Title: Reemergence
Author: Sapphire Smoke
Beta(s): Caisin
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Rating: M
Pairing: Emma/Regina
Timeline: "The Cricket Game"
Summary: As Regina watched Emma situate herself in the armchair across from her, leg propped up haphazardly on the edge as she brought the chaos of her being into Regina's room full of order and precision, the older woman found herself contemplating how much easier this all would've been if she had just approached Emma in a different way.
A/N: I think this turned into a character study of Regina more than anything else, but hey.


The dull colors of the world Regina had created were quickly becoming lost to the bright ray of hope that Emma Swan had brought to Storybrooke. The presence of their savior bathed every corner of the town in the most brilliant of hues, chasing away the simplicity Regina had craved in favor of freedom and chaos. Anxiety crept up the former Mayor's spine as she was forced to watch everything she had ever worked so hard to build be reduced to nothing but ash, forgotten in the wake of this new age of half-lives and jumbled memories.

It was a disorderly mess, splotched ink on what used to be a beautiful canvas, and Regina could not fathom how anyone thought this was better. She had cursed them, yes; but it was the truth that condemned them to true suffering.

And yet, unfathomably, they rejoiced in it as if it were a victory.

They were not meant for this world. No more than scattered pieces of a long forgotten puzzle, they doomed themselves to wander through life knowing they would never find the place where they truly fit. It bothered Regina for all the wrong reasons. There was a careful artistry in the lives she had constructed for these people; a tapestry of lies, woven in just the right way to become a masterpiece beyond measure. Yet now it was falling apart before her eyes and it made Regina's chest ache as she bore witness to the destruction of everything she had worked so hard to create.

All of her effort, deemed completely worthless in the end.

Yet Regina was forced to turn her lips upwards into a tight smile and act as though it did not matter, because in the end it wasn't nearly as important as her son. Henry worked tirelessly to see that the curse ended and now that it had Regina truly hoped that he was happier for it, even though she herself was not. Some things just mattered more. It was a hard lesson to learn; yet despite the pain it caused her, Regina found she was better for it. She had to be.

Regina had spent too much of her life prioritizing her own happiness and all it did was serve to drive her son farther away. Watching Henry choose a life that was not with her ripped Regina's heart from her chest, suffocated the breath from her lungs; crushing her very soul to dust. It was then that Regina knew that she was through being the woman who made all the wrong choices, despite how much easier they always seemed.

The path to redemption threatened to crack Regina's sanity in half as her efforts to become a better person were left unrecognized by most. She had never expected it to be easy, but she also never expected for it to hurt this badly either. Regina had spent a disproportionate amount of her life building up her walls so that no one could ever hurt her again, yet it seemed they were just another casualty brought about by the curse's end. They were destroyed, just like everything else Regina had created for herself in this life, and it left her feeling vulnerable and very much alone.

It was sickening, truly, how desperate Regina found she was for Miss Swan's little ray of hope to touch her as it had everyone else. It brought chaos and disorder and yet as that was all that surrounded her lately, Regina found herself succumbing to the madness without a moment's hesitation. To adapt, it seemed, would be to survive. And Regina Mills was, above all else, a survivor.

But hope was a fragile concept and was able to be ripped away as quickly as it had come. Regina had foolishly allowed herself to believe that Emma's invitation was a sign that things were changing, yet everyone else in the room looked at her with the same distaste and mistrust as they did before she helped bring the beloved mother and daughter back to this world. It wasn't as though Regina expected a parade for finally making the right choice, but her actions seemed inapplicable in the grand scheme of things and it was disheartening, to realize that no matter what she did, she would probably never repent for the evil she had done.

And if that were true, Regina's chances of ever reconnecting with Henry were slim to none. That, more than anything else, would destroy her in the end. She was sure of it.

