Title: Too Late
Pairing: SwanQueen and FairyQueen (Is that what we're calling Tinkerbelle/Regina? I hope so it sounds cute as shit.)
Disclaimer: Not Mine!
Rating: Hard T for Emma's Language
Warning: Angst and Owchies
Beta: None. All mistakes are mine.
Summary: After a small scuffle in the forests of Neverland, Emma finds Tinkerbelle giving Regina a little more than standard first aid.
Author's Note: So originally this started out as a very lose adaptation of jonasparilla's headcanon post on Tumblr but things kind of went off the rails about half way though. It got a little SwanQueen Meta Ranty for a moment there, but I think it actually works…kind of. I really REALLY need to stop doing these insomniac manic writing things.
I don't think this is related to my other ficlet about Tink and Regina…it just sort of happened.
It took less than thirty seconds for things to go from moderately uncomfortable and sucky to five alarm fire fuck me sideways and running this is bad in Neverland. Even the freaking plants were against them in this hellhole that time had forgot. She, of course, had to be the one to stumble into the freaking vines of doom. One of the thick green vines had wrapped around her ankle and jerked her up like some kind of backwoods Appalachian Mountain Man's trap before she could even yell.
Regina, naturally, had been the first to see and react. A fireball, perfectly round and flickering orange and red, hit the vine six inches above her boot and it dropped her. Mission accomplished. She tucked and rolled as best she could but still manage to bang her shoulder on the gigantic root of some tree and scrape the shit out of her palms and elbows.
"Thanks, Your Majesty, how about you wait until I'm fifty feet in the air next time." It was petty and mean and uncalled for, but marching through the jungle in all the heat, humidity and constant sexual innuendoes from the Pirate had destroyed what was left of the genetic gentility she had in her system. She was a barely house broken bounty hunter by trade and that was what everyone was going to deal with whether they liked it or not.
She waited for Regina's snarky comeback but instead of words she found herself flying backwards. She hit a tree hard enough to see stars and lose her breath.
Snow turned on the Evil Queen, bow raised and ready to shoot to defend the rest of them.
Emma watched in horror, unable to summon her voice to scream a warning, as the vines that Regina had knocked her away from surrounded the brunette. These were the green-grabby type of vines, either. They were thicker, faster, stronger and covered in thorns. They wrapped around Regina's slender form like an angry anaconda, covering her neck to knee in seconds. She pushed herself to her feet and drew the sword that she had been practicing with on the ship. She would cut the Queen down, she had to. The vines were visibly tightening around Regina, squeezing the life out of her. Blood dripped down and splashed against the forest floor but despite the pain so obviously written on her rapidly paling face, Regina didn't make a sound.
Her own words came back to her when the vines started to recede, dragging Regina back up into the tangled canopy of trees above them.
Snow's voice boomed as she released an arrow and though it buried itself one of the thick green and purple vines dragging the ex-queen away, they didn't stop.
Tinkerbelle, the latest addition to their group, leapt at the plant, daggers flashing. She cut through vines, still screaming almost incoherently, for Regina to hold on. Her voice did not tinkle and it sounded nothing like bells. She wasn't tiny and didn't like Peter Pan one bit. Disney had really missed the mark on this one. Their fluttering, golden spokesperson was nothing like the real Tinkerbelle. The woman, pale blonde hair hanging in a complicated tangle of braids down her back, wore a green cloak that covered the long and wicked scars on her back and shoulders. Apparently when a fairy was banished the wings and wand were taken too. That didn't stop Tinkerbelle. Oh no, the woman had walked into the jungles of Neverland as a scared outcast and become the badass ninja warrior protector of the island's lost children.
Emma hated her.
Not one to stand around doing nothing when there was an ass-kicking to receive, Emma ran towards the vines (which reminded her way too much of the Japanese anime porn tentacle monsters that an old boyfriend had shown her video clips of) and started chopping at it. What she wouldn't give for that chainsaw. She caught sight of David and Hook joining their attack, but there were so many vines and she could hear Regina whimpering high above them.
