Everything is so loud right now. Who knew silence could be so fucking loud, especially after all of those damned whispering voices. She never got a second of rest from the moment they'd begun their insidious and relentless mutterings.
That voice is different, her guardian angel in the darkness. It's not loud, and it doesn't hurt like the others do. They're all so noisy, trying to block out this one important message that she knows she needs to hear. Her ears strain to hear the words being said, fighting off the sweet oblivion of unconsciousness. A soft, cool hand rests against her cheek; she's burning up and in more pain than she could describe, so it's the only thing that feels good right now.
"I know you can hear me," the voice continues. "I just need you to open your eyes, okay? Let me know you're in there, that's all I ask."
"No, she needs to tell us she's okay."
That voice grates at her nerves. It sounds familiar, but it hurts.
"Damn it, Snow, shut up!"
Her angel's angry, but not at her. Never at her. She's not sure how she knows that, but it's as much the truth as her need to take in oxygen to survive. The painful voice splutters something, until her angel snaps something else that stops the grating one. That cool, soft hand cups her cheek again and she leans into it, only a little bit, but she knows she's moved.
"That's it, Emma." Her angel is happy now. "Now open your eyes. I know you're tired, but I need to see those pretty green eyes of yours."
It takes everything in her, but she does it. Her surroundings are blurry, but those beautiful brown eyes are sharply in focus. That whole face is sharply defined, and she wants to cry when her angel smiles down at her.
"There you are, sweetheart."
"You did it, Regina! You made her wake up!"
Regina. That's her angel's name. She tries to smile, not sure if her face will work enough to do it, but she'll do anything to get another one from her angel, Regina. The movement hurts, and her stomach lurches in a familiar way. A tiny moan escapes her lips, bringing her angel's attention back to her.
"Shh, it's okay, Emma. You don't have to say anything. I'm going to ask you a few questions, and I want you to blink once for yes, twice for no. Can you do that?"
"That's my girl. Do you know where you are?"
"Okay. We'll worry about that later. Do you remember what happened?"
Regina frowns, which makes her feel ashamed for not knowing. And then she notices just how haggard her angel looks. She leans into her angel's hand again with another soft sound.
"No, sweetheart, it's all right. You got hurt pretty badly. Just close your eyes and rest now. I'll try to heal you some more. It'll be easier while you sleep."
"I know you're stubborn, but this is really going too far, Emma. You nearly d-died on us. I don't want to lose you now after everything we just went through."
She wants to resist, but she can feel that sweet warmth spreading through her body. The last thing she remembers before the exhaustion overwhelms her is tears sparkling in those gorgeous brown eyes.
Consciousness returns gradually this time, allowing her to feel each and every sore muscle and bruise covering her body. She's aware of a solid, warm presence beneath her cheek, and the steady thrum of a heartbeat. It takes some concentration, but she moves her arm slightly.
Ignoring the throbbing in her skull, she smiles at that voice and tries to raise her head. That's when she recognizes her angel -- Regina -- as the pillow beneath her cheek. She tries to speak, but her throat is dry, and she only ends up coughing. Regina gently moves up into a seated position, bringing her up, as well.
"Shh, just relax, sweetheart."
The neck of a bottle presses against her lips, and she takes a tiny sip. The water feels like silk gliding down her parched throat. Her angel allows her a few more sips before taking the bottle away. She can feel that energy buzzing under her skin again, but she's not tired this time. The aches slowly fade, but her headache is the last to recede.
"Okay, let me see those pretty eyes of yours again, Emma."
She smiles as she opens her eyes and sees her angel's -- Regina -- face again. She tries to say that blessed name, but starts coughing again. This brings the water bottle back. She continues to take slow, tiny sips until she feels less like death incarnate.
"R-R'gina?" Her mouth isn't quite working right, slurring the words. "Wha' happ'ned?"
"We defeated the darkness. You're no longer the Dark One." There's relief and something else in her voice.
"Feel like death." Her voice is getting stronger as the water helps restore her equilibrium. "Don't remember anything."
"I'm not surprised," comes the reply. "It was a pretty powerful battle, and the spell wasn't exactly simple to perform. But you're with m-- us now, and no more darkness. That's all that matters."
Leaning back, she looks at her angel more closely now. She can see the exhaustion, as well as cuts and dark bruises. She lifts a hand to cup her angel's face, just as happened earlier.
"You look like shit, Regina. What happened? Did-- Did I hurt you?"
"The Dark One was reluctant to leave your body. I did what I had to do to ensure you'd be safe and come back to us."
"Y-You're not the Dark One now, are you?"
"No." That one word brings a relieved smile to her face. "Merlin and I were able to contain it appropriately." Her angel fidgets for a moment before turning to press a kiss to the middle of her palm. "I'd do it all again to ensure that you came back, Emma. You're too important to leave."
Emma grows silent for several moments, but doesn't remove her hand from her angel's cheek. She considers what she's just been told, trying to grasp at the fleeting wisps of memory that just don't want to be caught quite yet. Finally, she looks around the clearing where they're seated. A single memory of facing off against Regina and Merlin bubbles up briefly, and she realizes the extent of the battle they all fought.
"I-- I died, didn't I?" The words stick in her throat, but she forces them out. "You had to kill me to fully contain the Dark One, didn't you?"
"I brought you back the instant it was safe to do so."
She can tell that something important is missing. "How?" When her angel doesn't speak, she repeats the question.
"True Love's Kiss." The words are soft, but she meets her eyes openly. Fear and love swim in her eyes, as if she expects Emma to reject her words. After a long, silent moment, she adds, "Apparently pixie dust isn't quite as infallible as everyone thought."
She lightly runs her thumb over those soft lips, then leans in to repeat the motion with her own lips. A soft sob bubbles up, but she's not sure which one of them makes the noise. All that matters is that she's alive and kissing her angel. Her angel tries to pull back, but she pulls her close again for another tender kiss.
"Thought I'd lost you," her angel finally whispers, resting their foreheads together after pulling back from the kiss. The tears in her voice are enough to provoke one more kiss, hoping to make her angel feel better.
"Not going anywhere." She pauses, squinting as light breaks over the horizon. "Maybe a bed would be good. Ground's not nice to my poor body."
That earns her a bright smile and a soft laugh. "I'd have to contact your father for help with that. I'm too tired to poof us anywhere."
"I don't care," she says, suddenly remembering the grating voice. "Just make sure he comes alone. I can't handle my mom yet."
She leans against her angel's side as the phone call is made. Exhaustion is darkening the edges of her vision, but she fights to stay awake until they get somewhere safer and more comfortable. Her angel holds her close, combing her fingers through her hair.
"So," she asks as they wait for their ride to show up, "if True Love's kiss brought me back…"
"Yes, Emma, I love you." Her angel's voice has the faintest quiver, but she doesn't care. "When you died, I realized how little life mattered if you weren't in it."
"I love you, too, my angel," she says, then feels her cheeks heat up in embarrassment at the endearment. And then she yawns hard enough for her jaw to crack.
"Sleep first, Emma," her angel says with a smile, "then we'll talk and you can hopefully eat. Do-- Where do you want to stay, so I can tell your father?"
She can hear the disappointment in her angel's voice. That simply won't do.
"Wherever you and Henry are is home."