Author: thewriteday PM
Emma realized Regina hadn't made it to Granny's a few hours later. She slipped out of the party to find the mayor; there were things that needed to be said.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Emma S. & The Evil Queen/Regina M. - Words: 2,943 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 53 - Follows: 13 - Published: 12-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8760997
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Takes place at the end of Season 2, Episode 9.
Regina heard footsteps behind her but didn't turn around. She was in her study, in the dark, pouring gin into the tumbler on her desk.
She'd practically run for her home – for her bastion – after the group of Storybrooke locals had left her in the dust for their celebratory dinner. Somehow, it felt worse than her nightmares had – the ones where the same group had tied her to a tree and threatened death. Being abandoned by them in their mirth felt like a death itself. She wondered why she'd tried at all.
She couldn't let them see how much it hurt her so she'd made her escape. It was painful enough to have Rumple strike the failure further into her heart. The townsfolk thought her strong, impenetrable, and it was this illusion she had to maintain.
When she heard the steps behind her, she realized she'd left the front door open in her haste. Maybe she'd done it subconsciously, beckoning some assailant to come and put her out of her misery.
"Regina?" The voice came quietly, much quieter than Regina had ever heard it before. It had been too long since that voice had rung through the halls of this house. She realized she'd missed the sound. But not like this – this version was too meek, too afraid to match the brash and bold woman who possessed it. This could not possibly be the same Emma Swan.
"Breaking and entering? That hardly seems fitting for the triumphant return of the town sheriff. Not that anyone else would arrest you for it in this case." Regina said bitterly. She picked up the glass and swirled around its contents before downing it in one go.
"Well, you know, I haven't done it in a long time. Thought I might be rusty." Emma tried to add some lightness to her tone, lightness she didn't particularly feel in that moment.
"Congratulations. You're still a capable delinquent." Regina deadpanned. She finally turned around to face the younger woman. She eyed her carefully. "Now is there a reason you're bothering me? I would have thought your welcome-back party was still in full swing." She began to pour another double shot of gin.
Emma's face was illuminated only slightly by the moonlight glinting through the windows, but Regina saw her bright eyes flick down to the alcohol in the glass. There was something in that look, something like concern.
"It, uh, it wasn't much of a party. Considering the person who made it possible at all decided not to show up." Emma replied.
Regina laughed, a darkly amused sound that reverberated through the room.
"I do hope you don't mean me."
"I do mean you. Why didn't you come?"
Regina's eyebrows shot up into her hairline.
"I didn't get the impression I was invited. My own son said he'd see me later. Don't say you made an effort to make me feel welcome."
"You're right. I didn't. And I should have. But you saved my life, Regina! I kind of thought you'd come along without me dragging you there." Emma said desperately.
Regina, for her part, was caught off guard. For a too-long pause, she was bent out of her usual composure, unsure of what to say or where this conversation was going. What did this woman want from her?
That was what it always came down to. In every relationship, in every situation, in every instance of Regina's life, each interaction amounted to what the other person hoped to gain. She'd been blind to it when she was young, or If not blind, at least partially ignorant. When she'd finally realized that winners were determined by how viciously they seized what they desired, it had begun her conversion into the evil queen. She'd become powerful, and likewise despised.
"What do you want from me?!" Regina cried out, suddenly revealing how angry she was and how spurned she felt. She realized she was still gripping the glass of alcohol. A little too tightly. She averted her eyes, swallowed some air, then gulped down the contents of the tumbler too. She put it down and avoided Emma's eyes. She no longer wanted to be part of this conversation. She ached to run and hide, but realized she had nowhere left to run. The woman had already invaded her domain and all there was left to do was wait until she decided to leave. Just as everyone else eventually decided to leave. She could count on that, at least.
There was such a long span of silence that Regina feared for a moment that Emma had already left. But when she turned to look back, the blonde was still standing there, regarding her intently. Suddenly, the sheriff spoke.
"There was a moment." Emma began. "When I was in the forest with Mary Margaret. I wanted to blame you for everything."
Regina scoffed and folded her arms across her chest. Typical.
"But being here, seeing you again, seeing how you've changed and how you've tried, especially after meeting Cora in the flesh – I can't blame you. It wasn't your fault, not really. You're a victim of circumstance, Regina. I know what that's like."
Regina's mouth dropped open but she didn't speak. Her folded arms loosened. She closed her mouth and sighed.
"I don't know what you want me to say." Regina said quietly after a long pause.
