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United Under The Same Sky

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Emma Swan’s sandals creaked slightly as she walked down the hallway. Her pace was brisk and the smile on her face unmistakable. Today was the day. At last. The last time she would be walking down the hallway. The last time she would greet the doctors and nurses she met along the way.

Today she was finally whisking Regina away from the hospital. Like she was the knight in shining armor, Regina the princess and the hospital the tower room she had been locked up in for the past twenty years.

Okay, so the hospital wasn’t a tower room. Emma wasn’t a knight. She didn’t own any clothes remotely close to an armor. She didn’t know how to wield a sword. She hadn’t slain dragons and ocres to find Regina. Only crossed an ocean and stumbled upon a flamenco dancer. And Regina was not the lost princess who had been locked up for the past twenty years.

But she had been ‘locked up’ for a week, though. Two days after being rushed to the hospital after Marian had made her fall down the stairs in the bar, Regina had suddenly started bleeding. Her doctor had called Emma in the middle of the night, and Emma had shot up from bed as she was a rocket being fired towards the sky. She had gotten dressed in top speed and then tumbled into a taxi. She had barked at the taxi driver to ‘fucking hurry!’, and he had.

In the hospital, she had raced to Regina’s room with her heart thundering in her throat and tears burning in her eyes.

But upon seeing Regina’s doctor, she found out that it had been a false alarm. It turned out that Regina had underwent a routine exam earlier that night and due to an ‘irritated cervix’ she had started spotting very lightly. The doctor repeated over and over again that light spotting during pregnancy was not a cause for concern, but she also stressed out how good it was that Regina had reacted and send for the doctor rather than assuming it was nothing.

When Emma was let into Regina’s room, she found Regina pale, meek, holding her belly and very, very relieved. And sheepish for having dragged Emma out of bed. Emma had brushed the apology aside. Of course. She had kissed Regina’s forehead and praised her for sending for the doctor. Then she had kissed Regina’s belly. Multiple times. While babbling nonsense to Blueberry.

Regina had laughed. And then she had called her father who also had been informed. He was already on his way to the hospital, and even through the phone, Emma had been able to hear the big, deep sigh of relief Henry had made. “So you and Pequeño are okay?” he had asked.

Regina had answered that they were both fine. There was absolutely no reason for concern.

Henry had believed her. But he had still showed up at the hospital. With flowers. And chocolate.

There was also flowers and chocolate waiting for Regina in her apartment. Emma had bought lots of fresh flowers and filled chocolates. And cream sodas. She had stocked up on Doritos and marshmallows and everything else that Regina craved. She had cleaned the place from top to bottom. Scrubbed every inch of it to make sure it was spotless. And then of course she had splurged and bought an enormous banner saying, ‘WELCOME REGINA AND BLUEBERRY!’ and had hung it in the kitchen. Alejandro and Ricardo, the two guys who played guitar when Regina danced had helped her hang up the banner, and all three of them had agreed that it was a great idea and that it would make Regina smile.

Emma did not care whether it had just been a week. Regina deserved a royal welcome home. She had been worried about Blueberry, in pain because of her broken leg, dizzy and nauseous from the concussion and generally upset because of what she called her ‘frightening appearance’. Emma didn’t agree with her. Regina didn’t look frightening in any way. Perhaps she was a bit bruised after her tumble, but it could have been worse. Way worse.

But now she would finally be let out of the hospital. At last. It had been a long week. A tough week. Regina had thrown up due to the concussion the first few days. That was one of the main reasons the hospital had kept her for a week. The other reason had been that she had to learn how to use crutches. The doctor had recommended a wheelchair for her because it would be easier seeing that she was pregnant and that her center of gravity had changed, but Regina had blankly rejected that immediately. Not even
Emma’s sweet attempts at convincing her to say yes to the wheelchair had not worked. Regina’s jaw had been set and her posture stiff. Arms had folded across her chest as she gritted out: “I live in an apartment where the wheelchair can barely fit through the door. And my leg might be broken, and I may be pregnant, but I am NOT sick enough to use a wheelchair so you might as well stop trying to convince me otherwise, Emma!”

That was how Emma knew Regina meant business. No ‘querida’ or ‘preciosa’ or ‘mi amor’. Just plain ‘Emma’.

Emma had winced and apologized for being an overprotective idiot. Regina hadn’t actually accepted the apology right away. She had glared at Emma and had coldly asked if she could get her something from the vending machine. She hadn’t specified what that ‘something’ was. It had been obvious that she had just used it as an excuse to send Emma out of the room.

Emma had walked out like a dog with its tail between its legs. She had felt properly scolded and rightfully so. It hadn’t been up to her to decide if Regina should use a wheelchair or not. When she got to the vending machine, she grabbed every last piece of chocolate and candy she could get her hands on. She had even walked down to the gift shop and had bought a huge yellow balloon. With a marker, she had written the word ‘Sorry!’ across the balloon and had even drawn a sad little face too.

But when she came back to Regina’s hospital room, Regina had been on the verge of tears as she spilled apologies for having snapped at Emma. She had opened her arms for a hug, and Emma had willingly given her one. She had accepted Regina’s apology because she could sense that Regina needed her to do that. But at the same time, she had told Regina that she wasn’t the one who had the most reason to apologize. Emma was the one who had been barking up the wrong tree when she tried to make the decisions for Regina. She had apologized. And then they had shared a piece of chocolate.

On the fourth day in the hospital, Regina had gotten company in her hospital room by a delightful, elderly gentleman called Diego. The two of them had developed an unusual friendship while in the hospital. Diego had given Regina his entire life story. He was eighty two and had broken his femur during a fall. He had been a widower since his wife had passed away six years ago, but he rarely felt lonely. His house was always full of life. He had seven children who each had between three and five kids themselves. He even had three great-grandchildren, so he was rarely alone, he had told Regina.

In return, Regina had told him about herself. Had told that she was pregnant with her first baby, and to Emma’s utter delight, she had come into the hospital one morning to find Diego in the middle of knitting a tiny little green hat for ‘señorita Regina’s bebé’.

Emma had silently fawned or that for the rest of the day. And she was happy that Diego had moved into Regina’s hospital room. On most mornings, Emma had come in to find the two of them nearly crying with laughter. And somedays, Emma came in and found the two of them engaged in a game of cards or chess. Sometimes she had joined in on their card games. She too had become incredibly fond of the delightful Diego Gomez.

Henry had of course stopped by the hospital every single day, and Emma and Regina had face timed with Emma’s parents and friends.

As for Robin Locksley, he had put his signature on the piece of paper stating that he would renounce any parental rights and would not try to become involved in the child’s life when it was born. Furthermore, neither he nor his wife would be harassing Regina.

If they abided these rules, Regina would not press charge against Marian for causing her fall down the stairs.

So far, Robin had been as silent as the grave and so had Marian. Which was exactly how Emma preferred it. She was done with those assholes!

“Knock-knock,” Emma said jokingly as she knocked on the already half-ajar door.

“Pasa,” came the amused answer from behind the door.

Emma pushed the door fully open and stepped inside. Smiled at what she saw.

Regina was sitting waiting impatiently on the edge of the bed. She was wearing a blue sundress that both flowed and hugged her baby bump in the most delightful way. Her hair was gathered in a loose side braid. The bandage around her head was gone and her black eye and puffy cheek had turned into bruises instead. Then of course there was the cast around her left ankle. It had been white a week ago, but now it was nicely decorated with silly little doodles. Words of encouragement. Drawings of smileys and little boats and swans and crowns and lots and lots of blueberries, of course. And plenty of other fruits, actually. Emma had read up on it and found out which fruit Blueberry would match in size over the weeks. And she had turned it into a mission to draw all the different fruits on Regina’s cast. She had also written silly little messages ‘from Blueberry’. Such as ‘I can’t wait to meet you, mommy!’ or ‘Emma says my mommy is the cutest!’. Regina had laughed a lot about that. And then called Emma a ‘silly goose’.

Which Emma had found utterly adorable, obviously.

“Querida!” Regina chirped as she grabbed her crutches and eased herself off the bed. “Finally! I’ve been waiting for ages!”

“I’m awfully sorry, Your Majesty. I had to prepare the carriage first,” Emma quipped as she hasted forward and gently grabbed Regina’s elbow.

“Oh yes?” Regina smirked. “Have the horses been brushed and their saddles cleaned?”

“And the velvet inside the carriage cleaned carefully,” Emma laughed. Leaned forward and pecked Regina gently on the lips. “You look great.”

“Stop it,” Regina scoffed. “I smell of hospital.”

“You smell amazing.”

Diego laughed from his hospital bed. “You should believe her, señorita Regina.”

“I am going to miss you, Diego,” Regina said fondly. “But you have my phone number, so don’t forget to call me, okay?”

“Of course I will not forget that,” Diego assured. “You take good care of yourself, young lady. And the little one, of course.”

“I will,” Regina assured with a chuckle. “Good luck with your leg.”

“Likewise. I’m sure you will master those crutches in no time.”

“Let’s hope so,” Regina said with a slight grimace. Even though she had rejected the wheelchair, she wasn’t less skeptical about the crutches. Or perhaps annoyed was a better word, and Emma could understand why. Wearing a cast on her ankle for six weeks was less than ideal. She would be annoyed too. But it was definitely to be preferred over anything else.

Had Regina fallen just a smidge more unfortunate, the consequences could have been devastating.

They said goodbye to the delightful Diego and then left the hospital room. Emma walked slowly and carried the bag containing the stuff Regina had needed while on the hospital. Regina was hobbling along on her crutches. She was actually doing a pretty good job at maneuvering around on the crutches. But then again, she had practiced pretty much all the time. Her protruding belly quivered every time she took a hop with the crutches. She was not allowed to put any kind of weight on her broken ankle. Meaning that she could not serve customers in the bar. Or dance. Meaning that two of the things she loved the most had been taken away from her. She had cussed her broken ankle far, far away many times, and Emma understood that too. She also understood why Regina was worried. Living on the third floor while hobbling around on crutches (and being pregnant!!) wasn’t ideal. Emma had some kind of vague idea of bringing Regina back to Storybrooke soon, but first she had to go back to her own place and decompress a little. Sleep in her own bed. Take a shower. Wash the hospital away.

“Careful!” Emma exclaimed as Regina lifted a crutch and used it to push the elevator button.

“Oh, vamos,” Regina said with a slight chuckle. “These are going to be my constant companions for six weeks. Surely, I’m allowed to use them to have a bit of fun, right?”

“Sure,” Emma agreed. “But seeing you balance like that is making me nervous.”

“Everything I do is making you nervous,” Regina said with a grin. “Isn’t that right, querida?”

Emma smiled. Couldn’t help it. Regina had been pretty concerned the first couple of days. Pale and meek and with a permanent wrinkle between her eyes. She looked better now. It helped that the headache from the concussion had gone away. Of course she
still had to take it easy and not strain herself, but she was definitely looking a lot perkier than she had.

The elevator arrived and the doors opened with a slurping sound. Emma helped Regina inside with a gentle hand on her back. She was still terrified that Regina would fall with the crutches. Being pregnant and having a broken ankle was definitely not ideal.

“Looking forward to going home?” Emma asked.

“Sí!” Regina said earnestly. “I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed and cook my own food. I’m telling you that hospital food…” she wrinkled her nose and rubbed her growing belly. “Blueberry was NOT impressed.”

“I bet he wasn’t,” Emma chuckled, fondly putting a hand on Regina’s belly. “How is our kid doing today?”

“He’s fine.”

Emma smiled. Always ‘he’. Regina was a hundred percent convinced that they were going to have a son. ‘They’. ‘Our’. Always that. One day when Emma had come to visit Regina, she had greeted her with the words: ‘are you aware of the mischievous things your son has been up to, querida?’

Emma had been delighted. And a bit misty-eyed too. The way Regina had said ‘your son’ had been so natural. And it still was. This truly was their kid. No doubt about that.

“Actually, he’s dancing right now,” Regina continued and chuckled. “It’s crazy. He’s just popping away in there.”

“Oh man,” Emma said and tried not to be jealous. She was yet to feel Blueberry move. She couldn’t wait for that day.

“So, do we have any plans today?” Regina joked.

“Yeah, we have a very difficult maneuver ahead of us,” Emma said mock seriously. “Getting you in the shower.”

Regina wrinkled her nose as she looked down at her cast-incased ankle. “And just how the fuck are we going to do that?”

“We’ll wrap it in plastic,” Emma said as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

“But how am I going to stay upright?”

“You won’t. You’re going to sit down.”

“Urgh.” Regina rolled her dark eyes. “Why don’t I own a bathtub? This is going to be so complicated!”

“We’ll manage,” Emma soothed and gave her belly another fond rub. “Don’t you worry about a thing, beautiful girl.”

“Easier said than done. But at least I’m not worried about this little guy anymore.” She patted her belly. “By the way, my dad is stopping by tomorrow night. He insisted upon cooking for us.”

“That sounds awesome!” Emma said earnestly. She loved Henry’s cooking. He had stopped by Regina’s apartment a few times over the past week and had surprised her with food. He had also shown up with food for Regina at the hospital, so she didn’t have to eat hospital food all the time. He had of course come to visit her every day. Something that couldn’t be said about Cora Mills. Emma hadn’t seen the shadow of her. Hadn’t heard anything from her since that startling phone call.

Emma had not told Regina about her phone call with Cora. Nor had she revealed Cora’s secret. The secret that had led to Cora’s divorce from Regina’s father. She still had some trouble wrapping her head around the fact that Cora Mills most likely was gay, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that she had talked with the ‘secret mistress’, she wouldn’t have believed it.

She was so disappointed over Cora. Had really hoped that what she had said to her had made an impact, but apparently not. Cora remained absent in Regina’s life. Why that was, Emma had no idea about. Was Cora afraid? If she didn’t know Cora, she could have been tempted to think so. But that was ridiculous. Wasn’t it? Sure, Regina would probably not welcome Cora back in her life with open arms, but being gay would not be one of the reasons why Regina potentially would reject Cora. Emma knew that. Regina would definitely find it strange that her mother was gay, but she would turn her away because of it.

“Penny for your thoughts, mi amor?”

“Hmm? Oh, it’s nothing. I was just… thinking about how cute you look today,” Emma lied.

Regina scoffed. “I smell of hospital.”

“You smell fantastic,” Emma brushed her off and tried not to wince. She felt bad about lying for Regina. She felt bad about hiding the phone call she’d had with Cora. But since Cora had not shown up at the hospital, Emma saw no reason to tell Regina about it.
And no matter how much she disliked Cora, she would never out her. That wasn’t the way she did things.

If only Cora had shown up, damnit! Emma was so disappointed in her. God knew she disliked Cora, but she was Regina’s mother. Regina was expecting a baby. Why couldn’t that motivate Cora to up her game and be the mother Regina deserved rather than vanishing in thin air.

And then there was the mystery woman who had answered Cora’s phone that night. Emma had thought a lot about her. Had pondered who she was and how she and Cora had come together. She still believed that the mysterious woman could in fact be the real reason why Cora and Henry had split up. Of course she had absolutely nothing that could prove it, it was just a theory and nothing more.

The elevator dinged and they stepped out of it. Regina elegantly maneuvered her crutches and was actually hopping along pretty swiftly. Too swiftly.

“Slow down!” Emma warned.

“Not my fault you’re a slowpoke,” Regina teased over her shoulder and continued hopping towards the door.

“Damn, you’re fast,” Emma said, half impressed, half complaining. “How can you even move that fast on crutches?”

“Hidden talent, maybe?” Regina innocently suggested.

“I think you have many of those, beautiful girl.”

“Perhaps I do. But I think you already know of a few of those talents, mi amor.”

Emma laughed. Regina was flirting with her. Something she had not been able to do while stuck in the hospital because she was surrounded by doctors and nurses and the delightful Diego. Another reason why Emma was excited about having her home again.

She had missed their flirting.

Regina looked rather triumphant as she reached the door. But upon trying to open it, she came up empty.

“Allow me, Your Majesty,” Emma quipped as she swiftly opened the door for Regina.

“Thank you, querida,” Regina said as she elegantly hopped through the door. Her injured foot dangled miserably a few inches above the ground. At some point in the hospital, Emma had called it ‘a sad little foot’ which had caused Regina to laugh so loudly one of the nurses had heard her in the hallway.

“Sunshine!” Regina cried excitedly and turned her face upwards towards the sky.

“Yep,” Emma confirmed with a chuckle. “Missed it?”

“You have no idea,” Regina said earnestly. “The open window in my hospital room somehow wasn’t enough, you know?”

“I get it,” Emma nodded, gently taking Regina’s elbow again. “Come here, you. I parked right here.”

“¡Mi coche!” Regina exclaimed and shot her little silver colored car a fond gaze. “I can’t drive it, but still….”

“You’ve missed it,” Emma finished the sentence, releasing Regina’s elbow again and warning: “don’t fall, okay?”

“I won’t,” Regina assured.

“You better not.” Emma hurried over to Regina’s car and opened the door to the passenger’s seat. Then she hastily walked back to Regina and took her arm once more.

“Emma, I’m fine,” Regina said gently once she was sitting on the passenger’s seat. “You don’t have to help me all the time.”

“I know.” Emma sighed, adjusting on the driver’s seat and gently closing the door. “I know that I am being too much, but it’s just….”

“What?” Regina asked softly.

“I don’t know if I should tell you. I don’t want to bring you down now that you’re excited about going home and-“

“Querida,” Regina interrupted. “You can tell me anything, okay? Anything.”

Emma took a breath and then admitted: “I keep seeing you falling down the stairs. I’ve dreamed of it a few times too. I run forward to try and catch you, but you fall every time.”

Regina was quiet for a moment. Then: “oh, querida.” She leaned sideways and planted a warm kiss on Emma’s cheek. Then took her hand and interlaced their fingers. “Look at me, mi amor.”

Emma willingly turned her head and looked at Regina.

“I’m okay,” Regina said softly. “I know that seeing me fall down the stairs was a really big shock for you-“

“It’s worse for you. You were the one who fell.”

“But you were the one who saw it, and you got really scared,” Regina gently continued. “I would feel the same if it were you who had fallen down the stairs, querida. I would be just as scared and worried and traumatized as you are right now.”

“You think I’m traumatized?” Emma had not even considered that. She had just thought she was a bit overprotective.

“Sí, I think you are. You saw me fall and got a huge shock. Of course you’re traumatized.” Regina squeezed her hand gently. “But I’m right here, Emma. Remember that. I’m here and I’m alright. And so is our baby. I’m not mad at you for wanting to help me all the time. I’m just asking you to remember that me and Blueberry are okay.”

“I hear you,” Emma murmured. Her throat suddenly felt awkwardly tight. “And I am sorry for being an overprotective idiot. But you’re right, I was really scared for you.”

“Me, too. Or not really. I was mostly afraid of loosing the baby.” Regina’s free hand automatically wandered to her bump.

“Blue’s not going anywhere,” Emma said, repeating what she had told Regina in the hospital. “At least not yet.”

“Do you think I can take Lamaze classes with a broken ankle?” Regina queried.

“Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s not your ankle you have to use.”

“Funny. That’s how I feel about sex and yet all the experts disagree with me.”

Emma spluttered. “Sorry, babe.”

“You and me both,” Regina said darkly.

It was true, sex was ‘off limits’ for at least two weeks. Because of Regina’s broken ankle. And because of the bleeding. It was only a precaution, the doctor had assured her. It was only temporary not to stress Regina’s body.

Regina’s answer to that had been a rather brilliant one. ‘And what if not having sex stresses my body more?’

Emma had been amused and sad at the same time.

 

“Home sweet home!” Emma proclaimed as she swung the door to Regina’s apartment open with an exaggerated movement.

“¡Ay Dios mío!“ Regina exclaimed and clapped her hands together upon seeing the huge banner Emma had hung up. “Querida, this is entirely too much. I love it!”

“Thank god,” Emma grinned. “Should I have carried you over the threshold?”

“Am I wearing a white dress and a veil?” Regina joked and rolled her eyes. “No, I am not. I may be carrying your baby, mi amor. But we’re not married.”

“Not yet,” Emma quipped.

“Planning on whisking me away to Vegas to make an honest woman of me?” Regina asked casually as she hobbled into the kitchen. “Look at this. I feel like I’ve been gone for a month and not a week.”

“It feels like you’ve been gone for a month,” Emma muttered.

Regina flashed her a soft smile. “And you’ve opened the windows too. Good call. I think it’s gonna be another hot day.” Her gaze landed on the banner and she smiled again. “I want to keep that banner up for at least three days.”

“Which we absolutely should!” Emma said firmly. Regina coming home from the hospital was something that was worth celebrating for months and not days.

Regina made her way to the cupboard and opened it. Let out something that reminded Emma of a happy bird chirping. “You’ve bought Doritos! And marshmallows! God, you know exactly how to take care of a pregnant woman!”

“I don’t know about that,” Emma said with faux modesty. “You’re the only pregnant woman I’ve ever taken care of.”

“And hopefully the last one too,” Regina joked, and Emma heard a tearing sound from the kitchen. She grinned. No doubt that Regina had just dug into the bag of Doritos. A few seconds later she heard a telltale crunching sound and the following ‘mmmm!’
which almost sounded like a moan. Yep, Regina was definitely eating Doritos.

Emma followed her into the kitchen and to her surprise found Regina sitting on the edge of the kitchen table. Emma’s eyebrows rose towards her hairline. “How the hell did you get up there?!”

“One of my hidden talents,” Regina purred and stuffed another Dorito inside her mouth. “I have so many of them, querida.”

“You’re flirting with me,” Emma accused.

“Oh, absolutamente……”

Emma groaned. “Refresh my memory… Why is it that sex isn’t allowed right now?”

“Isn’t it?” Regina feigned innocence and confusion. “Where have you heard that?”

Emma laughed. Acknowledged: “this is going to be hard.”

“Sí,” Regina said plainly and ate another Dorito.

They ended up sharing and consuming half of them before Regina decided that they should save the others for later.

“Good plan,” Emma praised. “What do you want to do now? Take a nap?” the suggestion was definitely said with far too much hopefulness. She couldn’t help it. She loved when Regina took it easy and relaxed.

“No,” Regina scoffed. “I’ve just spent the entire week flat on my back, querida!”

“Huh. If you hadn’t been in the hospital, that could have been the perfect sentence.” Emma cleared her throat and reminded herself not to get sidetracked. “So, what DO you wanna do if you don’t want to rest?”

“I would really like to take a shower,” Regina said and scrunched up her nose. “Sorry…”

“Why are you apologizing?” Emma raised an eyebrow.

“Because you have to help me…”

“That….” Emma laughed as she gently lifted Regina down from the kitchen table. “Is something that I happily do, beautiful girl. Come on. Let’s get you bathed.” She handed Regina her crutches and hovered behind her as she moved through the hallway and into
the bedroom.

In the bedroom, Regina stood awkwardly balancing holding one crutch while awkwardly trying to take her dress off with her free hand. It wasn’t easy. She swayed back and forward, grumbled and complained and cussed under her breath.

And Emma’s nerves were wearing thin. “Woah,” she said, stepping forward when Regina swayed again. “I don’t think this method is going to work, babe.”

“Really?” Regina said with her jaw clenched. “What are you suggesting then?”

Emma ignored her tone. She knew that Regina wasn’t biting at her. She was merely frustrated over the situation, and that was completely okay. “Sit down on the bed,” she said gently.

“Fine.” Regina hobbled over to the bed and plopped down. “There. I’m sitting.”

“That you are,” Emma agreed. “How’s the ankle?”

“It’s a bit sore, but not too much. Now what?”

“Well…” Emma walked over to her and pecked her forehead. “Now I help you undress, how about that?”

“Sounds dangerous,” Regina said with a quirk of her eyebrow. “I’m in.”

“Good.” Emma chuckled. Then she began lifting up Regina’s dress.

“Oooh,” Regina crooned.

“Behave,” Emma mock-scolded.

“I can’t. I’ve been stuck in a hospital for a week. Cut me some slack.”

Emma wanted to do so much more, but she wasn’t allowed to because Regina’s doctor had forbidden it. She pushed all her wonderful, forbidden thoughts aside and cleared her throat. “Lift,” she said gently. “But be careful.”

Regina lifted her bottom so Emma could pull the dress over her head.

“Damn your doctor,” Emma said plainly as her eyes roamed over Regina sitting there in her royal blue underwear. She looked so, so delicious in that underwear and with her swelling belly. Pregnant Regina was drop-dead sexy. Emma told her this and Regina
chuckled. “Thank you, mi amor. At least I can do this myself.” She reached back and unhooked her bra.

“Oh, fuck,” Emma sighed. Regina’s boobs were…. Indescribeable. She really wanted to touch them, but it wouldn’t be fair.

“Blueberry might be the size of a papaya now, but these are definitely melons,” Regina laughed. “My breasts have never been this big!”

“I’ve noticed,” Emma said strangled. Seriously, this was torture!

“Are you sure helping me undress is a good idea, querida?” Regina asked doubtfully and looked up at Emma. “I don’t want you to be frustrated.”

“Don’t you worry about me. A little frustration never killed nobody.”

“I hope not.” Regina hooked her fingers in the waistband of her panties, but when she tried sliding them down her hips, she accidentally moved her broken ankle and yelped slightly in pain.

“No, no, no!” Emma said hastily. “Let me do that, okay?”

“Okay,” Regina said. Her jaw was clenched again.

But before helping Regina taking off the last piece of clothing, Emma gently grasped her hands. “Are you okay? Is your ankle very bad?”

“Estoy bien,” Regina said strained. “It was just… a flareup.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sí. It’s already gone.”

Emma believed that. “Can I help you taking off those?” she nodded towards Regina’s panties.

“Sí….” Now Regina was smirking again. “Go ahead. You have always been better at that anyway.”

“Well, you’re not wrong,” Emma snickered as she hooked her fingers in the waistband of Regina’s panties. “Lift. Carefully.”

Regina carefully lifted her hips, allowing Emma to slide the panties down her legs. She huffed a little. “And that’s the most action I’ll get in weeks. Great.”

“Sorry, honey,” Emma said, wincing slightly.

“Should I make it worthwhile and moan and pretend to be in the throes of passion?”

“Oh god, please don’t. Save it for later. When we actually can… You know.”

“Fair enough.”

Emma was being more than careful as she tugged the panties past Regina’s cast-incased left ankle. “This doesn’t hurt, does it?”

“No,” Regina said. “It’s fine.”

“Good.” Emma slipped the panties off Regina’s legs and dumped them on the bed. “Now for the plastic….”

“This is strange,” Regina commented.

“Very,” Emma agreed with a chuckle. “Gimme two seconds!”

“Well, I’m not going anywhere.”

Emma laughed as she quickly dashed into the kitchen and found a plastic bag. Then she dashed back to the bedroom where Regina was sitting gloriously naked. Except for the cast on her ankle.

“Your poor little foot,” Emma cooed as she crouched down and gently slipped the plastic over the cast on Regina’s ankle.

“I can’t decide whether this is sexy or weird,” Regina said plainly as Emma tied the plastic bag around her ankle.

“I think wrapping a plastic bag around your baby mama’s broken ankle definitely can be defined as sexy,” Emma grinned.

“’Baby mama’”,” Regina repeated. “I like that.”

“Me, too,” Emma beamed. “I think you’re all ready for your shower, beautiful girl.”

“Great!” Regina huffed as she grabbed her crutches. “Dios, this is so annoying!”

“Can I rectify that?” Emma asked softly.

“Yes, please,” Regina said immediately.

Beaming, Emma immediately and gently picked Regina up bridal style and carried her through the hallway towards the bathroom.

“Okay,” Regina chuckled. “Not quite what I had envisioned, but this works too.”

“It sure does, doesn’t it?”

“In a few months you won’t be able to carry me any longer,” Regina teased.

Emma scoffed. “Bullshit. I’ll always be able to carry you no matter what.”

“You think so?”

“Yep. I really think so, beautiful girl.”

Emma cleared her throat. Right now it was very hard to concentrate on anything except for the fact that she was carrying a stark-naked Regina.

Regina chuckled. She probably knew what Emma was thinking. She often did.

Belly or no belly, Regina still felt as light as a feather, and carrying her into the bathroom was the easiest thing in the world. She gently sat Regina down on her bottom in the shower. “There we go.”

“The tiles are cold!” Regina complained and pouted. “My ass is freezing!”

“It won’t be in a moment,” Emma said as she grabbed the shower head. “Ankle okay?”

“Sí.”

“Awesome! Are you ready for your shower?”

“Weirdest shower I’ve ever taken,” Regina laughed as she undid her braid and let her dark locks tumble freely down her back. “You’ll end up getting soaked too, querida.”

“Then I’ll just take off my clothes too…” Emma smirked as she adjusted the temperature.

“Oooh…”

Emma grinned as she switched on the water and let it pour down on Regina who looked awfully cute sitting in the shower with her papaya-baby bump on full display. “Temperature okay?” she asked, raising her voice to be audible over the sound of the water.

“Yes,” Regina assured, laughing again. “I think I could get used to this!”

“You know what? I think I could too…”

 

To Be Continued……….

Chapter Text

Emma’s eyelids fluttered, but she did not open her eyes. With a soft little groan she extended her arms out and reached for Regina.

But found Regina’s side of the bed empty.

Emma’s groan was a bit more audible this time. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and glared at the empty spot in the bed. Where was Regina? Why wasn’t she in the bed? She really shouldn’t be limping around unsupervised. It wasn’t safe.

“Regina?” Emma called.

There was no answer, but it didn’t take long before she heard Regina’s voice. Mixed with other voices. Her parents’ voices.

Wait, what the fuck? Emma blinked. For one silly split second she thought that her parents were here in Madrid, but then she saw sense and realized that Regina had to be skyping with her parents. Right then.

Emma got out of bed and brushed a hand over her unruly hair. Her hair was still sitting around her wrist, so she quickly pulled her hair back in a ponytail. She was pretty sure her hair still looked a mess, but it had to be at least a little better than the haystack that always replaced her hair during the night. She smoothened a hand over her rumpled shirt and soft shorts she had been sleeping in. Then she wandered into the kitchen.

Regina was sitting by the kitchen table, looking beautiful as ever in her blue sundress and with her hair tied into a loose braid. Her laptop was standing open. And on the screen were Emma’s parents. Smiling and laughing with Regina.

“Good morning,” Emma croaked. “What’s, uhh… What’s going on here?”

Regina turned her head and smiled. “Buenos días, querida. What’s going on is that I am hanging out with my lovely suegra y suegro who were so kind to message me and hear how I was doing today. One thing led to another, and all the sudden we were skyping. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s been mighty nice.”

 

“Right,” Emma said, bending down to kiss Regina lightly on the cheek. She didn’t care that her parents were watching. They would just have to suck it up. “And how are you doing this morning?”

“I’m okay,” Regina half-chuckled.

“How’s the ankle?” Emma prodded.

“Still broken.”

“Not what I meant. Does it hurt?”

“No. As long as I don’t move.”

“Sit tight, then. And our kid?” Emma asked and ignored her mom’s not to subtle ‘aww’.

“Headbutting me as we speak.”

“Well. Everything is right with the world, then,” Emma chuckled, giving Regina a little squeeze. Then rubbing her belly. “Good morning, Blueberry! Kicking up a storm, are you?”

“Oh!” Regina exclaimed. “You just made him kick me!”

“Secret talent of mine,” Emma boasted and then turned her attention to the laptop screen and her parents.

“What are you guys up to?” she asked, suffocating a yawn.

“Oh, you know, just talking to our daughter-in-law about our grandchild,” Mary Margaret said casually.

“Sí, we’ve had quite the baby-talk while you were asleep, querida,” Regina chimed in. “Mary Margaret is knitting the sweetest little socks you have ever seen! Por favor, Mary Margaret, show Emma the socks!”

Emma’s mother chuckled as she held up a pair of half- finished tiny little socks made of thick, yellow yarn. “It’s not really fit for Spain or California,” she said. “But I’m counting on Blueberry coming to visit while he-“
“-or she,” David interjected.

“Or she,” Mary Margaret agreed. “Can still fit the socks.”

“Of course he or she will come and visit. You’re Blue’s grandparents,” Regina said simply.

Emma smiled. Her parents had embraced their new roles as grandparents. Regina had embraced her role as their daughter-in-law. She had just naturally become a part of the family. She was best-buddy with Emma’s mother and tried coming up with better jokes than Emma’s father. It was all very amusing. And very, very natural. Emma’s mom and dad was the baby’s grandparents. That was just how it was.

“We were just talking about how nice it could be to meet Regina’s father at some point,” Mary Margaret said, bringing Emma back to the here and now.

“Oh yeah, that could be really great!” Emma said warmly. She was certain that her parents and Regina’s father would get along amazingly.

“Perhaps all of us could meet in California,” Regina suggested.

“What a good idea,” Emma’s father praised. “I could do with some sunshine.”

“Couldn’t we all,” Mary Margaret sighed.

Regina chuckled. “If my apartment was any bigger, you could come and stay here.”

Emma said nothing. She was glad that Regina’s apartment wasn’t any bigger. She literally could not imagine her parents being here. This was their place. Her and Regina’s.

“How are things in Storybrooke?” Emma asked. “Any news from prison?” meaning Neal, obviously.

“Nope,” David said. “Neal’s still behind bars. Still quiet.”

“Good,” Regina said darkly. “That’s how I like him.”

Emma chuckled and squeezed Regina’s shoulder. “Have you had any breakfast?”

Regina shrugged. “Not yet.”

“Hm,” Emma said. She didn’t like that.

“Well, perhaps we should let you get some breakfast then,” Mary Margaret smiled. “But we will talk again soon.”

“Sí, the next time Emma decides to sleep in,” Regina joked. “I’m sure there are still some funny things you haven’t told me about her.”

“What funny things?” Emma asked immediately.

“Oh, absolutely,” her father said, completely ignoring her. “So many things.”

“You’re in for a real treat, Regina,” Emma’s mother added.

“What funny things?” Emma asked again. This time a bit more earnestly. “Tell me!”

Her parents laughed shamelessly and ignored her. “Anyway,” her mother said. “You two have a great day. Take care of yourself, Regina. And our grandchild.”

“I will,” Regina promised and lifted her hand to wave. “Adiós!”

“Adiós,” Emma’s parents said in unison. “Bye, Emma. You take care of yourself too!”

“Will do,” Emma said, suffocating a yawn. She still felt a little rumpled. And a bit confused over being confronted with her parents first thing in the morning.

After one last wave and goodbye, the Skype session was ended, and Regina gently closed the laptop with a smile. “That was really nice,” she said.

“I can’t believe you’re talking to my parents behind my back,” Emma joked. “What funny stuff were they telling you about?”

“None of your beeswax,” Regina laughed, reaching for her crutches. “Now, lets make some breakfast, sí?”

“I’ll make us breakfast,” Emma corrected. “You are going to sit down and rest your ankle, okay?”

“Okay,” Regina laughed, shaking her head slightly. She probably thought that Emma was being silly.

Emma didn’t care about that. She was not going to let Regina limp around when she could sit down. No way! She went over to the fridge and opened it. Found a pack of bacon. “Bacon?” she asked over her shoulder.

“Oh yes!” Regina said excitedly.

Emma snickered and found a pack of toast. “And toast? Made on the frying pan?”

“Ay, querida, you really do know how to spoil a girl,” Regina almost groaned.

“Trying my best,” Emma said with faux modesty as she found the frying pan in the cupboard. “Was it fun hanging out with my parents?”

“Sí, it really was. They are so nice,” Regina said warmly.

“They love you,” Emma said plainly.

Regina snickered. Then sighed. “Why couldn’t Cora be more like Mary Margaret? Why does she have to be such an old hag? Cora, obviously. Not Mary Margaret. No. She’s as sweet as can be! But Cora….” She was practically spitting out the name. “Of all the mothers in all the world… Why did I have to end up with Cora? It really isn’t fair.” She let out a sharp laughter. “Oh well. Not something to talk about now. Cora is out of my life for good. Thank god. I don’t need her at all.”

Emma settled for muttering something neutral. Was Cora really out of Regina’s life for good? Why hadn’t she come to the hospital to see Regina? Why had she chosen not to show up? Was it really that easy for her to turn her back on her daughter?

Or was she perhaps afraid? Emma doubted that Cora ever would admit to it, but there had definitely been a hint of anxiety in her voice when they had spoken on the phone. Something that wasn’t the cold, collected no-nonsense had bubbled just below the surface when she had asked Emma if she was going to tell Regina or not.

Emma felt guilty about that decision. Guilty and torn. She could not tell Regina about her phone conversation with Cora. It wouldn’t be right. But at the same time, she felt horrible for lying to Regina.

It was difficult not to get a little pissed at Cora. It wasn’t fair of her to put Emma in this kind of situation.

But what Emma was the most pissed about, was that Cora had not shown up at hospital. That she was still choosing herself. Or choosing to protect her secret.

Regina would not get angry. When she first had digested the news, she would meet Cora with understanding. That was just the type of person she was. Emma knew that. And so should Cora. She should know her own daughter better than this.

And on top of all this, there was still a part of her that felt genuinely sorry for Cora Mills. If things truly was as Emma suspected them to be, Cora hadn’t had it easy. Cora had perhaps been trapped in a marriage she had never wanted in the first place. Emma knew that Henry wouldn’t have been anything but good to her, but still.

No lesbian should be trapped in a straight marriage. It wasn’t right.

Was that how Cora’s life had been? Had she been trapped?

God, Cora had to show up and explain everything to Regina.

Otherwise Emma feared that she would be cracking under the weight of the secret she was keeping.

Cora’s secret.

The keeper of Cora’s secret.

Now that was something Emma had never expected she would ever be.

Life was so strange sometimes.

So utterly fucked up.

“Emma? Em-ma?”

“Huh?” Emma blinked. “Sorry, what did you say?”

Regina chuckled. “I said that I can make the breakfast if you don’t feel up for it.”

“Oh. No!” Emma hastily prepared the frying pan and loaded bacon onto it. “I feel up for it. You just stay put.”

“I can’t stay put forever, mi amor,” Regina said softly. “Nor can you do everything for me all the time.”

“Can’t I?”

“No,” Regina continued, voice firm. “Which is why we need to have a serious conversation.”

Emma frowned. She did not like the sound of that. “Okay? Have I been too much? I’m sorry, I know I’m overprotective.”

“It’s not that,” Regina chuckled softly. “You’re wonderful and you know it. But there is a thing I want to talk to you about. Once we’ve had breakfast.”

Emma was still not very calm. “Am I in trouble?”

Now Regina was really laughing. “No, querida. You are not in trouble. If you were in trouble, you wouldn’t be asking. You would know.”

“Right then.” Emma winced. She was still worried. Didn’t like the sound of the ‘serious conversation’ Regina wanted to have. It sounded a little…. Breakup-ish. Deep down, Emma was fairly confident that Regina wasn’t going to break up with her, but still, she couldn’t help but wonder. And worry….

 

 

“Okay, I’m officially scared,” Emma said once she had cleaned up after the rather delicious breakfast.

Regina scrunched up her nose. “Of what?”

“You,” Emma admitted. “You said that you wanted to have a serious conversation. That sounds pretty scary to me.”

A smile tugged at the corners of Regina’s lips. “Querida, what is it exactly that you think I’m going to say?”

“That you’re going to break up with me,” Emma said immediately.

Regina’s eyes widened dramatically, and she reached across the table to take Emma’s hands in her own. “Dios, querida. That is a serious conversation!”

“And not one we’re about to have, right?” Emma asked. Just to check.

“No!” Regina said firmly. “We’re definitely not going to have that conversation.”

“Ah, good. Perfect. Yeah. Great.”

Regina raised an eyebrow. “Were you seriously worried about that?”

“No,” Emma said quickly. “Not for real. But you looked so serious, so I couldn’t help but wonder.”

“Well…” oddly enough, Regina seemed to squirm. “This is not that kind of conversation, but I don’t think you’re going to be too happy about what I have to say anyway.”

“Okay?” Emma chewed on the inside of her cheek and squeezed Regina’s hands. “Now you’re actually scaring me a bit, beautiful girl.”

“Lo siento,” Regina said. “I’m just….” She bit her lip.

“Hey,” Emma said gently. “You can tell me anything. I hope you know that. Anything.”

“Okay,” Regina said and took a deep breath. “Here it goes, then. It’s about… New York.”

“New York?” Emma echoed, raising an eyebrow. “Okay. What about New York?”

“You were supposed to go four days ago.”

“Yeah,” Emma said, still puzzled where this was going. She had obviously cancelled her meeting with the gallery owner in New York to be by Regina’s side. The gallery owner had been very understanding.

“I want you to go,” Regina said.

“No!” Emma said immediately. “No way! I am not leaving you to limp around on your own! That’s not going to happen! Nu-uh!”

“Hear me out, querida,” Regina said patiently. “This is the chance of a lifetime. There’ll never be another option like this one.”

“Regina, I am not going to leave-“

“Cállate,” Regina interrupted and chuckled. But squeezed Emma’s hands in warning. “Emma. Mi amor. Be sensible. The gallery owner wants your work. Not someone else’s. Yours. If you say no to this, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.”

“No, I won’t,” Emma said stubbornly. “There’ll be other opportunities.”

“Of course there will,” Regina agreed with them. “Because you are an amazingly talented photographer. So talented that a huge gallery in New York has reached out and wants to exhibit your pictures. I’m begging you. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.”

“You have a broken ankle,” Emma argued. “You can’t limp around on crutches all by yourself while I promote my career in New York. It wouldn’t be right. And besides, you could fall. Something could happen.”

“Something has already happened, querida,” Regina said patiently and gestured towards her crutches. “I refuse to believe that there will be more unwelcome surprises. This has got to be the calm after the storm. And besides, I won’t be ‘limping around’ on my own. Before your parents called me, I had a little chat with my dad. He has asked me to come live with him for a while. We both agreed that it’s not very practical for me to live on third floor while using crutches. I’m going to say yes to his offer. And he might have a job for me too. Something that doesn’t involve being on my feet. Since I can’t work at the bar anymore.” She took a breath and squeezed Emma’s hands. “I would not be on my own like you’re afraid of, querida. I would be hanging out with my dad. Helping him out and vice-versa.”

“That does sound pretty sensible,” Emma admitted. “But I still don’t like this.”

“Can I be brutally honest with you for a moment, querida?” Regina squeezed her hands again.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Moving to California costs money. And I’m unable to work as of right now,” Regina said plainly. “I have some money saved up, but not nearly enough. The only one making money in this relationship is you. I don’t like how 1950 that sounds, but it’s nevertheless the truth. And exhibiting your pictures at that gallery would be a great help. I don’t know about you-“ she flashed Emma a soft smile. “But I really want us to live together soon.”

“God, I want that too,” Emma said warmly. “So, so much!”

“Then go to New York, mi amor. Show the gallery owner your pictures and make some money,” Regina chuckled. “I’ll try doing the same. Being employed by my father isn’t the dream scenario, but it’s the best I can do right now. I have to earn money so I can buy a pram and diapers and all the other important baby-stuff.”

“Oh god, the baby stuff,” Emma said fondly, dreaming herself away to a place where she and Regina were buying teeny tiny boots and bodystockings.

“Focus, querida,” Regina said mock-sternly and squeezed her hand again. “Are you going to New York or not?”

“I…” Emma bit her lip. ”I don’t like the idea of leaving you,” she admitted. “Seeing you fall from the stairs was the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed. But I get what you’re saying. I really do.”

“You’ve talked so much about how you want to be more than an event photographer,” Regina said gently. “This is your chance to become more, querida. Take it. I will not be what’s holding you back. Not directly nor indirectly. Please, please go.”

Emma shook her head and smiled at the gorgeous young woman she so adored. “You are absolutely wonderful; did you know that?”

“Because I’m ordering you to buzz off?” Regina chuckled.

“Yeah, that’s exactly why.” Emma leapt from her chair. Went around the table and smiled as she cupped Regina’s cheeks. Bent down to kiss her. Regina tasted of maple syrup and vanilla and she was immediately lifting her hands so she could rest them lightly
on the tops of Emma’s shoulders. After a moment, she released a soft little moan.

Emma smiled into the kiss. Regina had made that kind of sound last night too. When she had been dreaming. A very good dream, undoubtedly. Perhaps they couldn’t have sex right now because of Regina’s blood pressure and broken ankle, but at least she could dream.

Regina gently shoved her away. Wrinkled her nose. “If we continue, I might end up begging you for more, and that is below me.”

Emma chuckled softly and booped Regina’s nose. “The abstaining thing isn’t gonna last forever, beautiful girl.”

“It better not!” Regina grumbled. “Even this is making my heart beat faster!”

“Well, it was a good kiss.”

“Cállate,” Regina huffed and made a face. “I want more than kisses, damnit!” she rolled her eyes. “See? Now I’m begging anyway!”

“It isn’t gonna last forever,” Emma gently repeated.

“Well, it has already lasted long enough!” Regina complained as she grabbed her crutches and eased herself up from the chair. She limped towards the door. “Go and call that gallery owner!” she ordered over her shoulder.

Well. Now that Emma had decided on going, she didn’t really see a reason to wait. The gallery owner had said that she had to call if she ever got the opportunity to get to New York. And now that opportunity was here.

“Do you need help with anything?” she called after Regina who had disappeared into the bedroom.

“No!” came the answer. “Now go and make that phone call!”

Chuckling to herself Emma muttered: “yes, ma’am”, knowing that she never would dare saying it out loud. She went into Regina’s little living room where she had left her cellphone overnight. Squaring her shoulders, she grabbed the phone and dialed the number to the gallery-owner in New York. She crossed her fingers behind her back and hoped that the woman would pick up. Of course she could always leave a message on her voicemail, but she would prefer actually talking to her. So she knew that she was serious about this.

“Arts Delight, how may I help you?”

“Uhm, hello,” Emma said, slightly befuddled. For some reason she hadn’t expected her call to be answered that quickly. Pulling herself together, she said: “my name is Emma Swan, I’m a photographer from Maine, and I was recently contacted by Mrs. Adamson about a possible exhibit of my photos?” she didn’t know why it came out as a question. That wasn’t the intention.

“If you could hold one moment, miss Swan.”

“I’ll hold,” Emma said, wetting her lips and bouncing slightly on her feet. She could hear absolutely nothing in the other end. Not even a standard ‘please hold’-melody. Her intention had not been to go to New York. She hadn’t thought that it was possible with
Regina being injured, but now that Regina more or less had forced her to go, she could feel how badly she actually wanted to do this. Regina was right. This was the moment she had been waiting for, for a very long time.

“Miss Swan? This is Mrs. Adamson speaking.” Came a crisp woman’s voice in the other end.

“Hello,” Emma said and forced herself to sound calm. “I am calling to hear if your offer about coming to New York to show you my pictures is still standing?” Damnit. She could have said that in a more polite way.

“It is very much still standing, Miss Swan,” Mrs. Adamson said, unfazed by Emma’s approach. “But the last time we spoke, I understood that it wasn’t possible for you to come to New York?”

“My circumstances have changed,” Emma said. “And if the offer still stands, I would very much like to come to New York and show off the pictures.”

“I am very happy to hear that, miss Swan. You are a very talented photographer, and it would be a pleasure to have your art exhibited here. I have an opening in… two weeks. If you could be in New York that Friday, you could come to the gallery and show off
your pictures, and if both parties are satisfied, we could talk about the possibility of exhibiting your photos here. How does that sound?”

“That sounds absolutely perfect,” Emma said earnestly. Two weeks from now was good. Gave her plenty of time to be around Regina and take care of her.

“I’ve noted that in my calendar,” said Mrs. Adamson. “Don’t worry about the expenses when it comes to buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel. Since you are being invited here by the gallery, we will be covering the expenses.”

Emma gaped. “Seriously?” she blurted.

Mrs. Adamson chuckled. “Yes, indeed, Miss Swan. It’s a long journey and we only invite those we think have a genuine chance of breaking through as a photographer. We are also aware that being a photographer can be a tough way to earn money from time to
time. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t put our heart and souls into getting the best people to New York.”

The best people. Emma grinned like an idiot. “Well, thank you so much then. That’s really….”

“It’s me who is saying thank you, miss Swan. I’m very happy that you can make it here anyway. I have a feeling that your photos will be just right for the gallery. I will see you in two weeks.”

“Two weeks,” Emma confirmed, still grinning. “Goodbye and thank you!”

“Oh, one more thing, Miss Swan.”

“Yes?” Emma felt a twinge of anxiety. For a moment she imagined the whole thing falling apart because of a silly little detail.

“The model in your pictures,” Mrs. Adamson said. “Is there any way she can come to New York with you? It is not in anyway a demand, but it would be fantastic to meet her.”

“Oh, uhm…” Emma said slightly surprised. But thinking about it, it did make great sense that the gallerist wanted to meet Regina. She was the model, after all. Without her, there wouldn’t have been any pictures. “The model is pregnant and has a fractured ankle,” she said truthfully.

“Oh, I see. Well, as I said, it is not a demand, and either way, I am looking forward to meeting you, miss Swan. See you in two weeks. Please send an email and let us know which hotel you will be staying at so we can cover the expenses.”

“Okay. Thank you, Mrs. Adamson. See you in two weeks. Bye.”

“Goodbye, miss Swan.”

There was a faint click in the other end, and Emma could put the phone down. She felt a twinkle of excitement. She was going to New York. She was actually going to New York to show off her pictures to a well-known gallery owner. This was crazy.

If only Regina could come with her. God, that would be fantastic! Would her foot be any better in two weeks?

Probably not. A broken ankle was a lengthy process, Emma knew that. But still, she felt like she had to mention it to Regina. Anything else wouldn’t be right.

She turned her back on the cellphone laying on the coffee table and wandered into the hallway. Padded into the bedroom where she found Regina laying flat on her back in the bed.

Emma immediately frowned. “Is everything okay?”

“Sí-sí,” Regina hummed, gliding her fingers over her round belly. “Blueberry and I are just having a conversation. Every time I tap my belly button, he taps back.”

“Oh,” Emma chuckled. “That sounds nice.”

“It is,” Regina assured. Then lifted her head slightly. “So? Did you talk to Mrs. Adamson?”

“I did,” Emma snickered. Regina’s eagerness was very cute.

“And?” Regina asked impatiently. “What did she say?”

“She said that the offer still stands,” Emma grinningly proclaimed. “I am going to New York in two weeks!”

“Yes!” Regina exclaimed, fist pumping into the air. “Damn right you are, querida! I’m so happy for you!”

“The deal is not sealed yet,” Emma said hastily.

“But it will be,” Regina said firmly. “Trust me.”

Emma sat down on the edge of the bed. “There is actually something more.”

“Alright,” Regina said, grabbing Emma’s hand and almost nonchalantly placing it on her belly. “What’s that then?”

“Mrs. Adamson wants to meet the model,” Emma told her and gave her belly a fond rub. Oh, how she wished she could feel Blueberry move around!

“Seriously?” Regina’s eyes widened. “She wants to meet me?”

“Hey, don’t say it like that,” Emma huffed. “I’m surprised the whole world doesn’t want to meet you!”

Regina rolled her eyes at that. “You’re the photographer, querida. Not me.”

“True, but you’re the model. There literally wouldn’t be any pictures if it wasn’t for you,” Emma said softly. “I’m not surprised Mrs. Adamson wants to meet you. But I don’t know how you feel about it. It’s a long trip and with your foot and everything…”

“If my doctor gives me the all clear I would love to come,” Regina said warmly. But then a tiny little wrinkle appeared between her eyes. “But won’t I be a nuisance to you, though? I mean, it’s New York and I’ll be hobbling around on crutches the entire time. Not exactly ideal for sightseeing.”

“Oh, shut up, you,” Emma huffed and gave Regina’s belly a tiny little tap. “You’re never a nuisance, okay? Never. If the doctor says its okay and you want to come with me, I would love that. But I will also understand if you don’t feel like going.”

“I very much feel like going,” Regina said and smiled. “Crutches or not. But there’s the thing about the plane ticket. I can’t afford it.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. The gallery will pay for that. And the hotel.”

Regina tilted her head. “Seriously?”

“Yep,” Emma laughed, popping the ‘p’. “We can literally choose whatever hotel we goddamn want to!”

“Whatever hotel we want to live in,” Regina said yearningly. “I haven’t been staying in a hotel since I crashed your solo-honeymoon.”

“Thank you for doing that!” Emma said earnestly. “Best solo honeymoon ever!”

“Well, I did make sure that the bed saw some action,” Regina said with a light shrug and a twinkle in her eyes. “It was fun.”

“Very fun,” Emma agreed. She could so vividly remember that night where she and Regina had had sex for the first time. It had been nothing short of amazing. “You seduced me,” she fondly teased.

“Sí, claro que lo hice. Y estoy orgulloso de ello.” Regina grabbed Emma’s hand and gave it a tug, sending the blonde backwards onto the bed.

Emma huffed a bit. But it didn’t take long before she wiggled closer to Regina so she could draw random patterns on her growing belly. “Are we going to New York together?” she asked.

“Mmm,” Regina rumbled. “If my doctor says yes, we definitely are.”

“Our very own baby-moon,” Emma said fondly.

Regina quirked an eyebrow. “Does that involve sex?”

The question came so unfiltered and eagerly. Emma bursted out laughing. It was impossible to stop. Even when Regina glared at her. “You’re mocking me,” she huffed.

“I promise I’m not,” Emma assured, still laughing. “It’s just… you’re very cute when you’re eager.”

“I don’t think you have any idea how agonizing this is,” Regina said plainly. “I’m horny twenty four seven!”

Emma slid closer and pecked her cheek gently. “Once your blood pressure starts acting normally, I promise I will do absolutely sinful things to you, okay? But right now we have to wait.”

“I know,” Regina groaned. “I’m complaining too much.”

“You’re not,” Emma gently assured. “I know it’s frustrating, beautiful girl. I want you too. So much.”

Regina sighed dramatically. “I don’t think I have ever been this tense.”

“How about another shower?” Emma suggested.

“No. Too much work for you.”

“I don’t mind. I liked it. Any excuse to look at your naked body, honey,” Emma laughed and felt mighty witty.

“Oh, so we’re playing the ‘look, don’t touch’-game?” Regina asked silkily and pursed her lips ever so slightly. “Eso es caliente.”

“You are caliente,” Emma said firmly and gave her girlfriend a long stare. Regina looked positively seductive as she laid there in her blue sundress and hair fanning out on the pillow.

Regina chuckled at that. Then said: “I wanna go to New York with you. So badly.”

“I want you to come to New York with me,” Emma replied, lightly gliding her fingers over Regina’s swelling belly again. “Baby’s first trip to New York!”

“I doubt he’ll remember anything,” Regina laughed. “But speaking of baby, we have to discuss names at some point. We can’t call him- or her- ‘Blueberry’ forever.”

“Really? I thought Blueberry is pretty cool. Very unique. And we can call he or she ‘Blue’ as a pet name.”

“Emma.”

“Okay, okay,” Emma laughed. “Bad joke. And you’re right. We definitely have to talk about baby names soon.” Talk about baby names. She could barely believe it. “Do you have anything in mind?” she was really curious about that.

“Hmm…” Regina lifted her uninjured foot and let it balance in the air. The movement had her dress slipping up her leg, and Emma did her utmost not to stare at Regina’s strong, golden thigh. God, that thigh had been draped around her waist so many times….

“Well, I was thinking maybe Isabela if it’s a girl,” Regina said and brought Emma out of her sinful musings. “Or perhaps Elena. After my abuela.”

“Elena,” Emma repeated. “I like it. It’s got style.”

“Do you have any suggestions, querida?”

“Regina.”

“No.” Regina said plainly and gave Emma a slight shove that nearly send her tumbling from the bed.

“Why not?” Emma huffed. “It’s a brilliant name! Totally underused!”

“For a good reason,” Regina deadpanned. “We’re not naming our kid after me. Come up with something else.”

“Gina.”

“Emma!”

“No,” Emma laughed, mercilessly teasing Regina. “Not that.”

“Oooooh,” Regina cooed. “Little Emma. I can actually see that work.”

“Absolutely not,” Emma said quickly. “I hear what you’re saying, okay? No naming the kid after either one of us. Even though Regina is an awesome name.”

“So is Emma.”

Ignoring that, Emma said: “how about…. Alba?”

“Alba,” Regina repeated. “I like that one.

“I’ve also thought of Mía. And Carmen. Or what about Ana? Or Gabriela?” Emma rambled, unable to stop herself.

Regina was quiet for a moment. Then she laughed. “Huh. You’ve considered that for a while, haven’t you?”

“Only for the past week,” Emma defended. Or perhaps a bit longer. But that was not something Regina needed to know.

“Well, I like the names. They’re good,” Regina chuckled as she lightly traced her finger over Emma’s cheekbone. “How about if it’s a boy?”

“I’ve actually only been able to come up with one name if it’s a boy,” Emma replied. “Lucas.”

“Lucas,” Regina repeated and scrunched up her nose in that adorable fashion. “Hmm. Maybe it’s a bit…”

“Overused?” Emma suggested.

“Exactly,” Regina jokingly tapped her fingertip against her cheekbone. “I don’t know why, but I’ve been strangely blank when it comes to boy names.”

“Maybe it’s because we’re so sure we’re not having a girl,” Emma said gently. “Makes it easier to throw random names around.”

“Sí, I think you’re right about that. Oh well…” Regina wiggled closer to Emma and unabashedly slung one leg over her hip. Then winced slightly.

“Careful,” Emma immediately admonished. “I need that foot in one piece.”

Regina ignored that. “I suppose we can discuss names on our baby-moon.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Emma said, brushing her fingers up and down Regina’s outer thigh. Her imagination was running amok in all the delightful baby-items you could buy in New York. She was pretty sure they were going to by everything. When she told Regina this, she laughed heartedly and called Emma silly.

“What?” Emma scoffed. “Our baby deserves the best!”

“Mmm,” Regina hummed. “He sure does, mi amor. He sure does.”

"Or she."

"Or she," Regina agreed with a chuckle.

And Emma reached out so she could gently touch Regina’s stomach once more. In there, their baby was thriving and growing bigger and stronger every day.

 

To Be Continued………..

Chapter Text

Streams of sunshine found way through the tiny crack between Regina’s white curtains and landed on Emma’s face.

The warmth on her cheek had Emma smiling even before she opened her eyes. She quite fancied greeting the new day like this. She was warm and comfortable. And her body was currently molded after the sleeping young woman laying with her back pressed against Emma’s chest. Was there a better way to wake up?

Emma peeked out through her lashes. Saw the strip of clear blue sky and sunshine through the crack in the curtain and smiled again. It was going to be another beautiful day here in Madrid. She turned her head and glanced at the alarm clock. 09:15. They should probably get up. Regina had a doctor’s appointment at eleven. One that would determine whether she was fit to fly to New York or not. Emma hoped that the answer would be a positive one. She really wanted Regina to come to New York with her. And

Regina so wanted to go too. She had been talking non-stop about New York ever since Emma had told her that Mrs. Adamson wanted her to come to the gallery. It would be such a massive disappointment to Regina if she wasn’t allowed to go. She would be so upset. And so would Emma. She wasn’t fond of leaving Regina here while going to New York alone. Which was a problem because at some point, she had to go back to Storybrooke.

Regina made a slight sound in her sleep, and Emma immediately took the opportunity to kiss the side of her neck. “Baby?”

There was no reaction. Except for a sort of snuffling sound Emma normally would have connected with a small animal with floppy ears and not a woman. It was an extremely adorable sound and Emma silently swooned for a moment. Then she pulled herself together and pressed another gentle kiss to the side of Regina’s neck. “Baby?”

“Él no está despierto ahora mismo,” Regina mumbled in that low, raspy voice that always seemed extra gravelly in the morning.

“Huh?” Emma said. Because she had absolutely no idea what that meant.

“I said…. He is not- mmm!-“ a stretch. “Awake right now.”

“Oh,” Emma chuckled. “Fair enough, but I was actually not talking about the baby for once. I meant you.”

“There can’t be two of us, querida,” Regina protested. “It’s confusing.”

Maybe she had a point there. “How about ‘woman of my dreams’ then?” Emma suggested. “How does that sound?”

Regina let out a low groan. “The woman of your dreams was busy dreaming. Now leave me alone. I’m tired and I’m pregnant and I have a broken ankle. I need all the rest I can get.” With that, she pulled the covers over her head and curled up in Emma’s arms once more.

“Believe me, if I had things my way, you would be spending your every moment in this bed,” Emma said firmly. “But unfortunately, you do have a doctor’s appointment today.”

“Joder.”

Emma sniggered at that. “Yeah. That pretty much sums it up.”

“Let’s skip it,” Regina suggested, voice low and seductive. “Please? Let’s skip it and stay here and make out all day instead.”

“Or how about….” Emma tried not to laugh at Regina’s absolutely delightful morning mood. “We go to the doctor to make sure our kid is doing good, and then we make out all day.”

“Our baby is doing fine. He just told me so,” Regina claimed.

“Oh, so you’re talking to him now?” Emma chuckled.

“Sí, we just had a long talk. And he doesn’t want to go to the doctor’s either.”

“Well…” Emma drawled as she slowly let her hands wander to Regina’s front. “That’s just too bad, because he has no choice. And neither have you.” She lifted the hem of Regina’s long t-shirt and gently palmed her growing belly.

“Fine. I’ll go,” Regina grumbled.

“Good girl.”

“Don’t say that when I’m not allowed to have sex.”

“Sorry. I’ll behave,” Emma promised as she gently ran her fingers up and down Regina’s belly. She pressed her finger lightly against Regina’s protruding belly button and had a good laugh about it. “Is that some kind of magic button?”

“No, querida, my magic button is sitting a bit further down.”

Emma spluttered. “Oh, you!”

“You totally sat yourself up for that one,” Regina laughed.

“I really, really did not,” Emma protested, busying herself with touching Regina’s belly rather than thinking about all the wonderful things she and Regina weren’t allowed to do at the moment. Most of them involved Regina’s ‘magic button’.

“We should totally keep doing this all day,” Regina said sleepily.

“When we get back home,” Emma promised, running her fingers up and down Regina’s belly. “Any itching today?”

“Not yet. But there probably will be. Thank god for coconut oil.”

“Mhmm,” Emma agreed. “And how is the foot?”

“Not too bad. Just a little bit sore. Are you sure I won’t be a nuisance in New York?”

“Oh, shut up,” Emma huffed. “You will not!” she would not hear of Regina calling herself a nuisance. If her broken ankle made things difficult, Emma would simply rent a wheelchair and wheel her around in New York city. That wouldn’t be a problem at all.

“Good morning, little Blueberry,” Emma cooed as she rubbed Regina’s belly tenderly. “How is our beautiful boy doing this morning? Are you happy and kicking about or are you sleeping? Are you the sweetest little-“ her next sentence dwindled and became
nothing when she suddenly felt Regina’s belly go completely tight.

“Oof,” Regina said and squirmed a little.