It was that thought that made Regina snap at Emma outside of Granny's, yet the moment the woman turned from her, Regina found that her heart was filled with regret. That regret turned to fear and she reached out, apologizing because it was already hard enough to move forwards; the last thing Regina needed were more obstacles in her path. It was just difficult; each passing moment becoming even more so as Regina, who was once able to control everything and everyone around her, realized she was forced to leave the fate of her happiness up to someone else; someone who had the ability to take everything from her that she had ever loved and cherished, should she wish it.

It terrified her.

If Regina could conquer that fear than perhaps she would grow stronger for it, strong enough to handle the difficulties that lay ahead, but that was far easier said than done. Her own weakness disgusted her, yet Regina could not stop herself that night from searching for that small sense of comfort that was promised at the bottom of every bottle. It sought to dull the ache in her chest and dry the tears from her eyes, allowing Regina to sink further into a world that hurt far less than the one she was now being forced to walk through.

Perhaps she should have never tried to ask for more, as Regina quickly found that rejection hurt far worse than the unknown ever could.

Regina didn't know how long she had been sitting in that chair in her study, poisoning her hope a little more with each refill of her wine glass as she tried to think of anything other than reality; but it must have been quite a while, as she ended up stumbling in her efforts to reach the door when she heard the startling sound of the doorbell echo though her otherwise empty home. Cursing her heels, yet still not intoxicated enough to dismiss her appearance and kick them off to the side, Regina steadied herself and took a deep breath, not wishing to come off as the mess she truly was to whoever was brazen enough to come calling at this late an hour.

After smoothing out the crinkles in her skirt, Regina pulled open her front door. She didn't know why she was so surprised to see Emma standing there, when the woman always had the annoying knack of turning up at the most inopportune of moments. Regina blinked a few times to clear her vision before rearranging her face into what she hoped was a diplomatic greeting.

"Miss Swan," she began, unable to hide her surprise however thankfully able to hide her annoyance. Henry frowned upon Regina's antagonizing nature with his birthmother; so for his sake she was trying to keep the peace between them, despite how angry and heartbroken she was at Emma's earlier denial of her request to see more of her son. It was terribly difficult. "What can I do for you?"

Hand shoved into her pockets, shoulders hunched forward, and the inability to hold eye contact brought an uncomfortable atmosphere around Emma that quickly swept Regina up in its wake. It was obvious she was hesitant about being here. "I'm sorry. I know it's late, but I…" Emma's eyes raked across Regina's form and the brunette instinctively stiffened, feeling as though the woman were assessing her weaknesses. As Regina recently found that there was nothing left of her defenses, this made her uneasy. "I guess I just wanted to see if you were okay."

Regina raised an eyebrow, finding that hard to believe. She said nothing about her suspicions of ill-intent however and replied instead with, "Well as you can see, dear; I'm perfectly fine." Regina hesitated for just a moment, allowing Emma the chance to respond, but it seemed like the blonde was having an internal struggle of some kind, which Regina did not feel the need to wait around all night for. "So if that will be all…"

Regina started to close the door in the midst of bidding the Sherriff goodnight, but Emma's hand flew out to catch the door as she took a step forward. "No, Regina, wait a minute."

Regina's patience was beginning to wear thin. "Miss Swan, it is eleven thirty at night; a time when reasonable people should be heading off to bed. So unless you plan to say whatever you came here to say quickly, I feel as though your false platitudes can surely wait until morning, don't you?"

Regina didn't wait for an answer as she began to once again close the door on the irritant in front of her, but the loud slap of Emma's hand against the wood halted Regina's hope of getting back to her brooding, drunken, night-in alone. "Hey!" Emma exclaimed, actually having the nerve to sound somewhat offended by the insinuation. "I didn't come here to offer you platitudes; I came because I know I owe you an explanation for my reasoning with Henry, and I don't think I was—"

"I know your reasoning," Regina interrupted, her eyes growing hard. "And I also know that whatever I say or do, it is unlikely that you will change your mind. So excuse me, for wishing to end a pointless conversation as quickly as possible, but I really must be heading off to bed." Regina took a step back from Emma, stumbling ever-so-slightly over her heel as her hand gripped the edge of the door. She quickly steadied herself as she stared down her caller. "And please do me the favor of not coming here under false pretenses next time; I do not appreciate being treated as though I'm unintelligent."

