Disclaimer: I absolutely, positively 100% do not own any part of the Once Upon a Time Franchise Please don't sue me, I'm not making any money off of it.
Spoiler Alert: The whole series is up for grabs, but certainly everything before Season 1, Episode 8. That gets spoiled pretty quickly here.
Thank You: To the lovely Lana Parrilla... Basically because she's beautiful.
The Road to Hell
"I kissed Sheriff Swan," Regina stated matter-of-factly to Dr. Hopper. "I need to understand why I did it and what I need to do to ensure it never happens again."
As a professional in the mental health field, Archie understood that showing signs of shock during a session, no matter how strange the news was, could be detrimental to the doctor/patient relationship but he simply could not help the dropping of his jaw and the bulging of his eyes at the Mayor's confession. Regina and Emma seemed like such bitter rivals; the very idea that they'd show each other any kind of affection, let alone an act as intimate as kissing, seemed impossible.
"Doctor, do close your mouth before I'm forced to bear witness to a grown man drooling over a small, Sapphic detail," she warned.
"I'm sorry, it's not the... the," he stuttered through his words, "...the lesbian aspect of the admission, rather than the specific pairing, that had me briefly taken aback. You two, at least publicly, give off the impression that you're not even remotely fond of each other. You're telling me you kissed Ms. Swan?"
"I didn't slur my words, Doctor, and quite frankly I was just as surprised as you are that it happened, but I've managed to move forward and try to make sense of things, and I came to you to help me with that. Now are you going to help me or not?"
"Of course!" Archie pulled himself from his stupor and reclaimed the professional demeanor he normally presented. "I'm sorry. Please tell me about the circumstances surrounding the kiss and we'll go from there."
Regina sighed as she thought about it, "To be completely honest, I think that it all really started this morning."
Regina was running late for a meeting with one of the city councilmen, but she also needed to stop by the Sheriff's office to pick up some paperwork. Moving swiftly toward the door, she opened it without so much as a single glance up, which would have behooved her given Emma Swan was heading out at the exact same time and was the unlucky recipient of a large cup of Regina's piping hot coffee as they slammed into one another.
A cry of surprise and pain escaped the Sheriff's throat and competed with a yelp of shock from Regina.
"Ah! Ow! Shit, shit, shit!" Emma exclaimed as the hot beverage burned at her skin as she tried to pull her shirt away from her skin. "Regina, what the hell!"
After the initial jolt of surprise wore off and she'd realized this actually was her fault, she tried to figure out a way to apologize without losing face in front the woman who'd slowly been becoming her arch nemesis as well as her white knight all at the same time.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Swan, it's not as if I've done this on purpose," her tone was curt, but softened as she took in the sincere look of pain crossing Emma's features. "Now, calm down and let me help you."
Not quite thinking about the logistics of the situation, she tugged at Emma's shirt and tank top and helped to pull them away from the blonde's skin and over her head. The color of the skin that covered her abdominal muscles was juxtaposed between creamy white and angry red. Emma was in too much pain to complain about the fact that she was, with the exception of her bra, now topless in front of Regina and the very meager staff of the police station.
"You should probably put some salve on that," Regina suggested, moving them both toward the supply closet where the first aid kit was kept. "I'm not sure how severe the burn is, but it'll help with the pain."
"How do you know where the first aid kit is?" Emma asked as she was drug inside the spacious closet, the door closed behind them to provide a little privacy under the circumstances.
"As you well know I was sleeping with the former sheriff," Regina said stoically. "You don't think we played doctor at least once or twice?"
"Uggh," Emma moaned in frustration. "I could have gone my entire life not knowing that."
Regina rolled her eyes, "It was a joke, Ms. Swan. I have more decency than to conduct my personal affairs in a public closet. I know where the first aid kit is because I'm the mayor of this town, as you so often seem to forget."
She pulled the salve from the kit, twisted off the lid and without even thinking, started to apply it to the red smears across Emma's stomach. The blonde winced a bit at first from the pain and then it started to dawn on her that not only was Regina Mills touching her naked body, but she was also taking care of her in a way. And this was certainly new in any universe, real or imagined.
It took Regina longer to process the oddity of her ministrations. Perhaps it was because the caffeine she'd become dependent on to jump start her brain every morning was currently residing within the fabric of Ms. Swan's shirt. Or it could have been the fact that the surface that she was working on was, curiously, both soft and strong. She actually enjoyed touching it, even under the circumstances. And it was this final thought that immediately brought her out of her reverie and stalled her actions.
"I'm sure you're perfectly capable of taking over from here, Ms. Swan," she shoved the tin toward the sheriff and started to make a hasty retreat. "Should you require any further medical attention please send me the bill and I'll be sure to take care of it, as it was my coffee that burned you. Now, I must be going."
