Emma tried to make the four year old as content as possible. Regina told her that Henry blew up earlier that day, making her feel sympathy for the boy. Even though she was hoping for a night alone with Killian, she didn't mind having him tag along too. The pirate was already over at the apartment; he was in the middle of baking chocolate chip cookies.
"Put them farther apart lad, or they'll stick together in the oven." Killian told him gently, assisting him in moving each individual ball of dough with his fingers. Emma watched them with a smile as she tried watching some reality tv show. Roland was hoisted up with one of Hook's arms so he could reach the countertop.
"Like this?" The boy asked, pressing his fingers together and watching them stick together once he finished.
"Yup, now all we have to do is wait for them to bake."
Roland smiled up at him quickly before sticking his fingers into his mouth.
"You're not supposed to eat the dough Roland!" Killian told him playfully, setting him down back to the ground and being careful with his hook as he did so.
"But it tastes yummy!" He conjured, reaching up for more. But the pan was quickly lifted up beyond his reach and placed inside the oven.
The pirate smiled a bit as he lead the child out of the kitchen. The two of them took a seat next to Emma on the couch. Roland immediately found his way onto the blonde's lap before Killian had a chance to put his arm around her.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Roland asked her, a sly smile on his face.
Emma raised her eyebrow at the bluntness of his question. She hated putting labels on relationships.
"Uh, I guess you could say that."
"Is he your Prince Charming?" He immediately followed, excitement evident in his voice, "do you love him? Will you two get married?"
The blonde exchanged a dubious glance with the man sitting next to her, who seemed amused. "Whoa there kid, we're just dating."
She messed with his hair and wrapped her arms around his small frame.
"What about Neal?" He asked through his giggles.
Emma knew that question was coming. "I'll always love a part of him, but too many things have happened between us. He'll always be Henry's father, though."
Suddenly, Roland was confused. He remembered his mother telling him that babies were made only by true love. How else could she be having one? By what the blonde just said, that explanation didn't add up.
"Well I'm happy that you're happy."
Just then, the doorbell rang, and Killian got up to answer it. They had ordered a pizza for their evening in. He cut one into little pieces for Roland and presented it to him on a white paper plate. As they ate, Emma pulled her phone out and snapped a few pictures of her and Roland to send to Regina. Maybe it would cheer her up a bit.
"I can't wait to do fun things for my birthday." He told her with his mouth full, making both Emma and Hook exchange surprised glances between one another. They had completely forgotten about his birthday. The thing that scared the blonde most of all was the fact that Regina hadn't talked about it all; with her being the most compulsive planner she knew, it was now obvious that she had forgotten as well.
"Yeah... I know you'll have lots of fun. Just curious, what would you want for your birthday?"
Roland hummed loudly as he thought about it. "A puppy!"
That probably wasn't going to happen. But Emma jotted it down on her phone anyways. She knew she should help Regina out as best she could.
"A red cape, like Superman's!"
That one was manageable.
"Well I'm sure your mom will make you the best birthday ever," Emma encouraged him, though inside she was skeptical, "I promise. It's not every day you turn five."
"You're growing up way to fast!" Killian told him, "I'll have to start teaching you how to captain your own ship."
Roland beamed. "Yay!"
He was a very lucky boy- Charming told him he would teach him how to sword fight like a knight in shining armor. His mother was going to teach him how to ride a horse one day. And now he was arranged to be a pirate in training. With all the excitement in the air, he almost forgot about his father and his quiver full of arrows.
She was successful in making him happy. They spent the night polishing off the pizzas and watching Roland's superhero movies, ones he had seen so many times he could practically quote them word for word. Though Killian wasn't able to take the blonde out on a date, the two of them still had fun with the boy. Roland wasn't a hassle, he was almost like a son to the both of them- everybody loved Roland, it was impossible not to.
Soon, hours had passed by, and it was time for him to go to bed. Killian offered to take the sleepy boy away, but he was already nodding off onto her shoulder. She hadn't heard anything from Snow and Charming, so she figured they were going to be out for a while.
Scooping him in her arms, Emma carried him over to her parent's bed and changed him into his pajamas- he had been over so much that he always had some clothes stashed away at the apartment.
