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Of Love and Loathing

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CHAPTER ONE
Addiction

There had always been something so grotesquely alluring to Regina about succumbing to that which would ultimately destroy her. It was the masochistic part of her personality; the part her mother made special care to develop so that she would have something to compliment her own sadistic ways. The love and acceptance Regina so desperately craved fell into step with the pain her mother convinced her she deserved, forcing her down a path paved with all the bad choices that Regina felt forever compelled to make.

This was one of them.

The pit of Regina’s stomach was burning, aching for an addiction she should have never begun to feed. Perfectly manicured nails dug into soft flesh and Regina arched her back, her mind growing hazy as she sought oblivion, needing to forget, even for a moment, how damaging this had all become. The woman on top of her possessed something she should have never been able to get within reach of, and now that she had touched it, Regina felt herself falling further into the madness that this stranger had brought with her to Storybrooke.

Regina Mills was a woman who was very set in her ways. Every part of her day had always been precisely planned down to the minute, a routine that had provided her with a sense of comfort she had never been allotted as a child. Yet nostalgia for the unpredictable seemed to override her good sense as Regina found herself craving the untamed disaster that was Emma Swan, despite knowing that nothing good could ever come from succumbing to the idea of change. Everything Regina had worked for, everything she had built, was being set aflame around her and yet all she could do was spread her legs, lie back, and watch it burn to the ground.

She disgusted herself and yet it was that same feeling of worthlessness that Regina found she desired, for it had been a part of her for so long that to live without it felt like a lie. So she tangled her fingers in a mess of blonde hair, encouraging the woman on top of her to move her hand lower, a breathless plea on the tip of her tongue that her dignity would never allow her to voice. Even if she had though, it probably would have been ignored, as Emma was far too headstrong to ever be a true subordinate.

“Stop being so damn impatient.”

Emma’s fingers wrapped around the Mayor’s wrists before she pushed down with all her strength, effectively pinning Regina to the bed. There was a struggle of course, there always was, but like all the other times before this one it was brief; Emma was built better for this kind of dominance and it infuriated Regina to no end. Even in bed they could never agree with one another, and once again, Regina found herself asking why she even bothered in the first place. Self-torture, perhaps; she did seem to be uncannily good at it.

“Either fuck me or get out,” Regina snapped, humiliated to find she couldn’t move an inch beneath the Sherriff’s weight. She was not one to submit, but perhaps that was half the fun for the woman she allowed into her bed. “I don’t have time for games.”

There were moments where Regina could see the same self-disgust reflected in Emma’s eyes, moments when she knew Emma hated herself for doing this as much as she, and right then was one of them. She scoffed in infuriated disbelief, looking down at the giant mistake they both insisted on making week after week. “God, do you ever shut up?” she asked, her grip tightening on Regina’s wrists as she dug her fingernails into her flesh. The pain bordered on pleasure and Regina squirmed beneath her, conflicted by the vast difference in sensations. It was that feeling that she found she desired the most. “I’m tired of you always ruining this by speaking.”

Regina’s eyes flashed, an angry retort beginning to slip past her lips, but as quick as it came it was gone, devoured by Emma’s tongue as she silenced her in the only way she knew how.

Their lovemaking was always tinged with violence, as it was the only truth they allowed themselves to see as they made their bed of lies. Regina never hesitated in marking her, a feeble attempt to mask her own shame of being owned. But it was Emma who left scratches on her skin and bruises on her arms, her own desperate reminder that she hated the woman beneath her as she shamefully begged for Regina to make her come undone. They were such a disaster, the two of them together, and yet they devoured the pain they gave each other like a drug as they slipped a little further towards the edge.

And when they fell, when they both had had their fill, they turned away from one another, the heat between them becoming an icy chill that left them both feeling rather raw and exposed. It was a routine that was expected, yet managed to cause discomfort all the same.

Regina felt herself slick with sweat and as she took a moment to find her breath, she pushed her hair back from her face and leaned against the pillows. Her heart was racing, every inch of her skin tingling with the aftermath of pleasure, and yet she felt sick to her stomach as she watched Emma pick herself up off the bed. The air around them began to grow thick as the reality of their situation was brought to light once more, and when Emma looked at her, Regina felt like ripping her heart from her chest just to save herself the misery of feeling this way again, because it was hard to rid herself of a feeling she couldn’t even begin to name.