"They weren't—have you been drinking?"

Emma looked surprised; either because it was unfathomable to her that the Evil Queen would ever participate in such a shameful act of defeat, or because with all of her intuition she should have noticed the signs earlier. Perhaps it was partly both. Either way, Regina didn't care to discuss it. "Goodnight, Miss Swan."

"Wait, just…" Emma began, but paused to take a breath; trying to suppress her own aggravation. So far she had been doing a better job of it than Regina, whose temper was on a very short fuse because of her intoxication. It was unacceptable, however, for someone else to have the higher moral ground and so Regina took the given moment to calm herself as well. "I came all the way over here," Emma told her, her tone sounding less confrontational this time around. "The least you can do is give me five minutes of your time to talk about our son. Please."

Regina was still at a loss as to why this conversation had to happen now – after all, there must be a more appropriate time of day to crush the last of her hope – but she sighed heavily and relented nonetheless, wordlessly pushing the door all the way open in invitation as she took a step back. Emma gave her a tightlipped smile in thanks before she headed inside, shoving her hands back into her pockets awkwardly as Regina closed the door behind them.

"Something to drink?" Regina offered, forcing herself to be polite as she led Emma to her study. She began to pour herself another glass of wine as Emma shifted her weight between her feet in the doorway, watching her.

"No, thank you. I have to drive back."

"Suit yourself."

Regina picked up her glass before turning to face the woman in her doorway. However she noticed Emma wasn't looking at her and Regina's eyes followed her gaze until it landed on the half-empty wine bottle she just poured from, that sat next to one complete devoid of its contents on her table. Despite herself, Regina found herself coloring in shame. The feeling began to anger her.

"If you're done silently judging the way I handle myself when I'm distressed, perhaps you would like to sit down and speak to me about why you came here."

That seemed to startle Emma out of her staring contest with the bottle. "Oh. No, it's just…" She shook her head, but then made eye contact with Regina and sighed a little, her lips upturning slightly in an empathetic smile. "I get it," she admitted with a light shrug of her shoulders. "Honestly I'm more surprised by how poised you still are. It's kind of impressive. God knows when I…" But Emma stopped herself mid-sentence, knowing they were not yet familiar enough to be so personal. "Well, let's just say there was nothing to be impressed about."

Regina returned to her seat in the large armchair by the fire and raised an eyebrow at Emma's assessment of her. "You find this… impressive? Because I can assure you, dear, it really is anything but."

"No, I didn't mean your reason for doing it. Just…" Emma sighed, running her hand through her tussled hair. She had given up on explaining herself. "You know what? Maybe I'll have that drink; I can always take a cab."

Regina held out her hand in invitation. "Help yourself."

As Emma poured herself a glass of wine, Regina watched her carefully. She knew Emma was trying to be kind to her, trying to speak to her like an actual human being instead of the evil villain the town painted her as, but since Regina knew that effort was only put forth because Henry wished it, her attempts at friendly socialization fell flat. It wasn't as though Regina wished Emma actually cared enough to speak with her about things, but pretending their relationship was anything but the obvious was both tedious and exhausting.

It was why Regina reverted back to calling Emma 'Miss Swan.' After foolishly allowing herself to get her hopes up only to have them be ripped away from her, Regina found some distance was in order. And perhaps it was nothing but a name to everyone else, but to Regina it was a statement. They were not friends, nor would they ever be. She would work tirelessly to become the person Henry wanted to her to be, but Regina couldn't fathom ever becoming close with the woman who took it all away from her in the first place.

At least not emotionally.

