It was a quiet week. Storybrooke settled back into the routines that had defined it for decades. It looked unassuming to people like Tamara and Greg. (The latter was sticking around town while he waited for his car to be repaired.)
The only place that really indicated it was a town full of fairytales was Regina's house, where the bird made a pass at anything that moved and Hook dodged fireballs for trimming his beard over the sink.
Being a place just kind of drenched in magic Emma should have wanted to stay away. But most nights she found herself stopping by and tapping on the window and sitting out on the porch with Regina until the moon disappeared over one horizon and the gray light of dawn appeared on the other.
Emma wasn't stupid. She got that she and Regina were indulging in that "it's all new" thing couples did. They'd changed their relationship and had to try and figure out how that changed the two of them--learning little quirks they each had.
Like how Regina lied when the truth was easier.
That was why everyone thought they were spending time together to teach Emma magic. Which wouldn't have been a big deal, but whenever she got back to the loft Henry or Mary Margaret wanted to see what she'd learned and she would have to puff a spoon around the room until they got tired of looking at the frilly pink smoke.
Regina's hand had been creeping into the waist of her jeans when she'd asked when she was gonna learn actual magic. Which had led to huffing and then joking and then a series of attempts to make a fireball.
"You're not angry enough," Regina had moaned. "You have to find your rage," she pointed at Emma with both hands, "and then direct it," she pointed the dress she'd stolen from Maleficent.
"I'm sorry I don't have the rage needed to toast your bff's clothes."
"This is polyester Emma. It should go up with a thought. So think."
"How am I supposed to get mad at a woman who thinks TV dinners are magic?"
"Who do you think turned the three little pigs into actual pigs on Monday?"
It had taken Emma the better part of two hours to wrangle the little assholes.
The polyester had gone up with a whoosh.
The cat (or in this case Regina's big fat lie) came out of the bag almost two weeks after the beginning of whatever they were.
Emma had been trying to leave but too tired from chasing down the Naked Emperor all day to stand upright. Regina had guided her to her bedroom and put her into her bed with a maternal kiss to the cheek. Emma had closed her eyes and mumbled something about being up early.
Emma woke up, in Regina’s bed, alone, and with Hook lurking over her sipping coffee.
A very important long silence passed between them. Hook staring and grinning like a mad man, and Emma trying to remember where her pants and jacket were.
"Hey," Hook finally said, all too knowing.
Emma was a little more cautious with her "hey."
"So how dysfunctional is your romance that you sleep in bed with half your clothes still on?"
"Who said there was a romance?"
"The late night 'magic' sessions and the number of times Sinbad's caught the two of you down in Regina's cider cellar."
"You're trusting a bird on this one?"
"I always trust him when it comes to sex."
She jammed the heels of her hands into her eyes to wipe away sleep. "Gross."
"So," he slurped loudly, "you and Regina?"
There was something actually genuine in his question. His eyes seemed wider than usual with both of his eyebrows lifted up in curiosity.
Another cup of coffee was sitting on the bedside table, still steaming. Emma grabbed it and drank gratefully. It was too early and she was still too tired to care who had put it there. "Shouldn't you be asking Regina all this?"
"I could, but seeing as you're the one I've got to threaten, it's easier this way. Bunch of birds. One stone. That sort of thing.”
He nodded, "You know how it goes. You hurt her. I kill you. You do anything to jeopardize things between her and the boy and I make you walk the plank. All the traditional threats to a mate's new lover."
She felt her cheeks get hot, "We're not--it's not--"
His right eyebrow skyrocketed, "Wow, and here I thought I was joking. How bad are you in bed?"
"I've seen Regina in action. Woman had Circe eating out of the palm of her hand. This is clearly on your dried up old nether--"
"It's not on me!" Her voice rang through the bedroom and she immediately cringed and how loud she sounded. "We just…Regina's got baggage because of whatever happened when she was away and contrary to popular opinion I don't actually hop into bed every time pants drop.” In point of fact she hadn’t hopped into a bed in three years. “We're just…going slow."
"You're having phone sex with a bird so excuse me if I'm gonna ignore your opinions."
He went as white as the sheets Emma was lounging in. "You heard that?”
"I can never unhear it," she groused.