“I think you should leave now,” she said, her voice loud enough to mask the weakness she felt inside. Emma merely laughed, the tone of it indicating she would never allow herself to believe anything different anyway. She violently grabbed her clothes off the floor before stepping into her jeans, almost tripping over them in the process.

“Yeah,” Emma responded, her anger over the situation just as apparent as the dark marks of passion that littered her skin. She pulled her shirt over her head before looking at Regina, her azure eyes holding far more feeling than the bitterness of her tone would probably wish her to reveal. “Cause why on earth would I want to stay?”

Regina stayed silent, not wanting to prolong this anymore than she had to. She was already beginning to feel dirty and she needed to shower, which was something they had never and would never do together. It would be far too intimate to allow Emma to stay past what she needed her for. Regina might be weak, but she had yet to be so utterly stupid as to allow this to become any more than it already was.

Emma looked at her with such loathing as she breezed past, allowing the door to slam behind her in a gesture of finality that they both knew was a lie. The sound made Regina jump, finding herself unusually on edge as she scrambled to get out of the bed that bore witness to a passion that would have been better left undiscovered. And as she stripped the sheets, wishing to get any reminder of Emma as far away from her as possible, a sickening feeling began to enter the pit of her stomach. Because no matter how many times she washed the bedding, no matter how many times she scrubbed the feeling of Emma off her skin, Regina knew that she could never erase the memory completely.

And perhaps what bothered her more than anything else, was that she knew a part of her didn’t want to.

[x]

“I have been sleeping with someone,” Regina began tentatively, an acute awareness that once she said the words out loud that the madness behind her highly unorthodox situation became all the more real, “whom I absolutely loathe.

The desperation to at least allude to the idea that she had some dignity left prevented Regina from coloring with the shame she felt for admitting her greatest weakness. To Dr. Hopper’s credit, his face remained neutral at the information. Understandably, Regina had been hesitant about speaking about something so personal, but her past attempts at ending her relationship – if one could even call it that – with Emma had always yielded undesirable results. Even if she resolved never to call her again, a day or two would pass before the familiar itch invaded her system and Regina once again found herself caving to her addiction in a rather embarrassingly short amount of time.

She had begun to believe that perhaps it was due time for an outsider’s perspective on the matter, as Regina’s own perception was too skewed by the unfathomably attractive picture of Emma Swan nude to ever think clearly on the matter.

Archie leaned back in his seat, clasping his hands neatly on his lap as he assessed Regina’s expression. “I see.” His tone lacked judgment, yet he did noticeably pause for a moment before uncomfortably fiddling with his glasses. “And how long has this been going on?”

“Too long.”

Regina’s mistrust was apparent in her lack of detail. Despite the laws that bound psychiatrists to secrecy in this world, there were some aspects of her situation she wished to keep private. Storybrooke was a small town and gossip spread like wildfire through its residents. Besides, Regina was certain there was no need for Archie to know neither Emma’s name nor how long they had been sharing the same bed to give her adequate advice on the subject.

Archie exhaled a patient breath at her answer. “Regina,” he began, yet faltered for a second at the informality he used. Wishing to clarify if it was an acceptable form of address, he hesitantly inquired, “Is it alright if I call you Regina?”

“I’d really rather if you didn’t.”

Archie did not argue her preference. “I just want to remind you that this is a safe space; whatever you say in here will not be repeated—” he tried, but was immediately cut off by Regina’s quickly growing agitation.

“I’m more than aware of the law, Doctor,” she bit out, displeasure coloring her face at being spoken to like some kind of half-wit. Regina had done extensive research about this world’s laws after she had brought them all there; in this town, there was no one more knowledgeable in that area than her. But then again, perhaps it was foolish of her to expect the credit she deserved from a bunch of fairytale characters with retrograde amnesia. “And if you value the comfort and security that this job gives you in my town, I hope that you would know better than to jeopardize it.”

Regina’s threat was clear enough to cause Dr. Hopper obvious discomfort as he fidgeted slightly beneath her gaze. However, the man had no backbone and so Regina was unsurprised when the topic of discussion quickly reverted back to the reason she had come there.

“What is it that you hope to gain from therapy, Mayor Mills?” Archie asked, giving her a tight-lipped smile that Regina assumed was meant to encourage her to open up. It was met with a singular arched eyebrow.

