Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters.
AN: Prompt from pink-akubra: set after The Miller's Daughter - Regina disappears after Cora's death and Emma attempts to use her walkie talkie to find her. To the anon, I didn't reply because I didn't want to give away the ending which is why the full prompt isn't given. Thanks for the great prompt though! Some events may be out of order.
Emma couldn't take it anymore. Mary Margaret was moping, having not moved from her spot under the covers since David had carried her home four days prior after their little battle with the Mills women in Gold's pawn shop. Henry was off with Neal, and when he wasn't, he was busy redesigning the blueprints of his new and improved anti-Regina apartment. And David, well, he was his usual self which was aggravating enough. She could barely stand the man before she found out he was her father, but now, he looked at her like she would crawl into his lap and ask for a bed time story.
She had had enough of this nonsense, and to make matters worse, after Regina had magicked herself and her mother's lifeless body away, she hadn't been seen or heard from since. It set the townspeople on edge, which made them constantly bombard the Saviour which made Emma feel suffocated. The only way to solve this problem was by finding Regina.
So she looked.
It was what she was good at. She went to the obvious locations first. The Mills mansion remained empty like a show home. Everything was neat and orderly, Regina's files alphabetized in a drawer in her office, her kitchen spotless. Henry's room was eerily tidy for an eleven-year old's, a wall dedicated to his comics and his walkie talkie sitting on his nightstand next to an Iron Man lamp, and Regina's room was lavish and cold as the Queen who once slept in it.
Next stop was Town Hall, but like the mansion, there was no sign of Regina other than the fact that everything in the room from the black and white forest wallpaper to the forms waiting patiently on her desk to be signed screamed Regina.
Next she went to the cemetery, feeling almost disrespectful for entering the tomb, but she needed these crazy fairy tale characters off her back. She found nothing, save for two caskets laying side by side. Here lies Henry and Cora Mills, beloved Father and Mother.
Emma almost felt bad for snorting. There was nothing beloved about Cora Mills, but standing by the caskets, Emma suddenly felt guilty. She had heard what had happened, of course. What Mary Margaret had done in order to get Regina to kill her own mother, and even Emma had to admit, that was cruel beyond belief. Sighing at another place empty, Emma spread her search throughout Storybrooke, keeping an eye out for cropped brunette hair and a nasty disposition.
Her search had ended, and still Snow was huddled in her bed with a doteful Charming by her side, and Henry was still sketching an armoury, and the crazy citizens were still demanding Regina's head on a platter. So Emma repeated her search the next day, this time starting with the town before returning to the cemetery, Town Hall and the mansion.
It was there she noticed an interesting development. The office and kitchen still remained pristine, but she noticed a difference in Henry's room. She couldn't place her finger on what it was exactly. Iron Man still gave light to frightened little boys, the wall was still stacked with comics, though a few seemed to stick out like someone had rifled through them, and, Emma noticed walking quickly to the stand, the walkie talkie was gone.
"Hey." Emma nudged Henry as he sat at the breakfast bar. "Did you stop by your house recently?"
Henry gave her a quizzical look. "What do you mean? I've been home all week."
"I mean on Mifflin," the blonde explained.
Henry furrowed his brow as if asking why on earth he would go back there. "Oh. No."
"You haven't seen your mom?"
"You're my mom."
"I know, kid," Emma said exasperated. "Regina's your mom too, and she hasn't really been seen since the pawn shop thing."
"Is she okay?" The boy asked attempting to hide the concern from his face.
Emma just shrugged, unsure what to tell him. "I'm sure she's fine."
Their sorry excuse of a dinner consisting of cereal and toast continued silently until Henry left for the day bed in the corner to sleep for the night.
It still unnerved Emma that Regina would disappear like this. The last time this happened, she had accused the former Mayor of murder. Finding out the truth, Emma reasoned she would find the brunette and apologize but the circumstances surrounding her impromptu trip to Manhattan followed by the attack from the Mills women left the Sheriff with little time to even speak to the adoptive mother of her son let alone apologize. Now Regina was missing again.
