He could feel his heart pounding in his ears. The wedding was less than twenty four hours away. If he was going to have any last say about their relationship, it was going to have to be right then and there. Will couldn't let another second go by feeling guilty, ashamed, or not worthy. His brother has enough mercy in his heart to give him a second chance- his words stuck to him like flypaper. This was what being a man was all about.
Giving the door three distinct pounds, the man waited less than patiently on the other side. Ruby was there, just like he knew she would be on a Friday morning. Her shift didn't start until eleven, and she always took Charlie on a walk while the morning air was still sifting in the breeze. For a man who claimed to not have a care in the world, he cared a lot about Ruby Lucas. Maybe he just didn't know it enough- never would he make that mistake again.
"Will... What are you doing here?" The woman asked, wearing a red hoodie and her favorite pair of skinny jeans. It was early in the morning, but she still looked stunning.
"I, uh, just wanted to apologize for everything that happened. Can I come in?" Will asked, hoping he didn't sound as nervous as he thought he did. He never got nervous- being a gentleman like his brother was difficult.
Ruby seemed so genuinely surprised with this new Will Scarlett. It took her a second or two to recuperate from her initial surprise; and, when she did, she opened the door wider and nodded. There were things she wanted to say as well, but she had to hear what he had to say first.
He channeled his thoughts into recalling every word Robin had said to him when explaining how to act properly when giving an apology. Apparently, there was once a time when his brother was as wild and stupid as he was now (though he refused get into detail). He was still a dork now, but he knew how to keep his act together. Robin was the perfect mixture of strong willed and empathetic. He was everything Will ever dreamed of being like.
"Ruby, I... I don't even know where to start really. Never in my dreams did I ever think such a pretty girl would ever ask me out, or give me a chance- but you did. And the past five months have been amazing- we got to know each other so well. Sad thing is, I took it all for granted. I never appreciated what I had while I had it, and now we're here. I was a shitty boyfriend. I was always late for dates, I distracted you from work, and I never once told you how thankful I was that you came into my life. Now I'm not asking you to forgive me, I'm just asking you to not hate me. Seeing Roland get hit by that bottle made me realize that I don't want to spend another second being that horrible person I was- I'm not taking anything for granted anymore."
Robin's voice was practically yelling at him. Stand up straight; as much as it'll hurt to look her in the eyes, do it. Speak direct and clear- knock her socks off. Smile every now and then so she knows you're not there to just tell her what she needs to hear. Show her you're a real man.
"Wow... Will, I honestly didn't think we'd ever have this conversation," Ruby said, after thinking things through for what seemed like forever. "But ever since we broke up, I was hoping I'd see you here. I... I feel bad about what happened- and not just because of what happened to Roland. Things got out of hand, and I said some things I shouldn't have. Truth is, I like you and your carefree self. Sure you could be a little more considerate sometimes, but you weren't a shitty boyfriend. These last few days have been the worst days of my life, and it made me realize how much I need you in my life."
Will couldn't believe what he was hearing. Trying to change really had its benefits.
"I can't imagine a life without you. But Rubes, I don't deserve you. You'll meet a great guy one day, someone with a steady job, a nice big house-"
"Oh stop it Will," she cut him off, putting a hand on his shoulder, "you're an amazing guy. I love you just the way you are, I don't think anyone else can even handle me. Will you take me back?"
Astonished, he could only stare into her eyes. "Of course I will. I'm not going to mess things up this time, I promise." He said, immediately pulling her into a tight hug.
But soon, the happiness faded. "I can't go with you to the wedding, though. Regina would have my head put on a spike."
Ruby sighed heavily in his arms, knowing he was right.
"What about the bachelor party tonight? Surely Robin will invite you."
His saddened eyes only told the truth. "It'll be too risky. I've got things I need to do around the apartment anyways. You'll have to be sure and tell me all about it."
It wasn't fair; not the slightest bit.
"I... I will. Maybe I can stop by after the wedding?"
He smiled. "Yeah. I'd like that. Just make sure my brother has the best wedding this town has seen."
It seemed a lot to ask for, but he could expect nothing less from a thief that smelled like forest and a not so evil queen.
"Be sure to have fun tonight," Robin instructed, giving his wife to be a quick smile.
