A/N: This story is an old one I had written and posted, but was forced to take down due to the fact that it had broken the site's rules about including copyrighted material. I deleted the original, and was upset about this for days as I couldn't bear to part with it. Since it happens to be very personal to me and one of my favorite things that I've written, I decided to repost a sanitized version that did not have the song lyrics, because I really do love this story, and I know some of you really enjoyed it as well.
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairing: SwanQueen endgame
Spoilers: 1x18 "The Stable Boy" is key, and 1x07 "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and 1x22 "A Land Without Magic" are referenced.
Rating: T for language and mentions of child abuse. This story has earned its rating.
Song Used: "Numb" by Linkin Park. It would help to listen to it while reading the story, as I had to take the lyrics out of the text because having them in the story violated the rules. Regina sings a couple lines of the song at a time, including the first chorus, except for the bridge and all subsequent choruses.
Standard Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or "Numb", they belong to ABC and Linkin Park respectively.
No Longer Numb
I'm headed out to Granny's diner. It's Thursday, and as of last month, every Thursday is karaoke night. In my opinion, this is one of Granny's better ideas, and is definitely more palatable than theme dress up night. Hawaiian Luau…shudder. There are some people that should not be seen in a hula skirt. Karaoke isn't exactly my thing, but I'm off duty tonight, and I honestly have nothing better to do with myself. Besides, there's always the chance that someone will get drunk and belt out something hilarious and off key. Better than cable, if you ask me.
Why am I doing this? There is no logical reason for me to want to humiliate myself in front of all my townspeople, so why in the hell would I voluntarily go mingle with them? And then sing karaoke, of all things? It must be the stress. It's getting to me. I keep seeing her…everywhere. Staring at me, judging me, her disdain at literally everything I have done with my life apparent in every look. Why, Regina? You could have been so great. You could have done so much. All you had to do was be an obedient daughter, and you couldn't even handle that. You're a failure. A disgrace. Go away, Mother, I muttered, as I walked out the door. I have to do this. I need to prove her wrong.
Well, so far this is as big of a disappointment as usual. Leroy sounds as bad drunk as he does sober…wait, has he ever even sung sober? Ruby's rendition of "Fever" was slutty even for my taste, and Mary Margaret's slightly tipsy "Bleeding Love" caused me to be embarrassed for her. Maybe I'll take a chance with the cable, I thought as I turned to walk out the door. "Desperate Housewives" will probably be on some channel. Goodness knows I enjoy watching Bree crack her perfect exterior and fall apart. I hate people like that, who act so damn flawless all the time. Stepford wives, like our own Madam Mayor. But oho! What is this? The aforementioned Madam Mayor is getting up from her seat and walking over to the karaoke machine. This is an interesting development. I walk to the bar and plant myself down firmly. I'm going to want a front seat for this. If karaoke is better than cable, karaoke with Regina will be like HBO.
Damn. Why the fuck am I up here? Why am I doing this? I pick out my song and tell Granny to put it on. She raises an eyebrow, and then presses play. Shit. No turning back now.
Regina's standing in front of everyone, microphone clasped in both hands, nervous. Madam Mayor, nervous? This night just gets better and better! I can't wait to hear what she picked out. Probably something by Queen (ha!). She seems the type to be into "Bohemian Rhapsody" style melodrama. I hear the opening notes of her selection, and I gasp. It's very distinct, and very familiar. This song got me through memories of some of my hardest foster homes. No way was Regina this cool! The electric guitar kicks in, and she begins to sing.
Regina's voice is soft but steady, smooth as velvet. I gasp as she continues, stronger and more confident.
Her eyes actually close as she holds out this last note. They stay squeezed shut as she continues. I can't help but get the feeling that she's not just doing this for kicks, but actually singing about someone. Who could possibly break our unflappable mayor like this?
By the time she got to the chorus, she abandoned all pretense of sophistication at this point and begins to belt the chorus, pain seeping through every word.
Her tiredness is visible on her face as she finally lets her defenses crumble and shows her inner anguish. How much of this song is true for her?
The song just flows out of me. It's like my body's been waiting for this opportunity for God knows how long. I don't even care what they think anymore. I need to finish what I started, and damn it, it feels good!
I take a deep breath. There, Mother, I said it. I don't want to be you. I hope you're rolling over in your grave, you sadistic bitch. May you rot in hell for all the pain you've inflicted. I start singing the second verse.
Isn't that the truth? Smothering and controlling indeed. Linkin Park must have personally known my mother. I grimace and continue.
Regina's face takes on a different, almost childlike quality. All her confidence and her bravado are gone, replaced by a wounded honesty. She seems to be only eight years old, afraid to be punished for doing something wrong. I know that feeling very well. It's usually accompanied by whimpering in the corner during time out, or if you had the wonderful foster parents I did, cringing during beatings. But I soon outgrew that. We all did. You had to, in order to survive in the system. So why is Regina, Miss Hell in Heels herself, acting like a little girl instead of the mature woman she is? Her trauma must stem to her childhood. I was never any good at school, but reading people was a natural talent, one necessary to survival. The psychology classes I took at the local community college in order to become a bail bonds person only honed this talent. She was hurt in childhood, most likely by a parent. Shit. All this rumination (see Mary Margaret, I pay attention to your spontaneous vocabulary lessons!) is causing me to miss out on Mayor Mills' mental breakdown.
She gets even louder at this last part and her entire face contorts with emotion. She sings the chorus even more loudly than before.
Seeing as this song was practically a lullaby to me for a period of time, I know what's coming. If Madam Mayor does this right…Electricity flows through me as I shudder with the possibility.
Okay. This is it. Mother, I hope hell gets good reception from Maine, because if you haven't been listening before, you damn well need to listen now. I take a deep breath and belt out the lyrics to the bridge for all they're worth.
If Regina was good before, then she is amazing now. She practically screams out the bridge, tears forming in her eyes, and she slams the last note so hard that I'm shocked her voice doesn't break. She stays on it with the same intensity, sliding up and barreling into the chorus again.
Her voice finally starts to give a little from the strain, and she sings the last chorus a little softer, letting her anger finally be replaced with numbness.
She finishes it off softly, her voice raspy yet more beautiful than before. The tears are wiped away and her mask comes back up as she says "Thank you" and heads toward the door. I've got to catch her. I need to know what could cause her so much unspeakable pain and shatter her so. I chase her and finally corner her in Granny's parking lot.
"What the hell, Regina?" I get out, as I grab her by the shoulders.
She gives one of her politician smiles as she lies smoothly "I was under the impression that it was karaoke night. I merely wanted to give our fellow townspeople a good show. After all, it is election season." She winks and turns, but I resist.
"Oh, hell no! You can't just sing like you sang and then expect to get out of it. You practically bared your fucking soul to the entire town! What is up with you?" I yell, frustrated at her resistance.
"It's none of your concern Miss Swan" she says, in a low, dangerous voice. "Now please unhand me or I will press charges."
"And what good will that do you? I'm the law in this town, and I assure you, I have no intention of adding any more criminal charges to my record. Now tell me Regina, or so help me God, I will give you cause to press charges. What messed you up this badly?"
"Maybe you didn't understand me the first time. You street urchins have your own language, so let me be clear: WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!"
She finally wrests herself from my grasp and bolts toward her house like her life depends on it. I just stand there, stunned.