A/N: A Highschool AU that literally came out of nowhere at around 4 AM. Sorry for typos, I'll edit tomorrow. If you see something that needs improving please tell me I'm a bit incoherent right now. Title from the song Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap. Enjoy!

A/N 2: AHAH. 4 AM indeed it was. I accidentally didn't copy paste a bit at the end. So I did that and I've also edited a bit more, will edit more soon! If anyone has any suggestions for editing, (for instance if the change in tense works, or if I should change that) please tell me! :D

Emma counted on being more or less alone. More or less because well, she had August, when he decided to come to school. She trailed through the hallways in her solitude completely free of judgements, because she was a senior now and she just didn't care. It was freeing, honestly. No one caught her attention, really. Friends could never be a constant, not really. She liked being an unweighted bag, she was free to wander with no ties. Free to figure out who she was.

Then one day, a clear day with a lot of sun, Regina Mills. New to the school. Completely gorgeous, not that Emma was noticing that day in English. Of course not. Also kind, but with a bite. She nearly tore this kid's head off when he pronounced something wrong with a glare and a few scathing words, but then the next second she picked up the girl next to her's pencil for her. Emma watched her with rapt attention feeling the strangest sense of (she supposes) deja vu. Especially when brown eyes meet green and Emma found herself in the middle of a teen romance novel for 3.2 seconds. The Principal's kid. Our new fucking crazy one who outlawed hand holding practically. I wonder how fucking crazy her kid is. Must be messed up with that wacko for a mother. For once she felt uneasy with the idle gossip around her. Even August looked a bit dubious. He had watched Regina with the attention of a writer, fully observant for any trait he can nit-pick into a character, give life into his stories. Can't you see it, Emma? Her face is like a story waiting to be told! Just waiting jump out of her body in a thousand fluttering pages! Like you were the day I met you. But August was kind of fucking nuts so she didn't really listen to him, even though he was kind of like her brother.

How can you know a person if you've never met them? The answer: you didn't. Right?

Emma always sits at the back of the theater; it's dark and lonely and well away from the stage lights and musky scent of the curtains. She is out of place there in her favorite (and only) pair of dirty converse shoes with her sullen expressions and her apparent inability to"get into any form of character." She needs an art credit, needs to pass this shitty school because it's her last chance. And she wants a future. Something of one. A chance to prove herself to every family who'd given her back, to her social worker who saw her as just another screw up, to all those school officials who saw her as one too. A chance to prove to herself, most out of anything, but she isn't ready to admit that to herself. She is still pressed inward, glaring at anyone who dare beat their fists against her walls. She likes being sullen; it keeps people away, and their tendencies to hurt her.

Regina sits next to Emma (what?) later that day fifteen minutes before class starts, her eyes wide and anxious, but not timid. She smiles at Emma. She has the prettiest smile, all white teeth and crinkles around her eyes. Emma is captivated by it until she smiles back and they don't speak and Regina's lips curl downward. Her eyes look forward, taking in the theater. She looks mesmerized for a moment, not that Emma was analyzing the contours of her face. Not at all.

Emma hates awkward silences.

"Regina, right?" She manages to get out.

She looks at her, quirks a brow. "How do you know my name?"

Emma shrugs, but doesn't feel as casual as her shrug is. "Some..kid in my class was talking about you. Aren't you the new principal's kid?"

Regina's eyes take on a new level of something. Haunted maybe, no that wasn't the world. As if Emma had broken some sort of spell the theater put on her. Tied her back to reality. Well, she was always told she's a bit of a downer. Needed to work on that. Whatever.

"Yes, I am."

Another pause. Regina's hands are smoothing out her skirt. Emma's heart is beating loudly in her ribcage. Eight minutes before class. She catches a waft of apples in the air. And the connection between Emma's brain and mouth malfunctions so she finds herself saying:

"Wow, that's…an awesome…you smell nice." She was good at words, really.

