Emma groaned as she took in her surroundings. The room at the bed and breakfast looked as though a tornado had blown through it while she'd been away, but the little signs strewn about the space told her it'd only been Henry digging around in everything, looking for who knows what.
She wanted to be angry at the mess he'd made, but she found herself smirking. Before Regina had given them a new life, she'd been as messy as Henry is now, which just goes to show that it was genetic. She blamed the memories Regina gave her as the only reason she was half as organized as she was now. How could she be entirely angry with her son when he got being that messy from her?
Smirk still on her face, she went around the room and attempted to pick it up a bit. Most of the mess came from Henry digging through his suitcases. She assumed he was searching for his favorite shirts and pants because, from the looks of it, he hadn't bothered to get enough underwear for the amount of time he was likely going to be staying with his grandparents. She made a mental note to text Mary Margaret and tell her to buy him some more. Frankly, he probably needed them anyway, and it was best if no one visited her room at the bed and breakfast but her until the whole Hades situation could be blew over. In fact, she was making a point of avoiding people as much as she could so Hades wouldn't gather additional targets.
History had taught her villains go after weak points, which normally meant going after loved ones who couldn't protect themselves. There was no way Emma was going to give Hades any additional fodder. It was bad enough he was going after Regina. She wasn't about to allow him the privilege of knowing who the rest of her family was.
She paused in her quick cleaning of the room and scowled. Since when did she consider Regina to be family? Shrugging, she starting folding clothes again. Truth be told, it had been that way for a while, though what type of family Regina was to her was still up in the air.
Regina sure as hell wasn't her grandmother, she didn't care what Mary Margaret wanted her to think, and Regina wasn't a weird aunt or a cousin or sister. Emma winced. No, definitely not a sister. Of course, how Regina was family didn't really matter at this point. What mattered was that she was family, and Emma wasn't going to let anything happen to her if she could prevent it, and she wasn't going to let someone she considered family be left behind or alone simply because it was easier than trying to save them.
The blonde chuckled at herself. What was it that Disney movie said? "Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." She snorted at herself. Of course she'd come up with something from Disney. Her whole life was one, big, twisted, messed up Disney movie. She should be excited. She was the next Disney princess, and what little girl doesn't dream of that honor! She rolled her eyes and snorted again, which turned into a fit of giggles that sort of rolled into a long bout of all-out belly laughter that was only interrupted when a voice from her door caught her attention.
"What's so funny, Swan?" Hook leaned against the doorframe, eyebrow raised. "Care to share?"
She jumped, turning around with a fireball already forming in her hand, which surprised them both. "Shit, Hook, you scared the hell out of me." Glancing down at her hand, her eyes widened a bit more before she tried to get her expressions under control. For whatever reason, she didn't want Hook to know she didn't know she could produce fireballs.
"So I can see." He nodded toward her hand, where the fireball still flickered. "Are you planning to use that, or is it just there for looks?"
Emma rolled her eyes and closed her hand, putting out the flame. "Why are you even here?"
"I was walking from my room down to the dinner, and I heard you laughing. I thought I'd stop by and see what had you so worked up." He gave a nonchalant shrug.
She narrowed her eyes at him. "And you decided to pick my lock just so you could figure it out?"
"Well, I knocked, but you didn't seem to hear me, so I figured I should check to make sure you weren't under some kind of spell or something." He motioned with his hand to the space around him. "Around here you never know what could be happening. I was just trying to keep you save, love."
"I can keep myself safe, thanks," she replied dryly. With a roll of her eyes, she went back to picking up the room. "Now that you see I'm fine, you can go."
"Oh come on, Swan, are we really back to this?" He pushed off the doorway and walked into the room. "I know I made you angry, but can't we work through this? I miss you, and I feel like, if we just talked for a bit, we could…"
"Killian, I'm a little busy right now. I don't really have time to talk to you about your feelings." She closed Henry's suitcase with a little more force than it probably needed and then moved on to her set of suitcases. She began picking up what little she had left out. "Bottom line is I'm not interested. I gave you a chance because you wore me down, but wearing someone down isn't really a great start to a long standing relationship, is it?" She pushed a few pieces of red lingerie back into her bag and flicked it closed before moving on to the smaller one that held her toiletries. "What kind of relationship is founded on the basis of one person being so hell-bent on getting the other person that they disregard personal space, boundary lines, and trust?"
