She couldn't take it anymore.

Hands tightly clutching the steering wheel, Regina barrelled down Main Street, desperate to get away from her mansion, from the memories, from the pain. It was useless though: the words her son had spoken to her kept whirling round and round in her head.

"Henry! Where do you think you are going?"

The eleven year old had turned around sheepishly, his hand still upon the door handle.

"I'm going to spend the afternoon with Emma. I'll do my homework at the sheriff's station, so you don't need to worry."

"Henry, you have spent enough time with that… that woman for the week. I have barely seen you since you brought her back from Boston." She had tried –and failed- to keep the annoyance and anger out of her voice. Next her tone had become slightly pleading. "I thought it would be nice if you and I could have a day together, some quality mother and son time."

"Don't you get it? I don't want to be here with you! She is my real mom and you you're… you're just the Evil Queen!"

With those last hateful words, he had run out, slamming the door behind him as if to illustrate the nature of his feelings towards her: he didn't want her anywhere near him.

She had let him go. Her face had crumbled, and suddenly the large house had felt claustrophobic, she hadn't been able to breathe anymore. Blinking back the tears that had welled up in her eyes, she had grabbed her keys and was now speeding along, leaving Storybrooke behind her. She needed to calm down, to gather her wits again, and driving too fast somehow seemed to do the trick. Her window was down, the wind blew on her face, drying her tears, and it messed with her hair. It reminded her of the days, long gone now, where she had galloped freely along the hills that surrounded her childhood home. She could still remember the laughter bubbling inside her, the surge of adrenaline she felt when she raced with Daniel…

Shaking her head as if to clear it from all dangerous thoughts, Regina took a deep breath and tried to focus on the problem at hand. She had to get Henry away from that woman. She couldn't let some bails bond person come into her son's life and take him away from her. How could she even be a responsible parent, she had abandoned him right after his birth! It had been her, Regina, who had loved and cared for the boy. She had soothed his cries, eased his fears; she had given him everything. And she was having it all thrown back at her. Because she was the Evil Queen.

Regina winced. The hatred on Henry's face when he called her that… He didn't understand, he didn't know what she had suffered at the hand of Snow White and that uncharming husband of hers, what she had had to endure when married to Leopold…

Once again she shook her head. Today was definitively a bad day, it seemed every painful memory would be dragged up from the depths of her mind.

She couldn't let Henry continue to think that she was capable of so many horrors. Yes, she had killed, she had tortured, and, ultimately, she had cursed an entire realm in order to get her vengeance. But she couldn't have her son see her in that light. "He must never know" she thought as she drove into the forest, nearly spinning off each time she took a turning, "He needs to forget all about fairy tales so that he realises that with him, I am only his mother and that loving him is enough."

She had barely been able to finish that thought before she saw a tall shape come running out of the forest directly to her right. It stopped right in front of her trajectory, and she reflexively slammed the breaks with all her might. The car screeched to a halt right in front of what seemed to be a man holding a bow, dressed in dark jeans, green t-shirt and brown leather jacket.

Seething, adrenaline pumping through her veins, Regina stepped out of the vehicle and loudly slammed the door before approaching the man who was watching her, his blue eyes inscrutable.

"Are you mad or just plain stupid?! I could have killed you, and I would hate to have a dent on my car."

That seemed to make the man snap, and a low growl escaped his lisps before he replied.

"I' m the mad one?! I had to make sure you stopped driving like you had a death wish! I don't care if you end up wrecking your perfect shiny car against a tree, although I wish you would spare a poor trunk such pain, but there are children who play nearby. What if one had run onto the road?! You are bloody irresponsible…"

"I would never have touched them! I stopped before I hit you, didn't I? My driving skills are obviously quite superior to yours, so I would be grateful if you could refrain from projecting your own insecurities on to me."

He ran his free hand through is short blond hair. She could see his jaw was clenched under his five day stumble.

"You idiot, you have…

"How dare you! Have you got any idea who you talking to?!"

"Of course" he replied with a smirk. "It seems I have the honour of talking to Regina Mills, the infamous mayor of our little town."

She narrowed her eyes at him, angered at his mocking tone.

"And who would you be?"

"My name is Robin Hood"

The thief! Well, this was interesting, and it explained why he was holding a bow: he and his "merry men" lived on the edge of the woods in caravans. They rarely came into Storybrook, mostly relying of what the forest provided to survive.

Regina stepped forward, invading his personal space; her nose wrinkled: he smelled like forest. It wasn't unpleasant, but she was too busy glaring at him for it to register.

"Well Mr Hood, you may be have a bow in your hand right now but remember this: I am not someone you want as your enemy. As you said yourself, I am infamous. And trust me dear: I deserve everything that comes with the title "

She whispered the last part in his ear, begrudgingly admiring him for not pulling away from her. She walked back to her car and drove off, ignoring the man who stood by the road as she whisked by.

Robin let out a breath he was not aware he had been holding. She was gone. God that woman was insufferable, worse than what people whispered behind her back. She was rude, antagonising, cold, haughty. The definition of a pain in the ass. The way she had been driving you would have thought she was fleeing, it was totally irresponsible and Robin was still boiling with rage at the idea that she could have run over a child.

Yet… there was something in her eyes. They were rimmed with red and he had seen the tear tracks along her cheeks. Her chocolate gaze, steely when it had looked at him, had held a vulnerability he had not expected to see in a woman with such a fierce reputation.

And damn her, she was beautiful. His muscles had instinctively locked when she had moved close to him, and when she had leaned into his ears her warm rich scent had invaded his nose, making it hard for him to concentrate on his anger.

Insufferable woman…