She goes back to the stables once a week.
Sometimes she uses time with Henry as an excuse, but after their second coincidental meeting, he loses interest in the horses and finds other ways to pass the time.
But every Wednesday Regina still comes, lilies in hand, and sugar lumps for the horses in her pocket.
"Regina," he says, and there's no question in his voice because the shepherd-turned-Prince still believes he has dominion over her. Regina ignores him, and places the lilies one by one beside the stall door.
"Regina," David repeats, and this time there's a hand on her arm, a warning squeeze of strong fingers.
"Go away," she says, and counts it as a victory when the words come out in a snarl and not a sob.
"That bug can't keep his promises either," Regina snaps, before sighing at the inevitable, unimportant betrayal. Did she really expect their laughable promises of care and confidentiality to hold out?
Snow, simpering idiot and breaker of promises, would tell her that if only she could trust in the goodness of others, Regina would see there's no need to revert to magic and evil; Regina would listen, nod, and suppress the urge to throw up. It's not uncommon when it comes to her former stepdaughter.
"Come along, Charming, where are you dragging me to now?"
"You can't keep doing this," David warns, his hand still wrapped around her upper arm, squeezing in time with his words. "Even Henry's starting to notice that you're-"
"What?" Regina spits, shrugging off his grip and staggering back to her feet. She won't cry in front of him, won't give him the satisfaction now. She certainly won't forgive him for making her plead, both for Daniel's life and by extension, her own.
"He knows you're upset," David offers lamely. "And Archie said you've been skipping appointments. I thought I might find you here, that's all."
"I'm not using magic," Regina supplies with her most sarcastic smile. "Now run along, put a gold star on my chart, won't you?"
"I'm trying..." David starts, but even he doesn't seem to know the end of the thought. Probably not a new experience for him either, he really should stick to swinging swords and charging at large, solid objects.
"Nothing but my patience," Regina finishes, and it almost sounds helpful. "Was there anything else?"
"Stop this!" David barks, and when he steps forward Regina lurches back from sheer instinct. She's so tired of these brutes who think they can shove and grab and paw at her like forest animals; she's tired of not turning them to dust when they do. (Just Daniel, gone for good, the last of him dispersed underfoot, like everything else Regina has ever loved.)
"Am I making you feel bad?" Regina asks, trying to force the sing-song into her voice. But David advances again and now she's in the empty stall, back against the battered wood with its flaking pink paint. "How careless of me."
"I'm sorry about your stable boy," David begins. "But-"
"His name was Daniel," Regina interrupts, and her hand seems to almost raise itself. The blue light flickers around her fingertips and it would be easy, so incredibly easy to finally take from Snow what Snow took from her. David has the good sense, for once, to back off just a little, raising his own hands in what might be surrender.
"Daniel," he amends, and it's so much more painful coming from his mouth that Regina finds herself blinking back fresh tears. "I'm sorry about Daniel."
"If I had killed her," Regina asks, closing her eyes to keep those tears at bay. "If I had... succeeded," she adds, the bite in her words a physical act. "What would you have done to avenge her, Prince Charming?"
"I..." He seems to genuinely be considering it, perhaps for the first time. "I would have burned the entire Forest down, just to make you suffer."
"Well," Regina sighs, flicking her eyes open once more, observing the slack-jawed understanding on his face. "I think that's what they call empathy. You'll forgive me," she says then, scrunching her nose in disgust. "If I can't quite remember what that feels like, myself."
"Does it help?" David asks, dropping his hands back to his side. "Being this way-alienating anyone stupid enough to care for a second-does it make you miss him less?"
The question is stupid, easily ducked, and yet Regina feels it hit her in the gut as surely as any punch.
"No," she admits. "Not even a little." She sees the resemblance between him and Emma then, at last, in the defiant jawline and the echoes of Emma demanding to know how Regina lost her soul.
"It doesn't have to be like this," David says, rubbing his face with one big hand, scratching at a day or so of stubble not befitting his status.
"Perhaps it does," Regina argues, exhausted. There's an empty house waiting for her, another long night of not snapping her fingers, not muttering the incantations, all so Henry can spend another day hating her. "I'm going home," she says, because the time to resist reporting to these idiots is over, at least for now.
"Wait," David says, and he's close enough to lay a hand on her shoulder.
"Push me again," Regina threatens. She bares her teeth and forces her face closer to his own, not scared now. "I dare you."
"Dammit," David replies. "Can't you just try to get better? Can't you try to get over it?"
"Get over it?" Regina's aware that her voice is approaching a screech. "Don't make me hurt you, shepherd." His fingers are gripping hard enough to tear the fabric of her blazer and she wants him to, wants to keep pressing against her collarbone like this until it bruises, until it snaps if he has it in him. (It healed before, after her mother...well, magic throws don't always have a lot of precision, as Regina learned early in life.)