“Woah, what the fuck is that?!” Emma cried, ripping her hands away from Regina’s belly. “Why is he doing that?! Are you okay?!”

“Relajarse,” Regina laughed. “It’s just a bit of Braxton Hicks. Nothing dangerous.”

“Oh. False labor pains, right?” Emma asked, immediately breathing a little easier.

“I wouldn’t call them false. They feel pretty real to me,” Regina huffed as she wiggled and turned around, so they were laying face to face.

And just like that, Emma was concerned again. “Does it hurt?”

“It’s a tad… uncomfortable, shall we say,” Regina replied. “But it’ll subside soon enough. I had it last night too.”

“You did? You didn’t say anything about that!”

“I didn’t want to worry you. I know how you get,” Regina teased. “All high pitched.”

“I am not high pitched!” Emma claimed. Well aware how high pitched she sounded.

Regina let out a snicker and grasped Emma’s hand. She guided it to her belly. “Feel that? It’s gone.”

It was. Regina’s stomach felt quite soft again. “Oh.”

“Preparing for the birth and all that,” Regina said lightly and glanced at the alarm clock. “You’re right, we should probably get up.” She sat up and stretched her arms high above her head. “Oh, that feels so good!”

“Looks pretty good too,” Emma said ever so innocently.

Regina scoffed. “My hair’s a mess.”

“Your hair is perfect.”

Regina made a sound that most likely was disagreement, but Emma ignored it and slipped out of bed. Grabbed Regina’s crutches. Patiently waited until Regina was done stretching. Then she handed her the crutches with the words: “your crutches, Milady.”

“Gracias, mi caballero,” Regina said and scrunched up her nose as she grabbed onto the crutches and tried using them as leverage to push herself up from the bed.

“Careful,” Emma admonished, gently taking Regina by the elbow and automatically supporting her.

“Thank you, mi amor, now let’s go and make some…. Some…. Uhh….” Regina frowned in concentration for a second before explaining: “breakfast! That’s the word. Let’s go and make breakfast.”

“Sounds good to me,” Emma said and laughed. Regina had had a couple of cases of pregnancy brain, and it was equally amusing every time.

They made their way into the kitchen. Regina elegantly hopped over to the fridge and opened it. Peered inside. “What do we want for breakfast? French toast?”

“I could definitely eat some French toast,” Emma said appreciatingly.

“French toast it is! If you whip out the frying pan, I’ll make them.”

“You are supposed to take it easy,” Emma said, repeating the mantra she had said so many times over the past few weeks.

“I am taking it perfectly easy,” Regina dismissed. “Now get me that frying pan. Por favor.”

Emma didn’t want to start the day arguing. So she simply found the frying pan and handed it to Regina.

“Thank you, querida. You should make yourself some coffee while I take care of this.”

Some coffee would be good. Emma was still a bit sleepy. She wandered over to the coffee machine, and just as she had made it start brewing the coffee, Regina’s cellphone started vibrating on the kitchen table.

“Do you mind checking that?” Regina asked. She was thoroughly engaged with frying the bread.”

“Sure thing.” Emma wandered over to the kitchen table and picked up Regina’s phone. As usually, her heart was pounding slightly as she glanced at the number. As usually, a tiny part of her was hoping that it was Cora who was finally reaching out to her daughter.

But it was not Cora. It was Henry.

Emma was disappointed. She adored Henry, she really did, but she needed Cora to call Regina, god damnit! Every single day where she pretended not to know anything about Cora, she was lying to Regina, and she was pissed at Cora for putting her in this position. Suppose Regina would get really angry with her when she found out that Emma had been lying to her?

Cora Mills was a coward.

Or possibly just very, very frightened to come clean to her daughter.

One of the two.

“It’s your dad,” Emma told her girlfriend and snapped out of it.

“Answer him, then,” Regina said. “And put it on speaker so I can say hi.”

Emma did just that, and all three of them had a lovely little chat. Henry was obviously calling because he knew that Regina was going to the doctors. She and Emma had told him about their New York plans, and Henry had been delighted for Regina. Not at all worried. Just happy and excited. He claimed that his daughter was going to be famous now, but Regina had laughingly rejected that. Of course.

“How are you feeling, Mija?” he asked.

“I’m feeling absolutely fine,” Regina assured.

“El bebé happy and kicking?”

“Sí, sí,” Regina chuckled. “El bebé está muy feliz.”

“Ah, good. And your foot?”

“All good,” Regina said lightly. “How about you, daddy? ¿Cómo estás?”

“Lo estoy haciendo bien,“ Henry said. “But I might have done something silly, Mija.”

“Oh?” Regina flipped the two slices of toasts with a spatula. “And what might that be? The last time you did something silly, it involved whiskey and folk music. Should I be worried?”

Emma laughed and so did Henry. “Recuerdo esa noche,” he said fondly. “My, how we danced.”

“Sí,” Regina said a bit darkly. “My feet were not too pleased. But anyway, what is this silly thing you have done?”

“Well…” Henry laughed. “Perhaps it would be better if I sent you a picture, Cielo.”

“Ay, dios mio, did you get a tattoo?!”

Emma couldn’t hold back her amusement. Regina sounded so scandalized.

“No,” Henry huffed. “But even if I did, I’m sure I would look dashing with one.”

“You would absolutely rock a tattoo, Henry!” Emma piped up.

“Thank you, Emma.”

“Shh, be quiet! Don’t encourage him, querida.”

Emma and Henry shared a laugh over that, and Henry said that he would send a picture. It didn’t take long before Regina’s phone buzzed.

“Let’s see then,” Regina said, encouraging Emma to open the message.

Emma did. And she laughed loudly when she saw the photo. Then exclaimed an even louder ‘awwww!’

“What is it?” Regina asked a tad impatiently. “Show me!”

Emma did just that, and she reveled in Regina’s reaction when she saw the photo. It was of a tiny green bodystocking with a swan printed on the front.

“¡Dios!” Regina exclaimed and her eyes began to sparkle. “¡Papá, eso es perfecto!”

“I simply had to get it,” Henry said and chuckled in the other end. “It was too much of an opportunity.”

“First piece of baby clothes,” Regina said fondly. “This is a big deal!”

Yes, it really was. Sometimes Emma had trouble with wrapping her head around the fact that they had reached that state where it was time to think about the baby’s wardrobe. And all the other things. A cradle. A pram. The baby was going to need a nursery too. Oh, gosh… It was difficult not to get carried away.

“Oh, I have some news for you, Emma,” Henry said and interrupted her train of thoughts. “Well, for both of you, actually.”

“Okay?” Regina said, now loading the slices of toasts onto two plates. “What is it?”

“Well, one of my business connections is renting out a place at Laguna Beach,” Henry told them. “And he asked if I knew of anyone who would be interested.”

“Seriously?” Emma felt a grin spread on her face. This was almost too good to be true! “How much is he renting it out for?”

Henry told them the price, and that sounded pretty perfect too. “Shall I tell him that you are interested?”

“Oh yes, please do!” Emma said eagerly. “That would be awesome!”

“Consider it done then,” Henry said kindly. “He has shown me pictures, and it is a beautiful place. Not that big, but-“

“It doesn’t have to be big,” Regina interrupted. “We’re just two people. And a baby.”

“There will be plenty of room for a nursery for el bebé.” It wasn’t difficult to imagine that Henry was smiling from ear to ear.

Emma was smiling too. Widely. It seemed like everything was working out perfectly, and thank god for that. They had deserved that. Had had their fair shares of hardship already. It was only fair that things worked out for them now.

“Perfect!” Regina said as she sprinkled syrup over their French toast. “Thank god for your business partner. If I wasn’t pregnant, I would toast to him.”

“You can toast in orange juice,” Emma snickered.

“Good plan, querida,” Regina praised. “That I’ll do.”

“You’re about to have breakfast,” Henry concluded. “I will leave you two to it. But I want to know how things went at the doctors!”

“I’ll give you a full report once I’m done,” Regina promised.

“Thank you, Mija. Eat plenty of breakfast.”

“You got it. Bye, daddy.”

“Bye, Mija. Bye, Emma, dear!”

”Bye, Henry,” Emma said and silently swooned over how utterly adorable Regina’s father was. Seriously, he was the sweetest man she had ever met. Safe for her own father, of course.

“A place in Laguna Beach,” Regina said dreamily once they were seated at the table. “Imagine that, querida!”

“I’m imagining it too easily,” Emma said yearningly. “Just think if it could actually work out!”

“God, I hope it can. I’ll drink to it.” Regina raised her glass of orange juice…...

 

 

A little while later found Emma and Regina sitting in the waiting room. Regina was shifting slightly in the orange plastic chair, and Emma perfectly understood why. The chairs were highly uncomfortable to sit in. and having back pains definitely couldn’t help the matter. Regina had mumbled vaguely about having pains in her lower back, and Emma felt for her. Broken ankle and dealing with painful pregnancy side effects at the same couldn’t be too exciting.

“Are you eager to see Blueberry?” Regina asked without looking up from the pregnancy magazine she had been reading.

“Very,” Emma smiled. “It’s going to be so much fun, seeing how much he’s grown.”

“Do you think there will be that much of a difference?” Regina wondered. “I mean, it’s only been a week since my last scan.”

“I’m sure there’ll be a difference. You’re not nervous, are you?”

“No. The only thing I’m nervous about is the ultrasound wand pressing against my bladder,” Regina said plainly and scrunched up her nose. Lowering her voice, she continued: “I really need the bathroom.”

“Oh,” Emma winced along with her. “Sorry, sweetheart. You can use the bathroom first thing afterwards. And if there’s a que, I’ll simply tell everyone to shove off and let you through.”

“I would like to see that,” Regina half-chuckled. Then she scrunched up her nose again. “Tengo hambre…...”

“Already?” Emma said warmly. “Well, we’ll have to find something for you to eat afterwards, won’t we?”

“Mmm, we might have to stop by that McDonald’s we passed on the way,” Regina mused. “I’m really craving French fries. And… chocolate milk.”

“Chocolate milk?” Emma sniggered. “Really?”

“Sí, and don’t you dare judging me, Emma Swan!”

“I would never dream of it, mami.” The word just slipped out of her before she could even think about it.

The magazine slipped right out of Regina’s hands. She turned her head and stared at Emma with wide eyes.

Emma decided to just roll with it. “I said what I said,” she stated firmly.

“S-sí, you…. You sure did,” Regina cleared her throat awkwardly.

Emma smirked. She had expected Regina to get annoyed and say something snarky in return, so this was a very welcome surprise. Perhaps she could even risk calling Regina ‘mami’ a bit more often.

Regina cleared her throat again and reached for the magazine she had dropped on the floor. The movement had her scrunching up her nose, though, so Emma was quick to pick it up for her.

“Gracias.”

“You’re welcome, beautiful girl. Is the foot very sore?”

“Not the one in cast,” Regina said bitterly. “But I think my other ankle is swollen.”

“Seriously? Oh man.” Regina did not have it easy these days. One broken ankle and one swollen!

“Mmm, who knew that pregnancy could be this hard?” Regina quipped.

“I can imagine that it’s harder when you have to hobble around on crutches,” Emma almost sneered. She was thinking about Marian again. Thinking about finding her and possibly kicking her ass for sending Regina tumbling down the stairs. They hadn’t talked much about Marian. Regina didn’t want to. As far as she was concerned, it was all forgotten. She only wanted to concentrate about the future.

But Emma had trouble forgetting the image of Regina tumbling backwards down the stairs. As silly as it sounded, she supposed she was traumatized by it. Which was ridiculous because it was not her it had happened to. Regina had been the one in danger. Regina and the baby.

If she had fallen just a smidge more unfortunate, things could have gone horribly wrong.

“Hey.”

Emma blinked upon realizing that Regina had put a hand on her arm. “Hi, honey,” she said quickly.

“You have that look in your eyes again, mi amor,” Regina said gently.

“Do I?” Emma winced. “I’m sorry. Sometimes I just…. Can’t stop thinking about how scary it was.”

Regina said nothing. She simply leaned sideways and captured Emma’s lips in a soft, sweet kiss. One that immediately made Emma feel so much better. She returned the kiss and didn’t give two shits that they were in a doctor’s office. It was doubtful that anyone would comment on their affection for one another.

“There,” Regina said as they broke apart. “Do you feel better now?”

“A little. I might need a few hundred more to feel completely okay,” Emma teased as she affectionately pushed one of Regina’s dark locks behind her ear.

“You need to think about something else,” Regina said softly. “Let’s see the pictures of that beach house again.”

Emma willingly found her phone in the pocket of her shorts and tapped on the little ‘photo’ icon. Soon they were looking at the pictures Henry had sent them. The pictures of the prettiest little white beach house. It was small but absolutely perfect. Two stories. Kitchen and living room downstairs. Bathroom, bedroom and guest room upstairs. It even had a little porch.

“Do you think you could be happy there?” Emma asked softly.

Regina smiled. “Querida, you could take me to the North Pole, and I would be happy. It doesn’t matter where I am. As long as you’re there. And Blueberry.”

“The North Pole?” Emma puffed out air. “Oh no, no, no, that won’t do. You are meant for a warm climate, beautiful girl.”

Regina scoffed. “I was trying to be romantic, Em-ma.”

“Oh. Woops. Sorry.”

Regina sighed deeply and clicked her tongue and suddenly she once again reminded Emma of a thirty five year old, extremely unsatisfied woman. Regina had that ability. To sometimes seem older than she was. Emma suspected that it was because of her voice. It was so deep and raspy. Something Regina had complained over, but Emma wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“Regina Mills?”

Both Emma and Regina looked up when Doctor Rivera called Regina’s name. “I think that’s me,” Regina quipped, reaching for her crutches.

“You got it?” Emma asked nervously. Seeing Regina balance with those crutches always gave her a mini heart attack.

“Sí, I’m an expert in maneuvering these things,” Regina said as she elegantly stood from the chair and limped over to Doctor Rivera. “Hola, Doctor Rivera. I would shake your hand, but…”

“No handshakes required,” Doctor Rivera chuckled. “Just come along. I’m sure you’re eager to get this over with.”

“Honestly, I’m a bit tired of doctors. No offence.”

“None taken,” the doctor said graciously.

Emma and Regina followed the doctor into her consultation room. A place they had been in many, many times. Regina was frowning. Clearly not over the moon about being back again.

“Well, Regina, if you just pop onto the couch and lift your shirt, then we can get started,” Doctor Rivera said. For Emma’s sake, she was keeping the consultation in English. “But you may require some help to get up here.”

“I’m already on it, doc,” Emma half-joked as she quickly took Regina by the elbow and helped her over to the couch. Getting up was a bit trickier. Putting weight on the broken ankle was out of the question, and it took Emma and Doctor Rivera’s united strength
to help Regina up on the couch. Meaning that the doctor was guiding her up while Emma was awkwardly holding onto her knee to make sure her ankle was dangling loosely.

“Ay dios mío,” Regina huffed as she finally was laying on her back on the couch. “That was tricky.”

“But we made it,” Emma said warmly, giving Regina’s hand a soft little squeeze.

“Mmm, we sure did,” Regina agreed and used her free hand to tug up her shirt to expose her belly.

Emma was smiling like an idiot when she saw it. She loved that belly. All of it. The protruding belly button. The thin black line and the stretch marks Regina had been so upset about. Emma had spent a long, long time on convincing Regina that she was sexy no matter what. That the marks were sexy. That they were a symbol of how well she was taking care of Blueberry. Regina had seemed soothed and a little misty eyed at that.

“Right then,” Doctor Rivera said as she prepared the ultrasound wand and screen. “How have you been doing since the last time I saw you, Regina?”

“I’ve been doing pretty goo-“

“She had Braxton Hicks this morning and last night too!” Emma blurted out. “Her belly went all hard. Is it really normal to have that this early? Is there something we can do to prevent it? And what about the pain? Is there anything we can do to lessen-“

“Em-ma.”

“Sorry.” Emma winced. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have answered for you.” She didn’t add that she was just worried. Regina didn’t need that right now.

Doctor Rivera chuckled. “It is always nice to see a partner who is invested in a pregnancy, señorita Swan. As for the Braxton Hicks, or false labor pains, it is perfectly normal for Regina to experience them already. It is simply the body’s way of preparing for the
birth. It is a mildly uncomfortable tightening sensation in the womb. It shouldn’t be painful, and it passes relatively quickly. Very normal to experience in second or third trimester. There isn’t a treatment for it, but there are a couple of things you can do to ease the symptom. Change position often. Rest if you’ve been very active. Vice versa, go for a walk if you’ve been sitting down for a long time. Take a warm bath. Get a massage. Drink lots of water and make sure to stay hydrated.”

“Done, done and done,” Emma said and gave Regina’s hand another soft squeeze.

“If the sensation becomes overly painful and comes and goes every five minutes, you of course have to go to the hospital,” Doctor Rivera continued.

Regina nodded. Then frowned. “But this morning I was just laying in bed. How can I have Braxton Hicks when I’m not doing anything?”

“Well, had you been sleeping in the same position for a long time?” asked Doctor Rivera.

“I don’t know. I guess so…”

“Did you have a full bladder?”

Regina wrinkled her nose. “Sí. I always do these days.”

Emma chuckled slightly.

“There you go,” the doctor smiled. “Braxton Hicks can occur when you have a full bladder, are very active, dehydrated. Or if you’re having sex.”

“¡Tienes que estar bromeando!” Regina exclaimed and looked utterly crestfallen. “It can happen while I…” she didn’t finish the sentence. Just flushed a deep shade of pink.

Doctor Rivera was unphased by her flushing. Her answer was every bit professional. “It can, yes. But as long as you’re careful and not doing anything too strenuous, there is a chance that it won’t happen.”

“Right…” Regina didn’t sound overly happy with that answer, and Emma was immediately left wondering what kind of ‘strenuous’ activities she’d had in mind.

“Well then,” Doctor Rivera said and grabbed the ultrasound wand. “Shall we see how baby is doing, Regina?”

“Oh yes!”

The cold gel was spread over Regina’s stomach and Regina squirmed a little bit.

“Cold?” Emma said warmly, squeezing her girlfriend’s hand again.

“Mhmm, sí. I’m fine with the baby kicking away inside me, but I’ll never get used to the gel.”

That had Emma laughing and pressing a gentle kiss to Regina’s forehead.

“Here we go,” Doctor Rivera said as she brought the ultrasound wand down on Regina’s stomach. She moved it around on Regina’s stomach for a while, and Regina winced. When Emma silently mouthed ‘what?’ Regina mouthed back ‘I really need to pee’, and made Emma laugh again.

Woosh-woosh-woosh-woosh. Woosh-woosh-woosh-woosh.

Here was something Emma would never get used to. Hearing their baby’s heartbeat. Seeing his little face on the screen. “Oh my gosh,” she said mushily. “Babe, look at that! He definitely looks different!”

“Sí, he’s grown,” Regina agreed. “Good!”

Emma stared mesmerized at grainy image of their baby’s face. She could have sworn that he was lifting his little hand and waving at them.

“Perfectly healthy,” Doctor Rivera told them. “Baby is growing exactly as he- or she- should. We are still not interested in knowing the sex?”

Emma and Regina looked at each other. Then said in unison: “no!” they had agreed on that while Regina was in the hospital. They wanted it to be a surprise.

“Well then, Baby Mills is the picture of a healthy baby. Good, strong heartbeat and following the weight curve perfectly. There is absolutely no indication that anything should have happened when you fell down the stairs. You have absolutely no reason to be worried about anything.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Regina said. Now she was squeezing Emma’s hand and Emma saw her eyes light up. That was when she realized that Regina definitely had been more worried than she led on.

“So I can live my life normally?” Regina asked with a slight grin.

“Sí. Well, as normally as you can with the broken ankle anyway. I believe that has to be a nuisance to you.”

“It’s not that bad,” Regina brushed her off. “But Emma is going to New York in a week, and I would like to go with her. Can I?”

“Well, I’m going to take your blood pressure in a moment, and if that looks normal, then yes, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be travelling.”

Regina turned her head and looked at Emma. “Did you hear that, querida? I can go with you!”

“Honey, that’s great!” Emma pecked her forehead again. “I can’t wait!”

Regina was given tissues so she could wipe her belly free of the sticky gel, and once she was sitting upright again, Doctor Rivera took her blood pressure. Which was absolutely normal.

“You are good to go, señorita Mills,” the doctor smiled. “Both you and the little one are doing perfectly fine.”

“No cause for concern?”

“Absolutely no cause for concern,” the doctor confirmed. “If you continue to be mindful of not doing anything too strenuous, and of course minding your broken ankle, you can do just about anything.”

“Does that include…” Regina flushed and bit her lip. “You know…”

To Doctor Rivera’s credit, she didn’t laugh at Regina. Just said: “nothing too strenuous.”

Regina looked like she was about to smirk. Emma felt the same. They could actually have sex again. It had been a long couple of weeks, but now they were ‘back in business’. Regina was as healthy as a horse and so was Blueberry.

And soon they would be heading off to New York where Emma hopefully would convince the gallerist that her pictures were the ones that should be displayed on the wall. The future looked insanely bright, and Emma couldn’t have been happier.

She had her arm wrapped around Regina’s shoulder when they left Doctor Rivera’s office, and as soon as they made it out on the street, Emma gently pulled Regina into an alleyway with her.

“What?” Regina asked with a chuckle.

Emma didn’t answer. Simply bowed her head and kissed her girlfriend thoroughly. Right there in the alleyway. Didn’t care about anybody potentially seeing them. The only thing she cared about was the way one of Regina’s arms wrapped around her neck.

She had promised to make out with Regina after the visit to the doctor, and now seemed like a good time to start!

 

 

To Be Continued…………

Chapter Text

Emma woke. She wasn’t particularly happy about it, though, and let out a low groan. Then she opened her eyes. Blinked a couple of times. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, but when they did, she noticed two things almost at the same time. It was three o’clock in the morning. And Regina was not in bed with her. Emma frowned softly and strained her ears. Usually, she could hear the pipes clucking in the bathroom if Regina was in there. But in this particular early hour, she couldn’t hear anything. Meaning that Regina was not in the bathroom. Meaning that it was time to go investigate. You see, Emma did not particularly like when her pregnant girlfriend disappeared from bed in the middle of the night. And especially not when said girlfriend also happened to have a broken ankle.

Emma got out of bed and wandered into the hallway. The door to the bathroom was wide open. Regina was definitely not in there, then. She was a chronic ‘door-locker’ even though Emma had asked her not to do that. She was terrified that Regina would fall over and lie helpless because Emma couldn’t get inside the bathroom.

She pushed the terrifying and unnecessary thoughts aside and continued through the hallway and into the living room.

She found what she was looking for there. Regina was laying flat on her back on the floor. Her hair was fanning out around her, and eyes were closed. Emma thought to herself that Regina looked like a princess. A pregnant princess. A pregnant princess with one leg incased in a cast. How the hell had she managed to lie down when she was using crutches?

Emma cleared her throat softly not to startle Regina.

Regina made a sort of humming sound in return. So she was not asleep after all even though it looked like she was.

“What are you doing out of bed?” Emma asked softly.

“Stretching my back,” Regina answered. “My lower back started cramping.”

“You should have woken me.”

“I needed a flat surface to lie on.”

“Oh. The cramping woke you up?”

“Sí.”

“Shit. I’m sorry. Have you been in here for long?”

“Around thirty minutes or so.” Regina stretched her arms high above her head.

“Is the pain any better then?”

“Mm, it’s nearly gone now.”

“That’s good.” Emma didn’t succeed in hiding a yawn and ended up making a rather loud noise.

Regina snickered from the floor.

“Not to be a party pooper or anything,” Emma said once she was done yawning. “But our plane to New York takes off at seven. Meaning that we have to at the airport at six. Meaning that we have to get up at five. And now it’s three o’clock in the morning, if you catch my drift?”

“I do,” Regina said, sitting up and reaching for her crutches. “You’re right.” She held on tight to both crutches as she tried to get up from the floor. She swayed and huffed as she tried her best not to put any pressure on her broken ankle.

“Okay, but that looks SO unsafe!” Emma exclaimed as she swiftly walked over to Regina and helped her up by holding on to her expanding waist.

“I had everything under control,” Regina huffed.

“Sure you had,” Emma said and tried not to laugh. “Come on. Back to bed.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Regina said, and Emma gently steered her back through the hallway and into the bedroom. She had a feeling that she was doing a better job than any of Regina’s crutches ever could.

In the bedroom, she kept one arm tightly wrapped around Regina’s waist as she carefully placed the crutches against the wall. Then she helped Regina sit down on the edge of the bed. “Which side do you want to lie on tonight?”

“My right side.”

“Okay, let’s do it,” Emma said, half-jokingly. She grabbed the back of Regina’s knee and lifted her leg up so her broken ankle was hanging in the air.

“This is turning into a farce,” Regina mumbled as she lied down on her side. “I’m ready.”

“You sure? You’re comfortable?”

“Mhmm.”

It didn’t sound entirely convincing, but Emma still proceeded to the next point in their little ‘farce’. She gently moved Regina’s leg backwards and then laid it down on the waiting pillow Regina used at night. “There we are. How’s that?”

“Está bien. Gracias.”

“You’re welcome, beautiful girl,” Emma said warmly and yawned as she walked around the bed and climbed into it. Snuggled up to Regina and spooned her like she always did. Regina normally made a little humming sound of appreciation, but tonight she didn’t. Instead Emma heard a sound that rather sounded like a hiss of pain. And plus, Regina was squirming.

“You are not comfortable,” Emma observed. “Would you rather on your other side?”

“No, I was laying on my other side before I got up. And the doctor said that it’s important to change position.”

“That’s true,” Emma agreed. “But you’re not comfortable.”

“I’m fine. I just need to settle.”

“You’re squirming,” Emma firmly pointed out. “I can feel it. Now, would you please tell where it hurts so I can make it stop?”

That had Regina chuckling. Then admitting: “it’s my back. Again. It’s killing me tonight and I’m not sure why.”

“Could it be because you’re pregnant and backaches is a part of your symptoms?” Emma half teased as she pushed the covers aside slightly so she could find Regina’s back. “Where does it hurt?” she gently touched a spot on Regina’s lower back. “Right here?”

“A bit to the left.”

“Okay…” Emma lifted Regina’s long t-shirt so she could touch her bare skin. “How about right…... here?” she touched a new spot to the left.

“Ow!” Regina moaned. “¡Mierda!”

Sorry, sorry,” Emma hastily apologized. “I guess I found the spot.”

“Sí.” Regina’s voice was a little strained.

“Don’t worry, babe. I’ll fix that back of yours in no time,” Emma vowed. It was a bold vow. She had absolutely zero experience with giving backrubs. And the few ones Neal had given her, had sucked pretty badly.

Nonetheless, she went to work with the intention to fix Regina’s back. She rubbed the sore spot over and over again until Regina said: “this is gonna sound properly weird, but is there any chance you can dig your fingers into that spot?”

“Isn’t that going to hurt?” Emma asked doubtfully.

“Probably. But it’s also going to loosen things up. I think.”

“You think?”

“Just do it, querida. Por favor.”

“Okay. Well, here goes nothing,” Emma murmured as she dug her fingers into the sore spot on Regina’s lower back.

“Ooooow!” Regina groaned. “¡Joder, eso duele como una perra!”

Emma winced on behalf of her. That was… a whole lot of cuss words. She didn’t normally mind when Regina was cussing in the bedroom, but not out of pain, thank you very much!

“I’m hurting you,” she said, fingers stilling on Regina’s back. “I shouldn’t be pressing so-“

“No, no, it’s fine!” Regina insisted. “It’s helping. Just… keep going!”

“Are you sure?”

“Sí!”

Emma still was a hundred percent doubtful, but she nevertheless dug her fingers into the same spot again.

Regina groaned strained once more and let out a series of Spanish curse words.

“I know that you’re into pain, but this is a bit extreme,” Emma commented as she went from digging her fingers into the painful spot to kneading the flesh instead.

“Hardy, har, har,” Regina moaned. “I am not enjoying this, but it’s very relieving!”

“Really?” Emma asked skeptically.

“Yeah, this is so much better than laying on the floor!”
“Well then,” Emma gently kneaded the tender spot once more. “I’m glad I can help you.”

“Me, too,” Regina half-quipped. “I’m not sure what would have happened to my poor back if you hadn’t been here.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you won’t have to worry about that. How is Blueberry doing, by the way?”

“Oh, he’s happily kicking,” Regina chuckled. “I’m convinced that he knows you’re there. He probably recognizes his mama’s voice.”

“Aww,” Emma cooed as warmth flooded her. “I can’t wait to meet him!”

“Me neither,” Regina almost sighed, and the slight rustle of the covers told Emma that she had just put a hand on her growing belly. “I’m glad he’s safe. I was so worried that I…. Well, you know.”

“That didn’t happen,” Emma said firmly. “He is doing just fine. All happy and warm and safe in there.”

“Let’s hope he’ll want to get out when the time comes,” Regina joked.

“I think that’ll happen automatically, sweetheart.”

“Mmm.” Regina seemed to ponder about something for a moment. Then she said: “at some point I have to read the chapters about giving birth, you know.”

“We can read them together,” Emma suggested and pressed her fingertips against the tender spot on Regina’s back.

“Do you think I’ll be able to take it?” Regina asked. “The pain, I mean?”

“I’ll be right there with you, honey,” Emma assured. “I don’t care if you break my hand.”

“Do you think I’ll scream a lot?” Regina continued. “I know that it’s normal to do, but I sort of hope that I won’t. I once fell off a bike and Cora told me that crying about my scraped knee wouldn’t make it hurt any less. I guess a part of me will see it is a failure if I scream.”

Emma gnashed her teeth. “Listen to me, beautiful girl. There’s nothing failure about screaming when giving birth, okay? It’s completely natural, and I will think of you as the most badass woman on planet earth.”

Regina chuckled in the darkness. “I’ll take that. Thank you, querida.”

“Anytime. How is the back doing now?”

“A whole lot better,” Regina replied and stretched slightly. “I think I’ll actually be able to sit down in the plane tomorrow.”

“Happy to hear it. Want me to keep rubbing it?”

A low chuckle reached her ears, and Emma immediately knew why Regina was laughing. “Oh, you,” she huffed. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“But I did,” Regina said, now half-groaning. “I miss sex!”

The bluntness had Emma chuckling. “Well,” she drawled, pulling the word out. “Perhaps we can…. Test out the bed at the hotel. If your ankle doesn’t hurt, obviously. Or any other part of you for that matter.”

“It’s hardly my ankle I have to use, is it?” Regina shot back and Emma noted that her voice sounded a bit rough around the edges now. Excited. Oh. It was a damn shame they had to get up so early tomorrow morning. Otherwise Emma wouldn’t have minded to…. Rub other things.

Now she settled for pulling Regina a bit closer and burying her face in her hair. “Mmm,” she hummed. “You always smell so fucking good.”

Regina snickered. “You’re giving me goosebumps, querida. We should have caught a later plane.”

“Agree.” They definitely should. Emma’s thoughts had started straying the littlest bit. Now that Regina had been given the all clear to both travelling and more, it was so easy for her to let her imagination run wild. Regina wasn’t the only one who had missed sex these past few weeks. So had Emma. She had missed hearing Regina groan and moan and exclaim in Spanish when the pleasure took hold of her.

“Blue,” Regina murmured. “You’re kicking me. Don’t start using my bladder as a squeeze toy, because there’s absolutely no way I’m getting out of bed!”

“You tell him,” Emma half-laughed. “Show him who’s the mami.”

“You like that word far too much, querida,” Regina observed. “But you better not start calling me ‘mom’ or ‘mommy’ after he’s born! That’ll mean the official end of our romantic relationship.”

“We can’t have that,” Emma said and mock-shuddered. “There will be no ‘mommy’. Ever.”

“Good,” Regina said firmly. “I like mami though. It sounds kinda….”

“Sexy?” Emma innocently suggested.

“Sí,” Regina laughed. “Exactly.”

Now it was Emma’s turn to say ‘good’. She too thought that ‘mami’ sounded rather sexy. A clear image of Regina would be. A hot mama. She told Regina that, and her throaty laughter filled the bedroom and made Emma’s heart beat a little faster in her chest.

Regina sounded so dreadfully sexy when she laughed. Once again, Emma’s imagination ran amok….

 

 

They were up at the ‘ass crack of dawn’ as Emma dubbed it. They were both bleary eyed and all attempts at conversations were interrupted by loud yawns and following laughter.

“I wish I could have coffee,” Regina said and looked longingly at the cup in Emma’s hands.

“Sorry, honey. No coffee for you,” Emma said softly. “But you can have as much tea as you want.”

“Right. Tea.” Regina wrinkled her nose as she took a sip of said hot beverage. “Maybe it doesn’t taste very good, but maybe it can wake me up.”

“And if not, you can sleep on the plane,” Emma suggested.

“Mmm. If Blueberry allows it. He seems very…. Awake right now.”

“Oh,” Emma chuckled. “You reckon he’s excited to go travelling?”

“Baby’s first trip to New York,” Regina joked and took a bite of her slice of toast.

“Maybe we can travel to New York with him once he’s actually born?” Emma suggested and smiled at the thought. Images of herself and Regina pushing a pram down the streets of New York flooded her mind. As did images of Regina sitting on the porch of a
beach house with a tiny bundle in her arms. Aww.

“Sí, that could be so much fun!” Regina said eagerly. She stuffed the last bit of toast inside her mouth. Then wrinkled her nose as she looked at the glass containing the healthy smoothie her doctor had recommended her to drink at least once a week. The
smoothie was packed with vitamins and vegetables and all that good stuff. But it tasted horrible, she said. Something Emma could vouch for because she had tasted it too.

“Eww.” Regina said plainly as she eyed the glass full of thick, green liquid with tiny bits of….stuff in it. “It looks like something straight out of a witch’s kettle!”

“It’s not that bad,” Emma said automatically.

Regina gave her a look.

“Okay, it looks pretty terrible,” Emma agreed. “But it’s apparently healthy for you, sooo….”

“Las cosas que hago por ti,” Regina half-grumbled as she patted her belly. Then she grabbed the glass with one hand. She used the fingers on her free hand to pinch her nostrils. Then, in one big gulp, she gobbled the liquid down. Her face contorted and her mouth twisted. “Dios mio, that is so gross!”

“I’m sorry, beautiful girl. But now you don’t have to take it until-“

“Tomorrow.” Regina bitterly finished the sentence. She treated herself to another large sip of her tea.

They continued eating breakfast. A bit quicker than they normally would. They were on a schedule, after all.

 

After having eaten breakfast, came the next challenge. Compression stockings. Okay, a singular compression stocking, but still, Regina was less than amused and she frowned as Emma smoothened the stocking on her thigh. “Flying when pregnant is very glamorous, isn’t it?” she huffed.

“Don’t worry, you look very sexy wearing a compression stocking,” Emma assured and grinned a little. “You look nice in everything.”

Regina huffed again and reached for her pants.

Emma helped her. Of course. Regina lifted her bottom so Emma could tug up the pants. “There we are,” Emma said. “Want me to button them too?”

“God no,” Regina said and appeared to be wincing slightly. “Then I’ll only start thinking about…. Things, and we don’t have time for that right now.”

“Right then,” Emma said and grinned slightly as she watched Regina button her pants. She would have loved knowing what ‘things’ exactly Regina was thinking about. But perhaps her girlfriend was right. Now was not the time nor place for that. So instead of asking, she settled for watching as Regina hobbled over to the mirror and looked at herself. She looked very nice today. She had traded her usual sundresses for a pair of jeans and a Bordeaux silk button down shirt. Her hair was tied back in a complicated
fishtail braid.

“You look great,” Emma said warmly.

“Thank you, querida,” Regina smiled. “Though I’m not sure about the jeans. I can’t wrap my head around the stretchy part.” She grabbed what Emma knew was the elastic band in her jeans and made it snap back against her belly.

“I wish my jeans could do that,” Emma snickered. “Seriously, it looks so comfortable!”

“It is,” Regina said with a grin. “I might continue wearing them after Blueberry is born.”

“Can’t blame you. How’s the stocking?”

“Tight. Annoying. But unfortunately necessary too.”

“And the ankle?”

“It’s okay. We should get going,” Regina said firmly. “I don’t want us to be late!”

“We won’t. But our ride will probably be here in a moment, so… Are you ready to go, beautiful girl? Do you need the bathroom before we leave?”

“Hmm….” Regina shifted as she considered. “No,” she said after a moment. “I don’t need the bathroom.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sí. Come on, querida, let’s get going.” Regina grabbed her crutches and eyed her suitcase.

“Absolutely not,” Emma said firmly as she swooped in as fast as the coursing river and grabbed Regina’s suitcase as well as her own.

“That’s heavy!” Regina protested.

“Nah, it’s not. Plus, I work out, so even if it is heavy, it won’t be a problem,” Emma teased.

Regina’s gaze immediately went to Emma’s arms. As it so often did. Emma had discovered long ago that Regina had a thing for her arms. Something that had Emma working even harder in the gym when it was ‘arm-day’.

“Do you need a moment?” she couldn’t resist teasing Regina a little. “Want me to flex or something?”

Regina snapped out of it. “Cállate.”

Emma laughed softly at the look on Regina’s face. “Come on, you. Let’s get going.”

Together they left the apartment, and after having locked the door, they headed for the elevator which thankfully had started working again. Regina used her crutch to push the button and made Emma laugh, and after a moment, the elevator dinged, and the
doors slurped open.

 

The elevator was already occupied by a single person. A grey haired, elderly lady wearing bright pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow. Emma immediately recognized her as Regina’s neighbor. The irritating one who had grabbed Regina’s belly and then cursed her when Regina had asked her not to do so.

The elderly lady clearly hadn’t forgotten the incident. She glared at them as they entered the elevator. Regina glared right back at her, and her voice was laced with ice cold politeness as she said: “buenos días, Sra. Hernandez. ¿Cómo estás?”

The senora in question huffed. Glanced at Regina’s belly and said: “Demasiado joven para ser madre.”

“Demasiado vieja para ser amarga,” Regina said without skipping a beat.

Senora Hernandez huffed again. “¡Eres una chica muy grosera!” the door to the elevator opened again and she stepped outside.

“Adiós, Sra. Hernández. ¡Qué tengas un lindo día!” Regina called after her, and then, once the doors were closed again: “¡Vieja bruja gruñona!”

“What was that about?” Emma asked.

“Well, I said good morning and asked how she was doing. She is clearly still insulted and said that I was too young to be a mother. So I told her that she was too old to be bitter. She then called me a ‘very rude girl’. Then I wished her a good day. And then I might have called her a grumpy old witch,” Regina summarized and rolled her dark eyes. “Not my finest hour, but at least she didn’t hear me.”

“Well, she is a grumpy old witch,” Emma agreed with her girlfriend.

“And she really doesn’t like me,” Regina said darkly. “There was this one time where almost the entire building was woken up in the middle of the night because of certain noises of… pleasure, and the next morning I found a note attached to my door telling me
to stop being so loud when having a ‘young man’ over. Signed by Señora Hernandez.”

“You’re kidding me?!”

“I wish that I was,” Regina said bitterly. “And just so we’re clear, it wasn’t me.”

“I didn’t assume that it was,” Emma said and gave her a little squeeze. “But was it ever resolved who it was, though?”

“Sí, it was Elissa who lives next to me. I know because I got a glimpse of the guy leaving her apartment late when I came home from a shift. She got pretty embarrassed and apologized to me. I guess she had heard about the note on my door.”

“And what did you do?”

“Nothing.” Regina shrugged. “I kept her secret and threw out the notes from the Hernandez-hag just as fast as they were coming. Alessandra’s a nice woman. I didn’t want to put her through the Hernandez-wringer.”

“Wow,” Emma said impressed. “That was really big of you. Not everyone would have done that.”

Regina shrugged lightly. “I’m looking forward to leaving this building. I like my apartment, but….”

“You want a new horizon?” Emma guessed.

“Sí. And I wouldn’t mind if that horizon was you, querida.”

“Are you flirting with me?” Emma half-laughed.

“Sí. Siempre.”

The elevator doors dinged a second time and Emma and Regina stepped out. Made it to the street door. Emma gallantly opened it so Regina could hobble through, and after a moment, Emma followed her with their suitcases in hand.

 

Their ‘ride’ was already there. Of course. He was nothing if not punctual.

Henry smiled widely in greeting. “¡Buenos dias!”

”Buenos dias, Henry,” Emma said, grinning just as widely as he did. “Right on time!”

“¿Papi? ¿Qué estás haciendo aquí?“ Regina asked, confusion etched onto her face. Then, looking at Emma. “Did you….?”

“Sí,” Emma teased. “I texted him yesterday, and we agreed that a little surprise was in order.”

“Don’t you know it can be dangerous to surprise a pregnant woman?” Regina half-huffed.

Henry laughed as he engulfed her in a hug. “Come on, Mija. You mustn’t miss your plane!”

Both Emma and Henry insisted that Regina should be sitting in the front seat. Regina didn’t seem to want to at first, but Emma argued that she needed plenty of leg room. Regina could not overrule that, so she took the front seat. Henry helped her in while

Emma stuffed her crutches into the boot of the car, and soon they were on their way.

“You didn’t have to drive us, daddy,” Regina lightly chastised. “We could have just taken a taxi.”

“What nonsense,” Henry huffed. “Of course I should drive and send you off to New York. And wish my daughter-in-law good luck.”

“Emma doesn’t need any luck,” Regina laughed while Emma silently melted over being called ‘daughter-in-law’ by Henry. That was really sweet.

“She’ll ace the meeting with Mrs. Adamson no matter what!” Regina confidently finished the sentence.

“Let’s not get too optimistic, please,” Emma said hastily. “She just wants to meet me- us- and see the portfolio. That doesn’t necessarily mean that-“

“Yes, it does,” Regina interrupted. “You’re brilliant, querida. The sooner you realize that, the better.”

“Reggie is right,” Henry agreed. “I’m sure-“

“-Less of the ‘Reggie’, please.”

“-That Señora Adamson will love your photos,” Henry continued, clearly pretending that Regina hadn’t said anything.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys. Now I’m really nervous,” Emma said, only partially joking. She was a bit anxious about the upcoming meeting with Mrs. Adamson, so she actually hadn’t thought as far. Right now, she preferred thinking of this as a little mini vacation to New York with Regina. A ‘baby-moon’ of sorts. They would be staying in a nice hotel in a great city. They could do some sightseeing and some shopping, and with any luck, her meeting with Mrs. Adamson wouldn’t be a complete bust. She was glad that Regina was by her side. She wouldn’t have enjoyed travelling alone. And especially not while knowing that Regina was limping around on crutches in Spain.

Now she could limp around on crutches in New York instead. Emma hoped that it wouldn’t turn out to be too much for Regina. But if it was, she would be renting a wheelchair for her. She didn’t care how proud Regina was. If her ankle was sore, she would HAVE to accept being wheeled around. Period. Emma was not about to let her pregnant girlfriend tire herself.

“You gone all quiet,” Regina observed. “Is everything okay, mi amor?”

“Yup, just excited about going,” Emma replied. It wasn’t a lie. She WAS excited about going. But at the same time, there was no reason to reveal her wheelchair- plans just yet.

Henry made eye contact with her in the rearview mirror, and Emma shook her head discreetly. Because she knew exactly what Henry silently was asking her. If she had heard anything from Cora. He had asked her the same thing ever since Emma had told her that she had spoken to Cora. That much she had told him. But she hadn't told him everything. Exactly like she hadn't told Regina the truth.

Emma saw the disappointment in Henry's eyes and bit the inside of her cheek. Why hadn't Cora come by when Regina was in the hospital? Or after she had been discharged? Emma was disappointed. For a brief moment, she had actually thought that she had gotten through to Cora. But apparently not....

 

In the airport, they parted ways with Henry who gave each of them a big hug. He wished Emma good luck and kissed her twice on each kiss. He kissed Regina in the same fashion, plus an extra kiss to the forehead (which was absolutely adorable to watch!) and instructed her to take good care of his grandchild.

“¡Por supuesto!” Regina assured, smiling widely as she patted her round belly. “I’ll guard him like a treasure.”

“Good,” Henry chuckled. “Have a good trip and make sure to text me once you have arrived.”

“I’ll do that,” Regina assured. “In the meantime, promise me that you’ll look after your blood pressure and not eat too much red meat. And take it easy on the chocolate!”

That had Emma laughing. Regina sounded so bossy.

“I promise,” Henry said solemnly, and Emma laughed even harder when she saw him grimace over Regina’s shoulder. He clearly was not satisfied with Regina’s orders. Emma sympathized with him. No red meat and no chocolate? Man, that had to suck!

After one last hug and even more well-wishes and good luck’s, Emma and Regina went to check in their luggage. That went over smoothly, but there was a slight issue when they were supposed to go to the gate. The gate was far away. Very far away. Emma glanced doubtfully at Regina’s cast incased leg and her crutches. Then her gaze wandered towards one of the wheelchairs standing parked near the door.

“No.” Regina said, voice firm and expression pinched. Had she been able to, she probably would have crossed her arms too.

“Please?” Emma asked.

“No!”

“Honey, it’s a long way to the gate,” Emma said softly, gently trying to make her now cross girlfriend see sense. “Too long to hobble on crutches. I don’t want you to strain yourself.”

“I will not strain myself,” Regina claimed and puffed out her chest. “I can walk!”

She was starting to look properly pissed off so Emma abandoned ship. “Okay,” she relented. “Okay. No wheel chair.”

“Good!” Regina said tightly. “Are you coming then?”

“Yeah, coming.”

Emma followed Regina as she limped towards the gate. Her crutches clicked against the floor. She was actually moving rather fast, and Emma suspected that she was trying to make a point.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Please don’t be mad. Please?”

“I’m not mad,” Regina grunted. “I’m frustrated. That is something completely different, querida. Why couldn’t it just have been my arm that I had broken?”

“I would have preferred if you hadn’t broken anything,” Emma muttered and felt another surge of rage towards Marian.

“Me too. But an arm would have been better than this- oh, Mierda!” Regina yelped when one of her crutches slipped on a patch of wet floor. In order not to fall, she put pressure on her broken ankle and cussed under her breath followed by a series of heartfelt: “Ow, ow, ow!”

“Okay!” Emma exclaimed, hastily grabbing Regina by the waist to prevent a disaster. “I’m sorry, beautiful girl, but this walking thing is not happening! Not when the floor is wet!”

“Yeah, no, maybe you’re right,” Regina groaned. “That really hurt!”

“Stay completely still,” Emma instructed. “Don’t move, okay? I’ll be right back!” without waiting for an answer, she turned around and jogged in the direction they had come from. It didn’t take long before she reached the little cluster of wheelchairs. Emma pulled one of them free and the tires squealed slightly as she raced it back to where Regina was still standing balancing on her crutches.

Regina huffed slightly as she eyed the wheelchair. “Right. This is what my life has come to.”

“For now,” Emma corrected and because Regina had started to look a bit defeated, she immediately made light of the situation: “your carriage awaits, Milady,” she said solemnly and even bowed after having brushed a hand lightly over the seat on the wheelchair.

“You are a very silly woman, Emma Swan,” Regina said but nevertheless smiled as she sat down in the wheelchair. “Thank you.”

“Anytime,” Emma said lightly. “Does your ankle hurt a lot?”

“No, it was only for a moment when I put pressure on it. I’m okay now.”

“Good. Are you comfortable?”

“Sí. It’s a very soft seat.”

“Excellent. Then let’s go to the gate! You ready?”

Regina chuckled. “You don’t have to ask me. You can just… wheel me off.”

“You’re right. I can.” A devilish idea popped up in Emma’s mind. Snickering quietly, she drew the wheelchair back a few steps.

“What are you doing?” Regina asked.

“Vroom-vroom,” Emma teased.

“Don’t you dare, Emma Swan!”

But that was just it, Emma DID dare. She dared so much, she started running. Racing the wheelchair down the broad hallway while still making ‘vroom-vroom’-sounds. Was it ridiculous? Yes, absolutely.

Was there a chance that a security guard would spot them and put an end to their fun? Sure.

But was it all worth it?

Fuck yes.

Because Regina was laughing and squealing as though she was on a giant roller coaster and not in a wheelchair. That was exactly what Emma had hoped for. What she wanted. For Regina to laugh all the way to New York…...

 

To Be Continued………

Chapter Text

Emma tried being as quiet as a mouse as she turned another page in the glittery magazine she was reading. The reason for her quietness was simple.

Regina was fast asleep in the seat next to Emma’s. Her head was resting on Emma’s shoulder. Emma had already squirmed several times because Regina’s hair was tickling the side of her neck. But she made sure to do it so softly she wouldn’t end up waking Regina. That would be a crime. She looked so peaceful.

They had been in the air for three hours. Meaning that they had four hours left. Regina had fallen asleep almost immediately after takeoff. She had carefully instructed Emma to wake her up if she fell asleep, and even though Emma had nodded, she wasn’t going to do that. They had been up at shit o’clock that morning. Regina deserved a nap.

Emma smiled tenderly as Regina made a slight snuffling sound in her sleep. That sounded very cute. Their trip to New York was already shaping up to be a great one. They’d had a ton of fun when they found their seats and it was time to buckle their seatbelts. Regina’s seatbelt hadn’t quite been able to reach across her large belly, and Emma had to help her extend the length. They had laughed a lot about that, and Regina had called her size ‘ridiculous’.

Emma agreed. Regina’s size was ridiculous. Ridiculously cute.

Emma turned her head ever so slightly and looked at her girlfriend. Regina was still fast asleep with her head on Emma’s shoulder. One hand hanging limply and the other gently resting on her swelling belly. She was still doing that thing where she unconsciously cradled her belly while sleeping. It almost made Emma’s heart melt every time Regina did it. She had a feeling that Regina would become a real Mama Bear to their little boy. Or girl.

What kind of mother would she become? Emma had thought a lot about that since Regina changed her mind about the adoption. Emma had wanted kids for a long time. She could willingly admit that to herself now that she would actually become a mother. She had been devastated when Neal had kept postponing talking about having kids eventually. But she hadn’t told him. She had settled for hoping that things would change after they got married. Obviously, there had been no wedding and Emma had been upset for more reason than one. Her dreams of becoming a mother had seem farther away than ever. But then she had travelled to Spain and literally stumbled right into Regina’s path. Sometimes it was a bit strange to think about that Regina had been pregnant all the time. But here they were. Regina was pregnant with their baby. Emma would become a mother after all. But what kind? She couldn’t imagine herself playing the role of the strict mother. Nah, she would be a real softie. The type of mother who allowed an extra piece of candy and spoiled her kid rotten with a new toy. She hoped that she would be a god mother. A chill, laid back mother who still was ready to walk through fire for her kid. Emma felt a twinge of anxiety. What if she had no clue about motherhood?

What if she did all the wrong things? Could she even change a diaper? God. Emma had never changed a diaper in her life. What if she continuously put it on backwards? What if she unintentionally put Blueberry in danger? A billion scary scenarios flashed across her mind, and Emma reminded herself to breathe. The baby wasn’t even born yet, and she was already freaking out. Nice. She really shouldn’t get this worked up. Of course she and Regina would do this the way they did everything else. Together.

Emma hoped that ‘together’ soon would mean living together too. She hoped that the place in California Henry had talked about would turn out to be just right for her and Regina. They would have to go and see it. Or perhaps it would only be her. She couldn’t keep asking Regina to travel. She did have a broken foot after all, and she had to rest it. Seeing Regina in the wheelchair had reminded Emma of that. Regina would most likely demand to go to California too, but Emma had the perfect solution. Facetime. She could show Regina every room in the house while Regina rested her foot back in Spain. Win-win.

Emma turned another page in the magazine she had picked up when Regina fell asleep. But she wasn’t paying much attention to the gossip-stories. She was more interested in listening to Regina’s breathing. The sound was very reassuring and relaxing. Regina hadn’t talked in her sleep like she sometimes did, and Emma was sort of sad about that. She so loved it when Regina talked in her sleep. But Regina probably wouldn’t be all that thrilled about talking in her sleep while on a plane.

Regina’s head was starting to feel sort of heavy and her shoulder was aching a little bit. But Emma wouldn’t dream of trying to move Regina. Not when she was sleeping this peacefully against her shoulder. She could deal with the achy spot and the way Regina’s breath and hair tickled the side of her neck. Emma was awfully ticklish, but she tried her best not to squirm. She abandoned reading the magazine and looked out of the window instead where clouds where fluffy, white clouds danced past the plane.

Emma smiled to herself. She had just decided that there had to hang a cloud-mobile above the baby’s crib. And quite possibly a unicorn one. She would have to search high and low to find a unicorn-mobile. God, they were going to need so much stuff! Imagine when they were going to decorate the baby’s room… Emma dreamed herself away. Which color should they paint the walls? How should they decorate it? There were so many things to think about. But the main thing was of course that the baby’s room would be in a beach house in California. A place where they could be together. Emma couldn’t imagine (wouldn’t imagine!) continuing what they had been doing so far. Happy visits and tearful goodbyes in the airport. It was hard enough as it was. The thought of having to say goodbye to her kid as well as Regina would be unbearable. And there was another important factor apart from the bone-crushing feeling of missing Regina. The danger that the baby wouldn’t be able to connect with her because she wasn’t there fulltime.

That couldn’t happen.

Emma refused to be a stranger in her baby’s life. She was going to be there all the time. Witness all the big milestones. The first words, first tooth, first time walking, first birthday, all of it.

Regina suddenly mumbled something against her shoulder. Then she lifted her head, and a little sigh of relief when the pressure was taken off her shoulder.

“Ooof,” Regina mumbled and looked exactly as confused as someone who had just woken up from an unexpected nap would look.

“Hola,” Emma said softly. “Good nap?”

“I’m confused,” Regina groaned. “How long have I been asleep for?”

“We’ve been in the air for three hours.”

“Three hours?” Regina’s eyes bulged slightly. “I’ve been asleep for three HOURS? Why didn’t you wake me?”

“Couldn’t bring myself to do it,” Emma said lightly as she closed the magazine. “You looked so cute.”

Regina grumbled something inaudible under her breath. She was clearly dissatisfied with Emma’s ability to keep her promises.

“Sorry, honey,” Emma pecked her temple lightly. “But you looked so exhausted. I figured you needed some rest.”

“I did, but that’s not the point,” Regina huffed. “You promised to wake me if I fell asleep, Emma! You promised!”

“Sorry,” Emma said quickly. “I’m sorry. But honestly, you haven’t missed out on anything.”

Regina glared at her. “I’ve missed out on time with you.”

Emma winced slightly. There was a point there. “Sorry,” she said a fourth time. “I’ll…” she lowered her voice. “Make it up to you once we get to New York.”

“Oh?” one of Regina’s carefully sculped eyebrow rose and her eyes gleamed with mischief now. “Well, then I suppose it’s okay.”

“Good. Glad we could reach an understanding,” Emma joked and gave her a little squeeze.

Regina rolled her shoulders back and forward. Then moved her head from side to side, and Emma realized that there was another reason why she should have nudged Regina awake. The magnificently stiff back Regina most likely had from sleeping upright.

Shit.

Regina grabbed her crutches and ‘oof ’ed’ again as she carefully got on her feet.

“Where are you going?” Emma asked stupidly.

“Just popping outside to get some fresh air,” Regina joked. She rolled her eyes. “I’m going to the bathroom, querida. You don’t mind that, do you?”

“Definitely not. Need any help?”

“With going to the bathroom?”

“With walking to the bathroom, smartass.”

Regina chuckled. “No, I’m fine. I can hobble that short distance. See you in a moment.” With that she disappeared down the short hallway in the plane.

Emma watched her walk away and wondered if she should have escorted her down the hallway anyway. She knew that she was being a pain in the ass ninety eight percent of the time, but she couldn’t help it. She had a mini heart attack every time she saw
Regina limp around on her crutches. Once again, she silently cussed Marian and wished that she had been punished for her actions in some way.

But she had to respect Regina’s wishes in this case. And Regina’s wishes had been the promise that Robin and Marian would leave her and the baby alone in exchange for her silence. She had gotten it her way. Thanks to a bit of extra pressure from her father’s lawyer, she was now in possession of two very official pieces of paper. In the first piece of paper, Robin signed off any legal rights he might have had to the baby. The piece of paper bore Robin’s signature. The second piece of paper bore both Robin and Marian’s signature. It was a restraining order. So far, the restraining order had worked. Neither Robin nor Marian had been bothering Regina ever since the catastrophe in the bar. Emma hoped that it would stay that way. Those two assholes had put Regina through enough hardship. Now it was time for Regina to kick back and enjoy the rest of her pregnancy. Emma shook her head. She still couldn’t quite believe that Regina was six months pregnant already. It felt like it was yesterday that Emma walked into the dressing room and found an exhausted Regina asleep with her nose pressed into the table. That had been a scary sight. Emma had been so worried about her. She still was, but not in the same way. Despite Regina’s broken ankle, things had calmed down.

Everything was going well.

All they needed was for Cora Mills to get her shit together.

Emma turned her head and peered at the little hallway from her seat. Hadn’t Regina been in the bathroom for a pretty long time now? Shouldn’t she have been back by now? Emma clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes at herself. Calm down, Swan. Obviously,
Regina was taking a bit longer because she was using crutches. Emma had to stop being so annoying all the time.

A flight attendant passed by pushing a cart. Emma stopped her and bought a round of fried chicken and baked potatoes for Regina along with a soda. Since Regina had been asleep until now, she hadn’t had any lunch. Nor had Emma for that matter. She bought herself the same meal and sniffed appreciatingly. The chicken smelled very good.

A slight clicking sound had Emma looking up just in time to see Regina coming hobbling back towards their seats. Emma smiled at her. “There you are. I ordered us some food.”

“I can see that,” Regina’s eyes lit up at the sight of the food. “Eso se ve deliciosa!”

“Yeah, for airplane food its not that bad,” Emma agreed and regarded Regina as she shuffled to sit down. She was tempted to offer her help, but bit it back.

“Oops. There we go,” Regina said as she elegantly plopped down in the seat next to Emma’s. She stuffed the crutches away under the seat and brushed a hand over her hair which had gone a bit messy. “The man who was before me in the line to the bathroom
gave me his spot.”

“That was nice of him,” Emma smiled. “You hungry?”

“¡Sí!”

Emma grinned as Regina grabbed the plastic cutlery and threw herself into cutting the fried chicken. No nausea this time. At least not anymore. Regina had mumbled vaguely about feeling a bit air-sick when the plane took off, but then she had fallen asleep and now she was seemingly doing much better. She was certainly eating her chicken with vigor.

“You excited about meeting Mrs. Adamson?” Regina asked between bites of chicken.

“More like nervous.” Emma winced.

“Why?” Regina scoffed. “Querida, I’ve already told you. Mrs. Adamson wouldn’t have asked you to come all this way if she wasn’t interested.”

“I know, I know,” Emma said quickly. “This is just… It’s huge. I mean, I’m just a photographer from a tiny town. I’ve photographed pets and weddings for as long as I can remember and now I’m suddenly on my way to New York because a gallery is interested in exhibiting my photos. That’s a big deal.”

“Sí, it is,” Regina smiled. Leaned sideways so she could brush her cheek against Emma’s shoulders. “And I’m so proud of you, querida. You deserve this so much.”

“Hey, half of the credit goes to you,” Emma reminded her. “You’re the model, after all.”

“I just stood there. You created the magic,” Regina pointed out.

“You’re a natural on camera,” Emma said firmly. “You did not just ‘stand there’. You posed like you had done it a million times.”

“Maybe I’ve been a model in a past life,” Regina joked.

“You know what, I’m totally prepared to believe that, beautiful girl.” Emma took another bite of her chicken. She chewed, mm’ed and savored the taste. After having swallowed the bite, she continued the conversation: “are you still cool with your face on display in a gallery?”

“Of course,” Regina said lightly. “Nothing wrong with being a little famous.” She laughed. Then rubbed her belly tenderly. “I think the baby likes the chicken. He’s kicking up a storm in there. But at least he’s not squeezing my bladder anymore.”

“Nice of him,” Emma chuckled. Reached over so she could rub Regina’s belly. “No teasing your mom, okay, kid?”

Regina laughed. “Are you gonna use that line on him when he’s older?”

“Oh yeah. When it’s required, obviously.” Emma poked at her baked potato and was just about to dig into it when her past musings popped up in her mind again: “hey, do you think I’m gonna be a good mother?”

“Sí, of course,” Regina said immediately. “You’re not actually in doubt about that, are you?”

“No,” Emma said hastily. “I’m just a bit… nervous.” She could say that, right? It was okay to admit to being nervous, wasn’t it?

Regina put the cutlery down to give Emma’s knee a gentle little squeeze. “Me, too. I’m half-terrified, half-excited.” She chuckled. “I think it’s normal when you’re going to have a baby. It’s gonna be a huge change. Especially for us.”

“Yeah,” Emma nodded, knowing exactly what Regina meant. So many things had changed. Regina had gone from being sure she wanted to give the baby up for adoption to completely embracing the mother-role. That was a huge change.

“But we’ll figure it out,” Regina continued, popping the lid off her soda. “I mean, there will probably be a few screwups along the way, that’s what its like for all new parents. We can’t expect to get things right immediately. But we’re a great team, you and I.” she smiled at Emma. “We’ll be great at raising a baby too.”

“You know, sometimes you sound like you’re thirty five and not twenty,” Emma gently teased her wise girlfriend.

Regina snickered. “That so? Well, I’m sure I’ll be incredibly smart when I’m thirty five. Oh my god.” Her dark eyes suddenly widened. “Imagine how long I will have been a mother when I’m thirty five!”
“Imagine how old I’ll be when you’re thirty five,” Emma shuddered. “I’ll be…. Forty four. Oh my god. I’ll be forty four, Regina! I’m not sure I can deal with that!”

“I’ll deal with it for you then,” Regina said. She patted Emma’s knee again. Then leaned in. “You know what you’ll be?”

“No,” Emma said glumly. “What?”

“You’ll be a…. MILF.”

Emma nearly choked on the piece of potato she had just stuffed inside her mouth. “Oh my god, you did not just say that.”

“I might have,” Regina smirked. “Not regretting it though.”

It was Emma’s turn to lean in as she whispered: “if you didn’t have those crutches, I would have invited you to join the Mile High Club…”

She had expected Regina to flush and say something about her hormones going crazy, but Regina’s only response was to arch an eyebrow and whisper: “and what makes you think that I’m not a member already?”

Emma stared at her girlfriend. “Are you?”

“I don’t suppose you’ll ever find out…”

“Regina.”

“Okay, okay, I’m not,” Regina surrendered with a grin. “But I would like to be, though….” She ‘innocently’ skimmed a hand up and down Emma’s thigh. “Are you sure those crutches are such a huge problem?”

“Yes,” Emma said through gritted teeth. “And the same goes for the lack of a place to lie or sit down. I would be terrified of you falling over.”