"Look, I know I've made a few mistakes, but it's only been because I wanted to help you. I wanted to keep you safe," he protested.
"And, see, that's the thing." She closed the second suitcase and put it with the first. "What you don't get is that I don't need someone to protect me. I don't need or want a person to come riding into my life on a big, white horse to sweep me off my feet and saves the day. Think about it, Hook," she said as she pointedly stared him down, "my mother, Snow White herself, never wanted that. She started calling my father Charming as a derogatory nickname to mock him for acting that way. In case you haven't noticed," she gestured around them, "this place is full of women who can take care of themselves. We don't need a Prince Charming. What we need is a partner, an equal." She took in a deep breath and stepped into his personal space, glaring at him with all she was worth. "And, from where I'm standing, you don't seem to understand that, and I'm not here to teach it to you, so do us both a favor and stop chasing after me like I'm an object for you to claim. I'm not." She stepped back and grabbed her suitcases. "I need to go."
"Wait… Swan." He held his hand out in a gesture of sincerity. "I'm sorry. If you feel like I've treated you as anything less than my equal, then I am truly sorry. That was never my intention. I do see you as my equal in all things. Really, I do, but I care so much about you." His voice softened as he tried to come near her again. "And it's because I care so much about you that I want to protect you. It's not because I don't think you can take care of yourself. I know you can. I've seen it. It's because I don't like seeing you in danger." He frowned, eyes large and sad. "It scares me, Emma. I don't want to lose you, too."
The anger Emma had been holding for Hook seemed to leak out of her, and, with it, so did her bubbling disgust with the man. She probably should have seen this situation for what it was instead of thinking he was trying to control her. He wasn't. He was holding on too tightly because he was afraid of losing her like he had Milah, and that she could understand. She'd seen other people in this town do that, hold on too tightly. Mary Margaret, Regina, and even she had done it at some point. There's nothing worse than the fear of losing someone you thought you couldn't live without, and it makes a person clingy.
Despite everything that had happened between them and her current conflicting emotions regarding many things, she did care about him. The problem was she wasn't sure in what way she cared for him. Had she confused romantic love and sexual attraction for being grateful and relieved after sharing an extremely trying experience with him? She honestly didn't know, and she really didn't have the time to figure it out. Regina needed her to get back as soon as possible.
With a sigh, she slowly set her bags down again but she remained standing apart from him. "Killian," this time, her voice was much softer as she addressed him, "I'm sorry. I really am. I don't want to hurt you, and I know I have. I think… maybe I've been lashing out and you were an easy target, and I'm really sorry about that." She frowned, suddenly feeling guilty for her behavior over the past few weeks. "But I just don't know about us as a couple." Holding her hand up, she stopped the protest she saw in his eyes. "I've got a lot to think about, but know I do care about you. I'm just not really sure how I care about you." She winced at his wince. "Did I finally give in because we survived a couple of incredibly dangerous situations together in a short period of time and I was confusing feelings of relief and gratitude for something else, or did those experiences make me realize how I felt about you?" She shrugged. "I honestly don't know. What I do know is that how you acted when Regina went to Boston really changed how I feel about you now because, as I've said to you more than once, I don't need saving. I do my own, and it's a sticking point for me that you keep insisting. It's not chivalrous to me. It's demeaning."
He lowered his eyes, nodding slowly. "Could you we try again?" He looked up at her through his lashes. "Give it another go?"
"Not right now." She slowly shook her head in the negative. "Right now, there are other things that are priority for me, and, honestly, I think there might even be someone else that I care about in the same confusing way I care about you." She let out a heavy sigh. "Nothing in my life is ever simple."
He chuckled, but it lacked any mirth. "I know the feeling." Lifting his head again, he looked her in the eyes. This time, he seemed resigned. "I hope they're worth the trouble." He gave her a sad little smile. "And I hope they know what you're sacrificing by deciding to be with them because, Swan, it would be a sacrifice."
She looked away, pulling her lower lip between her teeth. "Yeah," she nodded, eyes looking anywhere but at him, "I know." Shaking her head to settle her thoughts, she turned back to him. "But I still don't know what I'm going to do about any of this, and I'm sorry because I know how much that sucks for you."
