Chapter Three
"We do what we need to be free"


The ticking off the clock reverberated throughout the Sheriff's Department, bouncing back and forth between cement walls until it reached Emma's ears. The incessant clicking of the hands was magnified in her anguished mind, and it seemed as though every tick was like the violent blow of a battering ram against her skull. Sighing, the blonde let her pale face fall into the awaiting palms of her hands while her eyes clenched shut. There was too much pain within her; she just couldn't bear the heaviness of it, the darkness of it. It sliced through her like a dagger and all she could do was watch as her emotions poured from her like blood.

Over the hours Emma had become the embodiment of a mess: her eyes red and lined with dark circles; hair falling in stringy, wheat colored strands against an unnaturally pale face. But, her appearance wasn't even close to the turmoil that rallied behind her eyes. Thinking it over the blonde couldn't believe that it had all started less than twenty-four hours ago; it seemed as though she had been locked within this cage of despair for an eternity—a cage in which Regina had entrapped her in. As the mere thought of the dark woman flashed throughout her mind, Emma's eyes moved rapidly behind her closed lids; her tear-stained face burned against the blonde's cranium and tears sprang to her green eyes. Perhaps she wasn't the only one who was trapped inside her own brain; perhaps Regina was fighting a similar battle against her own demons.

Clawing her fingers roughly through her tangled hair, Emma tried in vain to lessen the suffering within her, by distracting her mind from the notions that plagued her. But it was useless; nothing would quell the destruction within her. It made her angry. Everything seemed to make her angry. Regina, herself, the way her emotions held her in a chokehold leaving her body heaving with an unquenchable ache. Emma bit her lip roughly as she pulled at her hair viciously; not only was the pain delicious, but it also seemed to add fuel to the fire of her anger.

Her emotions were quickly coiling around her until there was so much tension piled within her lithe frame that it felt as though her ribs would crack and break from the pressure. The heat within her veins continued to course throughout her body and into her heart, which began to beat faster and faster until Emma was nearly breathless. She felt as though she were going insane, as if her very grasp on reality and sanity were on the cusp of falling into an eternal abyss of damnation. As this thought pounded behind her eyes, the blonde's ears were once again filled with the continuous tick, tick, tick of the clock…and Emma broke completely.

Green eyes flew open as the blonde pushed herself away from her desk as she stood. With flames licking at her stomach, and thoughts gnawing at her heart, Emma let a scream burst from her lungs as she violently pushed everything off the surface of her desk. Papers fluttered to the ground as pens clattered across the tiles and a mug crashed against the floor. The idea of chaos and wreckage rectified her anguish and with one last burst of energy the blonde flipped the wooden desk over which caused an explosion of sound to caress her ears. As the noise settled Emma felt her knees become weak, and she let her body fall to the ground in a sobbing heap; her whimpers covering her like a blanket.

"Emma?" a small, strangled voice asked; the word heavy with compassion and fear.

A sharp gasp tumbled from the blonde's lips; her body shaking numbly as her eyes flickered open hesitantly. Brushing the tears away, Emma's blurry gaze wafted out through the door to her office and towards the cells. A look of pure shame painted across her face as her eyes met Mary Margaret's, and she hung her head in dismay; blonde strands shielding her like an impenetrable force. In Emma's state she had failed to remember that the brunette was still in custody at the station as the investigation of Kathryn's murder was ongoing; she never would have let herself fall apart so completely if she had remembered. And now, beneath the other woman's warm gaze, the blonde felt sick, and small; wholly unsure of what to do next. Her wall was her savior and her curse, but now as the barrier continued to crumble and chip away she felt vulnerable and scared; all she wanted to do was stop the tears from spilling onto her cheeks, to pretend as though nothing had happened, but she couldn't, and another sob ripped from her throat as she sat among the havoc she caused.

"Oh, Emma…" Mary Margaret breathed, her green eyes burning with tears as she looked over at the fallen woman, "…come on, come here."

Lifting her eyes once more, Emma stared at her friend beneath slick eyelashes, and this time didn't turn away. Mary Margaret was standing pressed up against the cool, metal bars, one hand gripped tightly around one of the rungs, the other outstretched, reaching towards the blonde in a gentle, coaxing manner. Taking a few shuddering breaths, Emma slowly extracted herself from the floor and lifted her weary body into a standing position. As she walked the short distance to the brunette she felt her heart swell with love, the organ pitter pattering in her chest reassuringly. For the first time in the blonde's life the fear of showing weakness didn't seem so frightening after all.