She didn't even want to think about what would happen to Regina if someone else found her first. If there was anything she learned growing up, and judging by the narrow minded town she currently resided in, people were unforgiving.
She stared at her own walkie talkie after another week of coming up with nothing. The complaints of the residents were dying down, but all it would take was one unexpected reappearance from the missing brunette before all hell broke loose. She was desperate. What were the odds Regina had the other one, let alone it being on?
Shrugging, Emma made sure her door was shut before grabbing the communicator and climbing out of her bedroom window to sit on the fire escape.
She held the button on the side before lifting the device to her mouth. "Hey. Regina? Look I don't even know if you have the other one or if you're listening or if you're just hiding or something, but I'm the Sheriff so it's kind of my job to find missing people."
She released the button and held her breath, mentally going over what she had said. Static sounded from the speaker, as if someone had pressed the talk button but thought better of it. She furrowed her brow looking at the device before bringing it to her lips again. "Regina? Whoever this is, answer right now."
She eyed the walkie talkie and waited. Nothing.
Frustrated, she held the button with more force than necessary. "I know you have this, Regina. I saw it in Henry's room and now it's gone, so you better come clean to me before someone else finds you, and I can't guarantee they'll be as lenient as me."
Grumbling and tossing the walkie talkie through the open window onto her bed, Emma climbed back into the apartment. "Suit yourself."
"Any luck?" David asked as he donned his gun holster.
Emma shook her head.
"Maybe she's gone for good this time," her father said. "About time."
Emma tilted her head to the side and glanced up the stairs to make sure Henry was still in the shower. "She had to kill her mother. Regina could be face down in a ditch somewhere for all we know."
David glanced at a huddled Mary Margaret before approaching his daughter and lowering his voice. "I know that sounds bad, but if you knew the evil that she did-"
"More evil than getting kids to kill their own parents?"
The man gave her a stern look. "Her disappearance is for the best. You don't have to worry about her taking Henry, and the town will get over her. You'll see."
"Right," Emma said dryly as she grabbed Henry's bag just as her son was coming down the stairs.
"You're not lying in a ditch somewhere, are you?" Emma asked into the walkie talkie that night. "'Cause that would suck explaining that to Henry."
She paused hoping to hear static one more time just to make sure she wasn't crazy.
"Look, I heard about your mom," Emma said slowly into the walkie talkie. She took a breath before continuing. "What Snow did, I-"
She paused mentally scorning herself. Regina was stubborn and a woman who refused anyone's pity. "I just don't think you should be alone right now. At least let Henry know you're okay?"
Static. Emma held her breath wondering if she'd get a response, but just as quickly as it came, it was gone.
Emma paced her bedroom the next night staring at the walkie talkie on the bed. For the past two nights, the blonde felt more than a little ridiculous talking to the black electronic in the hopes that Regina was receiving the messages only to get back silence.
Her suspicions were confirmed when that morning, Emma and Henry opened their apartment door to find the latest issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and The Runaways trade. Henry had beamed, hugging Emma around the middle before scooping up his newest comics, already rifling through them, but the blonde just stared dumbfounded at the spot recounting last night's words.
At least let Henry know you're okay.
The Sheriff paused her track, convinced she'd wear a groove in the old hardwood from her pacing before grabbing the walkie talkie again.
"Thank you," Emma rushed out, uncertain why that was the first thing she said. "Henry loves the comics."
Like for the past three nights, Emma sat with the walkie talkie cradled in her lap as soon as everyone had gone to bed. David had finally wrangled Mary Margaret out of her bed where the town embraced her with open arms deeming she could do no wrong. It was more than a little infuriating.
"I don't know where you are, but if you're still in town, and I'm pretty sure you are, you've probably heard the victorious cry of the people as soon as Snow saw daylight again." She paused hoping to hear something but continued when she didn't. "I know she's my mom, but that's bullshit. I mean, there's lines you don't cross."
She waited, releasing the button before continuing. "I went to your family tomb looking for you. I saw your mom's casket."
Emma released the button, taking a moment to imagine Regina disappearing in a cloud of purple smoke with her mother's body in her arms. Regina burying her last living relative in the tomb that provided the only safe haven from a town that both feared and hated her.