He nodded in understanding. "Well, whatever you decide, I'm still your friend and your ally." His small smile turned into an arrogant smirk, which was all the indication she had that he'd decided to move on for now. "And there aren't many who call the infamous Captain Hook either one. You should pride yourself as lucky for the honor."
She laughed. "Thanks, Hook. I'll keep that in mind."
He winked. "See to it that you do." Looking around the now straightened room, he tilted his head in question. "Are you leaving town?"
"No, just cleaning up. Henry tends to leave a trail behind him these days." She shrugged. "Messy teenager, but I do have to go back now, so, do you think you could lock the door behind you when you leave?"
"Of course," he turned to head to the door, calling out over his shoulder, "that red bra and underwear set was nice, Swan. Hope I get to see it in person someday." Before she could respond, he was gone and the door was closed.
Pulling an annoyed face, she chuckled. She wanted to be mad, but a part of her recognized the façade he put up to protect himself was that of a conceited, egotistical ass. Instead, she let it roll this time, acknowledging that she did, in fact, look pretty hot in that red bra and panties set, and, yeah, he probably would like to see her in it. She smirked to herself as she picked her luggage up again. Too bad for him that was probably never going to happen. Oh well, she mused, guess someone else is going to have to be the lucky one. She'd bought them for Monkey Man, aka Walsh. He never saw the set, either, thank goodness.
Grimacing at the implications of what could have happened with that situation, she focused and poofed back to mayoral mansion.
Dinner was ready, the table set, and Regina was starting to become concerned. She expected Emma to be back by now. It was only a little after the half hour mark, and she knew she was being ridiculous, but she couldn't stop herself from worrying.
Had the sheriff gotten caught up in something? Was she in trouble? Was she in danger? Had Hades gotten to her? Was Regina alone in this fight and had yet to find out?
She rubbed at her face and paced a trail around the first floor of her home, moving from the kitchen to the front door and back again. The thought occurred to her she should probably continue to practice using her magic, but she was too distracted to focus. Each time her mind drifted from lighting the candle to what Emma might think about her lighting the candle, Regina began to worry, which, in turn, caused her to lose all focus.
She'd eventually given up trying to do much of anything, which was why she was pacing the house.
"Hello?" Hades voice echoed through the house, causing to jump. "Is anyone there?" He grumbled, saying something she couldn't make out as she turned this way and that trying as she walked her first floor to try to locate him. "I know you're in there, your Majesty."
She rolled her eyes at the title. Whoever she was, 'your Majesty' wasn't it. "There you are." His voice was practically purred. "Turn around." She did so slowly, eyes searching everywhere for the source of the voice. "A little more. Now stop." She did, still confused until her eyes landed on her gilded mirror, which hung just to the side of the entryway. "Do you see me now?" He smirked at her, the blue flames surrounding him dancing along as he chuckled at her.
"How…" she allowed herself to trail off as she stared dumbly at the mirror. Logically, she rationalized this was some sort of magic at work, but, despite everything she'd experience and had learned over the past few hours, she was still having great difficulty accepting magic as fact.
"Let's just call this a Skype call, but without the Skype, shall we?" He cocked an eyebrow. "Don't be shy, your Highness. I can't get to you through the mirror, so you can step a little bit closer."
She shook her head slowly in the negative. "What do you want?"
"You already know what I want. I want you, but I seem to be having a hard time getting to you." A snarl crept into his voice. "It would seem that pet savior of yours has put some kind of protection spell on your house." He rolled his eyes in aggravation. "It's a small annoyance, of course. It's only a matter of time before I break through the barrier and get to you."
She tried to hold her fears down, hoping her face was the neutral mask she often had for political meetings. Her voice, however, gave her away as it cracked during her reply. "You can't get to me, and you won't win."
He chuckled. "Yes, very convincing." Hades shrugged indifferently. "In answer to your question, I'm giving you this little ring as a courtesy." He gave her a smile that made her feel as though she needed a second shower. "Right now, as we speak, my minions are working away at the barrier surrounding you. I'd give them 10, maybe 15, minutes before they break through, and, when they do I'm coming for you." He leaned forward, his face getting a touch larger in the display. "I enjoy a good fight," he growled, "it makes the win all the better, so I thought I'd give you time to do your best to protect yourself before I could get to you." He leered at her, his eyes slowly running over her. "I think you're going to make an excellent conquest, and, after I'm done with you, I think I'll play with your little blonde savior, too."
