We Can Love Again

The Road Ahead

The green portal had vanished- his family was gone.

Robin could hear himself breathing, helplessly gasping as magic continued to force him against the cold stone wall. Rumple and Alan both stood in front of him, silently standing before the empty room.

Then he remembered- John.

"Let me go- you have no reason to keep me here." He said frantically, anxiously peering over towards the fallen man. He couldn't be dead.

Rumple shrugged, and released his magic.

Robin was exhausted; he felt like someone had ripped his very soul from him and left him alone to die. He took off down the hallway towards him, falling to his knees and desperately shaking the man.

"John! John please talk to me!"

He looked so defeated for such a large man; the arrow was still stuck to his back and blood laid stagnant on the stone floor.

"What... Are you doing here?" He mumbled, fighting to keep his eyes open.

"That doesn't matter right now," Robin said, keeping his voice calm, "I'm here."

"But they... They're gone... We lost."

He cringed as another shot of pain shook his body, making it almost impossible to breathe.

"Hey, don't think about that." Robin took his hand and held it tightly. "You are the only one out of all the Merry Men that stayed- out of all six of them... You proved to be loyal."

He couldn't keep tears from his eyes. "You're my best friend- I don't know what I'd do without you."

John managed a weak smile. "I'll always be your best friend... Robin you just have to let me go."

Shaking his head, Robin held his hand tighter. "You can't think like that. I'll... I'll get you out of here."

"No-" John winced, "you have to find them. Show those bastards who they're dealing with."

"John- John!" He was yelling now; the man was slowly fading away from him, he could feel it.

"Tell Roland that I'll miss him," he muttered, his eyes fluttering closed.

Robin watched, completely defenseless, as his best friend gave his last breath. His body ran still, immediately becoming stiff and cold.

He was gone.

That was it- Robin stood up and brushed the dirt from his pants, his eyes locking with the man that had ruined absolutely everything.

"I trusted you," he started, though clenched teeth, "we were friends, you and I. You betrayed me- and look at what happened because of it."

He was off down the hallway, moving swiftly towards Alan, who was nervously looking towards Rumplestiltskin, who didn't seem to want to be a part of the conversation.

"Look- Robin, all of what I did was for his plan, he made me!"

Rumple remained silent as Robin neared the man, a deathly shine to his eyes. "So you decided to attack my girlfriend in front of my kids?!"

He took no hesitation in plowing his fist into the side of his head, sending him down to the ground.

"You ruined everything!"

Alan's attempts to fight back were nothing compared to the fury filled punches he was sending him. Soon, his fist was covered with blood. He looked down at Alan's face, knowing he could easily kill him within the next few minutes.

A choice was in order- did he deserve to die?

Robin thought about Regina; he remembered the look on her face when he asked her to marry him, the way Roland adored her, finally connecting with Henry...

Images of his family filled his vision as he clasped his hands around his throat; he kept squeezing and squeezing until the light left his eyes.

Rumple watched him intently, honestly surprised at what he saw. He was driven, he would give him that.

"Glad you finally got rid of him, he was getting very annoying." He told him, watching him stand up with a blank stare on his face.

Alan James was dead.

"Now. Let's talk about what I need you to do."

Robin had a million things on his mind, and talking to an imp wasn't one of them. But he was alone, he didn't have anything else to do- hell, he had just killed a man. He immediately knew he had to find a portal back to Storybrooke, where Robin could only hope his family ended up. And he could only do that if he agreed to whatever the dark one wanted.

So he shrugged and gave him his full attention. "Sure. Tell me what I need to do."

Rumple let out a wide grin. "I need you to... Fetch something, for me."

"Well why can't you fetch it yourself?" Robin shot back, "why me?"

"Because I can't! I'm not allowed in the region where it lies! And you fit the bill."

Robin sighed. "What is this thing you want me to find for you? What could a man like you possibly need?"

"Something I lost long ago." He replied, "something I need again. It's located on the far east side of the Enchanted Forest-"

"That's... That's at least a two month's journey!" Robin exclaimed, "and nobody hardly ever goes to the east side anymore!"