It was a strange place to be in for Emma. Looking for Regina moved to the back burner since she actually had to sheriff the town, but it was difficult to both feel sorry for the woman while also being angry that she was the cause of her less than fortunate childhood.
"I uh- yeah. I thought you would have been there." Emma scratched the back of her head. "Look if you come out I'm not gonna throw you in jail and I'm sure no one's going to hurt you. They're too scared for that. That's why they want me to look for you even though I have bigger problems."
Emma stopped herself, feeling her inner thoughts surface before shaking her head at her own sliver of vulnerability and moving the walkie talkie onto her night stand.
Emma paced up and down the stairs of the fire escape as she yelled into the walkie talkie. "You better not be up to no good, Regina. August almost died today, and he specifically said 'she' and the fact that you've been gone for almost three weeks and are some great and powerful witch doesn't make these people any more forgiving. God, people are convinced you've returned. Is it too much to ask that you come out of your little hole?"
She huffed, finally releasing the button willing someone to respond.
"Seriously?" She said into the device. "Is your pride too big to actually answer me or would you rather see me in person just to curse my ass? Because if you want to do that then come on out."
She waited again before pulling at her hair, almost missing the last step of the iron stairs and holding tightly to the railing to prevent herself from falling. "You know Henry thinks it's you too. I mean 'she'. That's like the biggest clue ever, and 'she' killed a wooden man! A man made out of wood died without fire and you have magic. Do you know what that looks like?"
She waited longer this time for a reply, but just like always she was met with silence. "Fine."
Emma didn't go to the walkie talkie the next night, still infuriated with the distinct possibility that Regina had surfaced and was on a rampage. The only reason she went to the device the following night was because she was in desperate need of someone to talk to.
"Everyone's convinced you're back," she said quietly into the electronic as she sat huddled on her window sill. "And Henry, he's been hanging out with Neal all the time, and it's so difficult to get him to do anything."
Emma laughed at the irony. "It's no wonder the kid is stubborn based on me and you."
She sat quietly watching the sun set casting a pink glow to the sleepy town. "David and the dwarves, they've been working on something, but I don't know what, but I can hear them when they're over. They think I'm gonna find you eventually and justice will prevail."
Emma said the last part dryly, the words bitter on her tongue as she quoted one of the dwarves. "This Saviour crap is for the birds. I mean I already broke your freaking curse. What else do they want? For us to hold hands and sing songs around a tree like the Grinch gave Christmas back?"
Emma's hand unconsciously tensed around the walkie talkie. "I didn't realize how big this was, this whole battle between good and evil. I feel like I'm straddling the line when everyone else thinks I'm so on board with my parents."
"I just-" Emma's voice cracked much to her dismay. She took a while composing herself, sniffling unshed tears as the burden of everyone's happy endings embedded firmly on her shoulders. "Could you help me out by making me not look?"
"Regina," Emma said frantically into the walkie talkie. "I know you can hear me, and seriously, you give a whole new meaning to the cold shoulder, but Henry needs you."
She waited, thinking just hearing Henry's name would be enough to bring the woman out of hiding. She had heard nothing, literally, but not even static since the night before the comics showed up. Ever since that night, no more comics had appeared on their doorstep, and the speaker on the black device remained tragically silent for over a month.
A month where Emma had been talking to an invisible person, sometimes ranting, sometimes just asking where she was, but always would she be met with silence.
Emma slumped on the wall, letting her legs slide out as she sat on the floor of her room with the walkie talkie in her lap. She made no effort to bring it up to her lips, only holding the button down as she spoke quietly.
"He's getting irritable," the blonde confessed. "He makes faces whenever I pour cereal for dinner, he got mad at me because I got the wrong comics. The kid had this horrible nightmare last night, and I tried to calm him down, but he pushed me off and just made this hot milk and vanilla thing. Did you used to do that for him?"
"He's spending the night with Neal. I'm not thrilled about it, but I think I get it. Someone taking your kid from you. I get it." Emma sighed. "He won't say it, but he misses you. He keeps trying to bring up if I've found you yet, and I see him go out of his way to walk by your place."
