Notes: I suggest that you read "Undertow" (fanfiction s/12941219/1/Undertow) after ch.10 "Do I Wanna Know?" and before this one. :)
Rating: T, with some mature themes towards the end. Set after 2x01 and inspired by P!nk's "Timebomb" ("I'm tired from last night's fight/I wish I hadn't started it/I hate when my fear speaks for me/It makes me nasty".)
The portal closed and Charming landed face-first on the ordinary, cold floor.
The wraith was gone.
Emma was gone.
Snow White was gone.
For the briefest of moments, Regina was safe from all three threats. She had her son, her life, and even the ultimate revenge. She did not know how to feel. She stood frozen in her tracks, trying to process everything that had happened.
Equally dumbfounded, Charming crawled on the floor, touching the hard surface where the portal had just been.
She realized he was still there when she heard him sitting up and picking up the damaged hat. She caught a glimpse of him: a heartbreaking sight, as he clutched the inanimate object, tears streaming down his face. It was hard to believe this was the same man who boasted with his bravery and strength, who was ready to face magic with a foolish confidence and a reckless disregard for danger.
Then he turned to her.
She recognized the look on his face. The look of a person who had lost something he considered irreplaceable. The dangerous glint in his eyes reflected the familiar simmering rage that had kept her alive after she had lost her hope for a family and a future with Daniel.
"Where are they?" he growled as he stood up.
"I have no idea."
She took a few steps back when he strode up to her.
"Are they dead?"
"The Curse, it destroyed all the lands…" She sounded almost apologetic, stumbling over her words.
"ARE THEY DEAD?" He barked at her.
Regina halted her retreat.
"I don't. Know." It was a half-truth, but explaining to him the whole truth would be no use anyway. In this volatile mood, the prince would not hear her out.
"I should've killed you myself," he hissed as he tried to reach her throat. She stopped his arm and pushed back.
The simple statement changed everything. As if with an incantation it summoned something, or more precisely someone, within her that she thought she would never need again. Whoever Regina Mills was, or had become during the years in Storybrooke, was pushed aside by a powerful force.
The Evil Queen had awoken.
"Well, then, what's stopping you…"
The anger roared inside her, both all-consuming and empowering. It was impossible to contain it, so it flowed outward into magic.
Charming found himself flung across the room and pinned against the wall before he could take a breath or brace himself. Tree branches sprang to life from the wallpaper, creeping from behind and gripping him in an iron fist.
Ts-ts, Regina, Regina, still mingling with peasants… Now that the Queen had stepped in, she would quickly take care of the matter.
"You think you're some heroic prince", she spat out with disdain. "Please. You're nothing but the son of a shepherd."
The disgust in her voice was reflected in her expression as well.
"I should've killed you when I could, and now… Now I can."
Her heart skipped a beat. Her mind went blank.
Regina took a deep breath as she turned around to face Henry, and to face the consequences of her actions.
Henry said nothing during the ride in David's truck. As soon as they stepped into the school teacher's flat, he dropped his backpack on a chair next to a small cabinet and fixed his gaze on a framed photo of Mary Margaret and Emma. With his arms laid upon the cabinet and his chin nestled on top of them, the poor boy was the picture of despair.
Charming tried to comfort Henry, stating with dead certainty that Emma and Mary Margaret were alive. He had consciously made the choice to have faith in their survival, but convincing his grandson of it was the first test of that resolve. He knelt down in front of the boy and squeezed his hands reassuringly.
"I will find them. I will always find them."
"I asked them to help my mom," Henry said in a small voice. "Did she try to kill them again, is that why they're gone?"
"No," David admitted and noticed a fraction of relief in the boy's face. "We were fighting off a monster, called a wraith, together, but it pulled them into the portal."
"They were very brave and they saved Regina's life. You should be proud of them."
Henry nodded, but hesitantly queried again.
"Then why did my mom try to kill you?"
There was no point in lying, nor could Charming confess that he had tried to kill her first.
But if Henry still thought of her as "mom", it wouldn't help to lay the blame squarely at her feet and make him choose a side.