She exited the storage closet as quickly as she'd entered the station, leaving a confused and slightly annoyed Emma Swan in her wake.
"Sheriff Swan is a beautiful woman," Dr. Hopper advised after hearing the story. "It isn't all that strange that seeing her in a state of undress and touching her in an intimate way could possibly stir up feelings of a sexual nature."
"It's not the sexual feelings that concern me in this particular circumstance, Dr. Hopper, I'm not a prude," Regina explained. "The problem is that, as if on autopilot, my natural reaction to causing her physical pain was to try to make her feel better. To..." she paused, unhappy with even thinking the next part of what she was about to say. "To take care of her."
"And why do you think you did that?" he asked. "From some of the rumors I've heard out there, you have purposely inflicted physical pain on her in the past. Surely something has happened to make you feel differently about her."
Regina sighed, "Sheriff Swan, due to some ridiculous preoccupation with nobility, seems to constantly be saving the day, even after I make it a point to try to make her life miserable. Recently, she saved me from that fire even though we'd previously come to physical blows and I tried to take her position away from her. I think that part of me has softened to her as a result of the kindness she's shown me with absolutely no reason."
A small chuckle managed to escape Dr. Hopper's mouth and he regretted it right away as the Mayor raised an annoyed eyebrow.
"I'm sorry, Madam Mayor, it's just that," he tried to figure out how he was going to phrase his next statement. "Well, you seem to be upset at the idea that you might actually get along better with Ms. Swan. I don't necessarily understand why that's a bad thing. She's obviously shown interest in being a part of Henry's life against all of the tactics you've used against her. Why not make things easier on the both of you and embrace the idea of peace?"
"I want to push her out of my life," she sat forward in her seat and spoke heatedly, "not invite her further in!"
"But you haven't been succeeding with the first part and it seems that her resolve to stay only grows stronger the more you push back," he reasoned. "It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. What if you were to try something new and just see what happens?"
"Are you suggesting that if I become intimate with Ms. Swan that she'll run screaming for the hills and my problem will be solved?" she accused, irate. "Because if so, I am highly offended and shall be storming out of this office within seconds."
"No, that's not what I'm saying at all," he rebounded. "It's just that... Why don't we talk more about your interactions with her today? When was the next time you saw her?"
Regina crossed her arms.
"It was around lunchtime."
A knock at her office door extricated the Mayor from her labors as she raised her head and issued an invitation for the person on the outside to come in. She was both surprised and annoyed to find Sheriff Swan entering her workspace. She was holding coffee and what looked to be a lunch bag from Granny's.
"Hey," Emma said, moving toward the desk. "I've seen you around town when you don't get your way and since I kind of had a hand, or torso as it were, in keeping you from your morning coffee I figured it would be in the best interest of the Storybrooke citizens if I remedy that the first chance I got. And being that it was lunch time, I also figured it wouldn't hurt you to eat something."
Regina looked at her as if she knew better; which she did.
"I spill scalding coffee on you this morning, nearly disfiguring you, and you come to my office with the very thing I burned you with?" she asked the sheriff. "Either you are far more masochistic than I'd originally thought you were or you want something from me."
"You think I'm masochistic?" Emma asked, somewhat taken aback that the mayor had given her enough thought to adopt that opinion.
"You're still in my town, aren't you?" Regina offered in answer.
"Touché," the blonde conceded as she put down the food and beverage. "And you're right; I do want something from you. I was wondering if I could maybe take Henry to dinner after school. Mary Margaret told me that report cards came out last week and he did really well. I wanted to celebrate with him." She hesitated with the delivery of her next sentence; unhappy with the amount of pride swallowing it took to say it. "But only if it was ok with you."
There was one area where Emma Swan was consistent as clockwork: surprising Regina. This last effort was no different. She decided to counter the surprise showing on her face by taking the sheriff down a few pegs and seeing how she handles that.
"And if it's not ok with me?" Regina inquired.
Emma sighed and nodded her head, "I thought of that too. That's why I bought this card and put a gift certificate for the bookstore in there."
She handed it over to the mayor and yet again succeeded in surprising the other woman.
"I know Henry likes to read," the blonde stated, "and I figured you'd be ok with anything that might get his nose out of a particular book that paints you the bad guy at every turn."
Regina was at a loss for words as looked at the card and the poor penmanship scrawled across it announcing "Good Job, Kid". And without another word, the sheriff walked away, making her exit. Before she closed the door Regina stopped her with her default formality.
"Ms. Swan," she moved from behind her desk and approached the door. "Now, that you mention it I could use a little free time this evening to get a few things done around the house. Perhaps it wouldn't be the most devastating thing in the world for you to spend a little time with Henry."
She handed the card over to a smiling sheriff, "This doesn't mean that I'm giving you carte blanche on seeing my son and there are rules. You are to have him home not a minute after 7:30. I want to make sure he has enough time to do his homework before bed."
"You got it!" Emma said, accepting the card.
Though she'd usually begrudge the happiness on the blonde's face, and certainly wasn't fond of being the one who'd put it there, Regina simply nodded and moved back to her seat. Just before Emma closed the door, she addressed the mayor one last time.
"Regina," she said, noting the lack of formality a little late in the statement, but making no move to correct herself. "Thank you for this."
"Goodbye, Ms. Swan," was the curt response.
"Again, Madam Mayor, I must interject to say that your getting along with Sheriff Swan is honestly a good thing for all," Dr. Hopper noted. "Why do you think the concept itself troubles you so much?"
"Because if she stays here, she can ruin everything," Regina growled.
"But how, Regina?" Dr. Hopper asked, confused.
"Because she's-" she cut her frustrated sentence off as soon as she realized she was about to call Emma the savior. "She's the woman who bore my son and then let him go. She doesn't just get to waltz back into his life and take him from me."
"You know that Ms. Swan has shown no interest in seeking custody of Henry and it would be very difficult for her win even if she did."
"Difficult, but not impossible," she fired back. "As you so candidly pointed out when you brought up the risk to me after helping save Henry from the sinkhole, Doctor."
An event that Archie would rather not revisit. He faltered at finding a proper response and the mayor picked up where she left off.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter because, even given the small amount of access I allow her to my son she can't even obey even the easiest rules," Regina said, almost as much to herself as to Dr. Hopper.
"What do you mean?" Archie asked.
"She was seventeen minutes late returning Henry to me last night," she explained.
"Did she give a reason for the tardiness?" he asked.
"She said they lost track of time," Regina snarled. "Basically rubbing in my face that the fun she can have with Henry abounds to such heights that time is no longer relevant, while getting him to spend five minutes not hating me is an exercise in futility."
"I doubt she meant it that way. Look at how much effort she's putting into winning over your approval," Archie suggested.
"If she wanted my approval she wouldn't have so cavalierly disregarded my wishes!" Regina was nearly pouting at this point. "I trusted her to spend an evening with my son on the one condition that she bring him back at a specific time and she broke that trust."
"So, that's what this is about," he was starting to put more of the puzzle together. "You have issues with trust."
"Everyone has issues with trust, Dr. Hopper," she rolled her eyes. "It's called being an adult."
"Yes, but I think you've hit on something very important here," he explained. "Did Ms. Swan apologize for the incident?"
"Of course she did," Regina answered. "Profusely even, but the damage was done and I was angry... And somehow that anger led to the point of this entire session. I kissed her during the argument."
Regina flung open the door to her house with venom flowing through her veins.
"Regina, I'm sorry," Emma started before even opening with a greeting. "I didn't mean to keep him out later than we'd agreed upon. We just lost track of time and I take full responsibility for that."
"Actually, I take full responsibility, Ms. Swan," she argued. "I should have known better than to trust you with even the simplest instructions regarding my son. I'll not be making the same mistake again. Henry, please go to your room and start your homework."
"Goodnight Emma," he said with a shrug and a sigh as he moved to obey. "Thank you for taking me out tonight."
Regina moved to shut the door but the sheriff stopped it with her boot and pushed further into the frame, "Regina, please, let's talk about this. We got along so well today, I don't want that all to go to hell just because I forgot to look at my watch every five seconds."
"You see that's the problem, Ms. Swan," Regina jutted her face forward in anger. "I show you even the slightest kindness and your next move is to take advantage of it."
"It wasn't intentional, though. It was only a few minutes that certainly won't make that big of a difference," she said, noticing that the mayor was moving back into the house, she followed suit. "And Henry told me that he really didn't have all that much to do tonight before bed. It isn't the end of the world."
"It's not the amount of minutes; it's the principle of the matter!" Regina said, moving into the study and pouring herself a tumbler of scotch. "Principles being something you obviously have very few of."
Emma winced briefly from the statement, but did not relent, "Are you listening to yourself? Don't you see what you just did? I was a few minutes late returning Henry back to you, I apologized for it and your response is to cruelly attack my personal character. An act of retaliation that you utilize nearly every time even the smallest thing doesn't go your way. You have all but called me a whore, a gypsy, a liar... honestly you've demeaned me so much at this point that I can't even recall all of the barbs you've thrown out and still I am asking that you please try to get along with me for Henry's sake. I'm not perfect, Regina, but I'm going to be a part of Henry's life whether you like it or not."