Sighing Rumple proceeded on. "Which is why I needed your family out of the way- you couldn't go on this journey if you still had to worry about your children."

"Can't you... Use magic to get me there? Even just half way? It's the middle of the summer for God's sake!"

"Sorry, I cannot." Robin could sense a false to his voice. "Because that's the thing... My magic, it's running out."

He furrowed his brow. "Running out? How?"

"It's part of the prophecy. Nothing can be perfect forever, it's only a matter of time before my magic is gone and things start to... Catch up with me."

Robin didn't have a clue on what he was talking about, but he shrugged again and nodded.

"When do I have to leave?"

"As soon as possible."

"And when... When you get your magic back, you'll send me back to be with my family, right?"

Rumple glanced down at the man lying on the floor. "Considering you killed him just because he put a few bruises on Regina's face, I don't see why not."

He knew he would be away from his family for a long while. It was only a few months, what could possibly change during a few months?

The sun was already high in the sky by the time Regina woke. With the physical pain gone from her body, she actually had a decent sleep. She forgot how nice it felt to sleep on such a comfortable mattress, with cozy blankets and big white pillows. The test still lay on the table beside her; she had to check it again to make sure it was real.

She got out of bed and went over to the bathroom, her pajama bottoms skimming the floor as she went. Her reflection in the mirror quickly caught her attention; she looked so different.

Her hair was a tad longer and her eyes were still puffy from the day before. She hardly ever went anywhere without putting on makeup or doing her hair in any sort of way, but now, she just didn't feel like it.

Her closet was full to the brim with blouses and dress suits- she had forgotten how uncomfortable they were.

Nevertheless, she dressed and started off towards Henry's bedroom. Oddly enough, it was empty when she got there.

"Henry? Roland?" She asked, turning to travel down the long flight of stairs.

"You woke up late, mom!" Henry called as she rounded the corner towards the living room, where she heard the television blaring.

Henry and Roland were both on the couch side by side, watching cartoons and giggling from time to time.

"I didn't even know you two were up," Regina said, walking over to her kids, who were both still in their pajamas. "Did you have a good sleep?"

"He did, I didn't," Henry said distastefully, "he moves and kicks in his sleep."

"I'm sorry," she replied, glancing down at Roland.

"Henry says there's always something to watch on the tv!" He exclaimed, watching the screen with big, curious eyes.

"But it isn't a good thing to watch too much of it- now, what are we going to do today?"

Henry stared at the screen for a few seconds before shrugging.

"How about we take Roland out," Regina suggested, "to Granny's or something."

Both of her boys seemed nonchalant about the idea.

"Come on Roland, let's get you dressed. You can watch this later."

He reluctantly took her hand and tore away from the television, heading back upstairs where his mother fitted on him a pair of blue jeans and a yellow t shirt.

"It feels funny," Roland said, shifting around uncomfortably to the feel of the jeans.

"Get used to it, boys wear jeans all the time," Henry said to him.

"They're comfortable once you get used to them," Regina said reassuringly, "now are you ready to go?"

He nodded, putting his hand on his stomach. "I'm hungry!"

"I know, I am too. I'll take you to a place where we can get yummy food."

They walked out the front door towards the parked Mercedes sitting in the driveway.

"What is that?" Roland asked as Regina used her keys to unlock the doors.

"It's... Like a carriage- without the horse."

He still seemed confused. Henry opened the passenger door and tried to keep his shoes off the seats as he hopped over to the back, a place he seldom went. Regina soon regretted buying a car with only two doors. Of course, she didn't know then that she would be living in such a circumstance as she was now.

"Now technically you're supposed to use a car seat, but I got rid of Henry's years ago. It's a short drive."

She picked him up and gently placed him in the seat diagonal to hers, leaving it to Henry to show him how to out his seatbelt on.

"I don't want it on!" Roland whined, squirming in his seat the moment he clicked the seatbelt into place.

