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Ballroom dancing and sweet kisses

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Ballroom Dancing and Sweet Kisses

Chapter 1 October

The Benefit Ball

It was an early morning in late October when Regina Mills was woken up by her alarm, only this time it was different. This time she could sense the presence of someone else in her house. This time she wasn't alone. She could hear music from downstairs and someone singing. She sighed as she sat up in bed, seeing a diamond necklace on the opposite nightstand. Clearly her bed companion was up earlier than she was. Her black dress tossed on the floor like garbage, next to her own black dress and black and white jacket.

'Wait, if her dress was still on the floor, was she downstairs naked?' A smile on red lips as she pictured that.

The brunette sat up with a groan hearing the house phone ring, regretting she had yet to cancel the subscription of it. Who in this century even used a landline anyways, other than perhaps she and her parents. She really didn't want a lecture from her mother right now, surprised she heard the phone was picked up elsewhere, and by curiosity she picked up the one in her room to listen

Emma's quippy voice answering, "Mills Residence, may I take a message?"

This would never end well Regina knew, still she said nothing, as she heard her mother's voice, "No you may not, whatever your name is. I didn't capture it as you ran away last night. Just get my daughter on the phone. Now!"

The brunette couldn't help - but to roll her eyes a little by this. She was not a child anymore, still her mother treated her like one. She heard Emma's tone of voice change as she said, "No, ma'am, she is still sleeping, and I do not care for your tone. You can call back when you calm yourself, an angry conversation is not a good one. And the name is Swan, Ma'am, Emma Swan. Have a good day."

With that the phone got hung up. It didn't ring again, meaning this woman clearly had gotten to her mother, or Regina was expecting hell in the near future. Whichever, she didn't care, still she had to give this woman points for standing up to her mother after knowing her for less than twenty-four hours.

As she took a quick shower and got dressed in one of her usual pantsuits, another smile graced her lips thinking about the night before. Regina had in her lifetime been to more balls than she cared to remember, as that was a part of her and her parents' world. They still didn't approve that she had yet to find Mister or Misses right. Her sister managed at such an early age after all and had two children by now. Needless to say, her sister Zelena was far from happy in her marriage. Although to their parents, that didn't seem to matter, as long as it looked like a perfect family. For years they had tried to marry off Regina as well, but she had put her foot down, and by now they settled for telling her all the things wrong with her dates, men or women. The brunette simply rolled her eyes, but deep down she hoped to find someone to share her bed with, after all most of her friends had families by now.

She had started the evening before with some light conversations with the regular guests, the old family friends and her own, then headed for the bar. The plan was to drown her sorrows, then sneak out early as she had to be at the office quite early the next day. That was however not how the evening went. The blonde at the bar had offered her a drink in exchange for something as simple as her smile. The brunette had not obliged at first, finding the notion idiotic, upon the blonde had told her that was her second language and she would not give up until she managed a sincere smile.

Regina figured she would humor her and one drink led to another, then another and then….yet another. Before she knew it, they were having the time of their life criticizing all the 'perfect' couples, finding small flaws in every single one. Emma even found some with Regina's parents and some of their close friends. From there they had gone to discuss embarrassing situations from their childhood, before Emma asked her to dance. The brunette had objected at first, but in time gave in.

As it turned out, Regina didn't care who was watching, knowing her parents most like were as well. She was now in her early forties. And even though she should care because she was the unmarried daughter of high elite couple Henry and Cora Mills she didn't. She no longer cared what people were saying about her, saying she was too proud, a bitch, cold as ice, the one that turned down every suitor. Right now, she only cared about one thing, this stranger, this woman she was dancing with right now. She had only met her a few hours prior, but she knew that for the first time in ages she enjoyed herself. And why shouldn't she do so, after all, this was a ball hosted by her parents, and she was expected to dance. The only objection being from them and the other people in the room, maybe not like this. Her hands and body sneaking around the other woman, that moved like her, their bodies intoned perfectly, as they danced to a rather sexy tune. She didn't realize or care that people around them had stopped dancing only to watch, maybe in horror, or surprise, that they were almost doing it on the dance-floor. As the song ended Regina pressed her lips against the blonde, deeply, her body and mind wanting for more. Just then she heard familiar heels clicking hard against the ballroom floor. She broke the kiss, taking Emma's hand in hers, breathlessly whispering, "Let us leave now! "

And with that they had made it to the nearest exit where Regina had gotten a hold of her driver, and dragged Emma into the car. Both laughing like they were two teenagers, but for Regina that had been exhilarating. She hadn't felt that alive in years, it was like this woman brought out parts of herself she had long forgotten. Once they managed to stop laughing, they looked at each other hand remained silent the rest of the ride. Once inside Regina's mansion they had been all over each other. She found it hard to remember where her body ended and where Emma's began, all she knew was that it all had been a haze of euphoria and it had ended with her falling asleep drained yet satisfied. She hoped the blonde had done the same.

A happy sigh escaped her as she buttoned up her blouse and made her way downstairs finding Emma with a bowl, pouring some of the batter into a waffle iron. She was wearing one of Regina's black pants, a brown top and a white snuggly one on top of that. The brunette found that she didn't mind it at all. In her eyes she was perfect. She cleared her throat before saying, "Making breakfast I see?"

"Oh yes, I got hungry after last night. I hope I didn't wake you?" she said with a shy smile, that floored Regina.

"No, not at all, my alarm went off. I usually get up at this hour to head to the office," said Regina with a heady sigh.

"Yes, I should have guessed, being a judge you always have to be in court early," Emma reasoned.

"Not always, but most times. Today I need to do some paperwork before I am due in the courtroom. You never told me what you do for a living," Regina said, looking at her as the other woman took the waffles out, only to put fresh batter in the iron. She also saw the blonde had made scrambled eggs, a green salad, cut fruit and fried some bacon.

"I didn't know what you usually ate, so I made everything. I also as you can see cleaned up, I learned that at the base, I am in the Air Force," said Emma with a half-smile adding, "I am on leave, but shorter than I expected."

The brunette was about to comment on that when Emma's phone rang and she went to take it saying, "Good morning handsome, yes of course, did you sleep well. Yes, I am sorry about that, I will explain later, love. Alright, I will call you a little later, yes, yes of course. Love you too."

So she had a husband or a boyfriend? She should have known, someone that beautiful was rarely single. And being in the Air Force she probably had more than one and she was just…just someone she had fun with one night. Her heart sank as Emma came back, smiling cheerfully at her. Instead of asking for an explanation Regina went off on her hissing, "Just get out! I heard you, you clearly are in a relationship already, and you cheated on whoever with me. That is not alright, I don't want to be second, a fling."

Emma looked at her calmly saying, "Regina, just listen, it isn't what you think."

"No, just…go," said she, hatred in her voice as she pointed at the door. Emma knew she could have stayed and fought the battle but now was not the time. She sighed saying, "I wish you would have listened as I really thought there was something there, but I get it."

She quickly went upstairs and got her things before she left the mansion. She felt her tears fall as she wanted to stay more than anything and she didn't want it to end like this.

Regina grumbled under her breath as her good mood vanished. - She quickly ate and packed away the rest, wondering if she had been too harsh on the other woman. It was too late now in any case, but she couldn't shake the feeling she had overreacted. Maybe it wasn't her boyfriend, maybe she had been talking to her father, brother or a friend. Why did she always have to do this, jump to the first conclusion and land there? Hadn't this woman been one of the greatest things that happened to her lately. She had laughed so much in her company the night before that her abdomen muscles were sore, and the way they made love….Fuck she needed to find her somehow that much she knew.