It's only then she realizes how close they truly are, inhaling the blend of mint and coffee on his breath that's warm against her cheek.
"Other men would have killed you by now," David points out, his voice a gruff whisper that fools neither of them. "The second you put my family through that portal, I should have taken your head."
"But you need me to get them back," Regina teases, looking up at him now, meeting his steady gaze. "Or you think you might, and that buys my safety for now."
"You can be safe in a jail cell, too," David warns. His other hand comes to rest on her other shoulder and now the hurt is clearly intentional. He means to hold her down, assert some kind of dominance over her, and Regina's so very done with that. It won't take more than a second, to blast him clear across the stable floor, and yet she hesitates.
"You miss them," Regina says, with something a little too close to wonder. "And you blame me, despite your own daughter being the fool who pushed me out of harm's way."
"What does it matter?" David persists. "Maybe I should lock you up, until you start remembering how to construct a portal."
"I never knew," Regina says simply, having forgotten how easy the truth can be. "So, good luck with that."
"You're impossible," David groans, and just when he should let go, he grips a little harder, enough to draw an involuntary hiss from Regina. She hates herself instantly for showing even that glimmer of weakness.
"You're lonely," Regina mocks. "Never did get used to being alone, did you? It's not so hard, when you get the hang of it."
David shifts uncomfortably at her words and Regina registers a nagging, familiar sensation about the blush that rises in his cheeks. Oh, for gods' sakes... yes, sure enough, a cursory glance down confirms a certain tightness in those bland, blue jeans.
"Oh, Charming," Regina mocks, suddenly delighted. "Is that why you can't keep your hands off me? How... pedestrian."
He moves to let her go then, but Regina has reflexes honed from years of magic and fear, and she makes contact first, cupping him through the denim.
"Would it help?" She asks, surprised at her own genuine curiosity. "Is that what it's going to take, to find some kind of peace?"
"I-" David loses his words as she squeezes, ever the mistress of perfect timing.
"Men," Regina mutters, more to herself than anything. "So predictable."
"Maybe I should go," David says, but there's a hitch in his breathing as Regina moves her hand a little higher, and they both know he's going nowhere.
"Don't kiss me," Regina orders. "Don't you dare try."
"Wouldn't dream of it," David says, and when he leans into her, his mouth captures her earlobe instead, sucking gently. Regina, almost impressed despite herself, grabs his shirt with her other hand, pulling it free of his belt and making the appropriated Sheriff's badge clatter to the floor. "Don't you mention her name," he murmurs against her neck, and the warm, wet contact of his mouth over her pulse point definitely couldn't be described as a kiss.
For a moment Regina wonders if he means his wife or his daughter, but either way she doesn't give a damn. She's unbuckling his simple leather belt now, a faux-silver buckle that feels like it might bend under her fingers, not the ostentatious trappings of a Prince.
"You should..." David starts to instruct, but she silences him with a glare. There are indignities she'll suffer to get what she wants, but his dominance is not one of them. She shoves his jeans down to his thighs to make her point, and he responds by letting his hands finally leave her shoulders, slipping south to cup her breasts through soft red fabric.
"They don't bite," Regina sighs at the tentative touch. He squeezes in response, and she leans in to whisper in his ear. "But I do."
"I'm not scared of you," David says, and Regina can't help but smile at the fact that he means it. His hands are under her shirt now, nothing cautious in the movement of his fingers. He strokes with his thumbs, warm and firm against her nipples, causing the first moan to catch at the very base of her throat. Regina feels the sensations ripple through her body, not so very different to the charge and flow of magic, in the end. Her breath is coming a little faster now, a little louder in the echoing, empty stall.
She pushes into the touch, urging him on. It's maddening, if expected, that even now he would defer to her and wait for some instruction. Regina forgets herself, and kisses him, his lips soft and giving in a way she didn't expect, but the rasp of that blonde stubble against her face reminds her of the pain that comes with any pleasure she might take from him.
"I thought-" he gasps, when they part for air. He kisses like it's another contest, like the kiss is just another duel that he expects to win. Regina hates him for it, and kisses him again. To make her point (albeit silently, and to herself) she drags her teeth over his bottom lip this time, sucking on it hard enough to bruise if she wishes. He moans gratefully instead of pulling away, and Regina feels a spark at the base of her spine.
She's going to break him, and she's going to enjoy it.