"You don't have to say anything, I just want you to forgive yourself. And know that even if other people shut you out, I won't." Emma said, then added for good measure, "I promise."
"Ms. Swan–" Regina began but the blonde cut her off.
"Would you please call me Emma? You make me feel like I'm in grade school. And I need to tell you something else, and it's that I missed you. I can't explain how or why in the hell I would miss you calling me by my last name, or reprimanding me like I'm four years old, or making me feel like I'm the insignificant speck of shit on your shoe, but I missed you." The words poured from Emma's mouth as from a font. It felt good to say it, to give some indication of the way she'd felt about the mayor in general. It was a strange development – falling for someone she'd thought she hated.
What had moved her was the way Regina cared for Henry, that ferocious protectiveness she'd exerted immediately. She knew that, no matter her past deeds or her present bitchiness, the woman loved her son – their son – and that had been restorative and comforting enough to counteract any distaste she'd had before.
Beyond that, Emma was starting to see Regina's walls crumble a little at a time, just after the curse had lifted and just before she'd been tossed into fairy-tale land. Regina was trying. And that was something new, something important. Something to be acknowledged.
She'd assumed Regina was joining them for festivities because it hadn't occurred to her right away that it wouldn't be the case.
But that was wrong. Emma should have known. Because Emma had been there before. She knew what it was like to feel unwanted, to feel out-of-place and even hated for nothing she could control. She'd had a few foster siblings that had treated her like shit and resented her existence, but she couldn't fathom the extent of Regina's exclusion since the curse had lifted. And she hated that she'd let the woman feel all of it alone.
When Regina didn't respond, Emma's nerves began to take over.
"Would you, I mean…" Emma sighed. Her head drooped and she shoved her hands in her jean pockets. "Can you say something? I'm feeling a little exposed. And stupid."
"And that's a new sensation?" Regina teased. The familiar tone made Emma smile, even though she still couldn't meet the mayor's eyes. That old tenor of their relationship made her feel safe at the same time as it made her feel nervous. What if Regina didn't feel the things she felt? What if she was completely alone on this tiny confession island she had just washed up on?
"If it's any consolation," Regina began, "I… missed you as well." She said it somewhat flippantly, brushing it off as if it didn't matter at all, but Emma saw it for what it was: an honest admission. She suddenly didn't feel so alone and she managed to force herself the few steps closer to the mayor's desk. She leaned against it, a foot from Regina's side.
"I have to admit," Emma began. She wanted to return the favour of comfort, to bring some of their old exchanges to the dark room. "I'm kind of surprised you brought us back at all. I thought you'd be pleased you finally got rid of me." She traced little outlines along the desk as she spoke.
"I'm as surprised as you are," Regina returned. "Maybe I got bored with no around to torture."
Emma smiled, finally turning her eyes up to meet Regina's.
"And that's exactly what I'm here for." Emma said. Even in the darkness of the room, Regina detected a little glint in her eye – the one reflected in her voice.
The mayor suddenly felt too exposed, too open. She reached for the bottle of gin but Emma's hand stopped hers, gripping the expertly-manicured fingers tightly.
Their eyes locked again. Regina's were filled with fear. Emma's were filled with a sudden determination.
Emma moved forward quickly, capturing Regina's lips in hers, not really aware of what she was doing until she was committed completely to the action. Regina's lips were stiff beneath hers, unmoving and unwilling. After a few seconds, the queen's lips softened, accepting what was being done and giving herself over to Emma's will.
When Emma pulled away, albeit reluctantly, she looked hard at Regina's face for some sign of a reaction. She might have given into the kiss, but knowing the mayor, she most definitely had an opinion she was going to share.
Regina stayed quiet for a moment but couldn't help the smirk that rose in her face under Emma's scrutiny.
"Now that's the sheriff I remember. Always reaching for more than she should rightly possess." It could have been insulting had it been said half a year ago. But this mayor, this Regina, said it in a way that was more flirtatious than challenging. The tone was matched by Regina's posture as she sunk further against her desk, practically sitting on it.
Emma smiled in return, happy that she hadn't been turned down or shut out. She realized she still had Regina's hand in hers. She brought their clasped hands off the desk and held them close to her body.
"What can I say, I like to shoot for the moon. Even if it's completely out of my reach." Emma replied.