The hand skimming up and down her thigh disappeared. “Spoilsport,” Regina said plainly and genuinely sounded ticked off.

Leaning in once more, Emma whispered in her ear: “once we get to New York, beautiful girl. I promise.”

“Stop talking. You’re making me sound greedy.”

“You’re not greedy,” Emma said immediately. “You’re just…. Frustrated.”

“Hmm.” Was all Regina said. Then she dug into her fried chicken again.

Emma’s heart went out to her. It truly did. And not solely for perverted reasons. She knew that the sex drive was increased in the second trimester. And she was acutely aware that Regina hadn’t had sex in three weeks. That was a long time to be left high and dry. Well. If they weren’t too jetlagged when they arrived at the hotel, Emma would have absolutely no issues with relieving Regina of some of the ‘pressure’. In fact it would be her absolute pleasure. Even if Regina was too tired to reciprocate.

Regina was still cutting her chicken with fast, almost aggressive movements. So still frustrated.

Emma put a hand on the top of her back and rubbed gently. Winced when she felt the knots. Regina was so tense. Yeah, she definitely needed some relief asap.

“Querida, I’m trying to eat,” Regina pointed out. “You are coming between me and the fried chicken.”

“Oh. Sorry,” Emma chuckled softly as she move her hand away from Regina’s back. “Won’t happen again.”

That had Regina smiling a little. After having consumed another bite of chicken, she turned her head and looked out of the window. She looked less irritated now. There was a twinkle of excitement in her eyes, and Emma was delighted to see it…

 

 

“Welcome to New York,” Emma smiled when they stood in the J.F.K airport a good while later. They had found their luggage and was getting ready to leave the airport.

“Thank you,” Regina said and looked around. “Should we get out of here?”

“Yeah, sure,” Emma nodded. She too was looking around. But not after the nearest exit. “But could you do something for me first?”

“Sure. Anything.”

Anything. Emma knew that it wasn’t completely fair, but she had to trap Regina in her own words. She briskly walked over to the row of wheelchairs, grabbed the nearest one and wheeled it back to Regina. She batted her eyes at her girlfriend. Made herself sound extra cute as she said: “please?”

Regina didn’t look overly satisfied. Her mouth was drawn into a thin line, but she sat down in the wheelchair without protesting.

“Thanks, beautiful girl.” Emma pressed a quick kiss to the top of Regina’s head.

“You’re welcome I guess,” Regina sighed. “It probably would be easier to rent a wheelchair at this point, but I am not letting you wheel me around all over New York, that’s no fun!”

“I don’t know about that…” Emma pulled the wheelchair back a little and pretended to pick up speed. “Vroom-vroom!”

“Querida,” Regina laughed. “Don’t do this again. You almost knocked that little old lady down!”

“I didn’t. Your belly did. Almost.”

“Hey, don’t blame the belly!”

“Always blaming the belly.”

“Eres imposible,” Regina sighed. “Just… wheel me out. But quietly. I will not be responsible for anymore old ladies nearly falling over!”

“And there you go, sounding like a thirty five year old again,” Emma laughed as she wheeled Regina out of the airport.

Their hotel, The Langham (Emma had taken Mrs. Adamson up on her offer and had booked them rooms in a nice hotel) was twenty minutes away from the airport, so they had to find a taxi. Luckily, that was not a problem in New York. All she had to do was raise her arm and one of the many yellow taxis pulled up. Emma helped Regina inside the car. The taxi driver was gallant enough to load their suitcases inside the boot of the taxi, and while he did that, Emma quickly raced back to the airport with the wheelchair. On her way there, she actually nearly knocked someone down. Not an old lady, but a man. Who glared at her.

“Sorry,” Emma said and winced.

The man didn’t look very forgiving.

Regina had seen the whole thing from the taxi and immediately scolded Emma.

“You’re dangerous behind a wheelchair, querida,” she said once Emma got inside the taxi.

“Yeah, I guess I am,” Emma agreed with her. She slipped an arm around Regina’s shoulder and said to the taxi driver: “The Langham, please.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Emma grinned as the taxi started moving. Ma’am. That was a long time since she had been called that. Perhaps the taxi driver thought that she and Regina were married. Emma didn’t mind that at all.

Regina snuggled into her side and rested her head on Emma’s shoulder like she had done when she was sleeping earlier. But she was very much awake this time. Her hand was brushing up and down Emma’s leg. From her knee and to the to the middle of her thigh. Not quite high enough to be considered suggestive, but Emma could read between the lines. Regina was in a mood. Again. And honestly, so was Emma. Now that she knew sex wouldn’t harm Regina in any way, it was getting increasingly harder to keep her hands to herself. She had missed their sex life just as much as Regina had. Regina wasn’t the only one who was left high and dry these days.

“How far away is the hotel?” Regina asked. Totally casual.

“Twenty something minutes,” Emma answered. Just as nonchalant.

“Mm,” Regina turned her head and looked out of the window. “New York is cold compared to Madrid.”

“Yeah, it is. Good thing we packed sensible clothes.”

“Sí. It was a long flight. Feels good to be back on land.”

“It sure does,” Emma agreed with her girlfriend.

“Do you feel very jetlagged?”

Emma could barely keep the shit-eating grin off her face. So that was where the long-winded questions were going. Regina’s way of asking her if she was too tired to do ‘things’ when they got to the hotel was absolutely brilliant. Completely casual and smooth.
Nobody would ever take this conversation for more than it was. Casual small talk.

“Nah,” Emma said and tried to keep the amusement out of her voice. “I’m not tired.” She was just about to add ‘at all’, but that wouldn’t be very smooth. It was bad enough that she could barely keep the grin off her face. Regina was a far better actress than she
would ever be.

“Good,” Regina said lightly. “It would be a shame to miss out on things the first day.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Emma said solemnly and reminded herself to compliment Regina’s acting skills later.

A tiny smile danced across Regina’s lips, but she didn’t say anything else. Just sat there. And smirked. That little devil. Emma was so gonna get her for this later. When they were in their hotel room. In their bed. Naked.

Suddenly she couldn’t at all remember the actual reason why they were in New York. As far as she knew, this was a romantic getaway for her and Regina. A babymoon. Oh my god, it actually was. A baby-moon. Exactly what Emma had envisioned. A thing to tick off the ‘pregnancy-list’. Now there was just ‘Lamaze classes’ and ‘super-secret-baby shower’ left on the list. Of course Regina should have a baby shower. Preferably in Storybrooke. At Granny’s. Emma could easily imagine Regina walking in and getting surprised by Ruby and Belle and Emma’s parents. Of course there would be a banner. A ton of presents. And cake. Lots of cake.

Okay, Emma was planning ahead. But really, Regina absolutely deserved a baby shower. Things hadn’t been easy. She had been in doubt and torn and pressured from every direction. She deserved that the last three months of her pregnancy was as cliché-filled and sugary sweet as they should be.

Emma gave her girlfriend a little squeeze. Regina had gone back to running her hand up and down Emma’s leg in a gesture that was not-quite-intimate-but-still-intimate-as-hell.

Was Emma making it up, or was the taxi driving really, really slow? So what if there was a queue? Wasn’t it the taxi driver’s job to know all the shortcuts? She was just about to open her mouth and ask the driver if he could take a different route, but she quickly closed her mouth again. Nobody liked a difficult customer. And she didn’t want to be too obvious.

Regina casually leaned back in her seat. She looked very comfortable. She gave Emma’s thigh a little squeeze and then rubbed her round belly instead.

“Alien activity?” Emma joked. That was what Regina one night had called the kicking one night at the hospital where she had still been slightly woozy from the concussion. She had said that it felt so strange that there was a tiny person kicking inside her, and
then she had proceeded to call it ‘alien activity’. Whilst giggling like a madwoman.

“Mhmm, lots of it,” Regina said and smiled broadly. “He’s all over the place today.”

“Think he’s excited about being in New York too?” Emma chuckled.

“Por supuesto,” Regina said. Then, lowering her voice she continued: “¿Ya llegamos?

“In a moment, miss,” the taxi driver said. So he knew Spanish. Oops.

Regina gave an embarrassed laugh. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it, miss,” the taxi driver said lightly.

Emma laughed and was rewarded with a not too gentle elbow directly to the ribs. Ouch. That hurt. But it didn’t stop her from laughing, though. Perhaps she knocked down people with her mad wheelchair skills, but leave it to Regina to blow their cover.

“Shut up,” Regina murmured out of the corner of her mouth.

Emma didn’t shut up. She kept laughing. Gave Regina another squeeze and then kissed the top of her head again.

“Honeymoon?” the taxi driver asked and smiled at their obvious affection for one another.

I wish, Emma thought before she could stop herself. She quickly sobered though: “Business trip, actually.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Regina said with a grin. “Between you and me, I’m a bit of an expert in fake honeymoons.”

Emma couldn’t hold back another laugh. That was definitely the truth. She was immediately transported right back to the first time they had sex. In the bed in the bridal-suite. The suite she was supposed to share with Neal. Good thing that didn’t happen. Good thing Neal turned out to be a complete asshole. Emma had resented him for it then, obviously, but now she was only grateful. Thank god she had been free as a bird when she ran into Regina in a bar in Madrid. First, she had turned Emma’s miserable solo-honeymoon into something wonderful, and then she had turned out to be the best fucking thing since the invention of grilled cheese.

No, screw that. If the choice was Regina or grilled cheese, Emma would give up grilled cheese in a heartbeat.

Regina interrupted her train of thoughts by reaching inside her purse and finding the chocolate bar she had bought in the airport before leaving. She broke off a piece and stuffed it inside her mouth. “Want some?” she offered.

“Nah, I’m good. But thanks though.”

“You’re welcome, querida.”

As delicious as the chocolate bar looked, Emma wasn’t interested. She wasn’t hungry. At least not for chocolate. She needed something else to sate her hunger. Something far more…. Delicious. God, she couldn’t focus on anything except Regina and all the delicious things she wanted to do to her once they got to the hotel.

“What?” Regina asked, and Emma realized that she was staring at her. “Do I have something on my face or what?”

“No,” Emma said hastily. Making sure that the driver was occupied with well, driving, she delicately placed a hand on Regina’s thigh. A bit further up than Regina’s hand had been on her own a moment ago.

Regina’s eyes widened almost comically. Then she gave a tiny little cough.

Emma grinned. They couldn’t get to the hotel fast enough!

 

 

To Be Continued………..

Chapter Text

They were kissing by the time they made it into the elevator. They had already been in the reception to pick up their keycard and all that jazz.

The elevator was big, deliciously unoccupied and they were going all the way up to the twentieth floor. A fairly long way to go. When door closed behind them, Regina had been eying Emma in a particular way, so naturally Emma had smirked and asked her girlfriend if she fancied taking advantage of how empty the elevator was. As soon as Regina had given her ‘sí’, Emma had been on it in two seconds. She currently had Regina pushed up against the wall and was kissing her with almost ferocious vigor. Regina’s fingers were buried deep in Emma’s hair, and she was making these little breathless sounds with each kiss. Neither of them felt jetlagged. In fact, Emma had never felt more awake than she did right now. Hearing how breathless Regina had gotten, Emma decided to give those lovely lips of hers a little break. But that didn’t mean that she would stop kissing her. Hell no. She simply ‘relocated’ to Regina’s lovely neck instead. Completely unabashed, she started nipping at the side of Regina’s neck. She planted a series of small kisses all the way up to Regina’s ear and then back down to the sensitive place where her neck met her shoulder.

“!Mierda!” Regina breathed. “Emma, you’re going to kill me!”

“Mmm, with kindness,” Emma husked against her neck. Then kissed it again.

The elevator stopped. Emma immediately put some distance between herself and Regina. The doors slurped open. Emma waited with her heart hammering in her chest. After a second, the doors slid closed again. Whoever had summoned the elevator, had to have regretted it. Just as well. In the blink of an eye, Emma was back with Regina. Once again, she pressed her girlfriend up against the wall and kissed her hungrily. Their flirting in the taxi had driven her completely mad. She needed to kiss Regina more than she needed oxygen, god damnit!

Regina clearly felt the same. She moaned and shifted slightly. So did Emma. Immediately worried that this position compromised Regina’s broken ankle, she turned her head slightly.

“Shut up,” Regina growled even though Emma hadn’t even said a word. With one hand she gripped the back of Emma’s neck and crushed the blonde’s mouth to hers while supporting herself with the crutch with the other.

Emma laughed into the kiss. Let it continue for a moment before descending down Regina’s neck again. She had learned that pregnant women easily got winded, and she was not interested in having Regina faint in the middle of it. That would undoubtedly put a damper on things. But Regina’s neck was wonderful to kiss too. Absolutely. She had a particular spot right below her ear that always left her a quivering mess whenever Emma was kissing it.

Thus also today. Regina moaned deeply. Emma heard a thud. Was fairly certain that Regina had just bumped her head on the wall. Oops.

“¿Alguna vez has...... tenido sexo en un ascensor?”

“What’s that?” Emma lifted her head from Regina’s neck so she could look at her girlfriend. Regina’s eyes looked more black than brown. Her skin was flushed. Delicious.

“Never mind,” she grunted. “Just…. Do that again.”

“I will,” Emma assured with a chuckle. “As soon as you tell me what you said.”

“Querida-“

“In a moment. Now spill your guts, woman,” Emma mock sternly demanded and wagged a finger in Regina’s face. “I heard ‘sexo’. That means sex. I know that much Spanish. You said something about sex, and I am very interested in knowing exactly what you said!”

“I just… asked you if you ever have had sex in an elevator,” Regina said and looked somewhere between amusement and embarrassment.

“Ohhhh,” Emma drew the word out and waggled an eyebrow. “You think that’s where this is going, beautiful girl?”

Regina shrugged and somehow managed to look mischievous and innocent at the same time. “I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that the alarm button is right there.”

Now Emma was really laughing. “Yeah, no, I don’t think the staff would like that very much, honey.”

“Aguafiestas.”

“And to answer your question,” Emma said and ignored what she suspected was an insult. “No. I have not had sex in an elevator, but should we come across one that stays still long enough and doesn’t have cameras, I am very open to try it.”

“Oh,” Regina cocked her head. “Interesting.”

“Have you?” Emma asked casually. Resuming kissing would be wasted. They were almost there, and honestly, she wanted to kiss Regina without any interruptions. And behind closed doors.

“Have I what?” Regina ran her fingers through her hair and tried her best to sort it out. She wasn’t really succeeding.

“Had sex in an elevator,” Emma laughed.

She expected to get an eyeroll and perhaps a cheeky response in Spanish, but to her surprise, Regina’s cheeks flamed anew, and she went ‘uhhh…’

Emma gasped, mock-scandalized. “You have!”

“Quizás......“

“You totally have!” Emma laughed and felt tempted to elbow her girlfriend. “You little minx!”

Regina wrinkled her nose. “I was very drunk. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And we did get away with it, so…” she made a gesture with her hands and shrugged lightly.

“Who was it?” Emma asked before she could stop herself.

Regina quirked an eyebrow. “You jealous?”

“Uhm, yeah, insanely,” Emma said plainly.

Regina snickered.

“So? Who was it?” Emma asked again. Seriously, she needed to know who it was that Regina had sex in an elevator with!

“Her name was Alba,” Regina said with another shrug.

“Girlfriend?” Emma prodded.

“No.” Regina made a face. “One night stand. Jesus, how did we end up talking about this?”

“Hey, I’m not judging you,” Emma said immediately, knowing that it was a sore spot with Regina. “There’s nothing wrong with having a one night stand.”

“I know,” Regina said, but she was still wincing ever so slightly. The hand that wasn’t holding the crutch went to her bump. “I just….”

“Nope,” Emma interrupted firmly. Snatched Regina’s hand and kissed it. “You were in a good mood, remember? One night stands are absolutely fine no matter what old fashioned people might or might not say, okay?”

“Okay,” Regina echoed and glanced down at her belly. “Well, my escapade did do something good.”

“Exactly,” Emma chuckled and sang: “’always look at the bright side of life…’”

“Mercy!” Regina grimaced. “Please!”

Emma laughed and waggled an eyebrow. “You know, I wouldn’t mind if you say that in a different setting, babe…”

“’Babe’?” Regina pursed her lips. “You’ve never called me that before.”

“No, I suppose I haven’t. But if you don’t like it, I have plenty of others. Honey pie.”

“Dios.”

“Love bug.”

“Emma.”

“Snuggle-cuddle-wuddle.”

“!Ay, stop it!” Regina pleaded and laughed. “Babe is fine.”

“Great. Babe.”

Regina flashed her a smile. Then glanced at the elevator. “You know, for a luxury hotel, this elevator is…. Pretty slow.”

“I know,” Emma chuckled.

Just then, the elevator stopped at the right floor and the doors slid open once more.

Emma and Regina stepped out. Well, Regina hobbled. But she was doing it in a very graceful manner and sounded incredibly regal when she rejected Emma’s offer about helping her.

“As you can see, my crutches and I are very happy together,” she joked.

“Yeah, you seem pretty attached to them.” Emma took the joke one step further. “Would you like to be alone with them?”

“Well….” Was it possible to purr and drawl at the same time? If so, that was exactly what Regina was doing right now. Lowering her voice, she continued: “actually, I’d rather be alone with you, mi amor.”

“In a moment you can have all the alone time you want,” Emma assured her and glanced down at the key card they had been given. “606, 606….”

“It’s here!” Regina stopped so abruptly Emma almost walked right into her. She earned herself a raised eyebrow and was quick to apologize.

Regina was right, though. The door with the correct number was indeed right in front of them.

“Well then, by all means let’s check it out,” Emma said briskly as she slid the key card through the crack. The door beeped and then clicked. Emma pushed it open with an exaggerated: “after you, Milady.”

“Thank you, querida,” Regina said huskily, and just like that, the thirty five year old woman was back.

Emma quite often thought about how incredibly hot Regina would be at thirty five. Well, obviously, she already was, duhh, but her femme fatale…ness would be even more pronounced at thirty five, Emma was sure about that.

“!Dios!”

Emma hastily followed Regina inside the room, eager to find out what that exclamation meant. She soon found out. The room was absolutely incredible. They had seen pictures of it online, but it was even better in real life. An incredibly large expensive looking
leather couch Emma almost was afraid to sit on because she had gotten it into her head that she somehow would mess it up in some kind of way. A surprisingly big mini-fridge, which Emma suspected was loaded with snacks and delicious treats. Thick carpets on the floor, exquisite lamps.

And of course the bed. The freaking huge bed standing right there in the center of the room. The freaking huge canopy bed that looked…

“Big enough for three,” Regina joked and laughed as she rubbed her belly.

“Yeah, I… God, what a place!” Emma let out a long whistle.

“Mmm. Remind you of anything, querida?”

“Oh yeah!” Emma smirked at her girlfriend and was immediately taken right back to her solo-honeymoon and the incredibly sexy flamenco dancer who had seduced the shit out of her.

“So,” Regina said. Nothing else. But that one little word was laced with deeper meaning. And seduction.

“So,” Emma echoed and walked over to her. She gently grabbed Regina’s elbows. Half supporting her, half caressing her. “I’m sure that the bathroom is absolutely huge and awesome,” she began. “And I am sure that we should unpack our clothes, so it doesn’t
get wrinkled.”

Regina’s face fell. “Sí. You’re right.”

Emma’s intention had been to keep the façade going for a little while longer, but Regina looked so utterly disappointed she couldn’t bear it. “But,” she continued, putting as much emphasis on the word as possible. “What do you say we skip the grand tour and unpacking and test the bed instead?”

Regina’s face split into a huge grin. “Sí!”

Emma smiled softly at her. “Come here, you.” With that, she slid her hands from Regina’s elbows and up over the back of her arms, her shoulders. When she reached her hair, she gently loosened the hair tie holding Regina’s hair in a braid. She weaved her
fingers through Regina’s hair until it was hanging in soft waves around her face. She slid her hands up to the back of Regina’s head, spread her fingers wide so she could bury them in Regina’s soft tresses and then she gently pulled her as close as the bump allowed. Once again, she kissed her like she had in the elevator. With vigor and unbridled eagerness. Emma heard a loud clang and realized that Regina had just dropped one of her crutches on the floor. Her free arm winded around Emma’s neck. Emma smiled into the kiss. Couldn’t help it. Finally they could kiss each other properly. And for as long as they wanted to.

Regina’s hand slid from the back of her neck and to her front. She tugged and pulled at Emma’s red leather jacket and made a little noise of triumph when she managed to yank it off and the jacket fell to the floor. Then she began working the buttons on Emma’s tanktop. She was eager. Emma was delighted. But she was also very aware that this position probably wasn’t the most comfortable for Regina. Balancing on one leg. They couldn’t have that. In one swift motion, and without breaking the kiss, Emma lifted Regina up bridal style.

Regina gasped and broke the kiss.

“Okay?” Emma checked. “Does your leg hurt?”

“No,” Regina snickered. “You just surprised me. I must be heavy.”

“Are you kidding me,” Emma laughed as she carried Regina over to the bed. “You’re as light as a feather, honey.” She gently sat Regina down on the edge of the bed.

Regina didn’t look entirely convinced, but her doubtful expression was soon replaced with one of lust. Her eyes twinkled as she began to unbutton her blouse.

Emma batted her hands away. “Yeah, you know what, I got it.” She easily twisted the buttons through the holes and her mouth nearly watered when she was greeted by the sight of a red lace bra cradling a pair of generous breasts. Regina’s breasts had always
been nice, but you had to be blind not to notice that they had grown significantly. Jesus, Emma couldn’t wait to touch them. And kiss them.

“You wore red lace the first time we slept together,” Emma remembered as she slipped the blouse down Regina’s shoulders.

“Sí. I miss that bra.”

“It was a great bra,” Emma agreed, giving the blouse a little tug so it slipped off Regina’s body. She dumped it on the floor. “But you know what? This bra is pretty great too.”

Regina chuckled slightly at that. She reached up and resumed the unbuttoning of Emma’s tanktop. It didn’t take long before she successfully had unbuttoned the three little buttons and could push the tanktop up over Emma’s middle.

Emma helped her along so she shouldn’t have to strain. Soon her tanktop joined Regina’s blouse on the carpet, and Regina let out a soft little groan. Her gazed roamed over Emma’s bared stomach and simple black bra.

“Eres la cosa más hermosa que he visto en mi vida,” Regina said simply and leaned forward so she could plant a soft little kiss right above Emma’s belly button.

Although not completely understanding what Regina had just said, Emma shivered from head to toe. Regina speaking Spanish always got her going in a very particular way. She was about to say something. Either ask Regina for a translation, or say something equally sweet in return. But before she could, Regina reached for her again. Unbuttoned the top button in her jeans, unzipped them and then tugged to send the pants down Emma’s legs. She was definitely impatient. But her impatience paid off. Now the jeans were pooling around Emma’s ankles, and she stepped out of them. As graceful as she possibly could. Which wasn’t very graceful at all, but the hell with it. She was impatient too.

Regina licked her lips. “I like those panties.” She lightly traced the waistband of said black panties, and Emma shivered. They were by no means fancy panties, but that wasn’t what mattered the most right now.

“I like them a lot,” Regina continued, still tracing the waistband of Emma’s underwear. “But do you know when I like them the most?”

“No,” Emma groaned and tried not to stutter.

Regina bared her teeth in a she-devil grin. “When they’re on the floor, querida.”

Emma shook her head. She was somewhere between laughter and arousal. “I think you’re the only one on the planet who can make a cheesy line sound sexy, beautiful girl.”

“Not impressed?” Regina asked and shook her head in mock-sadness. “Too bad. But good thing I have other ways to impress you.” Without further ado, she reached back and slipped her bra off.

Her breasts sprang free, and Emma blinked. Several times. “O…kay.” She managed. “Okay. Jesus.” She stared unabashedly at Regina’s full breasts. Her nipples were hard points which confirmed the suspicion Emma had had when they were making out in the
elevator. She had been sure she had felt Regina’s nipples through the silk shirt.

“No,” Regina chuckled, reminding Emma of what she had just exclaimed a moment ago. “Just me.” She looked down. Had an almost intrigued look on her face. “They have never been so big before.”

Emma smirked. “Can’t wait to check it myself, babe.”

Regina’s breath elevated at that. Emma could see it. Could see how her breasts rose and fell with each breath she took. It was very distracting.

Regina gestured with her hands in the air and Emma easily understood what she meant. She knelt slightly so Regina could unclasp her bra and dump it on the floor.

“Maravillosa,” Regina husked. “Absolutamente maravillosa.” She ran her soft hand up and down Emma’s bare stomach, causing her to shiver once more. No, her breasts weren’t as big as Regina’s, but it didn’t matter. Regina liked them. A lot. That was the most important thing.

And speaking of important things….

“You need to get naked,” Emma said simply.

“Sí,” Regina said with a slight chuckle. She reached for the button in her jeans. Twisted it through the hole. Then unzipped the pants and leaned back so she could wiggle them down over her bottom. A tiny wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows as she struggled.

Struggling was not on the program today. “Allow me,” Emma said, voice both seductive and gallant. “Lean back.”

Regina chuckled again and shifted to lean back, but was stopped by Emma who suddenly remembered something.

“One second,” she said, quickly grabbing a little pillow behind Regina. The entire bed was full of decorative little pillows. Which was pretty lucky. She placed the pillow between Regina and the bed so when she lied down, she wouldn’t lie flat and thereby putting
pressure on her back.

“Gracias,” Regina said. The wrinkle between her eyebrows was still visible as she glanced down at her jeans. “I don’t know how the fuck you’ll manage to…” she shook her head. “I should have worn a skirt instead. Would have been easier.”

“You know me,” Emma said, skimming a hand over Regina’s jeans-clad thigh. “I’m always up for a challenge.”

Regina groaned. But whether it was because of Emma’s words, or the touch remained unclear.

“Let’s see what we can do here,” Emma murmured, reaching for Regina’s jeans. She gave them a gentle tug and carefully slipped them down Regina’s bottom. Further down her legs. It went without a hitch, but by the time the fabric reached Regina’s injured ankle and Emma slowed the process of tugging the jeans down even more, Regina started mumbling in Spanish. Most of it incoherent, but Emma did catch some of it. Such as….

“!Joder mi pie!”

Emma who happened to know what that meant bursted out laughing and had to stop the pulling process for a second. Once her laughing had dimmed down to a chuckling, she said: “nope, not what I’m planning to joder.”

The joke was lost on Regina. “Whatever,” she groaned. “Can’t you just…. I don’t know, cut the pants or something? I think I have a pair of scissors in my bag.”

Okay, in case there had been any doubt before…. Regina was in a rush. “I don’t think ruining your pants will be necessary, honey.”

“They’re already ruined,” Regina said and wiggled her hips in a very telling matter.

“Oh.” Emma tried not to laugh because it wouldn’t be fair in this situation. She could tell that Regina was genuinely distressed and aching. “Still, I don’t think cutting your pants will be necessary. Just needs a bit of extra work.”

Regina made a sound that almost was a sob and was Emma imagining things or was her teeth chattering a bit? Damn. She had to be completely delirious with need. Time to do something about that!

Emma tugged the jeans over the cast on Regina’s ankle. She tried to be fast and careful at the same time, and her hard effort paid off when the jeans finally slipped off Regina’s legs. She threw them on the floor. Now there was just one last article of clothes left.

“No lifting,” she half-warned Regina as she hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her panties and slipped them down her legs. It went without a hitch and Emma send the panties onto the floor where the rest of the clothes were already piling.

Now Regina was gloriously naked. And trembling. Her chest was rising and falling quickly. Her inner thighs were slick. She was more than ready.

So was Emma. But there was just one last thing she needed to do. She grabbed another little pillow and placed it on the bed. Next, she very gently lifted Regina’s leg by her knee and moved it so Regina’s broken ankle was resting on the pillow. “How’s that? Any
pain?”

“N-no,” Regina said strained. She squeezed her eyes shut. Emma could see the veins in her neck as she strained.

Emma smirked slightly. The placement of Regina’s broken ankle meant that her legs were quite spread. “Shame my camera is still in the suitcase.”

Regina huffed and reached for Emma. Clumsily, but still making her intention very clear as she cupped her core.

Emma shuddered. “In a moment, babe,” she breathed, struggling to keep her cool. “You first.”

”Estas mojada,” Regina said plainly.

“Sí, I know,” Emma half-teased. “I can feel it. But I have a feeling that you’re basically dying right now, isn’t that right?”

“Maybe a little…... bit,” Regina said strained. Her eyes were still squeezed shut and the veins in her neck still visible.

Emma leaned down and kissed Regina’s lips. Her cheek. Her jaw. Her shoulder. Her chest. Her breasts. First the right, then the left. She peppered the globes with kisses before descending down and nuzzling her nose against Regina’s baby bump. She couldn’t help it.

“Oh!” Regina exclaimed.

“Activity?” Emma guessed.

“Mhmm.”

“Don’t worry,” Emma said tenderly. “Let me handle that too.” She brushed her lips over Regina’s bump again. “Hey kid,” she said softly. “Even though I can’t feel it yet- no hard feelings, by the way- I love it when you move around, but right now I’m actually trying to have some alone time with your mom, so could you maybe, I dunno, be quiet for a little while?”

Regina laughed. “You are so ridiculous sometimes!”

“Is he still moving about?”

Regina went quiet. Shifted a little. Then: “no. He actually isn’t. Huh.”

“See? I’m awesome,” Emma said smugly. “I made him respect our alone time.”

“Sí, sí, do you think you could stop bragging and… you know?”

“I’ve got you, babe,” Emma assured. She definitely knew. “Don’t worry.” With that she finally lowered a hand and brushed it over Regina’s pussy.

The response was glorious. Regina’s body jerked and she slapped a hand over her mouth. It was just about the hottest thing Emma had seen. No more straining, she decided as she brushed her fingers through Regina’s folds. “Any special requests?” she silkily asked her delightfully horny girlfriend.

“S-sí,” Regina gritted out. “Cut the foreplay. I can’t take it!”

“No foreplay you say? Okay then….” Emma drawled. Then she slipped two fingers inside Regina. Tight, velvety walls and warm greeted her. There was absolutely no resistance whatsoever. She angled her fingers just so and then she began. Slowly at first. To get
Regina used to it. Perhaps three weeks wasn’t a long time to not have sex, but with a pregnant and sensitive girlfriend, Emma wasn’t taking any chances.

Regina gasped. Her back arched. Her hands left her mouth, and she grabbed the sheets tightly instead. “Oh, fffff-“ she didn’t finish the sentence. Only encouraged: “Harder!”

“Anything for you, beautiful girl,” Emma purred as she began moving her fingers faster inside Regina. Fuck, it felt so good. This was bringing Emma as much pleasure as it did Regina.

Regina said something in Spanish. Then switched to English as she continued: “I’ve missed this SO much!” her voice was all tight and breathless.

“Mm, me, too!” Emma half-groaned. “Do you have any idea how sexy you look right now?”

Regina mumbled something incoherent.

Emma was thoroughly enjoying herself. Normally, she would be on top of Regina or have her legs hooked over her shoulder, but with Regina’s broken leg that was impossible. So instead she was sitting between Regina’s legs. Which definitely wasn’t bad either.

The view was amazing. Seeing all of Regina’s glorious body was an absolute treat. The way her breast moved with each breath she took. Emma was looking forward to getting her hands on those very, very soon. And she was looking forward to tasting Regina.

“!Joder!” Regina cussed, and Emma had to admit that she was a little surprised. Normally, it took more to get Regina to this state. But apparently not tonight. Emma began moving her fingers. By no means slowly. Regina DID say no foreplay, and Emma
suspected that covered a slow pace too. Regina didn’t look like she was in the mood for a slow pace.

Regina’s fingers opened and closed around the sheet, and she was muttering to herself. Spanish. Emma couldn’t understand half of it which she was pretty sad about, but now was not the time to ask Regina for a translation. Definitely not. She thrusted her fingers a little faster and took advantage of being able to use both her hands. She brought her other hand down and touched Regina’s clit. First gently. Then she rubbed the hard little nub in earnest and felt how the muscles in Regina’s thighs twitched. Her legs shifted slightly.

“Careful,” Emma said, immediately worrying about Regina’s broken ankle.

“FUCK being careful!” Regina almost spat.

“God,” Emma murmured. She was half impressed, half startled. Normally, it took much longer to take Regina to the cussing-hissing state, but she clearly hadn’t been kidding when she said that she was frustrated. By now she was chanting joder-joder-joder along with a string of other Spanish words Emma had no idea what meant. But at the same time, she kinda did.

Regina cried out and Emma flicked her clit harder. “That’s it, beautiful girl, keep going, I know how much you missed-“ she stopped talking when she suddenly became aware that Regina was shaking. Her thighs flexed. Her hips cantered. And her muscles clenching around her fingers. Emma’s eyes widened as she looked at Regina’s face. Her lips had fallen open in an ‘O’-shape and her eyes were still squeezed shut.

“Oh fuck,” Emma breathed, completely in awe. “You’re already COMING!”

“Can’t help it!” Regina said strained. How she was capable of talking right now was an utter mystery. “I- !Joder!”

The reason why the cuss word had replaced the rest of the sentence became evident when Emma saw Regina’s head flop back on the pillow. She felt Regina’s muscles squeeze around her fingers. Then her sticky essence dripped onto Emma’s fingers and wrist.
She looked so beautiful when she came. She always did. These were one of the moments that had Emma wondering how the hell she managed to live with the long distance.

Regina let out another little wail and then shivered from head to toe again.

Emma was fascinated. In all the time she had been with Regina she had never come this quickly. Her ego doubled its size. It was impossible not to be smug. She had barely even touched Regina.

“Sorry!” Regina managed through gritted teeth between panting breaths.

“You’re apologizing?” Emma chuckled softly smoothened her free hand over the crown tattoo on Regina’s thigh. “Why?”

“Came too fast,” Regina groaned and threw an arm over her eyes. “That was embarrassing!”

“Bullshit,” Emma said firmly. “It was insanely hot, okay?”

Regina huffed.

“Seriously, it was!” Emma said, now tapping her a fingertip lightly against Regina’s inner thigh as though that would get her point across. “You look fucking hot when you come whether it is in five seconds, five minutes or five hours-“

“Five hours?” Regina interrupted and let out a strangled laugh. “Dios, I’m not sure whether I should find that terrifying or interesting.”

“Alright, miss kinky,” Emma laughed and teasingly wiggled the fingers she still had buried deep inside Regina.

Regina gasped.

“Wanna find out if I can make you come as fast as the first time?” Emma asked cheekily.

Regina didn’t answer. She just moaned breathily.

Emma wiggled her fingers, thumping the pads against that ridged spot inside Regina. This time she didn’t start out gentle. She instead aimed for hard and fast, and she dearly hoped that this fine hotel had thick walls. Otherwise it was very possible that one or
two of the guests would complain over the noise Regina was making. She had reached that point where she was being quite loud. Emma recognized the pattern. Regina’s first orgasm was always kind of quiet. But the second one, oh, the second one! Regina’s
second orgasm was always full of steam and moaning and Spanish words Emma never quite understood. And right now, that was the only thing Emma could think of. Bringing Regina pleasure once again. Making her speak rapid Spanish and moan. To hell with the other guests.

Regina’s second orgasm was indeed glorious. And fast. Not quite as fast as the first one, but still fast. Fast enough for Emma’s ego to grow another few sizes. Fast enough for Regina to mutter something about her lack of stamina. Talk that Emma immediately shushed away with a soft kiss.

“Any ouch?” she asked when she saw Regina shift slightly. “Is your ankle okay?”

“Sí. My ankle is fine.”

“Awesome. What about the belly then?” Emma vividly remembered the Braxton Hicks Regina had suffered.

“Belly’s fine too,” Regina assured and rolled her hips slightly. “Your fingers are still…”

“I know,” Emma snickered. “I figured you could handle one more.”

Regina didn’t deny that. But she still gave Emma a doubtful look. “What about you?”

“I’m okay for a little longer,” Emma assured, moving her fingers slowly while considering her ‘options’.

Regina blew out a long breath. “I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to return the favor. Physically, I mean.”

“Don’t worry,” Emma said and smirked at her rather breathless girlfriend. “I’m sure we can work something out.”

Regina laughed hoarsely. “Sí. We’ve always been…. Rather good at working things out.”

“Indeed.” Emma withdrew her fingers and couldn’t help smiling at the look of sheer disbelief Regina was giving her. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said and gave her inner thigh a soft caress. “I figured I just wanted to… do something else.” She licked her lips in a very telling matter. “Lie back and think of New York,” she smirked at her girlfriend. She didn’t waste time. Just bowed her head and licked slowly between Regina’s thighs. Her taste exploded on Emma’s tongue, and she groaned lowly, grabbing onto Regina’s thighs and wondering how the hell she had gone three weeks without this.

Regina cried out. Loudly. She had clearly forgotten about the other guests too. And if Emma had her way, Regina would forget about them for the rest of the night. She was on a mission. A mission to welcome Regina to New York in a proper manner, and judging by the cries of pleasure Regina was letting out, she was doing a very good job.

 

To Be Continued…………..

Chapter Text

Drifting back into consciousness the following morning was the most pleasurable experience ever because Emma was awakened by a pair of soft and extremely familiar lips pecking her chest again and again. And again.

“Mmm, hello, you,” Emma drawled as she slowly opened her eyes. The world blurred for a moment, but after having blinked, everything, including Regina who was kissing her chest and tickling her skin with her hair, became laser sharp.

“Buenos días, amor,” she mumbled against Emma’s chest. Gave one more kiss and then shifted her attention lower.

Emma shuddered. God, what a way to be woken up!

“You don’t mind this do you?” Regina asked. Her lips were hovering inches from Emma’s right nipple.

“Pff, no!” Emma said, half-laughing, half-moaning. “I have never minded something less than this!”

“Maravillosa,” Regina kissed her nipple softly. “You see…” another kiss. “I had a dream about-“ another kiss. “Waking you up just like….” She flicked Emma’s nipple with her tongue. “This.”

“Well, thank fuck for your dreams!” Emma said earnestly and laughed to herself. Was she seriously about to be woken up with morning sex? Man, she was one lucky bastard! And Regina was….

“You are unbelievable,” Emma moaned, back already arching and pushing her breast further against Regina’s lovely mouth.

“But I haven’t done anything,” Regina pointed out and let out a laugh that was positively wicked. “Yet.” She stopped talking and closed her mouth around Emma’s nipple and sucked gently. Where last night had been all about blowing off steam as fast as possible, this morning was apparently more focused on a slow, gentle pace. Emma loved that. She loved it quick and hard too. Loved when Regina was vocal and almost ferocious in bed like she had been last night. But this slow pace which felt more like lovemaking than sex was amazing too. Either way, Regina was amazing. Whether things happened fast or slow. She tended to gravitate towards slow and tender in the morning, Emma had discovered that long ago.

“You have a hickey, querida,” Regina murmured and interrupted Emma’s thoughts. Her mouth was still on her breast. “Right…. Here.” She touched a spot low on Emma’s ribcage.

Emma laughed strangled. “Guess it won’t be today I’m wearing a dress where the neckline comes all the way down to my belly button. “What a shame.”

“What a shame indeed,” Regina agreed. “I would like to see that dress.”

Emma chuckled. She didn’t actually own a dress with a neckline so deep. But Regina’s reaction rather made her want to invest in one. Soon.

Regina resumed swirling her tongue over Emma’s nipple while gently kneading her other breast.

Emma moaned softly. Felt how her toes curl and something in her abdomen twitched. Of course she was getting aroused. It didn’t take much. And especially not after a night of passion. She was always putty in Regina’s hands (or mouth) the following morning.

“Me encantan tus tetas.”

Emma laughed. “Thanks, babe. I love your boobs too.”

Regina snickered. “Even when they’re all big and weird?”

“Pff. Big and weird,” Emma huffed. “Big yes, weird, no.” oh no, there was absolutely nothing weird about Regina’s boobs. Nothing whatsoever.

Regina kissed her nipple again. Swirled her tongue in an agonizingly slow pace. Just like last night. She had been endlessly fascinated with Emma’s breasts last night, and that clearly continued this morning. Emma definitely didn’t mind. The only thing she minded was whether Regina was okay. Her body nearly trembled as she forced her head to lift off the pillow so she could see Regina.

As it just so happened, Regina lifted her head at the exact same time. Most likely to switch side. She smiled when they made eye contact. “Hola,” she chuckled. “What’s wrong? Am I doing that bad of a job at keeping you entertained?”

“No,” Emma huffed, then laughed at the absurdity in that. “Of course not. I just wanted to see how you were doing, that’s all.”

Now Regina was the one to huff. “Well, if you’re worrying about my wellbeing, I AM doing a terrible job at keeping you entertained.”

“You are not-“

“Time to change that,” Regina interrupted and lightly pressed against Emma’s shoulder. “Lie back, preciosa.”

A big shit-eating grin spread on Emma’s face as she willingly lied her head back down. Preciosa. Regina only ever called her that in bed. She gasped when she felt Regina’s hot mouth close around her nipple again. She was no longer swirling her tongue softly, but sucking firmly, and Emma was immediately sent straight to paradise on a one-way ticket. No luggage. And definitely no thinking about anything whatsoever. Hell, she couldn’t even remember her own name. The only thing existing was Regina. And the wonderful things her mouth was currently doing. Once Emma was squirming and moaning, she released Emma’s nipple and lifted her head. But only briefly. It didn’t take long before Emma felt Regina’s mouth close around her other nipple. Emma groaned and arched her back. Strained and tried to push her breast further into Regina’s mouth. God, this was absolute heaven! Could all their trips be like this, please? She bit her lip and took a shallow breath. Regina’s hair was tickling her skin and making her squirm. But she wasn’t laughing. There was nothing to laugh about. Definitely not.

When Emma was certain that A: she couldn’t take anymore. And B: she would be coming from this, Regina lifted her head and looked up at her. Her eyes had gone very wide and very dark. Her cheeks were slightly flushed. She looked like a femme fatale from one of those old noir-movies Emma’s mother so favored.

Now she grinned at Emma. “And how is your well-being, preciosa?”

Emma laughed strangled at the joke. “Pretty fucking good. I have no idea where I am and who I am, but I’m happy about it.”

Regina smirked wickedly. “Good. That’s good.” She lightly ran her fingertips down Emma’s chest and stomach. The grin faded for a moment. “Shame I can’t go down on you.”

Emma mustered enough brain capacity to reach up and stroke Regina’s hair. “Don’t worry about it.” They had established the impossibility of that last night. There were certain things Regina’s broken ankle prevented her from doing. Certain angles had become impossible. Regina had mourned that. A lot. And then she had cursed. A lot. In Spanish. Which had been very distracting.

“Well,” Regina said, grin back on her face. “At least it isn’t my fingers that are broken.” As she spoke, she slowly ran her fingers down Emma’s chest and stomach again. This time she did not stop but continued down Emma’s abdomen.

Emma squirmed when Regina’s nimble fingers reached her center. She was wet and had been for a while.

“That feels nice,” Regina grinned as she slowly teased her fingers through Emma’s folds. Slowly, so slowly. Down towards Emma’s opening and up towards her clit.

“You smug little-“ the rest of the sentence drowned in a moan when Regina rather suddenly started rubbing her folds and spreading her wetness.

“I’m sorry, what?” Regina teased. “How was that sentence going to end, preciosa? Smug little…?”

“Fuck!” Emma moaned at a particular talented rub.

“’Smug little fuck’?” Regina repeated and laughed. “Well. Not quite what I had hoped for. But I suppose I’ve been called worse.” She rubbed harder and faster.

“I think I might be- god!- dying!” Emma groaned and squirmed on the bed. Her hips wiggled. Her feet were now firmly planted on the mattress and her knees kept swaying and moving.

“Careful,” Regina laughed and planted a kiss on Emma’s knee. “Don’t give me another concussion, preciosa.”

“S-sorry,” Emma gritted out. “But could you just please…?”

“What?” Regina asked innocently. Her thumb flicked Emma’s clit once. “This?”

Emma cried out and squeezed her eyes shut.

“Or maybe…. This?” the pressure on Emma’s clit disappeared and she felt two of Regina’s fingers being pushed inside her. That had her crying out again.

“Oh, I know!” Regina’s laughter was full of mischief and promises. “Ambas.” The pressure on Emma’s clit was back and the double stimulation had Emma feeling like she was dying a little bit again. At least that was what she ended up moaning to Regina.

“’La petit mort,’” Regina teased as she touched Emma deep and slow with two fingers and rubbed her clit gently with one.

“Fuck! You’re so good at that!” Emma moaned.

“I like practicing on you, mi amor.” She was still teasing. Still stroking and rubbing and now also nuzzling her nose against Emma’s bare chest.

Emma felt Regina wiggle slightly. Then she was kissing Emma’s breast gently. She twisted her fingers slightly, so they were rubbing more firmly against Emma’s g-spot. She was making a point of going slow and deliberate. She was taking her time.

Emma felt absolutely pampered. She moaned and rolled her hips to meet Regina’s gentle thrusts. “Oh, god!”

“No-no, solo yo,” Regina gently teased. Solo yo y mis dedos.” As she spoke, she rubbed Emma’s clit a little firmer.

And however absurd it was, Emma actually ended up laughing at the remark. Laughed and involuntarily jerked her knees when she felt Regina’s fingers brush against her g-spot again. Something was fluttering in her belly. She was getting closer still.

“Te gusta este,” Regina said. It was not a question.

“Yess,” Emma hissed. Threw her head back and moaned deeply. At Regina’s Spanish and at the SOUND it made every time Regina’s fingers moved inside her. She still felt like she was dying a little bit.

“Te gusta cuando te follo, ¿no?” Regina rasped, and Emma cried out. There was nothing sexier than Regina speaking Spanish when they were in bed.

Regina kissed the top of her chest. Whispered in her ear. Naughty, sexy words in Spanish Emma both did and didn’t understand. She was almost wailing now. Completely forgetting where they were and how to be quiet. She didn’t give a shit. Was chasing her climax up, up, up. Could feel the tightness between her legs, the fluttering in her stomach and the growing tension in every single muscle. Her breath came out as little puffs of air. She was sweating. Her clit was throbbing. Bordering on painful. The tingles evolved into a sensation that almost was too much to bear. She cried out again. Then felt her pussy clench around Regina’s two fingers.

Then the metaphorical rollercoaster was taking her up. For a moment she hovered right on the precipice. Her head snapped up. Her hips elevated off the bed and her right knee bumped against something solid. But it did not hurt. Or if it did, at least she couldn’t feel it. She couldn’t feel anything except for the pleasure building inside of her. The precipice gradually loosened her grip on her, and then….

She was tumbling, tumbling, tumbling. Down, down, down with almost unbearable speed and a loud wail to accompany the feeling of being on a rollercoaster. The tingles exploded in her abdomen. Her thighs trembled and euphoria seeped right into her bones and made them soft and limp where they had been tensing and tight a moment ago.

With a soft little cry, Emma let her muscles unclench around Regina’s fingers. Her body slumped back against the mattress with an uninspired flop, and she let out a deep, happy: ‘aaaaaah!’ that seemed to come all the way from her belly.

“Well….” Regina’s voice said close to her ear. “If my fingers weren’t broken before….”

Emma laughed strangled. She couldn’t really concentrate.

“And apparently I was wrong,” Regina continued. Now she was the one to laugh. “You are trying to give me another concussion.”

THAT had Emma opening her eyes and focusing. “Did I knee you in the face?!”

“Sí,” Regina laughed.

“Oh god!” Emma said horrifying. “I’m so sorry, honey!”

“It’s fine,” Regina chucklingly assured. “It was just a little love tap. Nothing more.” She gently withdrew her fingers from within Emma.

“I’m really sorry,” Emma said, weakly lifting her arms and trying her best to motion. “C’mere…”

Regina snickered softly as she came to lie on her side next to Emma.

Emma too rolled onto her side and angled her body so she could spoon Regina. She let her hands wander to Regina’s front and gently rested them on her round belly.

Regina sighed. “That was really fun.”

“For me,” Emma pointed out.

“For both of us,” Regina immediately corrected.

“Need me to do any reciprocating?” Emma offered.

“Hmm, yes, that would be lovely. But your hands are in the wrong place.”

“So they are,” Emma laughed, agreeing with her girlfriend. She was about to slide her hands lower, but then she felt how Regina’s belly suddenly went tight.

“Aquí vamos de nuevo,” Regina said. ”Don’t worry, preciosa. It’ll disappear soon.”

She was right. It couldn’t have taken much more than thirty seconds before Regina’s belly went back to its normal state.

“Another bogus-contraction?” Emma asked. Just to check.

“Bogus-contraction,” Regina repeated and snickered. “Querida, I swear you’ll make me laugh my way through labor!”

“But was it?” Emma pressed. “Another false one?”

“Sí. It was.”

“Was that the first one today?”

“No, doctor Swan,” Regina teased. “It was not. I had one a moment ago when I was… busy.”

“I see. Did it hurt?”

“No.”

“Did this one hurt?”

“No. Everything just goes sort of… tight. It’s difficult to explain.”

“So you’re okay?”

“Sí, mi amor preocupado. I’m absolutely fine.”

“Good. That’s good. I’m just checking.”

“I know. And I love you for it. But if you could get your hands off my belly and move them a bit further down, you’ll discover that I’m struggling elsewhere.”

“Well, we can’t have that!” Emma said with faux-firmness as she moved her hand down and cupped Regina’s center. “There’s to be no straining anywhere.”

Regina sighed deeply and gripped the back of Emma’s neck with one hand. “I might… Be as quick as I was last night.”

“That’s completely fine,” Emma gently assured. “You know I don’t mind that at all. It was really sexy.”

“It was not,” Regina muttered.

“VERY sexy,” Emma said and planted a kiss on the side of Regina’s neck. “I promise.” She kissed Regina’s neck again and earned herself another soft sigh. Then she slipped two fingers inside Regina and was welcome with a tremor going through Regina’s body and a Spanish vulgarity. Something about a specific body part of Regina’s and exactly what she needed Emma to do to it.

“I can do that,” Emma assured and felt smug all over again. “I can DEFINITELY do that.”

And when she did so, Regina cried out in a way that had Emma wondering if they would be kicked out of the hotel. But she only wondered for a moment. The next second she had forgotten all about it. Why should she care about a triviality like that when Regina was letting out the most delicious sounds one could possibly imagine. Literally nothing except that mattered. She kissed the side of Regina’s neck. Her shoulder. Anywhere she could reach from her current position.

Regina hadn’t lied. It did not take long before she came as beautifully as last night…

 

 

 

It took a while, but at last they managed to get out of bed. Emma helped Regina shower. It happened exactly like it had in Spain. Regina sitting on the shower floor with her broken ankle wrapped in plastic and Emma spraying her with water.

Once they both were clean and dressed in casual clothing (they weren’t meeting with Mrs. Adamson until tonight), they headed downstairs to the restaurant where a huge breakfast buffet was waiting for them. Regina’s eyes started shining when she laid eyes on the buffet, and Emma found that to be positively adorable.

“American breakfast, babe?” she asked with a chuckle.

“!Sí!” Regina exclaimed. “I am positively starving!”

“Well, why don’t you go and find us a table?” Emma suggested. “Then I’ll grab us some breakfast, yeah?” she could see the issues with Regina on crutches trying to get breakfast with one hand and navigating the crutches with the other and then suddenly falling over. She worried about that happening. Which was why she had offered to get breakfast for them both. In hindsight, this was definitely coddling, and Regina had had some issues with that, but it was too late to take it back now.

Regina didn’t seem to mind it today, though. She just nodded. Said ‘okay’. Kissed Emma’s cheek and then hobbled along to find an empty table for them. Perhaps she hadn’t seen it as coddling. Or perhaps she was too fatigued to argue about it.

Emma snickered to herself as she went over to the buffet and grabbed a large plate. She would naturally start with finding food for Regina. She was the one who needed it the most. She had said yes to an American breakfast, so an American breakfast was what she would get. And not just that. She would be getting a full American breakfast.

Emma quickly began the hunt. Started out with bacon, naturally. Nice, crispy bacon. That had been the craving of the week last week, and she chose to believe that it was this week too. After bacon came scrambled eggs, of course. One simply couldn’t have bacon without scrambled eggs. Or fried tomatoes. Emma loaded some of those onto Regina’s plate too. Fried sausages were important too. And the nice, crispy, choppy, golden pancakes Emma passed along the way. There was hash browns too. And muffins.

Emma grabbed two of each. She had just decided that this was enough food when she passed a plate full of deliciously smelling French toast. She simply couldn’t resist that. Regina LOVED French toast. And Emma wasn’t one to deny her pregnant girlfriend anything. French toast was loaded onto Regina’s plate as well. Then she grabbed a little bowl of fruit and decided that now she really was done finding food for Regina. The food didn’t really match each other, but she was sure Regina wouldn’t mind that. As long as she got something to eat. Sometimes she could get a little cranky in the morning if she didn’t get food immediately. Definitely a side effect from being pregnant. Apparently, Regina once had the unfortunate habit of skipping breakfast. Well. She definitely wasn’t doing that anymore.

Emma elegantly balanced the plate full of food as she walked away from the buffet. It didn’t take long before she spotted Regina. She was sitting at a table not too far from the buffet.

But Emma quickly spotted something else too. The guy talking to Regina. Emma squinted. The guy was tall and blonde and clearly very interested in conversing with Regina. His body was turned towards her, and he looked her in the eyes every time she spoke.

Emma understood why the guy had taken an interest. Regina looked so beautiful and mysterious as she sat there all by herself. But just because she understood the fella, didn’t mean that she condoned it. Definitely not! Regina was NOT available, and Emma was going to tell him that! Right now.

She squared her shoulders and began marching towards the table, but Regina turned her head and made eye contact with her. Discreetly lifted a hand to stall her.

Emma stopped but was thoroughly confused. Why on earth did Regina want to keep talking to this man?

Regina grabbed her crutches and slowly came to stand. Up until now, most of her had been hidden by the table she was sitting at, but now she gave the guy a full view of her six months pregnant belly.

Honest to god, it was the most entertaining thing Emma had ever seen. The guy’s face, first vibrant with interest, now turned completely ashen. He muttered something. His voice was so low Emma couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but she was willing to bet everything she owned that it was an apology of sorts. Especially because the guy first backed away, then fully turning around and hastily walking away as though Regina had been hiding something far more dangerous than a baby-bump over her dress.

Emma laughed so loudly, a couple of the dining guests turned their heads and looked at her. She didn’t care. Just kept laughing as she walked over to Regina.

“Where are you going? Come back,” Regina proclaimed with faux sadness as she looked at the door the guy had just disappeared through. “I thought we were getting to know each other!”

“Har, har, har,” Emma said, giving her shoulder a squeeze and her temple a kiss.

“I guess he couldn’t handle all of me,” Regina said, batting her big brown eyes like an actress from a silent-movie.

“Apparently not,” Emma laughed as she sat the plate of food down in front of Regina and then helped her sit down. “Great act, though.”

“’Watch me make a man disappear’,” Regina said, going along on the joke.

Emma snickered. “What did he want, though?”

“Nothing much. Just my name, how long I was in New York for and then he casually mentioned that he’s staying in room 502.”

Emma’s eyebrows rose towards her hairline. “He gave you his room number?”

“He sure did. Bold move.”

“Very,” Emma agreed and grimaced.

“Good thing I have my little flirt-repellant with me,” Regina quipped and gave her belly a fond rub. “El pequeño repelente de coqueteo de mamá….”

Emma smiled and silently melted on the inside. There was just something about hearing Regina call herself ‘mamá’. God, someday a tiny little person would actually call Regina just that. Mamá. And Emma too. The thought of that….

“¿Voy a tener trillizos?”

“Huh?” Emma blinked, quickly pulled out of her thoughts.

“I said… Am I having triplets?” Regina slowly said in English and looked at Emma.

“Uhh…” Emma scratched the back of her neck. “Nope. Not to my notice, anyway.”

“Then why am I eating for three?” Regina half-chuckled and nodded towards the plate loaded with food standing in front of her.

“Oh, I…...uhmm. I figured that you were hungry?”

“I am,” Regina calmly agreed and speared a piece of bacon on her fork. “Definitely hungry, but….”

“But what?”

“Am I really THAT bad?” a tiny little wrinkle appeared between Regina’s pretty, dark eyes. “Do I really eat that much?”

“No,” Emma said quickly. “I just… Everything looked so delicious, and I couldn’t choose what to get you so instead I got-“

“Todo ello,” Regina finished the sentence.

“Yeah. All of it.”

Regina clicked her tongue. Then laughed a little. “I’m planning to wear a pencil skirt for the meeting with Mrs. Adamson, and if I can’t fit into that, there’ll be hell to pay, señorita Swan.”

“I promise I will take full responsibility,” Emma said mock solemnly. “Now please eat something!”

Regina did just that. And for each piece of bacon she consumed, the more euphoric she looked. Had this been anywhere but a restaurant, Emma definitely would have teased her and said that the pleased look on her face reminded her of something else. But for now she chose to be good. Chose to be happy that Regina was enjoying her food. Their New York adventure was off to a very, very good start indeed, and the baby clearly agreed. Regina smiled when she informed Emma that it was kicking….

 

They played tourists in New York after breakfast. By some miracle, Regina accepted that she was in no condition to walk around and when the hotel kindly offered a wheelchair to their disposal, she did not refuse.

Emma was happy with that arrangement. Seeing Regina hobble around on one leg and crutches was practically giving her an ulcer. And she also worried that it was painful for Regina in the long run. Wheeling Regina around in New York was not a problem at all.

It was quite fun. Even though Regina had ordered her not to ‘play race’ anymore.

“Spoilsport,” Emma said with feigned sadness in her voice. “Where do you wanna go next?”

“Hmm,” Regina glanced around. Then pointed lightly towards a store a bit further down the street. “How about in there?”

Emma grinned from ear to ear. It was a store specializing in baby clothing. “Yes, ma’am,” she said briskly as she began steering the wheelchair in that direction.

“Don’t call me that,” Regina half-growled. “You make me sound like some sort of… frump.”

“You are definitely not a frump,” Emma assured. “How about ‘Your Majesty’, then? Can I call you that instead?”

“No seas tonta.”

Emma grinned, knowing that her comment had hit the spot so to speak.

Onwards they rolled. Right into the store selling baby clothes and equipment. Emma’s jaw nearly hit the floor as she looked around. It wasn’t just a tiny, cutesy little store with a few pretty things on display. Oh no, this was a three-storied larger-than-life store packed with baby clothes. Strollers. Prams. Cribs. Blankets. Car seats. And diapers. Packs and packs of diapers. It was easy to get overwhelmed.

“Dios mio,” Emma said plainly and slowly spun the wheelchair around so Regina could see everything there was to see downstairs.

“We don’t have to see all three departments,” Regina said hastily.

“Oh yes we do,” Emma laughed. “If there’s an elevator, we’re definitely going up there!”

“I can’t decide whether to be frightened or excited,” Regina muttered, shaking her head slightly. “What on earth is that?” she pointed to a rather strange looking device.

Emma had no idea about that, so she wheeled Regina over there to take a closer look at the thing. She picked it up and studied every inch of it.

“It looks like some advanced instrument you’d use in a horror movie,” Regina commented. “Why is it vibrating?”

“It’s- ooooh,” the exclamation came from Emma as it dawned on her. “It’s an electronic breast pump!”

“Oh.” Regina wrinkled her nose. “Interesting. Can I see?”

“Sure,” Emma handed her the breast pump in question.

“It looks weird, but am I actually going to need this?” Regina wondered aloud. “I could, right? I mean if we’re going out or something…”

She sounded a bit overwhelmed, so Emma took the breast pump from her and sat it back on the shelf. “How about we skip the pumps for now and only focus on finding cute clothes?” she suggested.

“Querida, I’m six months pregnant,” Regina said. “At some point I have to find out what I need.”

“Sure,” Emma agreed. “But maybe not right now. It would look a bit weird in the suitcase, right?”

“Right,” Regina chuckled then. “Good point.”

“Clothes?” Emma asked.

“Clothes,” Regina confirmed, immediately sounding more excited.

And the clothes truly was something to be excited about. Racks and racks of itty bitte pants, onesies, cardigans and dresses. Teeny tiny shoes that had Emma fawning. Hair bows and bonnets and hairclips.

Regina let out a flood Spanish words as she held up an itty bitty yellow cardigan with little bumblebees printed all over.

“We need that,” Emma said plainly.

”Absolutamente. I had no idea how small baby clothes is.”

“I know. It’s adorable,” Emma said and felt how she turned to absolute goo. That tiny little cardigan was undoubtedly the cutest thing she had ever seen in her life.

“You know what’s good about baby clothes?” Regina asked as she held onto the cardigan.

“No. What?”

“It doesn’t take up any room in my suitcase.”

Emma grinned and stopped the wheeling for a moment so she could kiss the top of Regina’s head. “That is very true, beautiful girl. How very clever you are.”

“Thank you. I try my best.” Regina chuckled but then grew serious again. “This is the first piece of baby clothing we’re buying. Do you realize that?”

“Yeah,” Emma said softly. “Pretty wild, huh?”

“In three months I’ll be someone’s mom,” Regina continued. “And so will you, querida.”

“I can’t wait,” Emma said warmly.

“Me neither.”

“Should we check out some of those tiny jeans?” Emma asked hopefully. She’d had a vision of dressing their baby in jeans.

“Sure,” Regina chuckled. “Lead the way, querida.”

Emma did just that, and soon they were both fawning over the tiny little jeans.

“I wonder if you can get tiny little boots to go with them?” Regina questioned, voice full of amusement.

“Oh my god, that would be amazing!” Emma exclaimed. “If we find a pair, we’re getting them. I don’t care what they cost!”

“I do. Moving to California, remember?” Regina said sensible.

“Spoilsport,” Emma muttered, snatching a pair of the tiny jeans and instructing Regina to hold on to them. They were definitely getting a pair of those.

They actually did find a pair of tiny little boots which were just about the cutest pair of boots Emma had seen in her life. Mainly because they were so similar to her own brown boots, she had left back in Storybrooke. They were expensive, but Emma insisted
even though Regina kept stating that it was silly and that the boots didn’t fit in the suitcase.

“Nonsense. Of course they fit,” Emma brushed her off. “You’re just protesting because you don’t want our kid to wear boots like mine.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Regina huffed. “I like your boots. I like these one too. But I still think its silly. The baby will only be able to wear them for about five minutes before growing out of them!”

“Ah, but it’ll be five great minutes, babe,” Emma said, effortlessly skating over Regina’s incredibly-sensible points. “Imagine the pictures!”

“How are you going to concentrate on photographing things you’re paid to photograph when the baby comes?” Regina joked.

“I won’t.” Emma said simply and shrugged. “I might have to buy a separate camera for baby-pictures. And maybe one for you too.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Regina said a bit strained. “I’ll be looking a mess for months afterwards!”

“That’s the worst bullshit I’ve ever heard. And that’s coming from someone who used to listen to Neal’s nonsense.”

