Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters
AN: This is written for SaneTwin1-2 who was my 100th reviewer on Some Hope After All. I had fun writing this, so thank you for being my 100th reviewer and for a great prompt.
Prompt: (basically) Vulnerable Regina
Henry's hand slipped through hers, and however tempted was she to hold on tighter, to keep him with her, Regina let him go.
"See you later."
Never had three small innocuous words hit her so hard, but when Regina looked upon the blonde welcoming her son with a dopey grin on her face and not sparing a fleeting glance to her, well, that all but destroyed her.
Evil Queens don't get their happy endings. She should have known that by now. Why would she think otherwise just because Emma was the Savior, her Savior, her lover, her friend.
It was clear the last two were ex's now.
Regina was a fool for thinking things would be different, for believing, just maybe, that Emma truly meant it when she said she'd stay.
"Honestly, Miss Swan, I cannot be fixing your mistakes," Regina huffed as she yanked open a filing cabinet rifling through the files.
"I told you, you made up that document!"
Regina kept her back to the blonde and rolled her eyes. Perhaps she did, but Emma didn't need to know that.
She whipped around suddenly, taken aback by Emma's proximity. She faltered for only a second before she gathered herself and glared. "Did you think it was just some sort of ruse to-"
She never finished her sentence. Emma had closed the gap between them and captured the Mayor's lips between her own. Regina's eyes shut automatically as she leaned into the kiss.
"Yes," Emma whispered against quivering lips. "If you want me to come over, you just have to ask. No more threatening my job."
Regina nodded breathlessly, leaning forward cautiously to press against the Sheriff's lips once more.
Regina gazed at the empty doorway, her eyes watering yet willing herself not to cry.
This was it then. Emma had made her choice, and Regina could do nothing but accept that. This wasn't one of their bickering fights. This was the be-all-end-all. Some past choices and lies were just too monstrous to ignore.
Emma and Regina sat on opposite sides of the couch in her home study. The ciders between them went untouched. In time, they would realize their stubbornness would become endearing, albeit annoying, but currently, only a month into their secret affair, the other's stubbornness infuriated each woman to no end.
"Why can you not see that you did something wrong?" Regina questioned for the second time, her arms crossed around her chest in a defensive position.
"I wasn't aware holding my girlfriend's hand was a criminal offense," Emma spat out resting her forehead against the tip of her fingers to ease the imminent headache.
"We were in public!" Hissed the brunette.
"We were in a crowded Granny's!" Emma screeched, facing Regina. "With Henry and his big ass backpack seated in front of us, and I held your hand under the table."
"If someone saw-"
"What if someone were to see?" The blonde questioned. "Would you break up with me because your perfect reputation becomes tarnished for being with a woman?"
"It's not because you're a-"
"Is it 'cause I'm the Sheriff? Cause you had no problem with Graham."
Regina pursed her lips. "No-"
"Or are you just ashamed to be seen with me?" Emma asked, quietly this time.
Regina's demeanor changed so suddenly at the meekness of the younger woman's voice. "Emma-"
The blonde stood, pacing in front of the Mayor. "I just, I know you're scared, hell I'm scared too. I was never the relationship type." She stopped to face the sitting brunette. "But it can't be this one-sided on rules, Regina. You have to believe that you can trust me."
She sat, staring up at the desperate blonde as she begged her to trust her, to give in to her, to love her. The thought that if she didn't comply would result in Emma walking out of her life was terrifying.
Swallowing hard, her eyes never left the green ones standing before her. "I'll try."
Emma sighed and sat next to her, grabbing her hand between hers. "I'll still be here. We'll try together."
Regina had tried, and most days she'd succeeded. There was a change in the air between herself and Emma. A change for the better. They went on dates, though cleverly disguised as 'working lunches' and Regina had even invited Emma to dinner with herself and Henry every once in a while.
But as is the fate of the Evil Queen, all good things come to an end.
Mr. Gold had kindly reminded the euphoric woman that Emma was the Savior, the one to break the curse she'd given up her innocence to enact, and should the curse break, well, who knew if Emma was truly good on her word to remain at Regina's side.
She couldn't let Emma know about it, about her and her past. Emma would never look at her the same again.
Instead of speaking to the blonde, Regina did what she does best and went on the defensive. She had withdrew from Emma, their months of progress obliterated by a single reminder from the pawnbroker. Regina knew she was being irritable and unfair, picking fights and stirring up trouble, but if Emma hated her for the wrong reasons then she'd never hate her for what she really was.