"Do you think my mommy will ever be happy like she used to?" He mumbled as the blonde tucked him tightly underneath the covers.
Sighing, Emma ran her fingers over his little forehead, pushing the stray hair away from his soft glowing eyes.
"You make her happy, Roland. Never forget that. So does Henry, Will... And your father. I still believe he's coming back. He just has a lot of things in his way. You know, it took me twenty eight years to find my family."
Surprisingly, that made the four year old feel slightly better. His father had only been missing for four months; that sounded better than three decades.
"You need to get some sleep now kid," Emma told him gently, placing a small kiss on his temple, "I'll take you home tomorrow once your mother is ready."
Roland smiled ever so slightly, his eyes growing heavy. Her blonde curls were the last thing he remembered before he drifted off into a deep sleep.
Will got worried when he returned home to a stone silent house. He had kept his promise on returning her precious Mercedes absolutely spotless after three long hours of incredibly boring work. Regina didn't seem to be anywhere as he wandered around; he forced himself to check the drawer in the kitchen where she stowed her knives to see if they were all there. To his relief, they were.
He traveled upstairs, figuring she might've fallen asleep again. But her bedroom was empty when he walked in. Then, he saw light spilling out of the small crack from her bathroom door. Gently opening the door, Will poked his head inside, soon feeling a rush of warm air brush past his skin. Regina was still in the bathtub, bubbles encasing her so only her head showed out of the water. She was completely passed out, her eyes closed and her body seemingly relaxed.
The room was so silent; Will almost tiptoed his way into the bathroom, with his intentions on waking her up in the most humorous way possible. But then he caught a glance at her phone, and quickly diverted his plan. He picked up her phone, seeing she had a few messages from Emma. They were all pictures of her and Roland together; the blonde stuck her tongue out at the camera while Roland wore the biggest, cheesiest smile he had ever seen. They both looked like dorks, but it was cute. He knew Regina would love seeing them.
Then, he began sifting through her phone, hoping to find a collection of deep, dark secrets. But there really wasn't much, only various pregnancy apps and random games her kids had downloaded over time. Henry got a high score of 116 on Flappy Bird. Her photos were taken over by Ruby's continuous amount of 'selfies', along with hundreds of pictures of Henry and Roland. Her world truly revolved around her two boys. Gently setting her phone back down, Will began wandering around her massive closet.
Regina never let him inside her bedroom, so he was going to take the opportunity. She had so many clothes. Everything was perfectly lined up on the hangers, not an inch out of place. She had an island in the middle of her closet, a white one with drawers all around. He opened up a few of them, but he didn't find anything interesting. It wasn't until he discovered a blue dress in her bottom drawer that he sparked some interest. The fabric seemed to be covered in fine silt, something Will immediately pegged as strange; Regina was always immaculately clean, what was she doing leaving this in her bedroom?
Tenderly holding it between his hands, he couldn't help but bring it up to his nose and smell whatever it was covered in. His reaction was one of immediate surprise- Will knew that scent anywhere, it could only come from the Enchanted Forest.
As he surveyed the dress more thoroughly, more and more shocking things were revealed to him. There were spots of blood all across the sleeves and the front, making the article of clothing suddenly give him a chilling feeling inside as he began thinking about what could have happened to her in that dress.
The thoughts only made him sick inside. Will stuffed the dress back inside the drawer and shut it swiftly. Then he stood up, taking one more glance around the area and walking out.
Regina was still fast asleep, but she wouldn't be for long. He lowered his hand so his fingers were skimming the water in the bathtub, flicking some right at her face. Instantly, her eyes fluttered open as she tried to pinpoint what had happened. When she noticed Will standing above her, she sent him a drowsy glare.
"What are you doing in here, get out!"
"No, I have to tell you something first." Will responded as she wiped the water droplets from her face.
Her scowl deepened. "Okay then, tell me!"
"I'm taking you out to dinner tonight, so wear something pretty." He raised his hands defensively, "that's it. I thought you might want to get out of here for a while."
Upon hearing his words, Regina's expression softened. Was he actually being kind and considerate?
"Oh, well I guess that would work. But Will... You don't really have any money."
He let out a small chuckle as he pulled out a twenty from his pocket. "You have such little faith in me Regina, it hurts. It really does."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm so impressed! Where will we go?"