“Urgh, don’t remind me of him, please!” Regina groaned. “Thinking about him makes me angry!”

“Well, in that case allow me to present the perfect distraction…” Emma spun the wheelchair around with a refined movement.

“What?” Regina raised an eyebrow and tilted her head. “Found something interesting?”

“Actually, yes…” Emma bent slightly at the knees and pecked Regina’s lips once.

“Oh.” Regina chuckled. “Hola.”

“Hola yourself,” Emma said warmly. Then she kissed Regina again.

 

 

The rest of that afternoon disappeared in shopping and lunch. Delicious sandwiches in a little pavement café followed by a large milkshake for Regina and a cup of coffee for Emma.

When they came back to the hotel, it was with a bag full of baby clothes. The yellow cardigan and of course the tiny little boots were amongst the things they had bought. But they had also found several cute little onesies in light colors. And of course the mandatory ‘I love NY’ onesie. That had been Regina’s idea. And naturally, Emma had been completely onboard with said idea.

Regina ended up taking a nap when they got back, and Emma took the opportunity to text her parents and friends and tell them about her New York-adventure. She had already sent several pictures. Once she had ended the call, she did a bit of work and prepared for the upcoming meeting with Mrs. Adamson tonight. Looked through her portfolio and smiled when seeing all the photos of Regina. Those were the pictures that had prompted Mrs. Adamson to reach out to her. It was all because of Regina. Emma owed Regina a lot.

When Regina woke up, they ended up watching a bit of television and not much else. Both of them seemed to be re-charging for the evening. Regina kept running her fingers through Emma’s hair which ended up sending Emma straight to dreamland for two solid hours. When she woke up again, she was completely groggy and confused and Regina laughed at her and informed Emma that she had been talking in her sleep.

“No way,” Emma groaned. “What did I say?”

“You were talking about sex.”

Emma spluttered. “You’re joking!”

“No,” Regina flashed her tongue-in-teeth smile. “I’m not. But I do wish that I had recorded it.”

“Oh god,” Emma groaned again and rubbed her eyes. “What was I saying?” she fully believed Regina. Knew that she had the tendency to talk in her sleep. And especially if she was sleeping in a new place.

“Well, you were talking a lot about me,” Regina smirked. “About what you wanted to do to me.”

“Oh.” Emma wasn’t sure whether to feel flushed or proud.

“Quizás más tarde,” Regina said casually and quirked an eyebrow at Emma. “If we’re not too tired.”

“Don’t insult me like that,” Emma huffed. Then laughed. “Maybe I’m older than you, but I’ll NEVER be too tired for THAT!”

The ‘good to know’, Regina responded with was deliciously breathless, and when she turned around to kiss Emma, Emma did not protest…

 

And just like that, it was time to get ready to go to the gallery and meet with Mrs. Adamson. It turned out that there was not hell to pay. Regina fitted perfectly into her black pencil skirt. She paired it with a Bordeaux red blouse with strings tied into a bow at the front. She brushed her hair thoroughly and put it up in a chignon with a few curls hanging down on either side of her face and brushing her cheeks when she moved her head. Her lipstick matched the color of her blouse perfectly. Her eye makeup was subtle in a way that made it look like she wasn’t wearing anything at all. And all Emma could do was stare. “Wow,” she said simply. “Look at you. You look gorgeous.”

“Stop it,” Regina gently scolded. “The waistband in my skirt comes all the way up to here-“ she pulled at the elastic with two fingers and then let it snap back against her belly with a pop. “-And my boobs feels like they’re being squished!” she brushed invisible
dust off of her blouse. Then looked at Emma and smiled. “But it’s worth it. Anything to make a good impression on your future boss.”

“You don’t need to dress up for that,” Emma said automatically as she let her gaze roam over Regina’s form. “But damn….” She trailed off as her gaze settled on Regina’s cleavage. The blouse Regina was wearing tonight was not that lowcut, but still, it was enough to make Emma think things.

“You….” Regina lifted a crutch and pretended to jab Emma in the chest with it. “Need to get ready, mi amor.”

“You’re right,” Emma acknowledged. “I do.” Reluctantly, she turned her back on the stunning vision that was her dressed up girlfriend and headed into the bathroom. Emma’s own get-up consisted of a sleeveless green dress and a pair of leggings and her black boots. It looked both casual and professional at the same time, and that was exactly what Emma wanted. She put her hair up in a ponytail. Felt that made her look more ‘serious’. She chose to keep her makeup light. Mrs. Adamson was going to see her pictures.

Not stare her in the face all night.

Once her makeup was done and she was ready, Emma took a couple of deep breaths. She was a bit nervous. Tonight was either make or break. Either Mrs. Adamson would exhibit her pictures, or she would decide that Emma was not a good fit for Art’s Delight after all. God, this night could shape their entire future. IF (and that was a big ‘if’!) Mrs. Adamson decided she wanted to exhibit Emma’s pictures, the chunk of money meant that they could move to California a lot sooner. And that was all Emma wanted. To start their future in a place of their own instead of tearful goodbyes in the airport all the time.

Emma squared her shoulders and left the bathroom.

Regina hadn’t moved much. She was still sitting on the bed. Only difference being that she now was rubbing her belly and giggling (yep, giggling!) every time doing so. “Am I missing out on something again?” Emma asked and squinted slightly.

“Mmm,” Regina looked up and now her eyes shone for an entirely different reason. “What was it you said a moment ago, querida? Damn….” She dragged out the word in a particularly sexy manner.

“Ta-dah,” Emma quipped, doing a little mock-spin. “What do you think? On a scale from one to ten?”

“Eleven,” Regina said without skipping a beat. “That’s a clear eleven, querida.”

“Why thank you,” Emma chuckled. “So. Are you ready to go? Need the bathroom?”

“No.”

“Got your snacks?”

Regina opened her purse. “Chocolate-peanut butter bar ready and available. I even have four. Two for me and two for you.”

“Aww. So thoughtful of you. Are you comfortable?”

“As comfortable as someone as big as me can get,” Regina joked, gracefully rising from the bed with help from the crutches. “Do you have your briefcase?”

“Yup,” Emma confirmed and snatched the leather bound briefcase containing all her pictures from the bed.

“Espléndidamente,” Regina said exaggerated. “In that case, let’s go out and hunt down a taxi.”

“And a wheelchair,” Emma murmured lowly.

Regina heard her perfectly. “Ruins the outfit,” she complained. “But on the other hand, so does that.” She glanced down and looked at her feet. She was wearing an elegant high heeled shoe on one foot. The other one was hidden in the colorful cast Emma had been doodling on since it was put on Regina’s ankle.

“It doesn’t ruin anything,” Emma assured. “You’re perfect.”

Regina flashed her a little smile over her shoulder. “It does. But this is your night, so I won’t complain. Now come on. Otherwise we’re going to be late, and I don’t like Mrs. Adamson will like that.” With that she walked towards the door and disappeared down the hallway.

Emma hastily locked up after them and followed her girlfriend down the hallway. She thought to herself that one had to admire Regina’s dedication. High heeled shoe and crutches. How she managed Emma had no idea of, but there she was, striding along as though she had been hopping on one high heeled shoe all her life.

Emma easily caught up with her and matched her pace with Regina’s. She had to bite her tongue not to ask Regina to slow down, or worse still, be careful. She didn’t want to be annoying. But she kept nearby just in case Regina stumbled and needed help….

 

 

Mrs. Adamson- whose first name turned out to be Patricia- was a short smiling woman with grey, coarse curls cropped in an elegant short style. She too was professionally dressed in a black suit and a cobalt blue blouse that sort of looked like the blouse
Regina was wearing. Except this one had buttons coming all the way up to her chin. That could easily have made her seem strict, but that was definitely not the case at all. She was exceptionally kind. She greeted both of them exuberantly as though they were old friends. Asked them if the hotel was good enough. Emma answered that it was perfect.

Patricia also referred to Regina as ‘the beautiful model’, expressed her sympathy about her broken ankle, congratulated her on the pregnancy and asked when she was due.

“In three months,” Regina replied and smiled slightly nervously.

“How exciting,” Patricia said, returning the smile tenfold. “You both must be very happy.”

“We are,” Emma said, putting a hand on Regina’s shoulder and squeezing gently. “Very happy.”

“Sí,” Regina confirmed, reaching back and patting Emma’s hand gently. She could probably sense that Emma was nervous too.

But Patricia was definitely not something to be scared of. She continued to be kind and forthcoming as she showed them around in the gallery. It was a huge place.

“This would be the room where we would be showing your pictures, miss Swan,” Patricia said, spreading her arms wide as she showed them another huge room.

“Wow,” Emma said, losing her professionalism for a moment as she looked around. “This place is really… wow.” Her voice echoed as to show just how large the room truly was.

“Increíble,” Regina said, perfectly summarizing how Emma felt about this place.

Patricia chuckled. “Thank you. We are very proud of our facility here. Now I think it’s time to take a look at your pictures, miss Swan. And time for a refreshment too.” Her gaze rested on Regina for a moment. “I don’t want anyone to go hungry around here.”

“I have snacks in my purse,” Regina revealed and offered a slight chuckle.

“Sensible. I did the same when I was pregnant with my daughter,” Patricia said, chuckling too. “First, I tried to be perfect and only carry carrot sticks with me, but it’s just not the same as a good chocolate bar, is it?”

“No, it is not,” Regina wholeheartedly. “I try to be healthy, but…” she shook her head. “It’s so hard.”

“My advice to you is to eat what you want when you want to,” Patricia chuckled again. “You’re allowed.”

“Yeah, you are,” Emma joined in their conversation. “More than allowed.”

Regina smiled faintly at that.

“Well, enough chit-chat. Let’s go and take a look at those pictures. Follow me.” Patricia led the way and Emma followed, wheeling Regina through the large room. They settled by a table in a more office-like room. Still huge. And very office… esque. Large desk. Fancy pictures of fancy people shaking hands. Framed newspaper articles about this gallery and other galleries opening all over New York.

Emma felt a flutter of excitement in her stomach. If she could land this deal, if Patricia actually wanted to exhibit her pictures, she would be on her way to something far bigger than just being a wedding/event photographer.

“Let’s see….” Patricia opened the briefcase containing Emma’s portfolio and started slowly flicking through it. Her face revealed nothing, and Emma was almost holding her breath.

Regina gave her hand a little squeeze, and Emma noted that her hand was completely dry and not clammy like Emma was. Actually, Emma’s hand was very clammy. Eww. That was gross. Not something she wanted to expose poor Regina to.

But when she tried to withdraw her hand, Regina only held on tighter and rewarded Emma with a ‘how dare you try and not hold my hand’-look.

Emma abandoned ship and kept holding Regina’s hand. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman whose partner tried to let go of their hand. Or something.

“How do you feel about fairytales, miss Swan?”

Emma forcefully bit the ‘huh’ back before it could slip out of her. Putting on her professional façade she carefully asked: “fairytales?”

“Yes,” Patricia smiled as she gently closed the briefcase. “I could easily imagine a whole fairytale inspired series featuring miss Mills as the princess. Or queen. Yes.” Her smile widened. “It was the shot of miss Mills with the apple that made me think of that.
There has been many versions of Snow White portrayed in pictures, but never the queen.”

“The Evil Queen?” Regina asked and tilted her head.

“Oh, I don’t mean any offense, miss Mills,” Patricia said hastily. “Not at all. I’m just thinking aloud, and you truly have the perfect face for such a series. The fairytale theme has been in the making for a while and the plan is to launch the series next year, so if
you both are willing…”

“Sí,” Regina said immediately, and now she was the one squeezing Emma’s hand.

“Absolutely,” Emma said. Of course she was happy about this amazing opportunity, but in a year? That was… not exactly what she had hoped for. She was a bit disappointed.

“And until then,” Patricia continued, glancing at the portfolio. “I would be happy to exhibit these, miss Swan. They’re incredible.”

Emma felt a lightness spread in her chest. “Seriously?” the professionalism went out the window again.

“Yes,” Patricia confirmed, smiling. “They’re beautiful. They’re tender and the model-“ she directed the smile at Regina. “-has a completely timeless face. It’s perfect. If you don’t mind, I would like to keep this-” she tapped the briefcase gently “-and re-size the
pictures. If everything goes well, they should be ready to exhibit in… four weeks.”

Emma’s heart was hammering in her chest. Four weeks! In just four weeks she would be able to see her pictures blown up on a big wall! That was incredible!

“Thank you,” she nearly croaked. “Thank you for this amazing opportunity, Mrs. Adamson, I-“

“Patricia,” the woman in question corrected. “It’s Patricia. Shall we shake hands on it?” she extended her hand out.

Emma shook it once and hoped that Patricia didn’t notice her clammy grip. This called for a celebration! When they got back to the hotel, she would treat Regina to a huge-ass meal! And ice cream! Lots of it!

“I will fetch us something to drink and a couple of biscuits,” Patricia said and rose from the chair. “And the contract, of course. I think it’s best to get the paperwork out of the way first thing.” With that, she turned to walk away, but just as she was doing so, another woman walked through the door. She was tall, blonde, dressed in an elegant grey suit and tie and looked very determined. Until she discovered that the office wasn’t empty.

“Ah, Mal,” Patricia greeted the woman. “How are things in Brooklyn?”

“Just fine, thank you, Patricia. I am sorry for bursting in like this. I had forgotten that you had a meeting now,” the woman- Mal- apologized.

Something niggled in the back of Emma’s head. Something about the woman’s voice had the wheels in her head turning for some reason.

“It’s quite alright. We’re just sorting the last bit of paperwork,” Patricia said, then turning to Emma. “This is my former business partner, Malaina Drake- Mal- now she owns a gallery in Brooklyn.”

“That’s right,” Malaina confirmed. “I just came by to fetch some papers. I won’t be bothering you for long.”

“I think we were just wrapping up,” Emma said and frowned softly. Seriously, what was it about this woman’s voice? Why did it sound so damn familiar?

“That’s right,” Patricia smiled. “You’re not bothering us at all. In fact your timing couldn’t have been better. Now you can meet my newest photographer!”

“Oh, I see. Splendid,” Malaina flashed Emma a smile. “Congratulations, miss….?”

“Oh, goodness, how rude of me,” Patricia laughed. “This is Emma Swan from Maine.”

“I see. That is a long way,” Malaina half-chuckled and extended her hand out towards Emma. ”Nice to meet you. And congratulations again, Emma Swan from Maine.”

“Thank you,” Emma mustered, but on the inside, she was freaking out. If she had been less good at keeping her shit together, she probably would have fallen right off the chair.

Because when Malaina had said her name, something clicked in Emma’s mind, and she could remember why this woman’s voice was so familiar.

She had heard it before.

Weeks ago when she called Cora Mills to inform her that her daughter had fallen off the stairs. And to give Cora Mills a stern talk-to. That night where another woman had answered the phone instead of Cora Mills…

Emma was absolutely gob smacked. This couldn’t be. It just couldn’t. No way. She wasn’t right? Right? Right?!

“Patricia’s decisions are never bad,” Malaina said and smiled. “I’m sure you’ll be very happy here, miss Swan.”

Hearing her speak again only confirmed Emma’s suspicion. She was right. The voice was identical to the voice who sleepily had answered Cora Mills’ cellphone that night Regina was rushed to the hospital.

Malaina Drake was none other than Cora’s secret mistress.

 

To Be Continued……...

Chapter Text

Emma carefully studied Malaina’s face in an attempt to figure out whether she recognized her name or not. At first glance it didn’t seem so. Malaina clearly did not remember her. And honestly, that was to be expected. They had talked on the phone for maybe a minute or so several weeks ago. No one would remember such a random incident. Unless it had some kind of significance. And it most certainly did to Emma. She glanced discreetly at Regina. Well, Malaina would most definitely react to hearing her name.

Judging by what Emma remembered of the conversation between Cora and Malaina she had overheard, Malaina DID know about Regina. Obviously. Not even Cora would have denied having a daughter.

“And this is Regina Mills, Emma’s partner and the model,” Patricia cheerfully continued, blissfully unaware of the avalanche she was about to set off.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” Regina said politely as she stuck her hand out towards Malaina. “Sorry for not getting up, but…” she gestured vaguely to her crutches.

“That is…. Quite….alright.” Malaina appeared to be running out of words and her face completely paled as she shook Regina’s hand once. Then her gaze darted to Emma, and… ding-dong.

Emma could almost hear the light bulb switch on in Malaina’s head. No, scratch that, she could see it. In the way Malaina’s eyes widened almost comically and her face paled dramatically.

If Emma was able to read thoughts, she was certain Malaina’s thoughts would be something along the line of ‘shit, shit, shit, shit’.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Malaina said hastily, clearly struggling to remember how to do conversation. “Very nice indeed.”

Regina’s eyebrow went up, and Emma understood why. ‘Very nice indeed’ was a bit much when talking to a stranger. But Malaina had sounded genuine. Very genuine. Emma’s brain started working. Had this been a difficult topic between Malaina and Cora? Had
Malaina repeatedly asked Cora when she could meet Regina? And had Cora kept evading because she still didn’t know how to come out to her daughter?

Yep, it sure looked like it.

“Likewise,” Regina said, clearly having decided to go along on Malaina’s supposed oddity. Then she squirmed slightly in her seat and rubbed her belly.

“You okay?” Emma asked. Because even in this bizarre farce of a first meeting between Cora’s lover and Regina, Regina’s wellbeing was her top priority.

“Sí, sí, just your son kicking me,” Regina quipped.

“Oh. Not very nice of him, is it?” Emma really did her best to try and joke with Regina like she normally would, but she feared that she wasn’t doing a very good job.

“How far along are you?” Malaina asked.

This was painful. It was so easy to spot that Malaina too was struggling to sound casual. And failing miserably. But Emma was the only one who could see that.

“Six months,” Regina replied and turned her head to flash Emma a smile. “And we’re very excited. Aren’t we, querida?”

“Very excited,” Emma repeated and struggled to stay in the conversation. But damn, it was hard! She did not know how much Cora had told her ‘secret lover’ about Regina’s pregnancy, but no matter how little information Cora had given, Regina had just indirectly told her that she was not going to give the baby up for adoption anyway. There was a very good chance that Malaina would pass on this information to Cora.

God, it felt like her freaking head was going to explode!

It was also painfully awkward when Patricia happily started chatting about their future photo plans. It was awkward because she had no idea that Emma and Malaina weren’t exactly strangers.

Malaina looked like she felt the same way. She answered polite when Patricia said something, but Emma could sense her brain working. Most likely going into overdrive because of how utterly bizarre this was. Her gaze flickered between Emma and Regina. Now and then she discreetly shook her head or shifted slightly. After a moment she gave up entirely on conversing with them and said: “I better be on my way. There’s a lot to be done in Brooklyn. But it was nice meeting you both.”

“You too,” Emma said halfheartedly and wished that her head would stop feeling like it was going to explode.

Regina flashed Malaina a polite smile, but Emma saw a tiny little wrinkle between her eyes, and she immediately began obsessing about what Regina possibly could be thinking about. Had she somehow suspected that something was going on? Did she know
that Emma was keeping a secret?

Now Emma felt terrible. What the hell was she playing at, keeping a secret from Regina? Suddenly, she felt a bizarre urge to laugh when thinking of another bizarre scenario. Suppose Malaina had in fact been the owner of the gallery?

To borrow one of Regina’s favorite phrases… That would have been a kicker!

Malaina exchanged a few words with Patricia and then took off. Emma discreetly observed her as she walked out of the door and out on the lit up street. She saw Malaina roam through the pocket of her expensive looking power-suit and find her phone. She tapped on it for a moment. Then brought it up to her ear, and once again, Emma was willing to bet something valuable that Malaina in this moment was frantically calling Cora to tell her what just happened.

Emma had a feeling that things were about to get very, very tangled indeed. She found it doubtful that Cora wouldn’t react to this. She had to. Regina being in New York had to be a fucking huge hint that not even Cora Mills could ignore.

And when that happened…. When Cora did reach out to Regina…

Oh boy.

Emma could barely keep track of the events, and she was distracted as she and Regina wrapped up the meeting with Patricia Adams and wished her a good evening. Regina needed the bathroom before they left, and while she was taking care of that, Emma waited for her in the lobby. She fumbled with her jacket and managed to drop it on the floor one time. Her behavior could only be described as ‘jumpy’. She kept eying Regina’s coat pocket in which her phone lied. Was it on mute? Or would the ring tone be audible? She kept expecting Regina’s phone to go off. It had to. Cora had to call her now. Right?

Perhaps that was too much to expect from the woman who didn’t bother showing up when her pregnant daughter was in the hospital, but Regina being in the same city as Cora had to be the ultimate hint.

“You ready to leave, querida?”

Emma jumped a little at Regina’s voice.

“Lo siento,” Regina chuckled as she came hobbling over to Emma and reached for her jacket.

“Don’t worry,” Emma said, quickly helping Regina put on the jacket.

“Do we have time to stop by McDonald’s before going back to the hotel?” Regina asked as they walked through the door. “I’m craving a cheeseburger.”

Despite the whirlwind of thoughts flying around in her brain, Emma chuckled. “Of course. We always have time to feed your cravings, beautiful girl.”

“Great,” Regina made a face. “Tengo hambre. Again.”

Emma chuckled. Slipped an arm around Regina to give her a brief, soft squeeze. “We’ll fix that in a heartbeat. And I’m pretty sure I saw some cookies in the minibar back at the hotel.”

“Ooooh,” Regina cooed. “I can’t wait to sink my teeth into those!” she laughed. Then asked if they could stop for a moment.

Obviously, that was not a problem at all. They stopped and Regina muttered under her breath as she struggled with her crutches. Emma of course offered to help her, But Regina insisted that she could handle it, so Emma let her. And after a second or two,
Regina succeeded in finding her phone in the pocket of her coat. She tapped it once and made the screen lit up.

“Anything interesting?” Emma asked, forcing herself to sound casual and not like she was bursting with curiosity.

“My dad wanted to know how the meeting went,” Regina told her. “I’ll text him when we get back.”

“Good plan. Anything else?” Emma could have kicked herself. Of course that was a strange thing to add, and she couldn’t blame Regina for side eying her.

“No…” she said slowly as she slipped her phone back inside her pocket. “Should there be?”

“Nope. Just being curious,” Emma hastily back-pedaled.

“Oh,” Regina chuckled. “You are funny, querida.”

Good thing she chalked the remark up to Emma being humorous.

Emma wondered if Regina would consider it to be a joke if she opened her mouth and simply blurted out: “hey, guess what? That Malaina woman is actually your mom’s secret mistress.”

Yeah, no, she couldn’t say that. Obviously not. Instead she kept her mouth shut as they continued down the street to look for a taxi that could take them to the nearby McDonalds.

“The meeting went great,” Regina said, breaking the silence. “Don’t you think?”

“Yeah, it went great,” Emma agreed. That much was at least true.”

“Patricia seems really nice,” Regina continued. “And I can’t believe she wants me in her fairytale-villain project!”

“Why wouldn’t she? You’ll make the perfect Evil Queen,” Emma did her best to joke.

Regina laughed. “I’m sure there’s a compliment in there somewhere, querida.”

“There’s always a compliment in there when it’s about you,” Emma said plainly. “I think it’s gonna be really fun.”

“Me, too,” Regina warmly agreed. “I’m very excited about it. Being photographed by you is always fun.” Her voice grew a little huskier, and Emma knew exactly what she was referring to. The last time she had taken pictures of Regina, things had gotten unexpectedly sexy. As it so often did with Regina.

Regina smirked slightly. Then lifted one of her crutches dramatically. “¡Mirar! ¡Hay un taxi!”

“Careful,” Emma said automatically. “Don’t fall over.”

“I’m trying to hail a taxi, querida.”

“Well, he’s definitely seen you. I think the crazy pregnant woman waving her crutch is pretty hard to miss,” Emma sweetly teased her girlfriend.

Regina mumbled something in Spanish that Emma suspected was something rude. She reminded herself to ask Regina about it later.

For now, she followed Regina over to the taxi and helped her get inside and then stuff the crutches away. Next stop, McDonalds…...

 

 

Once they were seated at one of the little tables in McDonalds and Regina had gotten her cheeseburger (Emma had opted for fries and nuggets), she couldn’t hold back a question.

“So…. What did you think of that Malaina woman?” she asked in what she hoped was a completely casual tone.

“Not really my type.”

“Eww!” the knee-jerk reaction came immediately and before Emma could think about it.

“That was a joke,” Regina half-chuckled between mouthfuls of burger.

“Right. Obviously. But I didn’t mean it like that, though.”

“I gathered.” Regina sweetly rolled her eyes at Emma. “Honestly? She wasn’t my cup of tea.”

“How come?” Emma got a sinking feeling. Regina didn’t like her mother’s girlfriend. This was off to a divine start.

“I don’t know, I guess I just picked up some strange vibes from her,” Regina made a face as she reached for her milkshake. “Didn’t you see how she sized me up and looked at me weirdly?”

“I did see that,” Emma admitted. Because Malaina HAD in fact been sizing Regina up. Almost as though she was a bit afraid of her. Of them both, really. Perhaps she had feared that Emma would expose her or something.

“It was really weird,” Regina said. “I still don’t know what to make of it. Maybe she was just a bit kooky. Or maybe she didn’t like me or something,” she chuckled lightly.

“Why wouldn’t she?” Emma asked before she could stop herself.

“I dunno,” Regina shrugged. “It’s not like I’ve met her before, so I can’t possibly have done something to upset her. Anyway…” she reached for another French fry. “What does it matter? She’s not your boss, so it doesn’t matter what I think of her. Or what she thinks of me for that matter.”

Oh, how it mattered. It mattered more than Regina possibly could imagine. Shit, shit, shit. Emma inadvertently cussed this ridiculous situation. Sooner or later, the truth would come out. No pun intended. But sooner or later, Regina WOULD find out the truth.

And Emma had a profound feeling that things were going to get messy.

“Here’s to you, querida,” Regina said, interrupting Emma’s thoughts as she raised her milkshake. “You nearly charmed the pants off Patricia Adams.”

“Now, now,” Emma sniggered as she lifted her glass of cola to clink it with Regina’s milkshake. “There’s only one person I want to charm the pants off. You know that.”

Regina waggled an eyebrow as a blush rose in her cheeks. “Eso suena divertido.”

Emma grinned back at her. Happy to be distracted from the clusterfuck of events that undoubtedly would happen sooner or later.

“Funny that she’s opening a gallery in Brooklyn of all places,” Regina said a little while later when they still were in McDonalds and -admittedly- were an ice cream sundae each.

“Why’s that funny?” Emma asked, thoroughly occupied with licking caramel sauce off her pinky finger.

“Cora grew up in Brooklyn,” Regina said with a slight shrug. “Brooklyn Heights.”

“Fancy,” Emma commented.

Regina snorted. “My grandparents were a couple of old snobs. Nothing was good enough for them. Except for my dad. He always joked with how he managed to get on their good side so they would give him permission to whisk away their daughter.” She rolled
her eyes. “You would think that anyone would be grateful to be whisked away by my dad, but of course Cora wasn’t. Not in the long run. Not even my dad was good enough for her!” she finished her little speech by aggressively scooping up some ice cream and
eating it.

Emma felt a twinge of something. Pity? For Cora? If things were as she suspected, and Cora had been trapped in a marriage she never wanted, Regina’s words were harsh. But of course Regina did not know the full story. Because Cora refused to tell her.

Damnit Cora, Emma thought to herself. Why can’t you just call your daughter and tell her what is going on? She’s here. You’ll never get a better opportunity than this one.

“Emma? Hello?”

“Huh?” Emma blinked.

“I’ve been talking to you for the past minute.”

“Oh. Sorry, honey. I was a little… distracted.”

“Clearly,” Regina chuckled then eyed Emma. “Are you okay? You seem a bit… I don’t know, out of it?”

“I’m fine,” Emma said briskly. “Now, what did you say?”

“I was just asking if you’d be interested in going down to Brooklyn while we’re here? It’s a little bit of a drive, but we could go to the Botanical Garden? Or something else if it’s too cold.”

“Sure,” Emma said, smiling widely at her girlfriend.

“Are you saying yes to botanical garden or yes to something else if its too cold?” Regina frowned.

“All of it,” Emma said and covered the blunder with a goofy grin. “I’m down for all of it as long as I’m hanging out with you.”

“Eso es dulce,” Regina smiled. “It’s a date, then.”

“Yep, beautiful girl. It’s most definitely a date!”

 

They made it back to their hotel room, and Regina declared that the first thing she wanted to do was to change out of what she called her ‘fancy clothes’. She said that it was too tight and that her boobs were being squished.

Emma laughed heartedly at that. She naturally offered to help Regina, and this time, Regina accepted the offer. Something Emma was happy about because honestly, Regina had started to look a bit tired. No, scratch that. She had started to look VERY tired.

So Emma got her to sit down on the bed. First, she helped Regina getting out of the high heeled shoe she for some reason had chosen tonight. The shoe was pretty, but it had definitely come with a price. Emma cringed when she saw how swollen Regina’s ‘good’ foot was. “Jesus, babe,” she said and shook her head. “I think I have to forbid you from wearing high heels again!”

“Seems fair enough,” Regina said, wincing slightly as she wiggled her swollen foot. “I suppose it was stupid to wear it. I just wanted to look nice.”

“Hey,” Emma said softly. “You always look good, okay? It doesn’t matter what shoes you wear. Or in this case, shoe. Singular.”

That earned a slight chuckle from Regina. “I’m probably just a little overtired tonight.”

“Yeah. But I totally get that. We arrived yesterday and didn’t get much chance to chill before we had to rush out to meet Patricia.” Emma sat Regina’s lone shoe down and searched for the side zipper in Regina’s skirt. “And-“ she smirked slightly at her girlfriend.
“We did end up doing things that weren’t sleeping last night.”

“Sí, we did,” Regina agreed, grinning a bit. “But I am not regretting that.”

“Nor am I.”

“The fatigue is worth it.”

“Agreed. Hell, I’M fatigued, and I’m not even pregnant,” Emma joked.

Regina laughed and reached back, Then she made a face.

“Sore back?” Emma guessed.

“A little.”

Emma refrained from saying anything, but she knew better. Knew that Regina’s back was most likely hurting like a bitch. She would give it a good rubbing later. But for now, relieving Regina of the uncomfortable clothes was far more important. She made a little noise of triumph as she managed to unzip the skirt. “Can you lift your hips a little?”

Regina used her hands as leverage and lifted her hips, and Emma tried to be as quick and effective as possible as she tugged the skirt down Regina’s hips and then over the cast on her ankle.

“There we go,” she said as she managed to pull the skirt all the way down. “Milady has been freed.”

“Gracias. I couldn’t possibly have done it without you,” Regina said half-jokingly. Then without much further ado, she unbuttoned her blouse, laid it on the bed and flopped back on said bed herself.

Emma’s mind instantly went places when she saw Regina laying on the bed in just her underwear. “You after something, beautiful girl?”

“Sí. Comfort,” Regina joked. “I’ve been sweating buckets all night!”

“Yeah, I can see that pregnancy glow everyone’s talking about,” Emma said warmly as she glanced at Regina’s flushed cheeks.

“Pregnancy glow?” Regina huffed. “There’s nothing glow-y about sweating like a pig! Seriously, this is insane!” as she spoke, she reached back and fumbled for a moment. She muttered lowly under her breath. Then exhaled when she succeeded in unhooking her bra. She put it next to the shirt on the bed.

Emma had to swallow something. Now Regina was laying topless on the bed in only her panties. She looked glorious with her round belly sticking up and not to mention those very bare breasts looking so….

Emma coughed. “Want me to find you a shirt, honey?”

“¿Por qué?” Regina teased, lifting her non-injured foot and extending a long leg into the air. “Is this bothering you, querida?”

“Bothering me, no. Distracting me, yes,” Emma snickered. “Seriously, I have so many thoughts in my head right now…”

“You do, do you?” Regina smirked. “Such a shame we’re both too tired.”

“Yeah. Such a shame,” Emma echoed and was sure she had just felt her energy come back.

But there was a time and a place, and honestly, Regina looked pretty beat right now. They’d had some pretty busy days and although the alternative to sleep was nice (very, very nice!) it probably would be better to rest up for the night.

Regina groaned slightly as she extended her arms back over her head and then stretched in the bed. Her feet dangled over the edge of the bed and Emma was sure she heard some kind of pop or crunch coming from somewhere in Regina’s body. “The hell was that?” she frowned.

“My back, I think,” Regina answered and stretched again.

“Damn,” Emma shook her head.

“It feels like the bigger I get, the more symptoms I experience. But then again, rather this than the nausea.” Regina sat up and reached for her crutches.

“I got it,” Emma said, quickly getting off the bed. “Whatever it is you need, I got it.”

Regina smiled. “Shirt?”

“Got it!” Emma dived under the bed and grabbed her suitcase (none of them had bothered unpacking yet) and found a shirt for Regina. No, not just any old shirt. This was THE shirt. It was old and the grey and white checkered pattern had faded ages ago. It was hugely oversized and was originally from the men’s section. Definitely not a nice shirt, but Emma had had it for many years and still refused to throw it out. First because it had served as a comfort shirt she would wear at night when coming home from work.

And now because Regina loved the shirt. She had spent many nights wearing that shirt in bed. She hadn’t officially stolen the shirt yet, but Emma reckoned it was only a matter of time before that happened. She certainly had asked Emma to bring ‘my’ shirt.
Like it was her own.

“There you go, beautiful girl,” Emma said as she handed Regina the shirt.

“Thank you. And you even unbuttoned it for me. Aww.”

“Of course I did. The less you strain, the better.”

“Since when is it straining to unbutton a shirt?” Regina wondered aloud as she slipped her arms through the sleeves.

“Since I decided so. Now put a goddamn shirt on before I decide that sleep is for the weak.”

Regina laughed as she tugged the shirt on and buttoned it. It immediately became somewhat easier to breathe for Emma. And she was relieved. She didn’t want to sound out of breath when talking to her parents.

While Regina lounged on the bed (and looked dreadfully sexy in that shirt), Emma called her mom. It didn’t take long before she picked up and fired off questions about how everything had gone.

“Was Mrs. Adams nice?” she asked. “Did she give you any good feedback?”

“Oh, she did more than that,” Emma smiled like a seven year old who was about to tell her parents that she aced the spelling contest. “She wants to exhibit my pictures!”

Her mom shrieked so loudly, Regina’s head snapped up and she gave a concerned look.

“’Everything is fine’” Emma mouthed before scolding her mom: “mom, you just made Regina think that something terrible has happened!”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” her mom hastily apologized. “I just got so happy! Emma, this is wonderful news!”

“What’s wonderful news?” came David’s voice in the background.

“Emma pictures will be exhibited in the gallery in New York!”

Emma smiled and cringed at the same time. Once again, her mom’s voice was far too high. But this time she did not bother scolding her.

“Princess!” her dad exclaimed, and bam, Emma felt like she WAS seven years old and HAD just aced her first spelling contest. “That’s fantastic! Congratulations!”

“Thanks, dad,” Emma grinned. She couldn’t deny that she was fucking proud of herself. And she felt like the luckiest bastard in the world. But not just because of her parents’ praise. Regina snuggling into her side and pressing a soft, quick kiss to her cheek contributed to her feelings too.

“We have to come and see the pictures!” her mom said firmly. “I don’t care that New York is far away, we just have to!”

“Of course,” Emma’s dad agreed. “When will they be exhibited, Princess?”

“In three weeks’ time if all goes right,” Emma said and silently added ‘and less of the ‘Princess’, please. Honestly, it was a bit embarrassing to be referred to as ‘princess’ when Regina was sitting right next to her and could hear everything.

“That is quick!” her mom said and added: “we’re so proud of you, sweetie. You’ve truly earned this.”

“Estoy acuerdo,” Regina agreed loud enough for Emma’s parents to hear.

Emma’s dad chuckled. “Hello, Regina. How are you doing tonight?”

“I am doing just fine, thank you, David.”

“And our grandchild?” he added warmly. “How is he doing?”

“Or she,” Emma’s mom added.

“He or she is doing just fine,” Regina chuckled. “Kicking and using my bladder as a squeeze toy.”

“So obviously thriving,” Emma’s dad said matter of factly.

“You take care of yourself, young lady,” Emma’s mom said. Which could have sounded incredibly harsh and condescending, had it not been for the obvious warmth in Mary Margaret’s voice. It radiated affection and care for her daughter-in-law. “Don’t do
anything too strenuous, okay?”

“I promise,” Regina said. Her voice was just as warm. “Emma is very good at reminding me.”

“Damn right she is,” Emma interjected.

“Emma, your language,” her mom scolded before turning her attention back to Regina. “And how is the ankle?”

“A bit sore to be honest. I haven’t been good enough to rest it tonight, I’m afraid,” Regina admitted, and Emma immediately gave her an ‘how dare you’-look. Regina had not mentioned to her that her ankle was sore.

“Oh, you poor thing,” Mary Margaret said affectionately. “Be sure to rest it plenty tonight, alright?”

“Prop it up on a pillow. Or two,” David suggested.

“I’ll do that,” Regina assured. “To be honest, I don’t think there will be much walking for me for the rest of this trip.” She shot Emma an apologetic look.

“Nope, it’ll be wheelchair-fun for the remainder,” Emma snickered. “Let’s see how many innocent passerby’s we can knock over!”

“Emma!” her parents and Regina scolded in unison, and Regina was quick to add: “no more wheelchair-racing! Not after what happened in the airport!”

“What happened in the airport?” Emma’s dad asked. He didn’t sound particularly scolding now. More curious. And amused.

“David!” now Emma’s mom was scolding her husband. “That doesn’t matter, but I’m sure that whatever it was, Emma is very sorry about it. Aren’t you, Emma?”

“Hey, why do you assume that I was the one who did something wrong?” Emma mock-pouted.

“Because Regina is far too sensible to do anything silly,” her mom said in a tone suggesting she would go ‘duuh’ in a moment. She didn’t, though.

“Right. Or because the pair of you are far too infatuated to think she can ever do something wrong,” Emma deadpanned.

Her parents laughed. But didn’t deny it. Which Emma absolutely fucking loved.

After a few more happy congratulations and a reminder for Regina to take it easy and let them know if new happenings involving their grandchild occurred, Emma’s parents bid their goodbye and ended the call.

“Well, my parents still loves you,” Emma said, chucking the phone onto the floor where it landed with a soft thud.

“Which I find to be a bit concerning,” Regina said without looking up from her own phone. “I am definitely not perfect. I had my first cigarette at fifteen, started drinking at sixteen and left my home in a rage at seventeen.”

“Because Cora screwed you over,” Emma pointed out.

“Sí. She did.” Regina’s mouth twisted slightly.

Somehow everything came back to Cora tonight. Emma didn’t want Regina to get sad, though. She kissed the side of Regina’s neck.

“Emma. Stop it,” Regina scolded and squirmed. “Tickles.”

“Sorry.”

“You are not.”

“No, I’m not,” Emma agreed and looked at Regina’s phone over her shoulder. “Anything important?”

“My dad sends his love,” Regina smiled. “He’s very proud of his nuera.”

“His what now?”

“Daughter-in-law, querida. He’s proud of his daughter-in-law.”

“Oh.” Emma smiled. “Aww. He’s so awesome. I adore him!”

“And I adore your parents, mi amor. They’re wonderful.”

“I’ll totally tell them you said that,” Emma mock-warned. No doubt especially her mother would gush when she heard that. Her mother who was in the middle of ‘operation knitwork’. Meaning that she secretly was knitting a blanket for the baby. She had asked
Emma not to tell Regina about it. She wanted it to be a surprise. For the even more secret baby shower which Regina had no idea of was in the making. But oh, how it was. Emma had already enrolled Belle and Ruby and Granny to help her with arranging everything. Of course Regina should have a baby shower. She should have all the experiences in these last three months of her pregnancy.

While Regina was engaged with texting her father, Emma retrieved her own phone from the floor once more. She sent a group text to Ruby and Belle and delivered the good news to them too. It didn’t take long before both of them answered with exclamation points and champagne emojis. That made Emma smile. She was going to miss those two when she moved to California. Good thing phones existed. And planes. They had promised to come and visit very often, and Emma did not see a reason not to believe them. They had been friends for a long, long time. It would take more than a move to make them drift apart.

After having exchanged a few texts with her friends (who also wanted to know how Regina and the baby was doing) Emma put her phone away and glanced discreetly at Regina who was still sitting with her phone. Still absolutely zilch from Cora. Not a peep.
Emma’s slight pity with Regina’s mother was now turning into resentment once more. What kind of coward was she even? Regina was here. In New York. There would never be a better time to fix things than now. So why didn’t she? Why didn’t she take the first step in fixing this? Was she really that stubborn?

Emma didn’t care whether Cora’s silence came from fear. She was growing fucking tired of this ridiculous game of ‘hide and seek’ between them and Cora. Sooner or later, Cora had to stop beating around the bush and fess the hell up.

Emma eyed her phone laying on the bedside table. She still had Cora’s number. And by all the gods, she was tempted to send her a text and ask her what the fuck was going on.

But… if she did that, she would be going behind Regina’s back twice. No. She couldn’t do that. One time had to be more than enough. And besides, she could not force Cora to contact her daughter if she simply didn’t want to. Although it was fucked up.

Very, very fucked up.

“Eres muy callado.”

“Oh, sorry,” Emma said. She knew that she had in fact gone quiet. “I was just thinking.”

“Yeah? About what?” Regina asked, carefully wiggling onto her side so she could be face to face with Emma.

“You,” Emma said smoothly. A teeny tiny white lie that couldn’t hurt.

Regina snickered. “That’s sweet.”

“But… I was also thinking about something else,” Emma continued, forcing Cora Mills out of her head as she snuggled closer to Regina.

“Yeah? And what were you thinking about?”

“I’m thinking…” Emma slowly ran two fingertips up Regina’s baby bump. “That we should treat ourselves to a long morning tomorrow…”

“Oh yes?” Regina’s tone more than suggested that she knew exactly what a ‘long morning’ meant.

“Mhmm.. A really, really long morning, beautiful girl.” Emma assured, still running her fingers lightly up and down Regina’s stomach. “And then… once we feel up for it, we should find a taxi and have lunch in Brooklyn. Or dinner. Depending on how…. Long our
morning is going to be.”

“Dios mio, querida,” Regina laughed. “I think you are overestimating our stamina.”

“Think again,” Emma joked. She kissed Regina’s cheek. “So? What do you think of my plan, beautiful girl?”

“I like your plan a lot, mi amor.”

“Excellent. That’s settled then. Now that we know what we’re going to do tomorrow…” Emma got off the bed. “I think its time we raid the minibar for snacks, don’t you?”

“You have so many good ideas, querida,” Regina praised and flashed Emma a big grin. “Dios, I hope there’s a Snickers! I could absolutely kill for a Snickers right now!”

“Kill for them, huh?” Emma jokingly pretended to be very afraid of her girlfriend. “Well, let’s see if tonight is your lucky night, beautiful girl.” She opened the minibar with a lavish motion.

It was Regina’s lucky night. The minibar didn’t hold one, but three Snickers and Regina looked like Christmas had come early when Emma handed her the chocolate-y goodness. “Creo que estoy enamorado,” she joked as she tore the paper off the first one and
took a large bite.

Emma narrowed her eyes. “Are you saying you need a moment alone with the chocolate bar?”

“Sí. I have at last found true love,” Regina laughed. “I never thought this day would come.”

“If you weren’t tired and pregnant and eating and had a broken ankle, I would so punish you for that remark,” Emma threatened.

Regina promptly choked on a piece of chocolate. She coughed then squeaked: “Perdóneme.” If she was excusing her coughing fit or the remark wasn’t quite clear, though.

Emma laughed and tried her best to sound like a villain (although Regina’s laughter was much more villainous) “you’d like that, wouldn’t you…”

“Si. Sabes que lo haría.”

Well. Good thing Emma wasn’t eating anything, because that casual admittance would definitely have made HER choke. She scolded her features, grabbed another chocolate bar from the mini fridge (this one was a mars bar) and then walked over to join Regina on the bed. With the chocolate bar in one hand, she climbed onto the bed and flopped down next to her girlfriend. It felt good to lie down after the two slightly stressful days they’d had. First travelling. Then no sleep because sex had ranked higher on the wish list. Duh. Of course it had. It was practically impossible to keep her hands off Regina these days. And then the slightly nerve wracking meeting with Patricia Adams. Emma had of course been nervous although she had done a decent job hiding it.

But what really had exhausted Emma, was the ridiculous mindfuck it had been to meet Cora Mills’ secret mistress.

“Hello, you,” Regina said softly and ran her free hand through Emma’s blonde locks. She was in the process of tearing the wrapping paper of a second Snickers bar. “Thank you for grabbing these for me.”

“You’re welcome, mi belleza,” Emma said and smiled. But she didn’t feel entirely worthy of the ‘thank you’s’ Regina was bestowing upon her. She felt guilty and sneaky. For not telling Regina the truth about the woman they had met at the gallery tonight. For
having pretended that Malaina was a perfect stranger when she knew perfectly who she was.

She also felt angry at Malaina because she had pretended to know nothing about Regina. That wasn’t right either.

Emma’s guts twisted. However wrong Cora and Malaina were in their way to go about this, Emma was no angel either. She too was sneaking around and keeping things from her girlfriend. She felt trapped. If she told Regina the truth, she would ultimately out
Cora when she wasn’t ready to come out.

But for each second, she kept things from Regina, the bigger the secret got and the worse the consequences would get. Something had to be done.

Something HAD already been done.

There was an ulterior motive to their trip to Brooklyn tomorrow. She had a very silly hope that they somehow would run into the mysterious Malaina a second time. She imagined that if Malaina met them a second time, it would motivate her to tell Regina the truth. Emma was sick of lying for Cora, and if Cora herself wasn’t going to do anything about it, she had to count on her lover to do something about it instead…

 

To Be Continued……

Chapter Text

”Oh. My. God!”

Regina made a face. ”Emma, querida, try to contain yourself.”

Emma could not contain herself. She was beyond containing herself. In fact she was losing her shit. And for a very good reason.

Regina was wearing dungarees.

A striped sweater.

And dungarees.

Maternity dungarees.

Yeah, damn right Emma was losing her shit. She was NOT prepared for that level of adorableness. Regina’s belly seemed more prominent than ever, and Emma just had to rush over there and touch it. Again and again and again. “Fucking hell, you look SO adorable!”

“Gracias,” Regina chuckled. “I was inspired by a pregnancy-magazine. Apparently, you haven’t been properly pregnant unless you wear a pair of overalls. Not my usual style, but…”

“I’m gonna need you to wear these all the time,” Emma said plainly as she fondly rubbed Regina’s belly. “’Morning, kiddo!”

“Oof,” Regina made a face and wiggled out of Emma’s grasp. “Bathroom. Now.”

“Again?” Emma chuckled.

“Sí, querida. Again. It’s your fault. You woke Blueberry and made him use my bladder as a squeeze toy.”

“Oops. Sorry!” Emma called after her girlfriend as said girlfriend sped-limped towards the bathroom. “Do you need help?”

“No, Emma. I’m perfectly capable of peeing on my own.”

“Fair enough. Don’t fall over though.”

“Wasn’t planning on it.”

“Goodie.” Emma stuffed her phone into her purse and zipped it. They were going to Brooklyn today. Regina had been looking forward to it all morning, and Emma was hoping. Hoping that everything would somehow magically resolve once they got to Brooklyn.
She hoped that they would run into Cora’s lover and that she would fess up and admit everything. Emma needed her to admit everything. She needed to not have secrets for Regina anymore. It was eating her up. So much that she had made a decision. If they did not ‘accidentally’ run into Malaina today, she would be calling Cora. And force her hand if she had to. Sometime overnight, Emma had come to her senses and realized that the more she lied to Regina, the more she was jeopardizing everything. If she kept lying, she wouldn’t be much better than Neal even though cheating was not a part of why she was lying. It didn’t matter. Couples were honest with each other. Emma was sick of keeping Cora Mills’ secrets. Cora had failed to show up at the hospital, and now
Emma was entirely done with her. No more lying and sneaking around.

There was a slight thud, a muffled ‘oops’, and Emma’s attention was immediately roused. She lifted her head. “What just happened?”

“Nada.”

”Did you fall?” Emma asked. Obviously immediately concerned.

“No. I just knocked something over,” came the reply from the bathroom. “And I can’t really pick it up. Bending over is…”

“Tricky,” Emma finished the sentence. “Don’t even try! I’ll get it.”

“Fair enough.”

There was a bit more rattling and then Regina came hobbling into the bedroom again.

Emma couldn’t help but laugh. Regina looked so ridiculously cute in her dungarees.

“Are you gonna keep wearing that goofy grin all day?” Regina asked as she checked her appearance in the full-figure mirror.

“Sí,” Emma teased. Yeah, she was definitely going to wear the ‘goofy’ grin all day! Seriously, that striped sweater and those dungarees! And the fact that Regina had piled her hair into a bun and stuck a pencil through said bun only made Emma’s ‘aww-
barometer’ go up even higher. Regina looked like something right out of the 70’s, and Emma was here for it!

“Maybe I should change into something else,” Regina snickered, reaching up and touching her bun.

“Oh, don’t you fucking dare!” Emma mock-growled. “If you do, I’ll….”

“Mmm? What will you do, querida?” Regina purred and winked at Emma.

Emma laughed as she walked over to Regina and wrapped her arms around her waist. And belly. “I’ll tell you when we get back. Or maybe I’ll show you.”

“Oooooh,” Regina cooed. “I like the sound of that, mi amor.”

“I figured you would.” Emma rubbed her belly tenderly. “Are you ready to leave? Your trusty steed is awaiting…”

Regina scoffed. “Don’t you mean the wheelchair?”

“Trusty steed sounds better.”

“Mmm.” Regina glanced down at her cast-incased foot. “I’m sick of not being able to walk properly!”

“Yeah. I understand that,” Emma said sympathetically and kissed Regina’s temple. Regina had worn the cast for three weeks out of six weeks. Meaning that she had three more weeks left. By the time that stupid cast finally came off, Regina would be VERY pregnant. Well, she already was, but she would be…. Even more pregnant.

“Do you think I’ll ever be able to dance again?” Regina asked and sounded a bit miserable all the sudden.

“Yeah. Of course!” Emma quickly assured. “Maybe not at twenty seven weeks pregnant, but you’ll definitely dance again, beautiful girl.”

“I hope you’re right,” Regina grumbled. “I’m tired of hobbling around and feeling useless!”

“Hey now,” Emma gently scolded. “You are so not useless!”

“Well, I feel like it,” Regina said and jutted out her bottom lip. “The next time we’re going to New York, I won’t be going in a wheelchair!”

“Deal!” Emma said, giving her girlfriend a little squeeze. That deal was one she was more than willing to make. No more wheelchair for Regina. She said that to Regina who chuckled and joked:

“No more crazy wives for me.”

“You’re right, there’ll be absolutely none of that either,” Emma said even more firmly. “Because if I ever see Marian again, I’ll wring her neck.”

“Eres muy sexy cuando haces amenazas de muerte.”

“Huh? You said something about me being sexy, but I didn’t understand the rest of it.”

“You don’t need to,” Regina teased. “Shall we?”

“Yup. Sit down,” Emma said, taking Regina by the hand and leading her over to the waiting wheelchair.

“Gracías,” Regina said, only sounding slightly bitter as she plopped down in the wheelchair.

“It won’t last forever,” Emma said gently, patting Regina’s shoulder softly. “I know that doesn’t help much right now, but…”

“No, you’re right,” Regina said, looking over her shoulder and smiled at Emma. “I shouldn’t be so negative.”

“You’re six months pregnant and has a broken ankle. You’re allowed to complain once in a while,” Emma assured her.

Regina laughed. “Well. This was me complaining then.”

“Good for you!” Emma patted her girlfriend’s shoulder again. Then she grabbed onto the wheelchair. “Ready to vroom-vroom?”

“No!” Regina said immediately. “Don’t you dare, Emma Swan! I’m not getting into trouble again!”

“You’re no fun,” Emma joked and mock pouted. “But fine. No speeding. I got it.”

“I once got a speeding ticket,” Regina almost mused.

“Me too. And it was my own dad who wrote it,” Emma shook her head. “It’s an uphill battle when your dad is the sheriff.”

“Good for your dad,” Regina chuckled.

“How dare you,” Emma growled. Then she steered the wheelchair out of the hotel.

She was definitely smirking a little bit when they reached the empty elevator. Couldn’t help thinking about those lovely kisses they had shared on the evening they arrived. Regina on the other hand was more engaged with scrolling through her phone and making little ‘mm-hmm’ noises while doing so.

“Anything good?” Emma asked curiously. “What are you reading about?”

“’The perfect birth’,” Regina quoted, glancing back at Emma over her shoulder.

Emma frowned. “Is that even a thing?”

“Well, from what I’ve read, it depends on the woman,” Regina said, looking back at her phone again. “Some of them thinks that having an epidural is the perfect experience. Some of them thinks that the ‘natural way’ is perfect, and some of them says that a c-section was the right choice for them, and I’m just wondering what would be right for me.”

“Oh,” Emma said, nodding. Now that Regina was getting closer to the birth, it was only natural that she was thinking about it. Emma understood that.

“I mean, Cora has always made a point of telling me that she gave birth ‘the natural way’ and has also heavily implied that the women who gets an epidural are wusses, but if it hurts, it hurts, right?” Regina said. “There’s nothing wrong with getting an epidural for the pain.”

“Of course there isn’t,” Emma said firmly. “Absolutely not. I personally think it’s nice to know that option exists if things becomes too much.”

“Sí.” Regina put her phone away and sighed. “There are so many things you have to think about with the birth.”

“Yeah, there is,” Emma agreed and gave her shoulder a little squeeze. “Good thing I’m here to help you think if you need it.”

Regina snickered softly. “Sí. It is.” She went silent for a moment. Then she turned her head and looked at Emma again. “There is actually something I’ve been thinking about.”

“Alright,” Emma said and couldn’t resist dipping down and kissing the top of Regina’s head. “And what’s that?”

“Do you think your mom would want to come to the birth if I asked her?” Regina sounded a little shy. “Or do you think she would think it’s weird?”

“What, no!” Emma said immediately. “Of course not! Are you kidding me? She would die if she knew you wanted her to be there when her grandkid is born!”

Regina chuckled slightly. Then grimaced. “I’m afraid I have a bit of an ulterior motive.” Another grimace. “Cora is not gonna be there, we both know that. My dad will, but obviously he’s not a woman, and I would really appreciate having someone there who has been through it and knows what’s going on.”

“I totally understand that,” Emma said and hated Cora again. “Absolutely.”

“And my mother-in-law just so happens to be the sweetest woman I have ever met,” Regina added. “She has always been so good at giving me tips and advices, so I figured-“

“You figured correctly,” Emma gently interrupted. “Ask her. Seriously, Regina, ask her. She would be over the moon!”

“It’s a long way to Spain,” Regina mused. “Unless I’m in Storybrooke when the time comes. I’ll pay for her plane ticket. Their plane ticket. Obviously, your dad should come too. If he wants to, obviously.”

“Of course he will,” Emma said. “You won’t be paying for any plane ticket, though. But you will however ask my mom. Soon. Right?”

“Sí,” Regina confirmed. “Soon.”

“That’s my girl,” Emma praised, kissing the top of her head again. “Have you been thinking about this for a long time?”

“No, not that long. The idea first popped into my head when your mom skyped me when I was still in the hospital. She was so sweet and caring and I just figured…” Regina ended the sentence with a shrug.

“Since you were in hospital? Regina, that is a long time,” Emma sighed.

“Is it?”

“Yes. And you know it.”

“Ooops,” Regina let out a sound that definitely was a giggle.

Emma sighed dramatically. “What am I gonna do with you?”

“I’ve got several ideas,” Regina purred. “Y todas ellas son traviesas…”

“I have no idea what that meant, but it sounded like you were suggesting-“

The doors to the elevator slurped open and an older man in a suit stepped in.

“Something that could have been interesting,” Emma half-heartedly finished the sentence and cleared her throat. “So… What do you want for dinner tonight?”

Regina started laughing. Until the elderly man shot her a look. Then she scolded her features. “No sé,” she said. “But I know a place in Brooklyn that makes these really good buffalo wings, so if you feel up for it, we could hang out there until tonight and have
some dinner? My treat.”

Emma immediately opened her mouth to argue.

“No fue una sugerencia,” Regina said firmly. “It’ll be MY treat.”

“Okay, okay,” Emma said, secretly loving when Regina got all bossy. “Your treat. Got it. And buffalo wings sounds awesome.”

“My dad and I used to go out for buffalo wings every time we were in Brooklyn,” Regina remembered. “It was a good time. Obviously, Cora wasn’t there, she was too busy pretending that she didn’t belong in Brooklyn. But it was a great time for me and my dad.”

The elevator door opened again, and Emma wheeled Regina out. “Buffalo wings it is,” she said, squeezing Regina’s shoulder slightly. “It’s a date.”

“Ooooh,” Regina cooed. “Does that mean I get a goodnight kiss?”

“You…” Emma abruptly stopped the wheelchair right in the lobby. “Can have a good morning kiss right now.” She dipped down and pecked Regina’s lips. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” Regina snickered. “That was nice.”

“I agree,” Emma laughed. “It was very nice.” As she wheeled the wheelchair towards the door, she noticed that some of the hotel guests were smiling. They clearly found Emma and Regina to be adorable. Good. Emma wasn’t so sure about herself, but Regina definitely looked cute. God, those dungarees! And that hair! Everything about Regina was just too good to be true today.

The New York air was a bit chilly today, and Emma immediately started fussing and complaining that she hadn’t brought a blanket to lay over Regina’s knees.

“I’m not an old lady, querida,” Regina chuckled. “I don’t need a blanket. And besides, you know I’m always warm.”

“Yeah, I know that.” Emma smiled slyly. Last night she had been awakened by Regina who suddenly sat up in bed and pulled off her long t-shirt, declaring that she was ‘sweating buckets’. That had obviously meant that Regina had been extremely topless when
going back to sleep. And obviously, Emma had suddenly been extremely awake. Safe to say that they hadn’t slept that much for the rest of the night. As wonderful as it had been, Emma wasn’t free of feeling slightly guilty now. She knew that she and Regina were going to Brooklyn today, and she had still chosen to engage in ‘late night activities’. Oops. Perhaps not the smartest idea. If Regina was tired today, it was entirely Emma’s fault.

But Regina didn’t look particularly tired, though. She was smiling and chatting. And glancing when a woman with a pram walked past them.

“Jealous?” Emma asked softly and warmly.

“Yeah,” Regina admitted and the pencil in her hair bounced up and down as she laughed. “You gotta admit that looks nice.”

“The baby or pushing the pram?” Emma asked a bit goofily.

“Both,” Regina said immediately. She reached back and gave Emma’s hand a little pat. “Pretty soon that’s gonna be us, querida.”

“I can’t wait,” Emma said longingly. She literally could not wait to walk down the street and push a pram with Regina by her side.

“Oh, we have to catch the bus, mi amor!” Regina exclaimed.

“Shit, you’re right!”

And that was how they ended engaging in another wheelchair-race.

 

They caught the bus. Fortunately enough. It was a bit difficult for Emma to maneuver the wheelchair into the bus, but a nice woman helped her. While Regina was still sitting in the wheelchair. Emma nearly had a heart attack when Regina suggested that she could hobble into the bus on her own. Yeah, no. Absolutely not. The distance between the bus floor and the ground was fairly high. Extremely hard to do on crutches. Extremely hard to do when six months pregnant AND on crutches.

And so Regina was lifted into the bus. Like the queen she was, Emma joked once they had thanked the woman who had helped them.

“I’m a queen and a bit more refined,” Regina said in a voice that was one or two octaves deeper than normally.

Emma gave her girlfriend a look. She had no idea her voice could do that. But she would definitely ask her to do it again. Soon. In a more private setting.

Regina seemed unaware that she had done anything that could be defined as sexy, though. She was squirming slightly in the wheelchair. Muttering something under her breath that sounded like: “¡Mierda, me duele la espalda!”

“What’s that?” Emma asked. Ever the attentive girlfriend.

“My back is a bit sore,” Regina answered. “Probably from sitting down.”

“Oh.” Emma frowned. She knew that the best cure for that was to either stand up or walk around, but she didn’t like the idea of Regina hobbling around in a moving bus.

“Don’t worry,” Regina chuckled, easily reading Emma’s mind. “I’ll do all the walking once we get to Brooklyn.” With that she reached within her bag and found that bounty chocolate bar she had taken from the minibar before they left. She tore off the wrapping paper and took a bite of the chocolate. Emma saw the joy gleam in her eyes. And she saw something else too. A tiny boy, no older than four with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes coming staggering towards Regina’s wheelchair.

Emma nearly lost her shit again. Because not only was this little boy insanely adorable. He also wore a pair of dungarees. Like Regina. Fuck, what was the chances, even?! Had Emma been just a smidge crazier, she definitely would have snapped a picture of Regina with her ‘twin’. Her dungaree-twin.

The little boy came closer and closer, but once he was there, the bus stopped for red light, making the little boy sway dangerously.

Regina made a sound that sounded like ‘oop’ as she swiftly reached forward and supported the little boy before he could fall on his face. “Careful,” she smiled.

“Thank you,” the boy said, and Emma smiled because it sounded like ‘tank you’. And because Regina always got the attention of children no matter where she went.

“You’re welcome,” Regina smiled. “Now, what can I do for you, young man?”

The boy giggled for a moment before focusing on the bounty chocolate bar still in Regina’s free hand. “Chocolate?” he asked in what Emma suspected was his sweetest voice.

Regina frowned in confusion for a moment. Then it dawned on her. “You’re asking if you can have a piece of chocolate? Is that it?”

The boy nodded eagerly.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, dear,” Regina said and glanced around in the bus. “You’ll have to ask your mom about that.”

As on cue, a tall woman with blonde hair came briskly walking through the bus. “Ethan,” she said slightly exasperated. “What did I tell you about wandering off?”

“Not to,” the toddler said cleverly, and Emma had to cough to mask a snicker.

“That’s right,” his mother said, raising an eyebrow but looking like she too was about to smile. “And what did I tell you about asking strangers for sweets?”

“Not to,” the toddler said again and smiled brightly at his mom. Clearly proud for knowing the right answer.

“That’s right,” his mother said once more, and now she was really smiling. “And yet I find you doing both. Why is that, Ethan?”

“Hungry,” Ethan said simply, glancing longingly at the chocolate bar in Regina’s hand.

“I see.” Now his mom was laughing.

So was Emma. She couldn’t help it.

“Can I have chocolate?” Ethan asked, looking at his mom but sneaking closer to Regina. “Please?” he was clearly asking them both.

“Well….” His mom glanced towards Regina.

“If it’s okay with you, then it’s okay with me,” Regina half-chuckled.

