It is exactly as awful as I thought it would be.
Regina watches me (fiddle with the glass, avoid eye contact, say the minimal I can about Hook) the way she always does. Her eyes go full and soft and still her gaze is sharp, razor-sharp. She listens too closely. I squirm. It's as though I can feel, like a surgeon, her precise and ordered cutting through and separating out the real from the bullshit.
"He did a bad thing," I say. "But I can forgive him. But he needs some time."
All Snow wants to do, giddy and drunk and loving me, is love me. Her love is so easy. She misunderstands me and it doesn't matter--she's everywhere, loving me as best as she can. So she breathes out her words, plopping her hand over my arm. "Forgiveness is so important, Emma. And people grow, and they change--"
"What did he do, Emma?" Regina cuts in.
I can't look at her. Looking at her makes it real. Looking at her exposes me for the idiot I am. So I don't. I try to make my voice strong. I push the glass between my hands. "It's between me and him, Regina."
Regina purses her lips. "Out with it, Emma."
I don't want to do it. I don't want to hurt my mother, and I don't want Regina's judgment. I know calling it judgment is another way of running. I look at her now, and her eyes are level on mine and instead of judgment I see warmth and softness and everything--
And there's something I feel catch in my belly when Regina looks at me this way and for a moment I can feel the weight of Hook's secret and how desperately I want to put it down and stop being what he, anybody wants. For a second I imagine putting it down and I feel this exquisite relief. And then it sacks me in the belly like a concrete punch.
"Emma?" Snow's voice is even softer now, and I snap my gaze to hers.
"It's just--" I clear my throat. "God. This is going to wreck everything."
"It's okay, Emma. There's always a solution," Snow tries again.
I shake my head and tears spring to my eyes.
"Emma, what did he do? We'll kill him, or beat him, or transform him into whatever you want. We have magic--"
"Magic can't fix the dead, Regina. Mom, I'm so sorry." I'm actually crying now, I am a cliche, crying in a bar. I look at Regina's hands, clasped lightly around the base of her drink. She twitches but she doesn't move, though I can feel her eyes on me again, different now, her head tilted, her gaze considering. Her eyes are like points of light. I shake my head to clear my thoughts.
She doesn't touch me. We don't do that.
I say, "He killed David's father. And then he tried to burn his memory. But I saw."
Regina's eyebrows climb into her hairline and Snow's mouth falls open. Neither say a word, so I charge forward. Like an idiot Don Quixote. "I told him the murder wasn't the problem. I told him that not telling me was the problem. He's changed," I finish defiantly, feeling myself be wrong, feeling myself be wrong and not understanding really why but feeling it, really feeling it, as I say it all out loud. "He's changed."
Regina speaks first, and her voice pitches at an odd angle, somewhere between shock and amusement and horror. "You told him that murdering your grandfather was ... ok?"
It comes flying out of my mouth before I can rephrase or stop myself. "Well, you've murdered plenty of people and I still love you, so--"
But Regina does not miss a beat. (Thousand ways to love somebody, amirite?) "Yes, but your grandfather?!--"
I protest, "Regina, YOU ALSO murdered one of my grandfathers!"
"That was different!" Regina exclaims, running her hands down her skirt to smooth whatever imaginary creases.
Snow finds her tongue, a little slurred, and hesitant, as if she's unwilling to become angry again, or fall down this particular pit of grief. "How on earth was that different, Regina?"
Snow's face hardens a little and she opens her mouth to speak, but Regina continues. "I was--" she gestures helplessly with her hands for a moment. "I was basically a child. He was an old man. I was--" she cuts herself off and takes a sip. Her voice is strangely composed. "My mother killing Daniel was unforgiveable. But her marrying me off to a man who did whatever he wanted to me?"
I hold myself tightly together, wound on the edge of those words. I glance at my mother, who is silent, watching Regina.
