A/N: there were a few reviews on the last chapter (thanks), and some of them said that they were hoping for some the-air-is-running-out bonding time. well, there certainly is a bit of that, enjoy.
Furry Little Thing Called Love Pt. 3
Sweat was running down Regina's back, making her silken blouse cling to her skin uncomfortably. It had gotten so unbearably hot and stifling in the cellar that she'd taken off her pumps and opened a few buttons of her blouse.
Emma wouldn't be able to see her in the complete darkness anyway so there was really no need for any modesty.
She had also taken off the sheriff's leather jacket and one of her boots, and even though she tried to be careful about it she'd caused Emma to cry out in pain.
She knew the blonde was still trying to keep her agony to herself, but the reason why was unintelligible for Regina. Since they were both trapped in a cellar with air running out quickly, there really seemed to be no need for keeping up a façade.
Naturally Emma didn't want to appear weak in front of the woman who had repeatedly tried to bully her out of town, she wouldn't have wanted to either, but there was no point in pretending anymore.
The mayor had pulled her legs close to her body and wrapped her arms around her knees. She was devastated by the thought that Henry would, within mere hours, have lost both of his mothers at once.
"We'll get out of here," Emma said as if reading Regina's mind.
The sheriff's voice was hoarse and laced with the strain of speaking.
"And what makes you think so Emma?" Regina inquired, knowing that the use of her first name would cause a smirk to appear on the blonde's lips.
Certain enough the smile was audible when Emma answered.
"You said you had a council meeting to attend and I'm pretty damn sure that they'll come looking for you if you don't show up."
"But how will anyone find us in here? There is absolutely no reason why I would've ventured into this building, let alone its cellar."
"Maybe they'll see that it's halfway collapsed and figure out that we might be in here?"
'I doubt it', was the mayor's immediate reaction, but she didn't voice it.
"Maybe," she answered instead.
Silence enveloped them once again and the only sounds were the sand and rock shifting above them from time to time and Emma's ragged breathing.
Regina wiped the back of her hand across her forehead and plucked at her blouse to keep it from sticking to her front.
"You shouldn't have done it, you know," she eventually said.
Regina heard Emma shifting on the ground, presumably to find a better position as much as she could with her leg still trapped and crushed.
Maybe conversation would distract her a bit from the pain.
"If you hadn't pushed me out of the way you wouldn't be in this state right now," Regina eventually responded.
"Yeah and you would most likely be dead."
"No. There is no but, Regina, or do you honestly think I would let you die just like that?"
"I… guess not. I… thank you, Emma."
"Welcome. And maybe you'll keep that in mind next time you decide to let me file all those cases in one day."
Regina smiled and shook her head. How could this woman joke around even in the face of death?
She was quite a remarkable person, that was for certain, and maybe Regina would eventually come to appreciate the presence of Emma Swan in her town. But perhaps she was already well past that point?
Breathing was becoming increasingly more difficult until Regina could feel her chest tighten and her stomach protest. There was no way to get out, there was no way to call for help, and although she wasn't a stranger to live-threatening situations, this was far more serious than ever before. A lifetime ago she would have possessed the means to get them out of the cellar with a mere summoning of her powers and a flick of her wrist. But here, in this world, magic as such did not exist and therefore would not be of any help anyway.
In that moment she wished so desperately for her magic to return as never before in those twenty-eight years.
"I don't want Henry to be alone."
Emma sniffed quietly and slammed her fist onto the ground beneath her.
"Neither do I. But it seems as if we have failed him…" the mayor answered.
The air became so thin that Regina felt light-headed. Her lungs struggled to suck in the last remains of oxygen as she moved to lie down beside Emma.
The sheriff blindly groped around until she found Regina's hand and entwined their fingers.
"I am sorry."
"It is not your fault."
Emma pressed their hands together tightly and Regina moved to her side, carefully resting her head on the sheriff's shoulder.
"I…just wanted you to know… that I think you're a good mother and that I… don't… hate… you…"
Emma's words were barely audible and the mayor had already closed her eyes, waiting for the unconsciousness she knew was to come.
"Me too… Emma…"
The sheriff's head rolled to the side and her cheek came to rest atop a crown of black hair.