“Alright then,” the mom chuckled. “Ask the nice lady if you can have some. But remember to be polite.”

The little boy gave Regina his sweetest smile and batted his big blue eyes. “May I please have some chocolate, ma’am?”

Emma laughed behind her hand. Regina being referred to as ‘ma’am’ was hilarious. Regina took it in strides. “Yes, of course,” she beamed as she broke a piece of chocolate off and handed it to the little boy. “Here you go, Ethan.”

“Thank you!” the boy gave her a big smile. “Thank you, ma’am!”

“You’re welcome, dear,” Regina chuckled.

“Alright, you little charmer,” the mother interrupted, taking her son’s free hand. “That’s enough begging for one day. Come on, you.”

With one last smile, the little boy toddled along after his mom back through the bus and Emma immediately began teasing Regina about the ‘ma’am’….

 

 

Their first stop in Brooklyn was of course lunch. Duh. Regina half-sheepishly joked that she was chronically hungry, and Emma shrugged and said that so was she.

They found a nice little place where they had burgers and fries for lunch. And cream soda. That still ranked high on Regina’s list, and Emma was still amused by it.

After lunch, they continued their exploration of Brooklyn. They ended up at the enormous outdoors flea market. Emma happily wheeled Regina around between the stalls, and they spent hours looking at the things for sale. Exactly like they had done in Madrid.

And exactly like in Madrid, both of them ended up buying ridiculously ugly t-shirts for their fathers. The one Emma chose for her father had a large beaver dancing, and the t-shirt Regina chose for her dad was bright orange and had little pizza slices dotted all over.

“Nice,” Emma grinned. “I bet your dad is gonna love that.”

“Of course he will,” Regina mock huffed. “He’ll probably be wearing it every single day.”

“Even to work?”

“Mmm, especially to work.” Regina laughed and ran her fingers over the shirt. “The fabric is very soft. Maybe I should buy one for myself. Seems great to sleep in.”

“No!” Emma exclaimed so loud Regina turned her head and looked at her.

“Sorry,” Emma said a bit sheepishly. “I just… I like when you sleep in my shirts.”

“Oh,” Regina chuckled and gave her hand another little pat. “Maybe you should buy me one, then.”

It was clearly meant as a joke, but Emma chose to take her up on it. “We’ll have another of those shirts, please,” she said to the woman in the boot.

“Emma, no!” Regina protested.

“Emma, yes,” Emma laughed as she paid for a second shirt with little pizza slices dotted all over. “There we are. I’ll wear it tonight, and then it’s yours for the rest of the time. How about that?”

“You are absolutely loca,” Regina said flatly.

“And yet you love me like crazy, right?”

“I never claimed not to,” Regina said haughtily. “Would you mind stopping the wheelchair? I wanna walk for a little while.”

“Sure thing. How is the back doing?”

“Ouch,” Regina said plainly as she carefully got on her feet and began hobbling through the market.

Emma was trailing closely behind her with the wheelchair. Not to nag, but just to show Regina that she was here if Regina needed to sit down.

Regina seemed very happy to be up and about, though. She had gotten pretty fast on crutches actually…

 

 

After the flea market, they hit the museum and spent a solid amount of time there. Regina was partially walking, partially using the wheelchair. She was smiling and happy. Exactly as she should be.

Emma was growing slightly anxious though. After the museum, she was hoping they could ‘accidentally’ find the art gallery Malaina owned. And she hoped that they ‘accidentally’ could run into the woman a second time. She was not expecting any miracles, but she did hope that meeting Regina a second time could somehow tickle Malaina’s conscience and make her realize that it was time to be honest with Cora’s daughter.

Her plan kept her distracted and Regina pointed that out a few times. Emma managed to laugh and joke herself out of the situation, but her conscience was burning. She felt like a villain for having ulterior motives with coming here, and she begged whatever god up there that they would run into Malaina.

“Huh,” Regina said, glancing up at the statue of a very naked man.

“A glorious piece of art, no doubt,” Emma nodded.

“Hmm. I’m not convinced.” Regina chuckled. “He seems a little miserable, doesn’t he?”

Emma glanced at the man’s pinched expression. “Yeah, I guess he does. Maybe he’s constipated?”

“Or maybe they’re heavy?” Regina slyly suggested, glancing at the statue’s abdomen.

“Regina!” Emma exclaimed and tried to sound scandalized but ended up laughing instead.

“What,” Regina snickered. “They look heavy!”

“They do,” Emma agreed after a second glance at the statue’s…. equipment.

Regina cleared her throat. “So….. ¿La habitación de al lado?”

”Definitely,” Emma agreed. ”Next room.”

And so they wheeled into the next room. Where there were less naked men and more paintings. Perfect, as Regina laughingly put it.

Emma agreed with that. She much preferred the paintings over the statue of the naked man.

They ended up spending quite a while in the museum. Regina mentioned that she had been to the museum as a kid. And hated every second of it. Because Cora constantly had told her off for not being ‘cultural enough’.

“That statue of the naked man was there that time too,” Regina remembered and rolled her eyes. “Good old Cora didn’t like it. She covered my eyes. And nearly covered her own too…”

“Uh-huh,” Emma said halfheartedly. And tried not to think of the deeper meaning of Cora’s discomfort over the statue….

 

Emma actually managed to find the art gallery the illustrious Malaina owned, and once again she felt like a villain as she lied to Regina. Under the pretense of needing the bathroom, she stole herself into the gallery. But rather than using the bathroom she went to the front desk and asked if Malaina was here today.

She was not.

Of course not.

Wasn’t there some golden rule about the owner never being present?

Emma silently cussed all the way out of the gallery but managed to put on a smile for Regina when she asked where they were going next. Emma suggested some shopping at L Train Vintage, and Regina was down for that.

They ended up spending a good while there too, and Regina actually found some really cute pregnancy dresses and pants. She was very satisfied with that. And so was Emma. She was particularly satisfied when Regina came across a pair of leather maternity pants.

“Yeah, you definitely need those,” she said solemnly. “If you don’t buy them, I will.”

“I’ll get them,” Regina laughed. “I won’t be able to fit into them in two months, but...”

“YOLO,” Emma finished the sentence for her and grinned.

“Exactly, querida. It’s a shame I can’t try them on, but what the hell. I’m sure they’ll fit.”

“Oh yeah,” Emma smirked. “I’m sure they’ll fit very nicely.”

Regina laughed again. Then called Emma something that sounded like ‘pervertida’.

“Rude,” Emma muttered. She wasn’t a ‘pervertida’ just because she happened to go crazy over the idea of Regina in leather pants, was she?

Okay, maybe she was. A little bit. But hey, she would wear that stamp like a badge of honor!

“¡Ay!,” Regina exclaimed. “!Detén la silla de ruedas, querida! I see something YOU need!”

“Okay?” Emma promptly stopped the wheelchair and watched slightly confused as Regina reached out and plucked something off a shelf. The ‘something’ turned out to be a tanktop, and when Regina held it up so Emma could see it properly, the blonde laughed heartily. “Perfect!”

Across the tanktop was written ‘BE CAREFUL, SHE’S PREGNANT’ and underneath a huge arrow indicating that the warning was about the person next to the person wearing the tanktop.

Emma bought the tanktop. Of course she did. She had to. It was meant to be.

And Regina bought the leather pants. Which Emma was very pleased about!

That was meant to be too…

 

 

By the time they left the all the glorious shopping possibilities behind, the daylight was dwindling, and after a brief talk, the couple decided that it was time for dinner.

“Tengo hambre,” Regina said. “And so is Arándano. He’s been kicking me for the past half an hour. I think this is his version of whining.”

“Oh,” Emma laughed. “We better get some food in you. Make that kid of ours stop kicking you.”

“Sí,” Regina said slightly strained. “That would be highly appreciated.”

Emma immediately frowned. “Is he hurting you?”

“A little bit,” Regina replied, tried laughing it off but failed miserably and instead went with ‘ouch!’

“Oh, shit,” Emma grimaced on her girlfriend’s behalf. She had never been pregnant, but she could sort of imagine how it felt to have a very tiny person kicking away at your bladder and ribs. “Do you wanna walk a little?”

“Sí, maybe that’ll make him stop,” Regina said, looking as though she didn’t really believe it. But up she went. Grabbing her crutches, she began hobbling down the street and the sight had Emma smiling. The way Regina’s bun bopped up and down was just so darn sweet. She kept her distance and fished her ‘amateur-just-for-fun’ camera out of its bag. She slowly lifted it and squinted slightly. Then she snapped a picture of Regina walking down the busy New York street. Then another. Emma smiled when she saw the result. It actually looked quite artistic. Regina on the street amongst the people in her dungarees with the pencil in her bun. She blended in and at the same time not at all. The crutches didn’t tarnish the result in anyway. In fact it only made the picture all the more quirky.

“Perfect,” Emma murmured to herself.

“Qué?” Regina partially turned around and swayed slightly. “Woops.”

“Careful!” Emma immediately barked and rushed over there with the wheelchair. “Do you need to sit down?”

“No,” Regina chuckled and squinted at the camera still in Emma’s free hand. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” Emma said and tried to sound as innocent as she possibly could.

Regina didn’t take the bait, though. “Are you photographing me?” she asked, now narrowing her eyes at Emma.

“No….”

“Mentirosa,” Regina casually accused. “I wanna see the result later. No discussion.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

Regina shot her a look that was half amused and half annoyed. “Don’t call me that.”

“No, you’re right. Mamí sounds way better.”

Oddly enough, Regina did not disagree with that. She merely smirked….

 

 

They found the restaurant. Regina had her buffalo wings. And Emma had the pleasure of watching her eat them. Obviously, Emma had buffalo wings too, and they were very good. But not half as good as it was to watch as Regina slowly but steadily ate her way through the pile.

“¡Estos son ... increíbles!” she nearly moaned as she wiped her mouth for the third time.

“Yeah, I can see that, beautiful girl,” Emma said and waggled an eyebrow at her girlfriend.

Regina rolled her expressive dark eyes in return. “Sí, I’m getting excited about the food,” she murmured in a low voice. “What are you gonna do about it?”

“I have several ideas and none of them works in a restaurant.”

Regina giggled (yep, giggled!) and looked fondly at her remaining buffalo wings. Picking up one, she said: “I might have to marry these.”

“And there goes my chance,” Emma blurted before she could think.

Regina dropped the buffalo wing on her plate and stared wide eyed at Emma.

“Oops,” Emma said and grinned sheepishly. “I guess you heard that, didn’t you?”

“Sí, I did, querida.”

“Right.” Emma scratched the back of her neck. “And are you about to run away screaming?”

“Can’t exactly run anywhere these days, can I,” Regina chuckled and shot Emma a fond gaze. “But even if I could…. No, mi amor. I would not.”

“Right,” Emma repeated dumbly. Her heart was beating stupidly in her chest and her inner voice shouted reminders that Regina only was twenty years old. Way too young to- no. Emma was not going there. Definitely not!

Regina helped herself to some of Emma’s fries. “Mmm. These are good.”

“Yup,” Emma said, relieved over having something else to think and talk about. “They’re really good.”

Regina smiled teasingly as she grabbed another fry between her thumb and index finger. “Open wide,” she smirked.

Delighted about her playful girlfriend, Emma willingly opened her mouth and took a bite of the offered French fry. She sneakily nipped Regina’s finger and made her gasp in surprise. Emma smirked. Two could play this game.

“Well, well,” Regina purred, and it was Emma’s turn to gasp when she felt Regina’s (non-broken) foot brush against her ankle under the table.

She cleared her throat and glanced at the buffalo wings on Regina’s plate. “Maybe we should ask the waiter to wrap this up and-“

“Go home and eat these in bed,” Regina smirked again. “What an excellent idea, querida. I do need to… Lie down.”

The meaning in her words was not lost on Emma. Definitely not. A billion delicious scenarios that definitely wasn’t appropriate in a public restaurant immediately invaded her mind. She cleared her throat again. “Right. Let’s see if we can spot a…. waitress.” She
trailed off as thoughts of Regina wearing those damn leather pants invaded her mind.

Regina laughed, and Emma felt completely pathetic as she glanced around in the restaurant in the hope to flag a waitress down. It was high time to get out of this restaurant.

But there was not a single waitresses in sight (damnit!) and while trying her best to banish the image of Regina in leather pants from her mind, Emma absentmindedly ended up glancing at the woman who had just come out of the bathroom. For some reason she ended up doing a double take. And what she saw had her heart pounding for other reasons.

Dark brown eyes. Dark brown hair tied back in an elegant bun. Laser sharp cheekbones. A mouth that twisted very slightly as though she found using a public bathroom to be highly annoying. Elegant white pencil skirt without a single crinkle or fold. Red wine blouse underneath. Snow-white blazer matching the skirt. High heels. At least three inches. She said something to the waitress and her voice could cut through stone.

Had Emma doubted or perhaps even stupidly hoped that she wasn’t seeing this correctly, she could kiss that ridiculous assumption goodbye.

This was no random woman.

This was no evil twin.

It was none other than Cora Mills.

 

 

To Be Continued………..

Chapter Text

Several options ran through Emma’s mind as she disbelievingly stared at Cora.

Option number one: pretending not to have seen Cora and become a fulltime chatterbox to keep Regina distracted until Cora had left the restaurant.

Option number two: walk right up to Cora and ask her to leave.

Option three: sit tight and hope for the best.

And finally, option number four: haul ass and get Regina the hell out of the restaurant before she could spot Cora.

None of the options were very good. In fact, all of them would eventually lead to disaster.

Emma swallowed something. And like the coward she was, she desperately hoped that neither Cora nor Regina would spot each other. She hoped that Cora would walk out of there and none of them would be any the wiser. Was that really too much to ask? Cora was a busy lady, right? Always in a hurry to leave.

Emma silently begged the higher powers. Please leave, please leave, please leave.

“Emma? Querida?”

“Huh?” Emma distractedly turned her head and looked at Regina who was smiling at her. “What?”

“Hi,” Regina chuckled, waving her hand exaggeratedly in Emma’s face. “Where’d you go?”

“Nowhere. Sorry. I’m here.” Except she wasn’t. Her mouth talked and talked about nothing while she kept looking to the place where Cora was still standing by the counter. God, couldn’t she pay for her meal a little quicker?

Emma felt as though karma was coming back to bite her in the ass. She had had naïve dreams of Regina reuniting with her mother in some way, but not like this! This was completely wrong. Everything about this situation screamed ‘danger’.

“Emma.”

“Sorry,” Emma said, hastily turning her head and looking at Regina again. “What did you say?”

Regina seemed annoyed as she rolled her eyes. “Never mind. What I’m saying is clearly not interesting enough to keep your attention.”

“Sorry,” Emma repeated. “I’m here now. Promise.”

“What are you even looking at?” Regina said, sitting a little straighter in an attempt to look past Emma and at the front desk.

“Nothing,” Emma said, swiftly grabbing Regina’s hand and hoped it would distract her. “I’m here. And I’m all yours. Promise.” She gave Regina her sweetest smile.

Regina returned the smile and seemed soothed.

So was Emma. Until she heard the heels of Cora Mills clicking against the floor. In a moment, she would be walking right past their table in order to get to the door, and Emma debated whether she actually should lean over the table and kiss Regina. That would keep her occupied, right?

Yes. Yes, it would. But it wasn’t enough to keep Regina occupied.

Emma’s heart plummeted when she heard the clacking of Cora’s heels coming to a stop. Right by their table.

The sound caught Regina’s attention too. She turned her head. Emma did the same, and there she was, Cora. Standing right behind them. She had a shellshocked look on her face.

But if Cora was shellshocked, it was nothing compared to the look on Regina’s face. It looked like her cheeks had been drained of color and her eyes were twice the size they usually were.

For a moment, it looked as though Regina was going to explode and start yelling, but then her wide eyes narrowed into thin slits. She tore her gaze away from Cora and looked at Emma again. “Come on, Emma,” she said mechanically. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Wait,” Emma said because over Regina’s shoulder she could see that Cora was coming closer.

“I don’t think so,” Regina said tightly. “Come on.” She reached for her crutches, but it was too late.

“Regina,” Cora said, and for once every hint of dissatisfaction was absent from her voice. There was only disbelief. And a hint of something else. Worry? Or perhaps even fear?

“Cora,” Regina dully acknowledged, and Emma saw how Cora’s jaw tightened slightly. She clearly found it jarring to be addressed as ‘Cora’ rather than ‘mother’.

“You’re-“

“No,” Regina interrupted. Her voice wasn’t very loud, but nonetheless firm. “I’m not doing this with you. Leave us alone.”

Cora opened her mouth, but no words came out. It was obvious that she was shocked at hearing Regina talk to her like that. She didn’t move either. Just kept standing and staring.

“Fine,” Regina sneered, reaching for her crutches once more. “If you’re not leaving, we are.” She hoisted herself up and hobbled towards the desk.

A very slight gasping sound escaped Cora as she stared at Regina’s large belly. Clearly, she hadn’t expected her daughter to be this pregnant either.

Emma too got up from her chair, but her legs weren’t quite doing her bidding. Rather than following Regina, she for some reason kept standing. She could sense that Cora was looking at her, but Emma refused to meet her eyes.

Regina paid for their dinner and looked over her shoulder. “Emma, aren’t you coming?”

Now Emma finally got a move on and followed Regina as she walked to the door. Even in her dazed state, she managed to hold the door open for Regina.

Reaching the street, Regina started to limp away from the restaurant in the most aggressive manner Emma had ever seen anyone limp in. It didn’t look safe at all. Despite Regina’s fast pace, Emma easily got in front of her. “Wait,” she said, putting her hands on
Regina’s shoulders to stop her.

“What?” Regina said tightly.

“I’m scared you might hurt yourself,” Emma said. “And…. Don’t you think you should at least talk to her?”

Regina shot her a look of pure disbelief. “Why the hell would I want that? Emma, you can see that’s Cora, right?”

“Yeah, I can see it’s her, but I was just thinking-“

“Well, you thought wrong,” Regina interrupted and lifted her chin. “I would like to go home now. Please.” She began limping down the street again, and Emma had no choice but to follow her.

But Cora was not giving up. A slight noise had Emma looking back over her shoulder, and she saw Cora coming out of the restaurant. The older woman glanced in every direction before spotting Emma and Regina and hastily walking towards them.

“What?” Regina turned her head, glancing in the direction Emma was looking in. She let out a hiss. “What, she’s following me now? What the hell is wrong with her?!”

“I think maybe she just wants to talk to you, honey,” Emma did her best to soothe.

“Yeah well, I have nothing to say to her,” Regina said. But she nonetheless stopped. Though it was possible that it wasn’t for Cora’s sake. She leaned heavily on her crutches and her breathing was a little rapid. Easily getting winded was one of the newest symptoms.

Cora easily caught up with them. Once she reached them, she stopped and looked at her daughter. “Regina,” she said again.

“Cora,” Regina mocked and balanced herself with one hand on her crutches while putting the other protectively on her belly. “What is it that you want?”

“You’re… here,” Cora said.

“As you can see. New York is a big city and yet I managed to be at the exact same location as you. Unfortunately. But you have nothing to worry about. It won’t happen again, I can assure you of that.”

Emma saw how Cora recoiled at that. A muscle in her jaw worked, but her voice still sounded hesitant when she asked: “might we talk for a moment?”

“Talk?” Regina let out a joyless laugh. “I don’t think so. Besides, what’s there to talk about? The last time we ‘talked’ you told me that you were cutting me off. And honestly, I’ve been very happy with that arrangement!”

More words that left an imprint. Cora recoiled again. Visibly this time. “Regina, I just want a moment to talk about-“

“We’re going,” Regina said tightly. “Come on, querida.” She turned around and began limping away once more, and Emma shot Cora a look saying ‘you missed your chance’.

Cora raised an eyebrow. Looked confused for a moment. But then it looked like a light bulb had been switched on in her mind, and Emma had absolutely no idea what it was that had dawned on Cora until Cora spoke up again:

“You haven’t told her, have you?” she asked.

“No,” Emma said simply.

“¡¿Qué?!”

Now Emma was the one to cringe as Regina turned around on the spot and sped-hobbled back to them. She looked first at Emma. Then at Cora. Her eyes were first wide. Then they narrowed again. “What’s going on?” she asked dully.

It felt like Emma’s tongue crinkled and died like a dead leaf. Now she suddenly realized how much she had fucked up by not being honest with Regina from the start.

“Emma,” Regina’s voice was full of insecurity. “What is she talking about? What is this?”

“I…” Emma squeaked and tried to find the right words. “Regina-“

“Have you been talking to Cora behind my back?” Regina interrupted. Now her eyes were wide again.

Emma was sure she could see her own doom in those eyes. “No!” she said quickly.

Next to her, Cora shifted slightly.

Regina’s gaze darted back and forward between them.

“I mean, yes, but it wasn’t like that-“

“So you have,” Regina interrupted. Red spots of anger colored her cheeks. “Why? Why would you do such a thing when you know how I feel about her?”

“It wasn’t like that!” Emma said again and immediately realized how fucking hollow the words sounded. “I promise, it’s not like that!” worse still.

“Does she have something on you?” Regina asked dully. “Is she blackmailing you in some kind of way?”

“No!” Emma said.

Regina’s nostrils flared. “If she’s not blackmailing you into something, then it IS exactly ‘like that’.”

“No, it isn’t,” Cora said, speaking up for the first time. “The fault is mine. I was the one who asked Emma to-“

“To what?” Regina interrupted sharply, glaring at both of them. “Make sure I was at the restaurant at the same time as you?” she turned her full attention to Emma, and her mouth fell open. “Dios mio…. Is that why you wanted me to come with you to New York?
Because you knew that she would be here?!”

“No,” Emma said, repeating a word she had been saying far too many times already. She wished she could have sounded more convincing, but she felt guilty. Because her intention with this outing had absolutely been to ‘accidentally’ run into Cora’s mistress.

And that was almost the same as this.

“You’re lying,” Regina said and sounded utterly shocked. “I can’t believe this. You’re actually…. Lying!”

“No! Regina, I’m not lying, I swear!” Emma said, reaching out to touch Regina’s arm to assure her.

But Regina squirmed away from the touch. “Then why don’t I believe you? What are you hiding from me?”

“I’m not hiding anything, I swear!”

“Okay. Tell me what you and Cora have been talking about behind my back then!”

“I-“ Emma desperately glanced at Cora in the hope to get some help.

But Cora just stood there, pale faced and with her lips pressed tightly together. Clearly fearing that Emma would reveal her secret at any moment.

 

“You don’t want to tell me,” Regina deduced. “Wow.”

Okay, now every single alarm bell in the world was blaring in Emma’s mind. That little ‘wow’ could kill!

Regina released something that sounded like a cold, disbelieving laughter. Then she turned around and started limping away once more. She was fast on those crutches! Emma actually had to jog to keep up with her. “Wait!” she called. “Regina, please wait!”

“For what?!” Regina half-yelled over her shoulder.

Once again, Emma managed to get in front of her. “Regina, please just listen to me for a moment,” she said, once again attempting to touch Regina’s arm.

And once again, Regina recoiled. “Fine. Tell me what the fuck is going on with you and Cora!”

“It’s, it’s, it’s… complicated,” Emma said. And immediately knew it was the wrong thing to say.

“No. it’s not. You tell me what’s going on,” Regina said flatly. “It’s totally uncomplicated, Emma.”

“I have been talking to Cora, yes, that’s right, but one time and I had no idea she would be here, I swear!” Emma rambled.

For a moment, Regina looked a tiny bit less hostile. “Alright. And what were you talking to her about?”

“I… I….” Emma scrambled to find the right words. But they didn’t exist. She couldn’t tell Regina the truth without revealing Cora’s secret. “I can’t tell you.”

Regina’s nostrils started flaring.

“I know how it sounds!” Emma said quickly. “I do know that, but it’s not really my thing to tell, it’s Cora’s, so if you ask her-“

“Do you realize what this sounds like?” Regina asked calmly. “It sounds like you’re choosing to protect Cora’s ‘secret’ rather than protecting me.”

“No! God, no! I’d never-“

“Regina…” Cora had caught up with them. “She’s telling the truth. I do have something that I haven’t told you. Miss Swan- Emma- found out and has been kind enough to allow me to tell you myself.”

“Tell me what? What the fuck is going on?!”

“Can’t we go back to the restaurant?” Cora suggested. “Get off the street.”

“Oh sí, because god forbid that someone should overhear us not being civil!” Regina snapped. “Or is your ‘secret’ so deep and dark it can’t be said in the street?!”

Cora cringed. Regina had clearly managed to stomp on all of her insecurities.

“She’s right, we can’t do this in the street,” Emma said. “You need to sit down.”

“Oh, so now you’re worried about me?” Regina sneered and glared at them again. “Look at you agreeing with her. This is looking more and more like an ambush! I’m not so sure I believe that you didn’t know she was here…”

“I didn’t,” Emma said firmly and gently grasped Regina’s elbow. “Come on. Please.” She had seen Regina’s face contort in pain twice already and she was worried that Regina was experiencing Braxton hicks again.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on here,” Regina muttered. “But I sure as hell don’t want to be a part of it!”

Still, she followed, though. The three of them went back to the restaurant. Regina first, then Emma, and finally Cora.

The waitress seemed a bit surprised to see them again, but she was quick to put on a smile and a cheerful: “some dessert, ladies?”

“No thank you,” Emma said. Dessert would be entirely inappropriate right now. “But if the same table is still available?”

“It sure is,” the waitress smiled. “You just take a seat, and please let me know if you need anything.”

“Thank you.”

They walked over to the table. Emma and Cora sat down, but Regina didn’t. Instead she turned and limped to the left.

“Where are you going?” Emma asked.

“To the bathroom,” Regina snapped. “Is that okay, or do you want to tell Cora about it?”

With that she limped off, and Emma cringed when she heard the door to the bathroom close hard behind her.

Emma immediately looked at Cora and did her best to stare her down. “Tell. Her.,” she hissed, struggling to keep her voice down. “Tell her, and tell her now! ‘Cause if you don’t…. I will.” She drew in a sharp breath between her teeth. “I don’t care that I’m-“ lowering her voice again: “outing you, or telling a secret that isn’t mine to tell. I’m sorry, Cora, but I love Regina. I want to start a family and spend the rest of my fucking life with her, and you and your secret aren’t going to fuck that up! I am not like you! I actually care about the people I have in my life, and right now Regina thinks that I have betrayed her!” she drew in another breath. “And in a way, I have. I haven’t been honest with her when I should have been. I should have focused more on being honest with her rather than keeping your secret. That’s on me. Completely. But the rest of it…” her hands curled into fists and right now she felt tempted to do to Cora what she had done to Neal. Slap her hard across the face. “That’s your doing, Cora! You’re the one who chose to keep such a vital part of your life a secret from your own daughter…” she shook her head and breathed out as though she was angry bull ready to attack. “You know what, Cora? I wish that I had never called you in the first place! I wish that I hadn’t felt compelled to inform you that your daughter ended up in the hospital! You clearly didn’t care at all, and if I hadn’t called you, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in this ridiculous farce!” she glared at Cora. “Why didn’t you show up at the hospital? Why?!”

Cora fidgeted with the napkin in a way that seemed highly out of character for her. “I suppose I feared that Regina would reject me.”

“But you weren’t sure!” Emma spat. “There was no way of telling how Regina would have reacted to seeing you, and you still chose to do fucking nothing, Cora! You didn’t show up!”

“I regret that,” Cora said stiffly.

Emma shook her head. “Not good enough. Not fucking good enough! What if she had been seriously hurt? What if she had miscarried…” her voice broke at the dreaded word. “Would you have chosen to stay away then?”

Cora didn’t answer that. She only kept fidgeting with the napkin. But it was clear as day that she was uncomfortable. She was still very pale, and her eyes flickered uncharacteristically.

She reminded Emma of a trapped animal, but right now she didn’t have the capacity to care about Cora’s feelings. She kept pushing: “how can you be this cold? How can you live with this?! Being estranged from your daughter? Is that really what you want?”

“No,” Cora said shortly. “It is not.” She had gone quite pale again. Her eyes flickered to the place Regina last stood in.

Emma stopped breathing like an angry bull for a moment. “What are you so afraid of?” she asked. Because the look in Cora Mills’ eyes couldn’t be described as anything but fear.

“You wouldn’t understand,” Cora said stiffly.

“Try me,” Emma challenged. “I’m pretty smart.”

Cora pressed her lips together and said nothing.

That didn’t stop Emma. “Cora, I don’t know what sort of crap you went through when you were younger, but I know you’ve been through something, alright? I got that. Why else this charade?”

Cora still didn’t say anything. But Emma could see that she had hit the head on the nail.

“You are handling this the completely wrong way,” Emma continued. “Why are you playing this ridiculous game of hide and seek with your daughter when you could just tell her? She’s bisexual, for god’s sake. Why would she judge you? Perhaps she would judge
you for all the lies you’ve been telling, which I totally get, but you being with a woman? She would not judge that.”

“You cannot know that for sure,” Cora said steely. “It’s different when it is a parent who confesses… that. And you know how she adores her father and much prefers him over me.”

“Perhaps its time to ask yourself why that is,” Emma said plainly and stared Cora down. “And if you honestly think that you can solve that problem by pushing her away instead, then you’re more delusional than I thought!”

Cora pressed her lips together again.

“How can you think that cutting yourself out of your daughter’s life will help anything?” Emma pressed. “Do you really think that’s the best solution?”

Cora said nothing. But the silent ‘no’ was as loud as though she had shouted it into the restaurant. And despite being angry, Emma felt a twinge of pity. It was clear as day that Cora was terrified of coming out to Regina. Hell, judging by how she had called it ‘that’ rather than being gay, she probably was afraid to admit it to herself.

“You need to tell her Cora,” Emma said, voice a bit gentler now. “You need to be honest with your daughter. It’s time. What does Malaina say to this? She can’t possibly think that this is the way to do this, can she?”

She didn’t get an answer. It had been a complete gamble on her behalf, but Emma could tell that she once again had hit the head on the nail. Judging by the look on Cora’s face, it looked like she and Malaina actually had talked about this. Perhaps even argued.

Emma still sort of wanted to either shake Cora or yell at her until she saw sense, but she had completely run out of steam. She was tense and on edge and very, very sick of Cora Mills’ ridiculous games of hide and seek. And she was also sick of herself and how she had approached this. She never should have made herself a participant in Cora’s games. Never.

Of course she should have been honest with Regina right from the start. Had she been that, Regina wouldn’t feel angry and betrayed right now.

Cora lightly drummed her fingers against the table. Clearly uncomfortable.

Emma didn’t give two shits. Cora was going to have this deeply personal talk with Regina in the middle of a restaurant. End of story. She let out a deep sight and rubbed her face tiredly. Still struggling to grasp the disaster this day had turned into. It had started out so well. This morning, she and Regina had been perfectly happy. Regina had been laughing and flirting, and her biggest concern had been where to find the waffles she wanted for dessert. And now Emma and Cora had managed to screw up everything.

Emma would be the first one to acknowledge her own part in this disaster. And she was prepared to fall to her knees and beg Regina for forgiveness if that was what it took. She was ready to do fucking everything in her power to sort out the mess.

She nearly shuddered when thinking about the way Regina’s eyes had blazed with anger. They had been nearly black. And absolutely terrifying.

Emma was genuinely afraid. Was it even possible to fix this? Or was it already too late? Had she managed to screw things up completely?

She feared that the answer to that was yes. She had never seen Regina look so upset and betrayed.

She swallowed something and urged herself not to start weeping in the middle of a restaurant. Why the fuck hadn’t she sorted out her priorities?! It was like she had developed tunnel vision and had focused on the completely wrong thing. By keeping Cora’s
secret, she had made herself Cora’s accomplice. Why hadn’t she been able to realize that before?

“Hasn’t she been in the bathroom for… quite a while?” Cora asked matter of factly.

Emma was immediately pulled out of her thoughts about Cora’s lies and her own stupidity. She reluctantly looked up and made eye contact with Cora.

“You have a point,” she said upon realizing that Regina had in fact been in the bathroom for quite a long time. She was pregnant, but this was still longer than she normally would spend in there.

“I’ll go and check on her. I think it would be best if you stay here.”

“Naturally. I don’t think Regina would appreciate it if we both came barreling into the bathroom,” Cora said, pressing her lips together in a thin line.

“That’s not what I meant,” Emma said tightly. “I meant that I think it would be a fucking great idea if you stayed HERE. In the restaurant.” If she insulted Cora by suggesting that she would be capable of doing a runner, too bad. Emma didn’t fucking care anymore. She just. Didn’t. Care.

She didn’t stay long enough to see Cora’s reaction either.

Emma stomped through the restaurant and opened the door to the bathroom. It was empty except from a blonde who was re-applying her lipstick in front of the mirror.

She began knocking on the closed doors to the toilet booths while murmuring Regina’s name. She earned herself a strange look from the woman by the mirror, but Emma paid no mind to her. She continued her search until she reached the very last booth. She knocked on the door. “Regina?”

There was no answer. And taking a closer look at the door, Emma could see that it was unlocked. She pushed it open and peeked inside. Empty. Exactly like the other booths had been.

Regina wasn’t here.

Emma felt a twinge of panic but tried to remain calm as she turned to the woman by the mirror again. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have seen a brunette on crutches, would you?”

The woman slowly lowered her lipstick and raised an eyebrow as she looked at Emma in the mirror. “Very pregnant, wearing dungarees and a pencil in her hair?”

“Yep, that’s the one. Exactly.”

Now the woman squinted. “She a friend of yours?”

“Girlfriend, actually,” Emma corrected. While hoping that ‘girlfriend’ still was the correct term to use. It HAD to be. Right? Right?!

The woman whirled around on the spot and shot Emma a look that was pure judgement. “She’s your girlfriend? Jeez, what did you do to her?!” she hissed and before Emma could say anything (honestly, what would that even be? She had about zero ways to defend herself right now), the woman continued: “she came in here BAWLING her eyes out and nearly tripping all over the place! Had me worried for a second because I thought she had gone into labor or something! But she said that she was fine…” the
disbelief in her voice was evident, and Emma felt like the worst human being ever.

“Do you know where she is?” she squeaked.

“Sure I do,” the woman said tightly, now aggressively re-applying mascara to her lashes. “She asked me if I could help her out through the back, and obviously, you don’t reject helping a pregnant woman, so I helped her outside and got her and her crutches into a taxi…”

“A taxi?” Emma croaked, noting that she was getting slightly dizzy. “Did she... did she say where she was going?”

“Nope, just muttered something I couldn’t understand. Think it was Spanish. Then she said thank you and the taxi took off.” She pinned Emma with a scorching look that could kill. “If she wanted ‘people’ to know where she was going, I reckon she would have left through the front door, don’t you?”

“How long ago was this?” Emma yelped and didn’t even have time to cringe over the woman’s obvious insult.

The blonde woman shrugged and sneered at Emma. “I dunno. Maybe… five minutes? You definitely won’t be able to catch up with her. And judging by how much she was crying when she left, I reckon that’s probably a good thing. Asshat.”

“Fuck!” Emma cussed. She turned around and left the bathroom. Almost stumbled out in the restaurant. Found the backdoor and tumbled through it and out on the street.

Lots of people. Lots of yellow taxis. Absolutely no sign of Regina. Of course not. If she had taken off in a taxi, she obviously wouldn’t be here.

Emma’s heart plummeted as she frantically looked around. She fumbled and found her cellphone in her pocket. Found Regina’s number on speed dial and brought the phone up to her ear. Waited while her heart sped up.

‘Hola, soy Regina, no puedo contestar mi teléfono en este momento, pero por favor deje su nombre y número, ¡y me comunicaré con usted pronto!’

Straight to voicemail. Which could only mean one thing. Regina had switched off her phone.

“Damnit!” Emma cussed out loud and made several heads turn. She didn’t care. She had just remembered what Regina had said moments before she went to the bathroom.

‘I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but I sure as hell don’t want to be a part of it!’

If that wasn’t a hint, Emma didn’t know what was. She cussed loudly once more. How could she have been so fucking stupid?! How could she have put Cora’s feelings and secret over Regina’s feelings? Where the fuck had her loyalty been lying for the past many weeks? And the whole charade about hoping to ‘accidentally’ run into Malaina again? Seriously? What kind of idiot was she?! Why the fuck couldn’t she just have been honest with Regina from the start? Why had she been so hellbent on protecting Cora when
Cora never had something similar to Regina?

God, she should have given Cora an ultimatum. Told her to tell Regina the truth about her mistress and refuse to be the keeper of her secrets.

Emma grinded her teeth and tried calling Regina again.

She got the same result.

Straight to voicemail.

Emma left a message but doubted that Regina would listen to it. She couldn’t blame her girlfriend (was Regina even her girlfriend anymore?) for having switched off her phone.

Emma had fucked up, and she had fucked up royally. And instead of apologizing properly for fucking up, she had somehow gotten it into her head that the three of them should sit down and have a nice, good talk about everything.

Fucking hell, she had to be the stupidest person on planet earth!

Because of her stupidity, her six months pregnant girlfriend who also happened to have a broken ankle and walk around on crutches, had taken off in one of the biggest cities in the world! And with her phone switched off… How the fuck was Emma supposed to find her again?

 

 

To Be Continued……….

Chapter Text

”Fuck!” Emma shouted at the top of her lungs and made several passerby’s look at her. She didn’t give a damn. She had just sent her girlfriend fleeing in one of the biggest cities in the world. She had just made her pregnant, crutch-using girlfriend run away.

She had just made her pregnant, crutch-using girlfriend CRY.

What sort of monster was she even?!

“Shit, shit, shit!” she yelled and felt tempted to stomp. Or hit herself in the face. Hard.

“Miss Swan? What on earth is going on?”

 

Emma turned her head. Cora Mills had come out on the street and was on her way towards her.

“Regina took off,” Emma said tightly when Cora reached her, once again feeling that urge to slap herself.

Cora raised an eyebrow. “I beg your pardon? What do you mean she ‘took off’?”

“I mean that she left,” Emma half-snapped.

Cora’s arms folded across her chest. “I don’t understand,” she said tonelessly. “We were supposed to have a talk.”

“Yeah, well, I guess we pushed her too far, didn’t we?” Emma sneered and began pacing the street like a caged lion.

“Well, Regina has always been very impulsive, and very drama-“

“Shut up,” Emma said exasperated, interrupting whatever sentence Cora was gonna say.

“I beg your-“

“No, you shut up and LISTEN for once in your life!” Emma half-yelled and didn’t care that they were being watched. “Gain some perspective, lady! And if you can’t, let me help you! Regina just took off. In tears. Because she felt corned by the both of us. Which essentially, is absolutely true! We corned her. I didn’t give her an explanation and as a result, Regina know thinks that I’ve been conspiring with you. And you-“ Emma snarled at Cora. “You’ve had so many opportunities to tell her the truth! When she was in the hospital for instance! You could have shown up! Or tonight! You could have told her what’s actually going on while she was standing right here and begging for the explanation, I was too fucking slow to give her! But you didn’t. And you know why? Because you’re a fucking coward, Cora! You’re hiding behind this like it’s some deep, dark secret when in reality, it’s the easiest thing in the world! Regina is the most openminded person I have ever met, so I don’t buy all that crap about being afraid to tell her! It’s a shitty excuse to keep hiding because it’s more comfortable! Are you really that willing to lose her?!”

“No,” Cora said. Her face had paled considerably.

“Good!” Emma hissed. “Neither am I! You can bet that I’ll do everything to fix this if there even is something left to fix! I am done helping you, do you hear me?! If she asks me directly, I’m going to tell her what you apparently can’t!” she glared at Cora. “From
what I know about you, Regina has many reasons to be angry with you. But your sexuality isn’t going to be one of the reasons.”

“You can’t know that for sure,” Cora said weakly.

“Yes, I can,” Emma said simply, staring the older woman down. “For reasons I have no idea of right now, I have been helping you. Now it’s time for you to help me.”

“In which way, miss Swan?”

“Quit chalking this up to Regina being dramatic, we both know she had every right, and tell me where she can be. You’ve been to New York with her and Henry before. Many times, I believe. Does she have a place she likes in particular?”

“Under normal circumstances, I would have said Central Park, but I don’t think that’s an option because it’s getting dark soon,” Cora said.

Yes. It was getting dark soon. And Regina was out there all on her own. Pregnant, with a broken ankle and hobbling on crutches. Emma nearly choked on her own fear upon acknowledging how truly vulnerable Regina was right now. A thousand scary scenarios popped up in her head. Regina being mugged. Regina falling over because the pavement was slippery. Regina crossing the street and being hit by a bicycle. Or a car.

Emma turned her head and finally saw something in Cora’s eyes that she could sympathize with. Concern. It looked like Cora had finally realized just how bad this situation truly was.

“There is a bar on Times Square that she has frequented a lot during our trips to New York,” Cora said slowly. “A Spanish bar. La flecha llameante. It’s a flamenco place. I’m not sure whether she would go there now given her… condition, and I don’t know the exact address either, but…”

“I can google that,” Emma said, finding her phone to write down the name of the bar. “Anywhere else? Think!”

For once, Cora didn’t protest at the way Emma was addressing her. “She could be in the Botanic Garden,” she said. “She and her father has a tradition of having a picnic in the park.”

The botanic garden at dusk where all kinds of shady people could be hanging out. Right now, Cora was saying all the wrong things. Emma felt a wave of nausea rush over her as she nodded. “Right. Anywhere else?”

“Coney island. She always insisted on going there whenever we were in New York. She likes spending time on Brighton Beach.”

Regina on the beach. Regina getting swept up by an enormous wave suddenly appearing. This was getting worse and worse. “Where else?” she half-squeaked.

“The edge observation deck,” Cora said. “The theater district. And Empire State Building.”

Regina falling to her death from thousands and thousands of kilometers. Emma was seeing disasters everywhere.

“Right,” she said. “Plenty of places then. I’ll get to it.” She stomped away from Cora and waved her arms to hail a taxi. Didn’t care whether it was going to take her all night or more. She was going to find Regina if it was the last thing she did!

“I’ll go with you,” Cora said, heels clacking as she caught up with Emma.

“Nope,” Emma said simply. “You will not. If Regina sees both of us, she’ll think that we’re working together. Again.”

“Then we split up,” Cora said curtly. “You check half of the places and I’ll check the other half.”

Emma snorted. “What, you actually want to help?”

“Miss Swan,” Cora said without taking her eyes off the road as she too signalized for a taxi. “My pregnant daughter is currently hobbling around somewhere in New York with her phone switched off. Of course I want to ‘help’ as you put it.”

“Well, better late than never, I guess,” Emma shrugged and waved her arm again.

A taxi pulled up, and after a brief debate on who should go where, Emma hopped into the taxi, googled the address of the flamenco bar and then asked the driver to please hurry. She was going to the bar, the botanic garden and Coney Island while Cora would go to the observation deck, theater district and Empire State Building.

She did not lean back in the seat. Instead she nearly pressed her nose against the car window as she looked out on the street, hoping that she would spot a familiar pregnant girl who used crutches. She hoped, god she hoped! And she kept tricking herself into thinking that every darkhaired girl passing the car was Regina.

She felt fucking useless just sitting here and doing nothing. She found her phone again. Found Regina’s number on speed dial and lifted the phone to her ear. Was immediately greeted by Regina’s voicemail. Again. Emma let out a pained sigh and didn’t bother to clear her throat before speaking. Which resulted in her croaking into the phone: “hi, sweetheart, it’s me. I just wanna say that I am so, so sorry about all this! I have handled things completely wrong, and you had every right to leave. We- I- shouldn’t have pressured you into talking to Cora. And I definitely shouldn’t have lied to you. I’ve been the worst girlfriend ever, and I’ll do everything to make this up to you, Regina! I can’t blame you for having switched off your phone, obviously you don’t want to talk to me right now, I get that,” she let out a choked laugh that was more of a sob to be honest. “But I’m really, really worried about you, beautiful girl. So could you please call me back? Or maybe just send me text so I know that you’re okay? God, please reach out to me in some way! This is a… v-very big city and the idea that you’re running around all on your own is killing me! I am so, so scared that something is going to happen to you, so please just…” she let out a breath. “I’m rambling. I’m sorry. I have no right to ask you to get in touch with me, but I really hope that you will. Anyway. I love you. So fucking much. I hope there’s a slim chance you still love me.” She hung up and dragged a hand over her forehead, thinking what she hadn’t been brave enough to say. Please don’t dump me, please don’t dump me, while silently panicking over how horribly wrong everything had gone.

If only she has given Cora that ultimatum. Tell Regina or she would. It would have been harsh, but it would have been better than this. Anything would have been better than this.

Helping Cora was like accepting the poisoned apple from the Evil Queen.

“Excuse me, miss?” the driver asked.

“Yes?” Emma said hopelessly.

“I just wanted to make sure that everything is okay,” he said and frowned worriedly at her in the mirror.

“Everything is pretty much going to hell,” Emma said, laughing hollowly. “But thanks for asking, though.”

“Are you in trouble, miss?” he asked. Now even more worried looking.

Emma let out another hollow laugh. “Yeah. Big trouble.”

He cleared his throat. “Do we need to stop by a police station, miss?”

“It’s not that kind of trouble,” Emma replied, almost smiling. “It’s girlfriend troubles. But those can be dangerous enough.”

“They sure can, miss,” the driver agreed with her.

Emma ended the conversation there and looked out of the window again. She spotted a young woman with dark hair and nearly asked the driver to stop the fucking car. But then she realized that it couldn’t be Regina. The young woman on the street didn’t use crutches. Nor was she pregnant.

Her phone remained silent. Of course. Regina was not calling her back. But hopefully, Cora would. Hopefully, Cora would stumble upon Regina somewhere. She HAD to be in one of her favorite spots, right? Right?!

She had to be SOMEWHERE. Couldn’t just vanish.

Emma’s imagination ran amok in scary scenarios again as she imagined not finding Regina tonight. As she imagined Regina being truly lost in one of the biggest cities in the world. God, how badly she had fucked up! Now she couldn’t fathom that she made such horrible decisions over the past weeks. She had brought this upon herself.

 

The bar Cora had directed her to, was exactly the type of place Emma could see Regina thriving in. It was this dimly lit place with lanterns and Spanish music blaring from the speakers. There was a little stage, and on that stage a woman wearing an elaborate flamenco dress was dancing. Emma thought to herself that she was pretty good. But not half as good as Regina, of course.

“Hi,” a woman in a white button up and an apron over her black skirt greeted Emma. “Table for one?”

“Actually, I’m looking for someone,” Emma said, hauling her phone out of her pocket and quickly finding the most recent picture of Regina from only a couple of hours ago. Before everything went to shit. “Have you seen this girl?” she asked the woman, holding up the phone so she could see the picture. “Dark hair, dark eyes, 5’5, using crutches, six months pregnant?”

“Hmm,” the woman looked so thoroughly at the picture that Emma got her hopes up. But her hope was quickly deflated when the woman said: “sorry, no. Doesn’t ring a bell. Haven’t seen her. At least not tonight.”

“Right. Thank you anyway,” Emma said hopelessly.

“You lost a pregnant chick in New York?” an old man at a nearby table croaked. “Good luck with finding her!” the last bit was followed by a drunken laughter.

“Shut up!” Emma growled.

“Like looking for a needle in a haystack!” the man hollered, swinging his beer about and smiling everywhere. Including on himself. “She could be everywhere! Maybe she’s been abducted! By aliens!” he roared with laughter and took a large gulp of his beer.

“You idiot!” Emma yelled at him, and with that, she stomped out of the bar and back onto the street. She was the idiot too. She had put too much faith into the bar. She had naively hoped that was the place Regina would be. But of course it wasn’t that easy.
Meaning that she had to continue to Coney Island. She hailed a taxi and climbed inside, told the driver where she was going and then found her phone. No new messages. No missed phone calls. Neither from Regina nor from Cora. Right now, Emma was desperate to hear from either of them. With good news, of course.

She would just have to hope that Regina would be in the second place she was going to look. For good measurements, Emma tried her phone again. Still straight to voicemail. She didn’t leave a second message. Just prayed to whatever god that Regina would call her back. She was suddenly reminded of that terrible week where Regina didn’t call her. The week where she had realized that there was a chance, she could be pregnant. That had been a terrible week. But this hour or so, where Regina had been gone, was even worse. A hundred times worse.

Her imagination ran wild and came up with scary scenarios again.

 

 

She was not at Coney Island.

She wasn’t in the Botanic Garden either. Emma thoroughly searched the place twice (and growing more and more creeped out because of the long shadows that looked like monsters), by the time she had searched the whole place a second time, she was on the verge of tears because Regina. Wasn’t. Here.

Emma was panicking. Ful on panicking. She was out of places to search for Regina. Where could she BE? What if something actually had happened to her?!

It was hard to think straight when one’s head was full of foggy panic, but Emma pulled herself together and remembered that there was one more thing she could do. Call Henry in Madrid. And possibly alarm him. But if there was anyone Regina would reach out to when upset, it had to be him.

Emma glanced at her watch. Nine thirty. Meaning that it was the middle of the night in Spain. Had it been anyone else, Emma wouldn’t even have considered calling. But she knew that Henry had the ‘unfortunate’ habit of staying up late. He always spend his nights working out new recipe. Regina had told her that. While complaining about her father’s mucked up schedule.

Right now, that knowledge came in very, very handy.

Emma wrestled her phone out of her pocket and found Henry’s number. Which she also had on speed dial. Brought the phone up to her ear and hoped for the best.

She waited. Shifted slightly because it was getting colder (Regina should not be out in this weather!) and crossed her fingers.

Sounds. A slight shuffling. Then: “¡Hola Emma!”

“Henry. Hi,” Emma said, instinctively feeling a bit better when hearing his deep, soothing voice. “I’m really sorry for bothering you so late.”

“No me estas molestando en absoluto,” Henry said, and Emma could hear the smile in his voice. “How are you two doing? Have you had any adventures in New York?”

“Yeah,” Emma said half-heartedly and decided to just get to the point. “But I was actually wondering if you have heard from Regina tonight?”

“No,” Henry said, voice immediately getting a worried edge. “I heard from her this morning as always, but I haven’t heard from her tonight.”

Damnit! “Okay,” Emma said tonelessly and felt the panic rise all over again now that she knew that Regina hadn’t been in touch with her father either.

“What is going on, Emma?” Henry asked in the other end. “Why would Regina have called me tonight?”

“I…” Emma ran out of words and cleared her throat.

Henry quickly deduced what her silence meant. “Do you not know where Regina is?”

“No,” Emma admitted and felt incredibly small. And stupid. “We had a bit of a fight earlier and she took off. I was hoping that she would have called you.” She decided not to mention Cora’s role in the drama. That was something that either Cora or Regina had to do.

“Have you tried calling her?” Henry asked. Now his voice was tight with concern.

“Yeah. She’s not answering. I think that her phone has been switched off.”

“I’ll try calling her,” Henry said. “Perhaps she’ll pick up then.”

“That was what I was hoping,” Emma admitted.

“I’ll call her and let you know if she calls back,” Henry said. “And you will call me if you hear from her, right?”

“Of course,” Emma said quickly. “I’m really sorry for worrying you like this, Henry.”

“No, no, no,” Henry said kindly. “I am glad that you did. And I can understand why you are worried too, Emma. But I am sure Regina is doing just fine. She has always been very good at taking care of herself.”

“I know,” Emma said, urging her voice not to break. “It’s just… the idea of her running around alone that- I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be saying that to you. It doesn’t help.”

“I’ll call her,” Henry said firmly. “And then get back to you. I will talk to you in a moment.” There was a click and then he was gone.

Emma moved the phone away from her ear and felt like the worst person ever. Now she had worried Henry too. She couldn’t do anything right.

She walked back out of the park. Wanted to call Cora but didn’t want to risk missing out on a call from Henry. She had no idea what she was supposed to do now. Where should she go? Her panic was reaching an almost unbearable state and quite frankly, she felt like screaming. A good, loud scream would clear her head and make her feel much more clear-minded. But screaming wasn’t an option. And this wasn’t about her. It was about Regina. God, where was she?! Should she try calling her again? No, that wouldn’t work. Regina wouldn’t be picking up. Emma already knew that.

She walked around aimlessly without knowing what she should do when her phone rang.

It was Henry. Emma quickly took the call.

“I couldn’t get a hold of her either,” he said, and Emma felt something pinching in her stomach.

“Okay,” she said and tried not to sound as worried as she was. “So she has definitely switched off her phone then. Or maybe the battery is flat.”

“I must admit that I am getting quite worried,” Henry said in the other end. “It’s dark and cold too I can imagine. And she isn’t exactly mobile right now.”

“No, I know. I won’t stop until I find her. And I’m sure she’s fine. She just needs some time to…. Cool off.” She was only saying this to calm Henry. This wasn’t a question of Regina needing to cool off. This was a question of whether Emma still could call herself Regina’s girlfriend. She had literally jeopardized her entire relationship with the most amazing woman she had ever met.

She wrapped up the conversation with Henry. Ended it by assuring that she would call as soon as she either heard from or found Regina.

Looking at her phone, she saw that Cora had called her, and so Emma called her back and hoped that Cora had called because she had located Regina.

But unfortunately……

“Nothing,” Cora sighed. “I’ve been to all three places, and she isn’t there.”

Emma bit back a curse word. “Alright, okay,” she said meekly, scrambling to think of the next great idea. What she really wanted to do was to call the police and report Regina missing. But that was not an option. Regina hadn’t even been ‘missing’ for two hours.

And pregnant or not pregnant, walking on crutches or not walking on crutches, she was an adult. She doubted that the police would take it one bit seriously.

“I think, Miss Swan, that we have to consider the option that Regina isn’t in New York anymore,” Cora said.

“What do you mean?” Emma stupidly asked. She already knew what Cora was getting at.

“She could have gone back to the hotel and gathered her things and then gone to the airport,” Cora said, voice thin and hectic.

The thought had crossed Emma’s mind. Of course it had. She had simply refused to even think the thought. But now it looked like she had to. Cora had pretty much just addressed the elephant in the room.

“It’s a possibility,” Emma reluctantly agreed. She rubbed her face. “Okay. I’ll…. I’ll go back to the hotel and see if her things are gone. If they are, I think it’s safe to assume that she went to the airport. I’ll call you when I’m at the hotel.”

“And what do you suggest I do until then?” Cora asked and Emma suspected that the irritation was a cover for the anxiety.

“Go home,” Emma scoffed. “If she’s on a plane on her way back to Madrid, there isn’t much you can do, is there? Talk to you later, Cora.” With that she hung up, slipped the phone back into her purse and purposefully walked out on the street where she once again began signalizing for a taxi. She was beyond exhausted. Chilled to the bone. And extremely concerned about her girlfriend. Had she disappeared into the New York night, or was Cora right? Had Regina really gone to the airport? Was she on her way back to Madrid right now?

If that was the case, Emma doubted that there was little she could do to save the relationship. If Regina was going home…. It meant the end of their relationship.

Emma’s eyes stung with unshed tears. She couldn’t compose herself much longer.

 

It started raining as the taxi took Emma away from the Botanical garden and back towards the hotel.

And it wasn’t just a light drizzle.

It was full on pouring down. The rain was hammering hard against the car windows, and twice the driver had to apologize and pull over because his line of sight had been compromised by the rain. Emma said that it was fine and didn’t blame him. The roads were barely visible in this bad weather.

Emma’s stomach clenched. She hoped that wherever Regina was, it was somewhere indoors. Hoped that she was warm and dry. Could she really be on a plane right now? Had she already caught a flight back to Spain? Or was she still in the airport?

Either way, if Emma found that Regina’s things had been moved from their hotel room, she would go straight to the airport, search the place from top to bottom, and if she came up empty, she too would be booking a plane ticket back to Madrid so she could find Regina.

Perhaps she should check and see whether any flights had left for Madrid. And take a look at the next departure to Spain. She found her phone in her pocket and found the screen dark. She tapped the round button in the middle. Nothing happened. Pressed down harder on the button at the side. The screen briefly lit up. But only to show the ‘No battery symbol’. Then it died again.

“Great. Just fucking great!” Emma hissed. Now she couldn’t get in touch with anybody. Not Henry. Not Cora. And not Regina. Fuck, supposed Regina called her and needed help? Supposed she was hurt and couldn’t get in touch with Emma because her cellphone was dead?

Fresh tears prickled in Emma’s eyes. Clearly, this was the night where she fucked up in every possible way.

“We’ll continue in just a moment, miss,” the driver said. Perhaps he had mistaken her tiny sound for dissatisfaction. “But the rain is coming down too strongly right now.”

“It’s alright,” Emma croaked from the backseat. Under normal circumstances she would have chosen the driver’s seat, but she was not in the mood for small talk tonight. Definitely not.

“You all good back there?” he asked. The second person who had looked at her with concern in his eyes tonight.

“I’m fine,” Emma croaked. And was doing an even poorer job at sounding convincing than she had the first time. It felt like she could burst into tears at any moment. She had made Regina leave. She had made Regina cry. And all because she had been so wrapped up in ‘Cora’s secret isn’t mine to tell’.

And so what? So fucking what?! Right now her dumbass choices had jeopardized her entire relationship with Regina! To hell with Cora’s secret!

 

 

It was one very tired Emma Swan who dragged her sorry ass through the lobby and into the elevator. There were two other hotel guests in the elevator when she stepped in, and both of them gave her a look of concern. They didn’t say anything, so Emma could continue to quietly despair. She was so fatigued she could have fallen asleep standing up. Before they left, she had joked that she wanted to see every corner of New York.

Safe to say that this was not what she meant.

Emma imagined coming into their hotel room and discovering that all of Regina’s stuff was gone. Then she had no choice but to pack her crap and get her ass to the airport asap. Naturally, she had to follow Regina. Try to smoothen things out. If that even was a possibility.

The elevator stopped and the door opened. The couple got out. The door closed behind them and just like that, Emma was alone in the elevator. She felt tempted let herself slide down the wall. Or perhaps even lie down for a quick power nap.

But now was not the time for sleeping. Now was the time to take action. She didn’t know what kind of action yet, but she had to do something. So whether it was packing her shit and rushing to the airport, or dashing out the door and into the New York night to search after Regina again, she was going to take some kind of action.

The elevator dinged obnoxiously loudly, and the door slurped open a second time. This time on the correct floor. Emma quite literally stumbled out and immediately caught the attention of a maid who came rushing to her side. “Are you alright, miss?”

“I’m fine,” Emma said tiredly. Too many people had asked her about this tonight. The answer was still the same. No, she was NOT okay, nor would she be okay before she knew where the hell Regina was.

“Are you sure?” the maid asked. “You look a bit shaken up, miss.”

Yeah, well, it wasn’t every day your actions caused your pregnant girlfriend to first bawl her eyes out in a public bathroom and then take off in tears. It wasn’t every day that you acted like a fucking monster to your pregnant girlfriend.

“I’m alright,” she said automatically. There was no other answer.

The maid didn’t seem convinced but didn’t say anything else, and Emma got back on her feet and continued down the hallway towards the hotel room. She roamed around in her pocket and found the key card. Thank god. At least she still had that. The last straw would have been if she had dropped it whilst running around searching for Regina.

Reaching the door to the hotel room, she slid the key card through the slot. The door unlocked with a soft, whirring sound and Emma pushed the door opened. It felt like it weighted three thousand pounds. Her arms were tired. Her legs were tired. Her fucking head was tired. And it felt like she constantly was on the verge of tears.

Coming into the hotel room, Emma immediately took a look around. There was no sign of Regina, but…

Her suitcase was still here. The long t-shirt she had ‘stolen’ from Emma and now used for sleeping in, was still laying crumbled in the bed. And the bra she had worn yesterday was still laying on the floor.

Emma felt a rush of relief. Of course it would have been better to find Regina here, but this was definitely positive too. Regina’s things were here. That meant that she had NOT gone to the airport. She wouldn’t leave New York without all her things. She had been very upset but not unsensible.

Emma sat down heavily in the plushy chair by the little table. She attached her phone to the charger. She couldn’t call anyone until the phone had been charged and she feared that she would pass out from exhaustion if she ventured back into the New York night to search for her missing girlfriend. Perhaps her best bet was to stay right here. Surely, Regina would come back at some point tonight, right? Right?!

Emma’s heart started thrumming a little faster in her chest. Regina wouldn’t stay out all night. She COULDN’T.

Great. Now she was panicking all over again. She looked at her dark phone and suddenly wanted to call her friends. Or her mom. Bawl like a little girl and telling her mom how utterly stupid she had been.

But she couldn’t call anyone. Because her cellphone was dead.

Emma rubbed a hand over her face and didn’t even try to suppress the yawn coming out of her mouth. She felt that it almost was inappropriate to be tired, but she couldn’t help it. She was completely drained. The concern weighted her down like a heavy stone in her stomach. She reached out and opened the little minibar. Found a cocoa mousse chocolate bar. Regina loved those. Emma put it back and opted for a chocolate bar with almonds instead. She had already messed up plenty tonight and the past few weeks.

There was no reason to be an even bigger asshole than she already was.

She stuffed the chocolate inside her mouth and chewed it slowly. The chocolate didn’t feel half as good as it normally did. She didn’t feel worthy of the chocolate. She definitely hadn’t deserved to stuff her face with delicious chocolate. The only thing she had accomplished today was to make her girlfriend cry. Fucking great job, Emma Swan. You’re definitely the girlfriend of the fucking year.

She put the piece of chocolate down and turned her head. Glanced at the dark window. She couldn’t see anything, but she could hear the rain coming down hard outside. What if Regina was out in this weather? She was not properly dressed to be out in this weather! What if she slipped with her crutches and lied helpless somewhere?!

Emma took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Maybe she should go back outside and try to find Regina. She had no idea where to search, but she ought to do something, right?

The problem was that she couldn’t move. Not even an inch. It felt like her ass had been glued to the chair. Her head tipped backwards, and her body grew completely limp as she sat in this extremely comfortable plush chair in this incredible cozy, warm room…

 

**********************************

 

There were voices outside the door. Emma’s head snapped up and she cussed when the movement hurt her neck. She was still sitting in the plushy chair. She must have had dozed off. Shit! That hadn’t been in her intention at all!

She sat up straighter in the plushy chair and winced at how stiff her neck and back felt. That was what she got for sitting up while sleeping. She had no idea what time it was, how long she had slept. All she knew was that she could hear voices outside the door.

Two voices. One she didn’t recognize. And one she DID recognize.

Emma jumped up from the chair, ignoring the stiffness in her back. Regina was back!

She was on the verge of pacing nervously when she heard the door unlock with a whirring sound. More voices. Emma frowned. Who did the second voice belong to? She soon found out. The door was opened, and a completely drenched-from-top-to-toe-with-wet-hair-stuck-to-her-face Regina appeared on the threshold. Her face said it all. She had just lived through a fucking hard day, and once again, Emma felt like the worst person in the world.