"I'm going to kill you," she replied in a cool, even tone, and, in that moment, she fully meant every word.
He laughed at her. "How? Throw a few fireballs at me?" Snorting, he leaned back to motion at himself. "I'm a god. You can't kill me. No matter how powerful you think you are, you're a mortal, and mortals don't win against gods, your Highness."
Her posture straightened, eyes narrowing as her voice lowered to a threatening level. "You have no idea what I'm capable of."
He dismissed her threat with a wave of his hand. "I know your story. I know what you're capable of, and," he grinned, "the only threat you pose is how to keep your screams from scaring the rest of my harem when I get my hands on you." His grin grew. "It's going to be a lot of fun knowing Rumpelstiltskin will be able to feel every single thing I do to you." He shivered, grin going into a wide smile, as the flames around him seemed to get a touch brighter. "I'm getting all hot and bothered just thinking about it."
Regina calmly stood her ground, chin held up and eyes stone cold. "You're not touching her." Even to her own ears, her voice growled in threat. "I'll destroy you first."
Again, he snorted at her. "You can try, but I wouldn't hold my breath." Giving a little wave and a wink, he brightly commented, "See you in a few minutes, pet," and then disappeared from her mirror.
She physically gagged, her body and mind rejecting even the thought of what Hades was threatening. She shook with fear and frustration, thrusting her hand out and yelping in surprise as a bolt of white light shot forward, shattering the mirror into a thousand different pieces.
The action startled her even more, and, for a moment, all she could do was panic about everything. Emma wasn't back, Hades' minions were about to come for her, and she had no way of protecting herself or stopping Hades from getting to Emma. She was helpless, alone, and terrified.
She collapsed in on herself for the second time that evening, crumpling onto the floor and sobbing as she curled into a ball.
Emma popped into Regina's house on the upstairs landing. She figured she'd probably be staying in a guestroom upstairs, as opposed to sleeping on the couch downstairs, so she thought she'd cut out a few steps and poof onto the second floor.
Just as she fully materialized, she heard a giant crash followed by a sob. Quickly dropping her luggage, she bolted down the stairs and toward the sound, which was clearly coming from the entryway.
She stopped short when she saw Regina curled into a sobbing ball in the middle of the floor and the mirror on the wall smashed into bits. Slowly, she walked over, kneeling next to the other woman. "Regina, what happened?" Her voice was as soothing as she could make it as she reached out to touch the other woman on the shoulder. "Did you have an accident with your magic?"
The smaller woman looked up, tears running down her cheeks and eyes red rimmed. She sniffed a few times as she blinked at the blonde. "Emma?"
"Yeah," the other woman nodded. "Sorry I'm late. I ran into Killian, and we chatted for a little bit."
"Oh God," Regina gasped out as she uncurled from her spot on the floor and launched herself at Emma, throwing the blonde off balance and causing them to land awkwardly on the floor with the brunette in the younger woman's lap.
Regina hugged the blonde, whispering between sniffs and shaky breaths. "I thought he might have gotten to you."
"Who? Hades?" Emma glanced around, trying to understand what had happened while she'd been gone.
"Yes." The older woman took in a few shuddering breaths. "He appeared in the mirror and told me his minions are about 10, perhaps 15, minutes away from breaking through the protection spells you've put into place." She shook her head. "He's threatening to do terrible things to both of us."
The blonde flinched. "What did you tell him?"
"Well," Regina pulled back, somehow managing to regain her calm, "I told him he," she began to blush, "didn't know what I was capable of and that I'd kill him for even suggesting he'd come after either of us." She wiped at her eyes, adding sheepishly, "I may have also told him I would destroy him."
Emma stared at the other woman, who was still sort of sitting in her lap.
Regina stared back, uncertain about the entire situation and suddenly feeling even more so. She started to shift, slowly pushing herself up and away from the blonde, who, much to her surprise, began to laugh.
Regina balked, pushing completely away and standing up. "What?"
From her place on the floor, the blonde looked up, still chuckling. "I… it's just. Okay, okay," she took in a few relaxing breaths. "When we first started interacting with each other, I'm pretty sure you said almost all of those things to me, and," she smiled, a hint of pride in the expression, "I have to admit it was pretty damned intimidating."
