“What… are you wearing?”
Emma makes a show of looking down to herself and pulling at her t-shirt. “You don't like it?”
“A rainbow? Really, Miss Swan?” Regina gives her a look. A look that loses some of its edge when she chuckles. “Well, it will certainly send a message.”
“Hey, if we're doing this, I should commit to the role, right?”
Regina's eyebrows fly to her hairline. “The role being… Gay savior resorting to fake dating mortal enemy because a dirty pirate won't take a hint?”
Emma shrugs. “Sure.”
“You're lucky you're decently attractive,” Regina mutters. Emma looks pleased by the compliment. “Otherwise, no one would believe I'd ever allow myself to be seen in public with someone wearing that .”
Emma rolls her eyes. “Come on, you like it! Besides, the last guy you dated lived in the forest, I am obviously an improvement here.”
Emma signals to her own body, and Regina's eyes follow the movement. She swallows. An improvement, indeed. Unfortunately, she doesn't think Emma would be commenting so lightly on her own eligibility if she knew Regina agrees with her.
“Let's just get this over with.”
They go to Granny's alone and hold hands over the table (as they had arranged beforehand. Regina shrugged when the idea was suggested; it's simple, yet blatant. It should be enough for the whole town to think they are madly in love. Emma agreed, although her palms began to sweat.) The problem is, that after an hour, nothing happens. Not a stare, not a whisper, not even a subtle glance.
Emma chooses to shrug it off. She eats and chats and smiles, her hand warm and performative on Regina's, as she keeps acting like this is a normal occurrence for them. Which is, again, what they agreed to, except their plans had included a wide-eyed Grumpy running off and tattling to the entire town.
“We should kiss,” the suggestion is out of her mouth before Regina can think better of it. Emma freezes.
“This clearly isn't working,” she huffs. “So. A kiss.”
Emma blinks, and she regrets ever speaking out. “Regina-”
That's when Snow decides to join them, sliding next to Emma. Regina's shoulders sag. Snow doesn't skip a beat at their joint hands as she talks. Emma and Regina exchange a helpless look. Granny arrives shortly after with waffles Snow devours, muttering something about cravings.
“Okay, I'm done.”
“What's going on?” Snow blinks at them.
“Emma and I-” she lifts their hands pointedly, “-are dating.”
Snow almost chokes. “W-what? You're joking.”
“We're not, actually,” Emma responds, eyes narrowing.
She stares at Emma, then back to Regina, lost. Regina wonders, mildly alarmed, if she's about to pass out. “But- You're straight!” She exclaims at Regina, wide-eyed.
Regina regards her with shocked silence, before speech finally returns to her.
“I'm bisexual, actually,” she answers slowly.
“But you never told me,” Snow splutters, suddenly resembling her naive ten year-old self.
A quick glance at Emma, and she notices her staring at her as well.
“I thought you knew!” Regina says, throwing her hands up exasperatedly. “I'm not exactly known for being subtle, I thought it was obvious.”
“Well, it wasn't,” she crosses her arms. Emma nods in agreement, and Regina's jaw drops a little before she regains control. Seriously? She has blatantly flirted with Emma more times than she cares to admit. Emma couldn't have not noticed.
“Wait,” Emma frowns. “You are surprised about Regina ?”
The what about me? is left implicit.
“Honey, you wear flannel, it wasn't hard to figure out,” Snow says, waving a hand at her daughter.
Regina can't help but inwardly agree, even as she argues out loud, “Can we not perpetuate stereotypes?”
“Regina, she's wearing a rainbow t-shirt.”
“I did tell you it was too on the nose,” she raises an eyebrow at Emma.
“The point is,” Emma rolls her eyes. “We're together. We thought you should know.”
And hopefully share the news with every willing ear she finds , she doesn't say, but Regina adds mentally.
“That's okay, sweetie. I'm happy for you,” Snow tells her, then she gets a thoughtful look on her face that Regina should know means trouble. “It kind of makes sense, now that I think about it.”
She and Emma share matching looks of disbelief, but choose not to comment. They finish their breakfast in relative peace, keeping their hands to themselves now that they aren't putting on a facade. For Regina, it's both a relief and a disappointment.
They both live their lives like they normally would. They aren't going out of their way to prove their undying love for one another, and Regina is glad about that. She doesn't think she could stomach Emma looking at her with love in her eyes only for it to be a lie.
Their plan is working well as it is. No need to break Regina's heart while they are at it.
