Title: Love You
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairings: Swan Queen
Spoilers: No. Not at all.
Summary: "He told us, about Regina." Emma flinched at the name, her name. "That, that right there. That reaction to her name is why you're here." He pointed out and sat back again, crossing on leg over the other. "It's okay to be sad, upset, angry even, but you need to find a way to get passed it so you can move on with your life." AU. Warning, this had mentions of 9/11.
Author's Note: I was watching Bones and for anyone who has seen it, you know where I'm coming from. This is an AU Swan Queen about September 11th, 2001. I'm bolding this because I know that for some people, they can't read this stuff. So please, heed the warning. It's 2006 in this fic. Henry is still ten. No curse and it's a little OOC, not too much I hope.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A roll of thunder, the crackle of lightening, a splash of tires hitting too deep puddles.
It was storming in Boston.
The rain rolled down the glass of the window, slowly creeping down until it collected enough water to force its way toward the brick that surrounded the window. Her eyes followed the different patterns, squinting as the trails reminded her of veins, connecting and networking, helping each other out to move along. She lifted a hand, pressing it to the glass, almost smiling as the cold seeped into her skin.
Thunder boomed overhead and lightening flashed in the distance, bringing a white light over the playground across the street and blinding her momentarily of the water specks. She closed her eyes, only for a second.
She blinked her lids back open and turned her head. Suddenly she remembered where she was, on a hard chair with compressed padding that was placed in a circle, tissues at every other chair. Grief counseling. She fought the urge to roll her eyes. Henry voiced his concerns to her over her ways of coping, or really, her lack there of. When he asked her to attend group therapy with his lip puckered out, hands clasped against his mouth, and puppy dog eyes to the extreme, she found she couldn't tell him no.
The blonde had been going twice a week, and she could really only tell you so much about a few people. Mary Margret, a cute woman with a dark pixie cut, always held a tissue in her hand, though she never cried. Her boyfriend was killed overseas. Across from her was an old woman whose granddaughter was accused of murdering her own boyfriend. Emma shivered under the older woman's gaze, so dead, so angry.
Emma didn't know her name, but everyone, even the counselor, called her Granny. A man, Michael maybe, sat the furthest away. The man lost his son and daughter when the trio went on a camping trip. The twins had yet to be found.
There were others, a woman who always carried a book with her, different every time Emma saw her, a man in a top hat with a mad look about him, another blonde. The counselor sat across from her, his kind eyes watched her, waiting to have her acknowledge him.
"Do you want to share?" Archie Hopper smiled at her soothingly and in a way that Emma didn't like. She hated when people tried to disarm her with a smile. It had been years since someone other than her son could win her over with a smile. Emma scowled at his attempt.
"Not really, no."
Archie sighed as he closed the notebook that was sitting in his lap. He uncrossed his legs and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, the now capped pen in his hands under his chin. "You've been here a month now, Emma, and I understand that it takes time, but we still don't know much about why you're here."
Emma scoffed. "Yes, you do." She crossed her arms as she glared at the man.
"I don't want to push you, Emma. All I mean to say is that we're here to help you."
"I don't need your help." Emma told him coldly with a glare that would make her proud. "I'm not here to get pity. I'm not here so I can give you my sob story and you can go 'poor Emma, let me hug you'. I'm here because my son thought something was wrong with me and this place could fix it."
She stared straight at the man who had yet to lose his patience with her. She didn't want to look at those she blatantly insulted. She use to be the kind one. She use to be one to smile apologetically at those she rudely passed by. She did all that once, but now, no more. Her son claimed that job now and until that moment, Emma hadn't realized how sad that made her. Henry wasn't suppose to grow up with the burdens of a parent weighing on him. They wanted him to grow up carefree and comfortable and above all else, happy.
Emma blinked, pulled away from the thoughts of her son at Archie's words. "What?"
"Is there something wrong with you?" He questioned again.
She shook her head adamantly. "No, of course not."
"Then why are you here? In this grief therapy group?" Archie slid to the edge of his chair as he spoke. "Your son had to have had a reason to suggest this to you." She didn't say a word, only looked at him with defiant, distrustful green eyes. "He told us, about Regina." Emma flinched at the name, her name. "That, that right there. That reaction to her name is why you're here." He pointed out and sat back again, crossing on leg over the other. "It's okay to be sad, upset, angry even, but you need to find a way to get passed it so you can move on with your life."