“Regina!” Emma exclaimed, shocked over seeing her girlfriend in such a state. "Oh my god!"

Regina said absolutely nothing. She was being supported by a mysterious woman with flaming red hair, and Emma tilted her head. Who was she?

Regina didn’t say anything to acknowledge Emma's presence. She didn’t even look in her direction. Her jaw was set, and her face scrunched in either pain or exhaustion or perhaps both as she with the mystery woman’s help limped through the woman.

“There we go,” the redheaded woman said as she successfully helped Regina into the other plushy chair standing in the other corner of the room.

“Gracías,” Regina said tiredly and mustered a smile. “I owe you one.”

The woman scoffed. “No, you don’t. It was a pleasure helping you out, Regina. Are you sure you’re okay now?”

“Yeah. Thanks,” Regina said meekly.

“Sure thing,” the redheaded (and incredibly well dressed) woman said. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Maybe,” Regina said.

The woman flashed her a smile, offered Emma a curt nod and then disappeared out of the hotel room. The door clicked shut behind her.

Emma’s first irrational impulse was jealousy, but she quickly pushed THAT back. She had absolutely no right to feel anything but humble and ready to grovel at her girlfriend’s feet. She looked at Regina who was shivering and hugging herself. Clearly freezing.

“Regina,” Emma said again.

“Vete a la mierda,” Regina said without looking at her.

Emma cringed. She didn’t know for sure what that meant, but she thought that Regina had just told her to fuck off. In Spanish.

Emma wasn’t going to fuck off. “Regina,” she said again.

“No,” Regina said tonelessly.

Emma went over to her and quite literally fell to her knees in front of her. “Regina, please. I’ve been so worried about you!”

“Oh, you were worried?” Regina let out an ice cold laughter that was so far from her usual rich and sweet laughter. “Oh, isn’t that sweet! Well, why don’t I sum up my night in town for you? I wandered around and ended up on a park bench where I sat and tried to wrap my head around how my girlfriend has been lying to me, something I thought that she NEVER would do. Then I got company from a nice, elderly gentleman who ACUTALLY was worried about me. We had a good little chat and he shared a box of cookies with me. Perhaps he thought I looked miserable. When he left, so did I. I wandered around without knowing what to do or where to go. I clearly walked longer than I thought. It started raining. I missed a bus, couldn't get a taxi and started walking back to the hotel when Lucy-“ she nodded towards the closed door. “Pulled up and asked if I needed a ride. She took me back to the hotel. It was very kind of her to help a pregnant girl out. There. Now you can go back to lying and scheming behind my back!”

“Regina,” Emma tried again. “I am so sorr-“

“Leave me alone.” There was no warmth in Regina’s voice. Her eyes were cold too.

“Please talk to me,” Emma begged. “Please!”

“What do you want to talk about?” Regina snapped as she pushed herself up from the chair, conveniently enough pushing Emma in the chest as she went. “How you have been lying to me, or conspiring with Cora?”

“I’ve been an idiot!” Emma exclaimed, openly acknowledging her own stupidity “A stupid, fucking idiot! I know that, but-“

“’But’,” Regina mocked in this gruesome, low voice that Emma had never heard her use before. “’But, but, but!’ But WHAT, Em-ma? What is your brilliant excuse for talking to Cora behind my back?!”

Emma drew in a breath, fully prepare to tell Regina everything.

“No,” Regina said before she could get the chance. “You know what, I don’t give a fuck! No importa. The bottom line is that you have been lying to me. About THIS of all things! You KNOW how I feel about Cora, and yet you still…” she shook her head and limped over to her suitcase. She flipped it open and grabbed some dry clothes. Pajamas, Emma noted. So she was at least not planning on going anywhere tonight.

The offer to help was burning on Emma’s tongue as she saw Regina limp into the bathroom. The next second, she cringed when Regina slammed the door so hard a painting rattled in its frame. She heard the shower running and nervously paced the room.

Regina hadn’t showered on her own after fracturing her ankle!

But she clearly had no trouble with doing so, and not too long after, the door to the bathroom opened and Regina emerged again. Now dressed in pajamas and with her wet hair tied back in a braid. She ignored Emma as she hobbled across the floor, picking up the abandoned bra on the way. Then the jacket she had left. Her mouth was a thin line as she hobbled back to the open suitcase and angrily stuffed the clothes in there. Then she picked up a grey wrap dress and draped it over the back of the empty chair. As though she wanted it to be ready and available.

“What are you doing?” Emma asked nervously.

“Deciding what I’m gonna wear on the plane tomorrow. I’m going home,” Regina said shortly.

And just like that, Emma’s worst fear became a reality. “Please don’t say that,” she croaked. “You’re scaring me!”

Regina whirled around and glared at her with eyes flashing with anger. “You’re scaring ME,” she said tonelessly. “You’ve been lying to me for ages! Who are you even? Do I even know you at all?!”

“Yes, you do!” Emma said earnestly, rushing to Regina’s side and attempting to put her hands on Regina’s elbows. She wouldn’t let her. “You DO know me, Regina!”

But Regina shook her head. “I wonder what else you have been lying to me about?”

“Nothing!” Emma cried, now definitely crying a little bit. “I swear!”

Regina shook her head again. “I’m not so sure I believe that. You’ve definitely proven that I cannot trust you- owww!” she hunched forward and cradled her round belly with one arm. “¡Por favor deténgase, por favor deténgase, por favor deténgase!”

“What?” Emma asked panicked. “What is it?!” she automatically reached out to support Regina like she always did.

And was immediately rejected. With a nod too gentle smack to her hand. “Don’t fucking touch me!” Regina snapped. She slowly returned to her normal posture. “For your information,” she said icily. “I have Braxton Hicks and have been experiencing them for the past two hours on and off due to stress! You happy now?”

“No!” Emma half-shrieked. “Of course I am not happy! I am so, so sorry, Regina, I really-“

“I. Don’t. Care!” Regina slowly articulated. “I don’t care what you are and are not! I just want to get out of here as soon as possible!”

“Please, just let me explain-“

“NO!” Regina yelled at the top of her lungs, now openly crying. “You don’t get to explain anything! You had the chance to do that back at the restaurant, and you didn’t! Instead you acted like you were all chummy with Cora!”

“I am NOT all chummy with Cora! I made a mistake! I thought I was doing the right thing! I thought Cora would come clean! If you would just let me explain-“

“¡Cállate!” Regina stomped her injured foot against the floor. “Cora has never *come clean* about anything in her entire life! What makes you think she suddenly would start NOW?! What could she possibly have said to make you believe her?! She has clearly sunken her claws into you good!” she let out a shaky breath and wiped her eyes. “It doesn’t matter now. None of it matters now. I don’t care about what the two of you have been hiding from me. I just want the both of you to leave me the hell alone!”

Emma flinched as though she had slapped across the face and not yelled at. “Are you… dumping me?” she asked, voice as thin as paper and just as brittle. “Is this you… b-breaking up with me?”

“Well, right now that seems like the healthiest thing to do, doesn’t it?!” Regina snapped. “I mean, how can I have a baby with someone I can’t trust? Someone who is lying to me! How are you even different from Robin? He lied too!”

The words felt like a dull knife slipping under her ribs and the impact had Emma gasping. All evening she had been feeling like she was threating water. She was not. She was fucking drowning. And fast.

“P-please,” she whispered. “Please don’t do this, Regina! Please don’t take all of this away from me!”

“Me?” Regina’s anger had subsided and was replaced with sadness. “I am not doing anything. You’ve done this yourself, Emma.”

“I’ve been so s-stupid!” Emma cried and desperately reached for Regina who immediately pulled away. “I really thought I was doing the right thing! I thought- I hoped that C-Cora would tell you the truth herself, I didn’t feel like I could tell you what was going on because I didn’t want to take that choice away from her, by revealing her secret, but now I can see that I have been focusing on the completely wrong thing, and I am so, SO sorry, Regina! I really, really am! Please believe me! Please!”

“What choice?” Regina asked, voice sharp.

Emma blinked through her tears.

“Emma, take away what choice?” Regina pressed. “What the hell are you even talking about? What secret?”

Emma opened her mouth to finally reveal Cora Mills’ secret which suddenly had turned deathly now that it could cost her everything.

But before she could as much as utter a single word, there was a knock on the door. Regina flinched. “¿Ahora que?” she turned to Emma. “You expecting anyone?”

“No,” Emma said and breathed easier for just a second. Regina’s voice had sounded so wonderfully normal.

“Well, neither am I,” Regina said plainly.

There was a knock on the door again.

Emma’s legs wobbled under her as she scurried over to the door to open it. She had no idea who it was. Perhaps the guests or staff complaining over the noise? Or perhaps- an unwelcome image flittered through her mind- redheaded Lucy had come back to check on Regina?

She opened the door. It wasn’t guests nor staff or redheaded Lucy.

It was Cora. “Miss Swan,” she greeted curtly.

“Now is really, really not a good time,” Emma said meekly.

Behind her, Regina laughed bitterly. “¿Es esto una maldita broma? ¡Esta es la maldita última gota! You know what, I’m just gonna sleep in the airport! I am so done with this!” she balanced on one crutch as she hauled her suitcase up from under the bed and
began smoothening the clothes in it. Then she slammed the lid closed.

“Regina,” Cora said, hastily stepping into the room. She looked relieved. Emma could see that. Could see how genuinely worried Cora had been about her daughter. “You’re here.”

“Not for much longer!” Regina snarled. “I’m getting out of here right now so the two of you can have another cozy little get-together! Congratulations on ruining another of my relationships. Does it feel as satisfying as it did the first time? Remember? When you chased Dani away!” she hauled up her suitcase and grabbed after her coat, clearly so distressed she didn’t realize she was wearing pajamas and wasn’t dressed for going anywhere.

“Regina, please don’t go,” Cora said, voice bared for its usual sneer. She moved to stand in front of Regina. “I am so very sorry about this.”

“Not half as sorry as I am! Now get out of my fucking way! I don’t CARE about your goddamn secret!”

“No, not until I have told you the truth,” Cora said quietly. “The secret I have been keeping was one that miss Swan stumbled on by chance. I was confused and in shock and feared that she would tell you. It wasn’t that I didn’t want you to know it. I was going to tell you, I promise. Just… not like that.”

“What are you even rambling on about, Cora?” Regina snarled. “Have you been drinking or something?!”

“No,” Cora said calmly, shaking her head. “I have not. And I am talking about the person I have been…. Living with since divorcing your father. The person Emma talked to on the night where she called me. The night of your accident.”

“It wasn’t an accident. Marian pushed her,” Emma sharply reminded Cora.

Regina ignored that and glared at Cora. “Cora, I already know about Alejandro, okay? I don’t give a shit whether you’re living with him or not! It doesn’t interest me, and-“ she glared at Emma now. “That certainly isn’t reason enough to lie and sneak around behind my back!”

“I am not living with Alejandro,” Cora said, and Emma noted that she had turned as white as a sheet. “I never have, and I never will. Just as there never was a…. situation between myself and Alejandro in the first place.”

“What are you talking about?” Regina sneered. “I know there was! Don’t forget Daddy caught you! He SAW you!”

“He saw….” Cora swallowed. “He saw what I wanted him to see, Regina. It was a cover up.”

Regina frowned in part confusion, part annoyance. “A cover up for what, exactly?!”

“The truth,” Cora said. Her voice was nearly a whisper now, and she was sickly pale. “Regina…. I’m living with a woman.”

 

 

To Be Continued…………

Chapter Text

Emma drew in a breath. There it was. The truth. At last.

“Okay,” Regina said dully. “So you have a female roommate. Good for you.”

Clearly, the truth didn’t sink in. Emma wasn’t quite sure why. Was it because Regina had had a very long evening and her brain was starting to quit on her, or was it simply because the truth was too farfetched.

“No, Regina,” Cora said. She was still very pale. “I’m not living with a woman as my roommate. I’m living with her as my…... partner.” It looked like she was choking on the last word, but she nonetheless managed to say it out loud.

Regina stared at her in disbelief. Then her baffled expression was replaced with one of pain as she hunched over and covered her belly with one hand. “Ooow! !Hijo de puta!” she sat down heavily in the plushy chair again.

“That’s not…. Something that isn’t Braxton Hicks, is it?” Emma asked anxiously. That was too soon!

Regina didn’t even dignify that with an answer. She just rubbed her belly. “Está bien, mi pequeño amor, todo está bien.” She murmured and rubbed her belly. “No hay razón para hacer un escándalo.”

Emma saw how Cora looked at Regina with a curious look in her eyes and a slightly tilted head, and Emma realized that Cora had never seen Regina act maternally or rub her belly. The last time they had seen each other, Regina had been fourteen weeks along and in the process of giving the baby up for adoption. So many things had changed since then.

Regina looked up at Cora again. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,” she said dully. “And I have heard a lot of shit tonight.”

Both Cora and Emma cringed slightly at that. “I understand why this comes as a shock,” Cora said, sounding slightly formal.

“’This?’” Regina echoed and let out an utterly tired laugh. “And what the hell is ‘this’, then? What exactly is it that you think you’re trying to tell me, Cora?”

“That I am….” Cora shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “That I am g-“ she swallowed hard and now looked so pale Emma actually was a bit worried about her. A fainting Cora was just about the last thing they needed right now.

“That I am in a relationship with a woman,” Cora landed on. Apparently, the ‘other’ word was too difficult to say.

Regina had no difficulties saying it, though. “What, you’re gay?” her tone was so mocking, Emma very nearly felt a bit sorry for Cora.

But Cora stood her ground. “Yes,” she said. Her voice was quiet but determinated.

Regina looked at her again. For a moment, there was a look of surprise on her face. But then her expression turned to anger again. “Bullshit,” she scoffed. “You’re the most homophobic person I know. You nearly blew a fuse when you found out I’m bisexual.”

“I know,” Cora said quietly. “I didn’t… handle that very well, and I have regretted that many times. I realize that my strong reaction stems from my own…. Issues, but of course that is not an excuse.”

Regina lifted an eyebrow and absentmindedly rubbed her belly. Her eyes narrowed as she stared Cora down. It looked like she was trying to stare into her soul. “Is this some kind of joke?” she asked. “Is this some kind of freaky attempt at humor? Because I’m sure as hell not laughing.”

“It’s not a joke, Regina,” Cora said, eyes flickering nervously. “It’s the truth. I’m… attracted to women. I have known that for a very long time, and I so wish that I had told you sooner. But I…. I didn’t know how.”

It looked like Cora’s confession finally sunk in and made its impact. Regina’s eyes grew wide, and she gave Cora a look that could be compared to the look she would be giving a stranger who had just fainted on the street. Startled. Alarmed. Surprised.

“Uhhh….” One of her hands came up to rub the back of her neck. She mumbled something inaudible in Spanish. Then: “does…. Does Daddy know?”

“No,” Cora said and shook her head. “The only people who knows are you. And…”

Regina shot Emma a dark look, and Emma ducked her head and felt guilty as hell. “And what exactly is her role in this?” Regina dully asked Cora. Not Emma. Clearly not talking to her.

“On the night where you ended up in the hospital, miss Swan called me,” Cora said, and now there was a pink spot on her cheeks. “But instead of reaching me, it was…. My partner who answered the phone. Miss Swan overheard us talking and put two and two together.”

“I see,” Regina said tightly. But there was something vulnerable in her eyes too. “You didn’t come to the hospital to see me,” she quietly continued. “Why?”

Cora shook her head. “I wish I had a satisfactory explanation for that, but I do not. Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that miss Swan had told you the truth, and I was just waiting for you call me. But when you didn’t, I wrongly deduced that it was because you didn’t wish further contact with me.”

“I had a concussion,” Regina said just as quietly. “And after a few days, I started bleeding. I thought I was going to miscarriage. I was frightened. Your excuses as to why you didn’t show up doesn’t really mean that much.”

There had been a point where Emma had doubted whether Cora actually was capable of feeling, but she didn’t anymore. Not when she saw the slow tears trickling down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry,” Cora said as she took a step towards Regina. “I should have been there.”

Regina wrapped her arms around her belly, clearly trying to shield herself from Cora. She cleared her throat and adopted a more neutral tone. “Who is she then? Your…. Partner?”

Cora stopped. Gave up on nearing her daughter. Like Emma, she had most likely figured out that it was too soon for that. “Her name is Malaina.” She still sounded nervous, but Emma could detect something else in her voice too. Affection. Pride?

And Emma’s heart started hammering in her chest because Malaina was an unusual name, and it wouldn’t take long before Regina put two and two together.

“Malaina,” Regina repeated. She let out a long sigh and her eyes flickered towards Emma. “The blonde woman we met at the gallery.”

Emma felt so bad she didn’t even dared nodding.

“Whom you also knew about,” Regina dully continued, still glancing at Emma.

Emma hung her head in defeat. The words ‘I’m sorry’ was hollow, and the guilt was sitting in her belly like a stone. A stone with sharp, sharp edges that kept cutting her for each betrayed look Regina gave her.

“Right. Of course.” Regina blinked which made fresh tears splash onto her cheeks. She ignored them. Didn’t even attempt to wipe them away. “Now it makes sense why she gave me so many weird looks. And it makes sense why you-“ looking to Emma again. “-Were so interested in knowing what I thought about her. How nice of you to try and pave the way for Cora.”

“Regina-“ Emma tried, but to no avail. Regina easily talked over her.

“What is this?” she asked simply. “Did you both have a simultaneous stroke that made you think that this would somehow turn me into the world’s biggest homophobe?” she scoffed as she looked at both of the two sinners. “You are aware that I’m bisexual, right?” her attention rested on Emma for a moment. “You of all people should know that.”

“I do know that,” Emma said hastily. “And I cannot tell you how sorry-“

“I can live with having a gay parent,” Regina said, completely overhearing Emma’s attempt at apologizing. “But what I cannot live with is all the lies! Why was that necessary?” she looked at Cora again. “If you had come to me and said: ‘Regina, I’m gay’, or ‘I’m in love with a woman’, I never would have turned you away. Never. I would have been surprised, who wouldn’t, but I would never have turned my back on you.”

Cora swallowed, clearly affected by Regina’s words. “I know,” she said quietly. “I did not keep it as a secret because of you. I did it because of me. Because I was… frightened. Because I didn’t know how to…” her voice dwindled, and she wrung her hands.

Regina tilted her head, and Emma was sure she saw a hint of understanding in her eyes. “Exactly how long have you’ve known this, Cora?”

“A long time,” Cora murmured and shifted again. “Since I was… Since I was a young woman.”

“Since before meeting daddy?”

“Yes,” Cora admitted, now brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear. A nervous gesture, no doubt.

That had Regina paling slightly. “Alright,” she said, still sounding composed. “I definitely have some questions about that- including the question of why I’m even here- but that can wait. Why don’t you tell me the whole story from the beginning?”

“Well, I….” Cora looked insecure. This was a hard conversation. One you didn’t just start like it was no big deal.

“I can leave,” Emma offered. “So you guys can talk in private.”

“Private?” Regina scoffed. “For all I care, you can stay. I have no interest in keeping things from you.”

Emma recoiled as though having been slapped. She definitely deserved that one!

“But seeing that this is Cora’s meeting and not mine, it’s up to her,” Regina dully continued, looking at Cora.

“Miss Swan can stay if she wants to,” Cora said hastily, and if Emma didn’t know any better, she would say that Cora was slightly scared to be alone with her own daughter.

“Okay,” Emma mumbled. “Thanks.”

Regina’s attention was only on Cora. “Cora,” she said tonelessly.

That was enough to make Cora start talking. “My parents- your grandparents- were very strict.”

Regina snorted. “Really? Can’t imagine what that must be like.”

Cora looked stricken but didn’t protest. Like Emma, she obviously felt like she had deserved that one. “They were… everything I swore that I never would be. I didn’t do too well, did I?”

“No,” Regina said plainly. “You didn’t.”

Cora swallowed hard once more. “As I said they were quite… strict. They had their own ideas and visions for my future. Meaning marriage. They were very old fashioned and stuck to old values. Men should be working and making money while the girls should get married and tend to the children.”

“Mmhmm,” was all Regina said. “Go on.”

“I tried living up to it,” Cora continued. “As a young girl, I thought that my parents knew best. But as I started growing older, I also began questioning whether my own opinions were different from the opinions of my parents. And they were. I think I was about fourteen when I realized that I wasn’t like the other girls at my school. I wasn’t interested in the boys like my friends were. I thought that something was wrong with me, so I pretended to be interested just to seem normal. But then a girl- Loretta I believe she was called- started at my school.”

Regina smiled. A teeny, tiny smile. “You never forget the name of your first crush, do you?”

“You do not,” Cora agreed, once again trying to near her daughter. She sat down in the armchair opposite Regina, and this time, Regina didn’t flinch.

“I was very taken with her,” Cora continued. “Very taken indeed. We became friends. Good friends. I suppose I mistook our friendship for deeper feelings, so I confessed to her in the belief that she would feel the same. She did not. Instead she became disgusted at me.”

Emma’s heart clenched. That was a terrible thing that had happened for Cora. But it was also pretty terrible to hear her talk about in such a straightforward manner. This was definitely a woman who had learned to live with something painful.

“She laughed at me,” Cora recalled. “Called me an abomination. She said that she was going to tell everyone. I begged her not to, but she did it anyway. And within an hour or so, the whole school knew about it.”

“Que gilipollas,” Regina said simply.

Now it was Cora’s turn to smile a teeny tiny smile. “Quite,” she agreed. “It didn’t take long before the story reached my parents ears either. I remember that the phone rang in the evening. It was my father who picked up. I think it only took about five minutes before he bursted into my room and confronted me with that Loretta’s mother had just told him. That I had acted ‘perverted’ towards Loretta. He wanted to know if it was true, and I confessed. I tried my best to… come out.” Cora’s mouth twisted at the memory. “But there was no such thing under my parents’ roof. My father got extremely upset and my mother cried. They were terrified about the rumors and worried what it would mean for them.”

“I bet they were,” Regina said sardonically and glanced at Emma. “My grandfather was a bankier in Brooklyn. A big shot man.”

“Oh,” Emma nodded. And felt ridiculously grateful that Regina had said ELEVEN words to her. That was a lot!

“They sent me away,” Cora continued.

Regina raised an eyebrow. “To where?”

“A Christian boarding school in Switzerland.”

Regina’s eyebrow nearly disappeared in her hairline. “Switzerland?”

“Yes,” Cora confirmed. “As you just said, your grandfather was a man with influence. Sending his problems away was the easiest thing in the world for him. And at the time, his biggest problem was me, so off I went. The boarding school was very strict. Very prayer orientated. Much talk about what it meant to be a sinner and what you could do to avoid it.”

“You were sent there to ‘pray the gay away’,” Regina concluded.

“Yes. You could say that. I don’t think I’ll go into details about my stay at the boarding school. All you need to know is that it wasn’t a pleasant place at all. The best thing you could do was keep your head down. I was ‘released’ when I turned eighteen and graduated. I returned to America, but not to my parents’ house. They had made it quite clear that I wasn’t welcome there anymore. I settled down in New York instead. Enrolled at college to become a lawyer like my father. I hoped that I would make him proud by following in his footsteps. I hoped to reconciliate with my parents, but… we never quite met on the same terms as we had before. They were skeptic, and I felt like they always looked at me in a way that suggested they still saw me as an abomination. But they were my parents, so I tried my best to please them. I went out with men I felt absolutely nothing for. I really tried to give off the impression that I was straight. That what happened when I was fourteen was long forgotten.” Cora uncrossed and re-crossed her legs in the chair.

Emma could see how much it affected her to talk about this.

“But of course it wasn’t,” she continued after having collected herself. “My feelings were the same as they were when I was fourteen. Nothing had changed. I realized that after I met Eleanor at college. We quickly became close. She even moved into the little apartment I had rented. She made me… she made me very happy.”

“You were in love with her,” Regina said. It wasn’t a question.

“I was,” Cora confirmed. “Eleanor was a very special person. Very happy and outgoing. Quite the opposite of me. She wanted to be an artist. There was always splatters of paint everywhere in our apartment. It drove me mad, but I loved it.”

“She sounds nice,” Regina said, flashing Cora another little smile. “What happened to her?”

“Well, after about five months, my parents discovered that I was living with a woman. Initially, I was able to convince them that Eleanor was just my roommate, and that made things a bit easier. Until they started inviting me home for dinner every week so I could meet the sons of my father’s friends or employees. In short, they were trying to set me up. I was desperate to keep my real relationship with Eleanor a secret, so I agreed. I kept showing up for the dinners without complaining, but of course it did not work out. These things rarely does. One of my father’s friend’s son, Jonathan, fell in love with me. He started to invite me out for dinners, and I was foolish enough to say yes. I imagined that he would lose interest in me. But he didn’t. Instead he proposed to me.”

“¡¿Qué demonios?!” Regina exclaimed, and Emma was just as surprised.

“Of course I said no,” Cora said and shook her head. “He went home and told his parents. Who told mine. Resulting in my father becoming furious with me all over again. But he wasn’t the only one. That night, Eleanor told me that she could not do this anymore. The hiding and sneaking around was killing her, she said. She left in tears, and there I was. With furious parents and no Eleanor. It was… very hard. I stopped contacting my parents after that. I gave up on love and dedicated myself to my studies instead. I told myself that having a career was far more important than having… something else. Becoming a lawyer was all that mattered to me. I wanted to be the best in my class. And I was. At twenty four, I could call myself a lawyer. My parents did not show up for my graduation. I fairly quickly got a job and a new place to live. Right here in New York. I worked and told myself that I was happy. Now and then, I met a woman, but I never allowed it to blossom into anything serious. After what happened with Eleanor, I didn’t dare growing close to someone else. I was too afraid I would lose her too.”

By now, Regina looked deeply sympathetic. There was no trace of anger left on her face.

“It was only after I had turned thirty three that I became less afraid of being judged,” Cora picked up her story. “I met a woman named Jane in a bar one evening. She was funny and smart. A lawyer like myself. We grew fond of each other, and over the year, we were attached at the hip. We made all kinds of plans. I wanted children and so did she. We were practically engaged. Until…” her mouth twisted again. “Until I came home and found her… with someone else.”

Regina made a face. “Oh.”

“As you can imagine, I was very upset. Naturally, I ended things with Jane. At the time, I was living in her apartment, so I gathered my things and left. Found a motel for the night. I was in quite a state. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t eat. And one night, I believe it was a week or two later, I ended up in a little bar where the waiter offered me a drink on the house. He thought I looked upset. And that waiter…. Was your father.”

Emma’s jaw dropped and Regina gasped. “Okay….” She said slowly, now frowning slightly once more. “And how do I fit into this? I know that you and daddy married because you were having me, but why…” she swallowed. “Why did you even have me?”

“Your father was very good to me that night,” Cora said softly. “I never told him the reason why I was so upset, but he still listened. He was the most patient man I had ever met. He told me how he was about to take over his father’s restaurant in Spain, and I believe I made a comment on how it could be nice to get away from everything. I ended up staying until the restaurant closed, and when I left, your father walked me home.” Cora paused and two pink spots appeared on her cheeks. “I’d had quite a bit to drink that night. I wasn’t completely aware over what I was doing, and your father had been so kind and-“

“Lo entiendo,” Regina interrupted and held up a hand. “I don’t need the details. I was an accident. “Completamente no deseada.”

“No,” Cora said firmly. “You were not unwanted, Regina. Don’t ever believe that. When I found out that I was pregnant seven weeks later, I was ecstatic. I was thrilled. I had always wanted kids but had made my peace with it not ever happening. Or at least that it would be difficult.”

Emma felt something prickle in her eyes and had to turn around. This was not about her. She took some deep breaths, and when she had composed herself, she turned around just in time to see Cora withdraw her hand. But whether she had succeeded in putting it over Regina’s for a moment, remained a mystery.

“Go on,” Regina said tightly.

“After discovering that I was pregnant, I sought out your father and told him the truth. I felt that I owed him that. He had been so kind to me, so I saw no reason to hide it from him.”

“I bet you didn’t,” Regina said dully, and Emma immediately knew why. Apart from a few details, Cora’s situation had been quite similar to Regina’s own.

Cora had sensed the ‘danger’ too. “He was a good man. An honest man. The one who-“ she nodded slightly towards Regina’s swelling belly. “Was not.”

“That much we can agree on,” Regina rolled her eyes and rubbed her belly. “So, you told my father. What happened next?”

“Of course I had been nervous to tell him, but that proved to have been completely in vain,” Cora continued. “He got just as excited as I felt. We sat down and had a long talk about the future. He made it clear that he wanted to be involved in the baby’s- your- life, but he was worried because he was on his way to Spain to take on his father’s restaurant. After a bit of talking back and forward, he asked me to come with him. At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything better than leaving New York, so I said yes. We put things into motion and three weeks after, we travelled to Spain. I met his parents whom he had informed about my ‘condition’. We got along quite well, but I could still sense that something was bothering them, so one night I asked your father about it. At first, he got very quiet and didn’t really want to talk about it, but after I had pressed him a little, he admitted that it was bothering his parents that he and I weren’t married. I don’t remember the conversation word for word, but we reached the conclusion that neither of us were in love with the other. He made a point of assuring me that it didn’t bother him that we weren’t married. But it bothered me.”

Cora shifted in the armchair again. “It bothered me because I remembered how highly he had spoken of his parents that night. How strong of a bond he had with his parents. At that point I hadn’t spoken to my own parents in years, and I didn’t want that to happen to your father and his parents, so I told him that I did not mind getting married if it would make his parents happy.”

“A marriage of convenience,” Regina said softly.

“Yes,” Cora confirmed. “I am-“

“Cora, believing that one’s parents are madly in love is something children do,” Regina softly interrupted. “I get it. At least I think I do. I mean, this at least explains why I never got any siblings.” She let out a strange little half-laugh before sobering up. “Go on. So you married daddy.”

“I did. When I was three months pregnant with you. My parents had somehow discovered my new address and wrote me a letter and congratulated me. I never replied.” She cleared her throat. “I took over the account management of the restaurant and tried to dedicate myself to my new life in Spain. It got easier when you came along. You made me so happy.” She flashed Regina a quivering smile.

Regina did something that wasn’t quite a smile but wasn’t NOT a smile at the same time.

“I was so determined to give you everything and prepare you for the world.” Cora shook her head. “At some point my plans of doing better than my own parents failed. I saw dangers everywhere. I wanted you to be the best at everything. And in return, you turned to your father. Of course you did. He was much gentler and patient than I ever was. I felt like a complete failure. In many ways jealous of your father and his way of so effortlessly doing what I couldn’t. All my life, I had grown up with my mother and father telling me that being a mother was a woman’s purpose. And I was not good at it. I had driven you away and I had no idea how to make things right. Nothing I did was right. My strictness when you were a child, had caused you to gravitate to your father as you grew older. And as the years had passed, I felt more and more like a stranger both in your life and in Spain. It made me bitter. Towards you and towards your father. And the lonelier and bitterer I felt, the more I thought of my past. And realized that it wasn’t my past at all. I was still the same person who had lost Eleanor and Jane. Perhaps I was older, married and had a child, but it didn’t change who I was. I had tried to pretend, but one night I just couldn’t anymore. I admitted to myself that I was living a lie.
That I was not… with the person I should be with.”

Regina opened her mouth as to speak, but Cora spoke sooner: “your father and I were friends when we married and friends when you were born. We were friends when you were little. It wasn’t until later when I grew jealous that I pushed him away. He is entirely without guilt in this.”

“Are you sure he doesn’t know that you’re gay?” Regina asked.

Her casual use of the word had Cora jumping slightly in her chair. “I can’t imagine how he would know,” she said slowly. “I never told him. I never cheated on him.”

“Hasta que lo hiciste.”

Cora nodded. “You’re right. Until I did.”

“What I don’t understand is why you nearly disowned me when you found out that I’m bisexual,” Regina said completely dully. “You more than anyone should have understood where I was coming from.”

Emma nodded quietly. She wholeheartedly agreed with that.

Not that her opinion mattered much right now. It seemed like both Regina and Cora had forgotten that she was there.

“I should. You’re right. Once again, I was completely blinded by my own feelings, and if I have to be honest, a part of me WAS upset about your relationship with Daniela Colinas. She was employed by your father and I, and she was older than you. I felt that she had taken advantage of her position in the house, and I worried that she had forced you into something you weren’t ready for.”

Regina sighed deeply and rolled her eyes. “Fue consensual. Nobody was forced.”

“I know,” Cora said quickly. “I know that, Regina. But at the time… I couldn’t be in it. I had partially decided to tell you and your father the truth, and I felt like you somehow had beat me to it. In a way I was... envious of your courage. I felt that I couldn’t possibly come out now. Coming out was something teenagers did. Not fully grown women with children and established lives. I had handled the situation with Daniela Colinas completely wrong, and I feared that my confession only would make you resent me even more. So I kept quiet.”

“You shouldn’t have,” Regina said simply.

“No. I shouldn’t. Nor should I have let my own emotions get in the way of your confession. It only resulted in you moving out.”

“Yeah. I remember that.” Regina’s eyes flickered. She blinked and a few tears landed on her cheeks.

Emma moved. Walked towards Regina to comfort her. It was instinctive. She was two steps away from her crying girlfriend when she remembered that said girlfriend didn’t particularly like her right now. And perhaps weren’t even her girlfriend anymore. The stone in Emma’s stomach felt sharper than ever.

“I can leave,” Cora said. “I don’t have to tell you everything tonight if you’re-“

“No,” Regina interrupted. “I want to hear the whole story. Tonight. Please go on.” She dragged a hand over her eyes. The tears disappeared.

“Your father and I had had one of our rare fights,” Cora resumed her story. “We had fought a lot after you moved out. He was understandably upset about it, and I had no idea how to make it better. The argument ended with me leaving the house. I went to a bar. I don’t remember the name anymore, but there I sat with a glass of wine. I think that I was considering asking for a divorce but fearing that it would mean further distance between you and me when a woman came over and sat down next to me. She bought me my next glass of wine and we talked back and forward for a while. At the time, the effect of the wine was starting to kick in, but I was still sure that there was something familiar about her. When I finally asked her if we had met before, she laughed and said that she hoped she hadn’t aged that much. She hadn’t. And I recognized her as soon as she laughed. Although she had discarded her first name and only went by her middle name- Malaina.”

“And what was her first name?” Regina asked and tilted her head curiously.

Cora smiled a little. “Eleanor. I told you she was the art-type.”

“¡De ninguna manera!” Regina cupped a hand over her mouth. “Eleanor… your first girlfriend?! That Eleanor? Eleanor is Malaina?!”

“She is,” Cora was still smiling. “I could barely believe it myself, but there she was. In a restaurant in Spain. There on business to meet a photographer. As you already know, she owns an art gallery. In fact she owns several. Either way, I started spending time with her, and I discovered that despite the time that had passed, my feelings had not changed. I was still as fond of her as I had been when we were in college. She postponed her trip back to New York. She returned my feelings, but she was understandably hesitant. She knew that I was married and had a child, and she refused to get in the middle of all that. I wanted to be with her, but at the same time I was very afraid of telling you and your father the truth. I didn’t want you to shun me more than you already did. And I knew that you would choose your father if we divorced.”

Regina opened her mouth, but Cora silenced her with a soft: “my own doing, Regina. You had every right to prefer him.” She cleared her throat and worried a strand of her hair. “Well, I kept putting it off, and eventually, Mal- Malaina had enough. She refused to be…”

“¿La otra mujer?” Regina suggested.

”Quite. We argued and she went to the airport to go back to New York. I could see that I was loosing her again, and I refused to let that happen, so I went straight to your father’s restaurant-“

“You were going to tell him while he was at work?” Regina raised an eyebrow, and Emma silently agreed with her. That was pretty bad timing.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly,” Cora admitted. “I went over there and discovered that your father wasn’t there. But Alejandro was, and he could see that I was in distress. We talked for a while, and in the end, he put his arms around me to comfort me. Your father walked in and saw us like that. I’m not surprised that he jumped the conclusion. From his point of view, Alejandro’s attempt at consoling me had to have looked quite loving. When he asked what was going on and if there was something he should know about, I…. I took the easy way out. I didn’t exactly say that Alejandro and I were having an affair, but I didn’t deny it either. So naturally, he did believe that I was having an affair, and as soon as we got home, he asked for a divorce.”

“So you threw poor Alejandro under the bus,” Regina observed dryly.

“I did,” Cora openly admitted. “And I have regretted it ever since. I went to see him the last time I was in Spain, and we had a good talk. I don’t think he has forgiven me entirely, but it was better than nothing.”

“I suppose so.”

“I left your father’s house and went to Malaina’s hotel. It turned out that she had already left for New York, so I packed a bag and went after her.”

“And found her,” Regina concluded.

“And found her,” Cora echoed.

“And what, you’ve been together ever since, and everything has just been perfect?” Regina asked a bit bitterly.

“Not exactly. Malaina has been asking me to tell you the truth. She doesn’t want to base our relationship on secrets and lies. And neither do I. I don’t want to push you away again, Regina.”

Regina folded her arms across her chest. “This is a lot, Cora,” she said tonelessly. “For the longest time, I thought I had you completely figured out. And now you reveal that you’ve been living a completely secret life before having me. I have to re-think every last little thing I ever thought I knew about you, and that is going to take time.”

Cora nearly shrank in her chair. “I understand that. I’ll… I’ll give you time, but…”

“But what?” Regina asked tiredly. “Anything else I should know about?”

“Malaina would really like to meet you,” Cora said almost shyly. “Properly. The right way.”

Regina narrowed her eyes. “I’ll think about it.”

“Alright,” Cora said, deflating slightly.

“The problem isn’t that you’re with a woman,” Regina said quickly. “I have nothing against you being gay, Cora. I think that’s great. It’s the way you’ve handled it. The truth would have shocked me, but it wouldn’t have caused me to turn my back on you. Truthfully, I find it a bit insulting that you would even think that. When I told you that I was bisexual, it was the perfect opportunity for you to come out too, but you didn’t. Instead you only made things harder.” She looked poignantly at Cora. “You could have told me the truth. Instead of pushing me away and think that would make things better. Daddy too. You could have told him as well. You married because of me. You said it yourself, that the two of you only ever were friends. Why should he have felt cheated? It wasn’t necessary to come with the story about you and Alejandro and hurt daddy who only ever was good to you.”

Cora looked stricken again, but this time Emma didn’t feel sorry for her. Because Regina was absolutely right. Cora had landed in the most understanding family. And she had still found it necessary to spool a web of lies.

“I’d like you to leave now,” Regina said, looking at the wall rather than looking at Cora. “I have a splitting headache and I would like to go to bed.”

“Of course.” Cora stood from her chair and walked towards the door. Emma noted that her shoulders were slumped in the same way Regina’s was when she was upset.

“Oh, by the way,” Regina called when Cora had put her hand on the doorknob. “Since I don’t have any secrets, I might as well tell you now. Vas a ser abuela. At least title-wise. Becoming grandmother is something you earn.”

Emma’s heart beat a little faster. Regina had just told Cora that she was going to keep the baby!

“Oh,” Cora said, surprise coloring her voice. “That is…”

“My decision,” Regina said plainly. “And who knows, maybe you’ll apologize for all the shit you said when I told you of my plans for the baby. Goodnight, Cora.”

“Yes….” Cora sucked in a breath. “Goodnight, Regina. I hope that you’ll… think about meeting Malaina.” She put a hand on the doorknob again. Then turned her head. “Goodnight, miss Swan.”

“Goodnight,” Emma said quietly.

The door opened and Cora disappeared. Emma heard her high heels clack down the hallway. Then disappear.

Regina let out a long sigh as she grabbed her crutches and pushed herself up from the chair.

“Regina,” Emma said gently.

“Not right now,” Regina said tiredly. “I can’t deal with anymore right now.”

“What do you want me to do?” Emma asked. “Do you want me to… do you want me to leave?”

“Leave how?” Regina raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t know. The hotel? New York?” the suggestions came in a rapid pace Emma had no control over.

“Leave New York?” Regina echoed coldly. Her eyes flashed with anger again. “And just abandon me on a trip you invited me on? Really?”

“No!” Emma yelped. “God, no! That wasn’t what I meant! I’d never-“

“Never what, Emma? Never what?” Regina asked in the same tired tone as she hobbled over to the bed. “Hurt me? You’ve already done that.”

“I know,” Emma whispered. “And I am so, so, so sorry about that, Regina! You have to believe me!”

“I’m sure that you are, Emma. But that doesn’t change the fact that it happened. It doesn’t change the fact that you deliberately chose to keep something from me.” Regina turned around on her crutches, so they were face to face. “I have the utmost respect about your decision not to out Cora.” She let go with one hand and reached for the pillow. “But you could have kept her secret without lying to me in a million different ways, Emma. You could have said: ‘hey, I talked to your mom last night, and I think that something is going on with her, so maybe you should give her a call’. Or ‘I think that your mom is hiding something from you that she’s too afraid to tell, so I think it would be great if you called her and had a proper chat with her’. That would have been one way to keep her secret without lying to me in the process.”

Emma hung her head. She knew that she should have said something similar to what Regina just had suggested. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m sorry I didn’t think of that. I was scared that I would end up stressing you further, and I didn’t want to risk that while you were in the hospital.” As soon as she had finished the sentence, she knew that she had shot herself in the foot. Again.

“That wasn’t your decision to make,” Regina said dully. “You had no right to decide that. Only I know what I can and cannot handle. I am not some damsel in distress who needs to be coddled or protected from the truth. I did a good job fending for myself before you came along.”

Emma could only repeat what she had said so many times tonight: “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry!”

“Sí, yo también. And worried too. What if the baby-“ she rubbed her belly for emphasis. “One day comes to you and tells you something? Something worrying? Something you think will worry me, too? How are you going to handle that? Are you going to keep that to yourself too and just hope that the child will come to me?”

“No!” Emma said fiercely. “Of course not! Never! I would tell you! Immediately!”

“And how am I supposed to trust that?” Regina asked. She didn’t sound angry anymore. Just upset. “How am I supposed to trust that when you’ve already kept one thing from me? When you’ve already once made yourself the judge over what I should and should not know?”

“Regina,” Emma said desperately and walked over to her. Cupping her elbow, she tried her best to assure: “this will never happen again! I promise!”

“I wish I could believe that,” Regina said and pulled her elbow out of Emma’s grasp. “I really, really wish I could believe you.”

“Regina, I swear-“ she was interrupted when her phone rang loudly and scared them both. She went back to the little table and glanced at her phone which was now fully charged. It was Henry who was calling her. Shit! Emma had completely forgotten about him. Had forgotten that he anxiously was waiting for news about Regina. God, he had to be SO worried!

She couldn’t do anything right tonight.

“It’s for you,” she said as she unhooked the phone from the charger and gave it to Regina. “It’s your dad.”

“My dad?” Regina echoed. “Why is he calling now?”

“I….” Emma swallowed. “I called him to ask if he had heard from you because I thought-“

“You called him in the middle of the night to ask if he had heard from me because I didn’t take your call?! Meaning that he thinks I’ve gone missing in New York in the middle of the night?! Emma! He’s an old man with high blood pressure! What the hell were you thinking?!”

“I wasn’t,” Emma squeaked. “I’m really sor-“

“If you say you’re sorry one more time, I’m leaving!” Regina hissed as she ripped the phone out of Emma’s hand. She swiped a finger across the screen and lifted the phone to her ear. The next second her voice was so soft and sweet it was almost eerie. “!Hola, papi!”

If it was possible, Emma felt even worse about herself when she heard Henry speak loudly in Spanish in the other end. He had undoubtedly been beside himself with concern for his daughter.

“Estoy bien, papi. Estoy bien,” Regina said quickly. And soothingly. “Y también el bebé. No tienes nada de qué preocuparte, ¿de acuerdo? Si. Absolutamente. Sí, tuvimos una discusión, eso es correcto. Sí, uno malo. Pero no tienes que preocuparte por eso. Solo duerme un poco. Haré lo mismo. Bueno. Si. Yo también te amo. Sí, le diré eso. ¡Adiós papi!” with that, she handed the phone back to Emma and turned around. “Well, he was worried, thanks to you. On the brink of calling the police in New York. And in the middle of booking a plane ticket. If you hadn’t remembered, he would have shown up. An old man. With high blood pressure. Good one, Emma. Really good one.”

“I’m sorry.” The two words were starting to sound more and more hollow. Poor Henry! He had probably imagined all kind of scary scenarios too.

She had a lot to apologize for.

“Yes. I’m sure you are,” Regina said icily as she grabbed one of the duvets, they normally shared.

“What are you doing?” Emma asked nervously. That didn’t LOOK like packing for the airport, but you never knew….

“I would prefer to sleep alone tonight,” Regina said shortly as she carried the spare pillow and duvet over to the little couch in the corner. “I’ll be sleeping here.”

In flashes, Emma saw her planned future with Regina crumble away. Starting out with this. Regina was a cuddler. She had been that since day one. Had even apologized for it on the very first night they had spent together. ‘If I don’t want to cuddle, something is really wrong,’ she once laughingly had claimed when Emma teased her about her sleep-habits. And now something WAS really wrong. So very, very wrong!

“Don’t,” Emma said quietly.

“That’s my decision, not yours,” Regina sneered.

“I know. I didn’t mean it like that.” Emma blinked away tears and took a risk by gently taking the duvet and pillow from Regina. “I’ll sleep on the couch. You’ll sleep in the bed.”

Oddly enough, Regina didn’t argue. “Fine,” was all she said. Then she turned her back on Emma and with trouble climbed into bed. The crutches landed on the floor with a clatter.

Emma went to the couch and lied down. As she pulled the duvet over her body, she heard Regina moan in pain from the bed, saying: “¡Dios mío, me duele el pie!”

Emma happened to know that that meant ‘oh god, my foot hurts’, and the concern was burning in her chest as she opened her mouth to ask if she could do anything. If it was Regina’s fractured ankle, she would have offered to help Regina find a comfortable sleep position. And if it was Regina’s other ankle which often swelled up nowadays, Emma would have offered to rub some of the soreness away.

But now she couldn’t do either of it. Because she had messed up. Because Regina was angry with her. Because right now it felt like there was no coming back from the shit she had created.

She could no longer blink back the tears as Regina lifted a hand and switched off the light. The room was cloaked in darkness.

“Goodnight,” Emma whispered.

Regina didn’t answer. But Emma was sure she heard her sniffle.

Emma did the same. Cried silently in the darkened hotel room. There was a big chance that her stupidity had cost her Regina. And Blueberry….

To Be Continued…………..

Chapter Text

The next morning started with the sound of drizzling rain outside the window. Which suited the situation just fine.

Emma did not open her eyes even though she was awake. She was scared to open her eyes. Scared that she would find the room cleared of Regina’s stuff and Regina herself gone. To the airport.

Emma had a massive headache. Her eyes were puffy. Her body was aching all over as though recovering from a bad case of the flu. But she was not. She was heartbroken. Deeply upset. Deeply angry with herself. The aching body she had earned herself from spending a night on the couch, was entirely deserved.

But however odd it sounded, she felt a fraction calmer. And what’s more, she felt like she had control over her voice. Control over what she was going to say. Because she was definitely going to say SOMETHING. Something that wasn’t just a weak-ass ‘I’m sorry’.

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. The bedroom was fairly dim. Thick, grey clouds were slowly drifting by the window. It was a dark morning in New York. In every way. Emma glanced at the ceiling where the numbers on the alarm clock was being reflected. Nine forty five. She kept her gaze fixated on the ceiling for a moment while listening intensely. No sound was coming from the bed. Could she even hear Regina breathe over there? She was terrified of turning her head and finding the bedroom empty.

But on the other hand, she couldn’t just lie here in this position all day because she was too scared. Now was not the time to be scared. It was time to act.

She had to fix things.

One way or another.

If Regina was still here, Emma would do literally anything to make things right.

And if Regina was not here, Emma would catch the first plane back to Madrid and go straight to Regina’s apartment. If Regina let her in, she would once again do anything to make things right.

If Regina did not let her in, Emma would respect that. She would do anything Regina asked. Even go back to Storybrooke.

Even leave her alone.

The idea of Regina breaking up with her had Emma’s heart pounding hard in her chest. The thought was nausea inducing. Loosing Regina and Blueberry was literally the worst thing that could happen.

But if Regina didn’t want to be together anymore…… Then that was just the way things were going to be.

It would hurt like hell, but Emma would never dream of forcing Regina to be together if she didn’t want to.

Fresh tears pooled in her eyes, but Emma angrily blinked them away. She didn’t want to cry. Had no reason to cry. She was not the one who had been hurt.

She took another deep breath and finally turned her head.

What she saw stole the breath right out of her lungs in one quick whoosh.

Regina was laying in bed with her dark hair fanning out around her and looking just like Sleeping Beauty. A more beautiful version of Sleeping Beauty.

So, so, beautiful. Emma’s heart clenched.

But….

She was still here. She was actually here. In the hotel room. In the bed. Thank god, thank god, thank god!

Emma silently thanked whatever god there was up there. She could have cried in sheer relief. But her decision about no more crying still remained. Yesterday had been ridiculous. She had failed utterly at doing any of the things a good partner did when their
girlfriend was upset. And especially if said girlfriend was upset because said PARTNER had fucked up.

Emma had fucked up. Massively. First by sneaking around and keeping secrets and making herself the judge over what Regina could and could not handle. And then by only offering mindless blubbering when Regina was upset.

There would be none of that today. Today she would actually act her age. And make things right. If she could.

Emma quietly sat up on the couch. The blanket slid off of her and landed on the floor. She did nothing about it. Instead she stood from the couch and stretched. Somewhere something made a clicking sound in her back. Emma winced. It hurt. But she definitely deserved it. If her epic fuck up shouldn’t land her with a backache, what should?

As quietly as she could, she walked into the bathroom and washed her face. Very much needed. For whatever reason, she felt completely greasy all over. So greasy she decided to just take a shower. She made sure to be both quick and quiet and hoped that the sound of the water didn’t wake up Regina.

Once done, she wrapped one of the fluffy white hotel bathrobes around her. Noticed that Regina’s spicy perfume was still clinging to the fabric. Emma pathetically inhaled the scent. What if she never was to smell Regina’s perfume again? Hear her laugh? See her smile? Never kiss again? Cuddle her at night before they drifted off to sleep? What if she never was to meet Blueberry?

Emma wished that there had been an off-button for her disastrous thoughts. She brushed her wet hair back in a low ponytail. Looked at her reflection one too many times. She looked fucking awful. Had deep dark circles under her eyes. Emma touched the skin.
It felt puffy. For a second, Emma thought to herself that she would ask Regina if she could borrow that eye cream of hers. But then she remembered how things were. Chances that she could borrow anything of Regina’s was below zero.

She walked back inside their hotel room and stood for a moment while considering what to do. Should she order breakfast? Go sit in the chair and wait for Regina to wake up? Return to the couch? What? She felt utterly at loss.

She knew what she wanted the most. Two things. Firstly: hug Regina so tightly everything just magically fixed itself. And secondly: call her mom and ramble on about how she had ruined everything.

She never got the chance to call anyone or do anything.

Regina stirred in the bed. Let out her usual little morning groan. Then rubbed a hand over her face.

Emma nervously rocked on the balls of her feet. Maybe she should have sat down. Waking up and finding her lurking was probably not the best way for Regina to start her morning.

Regina sat up in bed. Pushed her hair away from her face and then rubbed her belly. Exactly like she always did. Then she turned her head and looked at Emma.

“Hi,” Emma squeaked. And mentally kicked herself for sounding like that.

“Hi,” Regina mumbled. She was not squeaking. Her morning voice was raspy and full of gravel. And tiredness. She sounded so, so tired. She glanced around after her crutches.

Emma jumped into action and grabbed the crutches. Handed them to Regina with a teeny tiny little smile.

The smile was not returned. “Thanks,” was all Regina said as she took the crutches and used them to push herself up from the bed. She hobbled past Emma and into the bathroom where the door was closed behind her.

Emma went to sit down in the armchair. The tension between them was still uncomfortably thick, but at least Regina was not yelling at her right now. That had to be something, right?

After a moment, Regina returned from the bathroom. She too had pulled her hair back in a ponytail. And she too also looked tired. Deep dark circles that looked sore and puffy. Emma winced. It was her fault that Regina looked this tired.

“Are you hungry?” Emma asked foolishly. Because Regina was always hungry in the morning, “Do you want me to order some breakfast?”

“Yes,” Regina said shortly and sat down on the edge of the bed. She rubbed her belly again.

“Does it hurt?” Emma asked carefully. She didn’t know if she was still allowed to ask these kinds of questions.

“No,” Regina said. “It did last night before I fell asleep, but not anymore.”

“Okay. That’s good. That’s very good.”

“Yes.”

“So….” Emma licked her lips. Regina had not given a sharp answer or no answer at all. That had to be another good thing. “Breakfast. Anything special you’d like, or just the usual?”

“I’d like an extra batch of their pancakes.”

“Alright. Of course. Extra syrup too?”

“Sí.”

“Awesome. I’ll order that immediately!” Emma instantly picked up the hotel phone and called the reception to order breakfast. The tension between her and Regina made her speech quick and ramble-y. And nervous. She might have mentioned Regina’s extra batch of pancakes with extra syrup three times. The lady who answered the phone sounded a bit tired when Emma finally concluded the order.

“You ordered tea for the both of us.”

“Huh?” Emma looked confused at Regina.

“You usually drink coffee in the morning,” Regina said and kept her gaze fixated on the wall. “But you ordered tea instead.”

“Oh!” yes, she might have done that. That was how tense and on edge she felt. But there was no way she would be phoning that poor lady one more time. She would just roll with it. “Well…. I figured that coffee is so unhealthy, so I decided I’d rather want tea today.”

“Right.” Regina didn’t sound one bit convinced, but she did not pursue the subject.

Emma had no idea which subject SHE should pursue. There were so many things she wanted to ask Regina. How Blueberry was doing, for instance. If he was kicking. How Regina was feeling. What time her plane left. What would happen now.

But she was entirely too afraid to ask any of those questions. And besides, she couldn’t just let the questions rain down over Regina first thing. That was not the way to do this.

So she sat in uncomfortable silence and wondered if it perhaps would be better if the earth just opened and swallowed her whole. She sat tight and hoped, hoped, hoped that Regina would say something. Anything.

But Regina did not. She too remained silent. And her gaze still focused on that spot on the wall. The only part of her that was moving, was her hands. One of them were restlessly rubbing her belly. Up and down. Up and down. The other was rubbing her lower back in a circular motion.

Emma’s stomach clenched. She recognized that method. It was the method Doctor Rivera had recommended as a pain relief. Meaning that Regina’s back was hurting right now.

Emma had ordered herself not to cry today. But it was hard not to when she saw Regina rub her back. Because that was usually Emma’s job. One of the first things she did in the morning. The ‘wake up back’-method, Regina had laughingly dubbed it.

She was not laughing now. And Emma had the feeling that she herself would never feel like laughing ever again.

The loud knock on the door followed by a much too brisk: “room service!” sent Emma yelping from the bed and stumbling over to the door. She opened it and allowed a woman rolling a cloth-covered tray table on wheels with various breakfast-things on it to come inside. She was smiling like she had just won a million dollars and almost chirping as she explained what was on the tray.

“Thank you,” Emma kindly but firmly interrupted the woman. She wasn’t in the mood to be treated like a VIP today.

“Gracias.” Regina said.

Emma put on a smile for the woman and tipped her handsomely. In the hopes that it would make the woman leave.

It did. The woman flashed her another beaming smile. “Thank you very much,” she chirped. “Have a lovely day!”

“Yeah. You too,” Emma muttered as the woman took off and closed the door behind her.

Emma rolled the tray table over to Regina and then dragged the heavy armchair across the floor, so it was placed across the tray table. Under normal circumstances, she and Regina would be sitting in bed and have breakfast. But today, Regina needed her space.

Regina dug into her food without saying anything.

Emma on the other hand, was burning to say something. But she knew better. Food ranked high on Regina’s list these days. As did not being bothered in the middle of eating said food. So she kept her mouth shut and ate her food without enjoying it much. It
tasted stale. Which had nothing to do with the food but more to do with her. She definitely didn’t deserve to enjoy this food.

Regina dug into her food with vigor. She ate like she had never seen food before, and Emma felt guiltier and guiltier by the second. The exhaustion was making Regina extra hungry. Emma sent her stolen glances, but her glances were never returned. Was it because Regina was too busy eating? Or was it because she purposefully ignored Emma?

It could be the first reason. But it could also be the second reason. Or both. It could very well be both. Though it probably was the first reason. Even though she wanted it to be because Regina simply was too busy eating. Her fork scraped across the plate as she speared another piece of bacon and stuffed it into her mouth. Her gaze was still focused on the wall.

The breakfast was one of the tensest ones Emma had ever participated in, and she was almost relieved when Regina was done eating. Now they could finally talk. Emma opened her mouth to say something, but before she could get the chance to start the hard conversation, Regina spoke first: “do you know if it will stop raining today?”

“Uhm…” Emma blinked. Of all the things Regina could have said, Emma hadn’t expected that it would be about the weather. “I’m not sure. Why?”

“I have to buy a present,” Regina said and brushed invisible dust off her nightshirt. “For Lucy.”

Lucy again. Emma knew that she was the one who was in a pickle here. Her most dominant feeling should be shame. And yet there was a tiny part of her that was jealous of the mysterious Lucy whom had escorted Regina all the way back to the hotel room last night.

“When I was walking home in the rain last night, I was approached by three men in a car. They started asking me if I needed a ride and made comments about… well, about me. I think one of them was about to get out of the car when Lucy suddenly came speeding down the road. She acted as if we were friends and made the mean drive off. That’s why I want to buy her a present,” Regina said simply.

“Oh, god,” Emma whispered and felt sick to her stomach. If those men had decided that they wanted Regina inside the car, there would have been little Regina could have done about it. On her crutches, she was pretty much immobilized. The things that could have happened! Now Emma wanted to buy Lucy a present too.

And now she also felt a million times more guilty. If she (and Cora) hadn’t kept pressuring Regina, Regina never would have left the restaurant.

Regina offered a slight shrug in response. "I shouldn't have walked around in New York at night. That was stupid of me."

Emma rose from the armchair and approached the bed where Regina was sitting. “Can we talk?” we asked softly and for a moment she imagined that Regina would scoff and say, ‘about what?’

She didn’t. She said: “sure.”

Okay. That was the first step. And Regina hadn’t yelled at her this morning. Good.

Emma dragged the chair over so she could sit just across Regina. Not next to her on the bed. Right now it seemed like a bad move to invade Regina’s personal space.

She nervously licked her lips as Regina looked at her. She had raised an eyebrow. Most likely wondering why Emma was silent now that she was the one who had asked if they could talk.

Emma pulled herself together. “I said ‘I’m sorry’ many, many times yesterday,” she began. “But I think I said without really…. Apologizing for what happened.”

Regina’s eyebrow rose further, and Emma could have kicked herself. Where the hell was she even going with this nonsense?

“Everything you said yesterday,” she quickly picked up because she could sense that Regina was growing impatient. “About how I decided not to say anything to you about Cora because I thought you couldn’t handle it…. You’re right. I WAS thinking that. And I
DID make the wrong choice by keeping it from you. And I absolutely should not have done that. Ever. It was a completely wrong choice on my part. You’re not a damsel in distress. You’re…. You’re badass. I already know that. As for finding a different way to
warn you about something going on with Cora…. All I can say is that I did not think that far. I was so focused on you and the baby.” She bit her lip when she briefly thought about how Regina had started bleeding and had scared the living daylights out of both of them. “It’s not an excuse for not thinking, but it is an explanation. Though perhaps not such a good one.” She leaned forward slightly and looked Regina in the eyes. “I genuinely thought that Cora would come to you. I thought that she would explain everything, and when she didn’t show up at the hospital…. I got angry with her. I felt like it would be stupid of me to start talking about her because you were so happy. It’s so stupid, I know. And I also completely understand why it feels like I betrayed you. I DID betray you. Even though it was not my intention.”

“It felt like you were valuing Cora’s secret more than you valued our relationship,” Regina said quietly. “It felt like you were siding with my abuser. Cora might never have hurt me physically, but all the things she did- all the little hurtful remarks- it is still abuse.”

“Yes, it is,” Emma immediately agreed with her. “You’re right. And I completely understand why you felt like I was siding with her yesterday. What I did, pressured you into talking to her, that was ganging up on you. I understand that now.”

Regina gave a meek little nod. “Why didn’t you just tell me the truth when we met Malaina? That was the perfect opportunity. So why didn’t you?”

“I hoped that she would tell you,” Emma said truthfully. “When we went to Brooklyn… I was hoping that we would run into her a second time. I was hoping that if she saw you again… it would somehow push her into telling you what was going on.” God, the way
she had sneaked around sounded absolutely horrible when put like that. But she wanted to be completely transparent with Regina about everything.

“I see,” Regina said tonelessly. “So that was why you had to go into her gallery. You didn’t need the bathroom at all.”

“You’re right. I didn’t,” Emma admitted.

“I see,” Regina said again.

“I’ve fucked up,” Emma said plainly. “I fucked up last night and I have fucked up for the past few weeks. Made one bad decision after the other. I wish that I had stopped for a moment and considered whether was I was doing was the best for you, but I can’t.
Just as I can’t go back in time and make things better. I wish I could, but I cannot. All I can say is that I am so deeply sorry for hurting you. I never ever meant to do that. I can’t do anything except hoping that you somehow will forgive me for this. But if you don’t want to-“ she paused and blinked back tears. “If you want to b-break up, I understand that. What I’ve done to you is…” the tears dripped onto her cheeks. She hastily wiped them away. She had promised herself not to cry. She wasn’t the one who was allowed to cry. “It’s unforgiveable, I know that. But I love you, Regina. So, so much. And I love the baby.” She didn’t dare saying ‘our’ baby. Because right now she had no idea whether the baby was still hers.

“I know you do,” Regina murmured. “And I know that you are sorry.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “And I wish that I could smile and tell you that everything is okay now that you have apologized, but I cannot. Because it isn’t okay.”

“I know,” Emma whispered. “I know it isn’t.”

“Do you remember Anastasia?” Regina asked. “The girl who followed us at El Rastro?”

“Yeah.” Emma did remember that. As if it was yesterday. She remembered how she and Regina had laughed as they ran away hand in hand.

“You remember that I told you that she was one of Cora’s ‘henchmen’? That Cora was paying her to follow me around and report back to her?”

“Yes.” Emma remembered that too.

“Anastasia was originally my friend,” Regina said quietly. “My good friend. I told her many things. About how things had been for me after Cora chased Dani away. After I had to leave my house because I no longer could stand being there. Anastasia listened to all of that. She was very understanding. I really felt like I had found a friend. Until I saw her with Cora. Until I saw Cora PAY her. That’s when I realized what was going on. That she never was my friend. That she only listened to my problems because Cora paid her to do so.” Regina took a deep breath and brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face. “When I saw you and Cora stand and chitchat outside the restaurant yesterday and act like each other’s confidants…. It reminded me of what had happened with Anastasia. And I suddenly imagined that you were only dating me…”

“Because Cora told me to,” Emma finished the sentence, horror filling her as she realized exactly what Regina had thought. How it had looked to her.

