Regina's day went downhill well before her incarceration.
Before she even saw her home, she saw a dozen people, random citizens, milling about on the sidewalk as if they'd been waiting for her to arrive. Perhaps they had, all it would have taken was one phone call from an observant nurse. They looked a little like the zombies in those silly horror movies that Hollywood insisted on producing, except their dark eyes gazed upon her with hate, not hunger. If they hungered for her blood, it was in the metaphorical sense.
"Fuck," Emma said grimly as she put the car in park. "I'll deal with them. You go on in and . . . "
Regina better understood the lack of direction when she got out and saw the shattered windows. Her front door hung loosely from its hinges, as if her house was an abandoned, derelict structure in a ghost town.
The inside, she knew, would be worse, but she bypassed her front walk and went around to the back. She barely heard Emma asking the others if they knew who had done this, assuring them that Regina would pay for her crimes in court. There was a chance that –
But instead she discovered that the apple tree had been chopped down, hacked into pieces, and apparently set on fire. There was nothing left but a jagged stump, blackened branches, and a few leaves.
She'd lost everything, just like when Cora had butchered Daniel before her eyes. For some reason, though, it was the tree that reduced her to tears. Honeycrisp apples, she'd called them, even though anyone who'd ever visited a supermarket produce section would have known they were Red Delicious. For whatever reason, the Curse failed to replicate precisely the Honeycrisp tree from her courtyard. So she'd pretended instead. Who would dare to correct Mayor Mills anyway?
Regina had loved that tree. That didn't make it deserving of retribution. It had been a living thing, and for a pack of howling degenerates to murder it this way . . . so yes, she cried for it, and for everything else.
She heard the back door open, then the sound of Emma's feet. "Here you are."
"Here am I," Regina said.
"None of them admitted to vandalizing your house. I don't think they were lying."
"Of course not. Who would convict them?" Regina wiped her eyes. "Speaking of which, I assume they weren't satisfied by your plans to have me tried by the judicial system?"
She looked at Emma, who was frowning. "No, they weren't," the Sheriff said. "I guess they're looking for something a little more Old Testament."
Regina chuckled without humor. It was an apt analogy, even though the Bible hadn't even existed back in the Enchanted Forest.
Emma might as well have read her mind, because the next words out of her mouth were, "I wonder if there's even a God anymore."
"Not that I was ever much of a believer, but I'm pretty sure the Bible never mentioned anything about alternate worlds or fairies or trolls," Emma pointed out.
"That's because we had no religion in Fairy Tale Land," Regina replied. "Nothing like Christianity or Judaism or anything else you'd recognize. Magic was our higher power."
"Did people there believe in some kind of afterlife?"
Regina thought about it for a moment. "Yes, but there was no coherent school of thought that everyone adhered to. Some believed in reincarnation, others in paradise, and still others in Purgatory. Many, however, thought of death as an eternal sleep, which is why such importance was placed on ideas like love and justice."
"I think those ideas are just as important here."
"Yes, of course," Regina said dismissively, "but you also have this concept of people receiving their just rewards, be it Heaven or Hell, after they die. No matter how wealthy or powerful or successful an evil man may be while he's alive, you think he'll burn for eternity when he's dead. Where I came from, however, that concept was not held by many. Therefore, people believed very firmly that the good should find true happiness while they're alive, while the bad should suffer until their death." She looked away. "So you see, when my love was killed, I never expected to see him again, in this life or the next, because I didn't BELIEVE in a next life."
Emma took a second to digest that. "I'm guessing that didn't help how you felt about M… Snow."
Regina snorted. "No, it did not."
"I'm surprised, then, that these people want you dead. I'd think they'd want you to rot in a jail cell for the rest of your life."
"Not to be gruesome, but our civilization had the opposite of an Eighth Amendment. People believed that the guilty should be sentenced to cruel and unusual punishment." She smiled. "A great-aunt on my father's side poisoned her husband and stepchild for his fortune before I was born. She was placed alive inside a large barrel filled with venomous snakes, which was then rolled down a very steep hill."
Emma gaped at her in horror. "You're making that up. You want me to believe that so I won't want to live there."