Uninvited Hook took a seat on the end of the bed. Emma pulled her knees to her chest and cautiously drank her coffee. "Regina's got proclivities," Hook said.
"I know all about her adventures in Fairy land."
"I mean you."
"You're the proclivity Ms. Swan. She, for reasons I cannot fathom, likes you, and unless you're a self-loathing mess of insecurities with her because you've got nothing better to do you like her too.”
She sipped her coffee.
"You aren't are you?"
"I'm with her because--"
"I didn't say that--"
"She loves you Swan! Curse-breaking true kind of love."
"You can't just…you don't half ass with that kind of affection."
Emma knew that too. It was why she spent way too much time with Regina, curling into her touch and relaxing to the sound of her voice and just letting the world be. That kind of love--what Regina had for her--it didn't come along often, and she wasn't about to throw it away.
"Do you love her even a little?"
She loved stuff about Regina. Like how she cared for Henry, or protected the whole town or how she could wear a suit. "Yeah," she said softly.
Hook continued to study her like a map.
"Where is she any ways?"
"Left early this morning. Town business or horseback riding or something."
The way he said morning filled Emma with way too much dread. She looked over at the clock on the other bed stand.
Mother fuck a duck.
She ran out of the room so fast she forgot her pants.
She'd been neglecting Gauvin. She knew she'd been doing it. And she had good reason. The new old relationship with Emma, Henry's school issues, Neal, murders and alleged brewing fairy wars. It kept Regina too occupied and left the horses in her care feeling neglected.
Waking up that morning with the full length of a half-naked Emma sleeping beside her had spurred Regina into action. She smiled as she showered and ate breakfast alone. And she smiled when she made a cup of coffee and left it by Emma with a warming spell.
She smiled staring down at her too. Regina would never be the type to get "gooey", but having Emma in her bed felt right. Like flyaway pieces of the world finally falling into place.
It all felt easier to grasp.
So Regina reached out with both hands and squeezed.
She spent her entire morning at the stables, cleaning out Gauvin and Hwin's stalls and her own tack and saddle and running the horses through a course she quickly built in the field outside.
Hwin took the course easily enough, but Gauvin, always more temperamental, refused to jump until after both horses had a trot. She opted to take them into the forest.
The land encompassed by the curse was more vast than most of Storybrooke would assume and a trek deep into the woods would sufficiently exhaust even magical horses with unreal stamina. They went further than she’d been in some time, down the logging road and well past Cecily's darkened windows. Into forest so old as to be primeval.
Where the only visitors were animals and bugs and birds. Moss crept up the bases of the trees and ferns made a green blanket for the rich-smelling leaf litter on the forest floor.
Both horses stepped carefully, mindful of lichen-covered stones that were slippery with the damp of Maine.
Regina couldn't say if it was her or the horses. Gauvin was tense between her legs and Hwin's tail flicked nervously, but Regina was the one that had pulled lightly on the rein, bringing the horses to a stop before they could disturb ground untouched by man in thirty years.
Now they'd ridden too far.
Ghosts lingered at the edge of Regina's vision.
She dismounted quietly and moved through the trees with the horses' reins both in hand. The forest around her was like any other stretch of the old growth. But she knew where to look. She could see the outline. A scar in forest formed by spade and shovel. The ferns and flowers grew unnaturally. Lines too straight.
Forming something unmistakeable.
It was easy for Regina to forget her past. Mary Margaret--Snow existed as a constant reminder of what Regina had done and in some sense Emma did as well, but there was a give and take there. A battle.
This grave site marked a slaughter. One of many she'd pushed from her mind and given little thought to in the years since.
She couldn't remember his name, or much of his face. Just the son he'd had and that she'd adored and the feel of his heart.
She looked down at her bare hand. The reins cut across the palm and hid the cracks and crevasses that had once harbored the dead man's blood.
She'd told Graham to hold him and she's reached in to claim control. But the people of the world beyond Storybrooke didn't have magic. They hadn't come from magic, and the heart she'd pulled from his chest had spurted gore all around her office and stained the marble floor.
Regina knelt in the leaves and leaned down close, where the rich mineral tang of dirt filled her nose.
"I'm sorry," she said to a man who couldn't hear.
The ghosts were quiet.