She doesn't look at either of us. "Sometimes you have to become a monster to stay alive. It makes sense to me that I became what I was. I'm sorry he died, because he was your father, and he loved you," she says to Snow. "But he was ... complicated. For me. The ... opposite of a father."
Snow's face is stricken, and now there are tears. She just murmurs, "Oh, Regina."
And I--I am a fool. I am a fool because I never think, and I see my hand moving across the table to touch Regina's, and she jolts, and maybe I should not touch her, and in the split second before she masks her face and pats my hand graciously I see a flash of longing, a pull that cuts through me.
"I'm glad you killed him," I murmur, then feel Snow's horrified gaze. But I don't apologize, and the tiniest smile creases Regina's lip.
"I'm sorry that happened," I say. I remove my hand, awkward. "Everything's okay now, though, right? You are--safe. And--loved, okay? Regina. And you two are--okay," I say. I want to remind them.
Regina darts a fearful glance at Snow, and I remember she is always afraid the love will be rescinded. But Snow just gazes at her and then pulls her in for a hug--a hug that looks natural, not forced, not weird, not like whatever I just did.
"Yes," Snow says quietly and firmly. "Everything's okay." She's still got her arm around Regina, who looks a little stiff but doesn't pull away altogether. "Right?"
"Okay. I think I want another," Regina says, tapping on her glass with one manicured finger.
"Good. Okay. Another round," I announce. I jump up and stretch and the bar swims back into sight, all colored lights and the snap of the pool balls and back to the beautiful man who is bartending. I sigh as I lean on the bar.
The bartender comes over. "Intense convo over there," he says. "Another round?"
"Yeah," I say. "And yeah, please."
He quirks a brow as he reaches for new glasses. "So they pretended there was a fight, to get the Sheriff here, and then they have a tearful tabletop confessions instead of--" he mimicks terrible dancing--"girls night?"
I grin and scuff the barstool with my shoe. "Sounds about right."
"Your girlfriend is pretty, Savior," he says, and his eyes are almost neutral, bright maybe with a bit of teasing.
"Yes, you do," he says, pointing his chin. "Look at her looking at you. Tell me that's not what it is."
I turn, and I am surprised to meet the full naked headiness and warmth--past warmth, some sorrow, was it that story? yes--and pure heat--of Regina's gaze. Had she been watching me the whole time--?
And even now. I hold my breath. She holds--me--she does not break--we are staring at each other. And Snow is telling her something eagerly, her hands like birds and her voice pitching and dipping in excitement, but Regina's eyes are steady on me, a question, an answer, and I see the fullness there. In this moment, she is sadness and light. There is also challenge and heat, so much heat. I feel the fullness in myself. I see everything there. I feel like I'm washing away, and I put a hand on the bar. I feel everything rise in me in return, a tide. I know this can't be right.
It is right.
I feel my eyes flutter and I turn back to him.
"I didn't--She's not--"
"Listen. Anybody who looks at you that way, makes it so you can't turn away, makes you stumble and stutter the way you just did--" he breaks off, smiling at me. "My boyfriend will tell you. That's how he got me."
I duck my head and my cheeks are on fire. Horrified, I realize I am trying not to smile. Tonight is the worst ever. I am not gay. Whatever. Maybe a little gay for Regina. But that is beside the point. I am brokenhearted over--
"Here, I'll come with you." He sidles next to me with the round tray in his hand, and says, "C'mon."
I follow him, unsteady, picking my way through the gathering crowd, now completely unsure, feeling the beer and Regina--all of Regina, her confession, her heat on me--for me? unwind me, make me more open than I'm used to feeling.
And we haven't even gotten to Hook. I slide in to my seat, feel my cheeks flaming still.
"A whiskey neat for the teacher, a beer for the sheriff, and a martini for the queen." The bartender--whose name I haven't asked yet --flourishes, and Regina grins at him.
"Thank you, Reynald," she says.