When the door burst open the air was sucked into the cellar so forcefully that dust and sand whirled all around the place, blocking the view of the men standing in the hallway.
"They're here! Hurry up!"
They managed to drag an unconscious Regina away from the unmoving form of the sheriff to carry her out to the ambulance.
She came to herself when there was a faint pain on the back of her hand.
"Emma? Where is… Emma?"
"Try to stay calm Madame Mayor, we're going to take care of you," an unfamiliar voice answered.
"But I… but…"
She was way too delirious and exhausted to make sense of anything, and yet her mind could only return to the one question: was Emma alright?
Darkness was tearing at the edges of her consciousness and despite her best efforts Regina didn't manage to stay awake to have that question answered.
The next thing she remembered was waking up in a hospital bed, wearing what must have been the ugliest hospital gown the world had ever been forced to see.
She felt awfully weak and quite thirsty. Luckily enough there was a cup of water waiting right beside her bed. If she could only reach it.
Her arms and legs felt so incredibly heavy, it was irritating.
A door to her right suddenly opened and Henry burst into the room. His entire face was one large smile when he saw that his mother was awake.
He ran over to the bed and wrapped her into an awkward half-hug. Regina, through pure willpower, forced her hand to move to touch the boy's cheek.
She smiled and sighed with relief. She was alive. She hadn't failed him and there was an entire lifetime waiting for them to make it right.
"I was really worried about you! What were you doing in there anyway? You didn't show up to your council meeting and they started looking for you. And the building is only a pile of stones now. You also hurt your head and the firemen said that you almost suffocated."
She crinkled her brow as she tried to keep up with the load of information that was spurting out from her son.
"They shouldn't have told you that, it's not for an eleven year old child."
"No buts. Still I am glad they found… us …"
Brown eyes widened and Henry stared at his mother alarmed.
"Are you okay mom?"
She didn't realize that her hand with which she was still cupping his cheek had started to shake.
"What happened to Em… Miss Swan?"
The boy's face darkened and he suddenly looked endlessly sad. The mayor's heart skipped a beat in that moment.
"She's still not awake."
And just like that her heart rate picked up again. Had either of them paid attention to the several machines she was attached to, they would've noticed the irregularities, but Regina was busy fighting back ridiculous tears of relief.
She didn't cry. Ever.
"I'm sure she will wake up soon Henry. Don't worry. You know how stubborn Miss Swan can be."
He nodded but still didn't seem convinced.
"Who brought you here?"
"I stayed the day with Miss Blanchard. She wanted me to keep her company since Emma isn't home either, I hope that's okay…"
Of course it wasn't. Her son wasn't supposed to live with that woman under the same roof, and yet she had to hide her disdain behind a smile and nod.
"Of course. But it will only be a day or so and then you can come home with me."
Henry beamed at that and nodded enthusiastically.
"Great! It's sorta weird to live with a teacher you know. She always checks my homework right away…"
Henry stayed with her until it was time for him to leave alongside Mary-Margaret. Regina thanked her tersely for taking care of Henry before they exited the room.
There was no changing it now, she would have to make sure the doctors released her early the next morning so she could pick him up before school and return to normal daily life.
After sitting in her room for several unproductive minutes, listening to the beeping machines, she decided that she needed a change of scenery. Calling in a nurse she demanded to be released of the various tubes and needles.
The nurse wasn't really willing to do as she commanded but after a few well-placed verbal threats and a glare she was on her feet and out of the room.
Without actually having a sense of where she was going she inquired the whereabouts of the Sheriff from the next best nurse and then shuffled to a room at the end of the hospital corridor.
Her body was sore and aching in various places from the fall into cellar. The small cut on her forehead and been stitched and was now covered with a ridiculously large white band-aid.
But she knew that she probably didn't look even half as bad as Emma. Therefore she steeled her nerves by taking a deep breath before entering the sheriff's room.
As expected the blonde's prone form lay unmoving on the pristinely white bed. There was a large cast around her entire right leg and she was attached to even more machines than Regina had been.
Emma's face was as pale as the pillow beneath her and her matted blonde hair was splayed around her head limply. There were also dark circles under her eyes that attested of what she had gone through.
