Title: Top of the City
Rating: PG, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: These characters are not my creative property
Summary:Set three days post curse. Emma looks for Regina. Inspired by a Kate Bush's song "Top of the City"
"Emma, stop. She's gone…" Snow blinked back tears as she reached out for Emma's arm, but she didn't grab it.
Emma prepared her flashlight and gun, sliding her jacket over her arms.
"I've been through the entire house of rubble, and I would have found her body by now. She's not dead," Emma answered defiantly; her voice rising in pitch, hoping what she spoke was true.
"Even if she survived the fire, she probably fled Storybrooke. Just stay here with your family," Snow tried once again to dissuade Emma from her quest. She couldn't understand why her daughter had such a strong need to find the woman that cursed them. Wasn't it enough that they were together and reunited at long last?
"You know no one can leave the city border. She's not gone, she's hiding, and there's one place I haven't looked. I'm going. Please take care of Henry," Emma retreated through the door without looking back.
Emma walked into the night with purpose, the streets shined from the heavy rain that continued to fall. The smell of thick noxious smoke still permeated the air. It had been three days since the curse broke. Three days since everyone regained their memories, and three days since the mob swarmed Regina's mansion and burned it to the ground.
She paused in front of the boarded up library and paced back and forth. She looked down the deserted streets ensuring she hadn't been followed by anyone or any thing. She regained her resolve and turned the handle.
So much had happened in the past few days that it seemed like a lifetime ago she had stood in this very spot with Regina. At that time she hadn't known what awaited her in the basement, and what would come after. She wished she could go back to that uncertainty. It felt more tangible than what she now faced.
The door creaked open, unlocked from when they had rushed back to the hospital. Emma met darkness. She didn't dare to turn on the light, and wondered briefly if there was even power anyway. This was her last hope to find Regina, and a part of her wanted to prolong that feeling. She didn't think she could withstand any more disappointment.
She heard a scratching noise and a something like a shuffle on the wood floor. She pulled her flashlight to shine it along the walls, her other hand on her gun. Despite her fatigue, her body was tense and ready for confrontation with whatever she might find.
As she slowly walked the perimeter of the building she couldn't help but wish she had taken Regina up on her offer of a tour. She looked at the elevator; the car was still lodged between floors unmoved. Regina wouldn't have gone down there anyway, that much was certain.
She heard something creak overhead. She passed rows of bookcases, dusty and forgotten, some toppled, books scattered and strewn. She stepped over piles of bent bindings and ripped pages until she reached the back wall. Another dark door to enter: this was reminiscent of the nightmare that had woken her from her thin thread of slumber for the past three nights.
The knob was ornately sculpted, just as she had dreamed. The narrow staircase spiraled up. It was so steep she had to climb it like a ladder. She bit the handle of her flashlight to keep it shining. The wooden stairs were rotten and she had to test each step to make sure it would hold her weight. Up and up she crawled as the passage grew narrower. Finally she came to the top and realized she was inside the clock tower. The top few steps were missing and using the same technique she'd use to get out of a deep pool; she pulled herself up and swung her legs over the ledge, rolling onto the dirty boarded floor with a huff.
There wasn't room to stand up, so she crawled on hands and knees, exploring the tiny space. She shined her flashlight illuminating the back of the clock face, and then into each corner.
"You've come, Ms. Swan."
Regina's voice punctuating the inky darkness from behind startled Emma and she turned over onto her hip pointing her flashlight in reflex. Regina cowered and turned her head from the painful burst of brightness.
"You're alive," Emma's voice was clouded with relief, as she cautiously made her way over to inspect Regina.
"Yes, you've come to change that, I assume," Regina's voice was dry, her usual sardonic intonation absent.
"No—the fire…you're burned," Emma was careful not to shine the light in her eyes again, but she looked over Regina's body. She was dirty, her pants ripped and a large ugly and blistered burn on her thigh.
"You weren't there to save me this time…no, no," Regina almost laughed as she shook her head slightly, and then rested it against the wall, turning away from Emma.
"I'm here now," Emma's tone was soft and hopeful. She wanted to reach out and touch Regina; she needed something solid to make her mind believe what she was seeing.
"It's a bit late, dear," Regina's lips were chapped, her face covered in grime and soot. She looked so small and unimposing; she seemed to be fighting against a knitted web of pain.
"You can't heal yourself…with magic?" Emma had already had a crash course in the ways of magic and she was surprised to find Regina in such a dire state when she had been warned repeatedly about her ability for powerful sorcery.
"Not so much right now," Regina shifted, her face coming into view as she tried to sit up straighter.
"You're too weak…you need food and water," Emma breathed in astonishment. Regina must have been up here since the fire with nothing but her pain.
"Henry?" Regina derailed the subject of her own welfare.
"He's fine…or you know, as fine as he can be expected to be," Emma shrugged in discomfort at the mention of their son.
Regina only nodded, her lips tightening as tears spilled down her cheeks creating new tracks on her soot stained cheeks.
"You'll come with me? We'll get you taken care of," Emma asked hopefully, moving closer, daring to touch Regina's chin guiding her face upwards.
"I can't go anywhere…I'm beyond saving. Either kill me, or leave me to die on my own," Regina turned her chin away violently, and looked down at her upturned palms.
"I'm gonna get you out of here now," Emma steadfastly ignored Regina's verbal protests, and found she truly was too weak to put up a physical fight. Emma wrapped her arms around her torso, and tugged her forward. Regina hissed sharply in pain, and Emma relaxed her pull, but didn't loosen her grip. Instead, she held on tighter as Regina began to shake with labored sobs. Emma hugged her closer, bristling in fear when she felt how cold her body was. Regina hugged back, loosely gripping fistfuls of Emma's hair as she wept violently. Emma stroked her hair and whispered the false promise that everything was going to be okay.
I don't know if I'm closer to heaven
But it looks like hell down there
These streets have never been paved with gold
Welcome to the loneliest city in the world
It's no good for you baby, It's no good for you now…