Not that she had time now, but maybe after work sometime, or maybe one of her parents' friends knew where she lived. She didn't care if she had to call every guest there, she had to find her. She heard a ding from her phone, text from her mother, "I don't care for what you did last night, but I will stop by later tonight and we will talk about it."

Regina didn't respond, she didn't see why she had to. - Instead she made her way to the car and drove off to work, trying to get her mind off the blonde.

If the morning hadn't given Regina a pissy mood, her day in court certainly did. She would never understand how people could be so stupid and act so stupid trying to get away with things. Luckily, two of the cases were not up to her to decide, but the jury, and so she would have them figuring it out for now. She did not always agree upon their ruling, but then again, she didn't always have to, after all she wasn't a judge for the fun of it. As it wasn't all that cold, she decided to walk to get some air and then drive home later on. Walking through town she saw the Halloween decorations all over, it warned her heart, as Halloween had always been a big deal in their house. When she was younger her parents used to make their mansion, that was three times as big as her own, into a haunted house for them and the neighborhood children. Now they mostly did decoration outside, but she knew that her mother planned to make a haunted house at city hall this year, for all adults and children in town. Regina smiled at this idea, when she heard Emma's voice not far from her.

Looking up she saw her with a young boy with bushy brown hair, Emma's voice seemed frustrated as she said, "Henry you know as well as I do, I don't choice when I leave."

"You promised you would be here for Halloween, to take me trick or treating. Now I have to go with gran and gramps because no one will take me, it is not fair!" she heard the young boy say.

So that was who she had been talking to, her son. Regina felt like a fool and it broke her heart that Emma would have to leave him behind. She could feel a sting of worry as well, not quite liking she had to leave.

"I know I did, but your grandparents they are not bad, dad loves dressing up," she argued.

"Yes, but he is old! I hate this! I hate you! Just leave!" he said, kicking in the ground and walking away. Emma took a breath and looked up, seeing him walking away from her, when her green eyes darted across the street and looked over at her. Regina had to have heard everything she knew. Great, just great.

Regina's heart was beating fast in her chest as she walked over to the other woman, saying, "I should have listened this morning, is there any chance we can start over, please?"

"I could use a…girl…friend I suppose, someone else to come home to than a kid who hates me," she said with a heavy sigh, not knowing how to fix this.

"Mind if I talk to him?" Regina offered politely.

Emma shrugged, watching as the other woman boldly walked over to the young boy. Regina guessed him to be round seven or eight at most. She looked at him saying, "It is not fun when your mom isn't here, is it?"

"No, the other kids won't play with me, because they think I am an Air Force brat, always wearing used clothes and so on. Says I will be as bad as mom when I grow up," his voice was shivering.

"I see, but you want to know a secret?" she said, getting down to his level, it was a bit hard with her heels.

"What?" he looked at her with shiny eyes.

"Those kids, the bullies, their life is worse than yours and a lot of them will end up in my courtroom and behind bars later in life," she said with a triumphant smile.

"It still hurts though," he whispered, holding his tears back.

"It does, but you know your mom, she is a hero for what she does, and you are her lucky star. When she is out there fighting, she thinks of you and that gives her strength to make it and come back to you. Not everyone has that," she tried.

"I am?" he looked at her with wide eyes.

"I am sure you are! And I understand trick or treating with your grandparents may not be as fun as with your mom. Just keep in mind it means a good deal for them, because they won't always be strong enough to do it and they do love you," she continued.
"I know, I just wish that mom would be here. We have matching costumes, it won't be the same now," he said, feeling sad again.

"I can understand that, it is a big deal, but she doesn't leave you because she wants to. She needs to so that others will be safe, you understand that right?" she tried.

"I do know all that, still sucks though," he said, frustration in his voice.

"I know it does, but instead of being angry with her, how about enjoy the little time you do have with her instead, you think you can do that?" Regina was grasping for straws.

"Okay, who are you?" he studied her carefully.

"Regina, my name is Regina. I am hoping to become your mother's girlfriend, but I messed up this morning," she said with a sigh.

"It's okay, she will forgive you, she likes you. I am Henry by the way, Henry Nolan," he said, holding out his hand.

"Nolan, I thought your mom's name was Swan?" she felt confused as she shook his hand.

"No, that is her Air Force name, her real name is Nolan like my grandparents," he said in a matter-of-fact way.

"I see, I need to remember that," she said more to herself than anyone else.

"Also it is her birthday the day after tomorrow, she liked bear claws, burgers, beer and she isn't like the stuffed bear type," he said with a smile.

"Henry, mind your own business!" they suddenly heard Emma say, making him roll his eyes. Regina found it adorable, she hadn't noticed her coming closer until she was right there.

"You don't have to get me anything or make a huge deal of it," Emma said politely.

"Nonsense it is your birthday, how about you two come to dinner at my house tomorrow at six," said she looking at the both of them.

"Only if you have dinner and see a movie with us right now," Emma said, she had enjoyed how this almost stranger seemed to reason with her son.

"Alright, I can do that, lead the way," Regina said with a soft laughter. Emma gently kissed her cheek, before she let her hand gently lock fingers with Regina's, feeling a slight flutter she was coming with them.

Regina couldn't remember the last time she had that much fun, she simply came home with a smile on her face, excited that she had once more been invited over to Emma and Henry's for dinner and a possible adult sleep over the next night. Her smile quickly faded when she found her mother was sitting in her living room. At that moment two thoughts crossed her mind, one that she had given her mother an emergency key, and two she wondered how long she had been sitting there as it was now around 10 pm. It was only then she remembered her mother saying something about dropping by, she cursed under her breath saying, "Good evening, Mother!"

"Good evening, dear," said Cora in an emotionless tone. She carefully put her book aside, looking at her daughter.

"How long have you been here?" Regina wondered.

"Since six I believe, I would have given it another thirty minutes tops, then left," Cora said calmly.

"You could have simply not bother showing up at all," Regina said as she sat down on the couch.

"I am not the enemy here you know," Cora said in a soft tone.

Regina let out a huff, saying, "Yes sure you are so approving of all the ones I date so I completely stopped. Until now, so don't be judgmental about it, at least not yet. If it is a mistake, let me make it and try to be understanding. She is the first person to make me laugh in a decade, she made me feel things I thought I forgot. I know she has to ship out in six days or so and I don't know if I will ever see her again, but for those six days I want to be with her and her son, Henry. Is that so wrong?" Regina shut up, she knew she was rambling and her voice started to shake.

"No, and I never said she was a bad thing, Regina. I just wanted to talk to you two, tell you to slow it down," said she with a sigh.

"Is it crazy I like her this much, is it crazy that I don't want her to leave?" she wondered, looking at her mother, feeling lost, so very lost.

"No, it is not, some have a spark right away, while others it takes years," she answered.

"You know Zelena isn't happy, right?" Regina said, looking at her mother, she couldn't be that blind or at least she hoped not.

"Of course, I may be old, and what do you younglings call me a heartless bitch," she wrinkled her nose, before adding, "I have tried talking to her but she insisted there is nothing wrong, and I didn't want to force the matter. I simply told her that when she is ready to talk, I will listen and I shall."