Her lip trembled as she darted her gaze away so he wouldn't see her glossy eyes. "What if I don't want to move on?"
"Then I guess that's your choice." He told her finally after a moment of unsurprised silence. "But it's not just you. Your son is trying to cope with this too and he's on his own until you can move through your own grief."
"How much did he tell you?" She asked, still averting her eyes.
"Only her name and that she's not with us anymore. I promise."
It was silent. She could hear the patter of rain drops on the windowpane and the breathing of those in the room with her. She knew they were all watching her. This is the most she's talked the past month. Emma sighed and turned to meet his stare. It was full of compassion and completely unafraid of what she might do, but no pity. She turned to watch the water on the window once more.
"Her name was Regina Mills." She finally whispered to the group.
Archie nodded. "Yes, Henry mentioned that. Who was she to you?" At one point in her life, Emma would have laughed at the not-really-a-question question and Regina would have made a face.
"My wife. No matter what the government said, Regina was my wife and I was hers." Emma gave a small smile, her eyes fixated on a point near Archie's feet, seeing something that could only be in her memories now. She could feel Regina's hand in hers, those thick lushes lips pressed into her neck, whispering nothings that made her blush in anticipation. She could remember waking in the middle of the night, head on Regina's shoulder, inches from Henry who lay sleeping peacefully on the same chest, but she couldn't remember the smell. The smell of her wife, the smell of her skin. What did she smell like?
Emma couldn't remember.
"How did you two meet?"
"How are your sessions?" Henry asked as they walked into the kitchen of their apartment. Emma glanced back at him with a knowing eyebrow raise. "What?" The ten year old grinned and pulled an order of fries from the greasy brown bag. Emma reached in a retrieved her burger, instantly unwrapping it, and stuffing it into her mouth, groaning at the flavors. "Mama?"
"Hmm? Oh, they're fine." She stole the fry that he was about to eat out of his hand.
"Hey! You said you didn't want fries!" The brunette boy exclaimed, shielding the fried food from his Mother's grabbing hands. He moved to sit on the stool by the island when she caught his collar. "What?"
Emma threw her head in the direction of the dinning table. "Let's eat at the table."
He was still, searching her face for some sense of what was going on. "But…we haven't sat there since Mom…?"
"I know, but I think it's time."
They ate in silence, not making a move to start conversation. Emma was trying not to throw up at the mere action of eating at her wife's beloved table without her and Henry didn't want to spook his blonde Mother by saying something. After ten minutes of loud chewing and coughing to dislodge food, Henry stood to toss his trash in the trash can under the counter.
The boy turned and pat his hands on his pants. "So I have homework. I should probably…" Emma nodded at him, trying to send him an encouraging smile and failing. Henry slowly backed out of the kitchen space, looking very much like he wanted to say something, but was thinking otherwise. "Mama? I…" He stopped and took a breath. "I'm proud. Of you, of what you're doing at therapy." He ducked his head. "I just wanted you to know that."
"…and he put this party hat over his mouth, acting like a chicken." Kathryn laughed, a little watery, but it was a laugh none the less. The group laughed along with her, even Emma had a smile on her face. "He was always like that," the blonde woman continued, "always trying to make me laugh or smile and he succeeded most of the time."
"That's good. Laughing is a good way to heal and to remember our loved ones in a good way is the best way to do that." Archie praised, before turning his smile on Emma. "What about you, Emma? When was the last time you saw Regina?"
Her grin at Kathryn's story slowly slid off her face at his question. She picked at a hangnail to try and keep the hurt at bay. "Um," Emma swallowed and looked down at her hands, "she was getting ready for work. It was like…three thirty in the morning."
"Why so early?"
Emma lifted her eyes. "It was her day off. She wasn't suppose to go to work. She was suppose to stay. With me and Henry, our son. But her boss's, boss's, boss," Emma blinked away the familiar sting that almost crying brought on, "called a meeting and she had to be there." Emma raised her shoulders in a long shrug. "He said if she didn't turn up that she should start looking for a new job. I convinced her the night before to stay. I didn't…I didn't want her to go, so I begged her stay a few more hours and she did. Not without complaining though." She let out a chuckle as she remembered the bitching her counterpart did that night, a wide smile crept on her face. "She had to drive four hours to get the building where the meeting was being held. She was pissed."