She looked up and caught a glimpse of blond hair as spirits best buried flitted out of sight.
He hadn’t been the last innocent whose blood had stained her hands.
The ride back to the stables was dampened by dark thoughts, but by the time she saw the fence line parting field from building she'd managed to regain a modicum of control.
She couldn't help the people she'd killed. The random villagers, her father, or that stranger there in the first days of Storybrooke were gone. Dust and bones and memories. All she could do was be better.
She had to be better.
She put her heels to Gauvin’s flank, pushing him forward. The wind caught in her hair and whipped past her ears and took the dark thoughts with it. Cleansing her for just a little while.
Enough so that she was grinning when she stampeded into the stable and pulled short in front of a wide-eyed Henry and Charming.
Charming, perhaps owing to his former life as a farm boy, immediately stepped forward to take Hwin’s reins. “Out for a joy ride?”
“They needed exercise.”
He patted the horse’s side. “And they look like they got it.” Sweat had darkened Hwin’s golden coat.
“Hwin maybe, I’d still like to put Gauvin through the course.” The horse jerked on his bit. “He’s being ornery.”
“Can I watch,” Henry asked, eyes bright with curiosity. He hadn’t been curious about what Regina did in a long time.
She glanced at David, who shot a furtive look back at a stall, the returned her attention to her son. “Did you clean your horse’s stall yet?”
He flushed, “No, but I can do that after.”
“Horses don’t understand later,” David said, his hand falling onto Henry’s shoulder, “only the now.”
“Your grandfather’s right. Unless you want a grumpy horse you need to clean his stall.”
Henry grumbled and reluctantly turned back to the stable. Regina was turning Gauvin back towards the course when David called out. “Thanks, for the back up.”
She raised an eyebrow, pulling Gauvin to a stop, “Henry was giving you trouble?”
“If I were Mary Margaret I’d say he was testing boundaries.” He made overly dramatic finger quotes before stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Lot of unusual behavior.”
“Could it be finding out his father is alive?” Gauvin fidgeted, eager to be in motion again.
“That, the issues at school, his moms dating behind his back—“
Gauvin shook his head viciously, the reigns nearly pulled from Regina’s hands.
“I’ve still got one eye Regina, and I’m not knee deep in denial like wife.”
She wrapped the reigns around her hand and Gauvin stomped at the dirty angrily.
“Even if Henry doesn’t know, he knows. And he should hear it from the two of you.”
“We’ll…” she tried to smile congenially, “Emma and I will discuss it.”
“Good.” He turned back towards the stalls, shoulders slumped a little.
He stopped, turning his head just enough for her to see the patch.
“You’re not Mary Margaret, but you still…you hate me.” She tilted her head, “Don’t you?”
He breathed through his nose. The muscles of his jaw bulged. “I think our family’s complicated.”
“Sorry I’m late.”
As a rule apologies only worked if you were sorry and you weren’t trying to make a good impression. Emma being late to “having a chat” with Storybrooke’s sole tourist didn’t really qualify. She wasn’t sorry and she was sheriff and she was making out with the mayor on the regular so good impressions didn’t matter.
Greg Mendell’s smile was tight, not at all forgiving, and astonishingly sincere looking. “No problem,” he said with more warmth than was on his face.
“How’re you liking Storybrooke?”
“Better since I’m not running into signs with my car.”
He’d been out of the hospital for all of a day and a half, “sightseeing.” Being a naturally suspicious woman Emma didn’t buy it, and kept having to remember the completely boring contents of his phone.
Some people really could find satisfaction staying at a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere, hiking in the woods and eating kitschy diner food.
“Someone said that wasn’t the first time the welcome sign’s had a beating.”
Greg flushed, “One of the nurses mentioned it. Said you ran into it last year.”
“There was a dog in the road.”
Or a weird mystical spiritual curse related ghost wolf.
He looked down at his iced tea and tilted the glass to catch the sunlight in it, “You hit a sign leaving town and now you’re sheriff.”
Emma looked over her shoulder. Nobody was watching them or listening in, but there were enough furtive glances to tell her people were curious about the sheriff talking with the one person in town who didn’t know about the curse. “Funny how things work out isn’t it?”