“I had thought that would be rather obvious,” Regina responded, beginning to question why she even bothered to come here in the first place. The man was trying her patience; her time was precious and she was starting to feel as though it were being wasted by all these unnecessary questions. “I need for you to tell me how to stop.

“And you’re certain that’s what you want?”

“What did I just say?” Regina snapped, infuriated by the doctor’s complete lack of listening skills. Perhaps she had made a grave error in appointing someone so utterly useless to this kind of position; it was clear Archie didn’t know how to handle her situation any better than she did.

But then again, perhaps it was her who was foolish in assuming someone like Archie would have adequate sexual knowledge in order to provide her with the proper advice. Regina had long ago realized that books could only tell someone so much; experience was a far better learning tool and it was doubtful the man in front of her had any when it came to the topic at hand.

Dr. Hopper, despite Regina’s less than forgiving tone at his question, remained calm. “I only ask because it seems that if you’re unable to do so, there may be a part of you that’s preventing it. If you have an emotional attachment to this person, the key to separation would be to address the reason why that bond formed in the first place.”

Regina’s fingers curled around the edge of her seat in a desperate attempt not to throttle the man in front of her. She merely wanted answers, not some kind of deep exploration into the inner workings of her own mind. She didn’t need a doctor to show her how disastrously fucked up she truly was; she had a mirror for that. “My emotions are not a factor in this, I assure you,” Regina began, irritated that he would assume such a thing. “What we have is purely physical, as is my attachment to the pain we inflict upon one another. It is a dangerous and unhealthy sexual addiction, Dr. Hopper, nothing more.”

Archie seemed to take that in a different manner than she intended it because after he allowed himself a moment to let that information process, he cleared his throat and began, “Despite the taboo that has been placed on sexual encounters that deviate from the norm, from my understanding, sadomasochism between two consenting adults can be somewhat of a therapeutic escape from the stresses of life, guilt, or even—”

“Oh for Christ’s sake.” The last thing Regina wanted to hear was the like of Archie Hopper explaining her kinks in a logical fashion; they were pleasurable, end of the story. She didn’t much care why she did it. But more than that, he was missing the point entirely and it was frustrating her to no end. “What we do to one another isn’t what I consider dangerous, Dr. Hopper; it is the fact that I am doing them with her.

Realization dawned on Archie’s face and Regina immediately wished that she could rewind time so that she could stop herself from being stupid enough to use gender specific pronouns. Everyone in town was aware of how much she and Miss Swan hated each other; all it would take was an educated guess to assume the truth and Archie was, annoyingly, very educated. Regina’s face darkened in an instant, an unspoken threat behind her onyx eyes that dared him to comment on his newfound discovery. He knew better too though.

“I see,” Archie responded, his tone much softer now. Regina found his empathetic nature incredibly taxing however, as it was not what she came here for. “Have either of you talked about your situation?”

“Why on earth would I want to do that?”

Archie seemed surprised by her answer. His eyebrows rose significantly as he explained, “If you’re feeling uncomfortable about the nature of your relationship, it would be best if you expressed those concerns to your partner—”

“She is not my ‘partner’ and it is not a ‘relationship’,” Regina told him fiercely, the misunderstanding making her feel entirely uncomfortable. What they were doing was complicated enough; she did not need for it to get any worse by being mislabeled by the one person she chose to confide in. “It is an addiction, plain and simple; one that I wish to be rid of. So if you’re done trying to make sense of my subconscious actions, I’d appreciate if you wrote me a prescription, or whatever the hell it is that you do to aid addicts, and I’ll be on my way.”

Archie’s face masked in sympathy; Regina had to exercise a disproportionate amount of self-control not to wipe the look off his face with the nearest heavy object. “I’m sorry, but there is no magic pill for what you are experiencing. If you really wish to discontinue your rela—ah, arrangement, my suggestion would be to talk with her about it. Perhaps if she shares your same concerns—”

Regina’s patience had reached its limit. She abruptly rose to her feet, the quick movement startling Dr. Hopper into cutting off the rest of his words. Frustration curled off Regina like smoke and she haughtily pulled on the base of her suit jacket in a hasty attempt to make herself look more put together than she felt in that moment.

“This is a waste of time,” she told him, thoroughly irritated by his lack of helpfulness. “If talking is the best solution your feeble brain can produce, I think it’s best if I don’t waste anymore of my money on this nonsense.”