Regina rolled her eyes. "Of course honey. Just promise me you won't drive if you're really drunk. And-" she waited until she was an inch away from his face before continuing. "No strippers. If I hear about any of that going on-"
"Oh don't be silly, I'm not an idiot." Robin replied, rolling his eyes and kissing her. "Seriously though, David is waiting outside for me. I'm sure the girls are waiting for you too."
"Why can't we be a part of your guy party?" Henry asked, entering the room, "I'm old enough. And no offense but I don't want to be stuck at Archie's while my parents are out partying."
Regina had to laugh as she placed a hand on his shoulder. What a big prince he was turning out to be.
"I'm sorry, I really am. When you get to marry a girl one day, you can go to one of these. But, until then, Archie's it is."
As usual, his mother's wise words persuaded him thoroughly. "Alright. I'll keep Roland and Caroline safe, I promise."
She didn't even have to say it that time- he knew. And he meant his words, with all of his heart.
"I know you will. You can discuss our wedding plans with Archie and get him excited to go."
"Who isn't excited?" Henry added, hugging her close. "I love you Mom."
Roland then emerged from the hallway, his green blanket trailing behind him.
"Can Jupiter come with us so she can play with Lucy?" He asked in a small voice, looking up at his father with tired eyes.
Robin picked him up easily. "Of course! But you need to promise me you'll go to bed early. You have a very big day tomorrow."
Resting his head against his chest, Roland nodded. "But I want to stay with you Daddy. I promise I'll be good."
Exchanging a heavy glance with Regina, Robin sadly shook his hear. "I'm sorry little man. You'll be safe with Archie, I promise."
It was getting late. Reluctantly, the outlaw set the boy back down and told Henry to get Caroline out of her crib without waking her. Roland set to work on trying to catch his puppy. The trusted therapist showed up at their doorstep, both Pongo and Lucy on leashes beside him. With that, the couple sent their three children off with the puppy and a diaper bag, making them readily available for what the rest of the night had to offer.
"Let's establish something really fast," Regina began, watching Archie's car drive off, "there's only one bar in this town, and two of us. We can't both go there."Just as she finished, Killian, Neal, and David pulled up on the curb.
"Alright, well, let's talk it over. Where the hell are your friends?"
She couldn't help but jab him in the ribs. "Don't know. Emma's driving apparently, so who knows."
They were soon welcomed by three boisterous men that could have been drunk already for all Regina knew.
"Are you ready to head out mate? I'm ready to not remember tonight." Killian said, slinging an arm around Robin's shoulders.
"Yeah, I'm ready. But there's the issue on who gets the bar..."
"What to do mean who gets the bar?" Ruby asked, coming up behind Regina and throwing her arms around her. "The choice should be obvious."
"How about this," Neal sighed, avoiding Tink's eyes as he fished a coin out of his pocket and handing it to Robin. "Heads we get the bar, tails you guys do."
With an uncertain look, he threw it up into the air in a swift motion, catching it when it came down and pressing it onto the back of his hand.
"Heads. Sorry, Regina."
She scowled towards him, but soon realized that giving him the satisfaction of getting the better place just couldn't happen.
"Good, then we can go somewhere with a better selection of alcohol," she quickly rebutted, placing her hands on her hips.
Emma gave her friend a look. "Where? We're going to the diner for your bachelorette party?"
"No, better. Ruby, your grandma is still home?"
She quickly broke into a smile. "Of course."
"Then we better get going. I'll see you later tonight, Robin." Regina said, grinning as she and her four friends started off towards the yellow bug, rendering the three men speechless. The words hung chillingly in the air, making Robin second guess himself about the bar being the best place to let loose and have fun. Who knew what Granny could possibly have in the cupboards of her apartment.
"I swear, if that place is crowded, I'm going to use my hook on somebody." Killian grumbled, squishing into the back of David's beaten down pickup truck.
"Doesn't matter," Charming replied, "this is Robin's night, and we're going to make it last."
Still, he wished Will was able to come with them. But Regina had her foot set down firmly on the situation- she had even taken down all the pictures around the house. He might have well been dead to her.
The bar wasn't too full, much to their relief. It seemed as though they came there together almost too often; the bartenders there knew exactly what he wanted to order.