"Going to have your wicked way with me now?" David asks when she releases him. There's something almost boyish in the grin, and it's enough to make Regina roll her eyes. She lays one hand flat on his stomach, considering for a moment, before pulling at his shirt buttons and pulling the cotton down over strong arms. It forces him to stop touching her, and she's despairing at how quickly she misses it. In retaliation, she yanks the shirt the rest of the way off, and pulls his undershirt off right after.
"I feel a little overdressed," she admits, running a hand over his smooth chest. A coma and the gentle work of rehoming animals hasn't diminished the sheer physicality of him, and Regina digs her nails into tender flesh, just to make sure.
He hisses at that, grabbing her firmly by the wrist and yanking the hand away. They both stare for a moment at the angry red lines, before he lets go.
"What's wrong, Prince?" Regina mocks. "Afraid of a little scratch?"
"I thought-" David flexes his bared arms almost instinctively. "I thought you were going for my heart."
"Poor baby," Regina sneers. "And yet, you're still here."
He comes at her with a force she doesn't expect, and the slamming into the wall knocks all the air from her lungs. There'll be bruises, later, but she'll need them to believe this ever happened at all.
"Would you have kissed him?" David asks, and the cruelty winds her more than the impact did. "Kissed a monster here on the stable floor? Fucked him, even?"
"Don't," Regina warns, but it's too late. Her red shirt rends so easily under those big hands, buttons scattering to the floor, and the first cool breeze against her newly exposed skin is a shock she can't brace herself against.
"Perhaps if you concerned yourself with the living," David continues, his pale eyes darkened with what Regina has to hope is lust and not the spiritual darkness she's seen in the mirror countless times. "And let someone touch you every now and then, you wouldn't be such a bitch."
"Shut up," Regina hisses, but she can feel the hardness of him against her hip as he presses forward, crying out in surprise as he pushes her feet further apart with his heavy work boot. She should tell him to go to hell, to unhand her and not treat her like one of his country girls, but she's already aching for more as he grabs her wrists and pins them above her head.
She tries not to whimper as he leans in, breath warm over her clavicle, a flicker of his tongue in the hollow there. Luckily he's too close to see the way goosebumps rise on her skin from that touch alone. It's painful to want him this much and be disgusted by it at the same time, and Regina has to choke back an unexpected sob. Even if it hurts a little too much, even if he doesn't care for her in the slightest, it can't be as lonely as the frustrating touch of her own fingers on the nights she's overcome her shame long enough to try.
His chin scrapes across the tender skin of her chest, another angry blemish to mark this strange occasion. Regina squirms a little to test his grip, but he holds her in place easily enough.
"Patience," he scolds her, that arrogance as maddening as it is attractive. She wants to sink her teeth into his unblemished skin, mark him with the shame he'll no doubt feel the moment they're done. Instead she's at his mercy, temporarily, and just as she's trying to think of the easiest way out, he captures a nipple between his teeth and the thoughts all fade away.
He's not afraid to be rough with her, teasing with sharp teeth until she's just on the point of finding it too much, then releasing and lathing the sensitized skin with his tongue. Typical Charming, even when he wants to hurt her, he ends up kissing it better anyway.
Regina would mock him, but breathing is something of an issue, and forming words even more so. She hates herself for every rock of her hips towards him, and the fact that she's already soaking through her underwear makes her keen to skip the formalities and fuck him.
So she puts a little magic in the next flexing of her wrists, and he's too distracted not to let her go. With her hands free she tugs at his downy hair, wrenching his head away from her breast with just a little reluctance.
"No need to get fancy, Charming," she warns, yanking her skirt up and pulling her panties down with just as little care. They catch on her right ankle, hanging around the black leather of her boots. She would kick them aside, but David has already caught on, those strong hands behind her thighs, leveraging her against the wall and not caring that her open blazer sends a shower of flaking paint towards the ground. They both have a hand on his boxers, pushing at the waistband in different places until that last obstacle is gone and his erection springs free.
Regina looks down, just once, and confirms her long-held suspicion. Well, nobody could ever accuse Snow of not liking the best in everything. But that horrid child doesn't get to ruin this, doesn't get to take another moment of feeling something other than pain from her. No, today Regina is the one doing the taking, and this handsome, simple fool is just too willing to come along.
She grabs the back of his neck with one hand, grasping his hips with her thighs. It's just so natural to slide the other hand down over those defined muscles and seek out his cock, to feel that twitch as she takes him in hand, and the noise much like a growl in the base of his throat.
The good are just so heartbreakingly easy to corrupt. (And that's what she has to hold on to, has to make this all about, because if she thinks of Daniel, of that one tentative, fumbling time full of smiles and love and a safety she hasn't felt for even a moment since, Regina may truly lose her mind for good.)