Archie tried to stop her from leaving of course, but his stuttered pleas that therapy required patience were ignored as Regina swept from his office, having already made up her mind. When the Mayor reached the street, she was startled to find that her hands were trembling. Shoving them into her jacket pockets, Regina let out a heavy breath and looked down the road towards the Sherriff’s office.

The urge to go to Emma and release all of her current frustration on the woman’s body was overwhelming to the point of pure insanity. It was almost laughable, how Dr. Hopper believed this could be solved with a simple conversation. Outside of the fact that neither of them had ever been able to say two words to each other that weren’t laced with hatred, whatever it was that allowed this madness to continue wouldn’t be solved without Regina first finding another means to release her stress and frustration.

Because Regina was certain that was the root to her problem. After all, it was absolutely unfathomable that it could be anything but.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWO
Handcuffs

Regina had lost the battle within herself.

What was worse than that, however, was how badly she had lost the battle with Emma. Regina’s inability to control herself had warranted the need for dominance over the woman she found she couldn’t stay away from, but her attempt at using Emma’s handcuffs against her had backfired quite catastrophically, and now Regina found that her wrist was constrained to the handle of a locked file cabinet in the Sherriff’s office. Emma was chuckling against the skin of her neck, growing more amused by the minute at Regina’s fury.

“Uncuff me!” she demanded, her face growing hot with embarrassment at her failure. Regina tugged roughly at her constraints, but to no avail. “Now!

Despite her anger, Regina felt her breath hitch in her throat as fingernails dragged along her thigh, sliding her pencil skirt upwards until it was bunched around her hips. When Emma’s flingers splayed against the damp material of her panties, Regina involuntary shuddered in anticipation, furious with herself for being seemingly unable to hide how wanton she was. This really was some kind of sick addiction, yet it was only during the moments they parted that Regina found that she truly hated herself for it. Now however, a part of her reveled in the feeling of freedom it brought to her troubled mind, despite how trapped she felt in the unexpected infatuation. The contradiction was brutally maddening.

“You know,” Emma began in a low voice, her breath tickling Regina’s ear as she slipped her hand beneath the confines of the Mayor’s lacy black underwear, “For someone who likes to bitch about how I don’t do my job ‘adequately’, you seem to be pretty damn determined to be the one who constantly interrupts it.”

She flattened her body against Regina’s in one quick movement, effectively slamming the Mayor’s back up against her cabinet so hard that pain shot up her spine. It elicited a deep moan as Regina momentarily forgot that this was not the way she had intended this to happen. Emma took her face roughly in her free hand, forcing Regina to look at her. “I have half a mind to just leave you here while I finish my paperwork, you know.”

Regina’s eyes flashed dangerously. “Don’t you dare—”

“Why?” Emma laughed in her face cruelly, a singular digit pressing so firmly against Regina’s clit that it made her head swim and her heart beat faster. “Because you treat me with so much respect? I’m practically your whore, Regina.”

The Mayor squirmed beneath her ministrations, her breath coming out in hard bursts as she tried to gather up enough competency to respond. Emma never had any trouble knowing just how to please her; she had always touched her like she had known Regina’s body for years, which gave Emma the arrogance she probably deserved, yet Regina hated it all the same since it had taken her quite a bit longer to do the same for the woman pressed up against her.

“That title would require payment, dear,” Regina said after a moment’s hesitation, her hips straining further towards Emma in a desperate attempt to get more pleasure, which the Sherriff had deemed her momentarily unworthy of as she pulled away just enough to drive Regina completely mental. She growled her displeasure and, as expected, it was completely ignored.

“My payment has been time with Henry,” Emma hissed, as though it was unfathomable that Regina didn’t realize what she was giving up to have her moments of disaster and passion. But that was the thing about addiction, wasn’t it; not wanting to acknowledge what you’re sacrificing to have it? It was easier to drown in it that way and, as of late, it was more often than not that Regina found herself lightheaded as she struggled to take her next breath. It was such a dangerously pleasurable feeling.

“Have you really not noticed?” Emma asked, her gaze taking in the expression of her captive. “It’s been twice already this week that you allowed him to sleep over, just so he’d be out of the house when we tore the shit out of each other later in the night.” Regina had a snide response to that, but it was never voiced as Emma released her hold on Regina’s chin, her fingers starting to gently caress the hollow of her throat. Regina swallowed hard, her heart pounding in her chest; