Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters
AN: This is written for Jayweh who was the 100th reviewer of Incoming Messages. Thanks again, and I hope this is what you had in mind! Prompt: Emma finding out/learning about Cora being the one who 'killed' Archie and her thoughts/regrets towards Regina and why her detector didn't work.
There are times in life when events move so fast they pass by in a blur. Sometimes they halt in every frame as if in slow motion. When hilarity ensues, the mind just knows to slow it down to capture every single moment to remember for the future. Other times, tragedy strikes speeding up time so that even the memory of it is difficult to piece together. A defense mechanism of sorts.
For Emma Swan, all of these special events, good or bad, always seemed to stick in her mind in excruciating detail. Her mind didn't need to cope by speeding things up. Her defense mechanism was running. Running from the memories that were burned into her brain.
Giving up Henry, she could remember every push, every bead of sweat that dripped down her forehead and the moment where she briefly contemplated taking her baby and making a run for it.
When Archie showed up at her door, mere hours after they had buried him, another event flashed through her mind's eye. It wasn't of the doctor at her door, alive and well. It was of Regina, the emotions running through the brunette's face so clear as day it was as if she were a different woman entirely from the woman that came running from her doorstep to engulf her missing son in a tight hug.
She didn't do it.
And Emma didn't believe her.
The truth was reasoning with her in the interrogation room, and she had known it to be true then, but when she was faced with something her eyes couldn't deny, she threw away her gut instinct and condemned an innocent woman.
Emma was always one to listen to her instinct, to be able to tell when people were lying. Call it analyzing behavior or woman's intuition, but nine times out of ten, Emma was right.
She couldn't deny Regina's shocked expression when they announced the therapist was dead. She couldn't ignore how hard Regina fought in an attempt to convince her that she hadn't murdered him, not to tell Henry these lies. But most of all, the look of Regina's face after she had magicked her down the path and realized that she had broken her promise to Henry. That, above all else, slowed down so the blonde could inspect every minuscule detail of the Mayor's face as it contorted in regret, fear and sadness.
The thought was disgusting that she, a person who was all too familiar with being kicked to the gutter, was the one doing the kicking. So Emma did what does best.
Only this time, she didn't run away. She had a knack for finding people, and she'd be damned if Regina Mills was a woman she couldn't find.
The previous searches had been half-assed, slight fear that if Emma got too close, she'd meet the same fate as her red-headed friend. She didn't hold back this time.
She searched the mayoral mansion in a frantic state, mussing up the perfectly cleaned and catalog-designed house. There was no sign of life in the basement. There were no hidden passageways to be found after Emma had ripped books from the shelf of the brunette's office.
The master suite was empty, save for the clothes perfectly hung in the closet, various styles of pointed heels and boots waited at the ready by the base of the walk-in.
Emma couldn't explain her behaviour. She couldn't explain her rash actions, her conflicting thoughts or the unprecedented need to find the woman. Why was she torn up about Regina? Maybe she wanted to apologize, that's all. Maybe she just wanted to see if she was okay.
But the brunette's broken image came back to the forefront of her mind.
Emma slumped on the bed, her shoulders drooping. She should have known. She should have just known Regina wasn't lying. Why didn't it work this time?
Was it because Mommy and Daddy were back and they were so sure the Evil Queen was exactly that? Maybe.
Was it because she felt a betrayal at seemingly being lied to? Likely.
It didn't matter now. It was too late to take back her actions. She'd given hope and taken it away, like everyone else in her life.
But Regina's face. Eyes widening in realization, moisture pooling in brown irises, and that small imperceptible shaky breath that only Emma could detect. And then a cloud of smoke and she was gone.
The push of the door had her looking up, and walking in was Regina Mills, still clad in the red blazer, but the fire in her eyes was gone. The brunette halted upon seeing the blonde sitting on her bed.
The shift of her eyes from the closet to the blonde made Emma aware that one wrong move and she would disappear indefinitely again.
And then it happened. Events so fast they moved in a high speed blur. Before Emma knew it, she was on her feet racing after the brunette who was running down the stairs, hand barely grazing the railing to keep from toppling over the side from too much speed and lack of balance.
One moment Emma was sitting on the bed, face to face with the woman she was looking for. The next, she had that woman's arm in her grasp as they halted near the foot of the staircase, green eyes catching brown.
When she spoke, she could see Regina's expression shift from tragic to hesitance, bordering on hope. Honey eyes lightened and widened, muscles tensed momentarily only to relax under Emma's hold, and that familiar intake of breath that only Emma could detect.
"I believe you."