He shrugged. “I guess. Kind of sad the old sheriff had to die though. What happened to him? Heart attack?”
The question was delivered with all the casualness of a good conversationalist, but there was something just a little…off about it. Like he was fishing.
She ignored the cold chill that grew in the pit of her stomach at the mention of Graham, and resisted the urge to touch the bit of his shoelace wrapped around her wrist.
“You ask a lot of questions.”
Another tight smile. “I’m a curious guy.”
“Clearly. So maybe tell me what you’re really curious about, because I doubt it’s my career track.”
He set his drink down, the bottom of the glass thumping loudly on the table. “You know the highway leading into Storybrooke is haunted?”
Emma smiled wryly, “I’ve heard that rumor.”
“It’s not rumor.”
“Really? Was it Egon or Venkman who told you that?”
He produced a map and spread it across the table. The blunt tip of his finger landed on a red splotch that was either Storybrooke or the road that ran through it.
“It started back in ’83. Story after story. Lights of a town that isn’t there. Shadows in the forest. Folks who just go missing.”
“And you think Storybrooke is related?”
“I think it’s odd that it sits on top of one of the most haunted stretched of highway in America and there isn’t even a pamphlet about it at the bed and breakfast. Small towns loves ghost stories.”
“We got enough stories as is, don’t need to throw a couple of ghosts into the mix.”
There! His eye twitched.
Emma leaned back. “But hey, if you want to sit at the edge of town with your proton pack and wait for Slimer be my guest.”
He nodded, not getting what he’d wanted from Emma he stood up. “You ever find the dog that ran out in front of you?”
“We’re in the middle of the forest Mr. Mendell. Lot of things out in those woods.”
The smile he gave Emma was too grim. Eager and resigned at once. “I know. I plan to find them all.”
“Were there ghosts in the other world?”
David had been leaning back in his chair and lost his precarious balance, man and chair both falling to one side before he kicked out and righted himself.
“Why do you ask,” he squeaked. His face was bright red.
Emma ignored it and kept staring up at the ceiling. It looked like there were pen marks in it, and she tried to imagine Graham sitting in the same desk and trying to launch his pens up into the ceiling on a slow day when the biggest call was a loose dog on the docks.
It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
He’d been too nice.
“Greg Mendell thinks the highway is haunted.”
“Probably just magic from Regina’s curse.”
“That’s what I thought.” Regina had even admitted as much on their date the other night.
“So why are you worried about ghosts?”
“I’ve dealt with trolls, dragons and a handful of wicked witches. It’s not crazy to ask about ghosts.”
He through his hands up in surrender, “I didn’t say it was.”
“So are there?”
“You’re the one dealing with trolls, dragons and wicked witches, you tell me.”
She dropped her head down onto her desk.
“They usually take a spell to make them though.” David was trying to be helpful.
Emma just waved him off and continued to stare up close at the fake woodgrain on the top of her desk.
A familiar click of high heels on tile and a nice shade fell on her.
“What happened to her,” Regina asked, her voice the kind of warm comfort Emma didn’t want to think about too much.
“She’s thinking about ghosts.”
“There are ghosts?” There was just a little confusion mixed in with Regina’s amusement.
“No,” David fumbled for words, “just…she’s figuring out they exist.”
“She can transport around town in a puff of pink smoke and ghosts give her pause?”
“Next you’re gonna say we have werewolves,” Emma mumbled, still not sitting up.
“Your mother’s best friend is a werewolf.” She could hear Regina’s smirk. “And your mother slept with Frankenstein.”
Emma groaned. Because a petulant groan while her forehead was still pressed to the desk felt like the most honest thing in the world.
“Better than a three way with half a fairy court,” David fired back.
Emma groaned again.
“What are you doing here anyways?”
Emma peeked out but didn’t lift her head. It was the way David asked. Usually he was borderline nasty with Regina, but just then he sounded curious.
She could only see the gray skirt gracing Regina’s hips from her vantage point. Either she hadn’t been down at the stables all morning or she’d gone home and changed. Regina shifted her weight on her heels and Emma got a brief whiff of soap.
She’d gone home.
“I wanted to try testing the wands the murderer was using. He may be dead to the world, but the magic in those wands won’t be.”
David couldn’t see that Emma was watching them and looked a little helpless. “I guess I can help you.”