Regina didn't think that the blonde would ever leave. When Emma came to her house that morning admitting defeat, Regina had put on her best politician's mask and sent her on her way with a cursed turnover in the hopes that she'd eat it and remain in Storybrooke.
But fate has a tricky way of revealing herself. It seemed as if ever since Emma entered her life, she was completely out of control.
It shouldn't have surprised her when she got the phone call stating that Henry was unconscious, but it did. It should have made sense that he had eaten the turnover, proving once and for all that his brunette mother was the fabled Evil Queen. It shouldn't have hurt when Emma thrust her into the utility closet, blaming Regina for the suffering of her son, but it had. It shouldn't have broken her heart that Emma looked at her the way she always feared she would. Betrayed. Angry. Disgusted.
But it did.
When she saw the legendary Savior break her curse with her love for their son, Regina, ever so briefly, thought that perhaps she'd get another chance with Emma, a moment to explain herself.
She never got that moment in the chaos of the mob, but if she learned anything in her life it was that life was full of surprises.
Over and over Emma risked her life for Regina that day. It made her heart skip so many beats she was sure it had stopped pounding altogether. Emma still had to feel something if she was willing to put the Charming reputation on the line for her.
Regina never got the chance to ask.
She watched as the only person in Storybrooke who willingly gave herself to her was pulled into a portal.
She cried that night and for nights to come.
Henry was living with David and Emma might not even be alive. Regina finally found good things in her life and they were mercilessly ripped away from her by her own doing.
The moment she saw Emma come out of that well felt like the void missing in her heart was filled again. Regina was learning to trust. To trust Henry, to trust that Emma would be back. And they were true to their word. They always would be.
But it wasn't the reunion she'd expected. What she expected exactly she wasn't sure. Regina and Emma didn't exactly leave on good terms, what with the revelation of who Regina was, but Regina desperately hoped it would be different upon her return.
She'd learn early on that hoping and wishing were just for children's stories. Emma looked thankful and relieved, but she hadn't missed Regina. She fought tirelessly to get home to Henry. Who could blame her? Who would want to return home to an Evil Queen?
So Regina watched as the Charmings and company exited the back room of the pawn shop.
She tried so hard to be good, so hard to be better, and this was her reward? Watching people she loved walk out of her life.
She heard Gold's piercing hurtful words but remained quiet. Her gaze remained on the doorway even after the man left.
Allowing one tear to fall, she quickly wiped it away and moved to leave through the back entrance. A hand on her arm caught her attention, and she turned ready to smite Gold and that superior ever-present smirk.
She gasped softly when she turned and saw Emma. Immediately, the moisture in her eyes began to cloud her vision but she knew if she blinked she'd give her emotions away.
"You didn't follow," Emma observed, her hand still clutching the shocked brunette.
Regina didn't trust herself to speak. The questions going through her mind impaired her ability to do so.
It seemed no words were needed when Emma closed the gap between them and caught Regina's chin between her palms and leaning in to press the softest of kisses on her lips.
Regina's eyes fluttered shut, hesitant to kiss back in case this was all a cruel joke.
"I missed that," Emma admitted quietly, their lips within inches of each other.
Regina searched Emma's eyes for any motive but all she could see was the gratitude and devotion she had gotten so accustomed to the last few months.
"No more secrets." It was more command than question coming from the blonde, but the sincerity in her voice rang true.
Swallowing hard, relief flooding through every vein of her body, Regina nodded, wrapping her arms around the blonde's neck in one of their more intimate hugs.
"I missed you," Regina spoke hoarsely, her voice quiet and tinny.
Emma already had her arms wrapped around the older woman's waist pulling them impossibly closer. "Remind me not to visit the in-laws without you again."
Regina, perhaps overtired, emotionally exhausted or starting to appreciate the blonde's humor, laughed into Emma's neck and pulled back, her eyes still glassy but shining with joy.
They extracted themselves from the embrace when Emma motioned to the door to leave.
Habitually, Emma left a small gap between herself and Regina as they walked, but as soon as they exited the shop, Regina reached out her hand to intertwine her fingers with Emma's in broad daylight walking through Storybrooke, grinning at the blonde's happy look of shock.
Regina never expected to find a son in this world. She never expected to find love again. She certainly never expected her nemesis to be the one to give her both.
But life is full of surprises.