Regina was swamped at work and was constantly needing to stay late at the office for some last minute meeting or to fill out some new form.
Emma was so good about staying late but on more than one occasion had become restless. Regina decided to call in a favor and asked Ruby to take Emma during the day on Wednesday and for Kathryn to babysit until Regina was able to leave the office and come home.
Wednesday morning Emma was so excited to spend the day with Ruby that she was practically vibrating.
Regina got her dressed and in her winter coat, since the temperature were dropping. Regina packed Emma her coloring book just in case she became bored while Ruby was on shift.
Emma was listing all of the things she planned on doing during the day, "...and coloring, and getting a milkshake, and making decorations for chrismas..."
Regina grabbed her purse and Emma's backpack before bending down and picking up Emma.
Regina unlocked the car and put the bags on the floor. Emma was still listing off all of the things she planned on doing.
Regina was nodding along and when Emma took a breath Regina chuckled, "Wow. You are going to do all of that in one day?"
Emma just smiled and nodded, "Yup!"
Regina got Emma into her car seat and buckled her in.
Regina drove to Granny's and parked, Emma was in the back bouncing in her seat. Regina shook her head and wondered what kind of shenanigans Ruby and Emma were going to get up to.
Regina grabbed Emma's backpack before she unbuckled Emma, from the corner of her eye she could see Ruby looking out the window bouncing on her toes waiting for Emma to enter the diner.
Regina just shook her head. Once Emma was unbuckled and firmly on solid ground Emma too began bouncing.
Regina took Emma's hand and walked her to the diner. When they opened the door Ruby was standing in front of them.
Ruby saw Emma and had a huge smile, "PUP!"
Emma yelled, "WOLF!" and ran into Ruby's arms. Ruby picked Emma up and the two of them erupted into a fit of giggles and whispers.
Granny came from the kitchen and rolled her eyes as she looked at her granddaughter and Emma conspiring. Regina looked at Granny and said, "If they break anything just put it on my tab."
Granny smirked and said, "They break anything and they are both being sent to the sheriff."
Regina laughed. Ruby pouted and said, "Hey, we are way to cute to be holed up in the sheriff's station" Ruby poked Emma and whispered, "pout and puppy eyes."
Emma then matched Ruby's pleading look. Both Granny and Regina laughed and said, "One of you defiantly is."
Ruby gasped in mock horror, "Regina, Emma is you daughter! How could you say such a thing?!"
Emma didn't know what was going on so she crossed her little arms and followed Ruby's lead, "Yeah, mommy. That not nice."
Ruby laughed and kissed Emma's cheek, "That's right pup, you tell her"
Emma smiled but quickly gave Regina her best stern face.
Granny and Ruby were surprised at how much it looked like Regina's 'unhappy mayor' face.
Regina just laughed and said, "I think that is my cue to leave."
Ruby put Emma down and said, "Go say 'see ya later alligator' to your mom"
Emma ran over to Regina and tugged on her dress. Regina bent down and Emma gave her a tight hug, "See ya later alicgator"
Regina smiled at Emma's botched attempt, but squeezed Emma none the less. Regina kissed Emma's temple and said, "In a while crocodile"
Emma smiled and giggled. Regina let go and stood up. Emma walked back to Ruby and lifted her arms. Ruby picked Emma up and walked back to Regina.
Regina told Ruby that Kathryn would be picking Emma up this afternoon when she got off of work. Regina thanked Ruby and Granny and left.
It had been four hours since Regina dropped Emma off at Granny's, and she already received a picture of Emma cover in flour, kneading dough, and face covered in syrup. Regina could only shake and think about the sugar high that Kathryn is going to have to deal with.
When 4:30PM rolled around Regina was still elbow deep in paperwork. She received a picture from Ruby showing her, Emma, and Kathryn faces covered in whipped cream and giant smiles.
Regina wished she could be in on the moment. For the first time that Regina can remember she wishes she wasn't mayor.
15 minutes later she received a txt from Kathryn saying that she and Emma were at the mansion and that she would heat Emma up some dinner.
8:00PM Regina finally signed the last document that needed to be signed, so construction on the new park could begin.
Regina gathered her things and locked her office thinking, I finished everything which mean's I can leave on time tomorrow and spend the evening with Emma.
Regina opened the front door and was almost tackled back Kathryn.
Kathryn grabbed Regina's arms and looked at her with wild eyes, "You. You're home. Why are you here?"
Regina lifted an eyebrow and said, "Darling, I know you are getting up there in age and might be getting forgetful, but I live here."
Kathryn slapped Regina's arm, semi lightly, and said, "No. I mean what are you doing here so early? I thought you were going to be staying late."