"Are you nervous at all?" Neal asked, sitting down on the couch and keeping his drink between his hands.
"About getting married to the love of my life in front of an entire town?" Robin chuckled slightly as he took another sip of his whiskey. "Not really. We've made too many honeymoon plans for me to be worried about it."
"You two are so lovesick, it's actually nauseating." Killian added in sarcastically, already feeling the alcohol kicking in.
"If you're going to be one of my groomsmen, you have to be positive about my wife. And you're quite the Romeo yourself- I mean, you got Emma to move in with you."
Robin smirked, popping open a can of coke and mixing it with his whiskey.The pirate grinned, but skillfully avoided looking in Neal's direction.
"It's amazing how much stuff Swan has," he marveled, "but I suppose it's the price we pay for our women."
He didn't catch it, but Neal couldn't help but tighten his jaw and grip his drink tighter. Since the man had no intention of telling them about what happened, Neal simply rose the drink up to his lips and finished off the scotch. It was going to be an interesting night.
"I'm glad you finally came to your senses and came to me for drinks," Granny muttered, "I am an expert, by the way."
She allowed the five girls into her apartment with a smug smile.
"Thank you for doing this. I want tonight to be as memorable as possible."
They all watched Granny as she got out ingredients for a quick martini. She was definitely the expert.
"Now Regina, don't make yourself too sick for tomorrow. You still need to be able to walk down the aisle."
The former queen eyed the drink suspiciously. Once again, she was faced with the worst and best thing out there- alcohol.
"We all have to be there tomorrow," Emma told her, taking a glass greedily, "but being hungover isn't anything magic can't fix."
Snow took a glass too, and handed one to Tink, who was being oddly quiet.
"Just please promise me you won't get pregnant again on your honeymoon," Ruby smirked.
Regina nearly burst out laughing. "Oh trust me, no more babies. Caroline is enough for us. But let's talk about you, Emma," she said, raising an eyebrow, "how was your first night with Killian?"
The blonde couldn't help but form a wicked smile on her face. "It was good. I mean, it's different than living with my parents. No offense Mom."
Snow White gave her daughter a nudge. "Well it's about time you left the house and took all your stuff with you. Imagine what your father and I can do with that free room available- I can finally have a scrapbooking room!"
"Oh my God Mom," Emma groaned, taking another sip. "Regina's getting married to her soulmate tomorrow, let's focus on that."
Regina couldn't even make sense to the words she was saying- it was really happening. She was going to need a bigger drink.
They ordered their next round of whiskey; it seemed as though they kept on going through drink after drink.
"To my new and improved Merry Men!" Robin exclaimed, clinking his glass together with everyone else's. They were all drunk. And it felt amazing.
"You better not mess up your vows," David began, in a knowing tone, "they all do in the movies. You're going to look like an ass out there."
"Not to mention your dancing," Killian brought up, earning an offended look from Robin.
"If I had my arrows right now I would shoot you all down on the spot. At least Neal isn't persecuting me. What's with you, anyways?"
Neal glanced up, seeming to just be tuning into the conversation. His original plan was to not tell them, but the alcohol wasn't going to let him. So he laughed.
"I'm leaving Storybrooke," he announced, in such a casual tone, "I'm leaving Storybrooke because the fairy doesn't want to date me. She wants to act like we're friends at the wedding, but how can I?"
The situation was way worse than projected, but they were all too drunk to handle it properly.
"When are you leaving?" David asked, wrapping his hand around another glass.
"Right after the wedding. I'm packing up my stuff, I have my talisman, and I'll be off."
"Wherever will you go?"
Throwing his arm into the air in front of him, Neal blew out all the air he had in his lungs to resemble an airplane takeoff.
"Anywhere I want! Paris, New York, a beach somewhere in California... My Papa is a rich man. I already talked to him about it- he's mad but I told him I can do whatever I want."
They were all silent as they comprehended what he was truly saying- Neal Cassidy was leaving Storybrooke.
"Come on, finish it!" Ruby ordered, taking Tinkerbell's half empty glass and shoving it in her face. The werewolf was on her fourth or fifth one- she lost track.
"I told you I've had enough!" The blonde shot back, growing irritated at her pleas.
