The crowd has thinned now, Emma observes on the monitor for the station's crappy security cameras. Every so often a cry of 'burn the witch' floats through one of the barely-open windows, but that's mostly just Leroy reaching the end of his bottle of bourbon.
She stretches in her chair, wishing for a change of clothes and a better air-con system. The summer evening is too hot, muggy even, and Emma can feel the trickle of sweat rolling down her spine.
"It's hot," Regina says from her cell, shrugging off her torn blazer and kicking off her heels. "How can you work like this?"
"Don't have a choice," Emma replies, kicking her feet down off the desk and making her way over to the water cooler. "Are you thirsty?"
She can see that Regina wants to deny it, wants to score some petty point about not needing anything Emma can give her, but self-preservation wins out in the end. Dehydration will cost her more than pride, Regina seems to realize as she nods once, a sharp jerk of her head and nothing more.
Emma crosses over to the cells, offering up one of the flimsy paper cups to Regina.
"Here," she says. "We should think about food soon, maybe."
"They'll poison it," Regina says before gulping the water down quickly, crumpling the cup and throwing it on the floor. "Maybe you will too, if it comes to it."
"Cram it with the self-pity, could you?" Emma is tired, so unbelievably tired of this shit. "You brought this on yourself, Regina. You ruined our lives."
"Then deal with me," Regina spits, pulling herself right up against the bars, face pressed into the space between them. "Stop being such a coward and deal with me. Punish me, kill me, anything but this waiting…this pointless waiting. Gods."
"You think it's really that easy?" Emma has her hands on the bars now too, her face just inches away from Regina's. "You might ruin an entire…kingdom…because you had a bad hair day, but some of us are more responsible than that."
"A bad hair day?" Regina almost chokes on the words. "Do you have any idea what happened to me? What I lived through?"
"Your boyfriend died, right?" Emma says. "That's sad as hell, Regina, but you ripped us all apart for it. And nobody here in Storybrooke killed your boyfriend."
"Right," Regina says, her voice so hollow it barely sounds human. She laughs, even, but when she bares her teeth it looks and sounds more like a scream. "Who needs the whole story?"
"What more is there to tell?" Emma challenges, and it's an old frustration now. The product of a life lived with more questions than answers, never knowing the whole truth, never having anything but a baby blanket as proof that anyone ever knew her at all. "You want my sympathy, you have to work for it."
"I won't beg," Regina says, her voice almost a growl. "You don't get to make me beg. Nobody does, not anymore."
"See? That's what I mean. You talk in these riddles and you hint at terrible things… but you never tell me. Just like you never told me the truth the whole time we were—"
"Together?" Regina snaps. "What does that matter, now? What does it matter if I love you?" She says those last three words like they're barbed wire on her tongue, and it makes Emma want to slap her, or maybe cry, but probably both.
"I hate you," Emma sobs, pressing her head against one of the bars. Even the metal in here can't stay cool. "But I love you."
"I hate me, too," Regina confesses, moving along the bars until she's level with Emma again. "You'd be doing us all a favor, you know. Just walk over there, get your gun…"
"No," Emma says, resolve creeping back in. "There has to be a better ending than this."
"Like when their patience finally snaps and they overwhelm you?" Regina asks. "An angry mob storming the jail and dragging me away? You know it's going to happen. That's why you're not letting anyone else in here. You don't trust them."
"If I let you out of here," Emma speaks hesitantly, unable to believe she's saying the words. "Where would you go?"
"I won't," Regina says sadly. "Not without Henry. Not without you. I told you before: love is a weakness. And I am so very weak now, Emma Swan."
"This is a fucking mess," Emma sighs, but now she's reaching through the bars, caressing Regina's face as tears trickle onto her hand. "How do we end this?"
"I don't get a happy ending," Regina reminds her. "That's the law of my land: only the pure of heart get to be happy. Once you go to the dark side, there's no coming back, no redemption. That's a quirk of this world, it seems."
"I don't believe that," Emma says shakily.
"Believing has never been your strong suit, dear," Regina sighs, grabbing Emma's hand and pressing a kiss against her palm. "But if they do come for me—when they come for me—don't let me suffer. Please? I've suffered enough for one lifetime."
"I won't let that happen. I won't let them hurt you," Emma promises, pulling Regina closer to kiss her through the bars. It's the saddest kiss she's ever had, all salt and sorrow and the creak of breaking hearts.
"Oh, Emma," Regina says when they part. "You won't have a choice."