He smiles at her fondly. "But first--" and he lays four suspiciously clear shots on the table, lime wedged in each. "Tequila."
Snow claps. Actually claps. I groan. Regina shoots me a deliciously wicked look that ties my stomach up. When she turns to Reynald, who has his own shot lifted in his hand, she says, "Is this Swan's doing?" and he says, "She was distracted," lifting his eyebrows pointedly at me, and Regina, in a moment of gorgeous unfetteredness, just laughs, casting her gaze around unselfconsciously, I know that I'm totally fucked. "By whom? She's engaged to a pirate!"
He just stares at her, and I can feel him thinking that we're idiots.
"To us," Snow says, and we four clink glasses.
"Wait! To love," Reynald says. He shifts, nudging me.
"To love," Regina echoes, nodding.
"To love!" Snow exclaims.
I can't help myself. I look at Regina when I say it. And I say it. "To love."
As we clink together this second time, her eyes catch mine and I know what I've done, I know I've shown her a thing. And for a second, she looks away, and I am right there when she looks back.
By the time the conversation goes back to Hook, when Reynald slips out of our booth to take care of the populating bar, I feel a calm inside that maybe has no right to be there.
"What will you do, Emma?" Snow asks. "We're here for you whatever you need, right, Regina?"
Regina nods slowly but her eyes are guarded. "Yes, Emma."
I feel a smile. My smile makes no sense. Neither does this lightness in my heart. "I think--I think I'll give it time. And mom. I think you need some water."
"Like hell you are," Regina says affably. "I can magic us to our homes in one piece, but no more drinks for me or I'll be scattering us all over Storybrooke and neither of your men will be happy about it."
Snow's face scrunches, contrite suddenly. "I'm sorry about Robin, Regina."
"What happened to Robin?" I ask, feeling dumb suddenly, and uncertain.
"Don't worry," Regina says. Why would I worry? "He's in the wish realm with the Evil Queen, who isn't so evil anymore." Then she giggles.
"What's so funny?"
"Because it's perfect."
"You don't want him?"
"He's not for me," Regina responds, suddenly sober-voiced, eyes flicking down into her drink again. "I know that for sure now."
"What about that magic dust and the tattoo and all that?"
"I think there was a time for that and now if I let myself hang onto a thing that is past its expiration date I will be sad. And hanging onto a thing is different from allowing myself to be as I am and love as I do. I want to be here, now. I want to love here, now. Not ghosts."
"Jesus, Regina, that's deep."
She grins at me. She winks. She must be a little drunk too, I think. I grin back. She says, "I'm deep, Savior?"
Snow watches our volley, begins to smile. Then she yawns.
"Time to settle up," I say.
"We've got it, Emma," Regina says. "This was for you. Are you feeling a little better?"
I nod. I am. She smiles, and the weights inside of me just keep dissolving.
I am in love with Regina Mills.
Regina decides to magic us to Snow's house first so we can get her sobered up and changed and leave a little less work for David. Snow's practically passed out by the time we get her in the door, but Regina makes her drink some water and finds her some godawful bird pajamas.
"Regina, these are awful."
"She'll be comfortable in them. Nothing worse than waking up hungover to the point of still drunk and uncomfortable." Regina pinches the bridge of her nose. "Not from experience or anything."
I snort. "You only wear silk to bed."
She wrinkles her nose in distaste. "Of course."
We wait until my mother kisses David, and when he wakes up he eyes us suspiciously. "What happened?"
"Girls night out," Regina deadpans. "We needed to save Emma."
"Are you saved?" David asks. "Is everything ok with Hook?"
Regina turns to me expectantly, and I feel suddenly and obnoxiously close to tears.
"Yep," I manage.
Regina steps forward hastily, all bossy authority. "David, Emma put her mother in those terrible pajamas. We had her drink her body weight in water. She'll be fine in the morning. Please go pick Henry up from Emma's house. Now. He's going to spend the night with you. We have to go."