She pushed up from the desk. “No. I can do it. Weird magic powers and all that.”
He looked from her to Regina. Studied them both like he was a detective and not a prince turned deputy.
“You’re welcome to join us,” Regina said, eyebrow arched. There was a hint of flirtation there that confused parts of Emma that didn’t need confusing.
She spun on her heel at the sound of the door closing and purred, “David knows.”
Emma looked back at the door as if she could see through it and then back to Regina. “About?”
She looked back again, “Did he seem…was he okay with it?”
“He didn’t threaten me or tell me to stay away.”
“Better than what I got today.”
Regina arched an eyebrow and waited for elaboration.
But Emma waved her off, “Never mind. While you were thinking about wands all morning you know what I noticed? I was all alone in bed when I woke up.” She was prowling now. Stalking Regina with a playful smile.
It was like that when they were alone. Always. A door would shut and Emma’s flirtatious smile materialized. Just for her.
Regina leaned against the evidence table, crossing her ankles in coy invitation. “Had to check on the horses. They needed fresh air.”
She was inching closer. Still smiling like a cat. Only sounding a little…scared.
Regina laughed, “You think I ran?”
“Waking up in bed with someone can be scary.”
She leaned forward so there was only a sliver of distance between them. Regina could smell the Suave shampoo on Emma’s hair and coffee on her breath. She found herself licking her lips and trying not to look at Emma’s.
Emma was looking at her lips too. Her breath coming in hot little puffs. “No,” she swallowed. The cheshire grin returned. “I liked waking up in your bed.” Her eyes back on Regina’s lips. “Liked feeling wanted.” She leaned in, her hands falling onto Regina’s. “Liked the idea of kissing you good morning.”
“It’s afternoon,” she whispered.
Even in the lazy kisses Regina kissed with fervency. Like the devil was bearing down on them. It made her kisses heady and addictive. The sighs were few, and the gasps often.
Everything else sort of disappeared when they were together. There wasn’t issues with Henry, or her heartless mother, or David’s constant presence or murderers or wars. Just pleasure and need and hands that found a way to comfort and cajole.
She dropped kisses on Regina’s exposed neck and thrilled at the feel of her pulse racing beneath her lips. Regina could curse them all to any land she chose and save the day with magic a hundred times but Emma could draw out a throaty moan and make her pulse thrum.
A hand snaked up around her, cool fingers pressing into her neck. Regina pulled Emma closer. Her teeth tugging on her ear. It was hot and perfect and
David was on the other side of the door. She panted against Regina’s neck, burying her face in her hair. Regina stopped biting and pressed still lips to her ear—as if sensing the sudden change in mood.
“David’s out there.”
Regina lay a wet kiss to her ear. “We should get back to work.”
“I’m evil Emma, not a monster,” she said dramatically.
“Nice to know Evil Queens draw a line.”
“We’ll kill infants, but we refuse to defile young maidens within earshot of their fathers.”
Regina laughed. It was bright and spontaneous and it yanked away all the walls and costumes Regina wore. Made her breathtaking. Emma had to step away and sheepishly look around the room to stop thinking about her.
“Wands. The twerp had two of them, and I’m hoping he put enough of himself in,” she was motioning with her hands, “that I can find something to pull out.” It was adorable.
“The last time you tried that I had to pay the janitor extra to clean the soot out of here.”
“That’s why you’re here.”
Emma raised an eyebrow. “To clean up soot?”
“To keep things from exploding.”
Regina grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her into the chair. “Sit.” After rifling through the evidence she produced both wands, laid them on the table, and stared.
“Now what,” Emma whispered.
“Could you be quiet,” she snapped too churlishly.
Emma pantomimed zipping her lips.
Regina returned her focus to the wands. Her hands began to glow a dull purple and she placed them on either side of the wands. “The problem,” she said, never taking her eyes off the wands, “was I tried brute force last time.” She knelt before them. Eyes level with them. “This time I’m going with subtlety.”
Emma fidgeted. Resisted the urge to scratch. Things were bouncing around inside of her. Something cold like jumping in ice water and hot like a hundred degree day. It made her insides itchy.
“Be still. I’m funneling my magic through you and it’s hard enough without you bouncing around like a toddler.”