“Yeah,” Regina nodded and looked down at her hands.

“No!” Emma said firmly. “Absolutely NOT! Regina, I’d NEVER-“

“I know that,” Regina interrupted. “I KNOW that. But nevertheless, that’s how it felt for a moment. Because it isn’t the first time Cora has used somebody else to gain information about me.”

“Regina, I had no idea about Anastasia. I didn’t know the lengths Cora went to in order-“ Emma shook her head. “God, I’m so sorry!”

“I know,” Regina sighed. “And as I said, I wish that was enough to fix things. But it isn’t.”

Emma nodded to acknowledge that. “Is there anything you’d want me to go? Do you want me to go away? Just say the word and I will.” Without hesitation. Even though it would hurt as hell.

“No,” Regina said and shook her head. “I don’t think you should leave New York. This is your trip. Your exhibition. If anyone should leave…”

“Please don’t,” Emma said before she could stop herself. “Please, please don’t leave. Stay. I’m begging you!” she wouldn’t be able to bear it if Regina left New York. Not like this. “If you want, we can cut the trip short and go back together. And I can go straight back to Maine. Just don’t… leave New York alone.”

For the faintest moment, it looked like Regina cracked a very small smile at that. “I’m not sure leaving would solve anything,” she admitted and drew a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “But at the same time… I feel like I need some space. I need time to digest this. I- I need time to once again feel like I come first. That you put me highest. That your loyalty lies with me. I know it wasn’t your intention, but I feel betrayed. I can’t help it. Right now… I doubt you. Even though you’ve apologized, even though the majority of me don’t want to, I doubt you. I’m insecure. Because you kept something from me. With Cora of all people. I know that it’ll never happen again-”

“It won’t,” Emma said quickly. “Never!”

Regina shook her head slightly and gave a sad little smile. “You could tell me that a million times, Emma, but there would still be a part of me that doubted you. This is not just something that will fix itself because you apologize and reassure me. Cora has pulled too much crap over the years. What happened last night… it triggered some really bad memories, and as I said, I need some time to digest that.”

“Okay.” Emma swallowed down her tears and wondered where that left them. Regina had not broken up with her, but still… this was not good. She would do everything she could to prove to Regina that she was loyal. That Regina was the single most important thing. She would bend herself backwards to prove that she was worthy.

“B-by yourself?” she stuttered, so, so afraid that Regina had decided to fly back to Spain anyway.

“I’m staying,” Regina said and fiddled with a lock of her hair. “I don’t think I could handle traveling right now, to be honest.”

“And your…. Plane ticket?” Emma asked carefully. She had no problem with remembering that Regina had booked a plane ticket for today.

But Regina shook her head. “There never even was a plane ticket. It was something I said because I was….” Her mouth twisted. “Because I was angry.”

“You had every right to be. You STILL have every right to be.”

Regina shook her head again. “I’m not mad. I’m just… tired. And sad that everything has become so messy.”

“Because of me.” Emma winced. “If I had just said something. Anything.” Because Regina had been absolutely right last night. There truly HAD been a million different ways she could have dropped hints about Cora without ever revealing her secret. If only she
had seen that. If only she hadn’t become so focused on not outing Cora and somehow developing tunnel vision because of it. And if only she hadn’t decided to make herself the judge over what Regina could and could not handle.

It was because of that the woman she loved doubted her. It was because of that the woman she loved had…. Well, not quite broken up with her, but their relationship was most certainly on shaky ground. Because of Emma.

But there was still a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Regina was staying. That meant something. She wasn’t going home. Nor had she broken up with Emma. That meant that their relationship could be mended. And by all the gods, Emma would put her entire
heart and soul into mending it! Whatever it took for Regina to not doubting her anymore, Emma would do it!

“I also have something I want to say,” Regina said.

“Okay. Go ahead.”

“What I said yesterday about you being like Robin…. That’s not true. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Emma’s shoulders unclenched just a bit. “You had every right to do that.”

Regina shrugged. “You and Robin are in two different categories.” She blew out a breath. Then rubbed her forehead. “Dios, me duele la cabeza!”

“Is there… anything I can do?” Emma asked carefully. She didn’t want to overstep.

Regina shook her head and murmured: “it’s not every day that you learn your mother is gay and the only reason you’re here is because she was upset over breaking up with her girlfriend and your father was…. At the right place at the right time.”

“You were wanted,” Emma reminded her. “Right from the start. Cora said so herself.”

“Cora has said much crap over the years,” Regina said and frowned. “But last night…. I believe she was more honest than she has ever been. I suppose that is something.”

“Yeah. It is.”

“¿Pero por qué?” Regina asked and shook her head slightly. “Why all the lies? I don’t CARE that she’s gay. It’s fine. More than fine. If she’s happy, that’s all that matters. But why couldn’t she just have come out when I told her that I was bisexual? Instead of feeling like I was stealing her thunder or whatever. It doesn’t make sense. But I guess I sort of understand where she’s coming from. My grandparents weren’t very nice to her. But still, that didn’t give her any right to make my childhood a living hell. If I was so
‘wanted’, why couldn’t she just… be my mother?”

Emma had the strongest urge to reach out and touch Regina. Put her arms around her and tell her that everything was going to be okay. But she didn’t. She had to respect Regina’s wishes about space.

“I suppose it would be easy to let things continue as they have so far,” Regina murmured more to herself than to Emma. “No contact between us. Sí, that would be really, really easy. When I last saw her at daddy’s house, I swore that it was the last time. I cut her off just as much as she cut me off…”

Emma said nothing. Didn’t want to interrupt Regina while she was thinking.

“But….” Regina shook her head again. “Where would that leave us? We would be back at square one, and it would always be in the back of my mind no matter what. She was honest with me last night. She took the first step. That is more than she has done in years. And if she can do that, then….” She clicked her tongue. “You know what, screw it!” with that, she reached out and plucked her cellphone off of the bedside table. She frowned slightly as she dialed a number. Then pressed the phone to her ear.

Emma did not ask her who she was calling. But she found out either way.

“Good morning, Cora,” Regina said formally. “I have slept on it and have decided that I do in fact want to come for dinner.” She glanced at Emma. “WE want to come for dinner.”

Emma felt her heart starting to pound in her chest. She was still being included!

“Sí,” Regina said, still formal sounding. “Sí, I think it’s about time I meet your girlfriend….”

 

To Be Continued………...

Chapter Text

The door to the bathroom opened and Regina stepped out.

Emma had to bite her tongue not to blurt: “you look gorgeous, beautiful girl!”. Because Regina definitely did. The way her red dress just hugged her body and baby bump was ridiculously beautiful. But....

She was not allowed to say such things. Not anymore. It physically hurt to scold her features into something that was more neutral. “Are you ready to go?” she settled on.

“Sí,” was all Regina said. She checked her appearance in the large mirror and then limped over to the door.

Emma silently followed her as she left the hotel room.

It had been two days since Emma’s grand fuck up, and it was safe to say that the mood wasn’t the best. Regina had not shouted nor cried since that night, but there was no laughing and very long between the smiles. Regina was subdued and serious. Pale and exhausted. After having called Cora two nights ago, she had gone back to sleep and had slept for five hours straight. When she woke up, they had ordered lunch and eaten. Without saying much. And that pattern had continued over the next two days. Regina answered when spoken to, but she didn’t start talking on her own, and only gave short answers. She didn’t laugh or mess around and a wrinkle had taken permanent stay between her eyebrows. She looked far older than twenty years old.

Downstairs in reception, Regina monotonously asked the receptionist if the taxi Emma had called earlier, was there.

“Just arrived, miss,” the receptionist said cheerfully.

“Thank you,” Regina said, flashing the woman a tight smile. Then she turned her head and glanced at Emma. “Shall we?”

“Yup,” Emma said, hastily following Regina as she hobbled outside.

The weather in New York was rather cold and dreary, and Emma was freezing a little bit despite wearing one of her warmer leather jackets. She glanced at Regina. She too was wearing a coat. A longer one with a blue fake-fur collar and the same blue fluff on the sleeves. Emma had not seen that coat before, and it had been hard not to compliment the coat when she saw it. The coat looked fairly warm, but Regina was only wearing a short sleeved red dress underneath it.

“Are you cold?” she asked Regina.

“No. I’m fine.”

“Okay. Good.”

They climbed inside the taxi, and Regina gave the driver the address. They were going to Madison Avenue where Malaina had an apartment.

Regina shifted a little. She had chosen the backseat. Like Emma.

Emma pathetically thought to herself that that had to be a good sign. Regina could have chosen the passenger’s seat. And yet she had chosen the backseat.

The driver put the engine in motion, and off they went. On their way to what Emma suspected would be the tensest dinner ever. She wondered what Cora would be like tonight. Would she be subdued as well? Apologetic like she had been three days ago? And
what about Malaina? Would she have enough awareness to recognize how delicate this situation was?

Next to her, Regina shifted and rubbed her belly slightly.

“Doing okay?” Emma asked nonchalantly. She didn’t dare asking too much.

“Sí,” Regina said simply.

“Alright. Good.” Emma cleared her throat. The tense situation made her feel terrible. What she really wanted to do, was to throw herself at Regina’s feet and beg her for mercy. But she didn’t. She respected that Regina needed time.

They hadn’t broken up, Emma reminded herself. They were not broken up. Regina would have said if they were. She was too good a person to play games. This wasn’t to play a game. She had openly communicated about what she needed in order to digest this.

Time. And although it hurt knowing that Regina didn’t want any type of closeness at the moment, Emma still had to look at the bright sides. Regina had not asked her to go back to Maine. Nor had she left New York herself. She was still here and so was Emma.

That was a tiny bright spot in this sea of shit Emma’s foolish actions had thrown them into. They were together still.

Just not…. Together.

At least not in the way they had been before all of this.

Emma discreetly looked at her girlfriend (that still was appropriate, right?) and wondered what she was thinking right now. What was going through her head right now? Was she nervous? Angry? Sad? Or simply tired?

Regina had looked tired for the past three days. Even tonight when she was wearing makeup. Her hair had been piled up on her head in a loose bun with a few curly strands brushing against her cheeks. With her red lipstick and the red dress she was wearing under the coat, she looked stunning. Like an actress.

“You look-“ Emma stopped talking upon realizing what she was about to say.

Regina turned her head. “Sí?”

“Nice,” Emma landed on. “You look nice.” Regina looked better than nice. She looked drop dead gorgeous, but Emma wasn’t sure how Regina would feel about being told this.

“Oh. Thank you. You too look…. Very appropriate for the occasion, Emma.”

Emma. Not ‘querida’ or ‘mi amor’ or even ‘señorita Swan’. Just plain Emma. That was another thing that stung, but Emma pulled herself together and said: “thank you.”

“El vestido de batalla,” Regina murmured.

Emma smiled in unbridled relief. “That’s right. The battle dress.” She was indeed wearing her pink dress. The one she only ever wore for special occasions.

Something tugged at Regina’s lips. So brief you could have missed it if you blinked. But Emma saw it. A teeny, tiny smile. It was quick, but it was there. She could have cried of relief.

Then Regina shifted slightly and rubbed her belly.

“Does it hurt?” Emma asked her. Force of habit. She couldn’t help it.

“No. He’s just very active tonight. Perhaps he can sense how I feel.”

“I’m sure he can, beau-“ Emma stopped herself. Calling Regina ‘beautiful girl’ wasn’t something she should do right now. It was too soon for that.

“I feel heavy tonight,” Regina said simply. “And my back hurts. I should have brought that stupid pregnancy pillow. A shame I couldn’t fit it into my suitcase.”

Emma held her breath. This was the most she had heard Regina talk for the past two days.

“Do you have any idea what a ‘rutabaga’ is?” Regina asked.

Emma frowned. “Is that some kind of disease?”

Regina let out a tiny snort. “No. Apparently, it’s the size of the baby this week. So I hope it isn’t some kind of disease.”

“Oh.” Emma smiled again. Because Regina was fucking talking to her! “I bet it’s some kind of vegetable.”

“You’re probably right. But I think I prefer comparing him- or her- to the size of a cauliflower. I actually know what that is.”

“Good plan,” Emma praised.

Regina shook her head. “What is he doing in there? It feels like he’s upside down or something…”

“Gymnastics?” Emma suggested and hoped that she once again would see Regina smile.

Regina did smile. A teeny tiny little smile. “Perhaps. Or dancing.”

“Like mother like child,” Emma quipped. She had not dared calling the little one ‘our’ baby. That seemed like a bad move since her own position in Regina’s life currently was on shaky ground. Emma was acutely aware of that. And she would do everything she
possibly could to secure that position again. And she would NEVER keep again hidden from Regina ever again. Never!

“Mmm,” Regina nodded and looked out of the window. “Looks like we’re almost there.”

“Yep.”

“Esto es tan extraño,” Regina shook her head slightly. “I thought Cora and I were done and now I’m on my way to meet her and her girlfriend. If I end up giving birth to twins or triplets, I won’t even be surprised.”

“Triplets?” Emma’s eyed widened. “That’s a lot of babies.”

“I know.” Regina scoffed slightly. “Imagine that.”

For a single moment, Emma could in fact imagine Regina with three little mini versions of herself.

 

The taxi stopped and the driver announced that they had reached their destination. Emma got out of the taxi first and waited as Regina wrestled with her crutches. “Do you need any-“

“No,” Regina interrupted. “I got it.”

“Okay.” Emma immediately backed up. Although she did not like seeing Regina struggle with her crutches. But if Regina didn’t want her help, she would have to respect that.

After a while, and with a frustrated huff, Regina managed to exit the taxi. The pavement was wet from the rain that had fallen earlier, and she cussed softly under her breath when the tip of her right crutch ended up in a puddle and splashed water on her shoe in the process.

Emma literally had to bite her tongue not to offer her help a second time.

“Alright. Looks like we’re here,” Regina observed as she looked at the building in which Malaina Drake lived in with Cora. “Which floor is it again?”

“Fifth,” Emma answered.

“Right.” Regina looked down at her cast-incased foot. “Let’s hope to hell that the elevator isn’t broken. Because if it is, I have no idea how I’m to get up there.”

Emma said nothing as they walked towards the building. If the elevator indeed turned out to be broken, there was in fact only one option. Carry Regina up the stairs. And THAT would probably not be well received. There hadn’t been much physical contact
between them for the past two days. Possibly the hardest two days in Emma’s life. After Regina had woken up from her extra nap two days ago, she had announced that she wanted to see Central Park. Emma had carefully asked her if she wanted to go by
herself. Regina had not been interested in that. So they had gone together. And when they came back, their large hotel bed had been separated into two beds. Regina’s doing. She had shrugged and said something about the couch not being comfortable.

Emma’s heart had broken a little. Two beds. Not one. That hurt. Not sleeping in the same bed as Regina had stung like hell. But again, she had to respect Regina’s feelings. She had no right to argue or protest. She was the reason why things had become so messy. The two separated beds could solely be blamed on her.

Emma hadn’t slept much the first night she spent in the bed. And judging by the lack of snuffling sounds from Regina’s bed, neither had she. But they hadn’t talked. The room had been painfully quiet for hours until Emma finally fell asleep. She had no idea how long Regina was awake for.

Thankfully, the elevator was not broken, and the relief was evident on Regina’s face as she stepped inside.

Emma followed suit and left it to Regina to push the button. The doors slurped closed and the pull behind Emma’s navel told her that they were going up.

Regina arched her back and let out a low groan. Then she let her crutches rest against the wall as she stretched her arms high above her head. Clearly trying to make something loosen.

Emma frowned and her fingers were itching to just reach out and rub Regina’s back. She knew it would help. It always did.

Regina didn’t address her sore back though. Instead she scoffed and said: “you know what, I just thought that I should have brought something. But then I remembered that this isn’t a normal social call and that I don’t even like Cora. I wonder what she’s like?
Malaina, I mean. Either she is like Cora- which would be more than I can stand- or Cora is very different when she’s with Malaina.”

“It’s probably that,” Emma said. She remembered how Cora’s eyes had lit up when talking about Malaina.

“Mmm. Dios, I have no idea how to do this,” Regina tapped her uninjured food against the floor like she always did when she was feeling particularly frustrated. “I mean, what am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to think about her?”

“Maybe you can decide that after you’ve met her?” Emma gently suggested.

“What if I won’t like her?” Regina asked. “What if meeting her won’t change anything? What if she won’t like ME?”

“Then screw her,” Emma said plainly.

For a moment, it looked like Regina was about to smile, but at the last minute she changed her mind and reached for her crutches instead. She kept her eyes on the numbers as the elevator slowly whirred it’s way up to the fifth floor.

When they reached the fourth floor, the elevator stopped, and they got company from an older couple who smiled at them.

Emma politely returned the smile and saw Regina do the same.

The elderly woman’s eyes lingered a bit on Regina’s belly for a moment, and Emma was sure she saw her eyes light up. What was it with pregnant bellies that attracted strangers like a magnet?

“Congratulations,” the elderly woman said and flashed Regina a smile.

“Thank you.”

“My granddaughter is expecting too.”

“How nice.” Regina smiled politely but Emma could see that she in no way was in the mood for small talk with strangers. There was this tightness around her eyes that so easily gave her mood away.

Luckily, Regina was spared of more small-talk when the elevator dinged, and the door opened. This was fifth floor.

“Have a lovely evening,” the elderly woman chirped after them as they excited the elevator.

“We’ll see about that,” Regina murmured as soon as the elevator door had closed behind the couple. “We’ll see how ‘lovely’ it is going to be. It all depends on what she’s like. And what Cora is like.” She shook her head and smoothened a hand down her coat.
Frowned slightly. “Why is my belly so pointy?”

“Normal pregnancy stuff?” Emma suggested and silently agreed. Regina’s belly was indeed a bit pointy.

“Maybe it IS triplets,” Regina deadpanned.

“That sounds like a lot of work,” Emma said, unsure of where Regina’s sudden urge to joke came from.

“I’m pretty sure one baby will be too. Anyway. Let’s do this, sí?”

“Sí,” Emma confirmed, following Regina as she hobbled over to the apartment door with a sign saying ‘Malaina Drake’ on it.

“Cora in an apartment,” Regina mumbled and shook her head once more. “I can’t really picture it. But I don’t suppose anything can surprise me these days.” She cleared her throat and then pressed the doorbell. It rang with a rather shrill tone that had both of them wincing slightly.

They didn’t even wait a full minute before the door was open by Cora Mills. She was in black slacks and a dove grey blouse with tiny little buttons down the front. Her chocolate brown hair was hanging in loose curls around her face. She was wearing ballerina slippers and a full face of makeup. Regina was clearly not the only one who had whipped out her ‘battle gears’ tonight.

“Regina,” she greeted formally (and nervously?) “Emma.”

“Hi,” Emma said politely.

“Hello,” Regina said flatly.

Emma knew Regina. And she knew that Regina wasn’t being intentionally rude right now. She just desperately needed the bathroom. Like she so often did when arriving at a new place.

“Come on in,” Cora said, clearly deciding not to take offense to Regina’s tone. Good call. Emma would have chewed her out if she had.

“Thank you,” Regina said. Still with some tightness in her voice. She was on edge, and that was completely understandable.

Had the situation been any different, Emma would have reached out and taken her hand to soothe her. But unfortunately, that was not something she could do right now. Not when she had promised Regina to give her space.
Inside the hallway they went. Emma easily slipped off her brown leather jacket and watched as Regina placed her crutches against the wall while simultaneously wrestling with her coat AND trying not to put any pressure on her broken ankle.

“Do you need some help with that?” Emma hesitantly offered and mentally prepared herself for a crisp ‘no, I got it’.

But she didn’t get one this time. “Can you give me a hand with the coat?” Regina asked. “It’s just- my foot- you know-“

“I know,” Emma said, quickly stepping forward. “You lean against the crutch, and I’ll get the coat, yeah?”

“Okay.”

Emma’s hands were almost trembling as she helped Regina with the coat. Another teeny tiny step in the right direction. “There we are,” she said as she hung Regina’s coat on the coat-rack. “Ankle okay?”

“Sí.” Regina grabbed both of her crutches and turned slowly to face Cora.

“Come on into the kitchen,” Cora said. “Dinner is almost ready.”

“Something smells good,” Regina commented as she began to limp her way through the hallway. “What are we having?”

“Roast chicken and fried potatoes.”

“That sounds good,” Regina said, and for a split second Emma saw her eyes light up. As they so often did when it was about food.

“I hope you’re both hungry,” Cora said formally.

“I sure am,” Emma said, struggling to maintain a normal conversation. “What about you, Regina?”

“Sí,” Regina nodded. “Very.”

They followed Cora into the kitchen. The surprisingly large kitchen. Every thing was kept in earthy colors which gave the room a sort of rustic vibe. So very different from the kitchen in Regina’s childhood home. Malaina’s style was one hundred and eighty
degrees the opposite of Cora Mills’. But Emma liked it very much. And she suspected that Regina did too. She definitely looked around in curiosity. Did that thing with her mouth where she pursed her lips like she always did when she found something to be positive.

So far, so good.

Emma glanced at Cora and noted that she looked nervous. Which honestly was fairly jarring. She didn’t think she would see the day where Cora Mills got nervous over anything. But clearly, Cora was plenty nervous about introducing her daughter to her girlfriend. And honestly, that was a fairly reasonable thing to be nervous about, was it not?

Emma would be nervous too if she was Cora.

And there, standing near the oven and clearly monitoring something inside it, was Malaina. She was wearing a flower patterned wrap dress in dark colors and with long sleeves. Her blonde locks had been straightened and was swept up in a high ponytail.

“Hello, Regina,” she said, stepping forward and extending her hand out. She was smiling. Slightly nervously.

“Hello, Regina said politely and shook her hand once. “Again.”

“Yes,” Malaina agreed. “Again.” Her gaze flickered to Cora who made a funny little motion with her chin. Clearly encouraged by that, Malaina continued: “It’s good to see you. I’m glad you wanted to have dinner with us tonight.”

Regina gave a tight little smile in return. “I figured it was time.”

“It was more than time.” It was said in a brisk, half-cheerful manner, but Emma saw the way Malaina quickly glanced at Cora. There was something in her eyes. A twang of annoyance, perhaps? A touch of blame because Cora had not come clean sooner?

“And Emma,” Malaina continued, turning her attention to Emma and shaking her hand too. “It is nice to see you too.”

“Likewise.” Emma smiled at the older blonde.

“I believe that the dinner is ready,” Cora said, clearing her throat slightly. “So if you would sit down. Then I can show you around afterwards.”

“I think I’d like to go to the bathroom before eating,” Regina said.

“Of course. It’s just through that door and to the left. You can’t miss it,” Malaina said.

“Thank you.” Regina limped off and disappeared through the door, leaving just Emma, Cora and Malaina in the kitchen. Which was pretty awkward.

Emma wiped her hands on the back of her dress. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No. You can just sit down, miss Swan,” Cora said, turning around to check on the chicken again.

And so Emma sat down at the large, battered old table. It was full of scratches and looked like it had a good life. A well-lived one. This apartment was nothing like Regina’s childhood home. It was quite bohemian. Nothing neat and tidy and sterile about it.

Emma was puzzled. The neat and ‘sterile’ house had been all Cora’s doing, and yet she seemed so much more at ease here. She even moved differently. With a lightness Emma hadn’t seen in her before. It was clear as day that Cora Mills was very happy with Malaina. Emma watched the two women discreetly as they prepared dinner. She saw how Malaina brushed a hand over Cora’s arm when they were standing close enough together. Heard Cora murmur and almost inaudible: “don’t worry. Everything will be alright.”

Damn. They were absolutely terrified of Regina. Had the situation been different, it would have been funny. But obviously, there was nothing funny about this.

Just as Cora had put the chicken on the table, a slight tapping sound against the ground revealed that Regina was coming back, and a second later she limped inside, clearly a little frustrated with the high threshold.

“Oh dear. We should have lain a blanket there or something,” Malaina said, partially rising from her chair. “Do you need any help?”

“No, I got it,” Regina replied and hobbled over to the chair next to Emma. With a quiet huff, she sat down, and a look of pain crossed her face as she leaned back.

“Is… everything alright?” Cora asked carefully. As though she was not sure whether she was allowed to ask Regina that.

“Braxton Hicks. I’m fine.”

“Have you experienced a lot of that?” Cora asked as she pushed the dish of enormous golden and crispy looking chicken towards Regina.

“Some,” Regina said and there was that twinkle in her eyes again as she carved herself a piece of chicken. “But only recently.”

“You’re twenty five weeks along now, aren’t you?” Cora asked.

“Sí,” Regina confirmed, giving Cora a look of surprise. “Are you keeping track of my pregnancy?”

“No,” Cora said quickly, and Emma was sure she was wringing her hands under the table. “I mean, not… entirely.” She cleared her throat.

“Not entirely,” Regina repeated. “I see.”

Could have sounded alarming, but Regina’s voice was quite neutral. She helped herself to a second piece of chicken accompanied by a solid load of potatoes. Then she pushed the dish of chicken towards Emma with the words: “chicken, Emma?”

“Yes. Thank you,” Emma said and tried not to wince at the missing ‘querida’. She was so used to being called that, it had been a second name. And now she felt utterly nameless. And quite sad about it.

She too carved herself a piece of chicken. Took some potatoes and then handed the heavy dish to Malaina.

Regina took a moment to eat some food. Then she turned her attention to Malaina. “So… you own a gallery?”

“I do,” Malaina confirmed. “In Brooklyn, as you know. I have considered to sell it and buy one closer to our apartment, but we’ll see.”

“You travel around and look for promising photographers?” Regina asked. “Is that right?”

“Yes. That is exactly right.”

“Are you a photographer yourself?”

“Occasionally,” Malaina smiled a little. “But I have always been more interested in finding new talents than anything else.”

Regina nodded slightly. She took another bite of the chicken. Chewed. Swallowed. Then: “this is very good.”

“Malaina is the one who made the chicken,” Cora said quickly.

“With a bit of help,” Malaina nonchalantly added.

“It tastes good, Malaina. The potatoes too.”

“Now THOSE was all your mother’s doing,” Malaina half chuckled. “And you don’t have to say ‘Malaina’. Mal is completely fine.”

“Alright then,” Regina flashed her a little smile.

“I made turnovers for dessert,” Cora revealed. “So I hope you’re hungry.”

“I always am these days,” Regina half-sighed and rubbed her belly. “As you can tell.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Mal said. “You are no bigger than I was when I was twenty five weeks along.”

Regina’s eyebrow rose in surprise, and Emma admitted that she hadn’t seen that one coming either.

“You have children?” Regina asked. Now there was a slight edge in her voice.

“I have a daughter, actually,” Mal said and poured herself a glass of water from the decanter. “Lilith. Known amongst friends as Lily.”

“I see. I didn’t know that.” Regina took another bite of the chicken. She carefully chewed. Then took a sip of her water. Sat the glass of water down and looked at Malaina once more. “Does she… Does she live here?” her eyes flashed and the look in them seemed
to scream ‘replacement daughter, replacement daughter!’

Emma couldn’t blame Cora for looking a bit alarmed. Regina’s eyes were…. Very expressive.

“No, she moved out last year,” Malaina said and chuckled. “Thank god. She’s quite rambunctious. I have no idea where she gets it from.”

Emma was sure she saw Cora smile very faintly.

“How old is she?” Regina asked neutrally.

“She’s nineteen. So a year younger than you. I do hope the two of you can meet sometimes. I think you would get along quite well.”

That did not seem to make Regina feel any better. “Does she come here a lot?” she asked and speared a piece of potato on her fork. She kept her eyes on it as she continued: “yes, of course she does. She’s your daughter. Una familia feliz.”

Emma spontaneously reached out and put her hand on Regina’s. Of course Regina felt pushed aside knowing that Malaina had a daughter who came here while Regina had become estranged. Emma’s anger towards Cora flared up again. What she had done wasn’t fair to Regina!

“I have done many things wrong,” Cora said, leaning in as though she too wanted to put her hand over Regina’s. “And excluding you was one of them.”

“Yes.” Regina said plainly, wiggling her hand free from underneath Emma’s. “I would like to meet her, though. Lily.”

“Of course,” Malaina said immediately. “I know she wants to meet you, too.”

“So she knows about me.” Regina shifted on the chair. “The ‘stepsister’ who isn’t a part of the family.”

Cora and Malaina looked at one another. They looked stricken. It was hard for Emma to feel very sorry for them.

“We fucked up,” Malaina said openly, leaning forward and looking Regina in the eyes. “We’ve done this the completely wrong way.”

“Not ‘we’. I.” Cora interjected. “I should have done things differently. I should have told you sooner.”

“Yeah. You should.”

The tension at the table was growing thicker by the minute, and Emma was starting to genuinely fear that Regina would leave in a rage.

“I can’t go back in time and change my decisions,” Cora said quietly. “But I can try my best to make up for it now. If you’ll let me.”

Regina pursed her lips. “I am here, am I not? If I wasn’t interested in giving this one more shot, I wouldn’t be here. And just to be clear… I don’t have a problem with the two of you being…” she gestured vaguely towards Cora and Malaina. “That’s perfectly fine with me. It’s the lying and the sneaking around that upsets me. It makes me feel underestimated. Very underestimated.” She looked at Cora. “I adore daddy. You are absolutely right about that. Perhaps you feel like I was gravitating towards him since early childhood, but you have to know deep down why that is. You rejected me. You have never given me a chance to get to know you.”

Emma swallowed thickly. Those words didn’t come from an angry, adult woman. It came from a younger girl whose mother had been a stranger to her all her life.

“I want that,” Cora said a tad stiffly, still not very good at putting her feelings out there. “I want you to know me.”

“Good. Then maybe this can actually work out. Pass the salt, please.”

Malaina hadn’t Regina the salt and Emma’s shoulders uncurled as the tension at the table lifted some. Things weren’t exactly perfect. Not quite Una familia feliz, but at least Regina’s eyes weren’t flashing anymore. She also looked a smidge more relaxed.
Saying that to Cora had clearly helped a bit.

Emma was glad to see it.

“Does the chicken taste alright?” Malaina asked. The question was directed at Emma.

“Yes,” Emma said and flashed her a smile. “It tastes very good.”

“Oh, good. It’s always a bit of gamble when I start cooking.”

Almost against her will, Emma chuckled. And she was sure she saw Regina smile…

“Do you know how long you will be in New York for?” Cora asked once they were half-way through dessert. The apple turnovers were also incredibly good.

Regina shrugged slightly. “Well, Emma’s pictures are being exhibited in two weeks, so I reckon we will stay at least until then. Right, Emma?”

“Right,” Emma eagerly confirmed and was sure her heart did a little dance of joy in her chest. Two more weeks in New York! Regina was staying for the exhibition! Emma hadn’t even thought about that until now, but now she was just so, so grateful.

“And when do you have your next doctor’s appointment?” Cora continued. She looked a bit nervous again.

Regina pursed her lips slightly. “Not until I reach week 30. But I do have to see the doctor when I get home so I can get the cast off my foot. Finally.” She glanced at Mal. “Has Cora told you what happened?”

“Not in details, no. But I can understand that the fath-“ she interrupted herself and coughed. “That ‘his’ wife somehow was involved in it?”

“That’s right,” Regina confirmed. “She swung at me so I fell down a flight of stairs. Wasn’t my best night.”

Emma instinctively moved closer to her.

Cora shook her head and looked genuinely sad. “I so wish I had gone to the hospital then. I should have.”

“Sí,” Regina willingly agreed. “But as you can see, I made it out alive. And so did Blueberry. Thank god.”

“Blueberry?” Malaina echoed and smiled. “That is a sweet nick name for him. Is it a boy?”

“I don’t know,” Regina shrugged again. “I’ve decided not to know beforehand. I want to be surprised.”

“Understandable. I was so sure that Lilith was going to be a boy. I had even named her and everything. And then she turned out to be a girl instead.”

“Who knows, maybe Blueberry is a girl too,” Regina turned her head. “Or what do you think, Emma?”

“Uhm… I don’t know,” Emma said and noted that her heart was beating a little faster because she was being included in the baby-talk. “As long as the baby is happy and healthy, it doesn’t really matter.”

“Well said.” Malaina bowed her head.

“You are keeping the baby,” Cora said. It wasn’t a question.

“Sí. I am. I realized that I am the mother of this baby after I came close to loosing him.” Regina glared at Cora. “And if you start to go on with the same nonsense as you did at daddy’s place then-“

“I should not have said all those things,” Cora interrupted. “I wish I hadn’t. That was wrong of me.”

“Yes, it was. Maybe I am young and maybe I don’t have a clue how to be a mother, and I’ll definitely make mistakes along the way, but I can learn,” Regina said firmly. “I can learn from my mistakes.”

Cora wrung her hands. “And perhaps I can learn from mine too.”

“Perhaps. You might even learn how to be an abuela someday. If you want a relationship with the baby, of course.”

“I do,” Cora said hastily. “If you’d let me.”

Regina said nothing. But she did give a little nod as to show that she would consider it. And that was definitely better than nothing.

Emma thought to herself that Regina most certainly was the bigger person here. To think that she even considered letting Cora back into her life given all the crap Cora had pulled, was something close to fantastic. Regina truly did see the best in people. Even the woman she had sworn she was done with.

 

Fuck, it was probably the weirdest dinner Emma ever had been to. All of them were threading far too lightly. Cora looked like she constantly was torn by careful optimism and caution. Malaina was less on edge than Cora, and every so often she glanced at said woman. Emma noticed the little things she did. The way she stroked Cora’s arm secretly. Made eye contact with her and smiled in encouragement.

They had, Emma realized, their own secret language. That certainly was interesting. And quite sweet too, really. The way Cora looked at Malaina when she thought that nobody else were looking was very obvious indeed. They loved each other.

Emma wondered if Regina had noticed that. She probably had. Regina was smart.

“You’ve added something to the recipe, haven’t you?” Regina asked Cora after another bite of apple turnover.

“Yes,” Cora confirmed. “A dash of cinnamon.”

“Oh.” Regina nodded a little. “I’ll have to remember that the next time.”

“The ones you made were good too,” Emma chirped in, seizing every opportunity to compliment Regina. “Very good!”

Regina flashed her a little smile. “Gracias.”

Emma took the smile. But she still was a little sad that the ‘gracias’ wasn’t accompanied by a ‘querida’. She missed being called ‘querida’. But patience truly was the key in all of this. Giving Regina the time to digest the enormous bombshell of a surprise was essential.

And things weren’t quite as bleak as they had been on the night where Emma slept on the couch. Regina was not ignoring her. Nor was she shouting. That was a very good beginning….

 

 

A half an hour later, Emma and Regina were back on the street and trying to get a taxi back to the hotel. Emma had seen one in the horizon, so she reckoned it wouldn’t take long for them to get one. Which was good. It was pretty cold.

“Well, it wasn’t a complete disaster, was it?” Regina asked.

Emma wasn’t sure whether it was a rhetorical question or not, but she still answered it. “No. Definitely not.” She meant it. Cora and Malaina had smiled when they said their goodbyes after Regina had confirmed that she would meet Lily. There had obviously not been any goodbye hugs or anything, but there had been handshakes for both of them. And even a little smile from Regina.

“Cora was…. Very different,” Regina mused. “And Malaina…. Well, she seems nice enough. I guess.”

“She was definitely interested in getting to know you. I could tell. And ashamed of their way of handling it.”

“Cora’s way,” Regina corrected. “She’s the one who insisted upon lying.”

“Yeah, absolutely,” Emma agreed.

“But she did apologize for that,” Regina continued. She shook her head slightly. “And she is apparently keeping track of my pregnancy.”

“Looks like it. Does that bother you?”

“No…” Regina said slowly. “No, I think it feels like she’s interested in me. In a non-stalker way. That’s pretty different.”

“Yeah, I can imagine so.” There was that urge to slip her arm around Regina’s shoulder. And there was the reminder that she could not. At least not right now.

“And then there’s the deal about my ‘stepsister’,” Regina let out a disbelieving chuckle and looked at Emma. “Would you be interested in coming with me when I’m gonna meet her?”

“Yes,” Emma said quickly. “Absolutely. If that’s what you want.”

“It is. I don’t think I have the nerves to meet her on my own.” Regina chuckled again.

Another surge of hope filled Emma. First the dinner and now Regina had asked her to come and meet Lily. She wasn’t completely in the dog-house! At least not as much as she had been!

 

 

To Be Continued……….

Chapter Text

”What do you suppose that she is like?”

“Huh? Sorry, what?” Emma said, quickly snapping out of it. She had been a little lost in thoughts for a moment.

“Lilith,” Regina clarified. “What do you think she’s like?”

“Well….” Emma pulled the coat a little tighter around herself. “I can’t say for sure, but I hope that she’s nice.”

“Sí,” Regina nodded. “She better be. Otherwise we’re out of there. Right?”

“Right,” Emma confirmed, once again happy to be included in the sentence.

Three days had gone by since the strange and slightly tense meeting with Cora and Malaina, and Regina had been a bit more forthcoming. She had been upset about Malaina having a daughter who came in the apartment. After coming back to the hotel, Regina had spoken a lot about how hurt she felt about that. How much it felt like Cora had been trying to replace her. Even though it hadn’t been Cora’s intention. They had stayed up half the night and talked about it. At three o’clock, Emma had called the reception and had ordered a tub of pistachio ice cream for them. Well, mostly for Regina. She was the one who was upset. She was the one who needed the ice cream the most. And when the ice cream had arrived, Regina had actually smiled at Emma and her voice had been all soft when she said: ‘thank you. That was sweet’. It had fueled Emma’s hope for the future once again. Regina did not hate her. That much was obvious. She wasn’t angry nor did she hate Emma’s guts. She was simply hesitant about fully letting Emma in, and Emma understood that. She recognized that this wasn’t Regina punishing her. It was Regina taking a step back and giving Emma the chance to gain her trust again.

They weren’t in that dangerously dark place they had been in when Regina came back to the hotel. They weren’t on the brink of breaking up. That wasn’t where this was heading. It was a rough patch, but Emma fully believed that they could work through it.
That she could mend things like Regina was allowing her to do. By not going home, by choosing to stay in New York, she too was willing to give this another shot.

And tonight they were on their way to meet ‘the mysterious Lilith’ as Regina had dubbed her. They were meeting in Cora and Malaina’s apartment. Cora and Malaina would not be present for this meeting. Regina had requested that. She wanted the chance to get a closer look at her ‘stepsister’ without anyone else interfering. At least not Cora and Malaina. She had asked Emma to come with her. Another thing Emma was absolutely fucking thrilled about. Regina was still leaning on her in difficult situations. Regina had stayed up with her half the night and just talked. It had been almost like in the good old days before Emma fucked up.

Things could go back to normal. Emma was sure of that.

“Oh, there’s an Uber,” Regina said, once again pulling Emma out of her thoughts.

“Oh yeah!” Emma quickly raised an arm in the hope to make the Uber come their way. And she was in luck. Soon the Uber stopped right by them.

“I don’t know how you do it,” Regina muttered as Emma opened the car door for her.

“Do what?” Emma asked. Immediately concerned that she fucked up again.

“Summon an Uber just like that,” Regina answered and gave a small chuckle. “Must be some sort of magical ability you have.”

“Oh,” Emma chuckled too. “Maybe it is. But hey, that’s not the worst magical ability to have, is it?”

“It sure isn’t,” Regina agreed, huffing slightly as she positioned herself on the backseat. “Oh, dios, I can barely fit inside a car anymore!”

“I think you might be exaggerating a little bit,” Emma said with another soft chuckle as she elegantly positioned Regina’s crutches, so they weren’t poking at anything or sticking up in a way that disturbed the driver.

“Give it another month or two, and you might have to hire a private jet to transport me around,” Regina said glumly, leaning forward and giving the driver the address.

“You got it,” the driver said cheerfully.

Off they went, but Regina kept shifting and couldn’t seem to get comfortable no matter how she positioned herself. She winced and clenched her jaw and was very clearly uncomfortable.

“Is there anything I can do?” Emma asked quietly.

“I don’t know, maybe,” Regina said strained. “There’s a spot on my back that’s really killing me today. It’s just on my lower back. Do you think you can reach it?”

“I can try,” Emma said and forced the smile back. Smiling right now would be entirely inappropriate. But she was secretly very, very happy that Regina was asking for her help!

“That’s all I’m asking,” Regina groaned, shifting so she was leaning forward slightly.

“Lemme give it a shot,” Emma said, wedging her hand in between the backseat and Regina. She managed to wiggle her hand down to Regina’s lower back and then angled it in a way, so she was pressing it into Regina’s lower back. “Just there?”

“Ouch!”

“Oh god, I’m sorry!” Emma exclaimed, quickly pulling her hand back.

“No, no, no,” Regina said quickly. “It’s good. You found the place. Please do it again. It helped!”

“Okay…” Emma felt very doubtful about it, but she nevertheless pressed her fingers against the spot on Regina’s lower back again.

Regina muttered ‘ouch’ again, but at the same time she shifted so her back was pressing against Emma’s fingers.

“Is it helping?” Emma asked and wished that they hadn’t been in an Uber. Had Regina been sitting in a chair or on the bed, it would have been a little easier to find the tender spot.

“Sí, it is,” Regina said. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Emma continued the slightly awkward type of message while silently acknowledging that this was the closest, she had been to Regina ever since messing up.

“I think that’s enough,” Regina said after a moment. “I don’t want to crush your hand or anything.”

“You’re not,” Emma said but nonetheless removed her hand on Regina’s request. “Are you really sure it did any good?”

“Sí. I think it’s less tender now,” Regina replied and adjusted so she was leaning back against the car seat again. “Yes. Definitely less tender.”

“Awesome,” Emma smiled. “Glad to have helped.”

Regina gave a little smile in return. Then frowned slightly. “I wonder how everything will go today.”

“Are you nervous?” Emma guessed.

“Maybe a little,” Regina shrugged slightly, hands drifting to her belly and cradling it gently. “I was not prepared to get a ‘stepsister’ or whatever the hell I’m supposed to call her. Obviously, I know that she isn’t, but since her mom and Cora is….” She gestured vaguely with her free hand. “I’m guessing she’ll be around a lot, and it would be good if we could get along.”

“And why wouldn’t you?” Emma asked softly.

Regina shrugged again. “Maybe she won’t like me.”

Emma scoffed. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You’re awesome. If she doesn’t like you, she’s the one with the problem and not you.”

That had Regina smiling slightly again. But then she grew serious. “Cora and Malaina has been together for a long time. And I haven’t been around, but Lilith have. What have they told her? What reason have they given her for my absence? I assume she knows about my existence. What if they have told her that I disapprove or-“

“They haven’t,” Emma firmly interrupted and spontaneously reached out and took Regina’s free hand. “They HAVEN’T. That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. I promise you, Lilith isn’t gonna think anything bad about you. Everything is gonna be fine, I know it will.”

“You’re very reassuring.” It was said entirely without sarcasm. Regina clearly appreciated Emma’s attempts at soothing her. “I don’t know why I’m so anxious about this,” she continued. “I think I’m more anxious about this than I was about meeting Cora and
Malaina. Isn’t that ridiculous?”

“No,” Emma said softly. “No, I don’t think it is. I think it’s pretty understandable, actually.”

“It hurts,” Regina said plainly, and for a moment Emma foolishly thought that Regina meant that she was in physical pain. But then Regina continued: “knowing that she’s been on the sideline all along while I wasn’t allowed because Cora was so busy hushing the whole thing up. I think that really sucks. And it still feels like she was replacing me with another daughter.”

Emma didn’t say anything. Just squeezed Regina’s hand gently to show her that she was there. She fully understood why Regina felt shoved aside and replaced. She hoped that the mysterious Lilith would turn out to be nice. And more importantly, that she didn’t have some sort of wrong opinion of Regina.

“I’m just rambling,” Regina said and clearly tried to chuckle. “Just ignore me.” With that, she gently withdrew her hand from Emma’s grasp and let that settle on her belly as well.

Emma wasn’t planning on ignoring her. But she was planning on respecting Regina’s decision not to talk about this anymore. “Hey, I was wondering,” she said instead. “Maybe we could hit Starbucks on the way home? Have some hot chocolate and a slice of that chocolate pie you talked about?”

“Oh, yes!” Regina’s eyes gleamed with excitement and joy. “I’d like that very much!”

“Great. It’s da- deal, then,” Emma said and winced. She had almost said ‘date’ instead of ‘deal’. Oops. But it was so easy to forget how things currently were when Regina was communicating so openly and acting like she had before Emma fucked up. This was good, but Emma knew that she still should proceed with caution. Things didn’t just fix themselves in a manner of days. That was important to remember.

“I can’t wait,” Regina said, sounding like she meant it. “I’m so hungry.”

Emma chuckled warmly, because honestly, when wasn’t Regina hungry?

Regina laughed with her, and god it felt so good to sit and laugh together. Just like they always did.

“How long before we’re there?” Regina asked quietly. “I think Blueberry is using my bladder as a squeeze toy. Again.”

“We’re only a few minutes away now,” Emma replied.

“Thank god. This is starting to feel like torture,” Regina said simply and shifted again. “Why is growing a tiny person such hard work?”

“I have no idea,” Emma said and tried not to melt at the way Regina had said ‘tiny person’. That was the sweetest thing ever!

 

Emma’s prediction was correct. They were indeed there a few minutes later. As soon as they had thanked and paid the Uber driver, Regina declared that she couldn’t possibly wait another moment.

“Do you think everything will fall apart if we’re a couple of minutes late?” she asked Emma and glanced towards the nearby café. “I really need to go…”

“Then go,” Emma urged her. “Nobody will mind if we’re a little late. And if they do, well, I’ll be happy to tell them all about the hardships of pregnancy…”

Regina chuckled. “I’d like to see that. I’ll be right back.” And with that, she stalked off into the café. To borrow the bathroom.

Emma waited outside. Once again thinking about how utterly normal this was. Well not the meeting-Cora’s-secret-girlfriends-daughter thing, but the rest of it. The conversation, their jokes, THAT was all so very normal. Emma could live with sleeping in the spare-bed if this was what she got in return. Regina talking. Regina smiling. Regina laughing. Regina not rejecting her touches and not immediately yanking her hand away.

Regina’s forgiveness was something she had to earn, and it felt as though she was well on the way to do just that. But she wasn’t being cocky. She was simply being optimistic.

About five minutes later, Regina came out of the café and apologized for having taken so long. “I accidentally looked a little too long at a chocolate chip cookie and ended up arguing with myself about whether I should buy it or not.” She chuckled exasperated and shook her head. “I can clearly only think with my stomach today.”

“Baby is hungry,” Emma said warmly and resisted the urge to reach out and touch Regina’s bump. She was yet to be allowed to do that, and she wasn’t about to take a silly risk just because she couldn’t resist.

“Baby is always hungry,” Regina rolled her eyes. She looked back at the café. “I should go back and get that chocolate chip cookie….”

Emma couldn’t hold a chuckle back.

“No,” Regina said firmly. “No. ¡No, absolutamente no! We’re going to Starbucks later. I can have cake then. End of story.”

“The struggle is real,” Emma quipped.

Regina smiled. ”Sí. La lucha es muy real. Anyway, let’s go and meet my ‘stepsister’.”

“No cookie?” Emma asked. Just to check. She wanted to be sure. And if Regina really did want the cookie, she would be more than happy to dash back to the café and buy the cookie for Regina.

“No cookie,” Regina said firmly. “Come on. Let’s get going.” She positioned her crutches and began limping towards the building where Cora and Malaina resided.
In the elevator, both of them waited in silence as the elevator slowly brought them up to the fifth floor. The only thing breaking the silence was Regina’s rumbling stomach.

Emma frowned. “Didn’t you get enough breakfast?”

Regina shrugged. “I’ll never get enough food. If I was to eat until full, I would never be doing anything except eating.”

“Oh,” Emma chuckled a little. “Maybe we should order two pies instead of one when we get to Starbucks?”

She had meant it as a joke, but Regina pursed her lips slightly. “Te diré algo, puede que no sea una mala idea ...”

Regina was all about food today. Well. Emma would be happy to buy Regina as many pies as she wanted.

The elevator doors opened, and Emma followed Regina out in the hallway.

Regina straightened her posture. And winced slightly in the process. “Okay,” she said, lifting her chin. “Let’s do this thing.”

“It’ll be fine,” Emma softly promised. “And if not, I’ll kick her ass,”

Regina laughed. “I believe that. You can be quite the angry bull when you want to.”

“Says the woman who threatened Robin with a beer bottle.”

Regina shrugged. “I thought he was going to punch me or something.”

Emma’s jaw clenched. “If he had done that, I would have ripped off his balls and shoved them down his throat!”

Regina laughed again. “Dios mio, Emma! Don’t make me sympathize with Robin. That sounds absolutely terrible. And for whatever reason, I don’t doubt that you would be capable of doing that.”

“Anything for you,” Emma said simply.

Regina’s smile became a bit more thoughtful. A tiny wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. She tugged a lock of hair behind her ear.

Emma didn’t ask what she was thinking about. And she was definitely not thinking about how badly she wanted to kiss Regina. She held back a scoff. Who was she kidding, of COURSE she was thinking about wanting to kiss Regina. She hadn’t thought of much else since their argument. She had naively imagined how a kiss would solve everything. How she would take Regina in her arms and kiss her and poof, everything would be back to normal. She knew it wouldn’t, though. She wasn’t that stupid. But it was an
advanced form of torture, to long for something you couldn’t have. Not unlike the way she had been feeling when she first met Regina and stupidly convinced herself that Regina was ‘too young’. Pff. THAT had definitely been stupid. Regina had proved that when she kissed Emma in the swimming pool that day…

Oh god, the swimming pool. Emma’s flashed with the memories of Regina suddenly-

A sharp sound penetrated Emma’s lovely memory of her first kiss with Regina. It was the sound of Regina knocking on Malaina Drake’s apartment door. When Regina looked at her over her shoulder, Emma was quick to smile. And give the impression that she definitely had not gotten lost in memories. She had barely gotten the chance to collect herself before the door was opened. By Cora. She was in a long moss green tunic and a pair of grey leggings. Her hair was down and her makeup light, and Regina’s jaw dropped.

Emma understood why. Cora Mills was basically the queen of tidy suits and buns so tight it practically gave her a facelift, and yet here she was, wearing a tunic and leggings and with her hair down. Casual clothing. It was hard to imagine that this was the same woman as the one Emma had met at Henry’s.

“Regina,” Cora greeted and flashed Regina a hesitant smile.

“Hola,” Regina said slightly stiffly.

“Come on in,” Cora said, voice slightly tight (nervous again?) “Lily hasn’t arrived yet, but she should be right here.”

“Alright,” Regina elegantly hobbled over the threshold.

Emma trailed behind her and smiled as she helped Regina out of the coat. Regina was wearing her dress with the large bow just above the waist and the skirt that fanned out. She had worn that dress when they went to Granny’s. They had danced a lot that night. It had been a wonderful evening. Emma hoped there would be other nights like that.

Once Regina’s coat was hanging on the coat rack, Emma took off her own coat. She was not wearing her battle dress tonight. Instead she had chosen a pair of jeans and one of her usual white tanktops. She had considered it for a while and had reached the conclusion that she did not need to pull out the big stops when meeting Malaina’s daughter. So she had gone for a simpler outfit.

But perhaps that ‘simple’ outfit wasn’t so simple when it came to it. It only lasted a split second, but Emma was certain she saw Regina’s eyes roam up and down her body. Just for a moment. But it was enough. Warm spread through Emma’s body from head to toe. Regina had not looked at her like that since before….

If this wasn’t hope, Emma didn’t know what was.

Regina cleared her throat and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. “I think I need to sit down. My back hurts.”

“Yes, of course,” Emma said, quickly snapping out of it. She tried shaking the feeling as she followed Regina into the living room where Cora and Malaina were sitting in the couch. They were holding hands. But only until they spotted Regina and Emma coming into the living room.

“Hello again,” Malaina said and flashed them a smile.

“Hola,” Regina greeted her and gave a little nod.

“Lily should be here in a moment. I am sorry she’s running late.”

“It’s alright. I’m not in a hurry,” Regina said, limping over to the nearest chair and sitting down.

“Is there anything you’d like?” Malaina offered. “Some tea or…”

“No, I’m good,” Regina said formally, clearly still a bit on the fence about Malaina. “Alright. But just say the word.”

“I will,” Regina assured. She winced slightly as she re-adjusted in the chair.

“Is… everything alright?” Cora asked carefully.

“Sí,” Regina said. “I’m fine. Just backache.”

“Ah,” Cora nodded. “Is the baby very active?”

“Only all the time,” Regina sighed. “Sometimes I can’t sleep because of it.”

“Oh yes, I remember that,” Cora said, fidgeting slightly with her hands in her lap. “I had terrible backaches too when I was pregnant.”

“Mmm. Perhaps it runs in the family,” Regina quipped.

Cora chuckled (and surprised the hell out of Emma by doing so!) “yes, perhaps it does. Has it been an…. An easy pregnancy until now?”

“Well….” Regina turned her head and glanced at Emma. “I was pretty nauseous, wasn’t I?”

“You were,” Emma confirmed.

“But apart from that, things has been pretty breezy,” Regina continued. “Lots of activity. To be honest, I’m starting to get a bit tired of being pregnant. Which is pretty bad because I still have some way to go.”

“When you first reach week 30, the last bit of time will fly by,” Cora said, flashing Regina a little smile.

“I hope you’re right,” Regina leaned back on the chair and winced again.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Emma asked quietly.

She was met by a smile. “Sí. It’s just a bit of Braxton Hicks.”

“Okay.” Emma bit back her concern and reminded herself that Braxton Hicks was not dangerous. It was normal. Totally normal. Nothing at all to be worried about.

A sort of awkward silence fell between them. Cora looked like she wanted to say a lot, but didn’t know how to say it. Malaina was focused on Cora. She had taken her hand again, Emma noticed.

Regina was absentmindedly rubbing her belly. Then ‘chasing’ something with the tip of her finger. Or rather chasing someone. Blueberry. Emma wondered if Regina had found a tiny little foot. Or perhaps a hand. She was itching to ask. Or better still, touch.

Just once. Sometimes she wondered what was harder. Not being able to kiss Regina… Or not being able to touch her belly. Both things had been so incredibly important to her, and although Regina had started to slowly open up again, Emma still was too afraid to ask about the baby. What Regina had said that night about the baby. How she couldn’t have a baby with someone she didn’t trust. Did she still feel like that?

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard the front door open. Then a female voice called: “mom? You here?”

Malaina shot up immediately and disappeared into the hallway to greet her daughter. Emma clearly heard Lily ask: “are they here yet?”

Regina tilted her head slightly to the left.

“They’re here,” Malaina confirmed. “In the living room.”

“Oh, shoot, I’m sorry I’m running late,” Lily said. There was a moment of silence. Then she chuckled. “You look a bit peaky, mom.”

Malaina’s answer to that drowned as Lily came striding into the living room. She greeted Cora with a comfortable familiarity that Emma knew rubbed Regina the wrong way. Then Lily turned to them.

“Hi,” she said, smiling. “I’m Lily.”

“Hello,” Regina said a tad stiffly.

“Hi,” Emma echoed Lily’s greeting while taking a closer look at Malaina’s daughter. Her first impression of Lily was that she just as well could have been Regina’s biological sister. They looked very alike with their dark hair and brown eyes. Lily was wearing jeans and a grey sweatshirt, and her hair had been piled up on her head in a bun. She was still smiling as she came over to Regina and extended her hand out towards her.

Regina grabbed one of her crutches and half-stood from the chair as she shook Lily’s hand once.

“Oh. Damn,” Lily said, chuckling slightly. “You really ARE pregnant. Like…. Actually pregnant.”

Emma frowned. Exactly what was that supposed to mean?

“Sí,” Regina said stiffly. “I am really pregnant.”

Okay, this was so NOT a good beginning, Emma thought. Lily’s comment- whether it was meant as a joke or just genuine surprise- had caused Regina to scowl slightly and her dark eyes were flickering in that dangerous matter Emma had been exposed to
once. Making a pregnant woman angry was not the smartest idea.

Cora opened her mouth to say something, but Malaina put a hand on her arm. Then she cleared her throat and said: “well, I believe this is our cue to leave, Cora.” She stood from the couch, but Cora seemed reluctant to follow.

“Cora,” Malaina said softly. “Come on. Let’s go for a walk. Let our daughters get to know each other.”

Cora didn’t seem overly interested in leaving, but she still followed Malaina into the hallway. It couldn’t have been much longer than ten seconds before she poked her head back inside the living room. Looking at Regina, she asked: “will you… Will you still be here when we get back?”

“Sí,” Regina replied. “I think so.”

“Good.” Was all Cora said. But she smiled. Then she and Malaina left the apartment. Now it was just Emma, Regina and Lily left.

Lily unceremoniously sat down on the couch. She looked questioningly at Regina. Then winced. “Oh, shit. What I said before- I didn’t mean anything by it. I was honestly just surprised.”

“It’s alright,” Regina said graciously, and Emma thought to herself that the nickname La Reina was very fitting for her.

“Soooo,” Lily shifted and elegantly crossed her ankles. “How far along are you in the, uhh…. Baby-making process?”

One of Regina’s eyebrows rose. “The ‘baby-making process’ is pretty much over already.”

Emma honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe.

Lily made a face. “Shit. Sorry. Didn’t mean it like that.”

“I’m twenty five weeks along.”

“And how many months is that?” Lily frowned. “Sorry, I don’t really speak… baby language.”

“It’s six months. And honestly, I don’t speak baby-language either. But I do my best.”

Lily turned her attention to Emma. “You’re Emma…. Swan, right?”

“Yep, that’s right. I’m Regina’s….” Emma’s mouth snapped shut. Exactly what was she supposed to say now? What was she allowed to call herself?

“Girlfriend,” Regina finished the sentence without batting an eye. “Emma is my girlfriend.”

Emma’s shoulders settled in their normal position. Oh, what a wonderful word that was!

“Yeah, I know,” Lily half-chuckled. “Cora’s already told me about you.”

“I see,” Regina said tonelessly. “And she told you about my pregnancy too, apparently. I wonder if there’s anything she hasn’t told you.”

“Yeah, she hasn’t told me what happened to your foot,” Lily said and glanced down at Regina’s cast-incased foot.

“Oh,” Regina followed her gaze. “The baby’s father’s wife pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

“Holy…” Lily’s eyes widened slightly. “What a bitch!”

Regina shrugged. “Sí, I guess you could say that. So, Lily- or do you prefer Lilith?”

“Lily’s fine. Mom only ever calls me ‘Lilith’ when I’m trouble. Which is a lot, but that’s beside the point.”

Emma was sure she saw a little smile lurk in the corner of Regina’s mouth.

“I was just wondering what Cora has told you about me,” Regina continued. “I mean, has she given a reason as to why you and I haven’t met until now?”

“Well, honestly…” Lily leaned forward slightly. “I think Cora has been both miserable and terrified.”

“Terrified of what?” Regina sighed deeply and shook her head. “Me? That’s ridiculous. I’m bisexual. And pregnant. Why should I judge her choices?”

“Why indeed,” Lily flicked a lock of her dark hair behind her ear. “I happened to overhear a conversation between her and my mom once, and Cora rambled on about how terrified she was about you choosing your dad or whatever...”

“I chose my dad because Cora was an ice queen of an excuse for a mother,” Regina said dryly. “It has nothing to do with her being gay. She needs to stop hiding behind that apology.”

Emma silently agreed with that. Cora had to step up her game and properly realize how much she had screwed up when Regina was younger.

“It’s a shitty thing,” Lily said simply, flashing Regina a look of sympathy. “What they’ve done to you. My mom and yours. It isn’t right.”

“I believe Cora is the mastermind behind it,” Regina said and rolled her eyes.

“Maybe, but my mom isn’t totally innocent either,” Lily scoffed. “I mean, she has been nagging your mom a few times to make her come clean to you, but apart from that, she’s pretty useless around your mom…” Lily chuckled softly.

“Is she?” Regina raised an eyebrow. “Sorry, but I can’t really imagine Cora making anyone useless in the good way.”

That had Lily tilting her head. “Wow. She has really put you through the wringer, hasn’t she?”

“Yes,” Regina said simply. “In ways that makes it very hard to imagine having any kind of relationship with her in the future, but…” she cleared her throat and shifted slightly. “I’m giving it one last shot.”

“I think that’s pretty great,” Lily said and smiled slightly at Regina. “If you want my opinion, the whole sneaking around thing is ridiculous. I’ve told mom that a million times. Hell, I’ve even been threatening to go to Spain and find you-“ she chuckled. “I was so curious about you.”

Regina chuckled too. “Well, I can assure you, I’m not that special.”

“Disagree,” Emma said quietly and made Regina smile a little.

“But of course mom begged me not to do that,” Lily continued and rolled her eyes. “She gave me a whole lecture about it being Cora’s decision when to tell you and what not. As I said, completely useless…”

“Are they in love?” Regina asked a bit out of blue. She even looked slightly surprised herself.

“Oh yeah,” Lily snickered. “Absolutely. Totally. Sometimes maybe even a bit too much if you know what I mean…”

“I don’t,” Regina said and shrugged slightly. “I’ve never seen Cora be ‘in love’ with anyone.”

“Oh,” Lily’s face fell slightly.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for her,” Regina said quickly. “And your mom seems like a nice person and all. But Cora has made things unnecessarily complicated when all she had to do was to sit me down for a talk. That would literally have been enough.”
She sighed. “Do you see them a lot?”

“Well, I live pretty close by, so yeah, I do,” Lily replied and looked a bit uncomfortable.

“Una familia feliz,” Regina muttered just like the last time.

“No,” Lily said quickly. “I mean, yes, but not like that. Definitely not. I have never tried to replace you or anything. I get why it must feel like that, but seriously, I haven’t. I’m the one who has been bashing them in the heads about you. Because I thought the way they handled things was screwed up.”

Regina tilted her head slightly. “Well… I appreciate that. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So….” Regina leaned to the side, most likely to take some of the pressure off of her back and ended up nudging Emma in the process. “Oops. Sorry about that.”

“It’s alright,” Emma said with a smile.

“How about your dad?” Regina continued. “Does he live nearby too?”

“I’ve no idea,” Lily half-laughed. “Mom had me with a donor.”

“Oh. Sí, that makes sense. I did have some trouble with fitting you into the picture.”

“Yeah, no, mom wanted a kid, but she didn’t want a husband.”

“Right.” Regina’s voice grew tight again, and Emma spontaneously reached out and touched her arm because she could see that Regina was thinking about her own father who was back in Spain and had no idea of the drama that was transpiring in New York.

Lily had clearly noticed it too. Her face fell. “Sorry,” she said. “That did so not come out the right way.”