"We have to go." Regina steps close to me, and I am dizzied by her scent, and she puts her hand on my arm, and with a flourish, we are out in a cloudy purple puff.
We materialize in her kitchen, and Regina goes straight to the fridge, pulling out a blue stoppered bottle and dividing the contents between two cups.
"Here," Regina says, handing me one.
"Regina, I don't think I can have another drink right now. In a bit."
She shakes her head. "It's a sobering potion. You'll feel better. I should have thought to give it to Snow. It tastes like flowers. Purple ones. You'll like it."
"Yeah?" I ask dubiously, sniffing it. Lilacs.
She smiles at me and clinks our glasses. "Cheers, Emma."
I down the contents in three sips, and she's right--it tastes cold, and vaguely of hibiscus and jasmine and, yes, lilacs and I feel better, lighter, clean, refreshed. Open. Not muddled. But still unaccountably sad. Too many feelings tonight.
"Can I ask you something?" Regina puts her hand on the counter to balance as she undoes her heels. Off one, off the other. I stare and I know I shouldn't. When she stands on the bare tile, rolling one foot and then the other, she hums and sighs in contentment.
Regina is beautiful.
"Yeah," I say.
"If you had a choice now, what would you do?" Her eyes meet mine. "Because you have a choice. About everything. Something as simple as deciding how your night will go or something as hard as deciding what to do with your--with Hook. You don't have to--you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. It's okay if you," and she bites her lips and plunges forward. "It's okay if you want to stay with him. I just, we just want you to be happy. And to trust us."
My breath catches and I lower my eyes. Suddenly there is an aching in me. "I don't know, Regina."
"It's okay, Emma. I'm sorry. I won't push." Regina clears her throat. "I asked David to get Henry in case you needed some space. You can stay here if you want. It's late and--well," she scoffs a little, because God bless her she can't help herself--"I guarantee you none of the pirate's knicknacks are to be found around here. Pirate free zone. It's an option. You could, of course," and she clears her throat again, "go home and be in your own home--"
But Regina continues, now entering a full-out ramble, and it is--actually--adorable. "--and I can make you a fire down here if that is comfortable or you can sleep in the guest room, or--" she scrunches her nose now, and it is time for me to say something. Anything.
"Regina. I'm staying. Thank you." And because it's true, because I suddenly do, and because maybe it's a test, maybe I'm testing her, I say, "I know what I want, for myself, for tonight."
Regina's eyes snap to mine, and she is nervous now. Oh God. "What is that, Emma?"
"First, I want to take a shower. And then I want--" and I stretch out my pause--"silk pajamas. And I want to sit on the back porch with you and have a cider before we go to sleep."
She exhales, still grinning from silk pajamas. "Okay--"
"And I want to sleep next to you," I continue, feeling my words gather too much energy, too much nervousness. Calm down, Swan. "I feel safe with you and I want to sleep next to you tonight. That's what I want."
Regina's eyes lock mine and is the same wash of heat and open longing we'd held in the bar just hours earlier. It stuns me now no less than it did before.
I know, suddenly, with a prickling awareness, that I am looking back at her the same way. That I have always looked at her this way. I can feel her body radiating as she takes a small step closer to me, gazing and wondering back, her eyes flicking to my mouth and then back up to see me.
She loves me.
I lift one finger and trace it so lightly over her jaw. Her breath stutters and her eyes do not leave mine as she lifts her hand to touch mine and twine our fingers.
She brings my knuckles to her lips and she kisses them, one by one, and by the third I cannot breathe and so I lean forward and into her and I kiss her.
Her tongue opens on mine and she kisses me so deeply I wonder how long we have been wanting this, and then I do not wonder, because Regina is kissing me and I am kissing her and this is perfect, our heat, she matches me, we match, and she presses her body into mine and her hands slide across my cheeks and into my hair and I am held there by her, kissed and kissed and kissed, moaning softly into her mouth and overcome by the sensation of her body so close to mine. I nip her lower lip between my teeth and she exhales into my mouth and all we are is sensation and push and pull. "Bed," I whisper. "Bed."