Emma let the feeling of being an inadequate mother settle deep down within her. The look on Henry's face when she attempted to give him strawberries made her feel almost as guilty as the fact that she didn't know her son had an allergy. She made it a point to let Neal know of such a thing, but at this point, the man could do no wrong with the kid.
"You should come home," Emma whispered. "If you do and happen to put a few of the dwarves in the hospital I'll promise I'll say it was self-defense."
After a long while where Emma sat ruminating in her own insecurities she held the talk button one more time. "I hope you're okay."
"It's not you," Emma said almost excitedly into the walkie talkie. "You're not the 'she'."
The blonde slumped down hard on the bottom steps of the fire escape catching her breath. "I think it's Tamara. She's up to something, and I can just tell she lied to me."
Emma stopped herself to realize she was relieved that the 'she' who had attacked August was not Regina. True, no one else believed that, but something deep inside Emma's bones made her realize that Regina was innocent. "I need your help. I don't know how to catch her, but I know it's not you."
After a beat of silence Emma spoke confidently into the device. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for thinking that it was."
"Just, if you could help me trap her or something, I promise I'll put the people who try to hurt you in jail." Emma promised quietly, her tone every inch of seriousness as she was. "She's bad news, Regina. I just know it."
Emma toyed with the walkie talkie in her hand. She had yet to speak into it, but as she sat outside, her thoughts racing from what she witnessed hours earlier, she didn't really know what to say.
After much deliberation she spoke into the device. "My parents want to leave. To the Enchanted Forest. David and the dwarves, they've been harvesting magic beans."
She snorted at the ridiculousness of her statement before pressing the button again. "God, what is this town doing to me? No wonder you wiped everyone's memory. Everyone is insane. If I had known fairy tale people were this hard headed I would have avoided them all together as a kid."
She played with the device again, longer this time. Upon seeing the bean field, Emma's life seemed to flash before her eyes. Gone was her car, her hot showers and her cell phone. Instead, there'd be poofy dresses, being a lady, and Chimaera. She had seen The Princess Diaries growing up, and it was not fun and games transforming into a princess. She didn't want to leave, but everyone else wanted to go.
"They want to go back. Even Henry does," Emma admitted sadly. "How am I gonna tell the kid I don't want to go? And if I tell him he's gonna pull the Saviour crap, and how it's my destiny to go and rule the people and bring everyone's happy endings back."
Emma shook her head flustered. "I don't want to be the Saviour. How am I gonna rule a freaking kingdom when I can't even remember to set my alarm at night?
"I'm no queen. I'm no princess." Emma toyed with her circular pendant around her neck. "I'm just me. No one seems to get that. They don't get that I'm not this perfect child and I've never been. They see me and see Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter.
"They labelled you too, didn't they?" Emma asked quietly after a moment of silence. "I've heard you've done bad things, but so have I, and I got the Saviour title. We could switch if you want? You're better at all this pressure and stuff."
"I wouldn't want to switch either if I were you. If you're the Evil Queen, you can only get better," the blonde said, looking out to the sky that was slowly brightening from the rising sun. "If you're the Saviour, you have to be perfect."
Emma laughed to herself. "Isn't it weird that you're the perfectionist with everything in control and everything planned, but I'm the Saviour? The fates must have gotten confused when they crossed our paths."
Emma leaned her head against the stair case railing, the sky pink and orange. "You should see the sun wherever you are. It's really nice. It almost feels like a normal day."
By the time Emma moved to go back inside when she heard her parents move up and about, she pressed the talk button one more time. "Stay safe, Regina. Not everyone wants you dead."
Emma ran into her room, lifting the mattress where she hid her walkie talkie, her fingers stumbling to press the talk button. "Regina! I don't have time for you to be quiet this time, okay? Henry needs help."
"I was right. Tamara's bad, and she's working with Greg, and they took Henry!" Emma held her breath waiting for a response. She growled when none came. She didn't have time for this. She dropped the walkie talkie unceremoniously onto her bed before moving to her bedside drawer to retrieve her spare gun.
Just as she was turning to walk out of her room, the walkie talkie crackled.