When Emma was in reaching distance of Mary Margaret, she lifted her hand and laced her fingers around the other woman's. The touch was reassuring and soothing, and the blonde felt as though the gentle grasp pulled her back from the brink of tumbling over the edge. Her heart stopped beating as fervently, her thoughts calmed and slowed within her mind, and she could feel the tears stop rolling down her cheeks. The brunette seemed to be her savior, and Emma rewarded her with a small, tragic smile. They had only known each other for a couple of months, and yet the blonde couldn't remember having a more familial relationship with anyone; the thought of Mary Margaret caring for her so openly made Emma relax even more.

"What…what happened that made you so upset?" the brunette asked softly, her large green eyes boring into the blonde's with intense warmth.

"Regina…" Emma sighed, leaning against the bars to get closer to the comforting woman, "it's always Regina…"

"What did she do to you?"

"She…" surprised by the gruffness in the small woman's voice, the blonde shook her head unsure of what to say, "…she kissed me…"

"Oh my…"

"It's stupid…" Emma quipped, biting her lip as she saw the horrified expression wash over Mary Margaret's face, "…I shouldn't have said anything."

"No, no…I—" squeezing the blonde's hand reassuringly the brunette smiled through the bars of her cell as she shook away her initial shock, "I just never would have assumed that's what made you so…"

"Crazy?"

The two women laughed softly together at Emma's obvious lapse of sanity, which oddly seemed to lighten the mood even further than it already had. For the first time in hours the blonde felt herself genuinely smile, and it felt extremely comforting to have a small wealth of the weight lifted from her. At that moment, with a soft smirk caressing her lips, and her hand being held tightly, Emma felt, for the second time, that Mary Margaret was her savior; in a matter of minutes she had pulled her from the brink of madness and into a modicum of lightness. The blonde didn't know how she could ever possibly repay her friend for everything she had done, but thinking it over she knew that the brunette would never ask for anything in return because that is what people who care about each other do: quell the pain and lessen the load so that their loved ones can carry on.

"How…" Mary Margaret started, but then stopped herself as she tried to find the right words for her question, "…how did it happen?"

"The craziness, the kiss, or both?" Emma asked, her pale eyes glimmering mischievously.

"Both."

"Well…" the blonde started, becoming tired just thinking about the previous night's events.

Taking a few deep breaths Emma began retelling every detail that transpired the night before; everything from the moment she found Regina beneath her apple tree until she had dropped the mayor off at her home. The blonde even mentioned that after her altercations with the brunette that she had been so upset and confused that she couldn't sleep. So, she numbly drove around Storybrooke for the rest of the night in a haze, only stopping when she realized that it was time for her shift to begin. Emma felt all of the darkness pour from her soul as she explained to the brunette about all of the feelings that welled up inside of her; how her anger had inevitably taken over, thus why her office was now is a state of obvious disarray. After all of her thoughts were out in the open, the blonde stifled a yawn and leaned against the bars; noticing for the first time in hours how tired she was.

Mary Margaret had listened intently; stroking her thumb over Emma's shaking hand as a way of comforting her as she delved into the tumultuous memories. But, after all was revealed, she bleakly looked over the blonde wishing that there was something she could do to quell the pain. Though, deep inside of her the brunette knew that there was nothing that she could do to fix the events that had already happened, and that whatever was to come next for both women had to be dealt with on their own terms; without a third party interfering. Because Mary Margaret knew that Emma and Regina would both have to come to realization in the near future, or be plagued for the rest of their lives; while the blonde had spun her story, the brunette came to the conclusion that perhaps what these two women were feeling for each other was something all together more powerful than hate could ever imagine being.

"Ugh," Emma groaned, pushing away from the cell and gently removing her hand from Mary Margaret's, "why does hating someone have to be so complicated?"

"What do you mean?" the brunette questioned skeptically, eyeing the blonde as she paced back and forth in front of the cells.

"I can never get her off my mind—she's always there, no matter what I do! And then there are these…" Emma stopped for a minute, looking blankly at the wall in front of her, her voice taking on a slightly dreamy quality as she continued, "…these feelings that I've never felt before…" Scoffing, the blonde walked back over towards Mary Margaret and gripped the bars in frustration. "God, she makes me crazy!"