"You have to wear it," Regina told him, before turning her head back and backing out of the driveway. But Roland didn't listen. He wiggled his way out of the seatbelt and pressed his forehead against the cold glass window, watching the trees as they whizzed by.

"Sit down!" Henry hissed, trying to pull him back down.

"Henry- don't yell at your brother. Can you please sit down Roland? We'll be there in a few minutes."

"Mommy, I feel sick." He mumbled, his face paling drastically.

"You what?" Regina asked, not sure if she heard him right.

Before she could get an answer from the boy, he hunched over and wretched onto the floorboards.

"Ew! Mom! Mom!" Henry screamed, moving his feet up and as far away from Roland as possible as he continued to puke.

"Oh my God- Roland are you okay?" Regina shouted, just as a foul stench filled the air. He started to cry; looking through the rear view mirror, she could see vomit covering the front of his shirt.

Henry continued to scream and Roland continued to cry.

When Regina finally found a place to pull over at, she stopped the car and got out as fast as she could. Henry scrambled over the front seat and got out into the fresh air.

"Come on Roland!" she demanded, holding her arms out towards him. The air smelled absolutely rancid, it made her feel sick inside as well. But she finally got hold of him and pulled him out of the car.

"Two minutes and this is what you do?"

There were tears running down his cheeks. "I'm sorry mama... I'm sorry..."

She glanced over towards the back seat; there was vomit all over the seats and the floors.

"Shit," she sighed to herself, feeling dizzy.

"I'm going to Emma's house!" Henry shouted towards her, "she can make me breakfast!"

"Fine!" Regina shot back, though she didn't really want him walking all the way there.

"Roland, let's get you home." She said, picking him up and placing him in the passenger seat.

The car was the last place she wanted to be, but she had to get him home. Just as she was about to, though, she heard someone call her name. Turning around, she saw Belle on the other side of the street. She quickly walked over, wearing a tight pencil skirt and a navy blue blouse.

"Can I talk to you for a moment?" Belle asked.

Regina sighed. "This really isn't a good time..."

"Just really fast," she flustered, "I'm sorry I took your job as mayor."

"Oh... Yeah, that." She muttered, glancing at her outfit. Not once had she thought about her job, not until now.

"I- I can give it back to you, if you want."

Regina stole a quick glance back towards Roland, who was still crying in the car.

"I don't think I can," she began, "I don't know if you already found out about this but I have another boy I'm taking care of right now- it's a long story. I'm already so busy as it is... I don't think being mayor would be good for me."

Belle seemed surprised. "Are you sure?"

"Do you want to be mayor?" Regina asked, desperately wanting to get back to her son.

Belle flushed. "Well, at first it was hard, but I do kinda like it."

"Well then you can stay the mayor if you want," Regina told her, flashing a quick smile. "I could help you with papers if you get too busy."

"Thank you!" She said, "oh- and... About Rumple..."

That name brought her focus back.

"Don't be mad at me for what he did- I didn't know he could do any of that stuff."

"Do you know what he wants with Robin?" Regina asked quickly.

"I don't know! He only stopped by for a minute to see me."

Letting out a sigh, she regretfully let the topic go. But something struck inside of her- if the dark one could travel to Storybrooke from the Enchanted Forest, then he could bring Robin back.

"That's... That's alright. I'm not mad."

Belle was intrigued by this new Regina. There were rumors about her suddenly coming back, having a fling with some guy...

"Well, I should go. Thank you so much." Belle said, giving her a warm smile before starting off towards her car.

Regina quickly opened the door to her car and got in, turning her attention to her four year old.

"I am so sorry I snapped at you," she said softly, using her thumb to wipe the tears off his cheeks. "Let's go home and get you cleaned up."

The two of them drove back to the house and into the driveway.

"Are you mad at me?" He sniffed, his eyes big and round.

"I'm not mad; I can get someone to clean the car up."

She picked him up and carried him to the bathroom, where she took off his soiled clothes and started running the water in the bathtub.