As Regina watched Emma situate herself in the armchair across from her, leg propped up haphazardly on the edge as she brought the chaos of her being into Regina's room full of order and precision, the older woman found herself contemplating how much easier this all would've been if she had just approached Emma in a different way. The woman's eye tended to linger a little bit too long on her at times and her demeanor was a far cry from the heteronormative, leading to assumptions being made. However, Regina's assessment was little more than a guess and besides, sexual manipulation was probably not the best way to start this new chapter in her life.

Still, the thought was a rather tempting one… for probably all the wrong reasons.

There was no harm in seeing if the option was available though, so when Regina finally spoke she shifted in her seat to cross her legs, leaning forward just enough to seem interested as she clasped her hands on her lap. The movement gave Emma a fairly unashamed view of her cleavage as her blouse dipped a little lower than what was appropriate. "So," Regina began, watching the blonde with curious interest. "What is it you've come here to say?"

Emma did not disappoint. Her eyes almost immediately fell to Regina's breasts, taking them in for one long moment before she realized what she was doing and immediately snapped them up to catch the brunette's gaze. Regina raised a perfectly curved eyebrow, knowing the reaction could be interpreted in a number of ways, and Emma cleared her throat awkwardly before looking away from her.

Yes, Regina was now fairly certain that option was available to her. Good. If nothing else, it would help her get Henry back. Anyone who had ever fallen into bed with her quickly became her puppet; after all, it is much easier to manipulate the one who craves pleasure from you.

But perhaps she shouldn't resort to something like that too quickly. It had the ability to make things even more complicated.

"Um. I, uh…" Emma began, trying to get her thoughts in order after going off into what Regina could only assume was an unwanted private fantasy. "The thing about you wanting to see more of Henry… I think I shut you down too quickly." Emma leaned forward in her seat, using her hands as she spoke as she finally got herself back on track, "Like I said before, I know you're trying to change. And I should have tried to work out a reasonable compromise with you; like maybe first doing supervised visits, or whatever else. You're his mother too and yeah, we have a lot to work through after everything that's happened, but I think keeping Henry on a tight leash when it comes to you might end up doing more harm than good."

Regina found it ridiculous that she needed to have supervised visits with her own son, but she said nothing on the matter. It wasn't her decision anymore, despite how much she hated it. She would never hurt Henry, never. She would rather die. Regina just wished other people could see that, but she refused to allow herself the hope that that'd ever happen; she had already learned once today that allowing herself to do that only led to devastation when things didn't turn out in the way she expected.

"Well I… really appreciate that, Miss Swan," Regina began, giving the woman a small smile so she wouldn't seem ungrateful. "But I'm a little confused on why we couldn't have this conversation in the morning, at a more reasonable hour."

"Oh, right." Emma fidgeted in her seat, looking a little uncomfortable as she brought the wine glass to her lips, taking a rather large gulp of its contents. Regina raised her eyebrows; was it courage that she sought in the liquid? The notion was perplexing. After a moment, Emma finally spoke, "This is probably going to sound… really stupid to you; hell, it sounds stupid to me even, but you looked so upset when you walked away and I…" Emma ran her fingers through her hair, shaking her head slightly as if she couldn't believe what she was about to say herself, "I don't know. I guess I just felt bad for making you feel that way and as messed up as it is, I didn't think I'd be able to sleep unless I saw that you were alright."

Out of anything Regina was expecting, it certainly wasn't that. It actually made her falter for a moment; her cool and collected demeanor noticeable cracking in half as Regina found herself quickly growing agitated by the notion. A very large part of her could never believe that anyone would actually care enough to do that and so the sentiment sounded like complete and utter bullshit to her; words spoken to form a sense of trust that would never really be genuine. A manipulation tactic, surely.

"And why, exactly, would you care about my emotional wellbeing?"

The question was out before she could stop it and Regina prevented herself from saying more by finishing the rest of the wine that was in her glass. She didn't mean for Emma to see how much that statement bothered her; the way to finding out Emma's endgame was to act as though she were going along with it, not blatantly fight against it. There was no gain of information that way and Regina silently chided herself on her lack of control. Intoxicated or not, she should have thought before she spoke.