"Emma…" the brunette started as she lay a gently hand against the blonde's, when the other woman's gaze met her's she continued, "…maybe it isn't hatred…that you feel for Regina?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean…what if there's another reason—what if you're in—"

As the stuttered accusation began to caress her ears, and dance around inside her mind, Emma's eyes grew wide with fear. Before Mary Margaret's notions were even completely formed, and released from her lips, the blonde knew what she was going to say, and the very thought frightened her. With her heart beating fervently within her chest, and her thoughts racing at an accelerated speed, Emma stumbled backwards until she felt the deputy's desk press against her thighs. This type of thing didn't happen to the blonde; she didn't fall into these types of feelings—one night stands and friends with benefits were what suited her best. Open enough to feel pleasure, but closed enough to make sure that nothing within her became skewed or hurt. No, she thought to herself as she shook her head, this could not be happening.

"No," Emma said, repeating the litany of thoughts that pounded inside her skull, "no, don't say it—this isn't happening."

"You can't stop thinking about her, Emma—" the brunette began, her fingers grasping tightly to the cool, metal bars, "—she's always in your head; she makes you feel things that you've never felt before…" Mary Margaret paused for a moment as she chewed on her lip, her green eyes beginning to water slightly as she tried to get her last words to flow from her throat, "…that's exactly how David makes me feel…"

"It's not the same, it's—"

"I've seen the way you look at her—I heard the way you talk about her. Whatever it is that you feel for Regina…it isn't hate."

Gripping onto the desk with stubby fingernails Emma let Mary Margaret's words course throughout her until they echoed nosily inside her brain. Letting her eyes fall shut the blonde thought back to the night before and everything that she had felt; the way a shiver ran along her spine when she had held Regina's hand beneath the apple tree; how her heart stopped when the dark woman's lips pressed against hers. Everything. Every feeling that she had felt in the past twenty-four hours piled up inside of her and injected themselves into her heart until it was fluttering so quickly that Emma felt as though she couldn't breathe. She was scared—terrified that the brunette was right, that all of these strange sensations and notions that had developed over the past couple of months when she thought about the mayor was the very opposite of hate. And no matter how deep the blonde tried to bury these thoughts, there was a small section in the back of her mind that knew she had accidentally fallen in love with the woman that she was supposed to hate.

"If this is love…" Emma whispered, as her eyes opened and her gaze fell back onto the brunette, "…then why does it feel so shitty?"

Mary Margaret smiled softly as she began to speak, "because love is complicated—it's hard. It's…magical—and something that beautiful is never easy. When you know what you want and are ready to fight for it…you also have to know what you're willing to give up."

Silence descended upon the Sheriff's Department as both women slowly fell away from reality and into their own thoughts. Mary Margaret wondered how her and David had fallen away from each other so quickly, and how it had left a terribly sour taste in her mouth. While Emma let the idea of actually being in love with someone settle into her brain; it was daunting, and she wasn't entirely sure that she was ready to deal with the prospect, especially when it was the mayor who seemed to gather her affections. But, if what the brunette was saying was true, then if she ever wanted a shot at love she would have to be willing to do whatever it took to get it. Eventually, as the thoughts within her head became too much, Emma snapped herself back into reality and looked over towards the clock; it was nearly eight and she could feel herself gently falling into a state of heavy fatigue. Pushing away from the desk, she shoved her hands into her pockets and walked over towards Mary Margaret.

"Hey, I'm gonna run over to Granny's for some coffee, you want any?"

After a few moments without an answer, Emma was about to turn and leave when she noticed the brunette blink several times as she shook her, seemingly coming out of a daze. Peering into the woman's watery eyes, the blonde brushed her fingers gently against the other woman's hand to rouse her from her thoughts. When their eyes met Mary Margaret merely nodded her head, although she wasn't very tired she figured the hot beverage would aide in soothing her sore heart. The blonde gave her a small smile before she turned and left the station. As she watched her friend leave Mary Margaret could only hope that Emma wouldn't make the same mistakes with love that she had.


A/N: First, I just wanted to apologize for the delay with this chapter; I've been extremely busy with school (only one week until exams, eek!) so I didn't have much time to write. Anyway, I've nearly completed the fourth chapter, so I hope to have that up and running later tonight or early tomorrow. Again, I really hope that all of you readers stick with this story, even if my writing seems to be a bit wobbly (this chapter is quite short and I'm sure it probably doesn't sit well with the others) but I hope that you will continue to read it anyway. Also, as always review if you'd like :)