Content didn't change, I just discovered a few glaring typos I couldn't live with while working on the second chapter so I updated (hopefully with no errors.)
Okay lovelies, here goes nothing. I've been promising a multi-chapter for a good long while now and I think I finally have enough of a handle on this to start posting. Please feel free to keep me on track and on timely updating. The first bit is from a one-shot that I posted forever and a day ago that I always intended to be a part of this so if the beginning feels familiar I only stole it from myself.
Set after Swan Song and then just going off on my merry way completely ignoring just about every aspect of the cannon Underworld. Lots of OQ (because Always.) and Emma, Charming, Hook, Regina BroTP feels. Aaaaanyway...off we go!
"Thought I'd find you here," Robin gingerly steps his way over broken branches until he's standing behind her. She was sitting on the fallen tree where he'd found her reading her mother's letter. It felt like a lifetime ago with all they had been through since. His hands rest on her shoulders pulling her back slightly so that she leans against him, before rubbing the tension out of knotted muscles.
"How did you know I'd be here?" She's quiet, the kind of quiet that scares him because he knows the voices in her mind are screaming.
"This is where you come," he presses a little harder feeling the knot that always seems to be present begin to loosen. "Also you weren't at home, your office, or your vault." He waits for the soft laugh, the roll of her eyes, and the chiding of his concern, but they don't come. She's drained; they both are. They're leaving for the Underworld in a matter of hours and today had been chaotic to say the least. It was announced over coffee yesterday morning: Emma was going after Hook. He wasn't surprised, nor was he surprised that Regina was the first to volunteer to go with her. She needed her, Regina had very rationally explained: Emma couldn't very well split her own heart. Their troop had been settled quickly after that: the Charmings weren't going to lose their daughter, Henry wasn't abandoning his mothers and he wasn't about to let Regina walk through hell alone.
They had gone their separate ways after that, all with their own preparations to make and goodbyes to say. But now they're just waiting and thinking and its tearing her apart. "Regina?" he sweeps her hair back, kissing her neck when she doesn't respond to his touch.
"I'm sorry. I'm just…" She shivers under his touch and he lets her hair drop to recover her neck.
"Scared," he finishes for her because he knows she can't admit it; she won't appear weak, especially to herself. "Do you want me to leave?" His hands slide down her arms and back up, squeezing her shoulders on every pass. He has no real intention of leaving her alone right now, but he's not above retreating to a respectable distance and waiting her out someplace that she can't see.
"No," she answers in the same quiet voice, crossing her arms over her chest and reaching to grab his hands and hold them to her. She's resolute in her decision to see this misadventure through, but that hasn't stopped the tremble and the dread running through her. "I hate leaving them," she barely gives breath to the words and Robin doesn't catch them all, but she pulls him closer so that he has to straddle the log to keep from tumbling forward. He pulls her back to his chest, holds her tight while she finds her balance then lets his hands coast over every part of her that he can reach: a slow, gentle pattern that has her relaxing against him and his mind wandering to this mornings task.
They'd taken Roland and the baby to Tinkerbelle. The fairy being the biggest champion for their relationship had, of course, promised to keep their children safe. It had been impossible to explain to Roland why their new family had to spend some time apart. He had clung to Regina's knees, adamant that they would not be safe without her here. Regina's strength astounded him as she knelt to Roland's height and spoke to him like the man he would someday be. "I need you to be the brave knight for your sister," she told him. "I need you to help Tink take care of her while your father and I help Emma."
The boy's tears dried with his newfound responsibility. He placed his small hand on Regina's shoulder and squeezed before turning to his father. Robin also crouched to his level and took in the seriousness on his son's face that he had never seen before. "You need to keep Regina safe," Roland stage whispered into his father's ear as he hugged him goodbye. "You have to keep her safe so she can keep everyone else safe." By the time Robin had recovered enough to stand next to a tear streaked Regina, Roland was already hovering over his baby sister and informing the fairy just how she liked to be held. Robin had no idea when his son had become so brave or so wise, but he knew he wouldn't break the promise he made to him: he would keep Regina safe.
