DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Swan Queen Week – Alternate Universes - Monday: Divorced.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com

Too Little, Too Late
By Geekgrrllurking


The familiar scent of her perfume hits you first as you step into Granny's diner and you remember that Regina always smelled so good. You close your eyes as the memories hit you, almost overwhelm you and you pray to whatever God is listening to give you some courage. Your eyes flutter open and you nod in greeting to a surprised Granny who is drying glasses behind the counter before you turn and finally find her achingly familiar form. Her back is to you and she doesn't know you are there yet but that's fine. It gives you a moment to just take it all in, to take her all in.

Her hair is shorter than you recall, but still dark and lovely. Your fingers itch to stroke through the thick strands, tugging slightly to make her gasp and then purr with desire. She is dressed impeccably, as usual, even in her weekend casual clothes. You can just catch a glimpse of her elegant neck and diamond earrings. You cock your head to one side as you realize they are earrings that you gave her for her birthday, how many years ago now? Your heart thuds, slow and measured, pain mingling with shining hope, as both fight for dominance in your battered soul.

For the millionth time you wonder if this is a mistake but you know that it was inevitable, that you would come back, that you needed this, that you needed her in your life. In fact, this single moment is worth it. It had been too long since those dark eyes had looked at you, even in contempt. You're moving again, walking to her table before you can stop yourself.

"Hey," The word slips out as you drop into the booth seat across from her and smile sadly, waiting for the maelstrom to hit. Her eyes widen almost imperceptibly and there is a soft gasp as she blinks back at you. You know she's surprised, the question is whether it's a good surprise or a bad surprise.

You had been surprised too, shocked when the documents actually arrived. You had walked out five years ago so it shouldn't really. More shocking that it had taken this long to be formalized. And yet you hesitated, your pen hovering in the air above the divorce papers. You sat in your tiny apartment and stared down at the document and you knew that actually going through with it would be the biggest mistake of your life.

"Emma?" Her voice pulls you back to the here and now and you smile at the simple pleasure it brings. Raspy and sexy as hell, whispering along your skin in the moonlight, promising to do naughty things to your body you just know she will keep. You watch her lips purse ever so slightly in disapproval but her eyes rake down your body, taking in every single inch of you. Drinking you in like she was dying of thirst. Like she can't help herself either and it eases something within you.

So, not a bad surprise then. Good.

"I know, I should have called first," You begin, watching as her eyes finally meet yours. For a moment you're distracted by the darkness in those depths, the lingering pissed-off-ness lurking just beneath the surface. A bone deep anger glittering there, waiting for you

You did that, you put that look of wary distrust there when you ran away from her, from Henry, from everything that your happy ending promised. It had been good, too good. That other shoe was going to fall and you knew it. Your heart was going to be ripped out and that fear of rejection was terrifying.

After all, who could really want you, right?

So you did what you always do, you ran. You ran out of the house, out of town and out of their damned lives. And you've regretted every minute since. When you finally reconnected with them all a year ago, it was a step in the right direction. And then the divorce papers arrived and you knew it was time to fix it, if at all possible. Surely it wasn't too late after all these years to make things right again. Was it?

"I don't know what you want but Henry is on a camping trip this weekend. You should have checked first before just showing up." Her voice is dripping with contempt, brittle and impersonal. You swallow hard and lean forward on the diner tabletop.

"I'm not here to see Henry," You glance down at your hands, fidgeting with the paper napkin. You look up and meet her suspicious eyes. "I'm here to see you."

"Well then you've wasted a trip," Regina hisses before standing and glaring down at you. "Because I don't want to see you." You watch as she turns and storms out of Granny's in a huff.

You smirk and watch her go, the tiny bell above the door dinging as it opens and closes with a slam.

Game on.

108 Mifflin Street. Your home, or at least it had been, once upon a time. You stand in the backyard now, like some stalker, gawking around at what had been your life not that long ago. Memories of summer barbeques with friends and family, birthday parties, teaching Henry to ride his bike, all of it flashing back in bright, painful waves as tears suddenly threaten.

"What part of 'I don't want to see you', didn't you get?" Regina is standing there now, arms crossed, still furious. You can deal with furious, even scathing. What you can't deal with is the new face behind her. Henry and her father had hinted that there was someone new sniffing around.

"You haven't introduced me to your new…friend," You all but growl, your guts churning with jealousy. You have no right to be, and there is no one to blame but yourself for that, making this all the harder to swallow.

"The name is Robin," The man steps out from the shadows, his eyes hard as he stands behind Regina. "Robin Locksley." He clearly knows just who you are and what you mean to Regina. "You heard the lady, maybe you should just go." He practically puffs up in an effort to intimidate you with his bulk.

You can't help the eye roll.

"Seriously?" You glare at Regina, who just smiles coyly and shrugs. At least now you know why she finally filed for divorce, five years after you walked out of their lives. Regina is ready to move on. She is enjoying your discomfort, making her point. You wonder if he is the sheriff in town too and immediately feel the burn of jealousy again. You bite your tongue, now is not the time or the place to discuss it with her new boy toy lurching around behind her.

"Robin, dear," Regina turns to look up at the handsome man, patting his arm. "Thank you for your concern but we have this under control. Why don't I call you later, okay?" Robin smiles and nods, before one last glare at Emma and disappears down the driveway to his parked car.