“It’s fine,” Regina sighed. “I just can’t help but feel sorry for my dad. We’re very close and I don’t like to keep things from him. I think he deserves to know the truth too. But unfortunately, that’s not up to me. Cora is the only one who can make that decision.”

“Maybe she will?” Lily suggested. “Maybe she’ll come to realize that if the world doesn’t come to an end because you know the truth, the world won’t come to an end if your dad knows it too?”

Regina gave a sort of half-snort. “Boy, Cora must be very different around you. Around here. I can tell that she is. Just the clothes she was wearing today… I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look that casual.”

“Must be a complete culture shock for you,” Lily said sympathetically.

“It is,” Regina nodded. “Definitely.” She adjusted in the chair again. “So, what are you doing when you’re not here?”

“I go to college,” Lily replied. “So I’m basically pretending to be an adult while simultaneously going to bed too late and waking up too early and spending the day in a complete daze.”

Emma laughed. Lily was quite funny, really. Had a great sense of humor. She hoped that Regina and Lily could learn to get along. Emma had a feeling that they could. Once the shock had worn off.

“What are you studying then?” Regina asked. She looked amused too.

“Art,” Lily said, leaning back in the couch and flicking a lock of hair away from her face.

“Oh, I see. Planning on following in your mom’s footsteps?”

“No,” Lily chuckled. “Definitely not. The whole gallery thing worked out for her, but I’ve always found it to be a bit… dry. No, I’d rather be the one doing the artsy thing. I wanna be a ceramic artist.”

“Really? That sounds great,” Regina smiled genuinely at that. “Very interesting.”

“Thank you. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell my mom who’s worried because it’s ‘not a steady choice of career’ and bla, bla, bla…” Lily rolled her eyes. “What about you? You’re a flamenco dancer, right?”

“I was,” Regina replied. “Before Blueberry-“ she rubbed her belly again. “Made it difficult. I also worked at a bar, but I can’t really serve the customers with a broken ankle, so I guess I’m not really doing anything at the moment.”

“Uhmm, you’re literally creating life,” Lily pointed out and nodded towards Regina’s belly. “The last time I checked, that’s a pretty important job. I can’t wash my clothes without having to call my mom and ask her for advice on with detergents to use, and I still come home for dinner every Sunday, and meanwhile you’re pregnant and having a baby and living a totally adult life. And you’re only a year older than me.”

It was clear to see that Regina appreciated that. She smiled as she said: “the whole baby thing wasn’t planned, though. But I’m rolling with it.” She laughed and so did Lily. It was quite the sisterly moment, really.

Emma thought to herself that this was interesting, hearing Regina interact with someone her age. Her voice became just a tad lighter. Her language less advanced. Regina truly became twenty years old when talking to someone her age, and Emma thought that that was a good thing. Sometimes it was easy to forget how young Regina was. She was always acting so maturely (that damned thirty five year old second persona), and had a lot of ‘adult’ responsibility. It was a joy to watch her laugh freely. Once again, she hoped that this wouldn’t be the last time Regina hung out with Lily. She had a feeling that the two of them could develop a great almost-sisterly relationship over time.

“So, what’s Spain like?” Lily asked curiously. “I’ve only been there once or twice as a kid. Where do you live? Madrid, right? What’s your apartment like? I wanna know everything!”

Emma leaned back and listened as Regina went into great details when telling Lily all about Spain and her apartment and her gigs as a flamenco dancer.

Lily soaked all of it up. “Wow,” she said. “I’ve seen never flamenco dancing before. I’d love to see that sometimes.”

Regina turned to Emma. “Don’t you have a recording on your phone?”

“One or two,” Emma quipped as she wrestled her phone out of her pocket. She had more than one or two videos of Regina dancing. She opened her folder and scrolled back until she found what she was looking for. Not a video, but a photo. One of those she had transferred from her camera and onto her phone to use it for her lock screen. “Here she is in full costume,” Emma said proudly as she turned the screen towards Lily so she could see the picture.

“Emma!” Regina protested.

“What, you look great,” Emma said firmly. She wasn’t nervous that she had overstepped. She could hear that Regina was pleased.

“Wow,” Lily repeated, and Emma could only agree with that. In the picture, Regina was on stage with her arms gracefully raised above her head. She was wearing her red flamenco dress. The one with the tight bodice and dramatic, ruffled skirt. Her hair was
slicked back, and the bun held together with a red rose, and her eye makeup completed the look. Plus, the look in her eyes in the picture was definitely one for the books. The look in Regina’s eyes was one that oozed pride, faint amusement and… sexiness.

There was no other way to describe it.

“Okay, but that is like… a really, really great picture of you,” Lily said.

“Emma is a photographer,” Regina said simply and flashed Emma a smile.

“But it’s the motive that makes the picture,” Emma said firmly. “Not how skilled you are with a camera….”

 

 

*********************

 

“That went well,” Regina said as they walked down the street. “The thing with Cora is fucked up, but I like Lily. She seems very down to earth.”

“She does,” Emma agreed. “And it was my impression that she wanted to hang out with you again.”

“I want to hang out with her too,” Regina nodded. “We’ll have to arrange that before we go home.”

“Mmm,” Emma smiled.

It was five minutes since they had parted ways with Lily and Cora and Malaina who had come home in the middle of Regina and Lily’s talk. Perhaps Cora’s presence was part of the reason why Regina had decided that it was time to take off, but she had shaken
Cora’s hand and smiled a little at Malaina. And when Cora hesitantly had asked her if she would be interested in coming back, Regina’s answer had been: “sí, perhaps. I would like to talk some more with my new ‘stepsister’”. Lily had grinned at that, and the two of them had exchanged phone numbers with the promise of staying in touch.

“Lily is definitely an addition I’m happy about,” Regina continued, carefully maneuvering her crutches around one of the puddles. “Cora and Malaina’s relationship I support. The lies and sneaking around, not so much. But I choose to believe that she genuinely
regrets that…”

“I’m sure she does,” Emma said softly. Cora had to. Emma definitely was regretting her own part in this drama.

“I wish she would tell daddy, though,” Regina sighed. “It’s not right that he’s the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on. Part of me wants to tell him, but that wouldn’t be very nice to Cora…”

“You are honestly too good to be true,” Emma blurted out. Regina owed Cora absolutely nothing and it would have made perfect sense if Regina chose to tell her father about everything. And yet she didn’t. And yet she chose to protect Cora.

Regina scoffed. “I don’t know about that. But it wouldn’t be right of me to out Cora to my dad. That’s a talk she has to initiate with him. And I hope that she will. Maybe I should talk to her about that. The next time I see her. But for now…” she abruptly stopped and looked up at Emma. Flashed her a hopeful smile. “Starbucks?”

Emma laughed and dared taking Regina’s elbow and squeezing it gently. “You got it. Starbucks it is. Lead the way.”

Regina did just that. And she did it while laughing....

 

 

To Be Continued………

Chapter Text

It was very dark and had to be very late (or possibly very early?) so Emma shouldn’t be awake. But yet she was. Because she could have sworn, she had just heard a sound. Yes. Something was rustling in the hotel room.

She felt entirely too sleepy to sit up and switch on her bedside lamp, but at the same time too awake to let it be and go back to sleep. She had to find out what was making that sound. So she squinted and tried her best to see what was going on.

There was blurry silhouette by the door. Emma blinked to assure herself that it was not a burglar or something.

It wasn’t. But what she was seeing was still equally as frightening as the sight of a burglar would have been.

It was Regina by the door.

And she was leaving.

Emma’s first, chaotic and sleep muddled thought was that Regina had changed her mind and was leaving in the middle of the night.

“Hey, noooo,” Emma groaned, reaching blindly after Regina although she was nowhere near her and therefore had no chance of actually reaching her. “Don’t go!” she pleaded. “I’m sorry!”

The silhouette by the door flinched and then turned around. Emma heard the sound of Regina’s crutches against the carpet. There was a soft sound and a slight creaking as Regina sat down on the edge of the bed. “Emma?” she whispered. “Are you awake?”

“Yes,” Emma groaned. “Don’t leave!”

“¿Dejar?” Regina said, sounding utterly confused. “Why would I be leaving? Do you have a fever? Did you have a nightmare?”

“No,” Emma croaked and cleared her throat. “But it’s the middle of the night and you’re leaving! Please don’t, I’m sorry! Don’t go!”

“Emma,” Regina said, sounding slightly shocked. “I’m not about to leave. I was going to head down to reception and ask them for some cookies. The minibar is empty, and I woke up and felt really hungry.”

“Oh. Ohhh!” things clicked into place in Emma’s mind, and she realized how silly her wrong assumption had been. “Why didn’t you just call the front desk and have someone bring up the cookies? There’s no reason for you to limp all the way down there.”

“I didn’t want to wake you,” Regina said with a slight chuckle. “You were so peacefully asleep.”

Emma nearly kissed her. Didn’t though. Instead she sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. “You know what, I’ll call the reception and have them bring you some cookies. Not gonna let a pregnant woman starve!” she reached across and grabbed the hotel-phone, quickly dialing the number to the reception. It didn’t take long before a woman with a very professional voice answered, and Emma told her that they would like to have some cookies sent up to their room.

“Certainly, miss,” the woman said. “I’ll get that fixed for you.”

“Thank you so much,” Emma said, feeling tempted to add that they should hurry because Regina was hungry. She didn’t though. Instead she hung up and told Regina. “The cookies will be here in a moment.”

“Thank you,” Regina chuckled.

“No reason to thank me,” Emma gently dismissed. “And another time, don’t you worry about waking me. You know how easily I go back to sleep.”

“Sí, I do,” Regina grabbed her crutches and rose from Emma’s bed. She hobbled back to her own bed where she sat down. “Did you really think that I was going to leave?”

“I did. For a second,” Emma admitted. “Sorry. I know my reaction was a bit crazy.”

“I’m sorry you thought that I was going to leave,” Regina said softly. “I won’t. You know that, right?”

“Of course I do,” Emma said quickly. “I just got spooked there for a moment. But it’s all good.”

“Okay.” Regina shifted a bit on the bed and rubbed her belly. “Oh, gosh….”

“Braxton Hicks? Or just baby activity?”

“Isn’t both of it baby activity?” Regina asked and chuckled in the darkness.

“Touché,” Emma laughed. “But you know what I mean. Kicking or ouch?”

“Kicking. With a little bit of ouch. It feels like he’s trying to break himself out of there.”

“Oh. Haven’t you told him that’s way too early?” Emma joked.

“I have. But he’s not listening to me. I hope he won’t be continuing that pattern.”

Emma chuckled again. “I’m sure he won’t.”

“Let’s hope so.” Regina abruptly let go of her crutches and stretched her arms high above her head.

Emma tilted her head. “You’re not awake just because you’re hungry, are you?”

“No,” Regina admitted with a little wince. “My back is terribly sore, and I can’t seem to find a comfortable sleeping position. I really should have brought my pregnancy pillow.”

“Can I help you?” Emma asked. “I don’t want you to be in pain.”

“Some help would be nice,” Regina said.

Emma immediately hopped out of bed and walked over to Regina’s bed as quickly as her legs could carry her. She sat down cross legged behind Regina on the bed. “Upper back or lower back?”

“Lower. Definitely lower. There’s so much pressure whenever I lie down. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep for the rest of the pregnancy.”

“Oh, I think you will,” Emma soothed. “You just need to be reunited with your pillow, that’s all.”

“A shame I couldn’t fit it into my suitcase.”

“Agreed. Right here?” Emma asked as she lightly pressed her fingers against a spot on Regina’s lower back.

“Ouch! Sí!”

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do, yeah?”

“Anything will be a help.”

Emma started out by rubbing figure eights on Regina’s lower back. “Do you mind if I just…” she lightly touched the hem of Regina’s pajama shirt. “I think it would be easier to find the spot if I went under your clothes.” She regretted it as soon as the words were out of her mouth. It sounded like the beginning of a very bad porn.

But Regina seemingly didn’t care about that. Or perhaps she simply didn’t notice. Either way, she reached back and lifted the hem of her pajama top, baring her lower back.

“Awesome,” Emma said, resuming rubbing Regina’s back. And silently acknowledging that this was the closest she had been to her girlfriend in two weeks. That was a bit strange to think about.

“That feels nice,” Regina said. “Thank you.”

“Anytime, bea-“ Emma cleared her throat.

“’Beautiful girl’?” Regina softly finished the sentence, completely catching Emma off guard. She stopped rubbing Regina’s back in sheer surprise, but after a bit of shifting from Regina, she quickly resumed the late night-impromptu back massage. “Yeah,” she said. “That was pretty much how that sentence was gonna end.”

“I figured.” Regina chuckled softly. “Can you press a bit harder? I think that’s what my muscles need.”

“Sure thing.” Emma went to work and pressed the pads of her fingers harder into Regina’s lower back. Emma wasn’t a masseuse or anything, but she was sure she could feel how tight Regina’s muscles was.

Regina groaned and wiggled slightly. “Dios, that really hurts!” she gave a meek chuckle. “But it’s definitely better than before.”

“Has it really been that bad?” Emma frowned. She wasn’t second guessing Regina’s statement. She was just horrified that the pregnancy was kicking Regina’s ass this badly.

“Mmm. It’s amazing how we can puke our guts out, develop aches and pains and being unable to catch our breaths, scream in agony as we push something out of our bodies and then still insist that it’s all worth it.” Regina laughed.

“Yeah,” Emma laughed with her. “That is pretty amazing.”

“He is gonna be all worth it,” Regina said, tracing her belly with the tip of her index finger. “Every last bit of backpain.”

Emma’s response was drowned in a quiet knocking on the door. She bid Regina to ‘sit tight’ as she walked over to the door and opened it.

A hotel employee was on the other side of the door. Smiling as she handed Emma not one but two rolls of chocolate chip cookies.

“Thank you, but we only ordered one,” Emma pointed out and frowned slightly.

“It’s on the house,” she smiled. “We wouldn’t want anyone to starve in the middle of the night. Enjoy the cookies. Have a good night.”

“Thank you,” Emma said as she watched the woman walk down the hallway. She chuckled slightly as she closed the door and turned back to Regina. “And once again, you continue to charm everyone around you.” She dangled the extra roll of cookies. “Look at
this. On the house.”

“Oh wow,” Regina said, snickering slightly. ”Looks like someone took mercy on the poor pregnant girl with the crutches.”

“Also, you’re ridiculously charming,” Emma said with a shrug. “That’s half the reason, I’m sure.”

“And I’m sure you’re silly. Can I have some of those too?”

“Oh yeah, of course!” Emma quickly walked over to the bed and handed Regina the roll of cookies. “Here you go.”

“Gracias.” Regina tore the roll of cookies open and stuffed the first one into her mouth. “Mmmm! These are so good!”

“Glad you like them,” was all Emma mustered. Because it very much sounded like Regina was getting….well, excited.

Regina ate another cookie, but Emma couldn’t help but notice that Regina was still frowning.

“Is the backpain very bad? I can totally call reception and ask for a heating pad if you need one.”

“No, that’s alright. I don’t need a heating pad.”

“An ice pack, then? Or maybe just some ice cream?”

Regina chuckled. “No, I don’t need that either. Maybe tomorrow though. Yeah. We should definitely go out for ice cream.”

“Agreed, but is there something else going on? I’m not trying to pressure you or anything, I just want to know if there’s anything I can do to help?”

“I keep thinking about my dad,” Regina said and took a third cookie between her fingers. But rather than eating it, she just absentmindedly twirled it between her fingers.

“Your dad? Is something wrong with him? He called earlier, didn’t he?” Emma was pretty sure he had. And she had heard of nothing going on with him.

“He did, and he’s fine. But… he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on,” Regina sighed. “He doesn’t know about Cora and Malaina, he doesn’t know that I have started talking to Cora again, and the more I thought about it… The more I realized that you and I,” she gestured slightly between them. “Are in the same boat now.”

“What do you mean?” Emma asked softly.

“Well, now I know how you felt when you couldn’t tell me about Cora.” Regina bit her lip. “I bashed you in the head with how you could have hinted that something was going on without actually telling me, but… It’s not that easy, is it? If I start to drop hints to my dad about something going on with Cora, he will only get worried and in time frustrated because I’m not being upfront with him. In some ways, I think hinting and saying that you can’t tell is even worse than being lied to.” She shifted so she and Emma were sitting more face to face. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know understand why you didn’t just hint at something going on rather than keeping Cora’s secret. And I wish I hadn’t been so hard on you. I wasn’t being entirely fair.”

“Hey now,” Emma said, reaching out and taking Regina’s hand because Regina honestly looked to be on the verge of tears. “You had every right to be hard on me. I didn’t handle the whole thing very well. Maybe hinting would have been frustrating too, but it would have been a sliver better than just hushing up like I did. And the whole pushing you into sitting down with Cora… That was literally so wrong of me.”

“You’ve apologized for that. Several times,” Regina said quietly. “Now I wanna apologize too. For being so hard on you. For not recognizing how caught and conflicted you felt. Will you accept my apology?”

“Of course I will!” Emma squeezed Regina’s hand. “Absolutely.” She didn’t say that Regina didn’t have anything to apologize for. She could sense that that wasn’t what Regina needed right now.

“Thank you,” Regina flashed her a little smile and then reached for the pack of cookies. She used two fingers to wrestle it out, but rather than popping it into her mouth, she handed it to Emma. “Here you go.”

“Thank you,” Emma happily accepted the cookie and stuffed it into her mouth. She was no longer sleepy. Just happy at how perfectly normal this was. They were almost speaking to one another like they had before Emma’s epic fuck up, and it was so, so nice. She looked at Regina who had helped herself to another cookie too. They made eye contact and Regina smiled.

So did Emma. And she also wondered what would happen if she kissed Regina right now. Would it be too much, too soon? Or would it be the right thing to do? Emma wasn’t sure. And she was too nervous to take the risk.

Regina broke the spell by grabbing her crutches and shifting as if she wanted to stand.

“Bathroom?” Emma guessed.

“Sí,” Regina rolled her eyes in the faint light. “Again. For the fourth time tonight.”

“Oh,” Emma made a face. “It’s weird that I didn’t hear you.”

“Mmm, it’s curious that you only hear me when you think that I’m going to leave,” Regina half-chuckled. Then she stalked off towards the bathroom.

“Yeah,” Emma murmured as the bathroom door was closed behind Regina. “Very curious indeed.”

While Regina was in the bathroom, Emma took another cookie. Just one. The majority was for Regina, after all. She wondered what they should do tomorrow. They didn’t really have any plans. Perhaps they could go to the zoo. Regina had talked about that. But
if the weather was bad, maybe they could stay here in the hotel. There was a really big swimming pool, and Regina had seemed interested in that too. Perhaps some swimming and some nice warm water could relieve the pressure on Regina’s poor back. Yeah.
The swimming pool was a good idea if the weather was bad tomorrow.

Just as she had consumed the second cookie, the door to the bathroom opened and Regina emerged. She was frowning slightly in concentration as she hobbled forward whilst making sure not to drop the little bottle she had wedged under her left arm. When she came closer, Emma saw that it was the trusted bottle of cocoa butter Regina had brought with her. She had grown very fond of using cocoa butter to soothe whenever her belly itched. And it had started to do that a lot recently. The bigger she got, the more the skin stretched, the itchier Regina felt. But the cocoa butter always took the top of the uncomfortableness. Thank god for Emma’s mother. She was the one who had given Regina the advice to use cocoa butter on her belly.

Regina came over and sat down on the edge of her bed close to where Emma was still sitting. “Are there anymore cookies left?” she quipped.

“Of course,” Emma said. “They’re for you. Not me.”

“You can have some too. It’s not good for me to eat all of those. I’ll end up looking like a whale.”

“The most beautiful whale in the world,” Emma said before she could stop herself. For a moment, she was seriously afraid that she had just put her foot in her mouth, but Regina merely smiled and said:

“La ballena más bella del mundo, huh? You’ll have to draw that on my cast sometimes.”

“Before it’s time to take off that cast,” Emma said. “Only two more weeks.”

Regina sighed. “I can’t wait for that. I swear, it’ll feel strange to use both my legs to walk.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Emma chuckled. ”It’s been a long haul.”

“Too long. But soon my foot will be free. And I’ll be able to dance again,” Regina smiled for a second but then her face fell. “But I won’t be able to fit into my dress. Desafortunadamente….”

“Well, maybe we can find a pregnancy-flamenco dress for you,” Emma suggested, and her head began racing with ideas. Her mom was an excellent seamstress. Maybe she could make a flamenco-dress for Regina. It would probably be the easiest thing in the world to make. And if Regina really wanted a pregnancy flamenco dress, well…. Emma wasn’t about to deny her one.

“Sí, maybe,” Regina said with a chuckle. As she spoke, she undid the lid on the bottle of cocoa butter.

It didn’t take long for Emma to understand that Regina was about to rub her belly with the cocoa butter. That was yet another little milestone. Over the past weeks, she had preferred doing that in privacy. The fact that she was doing it here, with Emma present, was definitely a good thing.

“Can I do that?” it bursted out of Emma. It had been her ‘job’ to rub Regina’s belly before the whole messy situation unfolded, and she was desperate to earn that job back.

Regina frowned softly as she looked at Emma. Tilted her head slightly.

And Emma immediately lost her nerve. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “I shouldn’t have asked you that. It was stupid. I’m really sorry.”

“No,” Regina said quickly. “It’s not that. It’s just that my belly is…. I mean, it looks…”

“What?” Emma asked and felt tempted to reach out and take Regina’s hand again. She suddenly sounded so unsure and vulnerable.

“It’s….” Regina sighed and shifted slightly. “Maybe you should just look and see for yourself.” In one swift movement, she lifted her pajama top and bared her round belly to Emma.

Yes, Emma could see them. The stripes on Regina’s belly. But what she couldn’t see was why they were a problem. “Oh my god,” she said fondly and was sure that her voice was trembling the littlest bit. “Just look at that! It’s gorgeous!”

Regina snorted. “Hardly.”

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my fucking life!” Emma said firmly, fingers itching to just reach out and touch. “Can I…”

“Sí. You can. If you put some cocoa butter on your fingers first,” Regina quipped. “¡Me pica tanto el vientre!”

“I’ve got you,” Emma assured, shuffling forward on her knees so she was sitting in front of Regina. Then quickly taking the bottle of cocoa butter from Regina and applying some of the cream to her fingers. “Don’t you worry about a thing!”

And then, for the first time in something that felt like ages, Emma could finally put her hands on Regina’s pregnant belly. She could finally touch the bump and admire every inch of it. It felt surprisingly firm under her fingers, and Emma made sure to take her time in rubbing a thick layer of cocoa butter into Regina’s skin. “Is that better?”

“Mmm, it itches less when you do that. Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me. I’m happy to do this. You know that.” Emma stuck her fingers into the bottle and scooped up another dollop of cocoa butter. The thicker the layer, the bigger relief. That was what her mom had said, and it looked like it was true.
Regina already looked so much more relaxed.

“Have you seen the app’s recommendation for me this week?” Regina asked. “To talk to the baby.”

“Yeah, I saw that.”

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say,” Regina half-chuckled and leaned back a little so her belly was even more pushed out towards Emma. “I actually saw a video of a woman who had put headphones on her belly so the baby could listen to music!”

“Oh god,” Emma laughed. “I mean, if you wanna do that, sure, but I gotta admit it sounds a bit silly.”

“Utterly ridiculous,” Regina agreed. “I would never be able to take it seriously.”

“No, me neither.”

“Mmm, that feels really nice.” Regina squirmed a little bit. “Could you maybe uhm…”

“What?” Emma stilled for a second.

“Do it like under my belly button? It really itches there.”

“Sure, no problem.” Emma immediately moved her hands to take the rubbing-attention a bit lower, but something was in the way. “Could you maybe-“

Before she could even finish the sentence, Regina had lowered her pajama bottoms the littlest bit.

“Awesome. Thank you.” Emma felt tempted to clear her throat. She was acutely aware that this was the closest she had been to Regina in a few weeks. Her body was aware of it too. Her throat felt tight and her breathing entirely too fast. But Emma urged it back.
She was NOT gonna muck this up by imagining things or doing something wrong. Regina was gradually letting her in, and instead of immediately longing for more, Emma should simply be grateful. Grateful that Regina hadn’t dumped her and left.

“Is that better?” Emma asked as she rubbed more cocoa butter into Regina’s skin.

“Sí, it feels very nice and soothing. You don’t have to touch the stretch marks, though.”

“I’ll only avoid them if you specifically tells me to,” Emma said softly. “If you’re uncomfortable with me touching them. Are you?”

“No…” Regina shook her head.

“Good. Because I am not uncomfortable with touching them.” To prove that, Emma gently put her whole hand over the stretch marks on Regina’s belly. “I think they’re beautiful. So incredibly beautiful.”

“There are so many of them,” Regina murmured. “I feel like my body is changing so fast, and it is sometimes difficult for me to keep up with the changes.”

“I understand that,” Emma said gently. “Lots of things are happening to your body right now, and although I have never been pregnant before, I can understand why it’s a lot to handle.”

“Estar embarazada es difícil,” Regina said, sounding like she was partially joking.

“But you’re doing an amazing job, though. And in my mind, these marks-“ she gently ran her hand over the stripes again. “Are a proof of that. It’s a sign of your body adapting and taking extra special care of the baby. I think that’s pretty incredible.”

“I swear, you are this close to make a pregnant girl weep,” Regina said and illustrated with two fingers just how close ‘this’ was.”

“And we definitely can’t have that,” Emma said firmly. “I’ll shut up now. And keep up the cocoa butter-activity.”

Regina laughed. “I think you’ve pretty much covered everything. No pun intended.”

“Second layer?” Emma immediately suggested. “Please?” she was definitely not ready to stop rubbing Regina’s belly. Not yet!

“I suppose it can’t harm,” Regina quipped. “Sea mi invitada, señorita Swan.”

”Thank you!” Emma said, voice louder than intended, but she couldn’t help it. señorita Swan. Regina had just called her ‘señorita Swan’ since before ‘the mess’. And perhaps it wasn’t ‘querida’, but it was almost as good! God, they were really finding their way back to one another! Truly, they were patching things up and coming back from what ultimately could have ended their relationship. Thank god Regina had stayed. Thank god they had talked.

Emma rubbed and rubbed Regina’s belly. First up, then down. Then sideways. Left, right and back again. Figure eights. Circles. Anything, really. Every last inch of Regina’s belly Emma covered in cocoa butter. Not just a second layer, but also a third and a fourth. Regina didn’t ask her to quit it, and Emma was sure that Regina was enjoying it as much as she was.

“Maybe you should start doing this on a professional basis,” Regina joked.

“Yeah, maybe I should. Emma Swan, the rubber of pregnant bellies!”

“Sounds a bit like a superhero,” Regina commented. “But I think you’ll have to stick with rubbing this pregnant belly. Otherwise I’ll just get jealous.”

Fuck, yes! Emma’s own belly filled up with warmth at that. Regina was speaking so softly to her. Like she had done before.

“I think that’s enough now,” Regina said and smiled at Emma. “It’s stopped itching.”

“Oh, that’s great. Awesome! But just to make sure…. Maybe just a quick extra layer?”

Regina laughed heartedly. “Okay, okay. One extra layer. Just to make sure.”

“We gotta make sure that belly stays properly moisturized,” Emma said briskly, sticking her fingers into the bottle of cocoa butter again. She scooped up another dollop of the thick cream and smoothed it onto Regina’s belly. “Any specific places I should pay extra attention to?”

“No, what you’re doing is just fine,” Regina replied, and the corner of her mouth twitched slightly.

It was only then Emma became aware of what she had said. And how it could be misinterpreted. Oh. It was too late to take it back, though. So she pretended that she hadn’t just seen Regina be amused and continued the quest of rubbing cocoa butter into
Regina’s skin. She was extremely happy that she had earned her old job back, and she hoped that Regina would ask her to do this again tomorrow night. Or tomorrow morning. Or in the middle of the night. Whenever Regina needed it.

Regina yawned and tipped her head back against the wall.

“You can sleep if you want to,” Emma said softly. “Don’t mind me, I’m just moisturizing your belly.”

“As one does,” Regina snickered. “No, it’s okay. I can sleep when you’re done. Meanwhile, I think I’ll have another cookie.

“Sounds like a plan.”

And so, while Regina treated herself to another of the delicious cookies, Emma continued to rub her belly. She was even humming slightly to herself while doing so. This was quite cozy, really. Just the two of them in the darkened hotel room. Emma certainly wouldn’t mind doing this every night.

“The sheet will end up smelling of cocoa butter when you’re done,” Regina joked.

“Well, that’s not the worst scent in the world, is it? Imagine if my mom had advised you to rub your belly with fish oil or something…”

“Oh, dios,” Regina winced. “Well, I would have done it. Definitely. I trust your moms advises. A hundred percent.”

“I know you do, but still… fish oil? Fucking disgusting!” Emma made faces at the thought of Regina having to rub her belly in fish oil every night.

“The kid would be born a mermaid for sure,” Regina said with a shrug.

Then both started laughing. Emma’s hands skidded over Regina’s slippery belly, and Regina’s belly bounced slightly as they laughed together. It wasn’t even that funny, but for whatever reason, either of them couldn’t stop laughing and acting like it was the funniest thing in the whole world.

“Woah,” Emma said mid-laugh and her hands stilled on Regina’s belly again. She could have sworn she just….

Yes! There it was again! Right there.

The tiniest little kick against her palm.

Emma gasped as she mesmerized splayed her hands wide over Regina’s belly in the hope that it would happen again. And she was richly rewarded when the baby once again kicked. Emma felt it right against her right palm. And it was the most wonderful thing she had ever experienced.

“You felt that, didn’t you?” Regina asked softly. “Él bebe está pateando.”

“Yes,” Emma whispered and felt her eyes well up with emotion. “Yes, yes, yes!” voice stronger now. “I felt it! Fuck, Regina, I felt the baby kick! Oh my god, I cannot believe that just happened! Do you think he’ll do it again?” she eagerly tapped her fingers against
Regina’s belly as though the baby was capable of figuring out what she wanted.

“Maybe not,” Regina smiled. “He tends to be a bit lazy around this time, but- oh!”

Emma immediately understood why she went ‘oh!’. The baby had just kicked again. Against Emma’s palm once more.

“Oh my god!” she exclaimed, and unable to hold back, she bowed her head and kissed Regina’s belly. “Hi, little man! I love you! I love you so, so much!”

Then she realized and looked anxiously up at Regina. Had she just fucked up?

No. Regina did not look mad. She was smiling. “I would never dream of taking the baby away from you, Emma. “Tu eres su madre.”

“Thank you,” Emma whispered, blinking back tears. “I… thank you, Regina.”

“I think we should get some sleep,” Regina said, adopting a sensible tone because she too clearly was affected. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel a bit tired.”

“Yeah, me too,” Emma said. “Some sleep might be a good idea.” She didn’t want to go back to the cot, but she was determined to respect Regina’s boundaries. So she unfolded her legs, ready to walk the short distance to the cot.

“No,” Regina said, taking Emma’s hand. “I think you should sleep here.”

For a moment, Emma’s brain was unable to make the connection. “Here… In… in this bed?”

“Sí. I don’t think the baby wants to part with you right now. He’s still kicking. Feel that?” she guided Emma’s hand back to her belly.

Emma grinned like the Cheshire cat when she indeed felt the kicks against her hand. “I sure do. Well, if the baby is sure…”

“He’s very sure,” Regina said firmly. “You should definitely sleep in the bed with us.”

“Thank you,” Emma repeated. “It would be an honor.”

Regina smiled at her. She did not kiss Emma, but she didn’t need to. Emma was so, so happy when she could slip into the bed and lay next to Regina. Her body immediately folded and curled so she was spooning Regina. Just like she always did.

Regina wiggled a bit. “Oh dios, now he won’t stop. I guess he thought you were playing a game with him.”

“Want me to give him a stern talk-to?” Emma joked.

“Yes, please,” Regina grabbed her hand and guided it to her belly.

“Hey kid,” Emma said with a grin. “I’m so happy I can feel you now, it’s so awesome! But could you please stop the kicking for a little while? Your mom needs her sleep.”

“Sí, she does.” And as to prove how much, Regina actually fell asleep almost immediately.

Emma was tired too. But she stayed awake for a little while longer. To soak it up. To bask in how wonderful it was to once again sleep next to Regina. And to feel the baby kicking against her palm….

 

To Be Continued……….

Chapter Text

“¡Esto es un desastre total!”

Emma’s head snapped up from her phone and she winced. “Is everything alright?” she discreetly glanced at the time. They were supposed to be at Art’s Delight in thirty minutes. Otherwise they would be late for exhibition. But obviously, she would never dream of rushing a pregnant woman. Nu-uh. And especially not now after she and Regina were starting to find back that good place they had been in before everything went to shit.

“Sí, everything is fine,” Regina glumly called back.

Emma wasn’t convinced and raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? Is there something I can do to help?”

“Well, if you can make my breasts smaller you’ll definitely save my day,” Regina joked as she emerged from the in suite bathroom.

“Uhhh…” Emma suddenly had problems with talking. And thinking.

Regina was wearing a red dress. The most festive thing she had brought with her to New York, she claimed. The only thing that would fit the occasion.

And fitted it did. In more ways than one. The dress literally looked like it had been glued onto Regina’s body. In every place. It was impossible for Emma not to gawk at Regina’s breasts. They looked very, uhhh… nice in that dress.

“I’m spilling out of this thing,” Regina said and looked positively miserable as she fruitlessly began to pull the neckline up. “I can’t walk around like this! I look…” she clicked her tongue. “I should have tried this on yesterday to make sure it still fits. ¡Maldita sea! ¡Dios mío, I’m such an idiot!”

“You’re NOT an idiot,” Emma said firmly. “And for the record, I think you look great!”

“Of course you do. My breasts are practically staring back at you,” Regina grumbled and tugged at the neckline in her dress again. Did you by any chance bring a scarf?”

“I didn’t. I’m sorry,” Emma said. Even though she had nothing to apologize for, she didn’t like seeing Regina in distress. Especially not after everything.

“No hay problema. Solo usaré mi abrigo.”

“Inside the gallery too?” Emma lifted an eyebrow. “Don’t you think you’ll get too warm if you do that?”

Regina shrugged. “Rather warm than exposed.”

“Hey…” Emma rose from the edge of the bed. She walked over to Regina and put her hands on her shoulders. “You look amazing, okay? I mean that. And not because I’m a big perv who likes your… attributes.”

Regina let out a dry chuckle at that.

“You are beautiful,” Emma continued. “You look fucking stunning in this dress, okay? And I don’t want you to collapse due to heatstroke. If you feel uncomfortable, you can borrow my jacket, but please don’t insist on wearing your own coat the entire time. I know how warm you feel these days, and I don’t want you to get lightheaded or feel faint or anything.”

“You’re letting me borrow the red leather jacket?” Regina quipped and her eyebrows danced a little. “That’s a lot. I guess you must really love me, huh?”

“You know it,” Emma said firmly, leaning in and kissing Regina gently on the lips. Something she had done a lot the past week. And something she was extremely fucking grateful for being able to do yet again! The first time Regina had kissed her since their
fallout, Emma could have cried in sheer relief. Regina had first kissed her last week and Emma had done little else since. She kissed Regina first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. She would never take that for granted again.

“Well, should we get going?” Regina asked and shifted a bit. “We better. Otherwise we’ll just end up being late. And it wouldn’t look too good since you are the photographer.”

“If anybody asks, I’ll just tell them that we took an extra nap,” Emma said and waggled an eyebrow suggestively.

“Ha,” Regina snorted as she grabbed her crutch. “Te deseo….”

“It’ll stop,” Emma soothed. “It has to.”

“It better.”

‘It’ was the pretty nasty Braxton hicks Regina had started to experience during intimacy. They had discovered that last week when they had tried to ‘reunite’ completely. It had been impossible. The moment Emma’s hand had drifted a bit further down, Regina’s belly had gone all tight and even though she hadn’t wanted to admit it, Emma easily had been able to see that she was in pain. They had stopped. And had tried again the following evening. The exact same thing had happened again. Regina’s belly had gone tight and the look in her eyes had been enough to make Emma stop even though Regina insisted that she was ‘fine’. She wasn’t. And there was no way that Emma was gonna continue when Regina was in pain.

Regina had been frustrated. Emma had been understanding and had assured her girlfriend that the Braxton hicks would go away. She had her own theories as to why Regina was experiencing pain. Stress. Regina had been under a lot of pressure for the past weeks and that was bound to make it hard for her to relax. And perhaps there was some small part of her that still struggled to trust Emma fully.

Emma didn’t know a lot about psychology, but she suspected that could be part of the reason why Regina was experiencing pain during intimacy. Perhaps her body thought that it needed to protect itself or something.

“Emma?”

Emma blinked and got a move on when she realized that Regina was standing by the door. “Sorry. Coming!”

Regina chuckled and opened the door with one hand while holding on to her crutch with the other. She had recently switched to using one crutch only. And she had also started to very carefully walk on her foot again. The cast was coming off next week, and
Emma knew how impatient Regina was for that to happen. She was sick of using crutches and not being able to use her foot.

They walked down the hallway and Emma heard her cellphone vibrate in her pocket.

“¿Esa es tu mamá de nuevo?“

”Probably,” Emma chuckled. Her mom had been more or less swamping her phone with messages. Most of them had been distraught apologies because she and Emma’s dad weren’t able to be in New York for the exhibition. Emma had of course done everything in her power to assure her mom that it was alright. That she wasn’t mad at her parents for not being here. And she really wasn’t. She hadn’t expected Patricia to want to show off her pictures so quickly, so of course she didn’t expect her parents to just drop everything and come to New York.

There would be other exhibitions. Hopefully.

But Lily was coming. And so was Cora and Malaina. Cora had phoned Regina a couple of days ago and had asked if she and Malaina could come to the exhibition. Regina had asked Emma what she thought of that, and Emma had said that if Regina felt okay with that, she did too. Regina had said yes. Emma was very proud of her girlfriend. She was really trying to give Cora a second chance, and Emma couldn’t even begin to imagine how difficult that had to be.

“Good evening!” the overly bright receptionist chirped when they reached the lobby.

“Good evening,” Emma and Regina said in union, and Regina looked like she was trying hard not to laugh. They had joked a bit about the receptionist during their stay in New York.

“Have a wonderful night!” the receptionist called after them as they left the lobby.

“Gracías,” Regina said over her shoulder and then murmured: “I wonder if she’s always this happy?”

“Maybe,” Emma said with a chuckle.

Despite the grey weather, Emma was in a great mood. She was on her way to her very own exhibition. Regina was by her side. What could possibly be better?

“I hope Cora and Malaina are ready to go,” Regina muttered. “And I hope that Cora can handle seeing the photo of my hip. Perhaps she’ll think that it’s too scandalous.”

Emma scoffed. “If she thinks that it’s her problem, not yours. It is a great picture. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the one who took the picture.”

“It is a beautiful picture, querida,” Regina said warmly. “I can’t wait to see it on the wall.” She snickered. “I suppose this is a good way to let Cora know that I have a tattoo on my hip…”

Emma winced. “She doesn’t know?”

“Nope,” Regina said cheerfully. “That’ll be fun.”

Emma winced again, not sure whether to apologize or not. She ended up not doing it. Regina was an adult. If she had a tattoo on her hip, it wasn’t Cora’s problem.

“Ohh, taxi,” Regina exclaimed and lifted a hand at the yellow taxi approaching.

It stopped right in front of them, and Emma and Regina piled into the backseat. Regina gave the driver Cora’s address and off they went. Then she leaned back in her seat and rubbed her belly.

“How is Blue?” Emma asked immediately.

“Kicking.” Regina laughed as she unzipped her coat to show off her belly. “Wanna feel?”

There was only one answer to that question. And that was…

“Yes!” Emma immediately put a hand on Regina’s belly and grinned when she felt their baby kick. But it didn’t take long before the smile turned into a wince instead. “Ouch,” she commented and furrowed her brows. “That hurt, didn’t it?”

“It’s not that bad,” Regina shrugged lightly. “You get used to it.”

“Really?” Emma rubbed her belly and wondered if that really was the case. Could you really get used to feeling a tiny person kick you from the inside?

“Are you excited about the exhibition?” Regina asked and unzipped her coat completely. Clearly feeling warm as usually.

“I am,” Emma nodded. “But I’m also a little nervous. I hope there’ll be a good turnup.”

“Why wouldn’t there?” Regina shrugged. “You are a brilliant photographer, mi amor.”

“Thanks, beautiful girl. I hope other’s think so too.”

“If they don’t, I’ll come for them,” Regina said darkly. “All of them.”

Emma laughed. And thought to herself that Regina was quite sexy when she made death threats on her behalf.

“Are you looking forward to going back to Spain?” Emma asked softly. “We’ve been here for a pretty long time.”

“Mmm. I’m looking forward to seeing my dad again, but at the same time I’m dreading it. I’m lying to him about Cora. And I don’t like that. I’ll have to talk to her about it again. I’m done being in the middle of things. I just want to kick back and relax and enjoy the third trimester. Get ready for baby’s arrival and all that.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Emma said softly. “Totally.”

“I have enough stuff going on,” Regina continued and sucked in a breath. “I have to start looking for baby equipment, create a birth plan, find a good pediatrician, schedule my 30-week appointment and work in between. Now that I’m about to get the cast off my ankle, I can start earning some money again. And in between THAT I also have to plan our move to California. I have enough things to keep myself busy so honestly, I don’t have time for drama.”

Emma felt a stab of guilt and winced. “I’m sorry,” she murmured and took Regina’s hand. “The time here was supposed to be a break for you. But it has been anything but, and that’s my fault. I’m really sorry, honey.”

“Querida, I don’t blame you. Not anymore,” Regina reminded her. “You don’t have to apologize. All I’m saying is that can’t handle being Cora’s keeper on top of everything else.”

“Are you gonna talk to her today?”

“Maybe. If I can get the chance. I won’t lie to my father. I lied to him about the pregnancy and even though he hasn’t been upset about it, I know that he deep down is wondering why I felt that it was necessary. Secrets SUCKS!”

“Yeah,” Emma easily agreed with her. “They really do.”

“But I’m done letting secrets ruin things,” Regina continued and leaned her head against Emma’s shoulder. “Never again.”

“Never again,” Emma echoed and kissed the top of Regina’s head gently. She was still so very relieved that she and Regina had found back to the place they had been in before Emma fucked up. Regina still loved her. They were still having a baby together. And
they were still moving to California together. The future looked bright again. Thank god. There had been some very dark moments in which Emma had feared that her stupidity had cost her her entire future with Regina. But luckily, that hadn’t happened.

“Oh, dios…”

“What is it? Is something wrong?”

“No. I just need to borrow Cora and Malaina’s bathroom before we head to the gallery,” Regina said plainly and winced.

“Oh. Little dude still using your bladder as a squeeze toy?”

“Feels like it. I wish he would start doing something else. Anything. I even preferred when he kicked me in the ribs…”

“That doesn’t sound very nice,” Emma commented and frowned.

“Maybe not. But it is better than the constant need to pee.”

“True that,” Emma said a bit thoughtfully. She had never been pregnant so she had no idea what she was talking about, but still, she was fairly certain she would prefer needing the bathroom rather than being kicked in the ribs all the time..

 

They reached Cora and Malaina’s apartment complex in fine style. Once they were in the elevator, Regina carefully put weight on her weak foot.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to do that yet,” Emma gently scolded.

“I know,” Regina sighed. “But I’m just so tired of hopping around on one foot!”

“Next week you’re getting that stupid cast off,” Emma did her best to soothe. “And then you can start to put weight on your foot again. If the doctor thinks that it is okay, obviously.”

“But my leg will be all weak,” Regina complained. “And I still won’t be able to dance.”

Emma wrapped an arm around Regina in an attempt to comfort her. She knew how much Regina missed dancing. She had been doing so ever since she was a little girl and it had to feel so strange and empty not to be able to.

“If it hadn’t been for that stupid foot, I would have danced until my due date!” Regina grumbled.

“I know you would have, honey. I know you would have. And you would have looked fucking fabulous!” Emma could easily picture a pregnant Regina in that red flamenco dress. God, she would have looked magnificent!

“I suppose the dancing will have to wait a little,” Regina mused. “There won’t be much time for dancing once el bebe arrives. I’ll be much too busy looking after a tiny human.”

“Me, too,” Emma said warmly. “Tell you what, I can watch the baby while you dance.”

“Good deal, but I don’t think that’s possible,” Regina chuckled. “And besides, I doubt you’ll be able to drag me away from him. I’m so excited to meet him! Or her.”

“Yeah, me too!”

“Do you think we’ll ever come up with a name for him?”

“Maybe. Otherwise we can just keep calling him ‘Blue’,” Emma said goofily.

Regina snorted. “The more I think about it, the better ‘Blue’ sounds.”

“Blue Mills,” Emma joked.

“Swan-Mills,” Regina corrected. “Don’t forget that, querida.”

“Sorry. Blue Swan-Mills. I don’t know, I think it has a nice ring to it.”

They both bursted out laughing because there truly was no way that they would ever name their son ‘Blue’. But the perfect name was yet to appear to them. For some reason, it was so much easier for them to come up with girls’ names. Because neither of them truly believed that they were having a girl. Emma kept thinking of the baby as a boy, and Regina always referred to the child as ‘he’ or ‘him’. Had done so for ages.

Emma would be very surprised if they ended up having a girl. But she would be happy too, of course. It didn’t matter to her as long as the baby was healthy.

The elevator came to a stop on the right floor and when the doors opened, Emma and Regina stepped out. There was pretty quiet, and Regina was quick to wonder about that. “Cora is the most punctual creature in existence,” she said and only sounded like she was partially joking.

“Well, maybe they’re busy or something,” Emma suggested.

“Sí, maybe. But still, this is unlike Cora. Whenever we were going somewhere when I was a kid, she would always be ready thirty minutes before we were leaving.” Regina rolled her eyes. “Very stressful.”

“Yeah, I can imagine so,” Emma said and gave Regina a little squeeze.

Things with Cora was…. Not rosy red and perfect. Regina was polite to both Cora and Malaina, but that was it. Her relationship with Cora was by no means warm and loving. There was no ‘mom’ or even ‘mother’. Cora was still simply ‘Cora’.

But Emma was still impressed with Regina for trying. That was admirable. Emma wasn’t sure she would have been able to maintain a relationship with her mother if she had been the one in Regina’s position.

They reached the door with ‘Malaina Drake’ on it and Regina raised an eyebrow in confusion and slight concern.

Emma understood why. The apartment door was slightly ajar. Weird. Perhaps Cora and Malaina had been about to leave and then they had forgotten something in the apartment or something.

Regina didn’t call out to them. Perhaps she didn’t feel like yelling and disturbing the other residents in the apartment complex, or perhaps the short walk had made her feel winded. She often felt winded these days.

Or perhaps she simply needed the bathroom a lot. That was possibly too. Either way, Regina nudged the door fully open and stepped inside the apartment with Emma trailing right behind her.

A moment later it became abundantly clear what it was that had delayed Cora and Malaina. And it was NOT the search for a pair of lost keys like Emma had assumed. The pair was standing in the hallway. Not engaged in conversation. Definitely not. Malaina had her arms wrapped around Cora’s waist in a tight embrace. Cora’s hands were buried in Malaina’s blonde hair, and the couple was kissing. Quite… intensely. That much was obvious judging by the, uhh… sounds. And the way the couple was breathing. Clearly, none of them had noticed that they weren't alone anymore.

Regina’s eyes widened so dramatically it could almost have been comically. Her jaw dropped and for a moment it looked like she had no idea how to react to what she was seeing. She looked partially shocked and partially embarrassed. And perhaps a bit like she wanted to bleach her brain and erase the extremely visual evidence of Cora’s relationship forever.

Honestly, Emma couldn’t blame her. No kid, no matter how old was ever interested in seeing a parent in the middle of a passionate kiss.

After another second of looking utterly shellshocked, Regina pulled herself together grabbed Emma’s arm and vaguely nodded towards the open door behind them. ‘Out’ she mouthed.

Emma immediately caught the hint and as quietly as she could, she moved backwards in an attempt to get out of the apartment. She imagined that they would knock on the half-open door and pretend that they hadn’t seen anything.

But unfortunately, that plan fell through when one of them (Emma wasn’t sure who of them it was) stepped on a floorboard that creaked.

Cora and Malaina broke apart and turned their heads almost simultaneously. Now Cora was the one to look shell-shocked. “Regina,” she said in a voice that was slightly more high pitched than usually. Her cheeks tinted pink.

Emma was fascinated. Was Cora Mills really trying to blush?

“Hello,” Regina said a tad stiffly but clearly prepared to pretend that she hadn’t just caught Cora in the midst of a makeout session with her girlfriend. “Do you mind if I borrow your bathroom before we leave?”

“Sure,” Malaina said. She too looked slightly out of it, but wasn’t blushing as much as Cora was. “Go right ahead.”

“Gracias.” Regina said and quickly hobbled past Emma. She disappeared into the bathroom.

Cora and Malaina looked at each other for a second. “Woops.” Malaina said and fixed her slightly frizzy hair. “Perhaps we should have shut the door.”

“Yes,” Cora said tightly. “Perhaps we should.”

Emma cleared her throat softly. Just to remind the ladies of her presence.

“Emma,” Cora said, now clearly struggling to maintain a cool façade. “Good evening.”

“Good evening,” Emma greeted and almost felt a teensy bit sorry for Cora. No parent wanted to be caught in a makeout session by their kid. The embarrassment went both ways.

“All ready for tonight?” Malaina asked. She was slightly better at sounding unbothered.

“Yeah, I think so,” Emma said lightly. “I mean, I hope so.”

“I’m sure everything will go well. Patricia wouldn’t have exhibited your pictures if she didn’t think you’re talented,” Malaina assured and smiled at her. “Trust me. I’ve worked with her for years. She’s one of the very best.”

Honestly, that did make Emma feel slightly less nervous about the whole thing. She flashed Malaina a smile and a “thanks.”

There was a bit of rattling and then Regina came back from the bathroom. She avoided eye contact with both Cora and Malaina as she said: “are we ready to go, or..?”

“We’re ready,” Cora said quickly.

“Lily is meeting us there,” Malaina added.

“Great. Excelente. Then let’s…” Regina didn’t finish the sentence. Just hobbled out of the apartment as fast as her legs (and crutch) could carry her.

Emma left the two ladies in the hallway and hastily followed Regina. She was standing by the elevator and still looked like she was trying to banish the memory from her mind.

“Are you okay?” Emma asked softly.

“Mhmm. Sí. But that-“ she vaguely nodded towards the door. “-Is definitely going on the list over ‘things I didn’t expect to see’.”

Emma chuckled gently. “I didn’t know you had such a list, beautiful girl.”

“I do now,” Regina did her best to quip.

“You know, I think they’re just as embarrassed as you are.”

“Good,” Regina said. But it was clear that she didn’t mean it so harshly. “Amor joven,” she half-joked. “Good for them. But if I see it again, it’ll be too soon. From now on I’m gonna announce myself loudly before coming into a room.”

“Good plan,” Emma chuckled and wrapped an arm around Regina. She pulled her closer, gave her a little squeeze and then kissed the top of her head. “You look so nice tonight. But promise me that you’ll leave your coat in the wardrobe once we get there, okay?
I really, really don’t want you to get overheated or something.”

“How can I possibly get anything but when you’re around?” Regina joked and smirked at Emma. “You too look very nice tonight, querida.”

“Thank you, beautiful girl.” Emma was wearing black dress pants, a white button down and a blazer that matched the pants. Normally, she wouldn’t dress up this much, but this was a special night. It was the night of the exhibition of her photos. That craved something a little extra.

Regina’s eyes had widened when she saw Emma’s outfit, and she had said a lot of things in Spanish. Most of them had been too hushed for Emma to understand, but one of the words she had been able to understand very well. Córnea. She hadn’t been in doubt of what THAT meant.

Emma managed to press exactly two kisses to the top of Regina’s head before Cora and Malaina emerged from the apartment. Cora’s cheeks were less pink and Malaina’s hair wasn’t sticking up anymore….

 

Reaching Art’s Delight, Emma was greeted by a smiling Patricia who immediately pressed a glass of champagne into her hand. Regina was offered a glass too and before she could get the chance to say no, Patricia said: “it’s alcohol free, dear. You can celebrate without worrying about anything.”

“Gracias,” Regina smiled. “That is very thoughtful of you.”

“But of course. It wouldn’t be right if you were the only one who aren’t drinking champagne tonight.”

“Can I take your coat, beautiful girl?” Emma asked Regina and mouthed: ‘please?’ Regina let out a little puff of air that sounded like surrendering. Then she unbuttoned her coat and handed it to Emma.

“Thank you,” Emma said and let Regina’s coat dangle from one arm as they headed into the wardrobe. In there, she carefully hung up Regina’s coat and then her own. Regina tugged at the neckline in her dress again. Winced. Then glanced towards her coat on the hanger.

It was already something that felt like a thousand degrees in the gallery. And it would get even warmer once people (hopefully) started arriving. There was no way Regina could walk around wearing her coat all night. She would get ridiculously overheated. And she didn’t need the coat either. She looked fucking stunning!

“Look. At. You.” Emma said plainly, walking closer to Regina in the not too big wardrobe.

Regina lifted an eyebrow. “Are you trying to seduce me or scare me, querida?”

"Seducirte," Emma joked. “Definitely seducirte.” Now she was standing right in front of Regina and nearly pressing her against the wall.

“Mmm, say that again,” Regina half-demanded with sparkling eyes.

“’Seducirte’? Is that what you wanted me to say?”

“Sí. Say it again.”

“Seducirte.” Emma pecked Regina’s lips.

“Again.”

“Seducirte.” Messing up Regina’s perfect red lipstick would almost be a deadly sin tonight, so Emma had to be creative. Very creative. She lowered her mouth to Regina’s neck and kissed the soft, exposed skin. “Seducirte. Seducirte. Se-du-cir-te.”

“Oh, dios, stop it,” Regina half-joked, half-groaned. “You’ll make me feel things I shouldn’t be feeling in a wardrobe.” She gave Emma a playful shove and wiggled away from the wall. “Come on, querida. Let’s go and see your photos!”

“And find Lily,” Emma reminded her girlfriend.

“Sí. That too.” Regina smoothened her hair. “How do I look?”

“Fucking gorgeous!”

“Sounds a little biased but I’ll take it.”

Seeing her own photos blared up on the wall was quite the special experience. Emma stood completely awestruck and stared at the photo’s that hers. Her creation. The fruit of HER hard work. God, they looked great on that wall. She wished she’d had eight pair of eyes so she could have looked at all of the pictures at once.

‘When She Dances’, Patricia had named the series of pictures, and Emma thought to herself that that was the best name ever. All of the pictures were of Regina. Of course. There was the infamous picture of Regina’s hand with her red nails against golden skin and the black crown tattoo. Cora looked at the picture and then looked at Regina who just shrugged lightly in return.

Then there was a picture of her Regina standing with her back to the camera. She was wearing one of the flowy dresses she had donned during Emma’s first visit to Madrid. Her hair was flowing freely, and Emma loved the effect. Loved the backdrop which was the beautiful garden she and Regina had visited in Spain. She loved Regina’s dress. The whole thing was screaming fairy tale. And it also was the only picture of Regina in an outside setting. All the other pictures were taken in the various bars Regina had preformed in. Each picture focused on a particular detail. The scarf Regina had used as a prop. Her ruffled skirt. The rose in her hair. The feather tattoo on her wrist.

Emma’s favorite picture had to be the one that showed Regina in full figure. She was dancing and her arms were in a graceful position above her head. Her dramatic, ruffled skirt was flowing as though she had been spinning when Emma took the picture. You could see her graceful neck, her hair, and the large red rose. But her face was partially disguised by the dry ice that had been pumping from the machine on that particular night.

“That is a stunning picture,” Malaina complimented. “You are a true artist, Emma.”

“Thank you,” Emma said and felt herself grin like an idiot.

“And Regina you look absolutely wonderful,” Malaina continued and smiled at Regina.

“Gracias. You caught my good angle, querida,” Regina quipped and stroked Emma’s arm.

“Oh, come on,” Emma scoffed. “You don’t have any bad angles. You’re fucking beautiful!”

“You’re flirting with me,” Regina accused without skipping a beat and clearly not caring that Malaina was there.

“Damn right I am. My muse. Though I’m a little sad there isn’t any pictures of your face. There should have been!”

“You know what, I actually like that you can’t see my face in any of the pictures,” Regina said thoughtfully as her gaze roamed over the photos. “Gives it an air of mystery, don’t you think?”

“It does, but… what about your beautiful face?”

Regina laughed. “I guess you can keep that all to yourself.”

“I’m so fucking lucky,” Emma said simply, tugging Regina closer and giving her a little squeeze.

“I really love all the pictures, mi amor. And I’m so proud of you!”

“I literally never could have done it without you.”

“You would have found something else to take pictures of, I’m sure.”

“Maybe. But nothing that is as beautiful as you.”

“You’re flirting again, querida.”

“Ooops.”

“These are very impressive pictures.”

Emma turned her head and looked at Cora who had come up to them. “Thank you.”

“Regina, you look beautiful,” Cora said simply.

“Thanks,” Regina glanced at the pictures again. “Looks like dancing does pay off after all.”

Cora sucked in her cheeks.

“Sorry,” Regina sighed. “I wasn’t trying to-“

“It is me who should apologize,” Cora gently interrupted. “I have said… a lot of things about your dancing career, and not many of them have been very nice. I apologize for that.”

“Apology accepted,” Regina said lightly. “What do you think of the dress that I am wearing?”

“It looks very nice.”

“Gracias.”

“Hi, new sister,” a familiar voice grinned behind them.

Both Emma and Regina turned around and Regina smiled when spotting Lily. She too had dressed up tonight and was wearing a little black dress.

“Hi, Lily,” Emma and Regina greeted in unison.

Lily grinned at Emma. “Congrats on tonight. This is really awesome!” then she turned to Regina. “Does my eyes deceive me, or have you gotten bigger since last week?”

“I….” Regina looked huffy for a moment. Then she deflated. “…Have probably gotten bigger since the last week, yeah. I think Blueberry has reached some kind of growth spurt. It’s quite ridiculous.”

“You look great,” Lily said warmly. “And you look great in those pictures too. Like seriously, that is one hell of a costume!”

“Thank you,” Regina straightened her back a little and looked rather proud.

“So…” Lily glanced around for a moment before her gaze settled on her mom and Cora who were walking around by themselves. “Any particular reason why Cora and my mom are skulking around like a pair of old villains?”

Emma couldn’t help but sniggering.

“Uhhh.. We might have walked in on them kissing. A lot,” Regina said vaguely and winced. “It was very traumatizing for all of us. Muy traumatizante.”

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry you had to see that,” Lily laughed. “Been there myself. They’re not very subtle.”

“Right,” Regina said, wincing again. “Thanks for the heads up. I’ll make sure to always knock from now on.”

“You know, sometimes not even that is enough,” Lily chuckled.

Regina raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? They’re that bad?”

“Well, what can I say?” Lily shrugged. “They’re a couple of crazy kids in love. Not unlike tonight’s photographer…” she looked back at the picture of Regina dancing. “I reckon that’s how you guys met, huh? Regina was the mysterious dancer and Emma was the photographer who couldn’t stop taking pictures? That is hella romantic.”

“Actually, it’s a bit more gnarly than that,” Emma interjected. “I met Regina on what was supposed to be my honeymoon.”

“Seriously?” Lily’s eyes widened.

“Yep,” Emma draped an arm around Regina’s shoulder again. “The guy I was supposed to marry told me he had been cheating on me with our wedding planner the DAY before our wedding, so I called the whole thing off and went to Spain. Alone. Where I met
Regina.”

“That’s right. Te seduje ...”

“What’s that? Sorry, my Spanish isn’t that good.”

But Emma completely understood what Regina had just said and she chuckled. Because it was absolutely right. Regina had indeed seduced her. Right from the first kiss. And thank god for that. Otherwise Emma probably never would have dared making the first move. She would have been too busy convincing herself that it was a bad idea.

“Miss Swan? There are a couple of people who wants to meet the photographer,” Patricia called from the doorway.

Emma excused herself, gave Regina a quick kiss and joined Patricia by the door. Her jaw immediately dropped, and she felt like a not very intelligent fish as she stood and stared.

A couple of people, Patricia had said. A couple of people.

Ha!

That was definitely to put it lightly.

There wasn’t just a couple of people by the door. There was a whole fucking line. A whole line of people who had come to see HER pictures. How amazing was that?!

Patricia opened the door and welcomed everyone with a sweet, professional smile and gradually, as everyone looked at her pictures, Emma was swarmed, congratulated, and complimented. Her hand was shook over and over again. Questions were asked. About the model. Her inspiration.

Emma answered the questions as best as she could, and it didn’t take long before Regina was surrounded by people too. People who wanted to meet the model. So much for being a secret muse.

“Boo!”

Emma yelped when her shoulder was tapped suddenly and when she whirled around her jaw nearly dropped for the second time.

Standing behind her was Ruby and Belle. In New York! They were right here, and Emma couldn’t believe it.

“Ruby!” she squealed. “Belle!” she hugged them both tightly. “What the hell?! How are you even here? I mean, I’m so fucking happy to see you, but I don’t understand how-“

“Ever heard of planes?” Ruby interrupted and laughed. “They move through the air and allows you to cross oceans…”

“We wanted to be here on your big night,” Belle said and flashed Emma a beaming smile. “There was no way we could miss out on that.”

“You guys!” Emma hugged them again. “This is so fucking amazing! And clever! I had no idea you were coming! You’ve really managed to keep me in the dark…”

“And we weren’t the only ones who did that,” Ruby chuckled and glanced at something over Emma’s shoulder.

Emma quickly followed her gaze and spotted Regina who was walking around with her glass of non-alcoholic champagne in hand. She looked like a star, but was clearly as cunning as a detective.

“Regina knew?” Emma quickly deduced.

“Yep, sure did. Who do you think suggested it in the first place? We would have come anyway, but Regina contacted us a few days ago and asked us if there was anyway that we could be here tonight. She knew that your parents wouldn’t be able to make it and she wanted someone from back home to be here and celebrate tonight with you.”

“Oh my god…” Emma had to swallow a massive lump in her throat. “I can’t believe that she did that!”

“I can,” Belle said softly. “That is one good girlfriend you have, Emma.”

“Yeah,” Emma whispered. “It sure is.” She glanced in Regina’s direction again and this time she made eye contact with her girlfriend.

Regina smiled at her and lifted her glass of ‘fake-champagne’ to her lips in greeting. Took a small sip and then mouthed: ‘te amo’.

Had the room not been full of people wanting to talk to her, Emma surely would have gone right over to Regina and kissed the breath out of her!

 

To Be Continued……….