"Where does the water come from?" He asked, looking up at the shower head with curiosity. Regina smiled, sitting down on the edge of the tub.

"You sure ask a lot of questions," she said, "Henry loved baths when he was little."

The water felt nice and warm. It made Roland instantly feel better.

"Daddy used to let me play with my toys when I took baths."

Regina squeezed some shampoo in her hand and rubbed them together.

"I can get you some toys in a little bit." She told him, massaging the shampoo into his brown hair.

"But they wouldn't be my toys." Roland pressed, casting his eyes back down towards the soapy water.

Regina gave him a look. "I think you'll change your mind once you see the toys at the store."

He scowled.

"I'm proud of you, you know." She told him, raising an eyebrow, "it takes a lot of effort for a four year old to change realms just like that."

The boy shook his head. "I keep messing up."

Regina sighed. "No you don't, you're doing everything right. I'm sorry this all had to happen to us- but there are bad people out there who make wrong decisions... Sometimes we have to pay for what they do."

"But I don't want to!" Roland told her, "I want daddy back!"

The words hurt her more than he knew.

"But you said be brave. So that's what I'm going to do."

She smiled. "That's why I love you so much."

Roland let out a small giggle as she began to rub body wash over his chest. "Arms up."

After rinsing his body, Regina grabbed a towel from the rack and smothered him with it.

"Now what do you say, you wanna try Granny's again?"

He nodded.

"We'll walk, how about that."

And they did. Roland held onto Regina's hand tight as they walked down the streets of Storybrooke. He glanced around with curiosity as he saw many new faces. They all gave him and his mother surprised and confused looks when they passed them.

After a few minutes, they made it to the diner. Breakfast was officially over, which meant the restaurant was nearly empty. Regina took a seat at her usual spot, the bar, and hoisted Roland up on the chair next to her. A moment later, Granny came over to take their orders.

"Who's this?" She asked, gesturing towards the boy.

Regina took a breath. "He's... He's my son. I spent six months in the Enchanted Forest, and I kind of found a family there."

Granny still seemed wary, but she smiled towards the child. "Well he sure is cute. What's your name?"

He looked up at her with a crooked smile on his face. "Roland."

"Well Roland, what do you want to eat?"

He didn't have a clue, so he turned to Regina.

"Hm... How about a burger? He needs to experience the food here."

The older woman simply stared at her dumbfoundly. Regina Mills never allowed Henry to have anything considered unhealthy at her diner.

"And some milk to drink."

She didn't have to write that one down- it was pretty hard to forget.

"And... For you?"

Regina glanced down at the menu and bit her lower lip.

"I'll take a burger too. With a coke and some fries."

If her mouth could hang open any wider, she would catch flies. The queen always got grilled chicken or a salad. Granny had watched her at the diner from time to time; she always picked at her food like a child would.

"O-okay then... I'll get those right out to you."

Without another word, Granny took their menus and left for the kitchen.

Roland looked around the diner excitedly, gazing at the flashing lights and the crowded atmosphere.

"I'm so so hungry!" He told her, swinging his legs underneath his stool.

Regina laughed, watching him squirm around impatiently.

"Me too."

After they waited a few more minutes, Granny came back with their two plates. Roland peered down at his burger with wonder.

"Mommy, how do I eat it?"

Regina turned to face him with a sly smile on her face. "Well, you hold it like this, with your thumbs on the bottom," she started, picking hers up to show him.

He followed her example, glancing up at her for further instructions.

"Then you open your mouth real big and... That's it!"

She watched him take his first bite, which was entertaining to watch because the burger was just about as big as half of his face.

"Careful though- it's messy."

Roland gave her a full on grin with the food still in his mouth. "Yummy!"

Regina then took a bite of her own, soon falling in love with the taste- not that she hated food in the Enchanted Forest, but it was way better at Granny's Diner.

"We'll have to give daddy a burger when he comes back!" Roland said, his hands now smothered in ketchup.

Regina smiled down at her son. "Definitely."

If he came back.

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