"Yes, because you are always so easy to talk to," Regina rolled her eyes slightly.

"I said she could also talk to her father, but she, as I said stands firm that there is nothing wrong. Just promise me one thing, Regina," she tried calmly.

"It depends on what it is," Regina said, eyeing her mother.

"If you have any problems in your relationship with this woman, please come to me. I am not here to judge but to help," she said in a soft tone.

"I promise, but I am sure we will be fine," she said with a smile.

"I hope so, but the life of a soldier is not as easy as it seems, things can happen," the older woman spoke gently. Regina nodded to this knowing it to be true. She knew her mother was right, she just hoped it didn't come to it.

"I know, but I'd rather not think about that right now, if you don't mind," said Regina with a heavy sigh.

"Fair enough, why don't you tell me what you did instead?" Cora asked, looking at her daughter, curiously shining in her dark eyes.

"It was so much fun, I mean her son is like this lively kid, even if he has a hearing problem, we managed to connect quite well. He is in the fourth grade, and his favorite class is PE, he loves to draw, superheroes, animals and being with his mother. He also likes movies, so after we ate, we took him to see the new Toy Story movie," Regina told her with excitement in her voice.

Cora eyed her daughter as she told her about it, realizing how long it had been since she saw such glimmer and excitement in her eyes. It was a good thing, a very good thing indeed. Even if this woman should fall in battle, which was not unlikely, she at least managed to bring her daughter happiness while she was there. Cora knew Regina deserved it for sure after the last dead-end relationships she had been in, knowing that even if she had approved, they still would have ended badly. She smiled at her saying, "That does sound like fun dear, and this young boy what does he think of you?"

"He didn't seem to mind me all that much, I feel sad she has to leave though. She promised to take him around for Halloween and now she can't, and he is upset that his grandparents have to take him," she said, her tone soft now.

"I can see how that would be upsetting, and he doesn't have any aunts and uncles?" Cora wondered.

"He has one uncle Neal, but he lives in another state. Most of Emma's friends, their family friends either have kids of their own, work at that hour or are in the service also," Regina explained, they had talked about it after Henry went to sleep.

"I do suppose you could offer to step in," Cora suggested.

"I was thinking about it, but the costumes wouldn't fit; they were going as Supergirl and superman and as we all know Supergirl is a blonde. That was why it was so perfect," said Regina, quoting Henry.

"Yes, I could see that it would be a problem," said Cora based on her knowledge of superheroes. Knowing this was important to her daughter she said, "Here is what you will do. - Tomorrow evening you will talk it over with both of them. Ask if you can come as a replacement, and tell him that you really want to do this and you are sorry you are a brunette. If they both agree that is alright, you will ask him if there is anything else he would considered going as. If there is, I will help with the costumes no matter what might be. As you probably recall, I did make yours and Zelena's when you were younger, so making them would not really be a problem, or if you want to buy it, I can find out where."

"Why would you do this, you are not secretly dying or something?" Regina asked, as this act seemed to be a too kind one coming from her mother. Especially since she only met the woman the night before. It usually took her mother longer to even offer any help, if at all.

"No dear, I am sorry to disappoint you. I feel bad for this little boy and if a Halloween costume can help it is the least I can do. The two grandchildren I do have don't need my help, so why not offer it to someone who clearly does," she said as she got up from the chair.

"I am sure that Robin and Roland still need you and dad," Regina said in a gentle tone. Even if her niece and nephew hardly spent time with her mother and father anymore. She knew that at least her niece both loved and respected her parents a great deal.

"Only our money dear," said Cora with a tired sigh.

"I am sure that isn't so," Regina offered in a sympathetic tone.

"I wish you were…" the elderly woman stopped as her phone rang. She went to pick it up, saying, "Yes Henry, we are fine, I will be home in not long. What?! Is she insane, she could have been put in jail. Alright, no it is fine, dear, I will see shortly."

As she put her phone aside, Regina could see frustration in her eyes. She looked at her mother with questioning eyes. Cora shook her head explaining, "Robin packed two bags and took her mother's car, then drove to our place. She said they can't live at home as they can't stand their parents fighting anymore. She said she wants your father and I to take custody of them. So, I suppose you are right they do need me after all."

"You wouldn't do that, would you, get full custody? You know that would crush Lena," said Regina mortified, knowing the children were her everything.

"If I did, it would only to teach them both a lesson. - For now I will go home and talk to them. Stealing a car and driving under-aged is not alright, no matter how good you are at it. Then I will get them to bed, I trust they have school in the morning. After that I will see if Zelena or her idiot of a wife shows up for the children. This time I will not beat around the bush," she said in a firm tone.

"Good, I will call you tomorrow or the day after if I need help with the costumes," said Regina giving her mother a quick hug. The other woman smiled as she hugged her back saying, "Don't worry young one, it will be alright, I know it will."

Regina held on for a second longer than usual dragging in the scent of roses and lavender, before letting her mother go. The middle-aged woman was almost out the door when she turned to say, "And Regina dear, bring them by if you want to, I won't bite their heads off."

Regina shook her head as she made sure to lock the door after her, before sinking down on the couch. She smiled to herself thinking about how perfect the evening had been with Emma, sighing ever so dreamily thinking about the next day. She could hardly wait to see the two of them again.

Emma was nervously preparing dinner the next afternoon, knowing Regina would be there any second. Henry was upstairs doing his homework, and she felt like a fool as she had managed to spill some of the taco meat on her clean top already. She had done a tasting to see if it was spicy enough and managed to spill, as it was indeed too hot. It was just one of those days where she felt everything had gone wrong. She had overslept so Henry got late to school, she had argued with her parents, she had argued with someone at the food store over a parking space. To top it all off, she got called into Henry's school as he had been in a fight and he wouldn't tell her why so she was pissed off also. The spilling on the top and then she cut her finger slicing vegetables was just the tip of the iceberg. She cursed under her breath as the doorbell rang, yelling, "Henry, will you please get it."

She didn't hear him answer, only the sound of his footsteps as he came running down the stairs and the door getting opened. 'Great just great.' Of all days he had to pick today to act up. A tear ran down her cheek and fell into the frying pan, mixing with the meat as she carried it to the table. She hated this, that he wouldn't talk to her, that they argued on the little time they had left. She hated being strict with him so he got upset, to be told that, 'she never got everything as she was never around.' She hated feeling like a bad parent when she did the best she could. It was not her fault his dad bailed on them when Henry was too young to even remember. And there it was the memories of what once was, what didn't last, it all came flooding back, leaving her to sob over the sink. Maybe it would have been better if she hadn't gotten pregnant at all, or enlisted, even if she loved both her job and her son.

She leaned over the sink, letting her tears go down the drain, startling by Regina's voice. The tenderness of it as it spoke only one word, her name, "Emma?"

"I am sorry, just a bad day," she whispered, she couldn't turn to face her, not like this. She knew she was a mess. Today everything was a mess, including her emotions.

"That's alright, Emma, we all have them. - Some days are worse than others. Even the strongest of us falter every once in a while, and there is nothing to be sorry or shameful over," Regina said, coming closer, letting her hand rest on her shoulder.