“That explains the itchiness.”
It was really, really itchy.
“Anything I can do,” she asked, barely moving her lips. “I’ve gotten pretty good at throwing stuff around with my brain.”
“If I need a boulder tossed I’ll let you know. Right now I just need what you were born with.”
She scratched her leg and tried to think about something else. Briefly she saw herself, thinner, stronger, hair pulled back and broken glasses on her nose and a broken expression on her face. Standing behind Regina. Watching Regina.
Emma almost stood up out of surprise.
“Please stop moving.”
She blinked and the other her was gone. “It’s like ants. In my pants,” she whined. Better than ghosts that never were.
Regina smiled to herself, amused at her own flirtation. “You could always lose the pants.”
“In the police station. With David in the other room.”
“It might help me concentrate.”
Emma used her “bullshit” glare.
Regina sighed and tried to concentrate on the wands again. The itchiness reached a crescendo before her locket turned cold. Regina’s hands shivered, the bandaged one looking almost gray in the purple glow of her magic. She seemed to glare at the wands, willing them to reveal whatever secrets they hid.
Regina’s hand didn’t look gray. She watched the way the color was pulled from her skin. Gray creeping up her arm and disappearing beneath her sleeve. A chunk of ice was hanging around Emma;s neck. Making her sleepy. Desolate.
She could see it again. Gray clawing at the skin near Regina’s collar.
She had to move quickly. Forcing stiff muscles into action and sliding across the table to wrap her arms around Regina’s—trapping them and ruining the spell. “Stop,” she said, lips pressed to the other woman’s ear.
A shiver ran through her. Regina struggled. One quick jerk, and then two more feeble ones. “I almost—“
“You were going gray.” And freezing her.
Now the cold was chased away. Quick enough for Emma to know it was conscious on Regina’s part. Like she was trying to soothe and warm her after nearly freezing her to death.
Instead of looking at her hand Regina leaned back against Emma’s frame, the back of her head brushing Emma’s cheek. “Sorry.”
“Is this,” she rubbed her hands up and down Regina’s arms, as if she could feel the chill of Gold’s old curse killing Regina all over again, “is this a usual thing?”
She shook her head.
“But you’re not surprised.”
Regina held her hand up to the cheap florescent light. It looked sickly. “No one just survives a cut from the Dark One’s dagger.”
“I thought True Love’s Kiss solved everything.”
“It’s handy. Sleeping curse.” She bumped her ass against Emma’s hips, “Tree curse. Dark One curses are trickier.”
Emma traced the length of her arm lightly with her fingers. They grazed the bandage. She didn’t peek. She was nervous about what she’d find. “So what? It could just come back?“
Regina spun around, keeping Emma’s hands around her. “You’re worried about me?” Her smile was crooked.
Emma half shrugged, trying to not look too closely at the her. “You’re Henry’s mom.”
It had to be hurt that flickered across her face. “Couldn’t lose the baby sitter,” she said cooly.
Emma ignored that comment. “Why didn’t you say anything? We should talk to Gold and your mom.”
“Or Mother Superior. She’s gotta have an idea.”
“She hates me. She wouldn’t help.”
“She’s a nun and a fairy, pretty sure she has to help.”
“That’s not how fairies work.”
“It’s how nuns work. They can’t just pick and choose. Talk to her.” She attempted a pout. It was pathetic. “Please?”
“You’re trying to manipulate me.”
She pressed her lips softly to Regina’s. They were cool, but the magic pulsing between them was warm enough. No hint of the curse. “How’s it working?”
She murmured agreement. Deepening the kiss and walking Regina back onto the evidence table.
Everything else just went away again. Curses and bandages and heavy lockets around their necks were gone. Something quiet and breathtakingly intimate formed between them. Minutes passed. The tick of the clock just white noise.
There were little laughs and sighs. In jokes that were nothing more than nips and fleeting touches.
Cool fingers plucked at the bottom of her shirt before splaying across her belly. A hot mouth pressed to her jaw. “I need you.”
Why had they stopped before?
It was ecstasy to hear that husky whisper. She reached up to take Regina’s face in her hands and kiss her like the world was ending around them. Only barely aware of the hands working at her pants and slipping between denim and skin.
