She had always been good at running. You might even say she was the Queen of running away from her problems.
Regina Mills, aka the Evil Queen from the old story of Snow White, was sick and tired of dealing with the Charmings (talk about unoriginal) and their annoying spawn of a brat Emma Swan. The same woman who unfortunately happened to be the birth mother of her son Henry.
Thanks to the blond haired twit, everyone remembered who they were and now she had to deal with the Charmings trying to 'defeat' her again.
To top all that off, she now had a migraine because she was trying to find a way to remove Emma from Henry's life, or at the very least get her son to move back into her home and away from the Charmings.
And then her week went from headache-inducing to absolutely shitty. It wasn't Gold, sadly. She could deal with his brand of irritating. No, it was something infinitely worse.
Cora. Her mother, and an absolute manipulative bitch who no doubt wouldn't hesitate to try and 'mold' Regina to her liking again.
Seeing her son with his birth mother and that annoying pest Mary Margaret, and then seeing her mother in the same room, Regina came to a decision.
She would do what she did best when faced with something she loathed dealing with and had no ready response for.
Run away. Of course she wouldn't phrase it like that exactly. The rumors it would spawn would never allow her to live it down. No, if anyone asked she was going on a much needed vacation.
And she had the perfect person to force into being the Mayor of an out-of-the-way, technologically deficient town where only the people who knew of the real truth behind the old fairy tales and knew where it was could already find the place.
If Emma Swan was going to be a pain in the ass and try to take her place as Henry's mother, then she was going to suffer what it was like to be Mayor for a few months. By the time she came back Regina had no doubt in her mind they'd be begging for her to take the job back, because Swan could barely handle the bare bones of police work in this nowhere town Regina had created. No way could she handle being mayor for two LONG months.
Let it never be said that Regina wasn't capable of petty and cruel punishment.
Naturally she got her things in order, made it very clear she planned to be out of town for two months for a 'vacation', made sure to have enough stock of memory potion so she wouldn't forget who she really was, kissed her son goodbye, and then drove past the town line knowing that there was no better relief than putting as many miles as humanely possible between her and the two biggest headaches she had ever known. A few months away from the Charmings and Cora would do her a world of good.
Regina ended up in a place that was so much like the Enchanted Forest (in a more technologically advanced sort of way) that she felt right at home. Portland, Oregon was about to be the temporary home of the Evil Queen of the Enchanted Forest.
In the first week she had become a resident of Portland, Regina had learned four things.
One, it took a few days to get used to be just another ordinary citizen, and not have to deal with the look of fear-filled respect every day by almost everyone.
Two, it was noisy and there was a large diversity in the kinds of food she could get. She really wished she had thought to add more than that boring cafe when she made Storybrooke, once she got a good taste of the sheer amount of culture here.
Three, there were a large number of people who seemed to be able to shift into partial animals in Portland. So far she had seen wolf, cat, pig and the odd beaver. They seemed to get as far away as possible once they realized she could see them for some reason.
Four, she had quickly found a job she was surprisingly good at within three days of coming here.
It had happened without warning. She had been minding her own business when she heard the distinct sound of a gunshot and the horrified cries of a lot of females.
The first thing she did when she saw the gunman running out of the discreet building was rear back her fist and punch the idiot out with a single hit. It wasn't hard to put two and two together to realize he had likely killed someone and was trying to run.
Regina had tied the idiot up until the cops arrived (one of them better eye candy than the hunter she had made her booty call for several years running by the name of Nick Burkhardt...pity he had a long-term girlfriend) and within two days of the incident she ended up the head of a small rescue organization dedicated to helping women and children from abusive and unpleasant conditions escape, heal, and if necessary to make new identities in order to start fresh.
And thanks to years of being mayor, Regina knew how to make the paperwork a lot more manageable and how to read really, really bad handwriting. And the woman who died had some of the worst she had seen since the last time she had to read Grumpy's scrawl on a bail bond. (Don't ask.)
So yes, Regina had made a sort of home in Portland and had already paid rent to her small apartment two months in advance. If she had to leave, she would be able to and no one would try and hunt her down for anything.
Strangely, as the temporary 'leader' of the Queen's Castle rescue group, she felt a sense of peace she never had as the Evil Queen or as the dictator Mayor of Storybrooke.
And the weird thing was that the group therapy meetings she was required to go to (it was mandatory for all new members apparently) was actually helping her with the grief she still held over the fact her true love had been murdered in front of her by her own mother...and all because that spoiled brat of a princess couldn't keep her damn mouth shut.
In the Enchanted Forest, there was no such thing as 'therapy'. You either dealt with it yourself or you let it consume you like she did and spiral out of control. And in Storybrooke the closest thing to a 'psychiatrist' was that stupid cricket, and there was no way in fiery hell she was going to open up to someone who was so messed up he had asked the Blue Twit to turn him into a bug just to escape his con-artist parents.
Besides, anything she said to him would inevitably be told to Snow White, and that was something she would never tolerate.
Here, she was actually welcomed with almost open arms, and no one asked questions. As long as she wasn't a criminal, monster, or an abuser, they wouldn't ask about her past outside of what she was willing to give in the therapy sessions.
It was pretty obvious Regina was still hurting from a past wrong and just needed somewhere to go, even if she was too strong or prideful to admit it herself.
Today was another mandatory therapy meeting, and this time she had come prepared with something rather interesting. After this she would be able to 'lead' the meetings rather than participate, which she was looking forward to.
Regina took her 'spot' and pulled out something that most people would look askance at.
It was a stress-ball, only it was in the shape of a heart. To be more specific, a human heart the way it actually looked and not those ridiculous ones you'd see on a cheap valentine card, complete with fake arteries and everything. It was even the right size.