"Read the original Grimm's tales. They're wildly inaccurate at times, but 'dying a miserable death' is a common theme. I believe MY literary counterpart was made to wear iron shoes that had been heated in a forge, and dance until she died. Better yet, ask your parents," Regina said, shrugging. "Or ask the Blue Fairy. I knew her slightly, before, and not only will she tell you it's true, I'll wager she says it would be a fitting end for me."
"Yeah. Okay, I will," Emma replied. "Come on, let's go inside and see if we can salvage anything of yours."
It wasn't a pleasant prospect, but Regina couldn't suppress a mean feeling of triumph. She hadn't missed how Emma had winced when she referred to Snow and Charming as her "parents".
The backyard had been bad. The second floor had been worse. Nearly everything had been ripped, damaged, or vandalized in some way, and it had taken ten minutes for Regina to locate two acceptable changes of clothing in the debris. The bathroom had been flooded and the water sparkled with broken glass from the contents of her medicine cabinet, and she would have to buy the basics at the pharmacy.
Henry's bedroom had been worse still. It had been relatively untouched in terms of physical damage, but it had been plundered of most of his wardrobe and his most prized possessions.
"Who would loot my son's things?" Regina had asked, deeply offended.
"Sorry, um, that was me," Emma had admitted. "I came here yesterday to pack a couple bags for him. None of this had happened yet."
She had seethed, even as rationally she understood that it would have been worse if his things had been stolen or destroyed.
The worst, however, came when Emma and Regina walked out her front entrance and found Kathryn Nolan leaning against the Volkswagen. Regina froze.
"Could you give us a minute, Sheriff?" Kathryn asked calmly.
Emma rested her hand on the butt of her revolver. "I don't think that's a good idea, considering what she did to you."
"I'm not here to kill her."
"It's all right, Sheriff," Regina said. "I'm sure she can find more efficient ways to hurt me without lifting a finger."
Emma frowned and took the bag from Regina's hands. "I'll be in the Bug."
Kathryn approached as Emma passed her, muttering something about how she'd be out of the car in an instant if this became anything uglier than a Survivor season finale. Regina didn't bother to move or speak. The ball was in Kathryn's court. Another day she might have affected indifference, but after what she'd witnessed inside and behind her home, all she could feel was an extreme sense of trepidation.
"Regina," Kathryn said calmly.
"Kat – Abigail."
"No, no, Kathryn will do," the other woman said.
Regina blinked. "You're the first person I've seen who doesn't get angry when called by their fake name."
Kathryn cocked her head. "What's fake about it? For all intents and purposes, Abigail didn't exist after the Curse struck. I was Kathryn."
"Which is exactly why I'd think you would want to be Abigail again."
"I'm sorry, I can see this is confusing," Kathryn sighed. "Shall I explain?"
Regina only nodded.
"Yes, I am Abigail," Kathryn went on, "but I'm Kathryn Nolan too. I'm sure the others all want to pretend like that 'other' person never existed, but the fact remains that we lived those lives for twenty-eight years, and to treat those personas as merely a simple illusion is an exercise in futility." She grimaced. "I, on the other hand, understand that some . . . integration of Abigail and Kathryn will be necessary."
This struck Regina as an extremely intelligent response to the breaking of the Curse, but then she'd never thought Kathryn stupid.
"For example, Abigail doesn't really have a bone to pick with you, Regina. Sure, you Cursed me. But it wasn't personal. I was just swept up in your spell along with everyone else," Kathryn said. "Abigail isn't the one who lived the last twenty-eight years. Kathryn did."
She took a step closer. "And Kathryn, Regina?" she said quietly. "Kathryn is fucking pissed."
Regina took a step back from the sudden intensity burning in Kathryn's eyes. "Kathryn – "
"I don't even care about the 'happy ending' thing," Kathryn snapped, furious. "I care about the fact that you screwed me over twice, and the second time, that was definitely personal. It wasn't enough that you trapped me in a marriage that could never work? You had to have me abducted?!"
"That had nothing to do with you," Regina said quickly. "I was trying – "
"To frame Mary-Margaret Blanchard for murder," Kathryn interrupted. "Murder, Regina. Guess I was never going to come back alive, huh? Might raise a few uncomfortable questions if Mary-Margaret was convicted of murder if it turned out I wasn't dead!" She got right up in Regina's face. "Tell me, Regina. At what point were you going to get it over with and have me killed?"