"There's no way I'm talking you out of this, is there?" Regina feels his arms tighten at her words. It's getting dark, the air cooling, but neither is ready to move just yet.
"None whatsoever." He drops a kiss to her temple.
"What about kidnapping Henry until we're gone?" She laughs, but he knows she's not joking. He doesn't need words to answer, just holds her a bit tighter. "I have no idea what we're going to find there. How am I supposed to keep him safe if I don't know what he's walking into? He's just a child."
"He's not." Robin leans forward so that she's forced to shift. "You've raised him well, Regina. He's been through more and handled it better than most men I've known."
Regina sighs audibly, now sitting across from him, knee to knee, as she picks at the bark between them. "I need you to promise me something," she asks in the same tone she used with Roland. Robin watches her as she looks everywhere but his eyes. He knows what's she's going to ask. Just as he knows he can't refuse her. "You'll get him home, even if it's without me."
He stills her hands with one of his, the other hooks under her chin. He doesn't pull, just leaves his hand there until she meets his eyes on her own. "I'm not leaving that place without you. I promised my son that I would keep you safe," his hand moves to her hair, pulling her close enough to kiss her lips. It's brief, chaste, but needed. "It's a promise I intend to keep."
"I'm the Evil Queen. It's the Underworld. The lives I've destroyed? The people I've killed? There's a very good chance that I'm not going to get out of there; I probably don't deserve to." She's looking past him again, towards the inevitable pain that they're willingly walking into.
"Then don't go." His hands are on her biceps, forceful enough to get her attention. He knows it's pointless, they've had this argument before and its one he'll never win. But he'll keep trying nonetheless. "Regina, don't go." Hands slide down her arms to hold her hands before bringing them to his lips.
"I'm the only one that HAS to go!" She pulls her hands away before his lips can make contact and she's up and pacing the clearing around them. "Who's going to split Emma's heart?" she yells to the night. "She saved my life. None of this would have ever happened if she hadn't. I owe her a chance to save his. I owe him a chance to be the man that he's been trying to be since he met her. It's the least I can do after what I've put them through." She's instantly defensive, her back to him, arms locked across her chest.
He knows better than to touch her right now, has been a victim of that temper one to many times. But that's it, he thinks, the real reason why she's putting herself through this. She hasn't told him of her past with the pirate, only that he met the monster she used to be and seeing the pain in her eyes, he has never pushed for more. "You can't possibly hold yourself responsible for Rumpelstiltskin's deceit," he voices when she finally stills. "Killian sacrificed himself to save Emma, to save everyone. It was incredibly brave and it was his choice. He knew what he was doing." Robin hates the words coming out of his mouth. The pirate had become a friend in this foreign land and he's abdicating leaving him to an undeserved fate. But he knows Killian would understand: Robin can't lose Regina. Hadn't his friend done this all for love?
"But he didn't get to do it. He was a hero and he was robbed of his damned happy ending." Her arms drop to her sides, anger quelled for the moment, replaced by exhaustion and an inevitable acceptance of what she has to do. It's his signal to move. Robin grabs her hand, raises it over her head and spins her into him. It garners the half smile that he's after before she wraps both arms around his neck and lets him "dance" her back and forth in the moonlight. Regina melts in to him, knowing then and there that he's right: she needs him beside her through this, she loves him, weakness be damned. But she also knows that weakness is something she won't be afforded in this new land. And Henry. She and Emma will never be able to sneak away without their son following. "Promise me," she asks again, breath warm against his neck.
"You already know I will." He kisses her deeply and continues to hold her close. He'll enjoy these last few moments peace before he must decide which promise he will have to break.