"He's a poor stand in for the real thing, Regina," You finally huff, anger burning out any jealously still left lingering in your veins. The thought of his meaty hands on her body makes you want to crawl out of your skin. A sheriff's cruiser drifts past, confirming your suspicions.

"Really?" Regina moved in closer, her own ire rising. "At least he's here, which is more than I can say for you. You're the one who left me, remember? I don't think you have much of a leg to stand on, dear."

The words sting, because they are true. You hang your head and try to regroup. You take a step closer and surprise her by reaching for her hand. Even more surprising she lets you hold it.

"Regina, please. I made a mistake," Your voice is low and you can only hope that the truth will set you free. "I know that I hurt you and Henry and I want to change things."

"Hurt me…" Regina glances down, taking in your tangled fingers, shaking her head. "You broke me, Emma. If it wasn't for Henry…" Her voice falters and you swallow hard. "You left and I'm not proud of what happened after that," She glances down and then back up, staring at you, hard. "I drank. In fact, I drank a lot. Until I finally realized just how much I was hurting Henry and myself. And then I just tried to keep busy, focusing on my work and I'm ashamed to say it, any warm body that caught my eye. And then Robin came along, and I thought it was enough. That he would be enough, but now…" She stares up at the sky for an instant before finally meeting your gaze again. "Five years, Emma. I waited for you to get your shit together for five years."

Your cheeks burn, the anger and frustration of her words hitting hard, but you deserve it. And more. However it is not too late, you know it, deep inside. There is a happy ending here just waiting to be reclaimed.

"Well, that's changing, starting now." You dig into your red leather jacket and pull out the divorce papers, noting that she follows your every move. "No more waiting, Regina. I am not signing this paper and I will fight to get you back."

The divorce papers tear with surprising ease and fly everywhere as you toss them from you.

Regina just shakes her head sadly and turns to go back inside. You don't even remember moving, when suddenly you've turned her, pressing her back to the kitchen door. You feel the spark of energy between you, rising to meet and embrace.

This was never the problem in your relationship. Touching and being touched, wrapping yourself up in the other. It was as natural as breathing. You trail your fingertips along her flushed cheek, her full lips all but begging you to kiss them. You will not force her though, she must consent. You search her eyes now, looking for a signal, waiting for it. She doesn't disappoint you.

You slowly dip you head, breath mingling warm against your skin before you capture her lips, soft and tentative. It doesn't take long and her fingers are tangled in your hair, pulling you closer, her lips almost punishing you. And you take it, gladly. You break apart at last, but you don't move away. You see the flecks of gold in her eyes seeming to shimmer with the inner torment raging, wanting to forgive and yet afraid.

"It's too little, too late, Emma." She protests, but her voice breaks on your name and that tells you everything you need to know.

"I don't think so," Tears begin to well in your eyes, and you see them start to glitter in hers too, before she blinks them shut. "I've been afraid, but I'm not anymore. I'm so sorry I've messed things up. But I've finally figured out that home isn't a place or a thing but it is where your heart is. After all those years being bounced around as a kid, trying to fit into someone else's home, I found it right here, building my own with you and Henry. And when I took off, my heart was still hear with you, and it's never left. So as far as I'm concerned, it's not too late."

You square your shoulders and watch the emotions warring across her face, digesting your words.

"I don't know, Emma," She sighs softly, and you know you've taken a step in the right direction, finally.

"I wanted you to know that I'm moving back to Storybrooke, staying with my folks until I can find a place. And then I am fighting for you. For us." You can't help but nuzzle closer, murmuring against the soft hair at her temple. "For our family."

Regina leans back, searching your eyes, looking for deception and finding none. Only your heart laying bare. You see her fear reflecting there too; afraid to believe you and your words. You know that any trust that had been so hard won would need to be rebuilt. You know you are ready, if she dares to give it a chance.

Then you see it, a glimmer of hope, hiding there. And it is enough for today.

"Emm – " Your lips crush against hers, stopping her words. This time you feel her arms moving along your arms, and up into your hair, pulling you closer. Her body presses tight to yours, moulding to you.

Regina pulls away first, her breath coming in short pants, her eyes a warm tawny brown that you could get lost in for days. She's happy and you know it. You're more than willing to make her even happier, but you don't want to push your luck. As if sensing it, she gently smiles at you, her fingers trailing along the soft red leather of your jacket before

"Dinner." Her words almost don't register with your addled brain.

"What?" You're distracted again by that tiny scar on her lip, but she is smiling and that makes it all worthwhile.

"Dinner, Ms. Swan. Tomorrow night, with our son," This time her eyebrow raises and you desperately want to kiss her again. Sunday night, dinner with her family, it sounded like heaven.

"Lasagna night? I wouldn't miss it." Your heart feels like it's going to beat out of your chest and you can't wipe the smile from your face.

"Don't disappoint us." It's a warning and a wish all tangled together, the silent 'again' dangling in the air between you. You feel the heat flare between you again, as your gaze locks with hers.

You nod as she slowly closes the door, before smiling up at the sky in thanks, truly happy for what seems like forever. It wasn't going to be easy that was sure and there are no guarantees but it was a start. After all, nothing worth having is ever easy.

Now you just have to break the news to Snow. You pinch the bridge of your nose, not looking forward to that conversation…

The End

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