"Well, then I guess you're just going to have to start getting used to the abuse I heap on you, Ms. Swan because your past actions have armed me with stores of ammunition to use in taking shots at your personal character," she said, moving into Emma's personal space. An act of dominance she fell back on nearly every chance she got.
"Do your worst, Madam Mayor," Emma, too, moved in closer. "I can take it."
And that's when it happened. Regina lunged in such a way that neither party could actually be sure if she was going to rip out Emma's throat or push her out of the house with one single blow. Both were surprised when what actually happened was Regina slamming both her lips and her body against that of the sheriff's until her back met the wall. Emma's eyes were wide at first, given the shock she was experiencing but a few seconds in they closed as she allowed her more animalistic instincts take over. Hands were clutching at backs and shoulders. Tongues and teeth were being brought in as back-up for lips that were warring in an outright assault.
It didn't take long for the blonde to take the upper hand; using her strength to turn the tables and shove Regina up against the wall. A moan issued forth from the mayor in reaction and was rewarded with a skinny-jean clad thigh making its way between her legs. It was only when she realized that they had both settled into a heated grind that Emma's mind came crashing back to reality and forced her body to pull away from the event.
"Oh my god!" she rasped and then covered her wide open mouth with both of her hands. "What just happened?"
Breathing hard through bruised lips, the mayor looked on at the other woman with just as much confusion.
"I don't know," was the response she was finally able to issue forth.
"Well, why did you do that?" Emma asked. "What does it mean?"
"It means nothing, Ms. Swan," Regina stated as she straightened out her clothing, though her breathing remained ragged.
"Regina, you just kissed me... hard. And moaned and grabbed and-" Emma recounted before she was cut off.
"Yes, I was present for the event, Sheriff," Regina raised her voice. "I don't need a recap from you. Things were obviously getting very heated between us and that was the culmination of all that anger. I could have just as easily thrown a punch."
Given her state of confusion, Emma's guard was down just long enough for those beautiful, puppy-dog eyes to fall a bit in disappointed recognition. Even acts of love were weapons of war for the mayor. It was just another move of aggression. She recovered her features but not before Regina noticed the sadness. And something about it made her heart ache ever so slightly. The feeling was squashed almost as quickly as it rose up.
"I think it's time that you see yourself out, Sheriff," Regina stabilized herself by backing up to her desk and bracing herself with her hands.
"Of course it is," Emma nodded spitefully as she turned to make her requested exit. Leaving Regina panting, confused and, most surprising of all, lonely.
"So, the kiss," Dr. Hopper started, "however animalistic, was returned by the Sheriff?"
"Yes, with equal passion," Regina confirmed, feeling somewhat awkward.
"And how did it make you feel when Ms. Swan reciprocated?" he asked.
"I... I..." Regina searched for the words, but those thoughts lead back to a reaction that she was wholly uncomfortable with. "I don't know that I wish to talk about that."
"Of course that's your decision, Regina, but I'm not sure how much I can help you with this perceived problem if I don't know how you feel about it," Dr. Hopper admitted.
Regina huffed and clenched her jaw, "Let's hypothesize on the idea that I liked it. Where does that put things between me and Ms. Swan?"
Dr. Hopper thought for a moment and then pushed his glasses up before speaking.
"It could put you in a lot of places with her, but it seems to me the most productive would be a place where you two have the capacity to give each other pleasure, which can also translate into being civil to towards each other," he said. "What if you could focus on this one area of mutual attraction and use it to the betterment of both of your lives?"
"Are you suggesting I have sexual relations with the Sheriff simply so we can exchange pleasantries in public?" She scoffed.
"No, no!" he put his hands up in defense. "I'm saying that you both obviously have a physical attraction for each other. In many cases when people feel this way, they tend to try to be kinder to each other on a platonic level to reach the desired physical effect. What if you were nicer to Ms. Swan in order to receive even the smallest modicum of physical affect; a reassuring pat on the shoulder, a friendly hug given on a rough day... Sure it could lead to more, but perhaps you could use this action/reward scenario to better your interactions with her altogether. Surely you don't want to continue things the way they are now?"
"I don't," she agreed. However bothersome the sheriff may be to her, she was getting tired of fighting with her all of the time. Especially given that it garnered no results whatsoever. "So, you're suggesting I use this attraction I have for Ms. Swan to somehow foster a relationship between the two of us where we don't hate each other?"
"Regina, I don't think Emma hates you," Dr. Hopper reasoned. "You are the only one walking around with that burden right now. Wouldn't it be better to lay it down? You still get to keep Henry and you still get to call the shots in the town. You just get to do it without so much anger sapping your strength."
Regina took in a deep breath as she entertained the idea from Dr. Hopper. Finally she acquiesced.
"I can't say that I have any assured notion that this will actually work, Doctor... But I am willing to try."
To be continued...