She was begging for their help and Emma cut through yet another vine. She wasn't going to let an out of control patch of crabgrass hurt her son's other mother.
"Please, Mother, please. I'll be good."
Why was she asking Cora for help?
She twisted her head and looked at the Dark One. He was standing in the middle of the clearing, leaning on his cane. He looked mildly amused, but made no move to help them.
She pivoted and cut through two of the grabby vines.
She was too far away to be sure but she thought she saw him roll his eyes. "If I must."
All it took was a wave of his hand and all of the vines went limp. Emma looked up and watched the vines unravel and Regina, over thirty feet in the air, start to fall.
She didn't even have time to move. She watched Tinkerbelle run, leap and twist, a green cloaked combination of Batman and an Olympic gymnast, and catch Regina's limp form. She landed and fell to her knees (no perfect 10 for her).
She held Regina against her chest and was speaking to the woman in a low, calm voice. The prickly woman should have shoved Tinkerbelle away, Regina never let anyone but Henry touch her like that, but she let herself be coddled.
"Please, Tink, I'm okay." With that Regina started to sit up.
Of course she was fine. She was the Evil Queen, a bunch of stupid vines couldn't hurt her.
Then Regina hissed, winced and fell back into Tinkerbelle's tan and muscular arms.
"No you're not." Tinkerbelle grinned a little, "There's a stream just a quarter of a mile away. We'll get your wounds cleaned and bound."
Emma stepped forward to help Regina stand and walk, but found her assistance wasn't needed. Tinkerbelle lifted the other woman in her arms bridal style like she was no heavier than a feather.
"The rest of you stay here and burn that beast of a plant." Then she and Regina disappeared into the jungle, sleek and silent like the shadow they were hunting down.
First they had to dismember and then burn, or so Gold said.
Emma stared at the ground and realized that the red pools were Regina's blood and the green slime was the plants and for a reason that she couldn't name or even understand, she didn't want the two to mix.
"Tough one, that Queen."
Hook tore through the vines with his sword and hook with a grimace. "I've seen man and boy alike die screaming wrapped in vines like these."
Snow, a little more comfortable with the monster-plant destroying than someone who had spent twenty-eight years as an elementary school teacher should have been, scowled. "She cried out for her mother's help." A dark look passed over her face: guilt.
"Not her help, Dearie." Gold limped over to stand closer but didn't bother to sully his hands with the hacking and slicing. "For her mercy."
Emma lost the grip on her sword, "What?"
Gold leaned on his cane, his hands neatly folded. "Ropes, straps and vines were something of a specialty for Cora. Though specifically, I think Regina had a small flashback to the maze."
Snow stood up and wiped her short sword on the springy moss that made up most of the forest floor. "What maze?"
Gold chuckled, a cold and disturbing sound. "There was a hedge maze on the parcel of land King Xavier gave his Whore Son and the woman who bought him. Cora rather enjoyed wandering there. It was where she practiced her magic, you see." Gold's eyes, usually sharp and clear, were distant. "And when her husband" he spat the word like it tasted bitter on his tongue "left she would leave Regina in the middle of the maze to find her way out."
"Alone?" Snow sounded horrified.
"Of course, how else was she to learn?"
Hook chuckled to himself, like it was a joke.
"How old was she?" Snow had stopped pretending to work on the plant, her eyes were now locked on Rumplestiltskin.
"Oh I don't remember, it was so long ago." He paused and pretended to think, "Four or five, I suppose. The older she got, the more challenging Cora made the maze. When she leaned how to use the hedges themselves as weapons, Regina started to stumble. If the vines caught her, Cora left her there as punishment. Sometimes all night. Though when she was around eight or so her spineless father found out and had the maze destroyed. I think it was the only time he ever stood up against Cora. The weak-willed fool."
Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, Cora had been a monster. Why had Regina gone back to her? Because, a bitchy and bitter voice in her head reminded her, she had no one else to turn to. You, Emma Swan, took it all away from her.