Emma turned, leaned her head against her shoulder, holding on to her, crying still, feeling how Regina's arms held her equally tight. She smelled so good, of apples, cinnamon and roses, of fresh air and hope. Hope that she wasn't alone in this for once. She didn't ask any questions, she only accepted Emma's tears, simple as that. The blonde had a feeling she, without even having to ask knew what was going on inside her, for better for worse. She didn't even know why or how, but being within her grasp made her troubles feel lighter and her cries softened until they died out. She rose her head then, looking within those dark depths, seeing the concern and tenderness deep within. She smiled sheepishly before kissing her gently, letting it linger. As she broke the kiss, she whispered the only words that came to mind, "Thank you."

"You are welcome. - Do you want to talk about it? I am not saying you have to, but know that I am here if you do," said Regina in the softest tone.

"Maybe later, right now I am starving," said Emma with a soft laughter, wondering what it was about this woman that made her feel so at ease.

"I have no doubt you must be, but before we do, I wanted a moment to suggest something for you," said Regina, she couldn't help but to feel nervous even if she had gone through it in her head for the past hour.

"Okay, there isn't anything wrong, I hope," Emma's mind went to alert at once. She wasn't telling her she couldn't handle it with Henry and everything or so she hoped. Then again it easily could be, having only just met them. - Not everyone would stay if they were told that you were in the Air Force. Emma felt she had no choice yesterday, especially since Regina overheard their conversation, better to get the cards out upfront. Mostly because she soon had to deploy.

"Not at all, other than I will most likely miss you will you are gone. - But I will find a way to cope. That however, isn't what I wanted to talk to you about. It is Henry, or rather Halloween. As we both know he is understandably upset since you have to leave sooner than planned. I wanted to offer to take him around from house to house if he would like that, and since I know he would not find the costume suitable if it was someone else than you in it, mother came with an idea. She said that maybe he would have another idea for something. If he wanted to go with me and you thought it was a good idea, she would help us with the costumes, she is a better costume maker than I will ever be. I could pick him up at your parents' house or if he stays here with me when you are gone. If you and he think that is a good idea. I would really hate that he missed out on Halloween just because…you are gone," she said managed to finish off. She blushed a little even.

"So, what you are offering is to take my son out for Halloween, a boy you met twice in your life counting today and that your mother would make you two costumes?" Emma asked, looking at Regina with wondering eyes, to be sure she heard it right.

"In short yes. I, of course, understand if you wouldn't want to trust him with me, but I wouldn't mind one bit to do it if that would be at help," she said.

Emma nodded slowly before she called for Henry to join them. She offered for them both to sit down, then put the food on the table before doing so herself. She smiled at Regina before she looked at Henry saying, "Henry, before we eat. Regina has offered to take you around on Halloween, so while you eat, I want you to think if that is something you want to do and if you want another costume than what we planned. She would pick you up here and take you back to Grandma and Grandpa's, or you would spend the night at her place whatever is easiest. I want you to think about this offer, as it is not something that should be taken lightly, she is a busy woman."

He looked from on to the other, nodding seriously to let her know she understood. Then looked at the food, waiting. Emma smiled, then she looked at Regina saying, "In this house we say grace."

"Yes, of course," Regina nodded and folded her hands, waiting for the two others to lead the prayer.

Emma and Henry did the same and Emma said, "Thank you lord for the gifts we are about to receive, for the roof we have over our head, for all of us to be able to have the meal together. We pray that you keep our brothers and sisters in armed forces safe and that they will be able to return, may they also eat tonight so they keep their strength. Amen."

"Amen," Henry and Regina repeated, before Emma nodded that it was alright for Henry to help himself.

He was about to when he stopped suddenly, saying, "Regina, go first since you are our guest."

"Thank, you, Henry, that is kind of you," he said and did so, then watching he, then Emma did the same.

They ate in silence for a while before Henry looked at Regina saying, "Regina?"

"Yes, Henry," she said as she eyed him from over her corn tortilla.

"You don't need to take me out for Halloween just to be nice to Mom," he said with a sad sigh.

"I am not, I want to do it to get to know you better. I want to be a part of both of your lives. I found I care for your mother, but that doesn't mean I don't want to get to know you also. I do understand if you don't want to go around with me though," she said with a small laugh.

"You really would do that?" his eyes lit up a little now, when he understood she was doing it because she really wanted to.

"Yes, Henry, I would," she said with a smile.

"And you would wear any costume I picked too?" he asked to be sure.

"I don't see why not, my mother offered to make us any costume you like. - She is a really good seamstress so she can make just about anything. She used to do it a lot when my sister and I were younger. Now she mostly does it for my niece and nephew, herself and Dad. She and Daddy are going to make city hall into a haunted house of some kind, they do it every year. When I was younger they made the mansion into a haunted house also. One year they did a zombie walk, another they did a haunted maze and so on," Regina told him. Emma could see by the way she told it, the brunette loved Halloween as much as her son, if not even more.

As she looked over a Henry, she could see he was captivated by this, as his eyes shone along with Regina's. As she finished, he asked, "Your mom work at city hall?"

"She is the Mayor, Daddy is a Judge like me," she answered with a nod.

"Wow, do you think I…we can help with the decorations too, maybe?" he asked, hope in his voice now.

"You can call her and ask, I am sure she wouldn't mind. - There is always a lot to do," said Regina with a heart filled laughter.

"Mom, did you hear, I can talk to the Mayor," he said, looking over at his mother.

"I heard, but keep in mind to be polite while doing so," Emma reminded him as Regina went to find her phone, which was in her purse in the hallway. As soon as she came back, she dialed her mother's number, soon hearing her voice, "Regina, is everything alright?"

"Yes, there is a young man here, he wanted to ask you something, is now a good time?" she asked, as she heard arguing in the background. Her father, sister and her sister's children by the sound of it.

"Now is as good a time as any, just give him the phone," she said calmly.

Regina smiled and handed it over to Henry that said, "Good evening, Madam Mayor."

"Good evening, who am I speaking with?" said the elderly woman a little amused.

"Henry, Ma'am, Henry Nolan," he said with a big grin. Regina was sure if he hadn't already melted her heart, this smile for sure did it.

"I see, so Henry what can I do for you?" she asked politely

"Regina said you and your husband planned to decorate city hall for Halloween,]. I was wondering if me and my mom could help? If you need extra hands that is. We are both resourceful and strong and we love Halloween," he said politely.

"You do make a good selling point, young man. Why don't you and your mom come over to my office tomorrow? When you are done at school, it is around 3 pm, right?" she tried.

"Yeah, three," he confirmed.

"I will tell my secretary," she said.

"Cool, see you tomorrow, and tell whoever is screaming to stop as you need rest as you have to get up very early," he said in a firm tone.

"I will, and see you tomorrow, Henry," she said and hung up. He handed the phone over to Regina, she looked at him with amazement. What was it with these two that dared to talk to her mother, telling her whatever they liked and not seem scared about her or her position at all. Her former love interest always had, none of them would have put their foot down or called her to ask for anything. She took a deep breath and shook her head, continuing to eat, as Emma leaned over to whisper, "How afraid should I be about meeting your mother?"

"You had hard drill sergeants I believe, so you will be fine," said Regina calmly, continuing to eat, feeling her heart race.

"Mom, you can take me to see her tomorrow after school, right?" Henry wondered, looking at his mother, hope shining in his brown eyes. It was only at that second Emma found it funny he looked more like the woman sitting opposite the table than herself. One of life's cruel ironies she assumed.

"Of course, love," Emma said, knowing if it was not like she had much of a choice.