Regina guides him into position, and he hisses when he realizes how wet she already is. Was he hoping it would hurt? Another loss for him then. She rocks her hips one more time, gently absorbing the length of him, and decides when that familiar stretch stops just before actually hurting that it will be the last gentle act.
"Come on, shepherd," she whispers in his ear. "Do you fuck like a farm boy or a prince?"
He pulls almost all the way out, thrusting back in hard as a reply. Regina sighs contentedly as her body begins to tense in anticipation. This, as much as closure, or redemption, or love is what she needs. She needs to feel alive, really alive and not just the side-effect of some enchantment. She needs to find the Evil Queen she's supposed to be because she, and not sweet, young Regina, is who has survived all this time.
"Yes," Regina breathes, digging her nails into David's shoulders hard enough to draw blood. He cries out against her neck then, interrupting the warm, wet pressure of his tongue tracing lines and circles on her skin. "Harder," she demands, and this time when their flesh presses together it sounds much more like a slap, over and over and over again.
She grasps him with her legs now, locking him in place and freeing his hands at the same time. David wastes no time seeking out her almost painfully tender breasts, squeezing and rubbing with more enthusiasm than finesse.
"I-" he starts to say, breathless as each thrust pushes her harder against the wall.
"Hate me," Regina finishes, and this time her head hits just a little harder, makes her feel just a little dizzy. "I know."
"No," he gasps, but if there's a thought to follow it, David isn't sharing any more.
Part of her wants to drag it out, now that it's real. She wants to record it, play it on a flickering screen at the town's half-collapsed cinema for precious Snow to watch if she ever returns (and Regina knows, by the dread in the pit of her stomach, that she will). But the building heat inside of her says more, now, harder and just when she relents to slip a hand down over her stomach, David's hand slips between them first.
"How kind," she growls against his shoulder, but it dissolves into a sobbing little moan as he presses coarse fingertips against her clit, imprecise circles that still manage to set her nerves tingling. He's getting close now, she can tell from the way his body is tensing under her touch, and she digs a heel into the back of his thigh just to hear him cry out.
But it's already too much, and the friction and the pace and the strength of it all undoes her in just a few more thrusts, even as Regina grits her teeth and tries to hold out. The lights that explode behind her eyes are all the brighter for her not wanting to give in.
David comes a few sharp thrusts later, spilling inside her as he clutches her ass, pulling Regina away from the wall and then letting her fall back against it once he's spent. She pats his shoulder a moment later, right on top of the stinging lines left by her nails, and in a breathless, sweating fumble, they disentangle themselves.
"Well," Regina says, yanking her skirt back down after swiftly drawing her panties back up her legs. She blows a strand of damp hair out of her face and watches him, awkwardly trying to cover up with boxers and then button his jeans with trembling hands. "That was surprisingly fun, Charming."
"It won't happen again," he growls, not even looking at her. "And if I find out you tricked me somehow..."
"Oh, grow up," Regina snaps. "Always looking for an excuse. The curse made me do it, the King wanted me to marry someone else... whatever happened here today? You chose it. So you live with it."
"Will you tell her?" David asks, pulling his t-shirt back on.
"I'd have to see her again, first," Regina points out, relishing the familiar sense of cruelty. "But no. I don't exactly count it as my finest hour."
"Did you..." Charming looks like he's trying to stop himself finishing the thought, but he carries on. "If you want to see Henry tomorrow, I have town business until six. Maybe if you meet him after school?"
"Charity and a pity fuck?" Regina asks, trying to cover the flutter of excitement at unexpected time with Henry.
"You know what? Think whatever you like," David fires back, buttoning his shirt as Regina smooths her torn one under her blazer and buttons that. "But if you keep this up? You'll have nobody to blame but yourself."
"Thanks for the morality check," Regina says, rolling her eyes "And scratching the itch."
"I'll pick Henry up tomorrow. But tell him I'm coming. And tell the teachers not to let him run away," Regina finishes, sickened at having to add the last part. "And Charming? Not a word about this."
"Not a word," he agrees.
"Just one thing though," Regina says as he heads towards the stall door. "How long have you wanted to do that?"
"What?" David demands. "Are you... Dammit, Regina."
He storms off, and Regina chuckles as she wraps her arms around herself, suddenly chilled in the afternoon air. Longer than today then, judging by his reaction. Predictable, Regina tells herself again, blinking back the tears she didn't ask for. Just another chance stolen from her by Snow White.
Regina collects herself and strides out into the main stables, intent on gathering her purse and heading home. She pauses at the sight of her lilies, one crushed into the stone floor, broken strands of straw all around it.
She picks up the broken one, and pushes the others together into the tribute they were intended to be. Somewhere outside, a truck engine roars into life.
She'll be back next Wednesday, and perhaps this time she'll bring roses from the garden.