She shoved her sword, still covered in green plant goo, into its holder-thing. "I'm going to go check on them." She stomped through the thick brush of the jungle in the same direction, more or less, that Regina and the fucking fairy had gone.
It didn't take long to find the stream, which was really more like a gorgeous grotto complete with a small waterfall and willow tree. They sat at the water's edge under the dancing whip-thin branches of the willow. Regina was half naked, her top half was bare but for a now ragged black lace bra. There were angry red gouges all over her, marring her usually flawless olive skin. Tinkerbelle's hands were all over Regina, wiping and dabbing at her bloody wounds with the corner of her stupid green cloak.
"I'm sorry, Regina."
The brunette tilted her head, "Why? You're the one that caught me. You kept me from becoming a permanent part of the jungle decor."
Emma would have been able to catch her too, maybe. It wasn't like she hadn't saved Regina too. Several fucking times, actually.
"The least I could do. I was supposed to be your Fairy God Mother, you know."
The fuck? If Tinkerbelle was supposed to have been Regina's Fairy God Mother where the hell had the woman been when Cora had been playing Labyrinth with baby Regina?
"It's not your fault. Reul Ghorm is very powerful. More so than any king or queen. You're lucky she only banished you."
"I should have tried to save you, though. I failed in my duty and you are still paying the price." The fairy pushed a dark strand of hair out of Regina's face.
"You were banished because you tried to help me." Regina caught Tinkerbelle's pale hand and held it in place against her cheek. "And you risked your life for me again today."
Emma saw Regina smile and even form a distance it made her weak in the knees.
"Not because I'm a queen or a mayor or a mother. You saved me because-"She trailed off, "I'm not even sure why. Why would you risk your life for me?"
Emma's breath caught in her chest. She had asked herself that over and over again. Why did she keep saving Regina? Because she couldn't help herself. Because it was like second nature to her, like breathing or blinking. She rescued Regina, despite the woman's many flaws, foul temper, and general evil tendencies, because she couldn't imagine her life without her. She needed the angry, spiteful and prickly brunette. She needed Regina. She was Henry's other mother and her-
"Because you're brave and passionate and so dedicated to your son. You are beautiful and you have this amazing wit. Though honestly I've lived with boys so long that perhaps I find anything other than fart jokes appealing." She rubbed a thumb across Regina's cheek, smearing blood across her skin. "I'm a terrible person, Regina, because I find myself glad that I was banished and that you cast the curse."
She dropped her cloak and laid a bare hand on Regina's flat stomach. "I am glad because if I had been your Fairy God Mother, then I wouldn't have been able to be your friend. I wouldn't have been able to-"
Regina cut off her words with a kiss. It was abrupt but tender, beautiful even.
Emma felt faint. She leaned against a tree: knees weak, chest hollow and aching. Regina was gay? Bi? Attracted to women? How had she not known? All of those glances, all of those bitchy remarks? They had spent a year going back and forth, bickering and fighting. Had it been hate the whole time or had Regina been flirting? Had Regina wanted her? Wanted her the same way Emma desperately wanted her?
How many nights had she laid awake in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking of the forever untouchable mayor? She had been convinced that the woman had been nothing but strait and the while Emma had always considered herself to be very flexible sexually speaking, Regina just hadn't seemed to the type. She had always seemed so rigid, and so in control, so wonderfully well put together and perfect. Regina was like Mary Fucking Poppins, practically perfect in every way. The perfect mother, the perfect mayor, the perfectly prim and proper lady. Perfect for her.
"Oh Tink." Regina's voice was warm and soft, the happiest she had ever sounded. "Why are you so kind? I am the Evil Queen." So full of self-doubt and fragility, so scared of being loved no matter how much she deserved it.
"You're not the Evil Queen, you're just Regina." Tinkerbelle laid another soft and sweet kiss on Regina's perfect lips. "My Regina."