"Because whether we like it or not, we're a part of each other's lives, Regina." Emma held eye contact while she said it, which Regina believed was nothing more than a desperate attempt to seem genuine throughout her lie. "Both of us are Henry's mothers. We have this… well, honestly we have a pretty fucked up family dynamic going on, but it's still something that binds us together, you know? And for Henry's sake I think it'd be best if we tried to get along and actually began to care about one another."

Right, for Henry's sake. Did Emma think her stupid? She was trying to win points in Henry's eyes by being the bigger person, by being the White Knight he had always believed her to be. It took a lot of effort for Regina to force herself to smile sweetly at her. Perhaps she was bitter, but Regina was beginning to believe the little ray of hope Emma cast upon people was nothing but a manipulation tactic. It sure seemed that way with her. And if that was the case, well, then… two could play at that game.

"You're right, Emma," Regina said, using the woman's first name to make her words sound more genuine. "Unity is what Henry needs right now. He has enough to deal with without us being constantly at odds." Which was true, but Regina still could not trust her. When someone had that much power over you, it was very difficult to not be suspicious of their ends. Control, that was what Regina needed right now; in any form. It would make her feel a whole lot more comfortable with this new situation, she was sure of it.

So without any more thought on the matter, she defaulted to her backup plan.

"More wine?" Regina offered as she picked up her empty glass. Although she was certain she could do this without the help of alcohol, it did make things a little bit easier. The question of 'why' was usually omitted and Regina really did not want to have to think of some half-assed excuse that Emma would probably see right through anyway.

"Oh, uh…" Emma faltered, looking a little taken aback by the offer; perhaps because it was an invitation to stay longer. But she seemed to welcome the gesture because she smiled softly at her. "Yeah. Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks."

Regina returned her smile with one of her own as she bent down to retrieve Emma's glass from the end table, giving the woman a brief, yet effective view down her blouse before she headed back over to refill their glasses. She could feel Emma's eyes on her the whole way back and Regina smirked to herself. This shouldn't be too difficult.

"Do you want more red?" Regina asked as she busied herself pouring another glass. She didn't quite fill it though; she didn't want to make too much of a mess when she turned around to look at Emma and did—"Because I'm sure I have some white in the—oh!" That. Feigning accidental clumsiness, her hand gently knocked the glass to the wooden floor, shattering the glass and spilling its contents.

Thank God it wasn't expensive.

"Shit," Emma exclaimed, watching the liquid get everywhere. She was on her feet in an instant, just as Regina had expected her to be. "Here, let me help," she offered as she bent down, picking up the broken pieces of glass as Regina quickly grabbed a hand towel from the guest bathroom.

"No, it's fine," Regina insisted as she bent down next to her, placing her hand delicately on Emma's wrist to still her movements. "Honestly this happens more than I should probably admit; I really should watch what I'm doing." Regina laughed softly at her own idiocy as she used the towel to mop up her mess, paying close attention to Emma out of her peripheral. Regina's other hand was still on her wrist, however was now grasping it a little tighter for support as she bent over to mop up the mess.

Contact; that was the point to this. They had never really had any casual contact before; it was always fighting or rescuing or… well, more fighting. So the gesture, despite its subtlety, did not go unnoticed by the Sherriff. Emma stared at her hand for a moment, this look of utter perplextion on her face before her eyes rested on Regina. She was looking for answers but the brunette found it was much more fun when she didn't outright give them, so she kept her expression unreadable.

After she was through mopping up the mess, Regina turned so she could make eye contact. She smiled at Emma as she started to rise to her feet, purposely allowing her fingers to trail over the back of the blonde's hand before she released her grip. Regina wanted the intimacy of the touch to be clear, but still casual enough that it could have been accidental. "Let me get another glass," she said before turning to head into the kitchen. She was stopped quite suddenly however, by the next question to come out of Emma's mouth.

"What's your angle, here?"