Ruby scowled. "You're being a dolt. This is Regina's-"
"Hey, let her have her space," Granny said, giving her granddaughter a shove.
"You can try and hide it all you want, but something's bothering you."
Tink averted her eyes. "Okay, fine. I'm leaving for the Enchanted Forest right after the wedding. I can't stay any longer."
By that time, both women had attracted the attention of Regina, Emma, and Snow.
"You're leaving?" Emma asked, the first one to speak up, "but why? What about N-"
"We're done. I told him." The fairy sighed, causing a look of sadness to sweep over Emma's face.
She thought he was finally going to get a second chance at love. Even though things were done between them, she still felt guilty inside. "How'd he take it?"
Maybe it was the intoxication, but Tink was a second away from bursting into tears. "We... We can talk about it later. You're right Ruby, this is Regina's night. Don't let me mess it up."
It was probably getting really late outside. But it had been dark for a while, and none of them had their phones with them. Their bachelor party had turned into a widespread celebration within the bar; everyone wanted to talk to him about how excited they were to attend the wedding. Robin absolutely hated the attention from all the drunkards, but he knew they meant well.
"Tell me," Killian asked, once they got away from the crowds, "what's it like bedding the queen?"
He was so stone drunk, he looked as though he would fall over.
"We've all thought about it at one time or another- she's gorgeous."
The rest of them grudgingly admitted as they drank more whiskey.
Robin was fixated on the stupid grin Killian had on his face as he tried to think of something to say.
"I... I don't know... It's personal." He finally said, earning disappointed glances from his friends.
"Oh come on! You're marrying the evil queen in less than twenty four hours, and that's all we get? Until you showed up, all the lass did was travel around the Enchanted Forest asking for Snow White's head while wearing those really tight-"
"I think what Killian means to say is that we're all surprised she's changed so much." Charming barged in, "so what did you think of her when you first met her?"
"Well I thought she was a crazy woman for starters. All I did was come up to her to say thank you for saving Roland's life, and she flips out over my tattoo. I don't know, I guess something about her was so strange and off putting, I had to invite her over to see more of it."
Neal slapped his back hard. "And hell, you got a baby in the end."
Robin finished off his drink, swallowing the whiskey down hard. "Yup, I did. It's alarming how much she's starting to look like Regina already."
"Well I know she'll turn into a pretty girl someday," David said, "just like her mother. Maybe you could even show her how to use a bow like you do. That would be badass."
They were all so very drunk. Practically the entire bar could hear them laughing.
Regina was beyond surprised when Snow and Ruby came back though the apartment door with shopping bags in hand. They revealed that they had gone online and purchased some things necessary for after wedding plans.
"No you did not," she got out, her mouth hanging open, "you two bought me sexy underwear?!"
She held the garment out in front of her as though it would jump out and attack her. It was hard to tell how to even put it on- she was slightly nervous to find out.
"Yup, you'll need to spice up your love life." Ruby said, grinning as she caught the terrified look on her face. Regina carefully put it back in its container. "I don't need to spice up my love life, thank you very much."
Emma laughed. "Yes you do! You have three children and one of them is a baby- you need some spicing up."
It was almost two in the morning; she was horribly drunk. So she smiled and thanked her two friends for the thought.
"I thought I'd give you more of a creative gift," Tink said, using her magic to create a small box in her hand. "Granny helped me with it, too."
Regina gently opened the box to reveal a clear glass mason jar with a ribbon tied around the lid. Inside was a pile of dust- just... Dust.
"You know what that is?" She asked, managing to not slur her words too much, "that's the pixie dust I used to show you to Robin all those years ago. It's all there."
Astonished, she held the jar up to her face and eyed the dust as if the jar was filled with pure diamonds.
"You... You kept it all this time?" She asked, her voice shaking.
Tink beamed. "I did! After you claimed it failed, I was so angry. But I couldn't find it in myself to get rid of it- so, I kept it with me. Now you can have it with you for the rest of your life. Pixie dust never fails."
Regina carefully set the jar down and flung her arms around the woman's neck. "Thank you so much!"
While they embraced, Emma picked up the jar and shook the contents around curiously. "If it never fails, then would it still work? You know, if they were right by each other? Maybe it would light up or something."