Then, at the next family dinner, she enters the diner to find Hook is there, occupying the spot next to Emma. Emma is fidgeting in her place, wrinkling her nose in discomfort. Hook is either unaware of this, or has decided to ignore it. When he sees Regina, he grins at her. She can barely hold back a scowl.
“You are in my seat,” she tells him, arms crossed.
“I guess you'll have to find somewhere else to sit, Your Majesty.”
Regina's death glare would send any sane person running for their life. Hook, as idiotic as he can be, has enough self-preservation skills to know when to take a hint. He slides next to David, grumbling under his breath.
Emma mutters a thank you to her ear that makes Regina's heart clench. A smile tugs at her lips.
It leaves her in a positive mood for the rest of the dinner (she doesn't need to examine that feeling to know what it means), even with Hook unsubtly trying to catch Emma's attention. Regina shifts closer to Emma in an attempt to send a message. Their thighs are touching. Regina is intoxicated by Emma's closeness.
Hook doesn't get it.
Henry keeps staring at them with a knowing look. Regina had explained to him that they aren't actually dating, that they don't have feelings for each other. He had simply hummed and said, “Sure, Mom. Just tell me when I should start looking for Grandma's wedding magazines.”
And really, it's her own fault. She can't even bring herself to be annoyed at him when she hears so much of herself reflected in that voice.
David is pretending that there is nothing out of the ordinary about Emma and Regina being together. Regina thinks he is just trying to be supportive, until she catches him giving her a nod of approval. Both Charmings have given her their blessing to corrupt their little girl. She would laugh if she didn't find it so bizarre.
Henry leaves for the restroom, and everything goes downhill from there.
“Oh, come on, Swan," he gives her the most condescending, smug look she has ever wanted to punch out of someone's face. “You can't expect me to believe you've suddenly fallen in love with the Queen.”
“So what if I have?” She scowls.
Hook scoffs. “So soon after me?” He brings a hand to his chest, as if his unwanted advances were meaningful to Emma. “You're just running from what we could have.”
“I wonder why,” Regina mutters sarcastically.
“We could be great together, love. Once you're ready to let your walls down. You're my happy ending.”
Regina looks over at Emma, curiosity sparkling in her eyes. Her jaw is set with determination, and Regina finds it a highly appealing look on her.
“Yeah, well, you aren't mine,” Emma snaps.
She turns to Regina and lifts a hand to the back of her neck. Regina inhales sharply, because Emma can't seriously be considering to do what had appalled her a few days ago — but she is. She closes the distance and kisses her. Regina vaguely registers someone gasping, but she is too overwhelmed by the feeling of Emma's lips, pressing against hers almost possessively, claiming her.
A little voice in the back of her head is cheering at her. The rest of her just panics because, fuck, she's kissing Emma and it's incredible, and it's likely that she won't ever do it again.
It's not until Emma pulls back that she realizes the entire diner is silent and that most are staring at them, stricken. She pretends not to notice, and focuses on Hook. He looks pissed, smugness gone. Good .
“I will fight for you, Swan,” he tells her and dramatically exits Granny's.
Regina feels breathless, her lips tingling with the phantom of Emma's kiss. She licks them. It does nothing to calm the sensation.
Emma hesitantly reaches beneath the table and holds her hand. It grounds her.
Emma Swan shouldn't make her feel grounded. Emma is an imposition. She is the woman she cares for only by obligation and a begrudging respect. (And sure, she might have also been pining for her since returning from Neverland, but that doesn't deny the truth behind the previous statements. Nevermind that lately it hasn't been easy to convince herself of them.)
She shouldn't have agreed to this ridiculous plan.
Henry comes back from the restroom, his steps slowing down when he notices the tension in the room. “...Did I miss something?”
Regina glances at Emma and is surprised to see desire burning in Emma's eyes.
Not a kiss out of obligation, then. Regina tilts her head in askance, allowing the corners of her lips to quirk slyly. Genuine lust. That, she can handle well. She notices Emma gulping. Regina pulls her hand from underneath Emma's and places it over Emma's thigh.
Maybe this fake relationship wasn't such a bad idea.
Back in the mansion, the tension is thick in the air as they wait for Henry to get into his room. Once they're alone, Regina doesn't hold back for another second. She pulls Emma by the front of that ridiculous rainbow t-shirt and into a kiss. Emma lets herself be dragged, kissing back without hesitation.