“Why,” Regina gasped, “do you insist on these pants and boots. Do you have any idea how hard it is to—“
She stepped back, hands releasing Regina’s face so her girlfriend could yank at her clothes and pull on her boots. “This why you wear skirts,” she joked.
Regina scowled. Shoved her back into the door. “For that you can just watch.”
“What—“ Her head thumped into the glass as Regina’s hand, no longer hindered by tight denim, found the last piece of Emma to be undone.
Somehow Regina was on her knees and Emma didn’t have pants or boots and she didn’t know when it had happened. Didn’t think she cared. Dark eyes were alight with amusement and fingers were playing clever tune along her thighs.
“You know what I’ve wanted to do?” Regina’s breath was hot. Damp. Electrifying. But her lips were so cool against the inside of Emma’s leg. “What I’ve dreamed of doing?” Her nose nuzzled dark curls of hair. “Ever since you kissed me on the beach?”
She swallowed. Reached for the doorjamb for support. How could she have ever been cold? Heat shot through her like it was carried by a knife. “What?”
Regina didn’t blink. Held Emma’s gaze like that goddamned siren turned down on Third and President always luring cars into accidents.
Her head struck the glass again so hard she thought she heard it crack.
Regina had been dreaming of Emma for weeks. She hidden it well. Put a good cap on her desire. She’d learned that long ago living under Leopold’s gaze.
But now with Emma’s leg pulled over her shoulder and her wet and wanting and inches from her mouth all Regina could think about was fucking her until she was quivering against her lips.
It was crude and maybe nasty and some part of her, distantly, knew it was wrong. They were in the police station and for Emma, for this Emma, it was whole new ground. Ground that didn’t deserve to be upturned this way.
She remembered the woman who’d taken her to bed exuberant, but shy. The woman who had loved her and not just taken her in to get over someone else.
That Emma wouldn’t want to be coming in an evidence room with her father on the other side of the door.
But Regina couldn’t stop. The ghost of that woman gone hovered over her. Flashes of broken glasses. Naked skin flushed from the heat of the caves. Twisting the features of the willing woman her mouth was pressed to.
They tasted the same.
She choked back some awful emotion and surged up. Capturing Emma’s mouth and driving her fingers into her and fleeing the specter that haunted them. Her mouth was coffee and sweet. Different.
At least different enough.
Emma’s fingers dug into her back. Sharp, sweet pain.
She could feel her around her. Tighter and tighter. She was drawing the orgasm out of her. Slow and perfect. Not lazy. Never lazy. There would never be time for lazy. Not when worlds were always ending and wars were always looming.
She dropped her head into the crook of Emma’s neck. Where only the shadow of blond hair could remind her of another woman.
Her hand, bandaged and clumsy, clutched Emma’s shoulder.
She thought it was Emma, begging for release. But when she stupidly chanced a glance she just saw ecstasy and passion and something forever shy of love.
Emma flickered before her eyes. Bright blood on her lips and agony carved into her face.
She was saying it. Begging Emma. The ghost vanished. The woman closed her eyes and pulled Regina closer. Her hips bucked against her hand.
Something hot and good passed through the locket. Chipped at the ice where the ghosts lurked. She had to look away again. Press her forehead into Emma’s shoulder and go just by touch and sound. Distantly relishing the shudder of release.
Emma’s voice was hoarse. “Fuck.”
She kissed her collarbone but said nothing.
“I mean. Damn.” Emma’s head struck the door and she felt her wince. “Shit. David’s still on the other side isn’t he. I—we’ve traumatized him.”
She let her lips travel until she found Emma’s pulse point again.
“But, I mean, it had to happen sometime.” Her fingers brushed the edge of Regina’s skirt.
And suddenly another Emma was in the room too. Betrayal in bright eyes.
Regina jerked away. “We should…that was…David might be dead.” It was a bad joke. And a desperate one.
Regina could stand up to a mob without flinching, but she ran from a thoroughly satisfied Emma like she was a blood mage with a golem army at her back.
And she did’t just run. She made an excuse about remembering a council meeting (LIE) and she poofed. Big cloud of purple smoke away. Leaving Emma feeling real naked, and a little used and all alone to deal with a gray faced David.