"Good," he said and smiled at her, then his attention also went back to his food.

Emma shook her head, as she looked at Regina saying, "She is good with children, right. I mean she wouldn't cut his head off if he said something out of line."

Regina chuckled by the fact that Emma used the same phrase her mother used the night before. She thought for a second, before answering, "I think you are the bigger target, and she is good with children. Unless they break the rules of the household. She is very opposed to cursing and speaking out of term, to mention some examples."

"Understandable, I don't suppose you will be there?" Emma wondered.

"Not tomorrow, I have other engagements sadly, I am meeting with two of my longtime friends for dinner. We meet twice a month to catch up. I do however plan to cook you a late dinner, at my house, as promised, seeing as it is your birthday." she answered. Even if she rather be with Emma sooner, she didn't plan on cancelling her plans knowing that it was not the right thing to do. After all she hadn't heard from Belle and Kathryn in quite some time. They had all agreed to meet right after work, and then have a few hours before they went back to their families. At least that was so for the other two.

Emma nodded and continued to eat as well, feeling something stir in the pit of her stomach by the thought of meeting Regina's mother. She heard tales about her, her name was in the paper ever so often and her father had also mentioned her on occasion. She was not the woman she wanted to cross.

They finished eating before Emma cleared the table. Regina offered to help, but the blonde wouldn't have it and so the brunette went into the living room with Henry. She could hear her laugh heartfelt from in there and watched them from the doorway as she was drying off the frying pan she just washed with a towel. She really liked the idea of coming home from overseas to this. There was something warm about it, something safe. She cursed inside hating that she had to leave her son, going away within the next five days. Five days of only four nights she would likely spend with Regina if she was lucky. She listened to the radio singing along, "This hardest story I have ever told, no hope no love no glory, happy ending gone forever more."

She didn't even know how many families she had ruined in to battle field, in the war zone, or how many more she would ruin, she choose not to think of it. She couldn't because if she did she could not do her job she knew. After all she was not the one that made the rules of war, she was not the one who started it, she was just there helping out, trying to make the world a better place. She had seen so many bad things out there, her brothers and sisters fall. She had seen the worst of the worst, and still she went back to try to help in any way she could. She felt like it was her duty to do so. Emma wondered if Regina thought about that when she sat there behind the bench judging people. Were her rulings always fair? Was she ever partial, or always professional?

"Mom?" she heard her son's voice, which brought her back to reality.

"Yes, Henry, what is it?" she said, turning to face him.

"You are doing it again," he said, looking at his mother with worried eyes. She sometimes tended to zone out, her eyes looking at something in front of her, but she wasn't really there.

"I am sorry, Henry," she said with a soft smile, knowing all too well she spaced out due to her thoughts. It did happen every once in a while, without her even realizing it.

"It's okay, can we have some cookies please, this will take a while," he said and smiled at her.

"Yes, of course," she said and found some oatmeal cookies and put them on a plate. He smiled and took them into the living room as she finished up.

Walking out a moment later she heard Regina say, "So what you want is for me to have a costume that can transform me into both Maleficent and a dragon?"

"Yes, exactly, that way I can be the prince that defeats you. I know that I won't be a superhero like Batman or Superman, but I would still be a superhero, right?" he said looking at her.

"Of course, but you do know you don't just have book and fairytale heroes, you have everyday heroes also, nurses, doctors, firemen, police, even the ones behind the counters, making everything go around," she said as she heard a ding on her phone. She sighed as she looked at it, one of her jury's had come to an agreement. She looked at Henry saying, "Excuse me, it is work, it is important."

She left the room to contact the leader of the jury, setting the time for early the next morning as it was rather late, then had her clerk call the parties on each side to give them the message. She didn't know if it was good or bad that it had taken three weeks to come to an agreement regarding this case. Still she had no choice but to be in court at eight the next morning. She took a deep breath as she walked back into the living room, seeing Henry and Emma talking calmly. He was getting tired she knew, too much excitement that day.

"So did you find what you wanted to be?" she asked, looking at the young boy. If she hadn't known better, she would say he was related to the Mills clan, he bore so many resemblances both appearance and personality wise.

"I did, I will tell the mayor tomorrow," he said with a smile.

"So I won't know?" Regina arched her brows.

"No, it will be a surprise," he said proudly.

"I see," she said and sat back down. He crawled close at once, saying, "Don't worry you won't be naked or anything."

"Oh Henry, there are worse things than that," she said with a heartfelt laugh, ruffling his hair. He laughed also, letting out a sigh. Emma took a picture of the two of them, smiling, knowing somehow this could work, as she sat down on Regina's other side, pecking her cheek. She was happy she knew, as she sat her alarm not to be late the next day in case, she fell asleep.

Emma wasn't sure when she fell asleep, only that Regina was gone when she woke by her alarm, a pop song from the 90's. She peeked inside Henry's room seeing he was already dressed in her school uniform and was packing his backpack. He was too good her boy she knew. She smiled saying, "Good morning Henry, we roll out in thirty."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, greeting her like any of her men underneath her. She smiled and kissed the top of his head. He really made her world a better place.

"You want two lunches today, since we are not going back home after school?" she asked, beaming from ear to ear.

"Yes, please," he said as he went over to put the portable charger to his phone in the backpack.

"Alright, see you downstairs, Kid," she said as she made her way downstairs, putting on the radio, dancing around the kitchen making breakfast. She made him pancakes with fruit for both meals, and added a small yogurt just in case, knowing that was his favorite. She loved spoiling him every once in a while.

"Mom?" she heard Henry's voice behind her.

"Yes, kid," she said, looking at him.

"Should we buy her flowers or something, since she invited us?" he wondered. It was not every day he got invited to see the Mayor and he wanted to make a good first impression.

"I honestly don't know and I don't see her as a flower person. - I can ask Regina if you want?" she said thoughtfully.

"No, she is busy in court, I will think about something until I am done at school," he said as he helped himself with some honey loops and milk. He sat down by the table and started to eat while she filled his water bottle and made herself some toast. She looked at him, he was no longer the little boy she brought home from the hospital long ago. He was growing up more and more for each time she saw him, and she felt she was missing out. Still, she didn't want to trade her job for anything in the world, and therefore she felt frustrated. It was then she decided to do a couple more tours, then she would retire. - She wanted time with her favorite guy, before it was too late. He would always come first even if she was starting to get attached to Regina. She didn't mind it, even if it was happening fast, much faster than she was used to. She wondered if Regina's courtroom was open for the public, so that she could see one of her cases. The blonde figured it was only one way to find out, to go down there and check it out.

Emma finished up and put her plate in the dishwasher, seeing her son do the same. She walked after him out of the house, closing the door and locking up. The heels of her boots clicking against the pavement on the way to the car. She unlocked the doors, letting Henry inside and then got in herself. As she fired up the engine the radio came on and she started to sing along with instinct, hearing her son do the same, tapping the pace at the glove compartment. She gave him a kiss goodbye moments after she parked outside the school, looking after him, still wondering what the fight was about the night before.

Sighing she drove down to the court house, walking inside, she asked someone that worked there for Judge Mills' courtroom was. The woman gave her direction and Emma sneaked inside, only to sit down in the back of the room listening to the prosecutor pleading his case. She looked at her, sitting there, the black cape not showing off her outfit, a pair of glasses on her nose as she looked down at some of the papers in front of her, asking the man ahead of her something. Her eyes focused, listening, serious. There was no doubt this was her courtroom and everyone inside there knew it. The blonde soon noticed this was a jury case and so Regina would not be the soul ruler of this case, a rape case by the sound of it.