The question was asked, but she already knew the answer.
"Granny's... Twenty dollars can only get you so much."
But Regina smiled anyway. "Well that's very sweet of you."
Will couldn't help but let out a small smile. "Well be ready in a few minutes, that place gets crowded after seven."
Especially since it was a Friday night.
"Alright then. But seriously, get out!"
The fact that she was talking to him while naked in a bathtub made her uncomfortable.
"Fine," Will surrendered, "but dress warm, it was pretty cold outside when I was leaving work."
Dressing warm was easy. Finding something to wear that looked fancy and something that could actually fit her was proving to be difficult. But eventually Regina picked something out, did her makeup, and curled her hair into slightly tighter ringlets. She was excited to have her hair longer now; it went all the way past the center of her shoulders, which meant she could do so many more things to it.
Will was waiting for her when she finally came downstairs, seeming slightly impatient as he grabbed his keys and ushered her towards the front door. They took his beaten down Toyota there, even though Regina practically feared for her life every time he drove her in it. Will may have had a complicated history with women, he knew how dates were supposed to work- one always drives the girl in his car, no matter how old and rugged it was. Regina wasn't like his girlfriends in the past; she actually took an effort to get to know him. The fact that she understood the reasoning behind his choices made her the most important girl in his life; and he couldn't say that about anyone else. Especially after Anastasia couldn't be with him anymore.
"I promise I'll make tonight worth it," he said, getting out to help her out of the passenger seat.
"I have high hopes, that's for sure." She told him, and it was the truth. Never before had she ever thought he was capable of being such a gentleman.
Granny's hadn't gotten crowded yet, only a small handful of people were sitting down at the tables. The warmth of the room was in great contrast to the bitter outside air; it felt like a rush of comfort to her as they entered.
She might have been to Granny's just about a thousand times before in the past, but the food never got tired. Regina even tried branching out and trying new things on the menu.
"How about the Alfredo with a sweet tea to drink," she proposed, once Granny arrived at their booth to take their orders. The older woman was still baffled the former evil queen could seem so much like everyone else. If she didn't know any better, she would think of her just as she did with every other person that entered into her restaurant.
"I'll have a hamburger and a Coke." Will told her, handing her his and Regina's menus. Granny simply responded with a slight huff as she walked away.
Once she was gone, it was just Will and Regina. He soon began tapping his fingers against the table impatiently, his eyes wandering about the room. When he caught sight of Ruby dressed in her waitress attire, cleaning off tables that were on the other side of the diner. Regina turned her head slightly to see what he was staring at.
"Oh my God, really?" She asked him, instantly making the man break his contact defensively.
Regina let out a flustered sigh. "She likes you, you know."
Will gave her a slightly surprised look. "How do you know? Did she tell you?"
"No," she replied, like she was speaking to a child, "it's just obvious. And I know you have a little crush on her..."
She delighted in seeing the tips of his ears turn pink.
"So go talk to her!" Regina smiled, suddenly feeling bad for patronizing him, "it'll take a while for our food to get here anyways."
He didn't have to be told twice. She watched him as subtly as possible as he walked over and said hello. Even though she couldn't catch what they were saying, Regina was positive they would hit it off. Ruby had told her ages ago that she was interested in her brother, but she practically forbade them from forming any sort of relationship. However, Will had openly offered to take her out to dinner, to pay for her meal, and to help her forget about all the things that troubled her. So she figured she would be nice and let them have fun.
But soon, Regina got bored; watching the pair from afar was beginning to get old. So she got up and went to the bathroom, where she checked her hair in the mirror and touched up her makeup. Things seemed to be slow moving at the diner; silence filled the empty space around her. Things were so quiet, Regina wasn't even aware that Granny had entered the bathroom as we'll. It wasn't until she saw her reflection in the corner of the mirror in front of her that she realized she was there; and when she did notice her, Regina nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Can't you do that at home?" Granny asked, rather bluntly.
Regina flushed. "I'm... Sorry, just needed something to do."
"Well I see Will has some interest in my granddaughter," she said, "I don't know how much of a good influence he'll have on her."
Even though Regina spent years as a queen, with thousands of people under her thumb, she always found Granny Lucas threatening. She was most certainly the most badass grandmother she had ever met.