Regina's eyebrows rose. She wasn't expecting that. But she quickly masked her surprise and replaced it with feigned innocence as she turned to face her. "What do you mean, dear?" Out of everything that could have happened, Regina was not prepared for Emma to call her out; especially not this early on. She wracked her brain for excuses that sounded plausible; as she was sure her façade of innocence would not hold up long.

"Regina," Emma said flatly, as though Regina should have known better than to try to be discreet about her intentions. "Do you really think I don't know when a woman's coming onto me?"

Regina straightened her spine and kept her composure despite the embarrassment of the situation, staring Emma down. "Well," she began haughtily. "Thank you, Miss Swan, for making this even more awkward; that was just what this night needed."

Emma, at least, had the decency to look a little ashamed of herself. It was a momentary lapse however. "Look, you gotta admit… it seems a little out of left field," Emma responded, taking a step forward as she held out her hands; an indication she didn't know what to do with this. Regina didn't really either, since her plan backfired quite catastrophically. "A lot out of left field, actually," she added as an afterthought. "And maybe I'm paranoid, but I don't think it's wrong for me, after everything that's happened, to wonder what your endgame is."

Regina was beginning to grow flustered, unable to think of a way to divert this to her advantage. But then quite suddenly she realized that giving into that emotion might actually not be a bad idea. Being overwhelmed by something is akin to vulnerability and that can be endearing, in a way; at least to some people. And if not that, then it would at least make her come across more human and far, far more genuine.

"I… I think it's time for you to leave," Regina told her, purposely stumbling over her words a little as she ran her fingers through her hair, avoiding eye contact at all costs. She moved off to the side, allowing Emma room to pass the threshold to get to the main hallway, should she want to. Regina finished with a very diplomatic, "Thank you for stopping by, Miss Swan," making it apparent after that how awkward she felt being put on the spot.

"No, Regina— hold on a minute."

It took two long strides for Emma to be by Regina's side, her expression beginning to turn sympathetic as she realized that it may not have been a game at all. And it wasn't, in a way. Yes, it was all about the control, the power one had when they gave someone the one thing that all humans craved. Regina was doing this to tip the scales a little more in her favor, as she felt so utterly lost when her entire world was stripped from beneath her and the last thing she wanted was to lose anything else. She was doing it out of desperation, out of anger, out of loneliness. There were so many reasons; all of them packaged up nice and neat with a manipulative little bow on top… but perhaps the simplicity of how it was presented was utterly ridiculous in the end.

Or maybe Regina really was that drunk that she didn't know what she was doing anymore; either that, or she was going mad. Both seemed viable at this point.

She really should have never started this. Always the woman that made all the wrong choices, right? This was pointless.

"I don't know what I'm doing, alright?" Regina admitted, her frustration being exhaled in a defeated sigh as she slammed the flat of her hand against the wall. "Is that what you want to hear? I bet you've been just itching to find more reasons to keep me from my son so congratulations," Regina hissed through her teeth, "here's another. I don't know what the hell I'm doing anymore." She shook her head, giving up. She should have gone to bed ages ago; this whole night was only going to make things worse. "Just go home, Miss Swan. Please."

"No, Regina."

Regina looked up at her, disbelief etched on her face. Who did this woman think she was? Emma already bore witness to her crumbling sanity, what more could she possibly want? Regina was trying to be strong throughout all of this, but it was hard. So much harder than anything she had ever had to do because this time… this time, she had something very real to lose. How badly that terrified her did not seem to weigh well on her mind because Regina felt like she was falling apart.

"No," Emma repeated, her hand finding Regina's forearm. "I'm not going to leave you, because that's what you expect everyone to do. I know this hard, okay? I get it. I'm not saying you don't deserve the pain this is causing you after everything that you've done – because believe me, you kind of do –but I don't think you should go through it alone either." Emma's eyes softened and she squeezed Regina's arm slightly, empathetically, because if there was one thing she could understand, it was this. "Because loneliness? That's the worst curse of all. No one should ever have to go through life feeling that way."

