A/N: Reviews are appreciated.

I saw you going down

But you never realized

That you're drowning in the water

So I offered you my hand

Compassion's in my nature

Tonight is our last stand

Emma always wondered why Regina locked the door when she showered…

Emma jolted up quickly from her sleep, her chest rising and falling as she gasped for breath. She had dreamed she was falling from a high tower and the sudden splatter of her body against the ground woke her up in a panic. She reached next to her, hoping to find some comfort in Regina's warmth. Her brow furrowed when she realized that Regina wasn't even there. The blonde turned her head toward the clock – 4:00am. Where the hell could she be?

As her senses returned to her, Emma groggily noticed the bathroom light on and a wispy jet of steam coming through the crack of the door. She stretched and left the bed, shuffling in the dark toward the bathroom. Showering? At 4:00am? Regina abandoning her beloved ritual? Each morning Regina woke up at 6:30am and took a warm shower followed by a particular pattern of primping. Emma had tried to join her once, only to have the brunette angrily push her away and quickly lock the door behind her. The blonde didn't think much of it, just chopped it up to Regina's normal cold demeanor. But ever since then, for the last two weeks, Regina had made sure to lock the door behind her before each shower or bath.

Emma fingered the doorknob wearily, holding her breath. There had to be a particular reason that Regina didn't want her in there with her. Maybe she was just nervous? Not wanting to let a sense of domesticity begin between the two of them if Regina let her into her daily routine? Emma shrugged before turning the knob to the right. She exhaled slowly when she realized that the door was, surprisingly, unlocked. She stepped into the bathroom slowly. The overwhelming warmth that enveloped her made it difficult to breathe and she had to poke her head back into the bedroom for a moment before tiptoeing toward the shower.

"Regina?" Emma called softly. She wasn't even sure whether the brunette could hear her over loud patter of the shower hose spraying water against the walls and tub. "Regina?"

A head quickly poked out of the shower. "I- I was just finishing up," Regina stuttered. "Just hand me a towel and I'll be done."

Emma wrinkled her forehead. "You don't have to get out. I was just coming to see if you were ok. It's not like you to-"

"I'm fine," Regina interrupted, clinging to the shower curtain.

The two sat in silence for a moment. Emma shifted from side to side and sighed. They had been together for over a month and Regina had never agreed to any vulnerability – hiked up skirt, rushed, no semblance of sweetness in their love making – could you even call it that? – fucking. But Emma Swan wanted more than fucking. She was intrigued by the enigma that was Regina Mills and had no intention of stopping until she was broken- no- softened.

"Can I come in?" Emma pulled her tiny tank top from over her head and shimmied out of her boy shorts. She reached forward to pull the curtain back slightly to allow herself room to walk into the tub.

"No, I- " Regina quickly turned, her back against the wall. "Ms. Swan, really, I'm finished, you can have the shower now." She reached blindly outside of the curtain for a towel.

Emma smiled at the sight of a completely naked Regina. She opened her arms toward the brunette, expecting her to happily jump. But, then again, this was Regina we're talking about.

"Ms. Swan, it is awfully rude to walk in on a woman when she's her most vulnerable," Regina hissed, her back pressed coldly against the white tiling on the wall.

The blonde rolled her eyes. "Just come here."

Regina opened her mouth in protest but decided against it. She walked slowly toward the other woman with her gaze averted. Pain crept in her throat. She couldn't bear to meet Emma's loving stare.

"Are you ok?" Emma asked, rubbing Regina's forearms.

Regina bit her lower lip, contemplating. She reached out and brushed a soft fingertip over one of Emma's hipbones. The skin was smooth to the touch. Smooth. Pale. Regina swallowed a sob that crept up in her throat.

"Have you washed yet?"

The brunette shook her head silently. She tried to steady the heart that was beating rapidly in her chest at the thought of Emma Swan bathing her, touching her, seeing broken down to her most vulnerable state.

"Turn around then, I'll help," Emma suggested. She didn't want to admit it, but she found the idea of being pressed up close, skin to skin, washing the brunette beauty an absolute turn on. She longed for more than just a quick fuck in the dark. Emma wanted to see Regina, feel Regina, study Regina. She reached out a slightly shaking hand and tried to turn the other woman around so her back was pressed against her front. A frown spread across her face when Regina tensed up and firmly planted her feet on the base of the tub. "Regina, what's wrong?" she asked, running a hand down the brunette's back.

Regina gasped at the touch and grimaced. "This…is not going to be the romantic scene in the movies, Ms. Swan. This is not where we melt into each other's arms for the first time while a love song plays in the background and the picture fades." She squeezed Emma's hand gently. "The picture faded long ago for me."

The blonde bit her lower lip. "I get it, I'm sorry. I've overstayed my welcome here."

Regina cocked her head slightly and looked sadly at the other woman. "That- that is not it at all. I- I enjoy your company, Ms. Swan. I just-"

"No, I get it." Anger boiled slightly deep in the pit of Emma's stomach. She was nothing more than a play thing. It was her own damned fault for allowing herself to be so immersed in her own emotions. It had been in front of her all along – Regina was only looking for a fuck body, some occasional company. She opened the shower curtain and carefully placed one wet foot on the bath mat before feeling a tug at her forearm.

"While I wouldn't blame you if you left," Regina murmured softly, "if I let you stay in here with me, you have to promise you won't leave." The older woman's eyes sparkled with tears and a sadness that Emma hadn't seen before.

