Title: Two Happy Endings for the Price of One
Author: Layla Aaron
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 26 December 2014
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairing: Emma Swan/Regina Mills
Word Count: 1,178
Summary: Emma surprises Regina with a visit and a gift.
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 11 "Heroes & Villains"
Feedback: Always appreciated
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW14
Author's Disclaimer: "Once Upon a Time" and the characters depicted are the intellectual property of Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Once Upon a Time," ABC, or any representatives of the actors.
Author's Note: The cat in this story allows me to share space with her and frequently uses me as a mattress. Winnie is one of the reasons why I began volunteering at a local no-kill shelter, and I believe she deserved a spotlight in a story. Thank you for indulging me this pet parent moment.
A few days after sharing tequila shots with Emma and getting drunker than she had in decades, Regina finally emerged from her house to face the rest of the world again. She squinted against the sun before putting on a pair of sunglasses. If she recalled correctly, she remembered drinking at least two, if not three shots, to every one of Emma's. She wished she could forget the hangover that followed, and the mind-numbing, drum-pounding headache that came with it. She inadvertently reached for her temples at the thought of that headache, a slight twinge making her wince.
Pausing outside her door, Regina considered her options of where to go. Breakfast and coffee would mean a trip to Granny's. Not ready to face the pitying glances from anyone that might be at Granny's, especially the too saccharin Charmings, Regina opted to skip breakfast head toward her office instead. The one person she might want to see – Henry – would know to check for her there, if he didn't call her first. If she had her druthers, she'd see no one else but her son for the next month, maybe longer. Unfortunately, things such as these rarely worked out as she'd like.
She'd barely been in her office for thirty minutes before someone knocked on the door. Regina let out an exasperated sigh then called out, "Come in." She let her tone of voice speak louder than her actual words and hoped it would be enough to chase off anyone who might be coming to visit her. When Emma Swan walked through the door, Regina rolled her eyes. "Of course," she muttered under her breath. "Miss Swan, what a…pleasant surprise," she called out.
The other woman arched her brow then chuckled softly. "Regina, your tone does not agree with your words, but I'll ignore the tone and take your words at face value."
"I would expect nothing less, Miss Swan," Regina replied, rising from her chair and smoothing her dress. "To what do I owe this…pleasant surprise?"
"First, it's Emma, not Miss Swan. And second, I wanted to see how you were doing in light of recent events."
"Mi-Emma, I appreciate that you are concerned after our little bonding session over shots of tequila, but I'm fine. Really." Regina lowered herself back into her seat and kept her eye contact with Emma. Her default defense mechanisms kicked in, and she tried to make her expression as blank as possible. Even though Henry's other mother had joined Operation Mongoose, Regina would be damned if she was going to show just how much she craved a happy ending.
Emma crossed the room and dropped into the chair in front of Regina's desk. "I know what you're doing, Regina," she murmured. "I even understand why, but please trust me to help you find that happy ending." Before Regina could reply, Emma held up a hand. "I realize I may…no, make that definitely contributed to the reason why you had to, well, you know, but I believe you deserve a happy ending just as much as any of the rest of us."
Regina arched a brow. "Ordinarily, I would insert some sarcastic comment here, Mi-Emma, but I do believe you wish to help me find a happy ending. I also know I'm not that good at accepting help, especially from someone I've viewed as an enemy in the past." She offered the other woman a wry smile and shrugged.
"I understand." Emma took a deep breath. "I, look, if there's anything I can do for you, please call me."
For several seconds, Regina stared at Emma before giving a quick nod. She hated to be beholden to anyone, but she also knew she needed to learn how to ask for assistance. She was also self-aware enough to know it would be an uphill battle for her. Regina watched the other woman leave then returned her focus to the papers in front of her.
A few hours later, she heard a noise outside her office and called out. When no one responded, Regina rose and circled around her desk. She made her way across her office. Just outside her office door sat a bag or tote of some sort. Regina knelt beside it and realized it was one of those soft-sided animal carriers. She let out a soft gasp when a pair of golden eyes opened and peered directly into hers. She looked away first, finding the small animal's unwavering gaze difficult to meet.
Her gaze found the small envelope taped to the handle, and she tugged the envelope free then rose. Ripping open the envelope with uncharacteristic haste, she dropped the tattered paper to the floor while she read the note.
Meet Winnie, a sweet kitty who's lived a rough life. She lost the tips of her ears to frostbite and nearly died from malnourishment, but the shelter staff assures me she is a loving, affectionate cat. This sweet kitty needs a happy ending, and you need a happy ending. Maybe together you can start writing a new story that ends happily for her and for you.
Regina read the note several times before letting out an exasperated sigh. She grabbed the handle of the carrier and lifted it. "This was hardly what I had in mind, Miss Swan," she murmured. Shutting her office door behind her, Regina carried the animal carrier into her office and set it on her desk.
She settled behind her desk, opened the door, and waited. She listened to the steady rhythm of her breathing and the whir of her laptop fan while she tried to sit patiently. Several minutes later, her patience was rewarded and a small black and white cat exited the carrier. The cat stopped in front of Regina, sat down with a soft chirp, then met Regina's gaze.
Regina extended her hand, expecting the cat to ignore her. Instead, she was greeted with another chirp. "Winnie?" Regina asked. The cat looked up, let out another chirp, then hopped off the desk into Regina's lap. She turned around three times before settling in with a soft purr, flexing her claws into Regina's leg. Regina stroked her hand down the cat's back, ignoring the hint the pain from the claws sinking into her leg and savoring the sound of contented purrs coming from the little cat.
"You look like a little panda with your black and white markings and your rounded ears," Regina murmured. She stroked her fingertip over the cat's ears. "A little panda princess. My panda princess." Lifting the cat from her lap, Regina settled her against her chest, cuddling her closer. "I'm not the easiest person to live with, Winnie, but I think two survivors like us deserve a shot at a happy ending. What about you?"
The cat let out another chirp, and Regina chuckled softly. She stroked her palm down the cat's spine then leaned down to press a kiss to the top of her head. "Survivors like us definitely deserve a shot at a happy ending," she murmured.