Pity. It really was the lowest thing someone could give. It crawled up Regina's spine like a sickness and she tried to shake it off, but it felt like it was seeping beneath her skin. She was becoming something new, something different, and something that she found she very much didn't like at all. Regina wanted everything to just go back to the way it was. If she could do it all over, she'd do it differently; but that wasn't the way the world worked, was it?

Maybe she needed this though; this moment to break, to really feel what was going on around her for two seconds instead of storing it away in a little box in the back of her mind. Because hell, that box was opening now and Regina knew she'd never be able to be the person Henry wanted her to be until she was honest with herself, until she dealt with things head on instead of locking them all away until they ultimately came back to suffocate her.

But the last thing she wanted to do was talk about it. Dr. Hopper already proved he was not to be trusted and besides, Regina had always been more of a physical being. So yeah, maybe she did have the right idea at first, but it was for all the wrong reasons. She knew what she needed now.

Release.

"You really want to help me, Emma?" Regina asked her, her voice dangerously low as she looked at her beneath her lashes, a fiery purpose in her eyes. In an instant her hands connected with the Sherriff's shoulders and she pushed her back with all her strength, making Emma's back collide with the wall of her study. "Then help me get you undressed."

Their lips collided as Regina sought to tear the fabric from Emma's body, the patience in her all but run out. A gasp of surprise left Emma, tickling Regina's bottom lip as she snaked her tongue into the blonde's mouth, intent on drinking up all that she was in repayment for all she had lost. There was hesitation, but it was only momentary before fingers curled in dark hair and the kiss was returned in kind; rough, passionate, bruising.

The scenario was not the one Regina would have ideally imagined, but there was only one person in Storybrooke that could even half-stand to be around her anymore and so she was chosen for the task of helping Regina release the emotions that had been crippling her sanity. And perhaps it needed to be Emma anyhow, for it was her who caused them all to begin in the first place. Perhaps if it wasn't her then this would do no good at all, and above everything else, Regina just wanted to find the calm after the storm.

And to do so, she found she needed to rip the control away from the one person who held her fate in her hands, even if only for a moment.

Regina's lips fell downwards, her teeth sinking into the flesh of Emma's neck just enough to hurt, but not enough to bruise. A shuddered gasp fell from Emma's lips, her fingers curling around Regina's forearm as her nails made crescent marks in her skin. Part of her, it seemed, had been waiting for something like this to happen for a long time. Maybe a part of Regina had been too.

"This won't fix it, you know—" Emma's words were nothing more than broken fragments between heavy breaths as the desire to rid each other of clothing overshadowed all else. They tore at the fabric that covered one other, their motions rough and conflicting yet ultimately yielding the same result; like a carefully choreographed sword fight in which the victor has already been determined, yet the passion behind getting there remained the same.

"No, I suspect not," Regina responded, her tone equally breathy and wanton as her fingers splayed out against the silken flesh of Emma's throat. "But it's a start." Her fingers closed; hard enough to hold, yet soft enough to allow breath to pass through with ease. It was the dominance she craved, not the violence. Not anymore.

Emma's eyes fluttered shut as Regina pressed her body against her captive, their nudity feeling more natural than she would have expected it to. Regina's eyes scanned the lines in Emma's expression, finding herself surprised to see how content the other woman looked at her mercy. Being the savior of all was, perhaps, too much for the young woman to bear sometimes. And maybe, just maybe, she needed a moment of surrender just as much as Regina needed a moment of control.

A small smile formed across Emma's face, her body slacking as she gave everything over to Regina. Her eyes remained closed and Regina recognized the look of freedom Emma wore, for it was the same look that now graced her own face. "Take what you want from me," Emma begged her, as though Regina was her savior now. And perhaps, in that moment, she was. "Anything. Everything."

"Oh," Regina hissed through her teeth, a smile playing on the edge of her lips as her fingers tightened just a little bit more, making Emma lightheaded for one, short moment. "Believe me, dear. I will."