"Emma--" she pulls away slightly, her lips then brushing my cheek, saying softly, "Emma. You are going through something--"
I shake my head, and I know with a surety that terrifies me. "No, Regina," and I move my lips softly, barely kissing her, across her neck, up under her chin, across her jawline. "It's always been you."
"Don't make this messy--don't--"
"It's always, always been you," I say quietly, still nuzzling my lips against her neck, and feel something old and dead and petrified in me shatter. "Always," I say, and it is true. It is the truest thing I have ever said to somebody I have loved.
I also know, in this moment, or maybe I have always known this, I have never loved anyone like this before. This way. This much.
"Always?" and I hear a note in her voice I haven't heard before.
I nod, overwhelmed now by everything I'd hidden from myself, tears springing into my eyes. I gather her closer, whispering now. "Since you came flying into the yard when I brought Henry home to you. Since then."
Regina whips her head back, her eyes shining with tears. "Since then."
She is quiet for a moment.
"I--" she starts. "I wanted you dead--then I wanted to do anything to make you happy and feel safe--I wanted to kill anyone in your way. Who would hurt you." She laughs, self-depricating. "It's always about murder with me."
Oh. But there's pain in her voice I don't understand.
Regina continues, breathing softly. "I knew you were my match when I met you. I didn't understand how, what kind of match--I didn't let myself feel--"
"I didn't either. Let myself."
"What changed?" she asks. "Why now--"
Oh. I get it, suddenly. "I'm not running from him, Regina. You aren't a distraction."
She looks at me, and the surgeon is back. The heat flares between us. Something incredibly, impossibly sexy about being seen.
But then she says, "You don't think I'm--" she laughs and it sounds bitter and feels strange and wrong. "Dirty. Broken. Unable to--"
"Seriously? No. No. You're--I--You've become the most--" I fail to find the right word. I am not good at this. I try anyway. "Loving. Jesus, Regina. You're the most loving person I know. That I've ever met. All I want--Your love is not easy and it's not simple and it's completely real."
"I'm not better than him," and there is a hard glint in Regina's voice when she considers me. "He is no good for you, Emma. But I'm even worse--"
"And I'm a disaster. And we fit."
"We fit, Regina." I exhale and lean my forehead against hers. "We fit."
I know I am right. I have never been more sure of anything.
We are silent and holding and I want to make love to her and kiss her and just listen to her talk to me and stand here and tell her all my things and I am full and overflowing so I just stand and breathe with our foreheads touching.
Her words register, finally, flickering in me. I whisper, because I do not trust myself to say all of this without breaking. "Regina, you are not broken. Or dirty. You are beautiful. You are extraordinary. You are full and complete. You are worthy of only all of the good things. Also, um, I've murdered. Also," and my voice wavers but I hold on, I will hold on, "I've been hurt by men. You are not alone. And we fit."
And that does it. There are tears on her face but she's kissing my face, holding my face in her two hands and kissing my face and I feel still inside and breaking apart and coming together and I know there are tears on my face too and they are mine and I feel a little safer and calm and holy like I am maybe worthy, too.
"Are you sure, Emma?" she says.
"Yeah. I am. Are you?"
She closes her eyes and nods, then brings her mouth to mine again for a hot kiss and it flips a switch, turns a tide and I am suddenly free, wildly free and free of all of the madness of Hook and all of our pasts and we are free, a little more free than we have ever been, maybe not entirely, but it is something. And I don't feel ashamed.
And I am struck with a deep hot ache for her, Regina who is now pressing her hips into mine and has taken her hands and is running those manicured hands lightly over the front of my body from my neck, glancing touches with her fingers, a soft scrape over my neck and then the soft pass of her hands over my chest and I feel through my clothes my nipples reach for her and she flicks them, casual, lazy, smirking as i gasp, then winding her hands down the plane of my stomach and over the hem of my jeans.