As the door of her bedroom closes behind them, Regina casts a quick soundproofing spell.
“What are you wearing?” Emma tries to keep her jaw from dropping.
Regina grins, wide and amused. “You don't like it?” She says coyly.
She puts her hands on her hips, showing off Emma's rainbow t-shirt. It's long enough to reach her thighs. Barely. Emma is only one size bigger than Regina. And underneath that she's only wearing underwear. Not the thong Emma had slid down her legs last night, but crimson boyshorts Emma is pretty sure she left behind some time ago.
There is only one logical reaction to this.
“You look adorable!”
Regina gives Emma the most outraged look she can muster. “I'm not adorable!”
“I have the cutest girlfriend ever.”
“Now I have to hug you.”
“Oh, do you now?" Regina hums, a smile tugging at her lips.
Emma rolls out of bed and wraps her arms around her waist, enjoying the chuckle she draws from Regina. It's deep and hoarse, and its warmth makes Emma's heart feel full. She buries her face on the crook of Emma's neck for a moment, before kissing her cheek and stepping back.
“Breakfast,” she only tells her as an explanation, and begins to look for pajama pants.
“Regina!” Emma pouts. “This is a no-pants zone.”
Regina throws her an amused look over her shoulder. “Breakfast with our son isn't, dear.”
Emma grimaces. “I see your point. You look so cute, though.”
“Right back at you.”
Emma grins, her cheeks turning red against her will. Sometimes Regina does that to her. She compliments her in a way so casual and understated while sounding like she means it fully. It always catches her off guard.
Regina puts on sweatpants and a bra (Emma doesn't resist a sigh. Regina rolls her eyes at her and orders her to make herself decent). They are already on their way down the stairs when the doorbell rings.
Regina expects Snow, who has become a regular visitor in her home. They normally have tea and make small talk, or sometimes they discuss an issue that is troubling them. She knows it weirds Emma out. She has complained an exaggerated amount of times that Regina has a better relationship with her mother than she did when they were best friends. Regina finds it hilarious, and normally gives Emma a pitiful pat on her back that makes her scowl.
(“We already know who's gonna get her on the divorce,” Emma had grumbled once.
“Divorce? Really, Emma, at least put a ring on it first,” Regina had said and smirked when Emma turned bright red.)
It's not Snow. She swings the door open and a sneer forms immediately when she sees Hook.
“What the hell do you think you're doing here?”
“Swan's love is mine,” Hook declares, a small slur to his words, and Regina makes a disgusted face. “I'm going to beat you to it.”
“Oh, yeah? And how do you intend to do that?”
“With a duel!”
“What?” Emma growls behind her, rushing down the stairs. “What is wrong with you?”
“Swan!” He smiles at her.
“What part of I am not interested is so hard to understand?” Emma grits her teeth.
“Emma has already made her choice,” she crosses her arms. She's wearing sweatpants, her hair is back to its naturally curly state, and she's barefoot, which means he's taller than her. She doesn't give a damn.
“What, too much of a coward to fight me, Your Majesty?”
She doesn't rise to the bait. “You're pathetic,” Regina spits out, poofing him away without a second thought.
She slams the door and turns to Emma. She doesn't look nearly as content she had been when they woke up and Regina is going to fix that.
“So. Eggs or pancakes?”
Emma gives her a half smile that is genuine enough to satisfy her. “You spoil me.”
“That's the plan.”
“Hey, Moms,” Henry walks past them and to the kitchen. This is the fourth time he's woken up to find them having breakfast together and he definitely doesn't blink as much as he did when he came down that first morning. For a moment, Emma had thought they broke him.
“Good morning, Henry,” Regina calls after him.
Regina cooks and Emma helps, Henry making smart-ass comments about Emma being domesticated. Regina snorts, and she pouts at her for half a second before getting distracted by the unadulterated happiness that brightens Regina's face.
This is why she loves staying over for breakfast. Regina is radiant, at peace with the world, almost as if she has everything she's ever wanted in one room. And Emma thinks that, maybe, this is what she has always wanted as well.
She is momentarily distracted by this realization, to the point she doesn't notice how close her knife gets to her fingers. Regina slaps her hips with a spatula. She snaps her head up. Henry is groaning behind them, muttering “so gross.”
“You're going to cut a finger off, you idiot.”
This is what she always thought having a family would feel like.
So she shrugs and grins, and says, “You distracted me, you look too cute.”
Regina groans. Henry pretends to vomit.