She tried joking, “You look like you got stabbed by the Dark One’s dagger.”
“I’d say you were the one getting stabbed,” he muttered, still in shock. Then he flushed. “And I just made a sex joke. About my daughter.”
“If it helps you’re not the only one mortified right now.”
“It doesn’t, because I’m the one obligated to go have a chat with the girlfriend and explain the Dos and Don’t of doing my daughter.”
“Don’t number one. Do it in the police station within hearing range of a father with a shotgun. Do number one. Stick around to be threatened with shotgun instead of apparently poofing away and forcing him to follow.”
“Please don’t follow Regina.”
“After—with you—the glass is frosted Emma. Not opaque. I saw hair and shadows and—“
“I am sure we can figure out some kind of forgetting potion.”
But he wasn’t paying attention. Instead blustering, “and she left! You! You’re perfect!”
“I know that.”
“So why did she leave?”
“They meet on Tuesdays.”
“Maybe she had gas. Or more urgent horse care business. How should I know?”
“Are you okay?”
His sudden shift from paternal outrage to paternal concern was enough to give her whiplash. She slumped into her office chair, “I didn’t get to reciprocate. Or process. So no, I’m not doing so great.”
He crossed the room, and then stopped, forcing her to look up at him. He was blushing again. “I was going to hug you and then I—“ He settled for an awkward shoulder pat. “Maybe she’s just being prickly.”
“What happened to shotgun lectures?”
“I care more about you feeling okay than her feeling threatened.”
She reached up and squeezed his hand. Every time he turned out to be a good dad it surprised her.
“You going after her?”
She didn’t move.
He titled his head. “Soon?”
She nodded. Blushed. “Just as soon as I can feel my legs again.”
She wasn’t going to say the sex outweighed the emotional unavailability, but it’d been a really long time since her longs had gone to rubber.
The mansion would be the first place Emma looked for her to interrogate her on fucking and fleeing the scene like a sixteen year old idiot. Instead Regina chose to teleport to the last place she’d look.
The nunnery. Blue-frocked fairies flitted around the grounds, all giving her a wide birth like the plague was coming out of her pores.
It was like going back to the Enchanted Forest. All she was missing was more cleavage and bigger hair. She sneered at a young nun who got too close and took perverse pleasure in watching her titter away, hand to her chest.
Blue waited for her at the top of the stairs, hands on hips and severe expression on her face. “I don’t recall you having an invitation onto these grounds Regina.”
“It’s a nunnery, not a palace.”
“You should leave.”
“You’re turning me away? I thought all were welcome into your flock Mother Superior?”
The nun’s features darkened. Her small mouth screwed up even tighter. “Follow me.” She led Regina to her office, a place heavy with old magic, and rounded on her. “Why has the Evil Queen come to me?”
Snark was bitter on Regina’s tongue and she had to brace herself with a smile. “Didn’t you hear, dear? I’m good now.”
“The people who say that are biased.”
“So were the ones calling me evil.”
“You’re trying to say fairies are biased?”
“Every one of you.”
“Then again, why come to me?”
Because Emma had asked it. She pulled her hand out of her pocket. “I need help.”
The fairy snorted.
“Let’s not beat around any bushes shall we? If you’re a fairy worth your salt you know I’ve been cursed by the Dark One’s dagger.” She was surprised other’s sensitive to magic hadn’t mentioned it. Besides EMma it was just Maleficent, who had seen it and stared before pretending to ignore it. “I need to know how to break it.”
“True Love’s Kiss breaks any curse.”
She held her hand up quickly for inspect then jammed it back into her coat pocket. “Not this one. Ever since Cora used her magic to save him it’s been spreading. Like breaking Gold’s link to it…kickstarted something.”
She squinted, “Yes it did, or yes you know.”
“There always has to be balance in our world. And Fate…Fate will seek it out no matter what. There have to be fairies doing the will of Good. And there has to be monsters doing the will of Evil.”
“I studied theology once upon a time. I know all about the need of balance in our land. This isn’t our land.”
“But it is. Your curse carved us out of it and placed us here. Which means certain truths are immutable. Chief among them? There must always be a Dark One. Fate’s made her choice. If you didn’t want the job you should have stayed in the Enchanted Forest.”