty. That smile, Emma thought, it was enamouring.

Okay, true love? Maybe

"I saved you a spot." Regina said playfully as she patted the blanket space next to her and tucked her book away. "It was a good thing you showed up when you did. You wouldn't believe all the people I had to fight off before you got here. Apparently, this is the best spot in the yard."

Emma eyed her with a smile that seemed to be permanently in place. She couldn't help but notice how beautifully relaxed Regina looked, with her wavy hair and dreamy eyes—. "Well then I will consider myself lucky. I am obviously indebted to you now." She played along. "Tell me how I can ever repay you?" 

Regina used her index finger to tap her chin lightly as she pretended to consider her options. "You can give me a million dollars." She quipped. 

"That is a hefty price to pay." Emma played along swimmingly. "I really don't think I can swing it."

The brunette nodded in mock sympathy. "I thought as much... which is why I've considered other options, and I’m willing to settle for dinner." Emma's eyes met brown ones so quickly, but Regina was still playfully watching her and giving nothing away. She didn't want to assume anything, but that seemed awfully suggestive. 

"Dinner?" She parroted. 

Regina gave a firm nod. "Yes, ask me to dinner and consider your debts paid in full." As if it were the easiest thing in the world. 

"Okay, fine. Come have dinner with me." Actually, it had been quite easy.

"When?" 

"Tonight." The final word hung in the air until the silence felt like it was going crush Emma, and then she was suddenly second guessing herself even though Regina was the one who prompted her in the first place. "If you're not busy, that is."

"Tonight, is perfect." The brunette said with a positively devilish grin on her face, and it was then that Emma knew that Regina was simply teasing her by making her wait for that answer.  

"You little imp." 

"I like talking to you." She said it with the most wistful look in her eyes. Emma found herself almost blushing under the thoughtful gaze. Again, this all seemed awfully suggestive. It was bordering flirtatious, but Emma couldn't fathom why this straight, and taken, woman was looking at her like she suddenly hung the moon, and of course she would remember the words of alternate Regina in her most vulnerable moment. Words that said they belonged together, and Regina would kiss her and suddenly all would be right and magical.

Clearing her throat, she looked away, letting her eyes settle on a couple of squirrels that were darting erratically through the yard. "I like talking to you too." She squeaked. 

"Oh, so now you're suddenly the shy one? I should change your name in my phone." 

The smile could be heard in her voice, and Emma desperately wanted to let go of all her doubtful thoughts and run with this, but there was at least one painfully necessary topic they still hadn't discussed. "Well you're suddenly bold... maybe I should be the one doing the name changing."

"... Maybe all I needed was for you to come and talk to me." And green eyes were on her, just as big and inquisitive as ever. "Maybe I was waiting on you to make a move, and now that you finally have... I'm taking all the liberties." 

Emma's wide eyes grew impossibly wider before she dry-swallowed. "What?" She croaked to which Regina responded with a playful laugh. "I-I don't understand." 

"Oh, forgive me if I've read this wrong, but I thought you randomly coming over here to speak to me yesterday was your adorable attempt at... flirting?" Emma was stunned into silence. Her heart was ramming in her chest as Regina waited for a response. Really, she should’ve been jumping for joy at the fact that Regina was broaching all the topics Emma didn’t know how to navigate all on her own. But instead she felt hot embarrassment pool at the back her throat like bile. 

"I wasn't..." Was all she managed to say, and Regina's face fell immediately and completely… and so did Emma’s heart. She hadn’t been trying to flirt though, maybe that’s what they ended up doing anyway, but Emma was only trying to prove a point yesterday. She never expected that alternate Regina was telling the truth when she said that she was meant to be with this Regina. And Emma went and spoke to her only so that she could go back afterwards and say see, I told you, love doesn’t happen like that here. But clearly, she was back again today for a reason.   

"Oh..." she sighed; all signs of her earlier playfulness deserted. "Then, my apologies." Now things were tense, beyond tense even. Regina wouldn't look at Emma, and Emma wasn't looking at Regina... but they really couldn't just sit there avoiding each other... could they?

"I thought you were straight." Finally came Emma's squeak of a response when the silence became too much for her to continue to bear. 

"Straight?" Regina looked up in confusion, as if she needed Emma to now define the word. "Why?" 

"Head of the Christian celibacy—”

"I've already told you. That is to appease my mother." Sure, she had said that, but that really didn't explain—

"And Robin." Emma added. 

"Robin?" Regina asked this time sounding even more confused. 

"Yea, haven't you guys been dating for li—"

"Dating?" Was Regina just naturally confused about everything right now? 

"Yea, I thought—"

The brunette cut her off with a deep throaty laugh. She was laughing, and Emma felt her cheeks grow red all over again. How awful could one day go? Now she was being openly laughed at, and she was really only a split second away from hopping up and bolting. 