She'd thought about this in only the briefest moments, this kind of interaction with Regina. It had taken her a long time to acknowledge that it was something she'd wanted for a while and had never been able to express, either out of fear, shame, or utter confusion. She didn't try to analyze if the antagonistic tenor of their relationship had something to do with her attraction. She didn't really care for some borderline-Freudian assessment of the way in which she was drawn to the formerly-evil-queen.
All that she'd known was that wandering through the Enchanted Forest had left her with time to think, time she hadn't really had the benefit of before falling through the portal. And one of the things she'd helplessly and hopelessly thought about was Regina.
In that moment, standing in the dark with the mayor, Emma felt braver than ever. She'd faced a dragon, an ogre, a giant, and the queen of hearts; she'd survived it all. And here was her prize, but not only that. Here was her saviour. For alone, Emma could not have made it through the obstacles. Without Regina's efforts, she would have been dead or lost or trapped, and none of it would have mattered.
She didn't care that Regina had caused the curse. She didn't care that the woman had kept her out of their son's life. She understood it all. And she ached to make it right.
This time Regina moved forward to take Emma's lips with her own. She tangled her fingers into Emma's hair and drew her closer, close enough to tangle her tongue with the blonde's. She leaned her body into Emma's, relishing every point of contact. When she finally pulled back for some air, she smiled, keeping her eyes closed. She didn't want to forget this, this acceptance of what she'd been and what she was and what she would be. Emma's every touch filled Regina with a contentedness she'd thought she'd never find again. Not since Daniel had asked her to run away with him.
"Emma," she breathed. The syllables felt good on her tongue.
Emma laughed at the sound. For a moment Regina was wary again, but when Emma squeezed her hand she was reassured.
"It's about time you learned how to say my name." Emma said. She hadn't meant it to sound as suggestive as it did, but considering the circumstances, she enjoyed the effect.
"Won't they notice you're gone?" Regina asked. She was also too aware that she was suggesting a continuation, an extension of their advances.
"I doubt it. Most of them are too drunk to figure it out. And the rest…" Emma planted a soft kiss on Regina's lips. "I don't care what the rest of them think."
Regina took a moment to look into Emma's eyes, to search them for any hint of deception or dishonesty. All she sensed in the blonde was trust. It was startling.
She'd struggled so long with the urge to banish this woman from her and Henry's life entirely that she'd never stopped to realize just what the sheriff had restored to her life. Emma had brought a sense of adventure and excitement, a revitalization of sorts. Regina had found in Henry her reason for living. And in Emma, she'd found another source of happiness, another light that could fill her at any time for no reason at all.
Regina brushed strands of long, blonde hair out of Emma's face and let her fingers come to rest at the sheriff's neck. The mayor's smile was small, but it was the most genuine one she'd worn since setting sight on Storybrooke. And Emma felt every millimetre of its sincerity.
She smiled as she put her body against the mayor's and pushed the brunette further onto the desk, letting her hands come to rest at Regina's waist.
"I really did want to thank you for saving my life." Emma said quietly. Her face was an inch from the mayor's.
"I was only returning the favour… Emma." Regina drew out the name, relishing its texture again. It was strangely exciting to use it properly. "Don't think I forgot how you protected me."
Regina's mind slipped back momentarily to the wraith, to the fear she'd felt and the bordering acceptance of her own fate. She'd been prepared to die in that moment. But Emma and Snow had kept her from harm, sacrificing their collective wellbeing to keep her alive. It was the first time Regina had felt like maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to recover some of her decency.
Not only that, but when Henry had sent Emma to ensure her safety, Regina had felt more loved and cared for than at any other time in her life.
Those feelings, wrapped tightly into her heart, had made their mark. She attributed her ability to carry on and surpass her old vengeful habits to those gestures of love.
"How did you know it would be me?" Emma asked, barely audibly. "How did you know it wouldn't be Cora?"
Regina shook her head.
"I didn't." She hesitated. "But Henry believed it would be you. If I'd have kept the portal closed, he would have hated me. We had to know, either way, just in case you'd made it past her. I couldn't let Henry live in doubt." Regina tightened her grip on Emma's arm.
"So it was all for the kid, huh? Not even a little bit for yourself?" Emma chided. She lifted her hand and drew her thumb over Regina's cheek.
"Maybe a little." Regina admitted.
"So what do you say we have our own celebration?" Emma said, her lips ghosting over Regina's.
"That sounds perfect." Regina said, without any sarcasm whatsoever. It was the best welcome-home gift Emma could have asked for.