A shiver ran down Emma's spine seeing the woman in the witness box explain herself and what happened to her at the party. She could see the defendant sitting at the other table, smiling smugly. Oh how she wanted to teach him a lesson. Regina seemed to be listening to the woman, but she remained silent, just listened, seemingly emotionless.

The man was up on the stand next, claiming he did nothing wrong, but didn't seem so certain when the prosecutor asked his questions. Emma looked over at the jury, seeing them make mental notes. This case was ugly, the pictures, the description the girl gave, the things he said, there was nothing nice about it. Emma couldn't help but to admire Regina's strength, knowing she had to deal with stuff like this every day. It was a miracle that she didn't fall apart. Then again, the blonde assumed she had managed to compartmentalize these things so that she simply left work at work. She did the same herself after all, or at least she tried to.

As the hours slowly passed Emma knew she had to sneak back out of she needed to have a shower and change before getting Henry and go down to the city hall.

Regina had seen Emma sitting on one of the benches in the back, wondering how she had gotten in. The trial at that time was a closed one. Could she have used her Air Force rank for that? Once the trials of the day were done she went to ask the guard by the door, "The blonde that came in during the Masterson vs Rogers, how did she get inside?"

"She knocked ma'am," he said honestly.

"And you ignored the strict orders of letting anyone inside, why?" she wondered, looking at him.

"She said you would have wanted her to be here, I took it that she was family," he said, looking at her with worried eyes.

"Alright, Julius, just next time double check for ID or something. - You never know who can come through that door," Regina said in a serious tone.

"Yes, ma'am," he said and smiled at her. She gave him a not, before going back to her chambers to change. She sighed heavily, feeling exhausted and wanting nothing more than to curl up on the coach with Emma and Henry, still she knew she couldn't. She looked at the time, 2:45 pm, then sent a text to the blonde, saying, "Thank you for coming by today, and good luck with Mother in not long."

She found her purse, putting what she was bringing home in it, as there was a ding from her phone. She ran over see the Emma had answered her back saying, "You are welcome, I am so impressed by how you can even function listening to cases like that all day long. I could never do that for sure. We just arrived at the 'belly of the beast.'

"Cute, and I usually do family court, divorces, custody cases, but a colleague has fallen ill so I have taken on his load. As for functioning, it is like any other job. It has good and bad sides. I will call you later when I am done with the girls," she answered her.

"Looking forward to it," Emma responded, including a wink emoji. Regina shook her head as she locked up her chamber and left the court building. She heard her heels click against the pavement as she walked to a local pub. It had been the meeting place for herself and her friends even before they were of legal drinking age. It was within walking distance from the court house, and when she was younger, she always dreamed of working there. She had worked hard to get where she was today, so hard that she had missed out on things like vacations, having a family and pets. A deep sigh as she saw the sign of the pub appear, 'The Black wolf and the White Swan.'

It was only now she saw the humor in Emma's Air Force name was, 'Swan,' making a mental note that she would ask her about that later.

Walking inside she couldn't see her friends, meaning she was the first one. The brunette quickly walked over the counter saying, "A beer please."

"Yes of course, Regina," said the bartender and smiled at her. She knew her by name as she was there almost every day after work. They didn't exchange much words, still it was nice to have her as a regular, opposite of the other's that were in there to get drunk.

The brunette sat down by her usual table, taking a sip of her glass, letting out a sigh of satisfaction. Beer, the taste of hopeful youth, not the boring adult she had come to be. She couldn't fathom why Emma would even want to be with her. Maybe it was just her looks, although that wasn't all what it used to be either. Maybe it was that she was rich. No, that couldn't be it either as the blonde didn't know when they first met. Could it be that she held on to her as she needed someone to warm her bed. She quickly shook it off as she heard her friend Kathryn's voice chime, "Regina, darling, I am so happy to see you. Let me just get a drink and I will be right back."

"Of course, Kathy, dear," she responded with a smile on her red lips. From the distance she saw Belle had joined Kathryn at the bar. Kathryn went for a glass of white wine and Belle for a colorful drink. The brunette was glad some things never changed. As the two sat down Belle said, "I ordered us some burgers and fries, they will be here shortly."

"Sounds good to me," said Regina, wondering how much the three of them had eaten them in their college days. She did enjoy it occasionally, but she preferred healthier food. She made a mental note to not eat too much as she needed to make dinner for herself and Emma when she got back home.

"So what is new? The last time we saw you, you were leaving the ball with a blonde woman?" Belle teased. They had both been there, but they hadn't gotten a chance to talk much then as there had simply been too many people there.

"Yes, do spill. - Did you two, how do they say it these days, hook up?" Kathryn wiggled her brows at Regina.

"That we did, and was simply…wow. I mean wow!" Regina answered, taking a moment to think about it.

"Although I am sure that is a good quality, I would think there is more to her?" Belle tried, making them all laugh.

"Yes, yes, of course. She is in the Air Force, so she deploys very soon, which is a shame. You see, she has a son and they planned to go trick or treating, he is really upset that she is leaving in general, but for this. He is eight, and his name is Henry. They are on their way up to see mother right now. - Apparently they are just as nuts about Halloween as we are," Regina explained.

"Wow, Air Force, you do not disappoint. But a son, are you sure you are ready for that?" Kathryn wondered. She knew that Regina was good with her children, and Belle's son, but it was quite another to get into a new family dynamic. Especially if Emma did die while fighting overseas.

"Wait, did you just say they were at your mother's, how did that happen?" Belle made wide eyes. She knew that all Regina's former suitors stayed clear of Cora for as long as possible. Why would this woman go into the lion's den by herself?

Regina smiled as she slowly started to tell the tale, as their food arrived. She knew that her word would sound of admiration, as her eyes shown with excitement, but deep down she worried about Emma and Henry that right now was on their way to meet her mother.

Emma tread into city hall, alongside her son, looking around with wide eyes. It was bigger and more majestic than he first though, and he pointed at the various paintings and sculptures as Emma went to ask a guard where to find the Mayor. She told him she and her son had a 3 pm appointment with the woman and he said something in his walkie, getting another guard to come and take them to a room outside the office. Henry's eyes at once caught the jack o lantern on the table, he gently lifted it up to take a closer look. It seemed to be old, made of glass and porcelain. The lid where you put the light in was shaped like a witch hat. He put it down as gently as he took it up when he was done with his examination, then looked at his mom.

Emma's facial expression seemed worried, but her eyes seemed glassy and focused on a picture hanging on the wall ahead. He knew that it was not where her focus was, it was with her buddies that was still overseas. A tear trickled down her cheek, probably because of someone she lost, he reasoned. That happened more often than she wanted, she had told him. Friends that died and their burials, he was used to by now. He had asked her once or twice what she was thinking about, but she said she couldn't tell him, it would give him nightmares. He knew she sometimes saw a shrink when she was home longer than now, it helped a little. Only then she had to go back out and time and time again she got lost in her head. It scared him a little, but he didn't know how to fix it.

He heard the door open with his good ear, and saw the Mayor come out, a soft smile on her dark red lips. He smiled back, but knew his mother hadn't noticed yet, he gently squeezed her arm and she came back, turning. She blushed then for not having noticed the door open and the other woman came out. She quickly got up and said, "Madam Mayor, thank you for taking the time to see us."