Regina quirks another brow but a blush rises to her face and she clears her throat. Twice. "You're very coherent I see. I take it you're not particularly into theatre?"

Emma laughs, trying to get past her own blush and fidgets a bit in her red seat, staring down at her worn skinny jeans. Her favorite pair.

"No. Not at all. I think Ms. Garner's words exact words were as 'emotionless as a toothpick. Not exactly…encouraging."

Regina smirks, but not unkindly. Somehow. Like Emma has been the only amusing part of her day. Emma's not sure if that's a good thing or not. She decides that it is, if only to make herself stop fidgeting.

"Well, I could potentially help if you need it? This class should be fairly easy to pass if you just pay attention and follow orders." The words 'if you just pay attention and follow orders' seem almost painful for Regina to say.

"Nah, its alright."

They look at each other for a moment, a really confusing and stomach turning moment before Emma's eyes glance at the empty stage. So peaceful, she thought. On the outside. Regina cocks her head. "What's your name?"

"Emma. Swan. Emma Swan, soon to be techie-extraordinaire I'm guessing. You?"

"Swan." She ignores Emma's toss back of the question, testing Emma's last name. Her voice has a husky quality to it, almost accidentally sensual, and she makes Emma's name sound like the answer to a question unasked. A shiver races down her spine. Regina smiles, wider. Emma doesn't see a single lie in it, except in her eyes. Not really a lie, more of an omission. She understands that, though. Her eyes lie all the time.

"Regina Mills."

Emma pretends to tip her hat before deciding that was stupid and smoothing out her hair with her hands in a really awkward gesture.

"Good to meet you."

Another eyebrow. "Likewise, Miss Swan."

There's that shiver again.

"I love to act." Regina admits backstage one day. She's wearing a long and collared dress and is picking absentmindedly at her stockings. She looks different with her eyes and lips painted, somewhere between a porcelain doll and a mysterious witch. Much more impressive than Emma's techie outfit - a black turtleneck and sweatpants. (Techie-extraordinaire indeed). They're sitting side-by-side on a bench, thighs touching, huddled together in the cold dampness of the wings.

"Why?" Emma asks, finding herself focussing on Regina's hands.

"Because I can…take on another's pain for a little while, let go of my own for a moment." She laughs. "Of course one can never truly let go of one's self while acting. It wouldn't be work otherwise, if the emotions came didn't come from some place real."

Emma looks at Regina curiously. Regina isn't looking at her. The glint of a stage light catches her eyes. She wonders if that's why Regina's such an amazing actress; because of this mysterious pain she never elaborates on. But then again Emma's got her own pain, and she's still a shit actor. Maybe Regina's just got that particular stage-like energy…or something. She could become a show, become a story. Leap out, as August said on her first day, and later on the first night of the production. Emma could never do that. Leaping out meant becoming vulnerable. She had a feeling the only place Regina let herself be vulnerable was on a stage. And for some reason, in front of Emma. She'd give herself a headache if she ponders this for too long.

She remembers something and her philosophical, analytical thoughts vanish for a second.

"Wait, your character eventually shoots herself at the end…right? Is your own pain so-"

She gulps. Regina is gazing at her now, lips pursed slightly and eyes intensely brown.

"-bad that you'd give it up for Hedda Gadler's?"



Regina looks away again and doesn't say anything for the longest time. It's like she's forgotten Emma was there. From far away places are called by Ms. Garner and Regina doesn't respond. Emma hears idle chatter in her headset, but ignores it. Despite feeling tension run rigid throughout her own body, seeing the same in Regina's ramrod straight back, the way her eyes are locked on nothing in front her, the way a dark cloud is forming in front of her eyes, she takes Regina's hand and intertwines their fingers. There. That small traitorous part of her that letss people in says. This is home.


Regina's answer is said so softly and with such a final, yet wistful tone that Emma almost misses it. She gets up, goes to stand closer to the curtain and Emma is left on the cold bench.