"You think that Robin and I are an item?" Emma could only muster the courage to nod silently. "Well that’s just— he's going to love that." She commented with the playfulness returning to her voice. Yet, Emma still was waiting for the world to open up and swallow her whole. 

Regina only carried on a few more brief moments before she seemed to notice how the blonde still wouldn't meet her gaze, and that seemed to sober her. "Emma?" She beckoned softly, after her laughter quieted. "Please look at me?" 

The blonde exhaled, but then did as she was asked. 

"Robin and I are not an item." She said in all seriousness. "We never were... we're both gay, and out… He's my best friend." 

And just like that Emma felt her world come tumbling down all around her. "What?" 

"You heard me." She teased. "And since you seem adamant on making me say it... I've had a crush on you for nearly a year. I just didn't know if you—" 

"I do!" Emma hurriedly stated. "I mean, I am. I mean—" her thoughts were a jumbled mess, as she tried to clearly dismiss whatever Regina was going to say. "—wait I don't actually know what I'm trying to say." 

"That’s because you didn't let me finish my sentence." Emma smiled meekly and felt her heart jolt when Regina placed a hand atop hers. "I just didn't know if you were interested in me. You never gave me a sign... not until you showed up yesterday with that goofy smile on your face... and then I figured it out." 

"Figured out what?"

"That you think I'm beautiful, and you want to take me out on a date." Regina teased and Emma felt the tension leave her shoulders with every new bout of laughter. 

"You gathered all of that just because I came to say hi?" 

"And the way you look at me."

"And how is that?"

Regina didn't skip a beat when she said, "it's the same way I'm looking at you right now, and I know exactly what I’m thinking." 

Fuck. Emma wasn't sure if it was decent or appropriate, but she was really fighting the urge to just kiss Regina here and now. "I’m guessing you think that I'm beautiful and you want to take me out on a date?" 

"Obviously." The brunette said. "It took you long enough." 

Emma was grinning from ear to ear. "I could say the same to you." 

Regina nodded and smiled at Emma in a way that said touché. "But now that, that's out of the way, there was something else I've been dying to ask you as well."

"Oh?"

Except Regina didn't say anything afterwards. She wordlessly leaned closer until Emma's nostrils were caressed by the sweet scent of her perfume. The blonde felt her body react on its own as her heart quickened and she leaned forward, ever so slightly. 

And when Regina's lips finally met hers it was nothing like alternate Regina described it. 

The brunette was tentative at first, only moving her mouth against Emma's in a way that could only be described as soft. It held all the shyness and uncertainty that any first kiss would. And Emma felt as if she was floating on a cloud. But then Regina brought her hand to rest on the back of Emma's neck and pulled her closer, anchored her, demanded that she stay put. And Emma was malleable enough to obey this silent command as if her life depended on it. 

That’s when something changed... or everything changed. The soft brush of Regina’s lips turned into something hungrier, something more all-consuming. She was suddenly kissing Emma as if she really had been awaiting this very moment. Breathy and hot. Emma let her take the lead in this sensuous dance, never mind that they were in the middle of the university courtyard. Emma was absolutely willing to bear it all, right here in front of everyone.

But then Regina pulled away— far too soon, a note of roughness appeared in her voice that wasn't there before. "Let's get out of here?" She said still staring at Emma's lips. 

"My place?" Emma asked almost sounding too eager. “It’s only a few blocks away from here.”

“Yea, that sounds good.”

And Emma prayed with every fibre of her being that alternate Regina had gotten what she needed, because she wasn’t exactly sure how she would explain that to her Regina.

But said brunette didn’t seem to be sharing the same concerns as she interlocked Emma’s hand with hers, effectively pulling the blonde from her thoughts. And this time Emma smiled at her, unguarded and completely smitten, and all she could think was: my Regina.

Epilogue

Regina laid her head gently on her wife’s lap as Emma combed her fingers through dark locks. “I’ve missed you.” She sighed contentedly.

“And I, you, my love… I take it everything went smoothly?”

Regina laughed but nodded. “It was a wonder there was even an issue in this timeline. Emma barely even questioned things. And I didn’t even need to meddle with Regina. It was obvious she wanted Emma from the moment they first spoke.”

Queen Emma laughed and shook her head. “The more the storyline changes, the more it simply stays the same.” She leaned down and placed a kiss on her wife’s forehead. “And did she believe that ridiculous story about the portal and true love being magical in a land where magic doesn’t exist?” Brown eyes met green ones and then they both were laughing. “How is it, that I fall for that plot in so many different timelines? Our children came up with that idea, and I was sure it would never work. But here we are…”

“Another successful mission…” Regina said as she slowly pushed the upper half of her body up to be levelled with her wife.

“Together again, at last.” Emma hummed feeling her heart jolt from the intense gaze.

“In every timeline.”

“As it should be.”