"Please call me Cora, Miss Nolan," she said, holding out her hand.

"Only if you call me Emma," said she as she shook it, getting a dignified nod in return.

"Alright, and you must be young Henry," Cora addressed the young boy.

"Yes, Ma'am," he said and held out his hand, she shook it and motioned for them to come inside the office so that they could talk.

It was only when they left that the older woman wondered if Regina was aware of Emma's space outs and how to deal with them. She and her husband both had friends that dealt with the same after war. They saw it more than once, a sign of their PTSD, a common factor when you were back where you belonged. Some spouses managed to deal with and help, others did not, ending in divorce, she knew people ending on the streets or losing everything due to it. She hoped it didn't happen to Emma and Henry. She also hoped that it wouldn't take a toll on her daughter, knowing all too well it was too soon to tell. All she could do, she and her husband were to support this, them the best way they could. Which was why she had agreed to have Emma and Henry help her with a part of the haunted town hall until she was ready to ship out. He had been excited about it, even more so when she agreed to make the costumes he wanted, telling her exactly what he wanted in private. Her mother wasn't allowed to hear it, because it was a big surprise. Cora found the idea overly cute and had obliged. With a little more than a week to Halloween she decided to start on the costumes as soon as she got home.

Regina didn't know when she last had fucked and or made love to someone for almost twenty-four hours, but that was what they did before Emma shipped overseas. Two nights before, she spent her last night with Henry, and she would come to pick them up to drive Emma to the plane the next morning. To the plane, to the plane she snorted, it sounded like Emma was going on a vacation.

A deep sigh as she looked at some pictures she had taken of Emma during the time they had together, something clenching around her heart. She could hear Emma's mother Mary Margaret's words in the back of her mind, "Be sure you are one hundred percent invested in this, or you have to walk away right now. She can't take false hope, there is enough going on over there as it is."

And so she had done that, been with her and Henry when she wasn't working and when Emma had asked for twenty-four hours alone time, they had fucked each other's brains out. She was still feeling a bit sore, but she didn't mind. She looked over at the imprint on the other side of the bed, a hand reaching out for Emma, who was no longer there. It was only then the ramification of it all hit her. What if she didn't come back this time? What if she never saw her again? What if she got injured and she would never recover?

She pulled the pillow Emma had been sleeping on close, holding it tight, dragging in the scent of her, tears escaping now. She pictured Emma rising from the bed thirty minutes earlier, a grin on her face.

"I should thank you for this, but I am afraid that if I do I will never leave this room again," a small laughter escaped her.

"Maybe I shall tie you down so you can't escape," Regina said with a sly grin.

"And be dishonorably discharged for desertion, the horror!" Emma made a scared face. Regina had burst into laughter then, making Emma laugh as well as she started getting dressed.

"I won't walk you to the door, it will be too hard to see you go. I will do the goodbye watching you leave tomorrow. Just promise you will get back to me?" Regina's voice was shivering then. She watched as Emma buttoned up her blouse.

"Yes, ma'am," said Emma, quickly finishing up and finding the rest of her things. She found her phone and snapped a picture of Regina. Then she looked at her as if saving a mental image, saying, "I want to remember you for the cold nights over there, like this, this very moment. I know this is what I will come back to, you naked in bed, warming the sheets for me. You waiting to make love to me once more, your lips on mine and our bodies entwined."

"I will do that, wait for you. I gave you a key to the house, right?" Regina wondered, the days they had seemed to be a blur right then.

"You did, got it on my chain. Is it alright I take your blouse, something that smells like you, it would help?" Emma wondered.

"Yes, yes of course," Regina nodded as Emma picked up the light green blouse and headed out of the house. And now she lay there crying like a lovesick teenager looking at the spot where Emma had last stood. Her sobs were so heavy that her body shook, hugging the pillow tighter. She cursed herself for meeting this amazing woman a week earlier, because this sucked. This really sucked.

Emma was holding on to Regina, tight, she knew she had to leave to get on the flight in time. Normally this went faster, just a long goodbye to Henry, quick to her parents and then she was off. Quick and fast like a band aid. She heard a whistle from one of her army buddies meaning she should get her ass moving. She gave Regina a final kiss, tonguing her, then she hugged Henry again, "Promise you will be a good boy, do your homework, brush your teeth, and no more fights in school."

"I promise," he said and nodded in a serious way.

"Good man," she pressed a kiss to her cheek, then looked at her mom and dad. Her mom gave her another brief hug, saying, "We got this, you can go."

She nodded and looked at Regina, that pulled an envelope out from her pocket, she handed it to Emma, "Open it when you are over there, it is a belated birthday present really, but maybe it can make your fellow men a little jealous. You packed the cookies I baked, right?"

"I did, and you are the best," Emma could only guess what was in the envelope as she kissed her one last time and hurried away. Once she got strapped up on the plane, her best friend and copilot Ruby looked at her, "You managed to score a woman, I be damned."

"Miracles do happen," their friend Roger said, giving Emma a friendly punch in the side. He was leaving his daughter behind. Just like Emma, he was a single parent and his mother took care of his Alice while he was overseas.

"Harr, harr, so did you have fun with Alice?" Emma wondered curiously.

"Yes I did. - I am just sorry I will be missing her birthday next week," he answered, with a sigh. He found his phone and showed her some pictures they had taken together recently. He smiled proudly, "I can't believe my little girl is turning fourteen and I am missing it. I did leave behind some gifts for her, though."

"Well, just like Henry, she knows you are doing a good job over there. And maybe you can retire if you feel that is a better option," Emma wondered.

"I have thought about it, but I wouldn't know what to do with myself," he answered, shaking his head.

"I can understand that, I considered it though," she said thoughtfully, putting the envelope from Regina in her duffel bag. She looked over at her Chief Master Sergeant, she wasn't participating in the friendly chatter, instead she seemed to be reading a book, but Emma could see it was a cover. There was sadness in her blue eyes. She didn't know much about the woman's private life, because unlike the rest of them she kept it private. The soon fifty-one-year-old woman tucked some of her blonde strands behind her ear, as a tear left her eye. She turned the page, her eyes scanning it. Did she even have a family? Emma tried to recall, then remembered she had a young sister who was a science teacher, she was married to a vet and they had two children. She caught Elsa video chat with them long ago. Could something have happened to them?

She moved to sit beside her, asking, "You okay there, Snow storm?"

She had been giving her name as she was cold and calculating when it came to attacks, that and she could have a very bad temper. Elsa put her book away, "No, not really, my dog, Sven passed away. I had him for fifteen years so I know it was time, but it doesn't hurt any less. He was my everything when I was home and I loved him dearly."

"I am so sorry for your loss," Emma said in a sympathetic tone. She knew it had to be hard to lose a dog she had for that long. Elsa nodded and pulled up her phone so Emma could see a video of Sven bathing in a lake, barking happily and running towards his owner. She held him so tight and didn't even care if she got wet. It was precious really.

"We should take a moment, because we do so when something happens to one of our own," Emma said. Elsa didn't respond, she felt like most there wouldn't understand because he was a dog, most would just think of him as a pet but to her he had been the closest thing she ever got for a son.

Emma cleared her throat, "Men, I have sad news. Our Chief lost her dog, Sven while deployed. He was her family, and I think it is only fair that we give it one moment of silence."