Emma gasped for breath when Regina released her grip. She held her there, pinned to the wall for just a few seconds as she allowed the Sherriff to get her bearings. Regina's tongue traced Emma's bottom lip lightly, just a quick tease before she released the hold on her neck, trading it for one on her arm. This was not where she wanted her, Regina had decided. If she was going to do this, then she was going to do this right.

One hard push resulted in a rather unceremonious landing in her armchair. Emma's hands gripped the edges of the upholstery, her grip on that more than likely far better than her grip on reality. But reality wasn't what either of them needed right now and as Regina grabbed a fistful of blonde hair, wrenching the woman beneath her into a position better suited for her needs, a pleading moan fell from the Sherriff's lips, igniting a fire within Regina's abdomen that burned her from the inside out.

"Up," she demanded, her voice drunk on power as she watched Emma do exactly as she was told. Submission was never something Regina thought Emma would wear, but found the role fit her rather well. Regina bent her over the chair, shoving her thigh between her legs to encourage Emma to open them up for her. The response was both immediate and satisfactory and Regina groaned low in approval.

There was something so primal, so innately mammal about taking someone from this position. It made Regina feel like she was on the top of the food chain once more; a ruler of a kingdom that no longer existed. And it was when Regina's fingers slipped within Emma's depths, finding that the woman more than welcomed the invasion, that she realized that she didn't need to be the Queen of the Realm or the Mayor of Storybrooke to satisfy her craving for power. There was a simplicity to the kind of power she held over Emma in that moment, but it instilled the same feeling of superiority that Regina Mills had always needed to mask her own shortcomings.

Regina's grip tightened on Emma's hair, leaning into her as she used the weight of her body to push against her fingers. Emma gasped and shuddered beneath her, a name on the tip of her tongue that Regina never allowed her to release, as she wasn't sure she was ready to hear it said; not in the midst of this train wreck, anyhow. "Madame Mills," she correctly tersely, and without question she was obliged.

But given the current aspects of their sexual encounter, the formality probably made much more sense anyhow.

Regina could see the power Emma held inside of her, not just the rippling muscles in her arms as she struggled to push back with as much force as Regina was giving her, but deeper than that; beneath her skin, residing somewhere in the center of her soul; the soul of a savior, a soul that only true love could ever produce. She was the lightning in a storm, the wind in a tornado. Emma Swan was fierce, she was beautiful, and she was frightening.

And Regina's ability to reduce someone of that magnitude to a jumble of pathetic whimpers and pleading moans made her feel, for the first time since the curse broke, a hell of a lot stronger.

"Fuck, fuck," Emma cried, a statement as undignified at she was, and yet Regina found she wouldn't have it any other way; for if Emma had any sense of dignity, she would have never allowed Regina to take her in demeaning manner.

Dignity, honor, nobility; they were all a bunch of over-glorified terms that Regina's mother once force fed to mold her into a person she never wanted to become. And to throw out a regimen she had been accustomed to for far too long, made Regina feel freer than she ever had in her life. She wanted to be a mess for once, because imperfection was one of the biggest parts of being human. And as she allowed herself to feel it, Regina quickly found that despite how unseemly it may appear, it was one of the best parts about it.

Fingers twisting inside someone whose heart Regina once had the urge to pluck from her chest, she allowed herself to immerse herself in the moment as she took Emma's breath, her words, her sanity. The Sherriff opened herself up to her, pouring everything she needed to give her with her release, somehow filling a void Regina hadn't known was there until it had been consumed by something she never thought she needed.

And no, maybe it didn't fix everything. It changed nothing about the situation in her life, but after hours of ripping the parts from each other that they needed to feel whole, Regina found that the invisible weight that had crushed her for years had partially been lifted; noticing, for the first time in quite a while, that she was finally able to breathe.

And with that burden behind her, Regina felt as though she had the strength to take on anything.

- FIN -