"Oh, Will won't do anything stupid, not while he's under my roof." She told her, sounding certain.
Granny still seemed skeptical as her expression set into stone for her response. It was obvious she didn't trust her.
"Is there anything you want to say to me?" Regina finally got out, tired of the excruciating silence between them. "You're staring at me like I'm fresh meat."
Then Granny reacted. She cracked like a whip and clenched her hand around the woman's neck, shoving her against the wall in full force.
Regina didn't know how to respond; her hands immediately began clawing at her throat.
Granny was fuming; she was squeezing her relentlessly as Regina desperately tried to breathe; her face had turned a rosy shade of red and she could see black spots forming through her vision.
Just as quickly as it had happened, she released her grip on her and backed away. Regina nearly fell to the bathroom floor as she gulped in air, her hands rubbing her neck to try and soothe the intense pain that had overtook her.
"What... What the hell was that?!" She demanded, not caring how many people heard her, "you could've killed me!"
Granny merely shrugged back at her. "People have told me how you've changed, and I had to see it for myself. You could have used magic against me, but you didn't."
She would have explained the fact that she couldn't use magic, but she was too angry.
"You think it's okay to strangle a pregnant lady?! You- you could've killed my baby!"
"Oh please, if I wanted to strangle you you'd be dead. You're fine!"
"I am most certainly not fine!"
Just then, a bell went off from inside the kitchen.
"That must be your food," Granny told her, sending her a quick smile before turning around and walking out of the bathroom, leaving Regina completely alone as she still contained to labor for her breath. She stared off into nothingness for a few long seconds, trying to depict what exactly happened. But then she remembered her food was coming, so Regina grudgingly exited the restroom and made her way back to their booth.
"What happened to you, you look like you've just seen a ghost." Will remarked when she sat down across from him.
"Nothing," she responded quickly, hoping no bruises would show on her neck.
Granny then presented the both of them with their orders, being sure to send Regina another smile as she did so. But she avoided eye contact with the woman; she was only interested in eating food at the moment.
"So what'd you and Ruby talk about?" She asked, trying to keep things as casual as possible.
Will grinned. "Apparently she just got a new dog, a schnauzer I think."
She remembered her talking about wanting one.
"And then she invited me over to her apartment next week to go and see him."
Regina smiled to herself as she twirled her tea around with her straw. "I knew you two would hit it off," she mused, "you can thank me now."
He rolled his eyes as he took a bite out of his burger. "Thank you Regina."
They ate the rest of their meal in a comfortable silence. Regina was beyond starving; the Alfredo proved to be just as delicious as she envisioned it to be. Or maybe all food tasted better right after a near death experience in a public restroom. Regina had cleaned off her plate in no time flat.
Granny came back over to gather up the dishes, or rather, that's what Regina assumed she was coming over to do. But instead, the older woman motioned for her to move over. Regina sent her a confused look, but she was in no position to disobey her order. Not after she found out firsthand what she was capable of.
"What do you want now?" She asked, slightly nervous to find out.
Granny then pulled something out of her pocket and handed it to her. It was a small glass figurine of a wolf- Ruby had one exactly like it hanging on the rear view mirror of her car.
"I wanted to give this to you," she told her, "I had to make sure I could trust you first. And now that I can..." Granny glanced back down at the glass object in Regina's hand.
"It's a symbol of protection, this wolf is. To us, it reminds us that we're never alone."
Regina gave her a quizzical look. "And you're... Giving it to me? Why?"
"To hang over your baby's crib of course! I thought it would be a nice touch to have something wolf related in his or her room."
Despite the fact that Granny had almost killed her in bloody murder just minutes prior, Regina was touched by the simple gift. She studied it more closely; it was small enough to fit nicely in her palm and contained a bit of red liquid inside, making it look exquisite, something unlike she had ever seen before.
"Thank you," she told her, her voice soft but genuine.
Granny only smiled back at her. "You're welcome over at my place anytime if you need anything; I may be old but I sure know a lot about babies."
With that, she gave her a small pat on the back as she stood up and disappeared back into the kitchen.
She and Will could only exchange dumbfounded looks between one another as she closed her hand around the small glass wolf.