Today she planned to imagine Snow White's heart in her hand as she explained why she hated the woman. Why she felt compelled to hunt the little bitch down the entire time she had been Queen. Why she could never truly forget the pain the brat had caused her.
"Regina, your turn," said Amelia. She was the vice-director of Queen's Castle, but had been entirely unsuited to being the director.
"When I was about seventeen or eighteen, I lost the one man I've every truly loved to my mother's heartless actions. I saved the life of a girl everyone loved, and when she found out about my secret boyfriend I asked her to keep it a secret from everyone... at least until we were married and had run away. Instead she told my mother about him and the next night I saw him die in front of me because my mother thought he wasn't 'suitable' for someone of my breeding. I've harbored a grudge against her every since."
Silence descended on the group.
"What happened to your mother?" asked Amelia.
"Nothing. No courts would dare take her to trial, and the girl who got him killed never even tried to take responsibility for ignoring the warnings of everyone who knew my mother at all. Anyone with common sense would have known that telling her a secret like a hidden boyfriend would only end in tragedy. But she was a spoiled girl who never acknowledged that actions have consequences."
"What was your boyfriend's name?" asked one of the women. Emily, if Regina remembered right.
"Daniel. He worked with horses and he was a good man. My mother felt she had to make an example out of him so she made sure I was present when she killed him. And I've lived so long under her thumb that I couldn't stop her," said Regina.
It actually felt good to get this out, even if she couldn't exactly tell them why no one dared say no to Cora, or how she killed Daniel. To know they wouldn't judge her because of who she had been in the Enchanted Forest, but would give her actual support.
The entire time Regina was telling her story, she had been squeezing the foam heart in a 1-2-3 pattern. With each squeeze, she imagined either Snow White or Cora's heart in her hand. It felt unbelievably relaxing.
At the end of the day, Regina felt more at peace with herself than she had since Daniel's death. Getting that out in the open had been difficult at first, but being able to open up about such a traumatic time helped a lot.
The Spice Shop was a godsend to Regina. It was the only apothecary that was actually stocked with the things she recognized.
It also served to prove one important fact that the Blue twit had gotten very, very wrong.
She said there was no magic in this world, that it was impossible to USE magic here. But there mere fact Regina found recognizable magical plant and some animal species meant that there had to be magic here, just not in abundance like the Enchanted Forest.
Mandragora was a distinct magical plant and Regina's limited senses towards it told her that this plant was the same one she recognized down to the effects.
Which meant one of two things. Either they had a way into the deeper regions of the Enchanted Forest, or there had to be magic in this world that was only accessible to those who knew how to look for it.
A simple experiment with her magic proved that there was some here, but using it would take some getting used to and learning where the leylines of power were. That is, if she were inclined to stay in Portland.
Today Regina was restocking on her favorite herbal blends, since the store bought brands simply couldn't keep up with her world-class migraines.
"Here for your tea, Ms. Mills?" asked Rosalie. She was a nice girl, but she had the same undercurrent that Gold had. Just nowhere near as strong.
"You are a life saver, Rosalie," said Regina.
That was when she walked in. A woman who immediately put Regina on high alert, because she had the nasty undercurrent of Cora, only more vindictive and foul. It was something Regina never would have thought possible, considering what a bitch her mother was.
Regina didn't care what the woman was buying, but the second she shifted and tried to scare Rosalie, her patience ran out.
Whatever that woman was, it was something that Regina wouldn't hesitate to rip the heart out of and squeeze until it turned to dust.
"A Grimm!" hissed the zombie-faced woman.
"And you're one of the ugliest women I've seen in a long time, and that's pretty impressive," said Regina with her cool, unimpressed tone. It was clear she didn't think much of this woman, and wouldn't be impressed if she tried to use any magic on her. And Regina could tell this thing could use a limited amount of magic.
Rosalie was clearly taken aback by the way Regina reacted to the woman, though she had no idea why.
She managed to smooth things over long enough to get the blond out of her shop without causing trouble.
However once she got rid of the blond she looked at Regina oddly.
"You're a Grimm?"
"A what?" said Regina. She had only come in here for some tea.
"A Grimm, one who can see the true face of Wesen."
"You've completely lost me. I only came in here for some tea," said Regina.
Rosalie rang up the bag, and didn't press further. Though the look on her face was pretty clear. She planned to call someone and the next time Regina came in she might have to deal with some new headache.
It had been a full five weeks since she moved to Portland, and already she was trying to decide if she wanted to spend more time here or not.
That was when she got a call from Henry, the one person in that town she would always answer the phone for.
"What is it?"
"Mom, are you alright? You've been gone a long time," said Henry.
He didn't sound hurt, in pain, or upset. Clearly he was either bored or worried about her.
"I'm fine Henry. How is the town? Is it still standing with Swan as Mayor?" asked Regina, half-curious and more than a little vindictive to find out how Emma Swan handled that headache.
You could hear the wince on the phone.
"Emma was Mayor for two weeks..."
"Who's running the place now?"
"Mr. Gold. Mary Margaret is too busy trying to find out what your real plan is and no one trusts this Cora enough to even remotely think about giving her the job. Oh, and I've made a new friend!"
That set off alarm bells in Regina's mind. The few people in the town had been there for as long as Henry had been her son. Which meant 'new' was either another fairy tale character...or someone she didn't want anywhere near her son while she was half a country away.
"What's their name?" she asked, almost dreading the answer.
"Alice..." said Henry as he gave a basic description of what she looked like.
The second Regina heard that, she knew Cora was trying to pull something with her son. No way in hell was she letting that manipulative woman anywhere NEAR Henry, especially since he didn't know what Cora looked like or how she really was!
She might have to cut her vacation a little short. At least temporarily.
It would depend on how Henry liked Portland.