Regina looked at Kathryn still confused, "Kat, it's 8:25PM. I stayed almost 4 hours late. Anyway I wanted to be home before 8:30 to say good night to Emma before she falls asleep."
Kathryn's eyes almost bugged out, "Heh. Um.. well. about that..."
Regina snapped to look at Kathryn and said, "about what Kathryn? Why isn't Emma in bed? You know it is her bed time."
Kathryn nodded and said, "Yes. I know but she said she wasn't sleepy yet. So... I said we could play a game."
Regina shook her head and said, "Kathryn please tell me she isn't playing video games right now."
Kathryn shook her head, "No. I asked her what she wanted to play. She said hide and seek. I saw no harm in it.. but that was 20 minutes ago. I have looked all over, her room, the kitchen, the living and dining room, your study, the guest room. I can't find her."
Regina all but threw her bag and coat down and raced upstairs standing in the hallway trying to hear anything that sounded like Emma, "Emma. Emma where are you? You need to come out now."
Kathryn raced after her and started appologizing, "I am so sorry. I know, I should have read her a book or something. I am so sorry."
Regina just turned and asked, "You are sure she is here somewhere? She didn't go outside did she?"
Kathryn shook her head, "NO! I made it clear in the rules that she had to hide inside. I even double checked the locks before I gave her a bath."
Regina nodded, "Well she has to be here somewhere." Kathryn nodded, "I will check up here, you check downstairs again."
20 minutes later Regina had successfully torn apart Emma's room and the guest rooms. Regina went on a hunch and opened her closed bedroom door. She checked her closest, and bathroom but no Emma. Kathryn came up the stairs and shook her head. Kathryn was on the verge of tears and Regina was just about ready to call the sheriff.
Regina walked towards the phone when she notice her bed covers, I didn't leave them like this.
Regina dropped to the ground and lifted the covers and almost cried in relief. Emma was curled up under Regina's bed holding her stuffed horse fast asleep.
Regina waved Kathryn over and pointed under the bed.
Kathryn laid down and saw Emma. She had tears rolling down her face and gave a silent prayer.
Regina reached in and tapped Emma awake.
Emma slowly opened her eyes and saw Regina, "Mommy. You home"
Regina just smiled and said, "Yeah baby. Come on, lets get you in bed."
Emma nodded and crawled from under the bed. Regina lifted Emma held her tight and kissed her head. Kathryn too kissed Emma's head and said, "Em, we aren't playing hide and seek again until you are 20. You scared me."
Emma mumbled a sleepy, "Sorwy Aunt Kat"
Regina carried Emma to her bed and tucked her in. She gave Emma one last kiss and said "good night."
When Regina walked back to her room she saw Kathryn sitting on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands.
Regina sat next to her and rubbed her back, Kathryn was softly crying. When she looked at Regina she asked, "How do you do it?"
Regina smiled and asked, "Do what?."
Kathryn looked at her and said, "Not freak out when she is out of your sight?"
Regina chuckled and said, "Oh, I do. I go through all of the different scenarios of what could happen while she isn't in my eyesight. But I think she made it this far without me, and I believe that if she felt scared or in danger she is smart enough to find a way to let me know."
Kathryn shook her head and said, "I am so so so so sorry Regina. I never meant to 'lose' Emma."
Regina just shook her head, "Kat, you didn't do anything wrong. It was an accident. It was scary but it happens. When Emma first started living with me I was so scared that I would check her bed every night. One night when I checked she wasn't there. I was so scared, I thought she ran away or was kidnapped. Turns out she was in the bathroom. I was freaking out over nothing. But at the time, it was heart stopping. It happens even to the best of us; you did good Kat."
Kathryn gave Regina a hug and bid her goodnight, "This was too much excitement for me"
Regina just smiled and laughed, "Getting old dear?"
Kathryn scowled and said, "No! Night Gina"
Regina walked Kathryn to the door and said, "thanks again for watching her. Night Kat."
Kathryn walked down the walkway, got into her car, and drove home.
When Kathryn left Regina closed and locked the door. Regina opened Emma bedroom door and checked to make sure she was ok.
Regina didn't want to admit it to Kathryn but she was absolutely terrified just now.
Regina got changed and got in bed. She tossed and turned for about 15 minutes before she decided to get up and get Emma.
She opened her door and saw her sleeping. Regina didn't want Emma out of her sight, so she gently lifted Emma from her bed and carried her to her bed. Regina laid down and pulled Emma in close.
Knowing Emma was safe Regina finally allowed herself to fall asleep.