"Well, after that thing took Emma and Mary Margaret, I asked her where they were, but she said she didn't know."
"I don't understand."
David flicked his tongue between his lips to wet them.
A half-truth will be enough, just don't upset Henry more than he already is.
"I didn't ask nicely. We had an argument."
Henry looked disappointed.
"This wasn't supposed to happen. The Curse was meant to be broken so everyone could get their happy endings. Good was supposed to win."
"Good will win, give it time. Just have faith."
Later that night, Charming tucked Henry in, letting him sleep in the large bed while he lay down on the sofa dead-tired. He kept his sword within reach, laying it on top of the armrest - if anyone or anything attempted to get to Henry, they had to go through him first. The exhaustion and the splitting headache took their toll on him and he managed to fall asleep.
As soon as he drifted off, visions started rushing in, flooding his mind. It was all a haze, a blur between reality and fantasy drawn from two different lives.
But all the mundane details he recalled faded when a particularly disturbing memory clawed its way out from the depths of his subconscious. He was still asleep, but everything felt too real to be just a dream. It was from the night of Kathryn's disappearance.
David could see Regina throwing her head back, with her eyes shut, he could feel her arching her back and surging up toward him.
He could taste the sweet sweat pooling in the hollow of her neck and dripping down over her body.
He could touch every exquisite curve that his hands followed.
He could hear the sensual sounds that escaped her mouth and made him shiver.
It was quite early in the morning, just before dawn, when he shot up, his T-shirt sticking to his back, his hair damp, his mouth agape in shock. His elbow nudged the sword and the weapon fell to floor, causing a racket. He was panting, his eyes were threatening to come out of their orbits.
He remembered everything that he'd blissfully suppressed.
Why had she slept with him? Was it just for revenge, to drive a wedge between him and Snow? Then why had she kept it a secret instead of caused another scandal?
And in any case, why had she kept him alive during the curse when she could have widowed Snow? Clearly, as the Mayor, she'd had many opportunities over the years to pull the plug on his life-support.
Not only was he alive, he even had the same name. Snow was Mary Margaret, Rumplestiltskin was Mr Gold, Abigail was Kathryn, Cinderella was Ashley; everyone he knew had a different name, and yet Regina hadn't changed his. He was still David… And she was still Regina.
She was still Regina. That could only mean she was double the trouble: she wasn't just Madame Mayor, or just the Evil Queen; she was both. Figuring her out this time was impossible.
He swallowed hard, but his mouth was dry. He needed answers.
"Gramps, what's wrong?"
Henry's voice startled him and he instinctively reached to the top of the sofa for his sword. Instead of cold metal, his hand grabbed a soft pillow. As soon as he realized there was no imminent threat, he discarded it in his lap, and then rubbed his forehead in an attempt to gather his thoughts.
"Everything's fine, it was just a nightmare. Go back to sleep."
"Can I get a sword, too?"
"You know, just in case we need to fight off a monster?"
"Trust me, you don't want a sword. Swords only bring trouble. Look, I got a cut tonight while I was trying to sharpen this old thing."
"Then you should've been more careful."
"I was careful, but weapons have a way of hurting people. Even the ones who yield them."
Henry smiled, hesitantly headed back to bed, but then turned on his heel.
"Do you think the wraith will come back?"
"I don't know. But I'll keep you safe, I promise. Now go back to bed, I'm here."
David watched the boy return to the warm respite of the large bed.
"Goodnight, Henry. Sweet dreams."
He lay back down to stare at the ceiling. He could not fall asleep again with all the questions running through his mind.
It was just as well. Who knew what else he would remember if he fell asleep.
But the worst part was not that he remembered past events.
Recalling memories had a nasty side-effect: it overwhelmed him with the same emotions.
And that could only bring trouble.
Post-endcredits note: I am yet to catch up on later seasons of the show, so the EQ metamorphosis may not be canon-compliant. It's a passing reference to explain Regina's reaction to being threatened.
Many thanks to Michebellaxo, my beta reader for this chapter.