And I am blindingly wet and hot and aching for her, pressing into her and gripping the counter behind me, and she presses both thumbs over my jeans, drawing a line with pressure over my center, between her hips and mine, and I buck into her hands and her breathing changes, eyes dilating and I lean forward and run my tongue along her neck, and she lets out a low, gutteral moan as I bite down lightly, dragging teeth and tongue along her, prolonging the noises she's making until she breaks off and says roughly, "Bed?"
And as I nod she waves her hand and we are in her bed, and she waves her hand again and we are naked, and she says, "Okay?" and I nod, but I'm frankly just a tiny bit disappointed, and she can see it in my face--maybe I liked the foreplay--and she says imperiously, grinning, because she is a queen who wants to fuck, "But Emma--you're so ready--come, please--"
And I grin and scooch my body and she lifts me so that I am over her face and she locks eyes with me and darts her tongue out and I curse and she moans and it's so much, so much when her tongue finds me and glides through me that I cry out.
"So wet," Regina hisses. "Ride me--"
And I am desperate now to be touched and tasted this way that I comply, willful, automatic, gliding myself across her face until she holds me in place and gives me what will be the deepest and fastest orgasm of my life. I am afraid I am drowning her and I feel her, all strength around me, her arms tight across my thighs while her tongue works me, building inside of me, this closeness is everything, her tongue sliding up and down over and and over again inside of my slickness, for her, building and building and all for her, until I tense and shatter into a million pieces, her tongue pressed flat against my clit while I shudder and shudder and shudder into her.
Her mouth is slick and I wipe her face with my hand and then kiss her, and she's still lying down and I am shaking but I do not want to stop and I can smell her, her thick heady scent, and I want to give her what she gave me, I want her to explode this way, and I begin to bite and kiss my way down her body. She fists my hair because she's a little rough and it's perfect, it's perfect, squirms and she moans and she whispers to me, fuck me, dirty little instructions, half-bit in her mouth, breathless and jerking her hips up, until I run my tongue down her hip line, dip my finger in and feel my own heat pool again--so quickly, jesus--when my finger comes back so wet, and I trace this wetness across my own tongue while she watches with smouldering eyes and I kiss her, I suck at her and swirl inside of her and she bends her body like lightening. I delay, dragging it out, feeling the simmer build into a boil and then I give her what she wants, what she is in a low line of begging curses, demanding. Her back arches into a snap and my tongue is relentless on her and she shouts when she comes, she pulls my hair and she shouts and she gives her body over completely and it is the most beautiful sex I have ever seen.
She is boneless and collapsed and pulls me close and I want and want and think maybe I will never stop wanting and she says--
"You want it--" she says breathlessly, and she is stunning, her hair a mess and her eyes glinting black and her lips swollen with kisses--
"Yes," I say, "Ye--" and it turns into a moan as she flicks my nipple with her tongue. She grins.
"You like that," she says wickedly.
I moan and nod, and I feel her fingers enter me, and I arch to meet her, lifting one arm to tangle my hand in her her hair, and she locks her tongue around my breast and rubs my clit with one finger while she thrusts inside of me.
I come effortlessly, blinded, stars, crying out her name in any string of syllables. I pull her close to collapse on me and she kisses me.
"Swan. You're beautiful."
And I have to turn my head away because I don't know how to be this close, but she turns me back to her. "Breathe, Emma."
And I do.
We don't sleep. We stare at each other, we cover each other in kisses, and eventually Regina makes us take a shower, and smirkily offers up a pair of silk pajamas, and we sit on the porch with cider as the sun comes up.
"I love you," I say.
She looks at me. "You've said that a few times tonight."
"I love you," I say again, simply. I wait for her, matching her gaze beat for beat.
"I love you, Emma," Regina says. And smiles.