“This was...” Emma grinned with half of a soft laugh in her throat as she unhooked her fingers from the top of her pants. She ran one hand through her hair and tucked loose spiral curls behind her ear, her stomach feeling immensely fluttery when gentle fingers mimicked her own, Regina pushing hair behind Emma's other ear as they stood on the front porch.
Regina licked her lips and let her hand fall away, fingers curling into her palm and covered by the second. She nodded her head, glancing over her shoulder to the front door and then back at Emma. An agreeing hum filled the chilling spring air. “Yes, tonight was—” she pursed her lips as she paused, and the porch light touched her face as softly as Emma wished her fingers were doing, “—well worth the wait,” she decided.
“God, yes,” Emma breathed out as a wave of emotion washed through her, the feeling of finally making her reach out and take Regina's hands into her own. The need to touch Regina was so strong she couldn’t help herself; she’d been this way throughout the night. Regina so readily gave herself to Emma that there was no doubt in Emma’s mind that her want—her need— was one they shared. “I couldn’t agree more. I just keep thinking about how unreal all of this feels: you and me being here, us. Being an us after everything!” She was close to being dizzy with her pleasure. She wasn’t accustomed to feeling this way. “But here we are.”
She could do this now, was free to let everything she felt for Regina out into the open. She was no longer keeping all of her emotions buried so deeply that even she couldn't see how much she already cared about the other woman. She was no longer pretending that there hadn't been something between them for so long that it felt like she had wasted so much time trying to make the wrong person happy when she could have been bringing joy and love to the person who made her feel all warm and soft, the one who still managed to bring smiles to her face when everything was weighing her down.
It had taken a lot for them to get to where they were, to standing in front of Regina's door after the best first date Emma had ever been on. It was wild thinking that a year ago she was completely lost in the lies she told to convince herself that she was happy when she was truly struggling to stay above water.
She had been married and devoting herself to a person who didn't even know her, who didn't even care enough to notice how much of the Emma she was showing was made of falsities, a persona created based on what she believed he wanted. She had been buried away inside herself, the real her locked away, hurting and regretting while the masked Emma played house and ignored the reality of what was going on because sometimes it was easier to play along than it was to get away from what was unhealthy. It felt surreal, making it out of that and finding the strength in herself to stop sabotaging her own happiness for the sake of trying to give other people theirs—especially the people who didn't give a damn about whether or not she was truly happy herself.
But here she was, smiling uncontrollably after what was easily her favorite first date. There were no bells and whistles, no dressing up for the role of the perfect date, or even any of the cliche romantic gestures she knew they would both enjoy in the future. Hell, they hadn’t even planned the date! It was just her and Regina having dinner and talking for hours, the simplicity of it somehow making it everything Emma could have asked for. It reminded her that she was allowed to be herself with Regina.
“I know I keep saying this,” Emma started as she looked down to Regina's hands in her own, clenched tightly but relaxing as Emma half-mindedly stroked them with her thumbs, “but I can't believe how long it took me to get up the nerve to ask you out. I feel like we missed out on so much, like so much time was wasted living in denial. Tonight, just, you know, hanging out and being together, that could have been us all the time if only I had—”
“Shh. It’s us now, Emma. That is us right now,” Regina said, interrupting Emma. “Why don’t we stop regretting the choices we made in the past and embrace the ones we're currently making?” Emma thought she heard a hint of her mother somewhere in that sentiment. She would have laughed and teased Regina for sounding like Snow if she herself didn’t need to hear the reaffirmation coming from Regina. “We don't know what would have happened if we had been open about our feelings before. Our history is not short of complications. There was more to consider than whether or not what we felt was reciprocated.”
Emma agreed. Regina was right. There “now” felt pretty damn good. Every day since they opened up their hearts to one another felt so right, almost frighteningly perfect. It was pointless continuously thinking about the past. And honestly, the past hurt.
She didn't want to think about how many times she had longed to be closer to Regina so she pushed her away, hoping that would make it easier being with the one she didn't truly want but felt like she should be with. She didn't want to think about the times she could see Regina looking at her with an unspoken yearning in her eyes that Regina tried to erase as soon as Emma caught her. She didn't want to think about how often she had told herself that everything was as it should be when, subconsciously, she knew that nothing had felt right when she was married and trying to deny and hide that she found a confidant and safe place with Regina that she should have had with someone else.