Emma watched, her heart crumbling because it was overflowing with excruciating pain, as Regina snuggled into Tinkerbelle's arms. The Fairy had the woman she loved in her arms. That was her son's other mother, her Mayor, her Regina. Anger and something that she refused to call jealousy, bubbled up in her chest. How dare she? How dare Regina betray her? How dare she turn away from their family? She and Henry were all Regina needed, damn it. A year! A year, they had been fighting and eye-fucking for a year and they were meant to be. She was the Savior and Regina was the Evil Queen. It was the perfect, Rom-Com happy fucking ending. If her life had to be some kind of bullshit prophecy fairy tale then she and Regina were the endgame. Everyone would live happily ever after and she would have her parents and her son and the woman that she loved.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
She crashed through the tree line and into their eye line with all of the subtly of a stampeding elephant.
Tinkerbelle reacted first and pulled her cloak, God Emma hated that fucking green cloak, around Regina to cover up her partial nudity.
"Swan! What are you doing here?"
Regina said nothing, she let her freaking fairy do all the talking.
"Well I'm obviously interrupting your big romantic moment. Sorry about that."
"Emma!" Regina's voice was strained and her brown eyes wide, "Emma, please, Tink and I- we were." The woman stumbled over her words, rambling in a way that Emma had never heard Regina do before.
She couldn't believe that the brunette was trying to defend the fucking fairy. The fairy who hadn't been able to save her from her abusive and crazy ass mother. The fairy who was somehow glad that she had become the Evil Queen.
"I saw what you were doing. You picked a fine time to have your college lesbian experience. My son, you remember Henry right? The boy you claim to love so fucking much. He's out there hurt and scared and being held captive by a shadow stealing psychopath and you're here cuddling with the first person whose pants you can while your way into. Just like Graham. Thank God his real family is here to rescue him. If you had your way you would probably team up with Pan. He's evil, just like you, maybe you should go snuggle up with him too."
Emma hated herself. Every word that spilled out of her was poison and it hurt Regina. She could see it in the other woman's eyes. The hurt, the devastation. It was like Archie all over again, only this time she wasn't poofing away. This time she sat there and took every word, wincing like Emma was physically hitting her. Her aching heart broke and she hated herself so much she hoped Regina fire-balled her. She deserved it. She loved Regina, but every time she got close to her she lashed out. She screamed and spewed hate because Regina would have never accepted her love.
Tinkerbelle let go of Regina and lunged at her. The pixie was fast and before Emma could even draw her sword, she had a dagger at her throat.
"How dare you speak to her like that? How dare you!" The other woman's face was twisted into a snarl, teeth bared and eyes flashing a dangerous and magical gold. "You have no idea what she has been through or how she feels. You are a spoiled, selfish brat. Just like your mother and her mother before her. Regina raised the boy you abandoned and she has risked her life for you and your precious family more than once and you deign to question her? Who gave you the right?"
"I am the Savior."
Her title, the one she had never asked for or loved, was her last shield.
"You're not a savior. That's a made-up title in a story that Rumplestiltskin spun years ago. You're a toy soldier, just like the rest of us, Swan. A hapless pawn in a centuries long match between the Dark One and the Reul Ghorm. Wake up!"
Emma didn't flinch and she didn't back down. "I broke the Dark Curse with the love I had for my son. She" She pointed an accusatory finger at Regina, "cursed the son she claims to love so dearly and couldn't save him. I did that. Me. His mother. Now I am here to save him again. You two can either help with that or fuck off. Cause here's the thing, Henry doesn't need her or you. So either put it in your pants and act like adults or fuck off. This is a rescue mission not Senior Prom."
She felt the blade of the dagger knick her skin. "I ought to kill you where you stand."
Regina's voice was dead-flat, but powerful. It was the voice of the mayor, the voice of a queen.
The blade was removed from her throat and Emma turned her head to see Regina tugging her bloody shirt back into place, and though Emma knew it had to hurt, she didn't see a flicker of pain on Regina's face or in her eyes. Regina's eyes, the true window to her soul, were blank. They were completely devoid of emotion and that scared Emma because she had always been able to see Regina's true feelings in her gorgeous eyes.