Snow gently pried the jar out of her daughter's hands and smiled. "You're such an adorable drunk."
When Robin saw what the clock read on the wall, he nearly lost it. "Guys, it's almost four! We need to get back!" He shouted, apparently waking the pirate from his sleep on the bar counter. "I promised Regina I would be home by four. Let's go!"
"But we can't drive," David said, apparently not thinking he would get that drunk when they arrived.
So, grudgingly, he left his truck behind, and they began to walk the short distances it took to get to their respective homes. When Robin arrived at the house, he could barely get his keys out to unlock the door. Little did he know, his fiancé was only about ten seconds ahead of him; she went through the back door and charged upstairs.
"I see you're back," he smiled when he saw her in their bed, a book in her hands as she causally looked up at him. He could imagine what a boring night she might've had- but then he noticed the book was upside down.
Alcohol was radiating from his body. But Regina was so exhausted she didn't care.
"It was so fun. Granny made martinis and I got some presents. You're really drunk right now, aren't you?"
Robin grinned. "Yeah... It got really bad. At least one of us is sane right now."
Rolling her eyes, she put the book down and switched off the light. "Let's just get some sleep."
Sleep only lasted an hour. At least, for Regina that is. She awoke with a start, her breath rugged and her heart beating so rapidly her head was beginning to spin. It felt as if ice had touched her soul. She had a nightmare where she was somewhere dark and alone- but she wasn't alone. There was something inside of her, something she couldn't see for what it was until right then and there. Sitting upright in her bed at five in the morning, before sunrise, Regina could see pure evil before her. It was what had touched her when she was young and gullible; it was the substance that had destroyed her life, what shattered it to bits, what ruined her mother and what she promised herself she would never go back to again.
But this time, she wasn't going to let it get the best of her.
How could she have been so stupid?
"Robin, I have to go," she said over to him, her voice rushed. But she quickly remembered he was passed out cold, so she slipped out of the bedsheets and took off down the stairs of her quiet house, not even bothering to change out of her pajamas she had tossed on after she arrived back home. There wasn't another second left to lose.
Grabbing her keys, Regina raced out to her car and started it up. It may have been five in the morning, but she was getting to Granny's Bed and Breakfast if it was the last thing she did.
She was running down the hallway in her blue silk pajamas that went down to her knees, wearing a pair of sneakers that looked completely out of place. Stopping at the door at the end of the hall, Regina balled her hands into fists and pounded on the door with all the strength she had, not stopping until the door opened.
"Regina, what are you doing here? Are you drunk?"
Instead of answering, she fell into his arms and wept.
"Seriously, do I need to drive you home?" Will asked, concerned etched upon his face as he kept her from falling. The woman that despised him, that had forbade him from entering into her home, was standing at his front door in tears.
"I'm so sorry," she said, hugging him tighter, "I'm so so sorry. I shouldn't have done what I did..."
He was so taken aback, he had absolutely no idea about what to say.
"I want you at the wedding, I want you with my kids... I'm just so sorry Will."
He looked down at her tear stricken face, know she meant every word he said.
"Regina... I appreciate all this, but I deserve this," he said slowly, "you meant to say everything you said to me. I messed up-"
"No, no I didn't!" She shot back, "you're family. And family doesn't do that to one another. I take back everything I said- I want you in Henry, Roland, and Caroline's lives, and I want you to be in mine too. Yes you messed up, but everyone does. We can move on, we can work it out. But you need to be there at the wedding, you need to be Robin's best man."
There was a moment of silence between them. Will simply held her as she continued to cry. Then, he smiled.
"It's a good thing I still have my tux," he remarked.
Regina raised an eyebrow as she tried to wipe away her tears.
"Really? You still kept it? Even after I blew up at you like that?"
"Hey," he corrected softly, "I knew deep down that there was a chance you'd change your mind. We've been through too much to just let it all go."
She smiled. "I know. I can't believe I was going to let that happen. I forgive you, I forgive you a thousand times over. Just promise me you'll try harder to-"
"To be a better man? Trust me, I'm already on it," Will said, using his usual smirk, "I can promise you that. If being a part of the family means being responsible, I'll spend every day paying that debt."
The darkness was vanquished. She was getting married, and everything was going to be okay.