Slowly Regina made her way over to the bed, careful to not make any sounds as if fearing that she could wake the slumbering woman.
Her breath was leaving her in small shallow gasps as she stared down at Emma.
It was oddly disconcerting to see the usually so lively and vibrant sheriff in such a state. There was a dull ache in her chest that had absolutely nothing to do with the several small cuts and bruises littering her body.
She still remembered Emma's words before the air had run out completely and somehow it was calming to know that Emma thought of her as a good mother. The fact that they didn't really hate each other wasn't that much of a revelation. She knew hatred, all of its manifestations, intimately, and would never mistake simple dislike, or annoyance, for pure all-consuming hate.
Perching on the edge of the bed she slowly reached out and brushed one strand of blonde hair out of the unconscious woman's face. The backs of her fingers caressed along Emma's temple, coming to rest on a very prominent cheekbone.
She wasn't entirely sure what exactly she was apologizing for and yet it felt right to say those words.
Maybe she was sorry for having been so hostile toward her. But that was understandable, pretty much anyone would have reacted the same way if suddenly the birth mother of one's own child appeared out of nowhere, right?
But maybe she was sorry for never actually having thanked Emma for all the things she had done, like helping her out of the burning building or getting Henry out of the mine.
It seemed like Emma had brought far more than just problems and stress into her life, after all.
A small smile played around the corners of the mayor's mouth.
It was certainly funny how she had started to look forward to her banters with the sheriff, and how Emma had slowly but steadily become an important part of her life without Regina actually consciously noticing it.
Now after almost losing her life and being forced to look truth in the eye, she was finally able to admit that she in fact did not hate Emma Swan as much as she had thought. But that was as far as she would go with confessing to the real nature of her feelings.
Sighing quietly she shook her head.
"Wake up soon."
Without realizing what exactly she was doing she leaned down and pressed her lips against a smooth forehead, lingering just a little bit longer than was probably appropriate.
The mayor blinked her eyes in surprise and straightened, her shoulders suddenly rigid.
She quickly got up from the bed and smoothed her hands across the ugly hospital gown the same way she would have usually done with one of her skirts.
She turned and headed to the door when a weak voice caused her to halt mid-step.
"Not how I imagined our first kiss to be, but I'll take what I can get."
Emma's voice was raspy and fairly weak but Regina still heard every single word. She tried to force the blood that was creeping up her neck and cheeks back with sheer strength of will before turning around.
"I wasn't aware… that you are…"
Emma raised her head from the pillow and smirked.
"Awake? Yeah well, I was just curious what you were going to do."
Regina's lips pressed together in a frown.
"I am glad that you are having your fun Miss Swan."
With that she turned back around and swiftly crossed the room.
"What? No! Regina wait! I'm sorry, that's not what I meant… wait!"
The machines in the room started beeping frantically in rhythm with the sheriff's accelerated heart rate.
Emma pushed her elbows into the mattress and struggled to sit up, a pained grunt leaving her throat.
Regina spun back around and with a few quick strides was back beside the bed.
"What are you doing?! Lie down, you'll only hurt yourself!"
She put both hands against the sheriff's shoulders and was met with little resistance when she pushed her back onto the bed.
Before she could remove her hands however Emma covered them with her own.
"Regina, I wasn't trying to play you. I'm sorry."
Taking a deep breath the mayor nodded.
"Alright, you may be forgiven this little transgression. I suppose the medication is causing you to be even more intolerable than usual. Now stay put and rest, is that understood?"
"Yes Madame Mayor."
Emma smiled, her eyes already closing with exhaustion, and Regina couldn't help but return the smile.
She waited until Emma's breathing had finally evened out and left the room.
She returned to her own bed and, sitting propped up against a few pillows, flexed her fingers in deep thought.
They had gotten out of this alive and somehow something had most definitely changed. There was something in the air, an expectation or maybe tension, and she couldn't shake the feeling that something big was heading her way.
"Nonsense," she mumbled and shook her head, clearing it of any traitorous thoughts.
She herself had created this town and held ultimate control over everything within it.
The only exception being one annoying, persistent and outrageously brave sheriff.