She didn't even want to think about that someone else. He wasn't worth the time nor the energy, and the only good that came from the relationship was Emma reaching a breaking point and realizing that she deserved better than living to please someone else.
“You're right,” Emma said strongly, and any lingering worries she felt vanished as she spoke. “What matters is what happens now.”
Regina smiled, one of those tender smiles that made her entire face brighten with her emotions, the edges of her eyes pinching in that way that made Emma's stomach feel all swoopy. “And what might that be?” she asked as she took a step closer, dropping her eyes down to Emma's mouth while quickly moistening her lips. Her voice had lowered as well, more intimate, sultry.
If it were possible to feel both terribly eager and impossibly nervous about something, then that was precisely how Emma felt. Her stomach was a mess of uncomfortably tight, tangled nerves, but she was nearly vibrating with anticipation. She couldn’t remember the last time the prospect of a first kiss made her giddy. Her eyes mimicked Regina’s move and lowered to look at the other woman’s inviting lips. She wanted to kiss Regina so badly; she’d been thinking about it all night, imagining what it would feel like.
“Hmm? What happens now, Emma?”
One last time before Emma stepped closer, she wondered if this was all really happening: their date, Regina’s hand sliding up her arm, their faces nearly touching. She’d hoped it before, dreamt it, but never had she dared to let it be more than that.
“I think now, now is when you let me finally kiss you like we both know you want me to.” She was going for confident, but she heard the shakiness in her voice. It matched the unsteadiness of her skittering pulse.
The tiniest of chuckles crept into Regina’s voice when she responded, “Is that so?” Her bravado multiplied whilst Emma’s own hid away.
God, I hope so! Emma thought, only to repeat the very same sentiment with all the yearning and longing unhidden in the breathiness of her hopefulness.
Pleased. Regina, Emma could tell, was delightfully pleased by Emma’s response. Whether it was the hope or the undeniable want that Emma displayed, she did not know for certain, but Regina smiled at her with satisfaction that Emma would be recalling just as often as she would be remembering the way it felt when Regina’s mouth pressed to hers for the very first time, gentle and soft and welcoming.
Emma used to judge her dates by the way they kissed her for the first time.
Sometimes it didn’t matter how romantic or fun a date was by the time the kiss was over; some kisses were awful and there was no chemistry, no passion, nothing that made any part of her want to move things forward. (Emma had kissed more than her fair share of toads in her lifetime—not literally, thank god, but still.)
But Kissing Regina was—
Heat. Regina kissed Emma’s bottom lip once, briefly; Emma barely registered the initial touch at first. She palmed Emma’s cheek and leaned in closer, exhaled, inhaled, and then all Emma could feel was heat and passion overflowing from Regina like it had been trapped for so long but finally freed.
Emma wondered if she had known all along that kissing Regina would feel like this if she would have given in sooner. Because Regina was hot hot hot, and Emma spent too long shivering in the cold. But she reminded herself that none of that mattered anymore, none of the loneliness, the pain, the wanting she had tried to pretend she didn’t understand because facing it terrified her. All that mattered was their now, and in their now, Regina was kissing Emma like it was more than their first kiss, more than the end of a first date.
Regina kissed Emma and Emma kissed Regina, and the thing about kissing someone who felt right was it never really mattered how good the kiss itself was on a technical level. It was all in the feeling, the emotion, the way the heart and body just knew.
She knew that she didn’t want to have another first kiss after this one. It didn’t matter that it was only the first date and she was already certain of the future she wanted to have with Regina. Had they not already raised a son together? Had they not sacrificed themselves time and time again for the other, traveled through new realms to save each other, learned to trust one another without hesitation when neither of them trusted easily?
Their first kiss wasn’t a first kiss at all, she realized with her arms wrapped around Regina’s and their breaths meeting in the space between parted lips. It was more than that. She didn’t really know what it was, because romanticism was more her parents—or even Regina’s—thing. But it was more. It was like everything they were, everything they experienced together, every bit of what made them special to each other was transformed into something tangible and shared between them the only way it could all be contained in one moment. It couldn’t simply be a first kiss when it was everything they were all at once. And Emma swore that was what kissing Regina for the first time was: it was feeling everything all at once, and she loved every second of it.
It was a lifetime later.
It was merely five seconds later.
There was an exhalation.
There was an inhalation.
There was a laugh, and it was shared just like Emma knew everything between her and Regina would be from that moment on.
So worth the wait.