Regina didn't have an answer to that. Not one Kathryn would like, anyway.
"No wonder you don't have too many friends, Regina," Kathryn said. "Not when you don't treat them any better than your enemies."
Considering there was a dead dragon under the library that used to be Maleficent, Regina could hardly dispute that, however much she wanted to.
Hearing a noise, Regina looked up and saw that Emma had gotten out of her car and was approaching them.
"That's enough, Kathryn," Emma said. "You can save it for her future sentencing. I'm sure a jury will want to hear all about it."
Kathryn chuckled. "You honestly think she'll live that long?"
"Is that a threat?" Emma asked coldly.
"More like a prediction," Kathryn replied. She looked back at Regina. "I will never forgive you for everything you've done to me, Regina. Know that when you die – and I'm sure that will be soon – you will die as friendless and alone as you have always been."
Raising her chin, Kathryn spun on a heel and marched back down Regina's driveway.
Now that was Abigail.
Regina had been insulted and yelled at for decades. The day she was born had been cursed by hundreds. She was used to it by now.
So why was she holding back tears?
After everything that had happened at her house, what took place next at the pharmacy was oddly anticlimactic.
"Remember," Emma told her, "this is on my dime, so just get whatever's cheapest."
Regina pursed her lips and looked at Emma was wearing. "Yes, clearly you haven't been living on much of a budget."
Emma scowled, ripped the prescription out of Regina's hand, and headed toward the drugstore counter.
Regina cursed herself as she went looking for the toiletries. The sheriff was the closest thing she had in this town to a potential ally, and she couldn't hold her tongue around the woman for two minutes? Acting friendly with Emma wouldn't work, she'd see through a charm offensive in a second, but being civil might help.
When she returned a few minutes later with a basket filled with the cheapest generic supplies money could buy – well, it wasn't like she had a public image to maintain for voters any longer – she found Emma and Sneezy staring at each other. "Sheriff?" Regina asked for a moment, wondering if Medusa had passed through while she wasn't looking.
Shame if she had. The Gorgon would have been useful.
"Regina," Emma said after another long moment. "Your pills are ready."
"That was fast."
"Haven't had a lot of customers today," Sneezy said sullenly. He turned a look full of frustrated loathing on Regina, as if Emma was the only thing stopping him from leaping over the counter and strangling her.
Regina suddenly realized what she'd missed as she began to take items out of her shopping basket.
"Don't bother," Sneezy sneered. "I don't want your blood money, the Savior's money is no good here, and what good will American currency do me anyway once we return to the Enchanted Forest?"
"Well," Regina replied, "I can't wait to tell people about all the free toiletries Sneezy the Dwarf gave me. Such a good friend."
That turned hatred into panic, but Regina didn't bother waiting for a response as she dumped the contents of her basket into an open plastic bag and swept out of the drugstore.
"I see you haven't lost your ability to make friends and influence people," Emma said dryly as she followed behind her.
Regina took the handle of the passenger side door of the Volkswagen in one hand, but didn't open it right away. "He was going to poison me, wasn't he?"
Emma would never be much of a poker player if she couldn't hide her surprise better than that. "How did you hear that?"
"I didn't. But he wasn't exactly looking at you with adoration when I arrived," Regina explained. "It occurred to me that it would be very easy for him to fill my prescription incorrectly."
"Well, I couldn't allow that," Emma said. "If he'd succeeded, I'd be forced to bring him before a court instead."
Regina chuckled. "No jury of his peers would ever convict him of my death. But I appreciate the principle all the same."
Emma shrugged and headed over to the driver's side door.
"How did YOU know?" Regina thought to ask. "What he was going to do, I mean."
"Like you said, he was fast. Too fast. He got all squirrelly with me when I asked him why, and when I threatened to do a little taste test of my own, he confessed," Emma said casually.
Regina blinked. "How . . . self-sacrificing," she said, surprised.
Emma smiled. "Well, I AM the Savior," she said before getting in the car.
Indeed she was. Very noble of her.
If Regina found some way to inflame the mob against her, she wondered if they'd tear Sheriff Swan apart to get to her.
She'd have to keep that possibility in mind. It might be the one silver lining in all of this.
To be continued . . .