"And you?" The red headed man pushed gently. "Were you angry too?"
"Yeah, I mean, wouldn't you be?" Emma shook her head. "Henry was five at the time. He was growing like a weed and she was working so much that she was missing it." She sniffled, lightly rubbing the tip of her nose with her index finger. "We fought about it all the time, but she wasn't willing to cut back on hours." And in the end, all of Regina's hard work allowed Henry and Emma to stay in their home while Emma scrambled to get back on her feet.
"Why do you think that was?"
"Uh, Regina and I, we came from…bad childhoods and she swore up and down, left and right, that our boy wouldn't. He wouldn't know what we had to go through, he wouldn't have to experience it firsthand." Emma rubbed her hands together, suddenly cold as her wife's face flashed in her mind, tears on her cheeks, worried without measure that her Mother, Cora, would find them.
Archie cleared his through, lightly, not to disturb her too much. "Do you remember what she said to you? Before she left?"
Emma nodded, taking a breath, and another, and closed her eyes. "The last thing…" She paused, trying to force her mouth to stop trembling. "The last thing she said to me…was 'love you'. It was," she sucked oxygen into her lungs, "thoughtless. She didn't hesitate to say it." Emma's vision blurred. "It was automatic. 'Love you'." A short burst of air shot from her mouth as it tried to form a curve that resembled a smile. "And she looked at me with this...grin," Emma tried to mimic the expression on her wife's face. Her lips quivered, "This smirk she always did made me believe that everything would be okay."
Emma licked and bit her lip. "I loved that smile on that face." She laughed, almost hysterically. "And that was it." She sobered up quickly. "She was gone. 'Love you' and she left." She frowned deeply and her hand came up to cover her mouth. "That was it." A shrug. "That was the last time I saw her. 'Love you' and that was it."
"Emma…" The man started, but was cut off by the very woman herself.
"Do you know where she was going?" Emma suddenly asked, an angry tear crawling down her cheek.
"You really don't have to me. It's about going at your own pace."
The blonde ignored him. "The Twin Towers." Mary Margret, Kathryn, and the woman with the books, Belle, gasped, looking at her with horrified eyes. Michael watched her a little closer and Granny looked as if she wanted to protect her, from what, Emma didn't know. "Yeah, the North Tower on September 11, 2001." Mary Margret reached out a placed her hand on Emma's knee. "And the funny thing?" By her tone, all in the room knew it wasn't going to be funny in the slightest.
"The funny thing," she repeated, almost to herself, "is that her boss's, boss's, boss was late. Slept in that morning. Isn't that funny?" She looked around, meeting all their eyes with a hint of craze in her. "He wasn't there. He called my wife to a meeting, four fucking hours from where she lived, and he wasn't even there!" She bit out. Fury seeped into her as more tears slid down her face. "He was all nice and cozy while my wife, my Regina, was hit by a plane. She was on the seventy ninth floor of the North Tower." She breathed heavily out of her mouth and mashed her teeth together. "They couldn't find her body. I was told that she was probably vaporized, killed instantly."
Emma shook her head. "But I don't know that." She told them, by now not even trying to stop the tears. "I don't know if she was killed instantly, or, or did she know what was happening? Did she see the plane coming towards her, or was she looking the other way? Did she feel a moment of agonizing pain or did she really die instantly?" Emma covered her face that was twisted by her grief.
"All I know is that four hours before her death, she said 'love you' and it isn't enough." Emma sobbed openly. Mary Margret stood and gathered Emma in her arms. The short haired woman rocked her and rubbed circles against the back of her neck, through her blonde hair. "I don't know and I need to. I need to."
She could hear people starting to freak out around her. The woman from another branch was screaming behind her. She could hear the woman running, but she knew. There was no time. They were stuck, caught. She closed her brown eyes and blew a shuddering breath. Her hand found itself in her pocket.
Her fingertip grazed the corner of photo.
She knew exactly what was on that not-so-much-now-glossy paper. A woman with blonde hair, wavy and messy, not brushed in the slightest, the widest smile she's ever seen on any human being aimed at her and her only. A little boy of only four, at the time of the photo, had a matching grin and his arms wrapped tightly around the blonde's neck.
Her Emma. Her Henry.
She kept her eyes closed.