"And you find this funny?" The brunette crossed her arms, all thoughts of fear rushing away as her irritation took hold. "I was scared, Emma! I didn't know what to say, and I…"
"Made a threat," the blonde finished for her as she stood up, brushing glass shards from her pants. "It's what you do, Regina. Whenever you feel like someone is backing you into a corner, you push back. You're a fighter. You always have been." She made an upward motion with her hand. "Never give up! Never surrender!" She grinned. "That should have been your catchphrase."
"But what would I do with Grabthar's Hammer? It doesn't go with a thing I have to wear," Regina deadpanned. Sighing, she shook her head. "You really don't think I just did something incredibly stupid and dangerous?"
"Oh, no, I do," Emma assured with a shrug, "but I'm actually super proud of you for bluffing him like that. It's impressive, Regina. Most people wouldn't threaten to kill a god. That takes some balls."
"I don't have balls," the older woman replied dryly.
"Okay, fine," the sheriff said as she pushed her hands into her back pockets. "That takes a serious vagina."
Regina rolled her eyes. "If we weren't minutes away from a very serious and extremely life-threatening situation, I'd take time to explain to you all the ways in which that comment is inappropriate."
"Speaking of," Emma quickly sobered, "we need to get ready for that." She glanced around the room as if looking for something. "I have no idea how, though."
"Is there no one you can call to ask for help?" Regina followed the blonde's eyes, her eyes falling to the mirror she'd shattered. "I wish I could fix that."
"You probably can. Have you tried?" Walking over to the bulk of the broken pieces, Emma motioned down. "Go on, try."
Regina frowned. "Now is not…" At the scowl she received, she sighed and nodded. She focused her emotions and willed the mirror to repair itself. Much to her wonder, it did so with little effort. "Amazing."
Emma looked at her, admiration in her eyes and smirk on her face. "Yeah, it really is." She turned to look into the mirror, catching Regina's eyes in the reflection. "There's someone." She frowned, reluctantly accepting their situation. "Your mentor."
The brunette's eyebrows went up. "Who?"
"Gold," the younger woman replied in a deflated voice. "He's supposedly been preparing for a fight with Hades, and he knows the situation. I'm going to give him a call."
"Gold?" Regina narrowed her eyes. "Gold is my mentor? He is a magic user?"
Emma nodded, turning around to lean against the wall as she pulled her phone out. "He's more than that," she answered while scrolling through her list of contacts. "He's Rumpelstiltskin, aka The Dark One. He's probably the most powerful dark magic user ever."
"And he's my mentor…" Regina let the comment trail off as it sank in. She watched Emma place the call and explain what was happening while mentally adding yet another piece of the puzzle to who she had been, and, yet again, she noted how much she didn't like what she saw.
If she ever were to remember who she'd been, she sincerely wished she remained who she was. As soon as the thought entered her mind, she recognized the flawed hope for what it was. Who you are is composed of who you've been, and, if she had, in fact, been as dark as she was beginning to believe, then who she truly was wasn't a person someone like who she was now would ever be.
She frowned deeply. Perhaps she should consider making a deal with Hades? If she was truly that bad of a person, it might not be such a terrible thing to sacrifice herself in order to protect Emma and Henry. What's the life of an evil queen if it means protecting the lives of two exceptionally good people?
When Emma put her phone away, Regina tried to listen to the plan, though she quickly realized it wasn't much of a plan at all. They were going to wait for Gold to get there and then follow his lead.
"That's a terrible plan," Regina commented.
"I know." Emma groaned. "I don't trust Gold at all. He's probably planning to sacrifice one of us, but we might be able to use whatever he's got up his sleeve to our advantage if we can figure out what he's up to."
The brunette nodded. "When will he…"
A poof of smoke answered her question. "Madam Mayor, always a pleasure."
"I suggest we cut the pleasantries. We don't have much time." Regina nodded toward the mirror. "And we may be under surveillance right now."
"It's likely," Rumple replied with small smile. He turned to face the mirror, giving it a haughty smirk. "Hello, Hades. It's been a while. I do hope you're ready for our little encounter." He leaned forward, adding in a hushed tone. "I know I am."
As if it had been waiting for that queue, the front door flew open.