"For Sven," the men said and nodded in agreement, stopping their happy chatters. Elsa heard her heart stir by this. She had long ago started this when one of her men lost a mother, father, grandmother or anyone else important to them. She felt her tears fall by this action, the respect and the love her men had for her meant more to her than anything in the world. They were her family for good and evil, and had her back as they had hers.

She heard a low murmur coming from the group, knowing it was the song, "Amazing Grace," used in many of their funerals. She had been to them all, of men in her command that got killed. More tears trickled down her cheeks as the rest joined in. Never had she expected this, but she was glad they did it. She watched them as they stopped singing. Killian looked at her saying, "Why don't you tell us about Sven?"

She nodded and started to tell them about her dearly departed dog. Emma smiled at this hearing her phone ding. She saw a text from Regina, telling her she was proud of her and she would wait for her, also letting Emma know she was free anytime if she wanted to make a video call. She would make the time, no matter when in the day or night it was. That spoke volumes to Emma, her hand clutching around a necklace Regina had given her for her birthday. It was a Sterling silver-plated infinity pendant with 18K gold-plated accents, 15 Swarovski crystals, and the Air Force symbol and engraved back. On the back it read, "I love my airwoman, forever."

Emma had no idea how much something like that would even cost, but she assumed a lot. She had told Regina it was too much, but the brunette had objected, saying her woman deserved only the best. A tear in her eye as she looked at the text once more, just as Ruby snapped the phone from her.

"Wow, she is not messing around, is she?" Ruby said, reading it. She held it out of reach for her just long enough to take a picture of Emma and press send with a text. Then she handed it back to her, Emma shook her head at her. She always did this, then again Emma always got her back. - They had been like sisters since the first day of training. She didn't really mind it, and she probably would have taken a picture herself if she didn't cry. She felt so strongly for her, so very strongly. She put the phone away as the plane slowly descended to the base.

"Regina, you need to hurry," Henry said excitedly, waiting for her to get the costume on. Mary Margaret and David shook their head at the young boy dressed in an outfit similar to Emma's dress blues. He even cut his ruffled hair short, because the air guys had short hair. He had done the research. Although his grandparents knew Emma would most likely kill them if she ever saw it, they had obliged. Hair did, after all grow out again.

She gasped as Regina appeared in her dress blues, her mother had even managed to sew in decorations on the right side for them both. She looked insecure now, feeling a bit off her game. Henry beamed at her saying, "You look good, as mom. Grandma take a picture we can send her please?"

"Alright soldiers, stand straight," she said and Regina nodded. She smiled, head held high just as Henry. He could hardly stand still, he was so excited to go trick or treating. Just as they were about to leave, Mary Margaret said, "If I hadn't known better, I would have thought you were a real soldier."

"Yes, well, Mother is a great seamstress. I will have him back later," she said and smiled at her, leaving the house.

"Even if she is a great seamstress, a soldier is all about the attitude," said David to his wife who nodded in agreement. She texted the picture to Regina to send in the next email to Emma.

Regina was beyond exhausted when she finally went to bed that night. She and Henry had been to so many houses, before ending up at the haunted town hall. He had a blast and so did she being with him, much more so than she thought she would. Her father had almost scared the crap out of her, pretending to be a ghost with chains, her mother was a killer with a chainsaw. If she hadn't known better she would think this was real. She heard screams and laughter from people of all ages walking through the haunted town hall, before bringing Henry back to his grandparents.

She wanted to sleep, but she had promised Emma to send a mail telling her about the evening and the judge sat down to write.

My Dearest Emma.

I am not sure when you will get this, but I wanted to tell you things are going great here. I know it is not that long since you left so there will be more updates, this is just the first.

Today is Halloween, so Happy Halloween! I am not sure if you do something festive at the base this day or if it is just work. Let me tell you, your son had a blast. He couldn't wait to drag me to every house for candy. - I do hope he doesn't get a belly ache from it all. I told him to divide and conquer, so it last longer. I am sure your parents feel the same way.

I however got quite a catch myself so may eat some of this weekend. I suppose I should tell you what we dressed up as, Air Force soldiers. He seemed to think it was a good idea, because you are a real hero and you and your men could use some cheering up. Attaching is a picture, will send more in the mail for you so you can feel you were with us. I am not sure quite when yet, but I will.

You should have seen him Emma, he was so proud in his little dress blue uniform, Mom did it well. She told me to send you their best. Father is looking forward to meeting you when you come home again. I told him you were all mine and Henry's first, he simply laughed.

I think about you every day, I pray for your safety, my Emma. You are so brave for doing what you are doing over there. You all are, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you all. I wish I had the same bravery as you all do, but I suppose some have to be here to welcome you home. Please take comfort in that we are both fine and your son is an angel. He really is.

I should go, I have an early court date tomorrow, I will write again soon.

Aim high, fly-fight-win.

Yours always.


Emma had been out for some days and didn't get to see the mail for four days later. It moved her heart to see her two favorite people dressed up in all blue, and Regina's email warmed her heart. She downloaded the picture to her secure folder just in case, the same with the email. She took a deep breath and began to write a response.

My Dearest Regina.

I am sorry about the late reply, life is rather busy over here, but I am thinking about you a lot. You and Henry. I must say the pictures you sent with me were quite magnificent. Enough to make the guys and girls jealous as you put it and me warm at night.

It was hard to leave you behind, but those pictures for sure helped. We got some bad news on the way over here, one of our own fell when we were home. He was related to the big chief, what we call her. I don't know how much of the crew you saw before leaving, well she is the blonde with the most stripes, tall and usually has her hair braided rather than a knot. She should cut it like the rest of us, but she never does. Instead she at most put it up with pins. She is the best flyer among us, if you don't count myself and Ruby. We totally rocked it!

You two would easily pass in our troops, you both look very handsome. Please thank Cora for the costumes, it meant the world to me. It made me realize how lucky I am. I will show it to the rest later, but right now I am beat and I need some food and rest.

Right now I wish I had some of the famous candy. If you sent pictures later, please send some snacks as well, I already ran out of the cookies, thanks to my fellow soldiers. We all love home cooking.

I don't see myself as brave or extraordinary, I am just doing what is the right thing to do. I always was a good flyer and this called upon me, and I simply answered that call. I don't know what I would be without the Air Force, but I thank heavens I can do it. I also thank heavens that I have you and Henry to come home to. I miss your hot kisses already. I suppose it is the same with you being a judge, I could never do that, because I have trouble understanding and remembering every little part of the law. I also thank heavens that I have you and Henry to come home to. I miss your hot kisses already.

Please take care of yourself and spend time with Henry. I don't want him to be sad while I am here. Please don't shed any tears for me or worry all too much, I will return home in no time.

Honorable, Fair, committed. In God we trust.

Yours always.


Emma smiled as she pressed send, knowing Regina would likely be impressed she knew her slogan, she read it online somewhere. Honorable, almost like the men and women she fought alongside. Fair, when it came to judging someone, if you could be that. She was in her mind sure Regina was. Committed, she was sure, to her work and to her, it all fit. The latter was on the floor and some of the walls in the courthouse and she felt it was important to add, as it would show Regina she showed interest in her field. She planned to watch a case or two when she got home if she was allowed. She sighed as she got out of the email and left it to Ruby that wanted to email her Gran. She went to the mess hall to get some food, then a shower and sleep.