Robin is still mulling it over when they join the others at the clock tower. Why is it always the clock tower? he wonders. Emma is already there, pensive and pacing like a caged animal ready to pounce. Snow and David as well, though the couple argues in hushed whispers that bounce around the stone walls. He catches snippets of "you're needed here" and "you don't get to decide" and holds Regina's hand a bit tighter, trying to share a smile for the argument they'd shared moments ago. But his queen's mask is in place; staring straight ahead, jaw set tight, steeling herself for what's to come. Henry seems the most prepared of them; a fact that doesn't surprise the archer in the least. The boy wears his coat, backpack, and the same willful determination as his mother—both of them, he mentally corrects, quite the combination in the lad.
When Rumpelstiltskin finally arrives, dagger in hand, his repeated warnings give even Henry pause. "It's going to make you wish for death" the demon reiterates, "and then the realization will hit, that death has already come and this fresh torture is all that's left. It's all you will know, all you will think and feel and you'll forget what it feels like to live, to control your own thoughts, and you'll never know if what you're seeing is real or just the trick of your addled mind." He waves the dagger, mutters a spell and the giant hands of the clock spin backwards faster and faster until they're a blur of black. Then Gold is stepping away. "After you," he bows towards Emma. "Do enjoy your fool's errand." He smiles that sickening smile that makes Emma's skin crawl, but the Savior doesn't balk at his menacing words.
"We'll bring him back," she says confidently, securing gun and sword before stepping through the portal without a moment's hesitation.
Henry is on her heals, sparing a quick glance at his grandfather and trying not to be scared at the genuine fear he sees in the older man's eyes. Regina is clutching at his arm, silently pleading with him once more to stay here, stay safe, even though she knows it's hopeless. "See you on the other side," he kisses her cheek with a wink and hops through the spinning portal as if it were taking him to Disney World and not the depths of an unknown hell. She should have stopped him, but they'd been fighting about it for days and she was impressed (if not slightly terrified) at all the ways he informed her that he could get around her unwanted protections and couldn't fathom how many scenarios her son chose not to share. She couldn't have stopped this if she'd tried.
"Once more into the fray?" David quips as he and Snow join them on the platform, the Prince with a plastered on grin that does nothing to hide his apprehension. He looks at Robin, then Regina; looks hard at Regina, long enough that both Robin and Snow can sense the waited conversation passing between their eyes. Recollection dawns on Robin like a punch in the gut. Regina had uttered those same words in the Enchanted Forest, mumbled them mostly to herself as he stood by her side and they had prepared to charge Zelena's simian army. Then she had gone off alone. After listening to plans, finding holes in battle strategies, letting them all ride out to war, she had frozen them in their boots and disappeared to take on her sister on her own. Once their bonds were released it was three days before they knew if it had been Regina's victory of her death that caused the spell to break.
"Don't you dare," Robin starts, goes to move from his place beside Regina, but finds himself already frozen to the spot. He looks up to see Snow struggling much the same. "Together, Regina!" he screams it at her and doesn't feel the least bit of remorse for the pain he sees in her eyes. Snow is hurling a string of threats and insults that he's sure would surprise him on any other day, but he finds that he's fully behind every one.
"I'm not sorry," Regina's voice is flat, numb. She will not back down from this choice. "Keep your children safe," she's looking at both of them, he and Snow still futilely trying to jerk themselves free. "I love you," she says only to him and Robin feels her lips ghost against his cheek before she backs through the portal. He calls her name again, but it only echoes through the tower. Snow is crying now, he notices, has moved from rage filled threats to tear-streaked begging and he wonders if he'd tried that approach would Regina have released him? Then all of the noise has stopped and David steps through the void, alone. The portal snaps shut behind him and both Robin and Snow fall to the floor.
There's nothing but their heavy breathing for some time, both staring at the spot their counterparts vanished through. There were no words that could give voice to the betrayal they both felt. "They saved you, you know," Gold said quietly from the corner. Both thief and princess had both forgotten he was still there. "True love: it's a funny, twisted little thing." He steps around them, makes his way down the steps and out without another glance back.
Have faith, my fellow Hoodies. I promise much more Robin then we got on screen. ;) Thoughts?