"Regina," Emma stepped back into the tub and locked her eyes on the other woman, "I'm here every day. I fall asleep in your bed, I try to be warm and-" she couldn't think of the right word – " cuddly with you-" A blush crept on the blonde woman's face – "and you push me away. I don't know what universe you live in if you're worried that I'm the one leaving."

Regina inhaled slowly and closed her eyes. Grabbing Emma's hands and placing them on her hips, she stood on her toes slightly and hovered her lips over the blonde's. "Promise me," she whispered.

Emma's knees went weak at the feel of Regina's lips so close to hers. "I promise."

Regina turned slowly, her back toward the other woman. Emma pressed her body closer and pushed them both into the stream of warm water. She brushed her lips softly across the back of the Mayor's shoulder and reveled in the feeling of their skin molded so deliciously together. Thick black strands of hair stuck wetly against Regina's neck and Emma smoothed them gently to reveal more of the older woman's olive skin. She pressed her lips against the newly exposed skin and sucked softly, leaving a little red spot. Regina would be pissed if she left a hickey, which only caused a grin to spread on the Sheriff's face and encourage her to suck more.

Regina rolled her head back slightly on Emma's shoulder and rested her hands over the pair currently on her hipbones. She turned her head slightly and caught the blonde off guard with a searing kiss. "Touch me," Regina breathed, squeezing their hands together.

Emma's stomach flipped and a surge of stickiness unlike the water coursing down her skin dripped between her legs. She moved their entwined fingers down between Regina's legs, but the older woman shook her head and moved them back to their resting place on her hips. "Not there," Regina said softly, inching Emma's hands toward the small of her back. "Touch me."

Emma traced her fingertips up Regina's sides and started her journey at her shoulder blades. Her touch was soft and tender as she wrote their love story across the brunette's body. The blonde splayed her palms across Regina's back and massaged slightly, causing the older woman to hiss between her teeth. Emma stopped the patterns as she felt a particularly rough line of skin beneath her fingers. Her face wrinkled in confusion. Above the small of Regina's back were two lines of bumpy, raised skin. The younger woman studied them intently, barely touching the marks with the tips of her fingers. She watched as each touch caused Regina to jump slightly, her fists clenched and her eyes shut tight.

Regina held her breath as Emma pressed against a particularly painful spot on her scars. She let out a soft whimper as the blonde traced back and forth over the raw skin. A gasp escaped her lips as Emma carefully rubbed the bar of soap across the skin. Regina bowed her head and watched as the water beneath her feet was stained a creamy brown from the countless layers of makeup she applied to her back each day to cover the layers of jagged scars on her skin.

It was then that Emma finally understood why Regina didn't want her to see her naked. Thick red scars shown across her back, puffy and rough to the touch. These weren't recent scars, evidence of a one time mishap. No, she had seen these before in her work as Sheriff – these scars were from years and years of abuse.

Regina held her breath as Emma's warm touch stopped. Naked and free of any makeup, her body was nothing but a reminder that she was marked and broken. She wouldn't – couldn't – blame Emma for walking away. Too much baggage, too many reminders of each day. Too hard of an exterior to break through. "I'm sorry," Regina whimpered, a single tear falling down her face.

Emma turned Regina back to face her and cupped her cheek lovingly. "Regina…" her voice trailed off. Her heart shattered into a million pieces when she noticed just how small Regina seemed without the heels, without the toughness. Vulnerable and naked, Regina appeared very small and in dire need of someone to love her unconditionally. "I don't know who hurt you, and I don't know why, but don't you dare apologize." She placed a chaste kiss on the brunette's forehead. "This," she traced gently around Regina's back, "does not define who you are."

"I'm….broken," Regina whispered, bringing her hand up to Emma's face and stroking with her thumb. "I have a hard shell but these," she moved her free hand to cover Emma's on her back, "are the cracks in the foundation." The brunette buried her face in the crook of the other woman's neck and whimpered against her skin. "I have had to put so many layers of walls up that I…I don't think I can let anyone in."

Emma stared into a pair of the saddest eyes she had ever seen. She brushed through Regina's wet locks and pulled her face to hers, kissing her with a tenderness that Regina was sure she had never experienced before. Their embrace, their kisses were not about sex, about a quick fuck. Emma Swan kissed Regina Mills so hard, so intensely that their lungs burned for air. Emma kneeled down, holding onto the brunette's hips gently. She turned her until she was face to face with the series of blood red marks and began to brush her lips softly against each inch of scarring. Emma kissed them over and over again, sending shivers down Regina's spine. It wasn't until she finished her exploration of the other woman's skin that Emma realized that hot tears were running down the brunette's cheeks. Her chest heaved and the sobs overwhelmed her; she fell to her knees and for Emma, who quickly curled up next to her and caressed her in her arms. "Emma," she cried, clinging to the blonde for dear life, for protection.

"Shhh," Emma cooed, rocking Regina back and forth slightly in her arms. The stream of hot water was pounding her face, but she didn't care. She lay there, holding this frail, vulnerable woman in her arms. "Look at me." She tugged at Regina's chin slightly so she was looking up at her. "You are not damaged, you are not broken, you are not ruined." Emma entwined their fingers together and brought them up to her lips, kissing each one of Regina's digits feather softly. "That pain was merely the beginning, we have to continue writing your story." She kissed Regina's forehead softly. "That pain was not your ever after."

Regina's sobs lightened and she nodded. Despite the warmth of the water sprinkling down on her, she shivered at the feeling of such a tender and sincere embrace. She had never been held, never been treated with such a love and comfort as she was right now in Emma's arms. It was in that moment that Regina realized that this was where she belonged – vulnerable, her walls demolished, her glass house broken. For the first time in years, the persistent burning from her scars was missing.