"I have to save Henry. He's the only person I can love. My heart belongs to him, and only him. I am his mother, that's all that matters."
No. No, no, no, no. That wasn't what she meant at all. Regina's heart wasn't just Henry's. She could love more than their son. She could love Emma. She had to feel something for her. She had seen it in Regina's eyes, she felt something for her. What else could have stopped the trigger? True Love was the greatest magic and that had been what had happened. Twice! Regina loved her, she had to. It was the only thing that made sense.
"Regina." Tinkerbelle stepped closer to the brunette, "I will happily die to bring Henry back to you. Even if you will never love me the way I love you, I will give my arms, my heart, my life's blood, for you."
Regina blinked and Emma felt yet another piece of her soul die when a single tear slid down the brunette's sculpted cheek.
"I don't want that, Tink. I just want Henry." She brushed past them, head held high and shoulders strait and squared. She walked like a queen instead of a wounded mother.
Tinkerbelle chased after her, like a loyal puppy. Emma just stood by the water that was tinged pink with Regina's blood and damned herself to the deepest, hottest part of hell.
She sighed, rubbed her hands through her now constantly sweat soaked hair and stomped back towards the rest of their group. At least one thing she had screamed at Regina was true, they were here to find Henry and he was still out there.
She got back to the clearing to find a big-assed fire burning. Gold, Snow and Hook were watching over the fire while David, Tinkerbelle and Regina (of course) were hunting for dinner. With nothing else to hack, slice or yell at, Emma sat down, leaned against a tree and started to scrub the gunk off of her sword.
No one realized anything was wrong until dusk. The sunset and Tinkerbelle and David returned, some unidentifiable but definitely animal, slung between them.
Hook looked over their find and grinned rakishly, "Throw it over the fire, it's almost like a pig. Well, it tastes more like horse but you can pretend it's a pig-roast."
Snow looked around, puzzled, "Where's Regina?"
Tinkerbelle looked up from where she had been rearranging rocks that they had thrown around the plant fire to keep it contained, "What?"
She looked around, blonde braids flying around her head as she twisted it. "She told us that she was staying here to do a tracking spell with The Dark One."
Gold only shrugged his shoulders, "She told Snow and myself that she was going with the two of you to look for herbs that she could use for a healing poultice."
It took half a second for Emma to realize what Regina had done and where she would be headed.
That stupid, stubborn, wonderfully brave woman. She had gone to find Henry. She had decided to take it upon herself to hike into the Lost Boy's camp alone to rescue her son.
Alone, that same damn voice mocked her, just like she raised him. She has never needed help with Henry.
"No." Tinkerbelle's already pale face went white, like sand or chalk. "Gods please no."
She took off running and Emma followed her, hatred for the other woman long forgotten.
They ran for what seemed like hours and miles. They heard it long before they saw the dancing torch light that marked the Lost Boy's camp. The long, shrill, horrifying agonized scream. It echoed through the jungle and in Emma's soul. It was a pain-filled, terrorized and tortured scream. It was Regina's scream. Somehow Emma knew, down in her guts, that she had just heard the sound of someone's shadow being ripped away.
They were too late.
The woman she loved more than life itself was being tortured again and she was too late, again.
This was her fault. Emma didn't need Tinkerbelle to tell her that. The other woman was right. She was no savior, she was a pawn and a fool and Regina was paying the price for her stupidity.
Henry's voice wailed above raucous laughter.
"Mommy, please get up!"
She could hear Henry's voice over the sound of her boots pounding through the jungle.
"You have to be okay!"
She had to be okay. Emma couldn't live without her. She had to be okay.
"Please!" Henry was begging now, "Please I love you!"
She loved her too. So God. Damn. Much.
Tinkerbelle ran forward and though Emma ran after her, sword at the ready she knew. She knew they were too late.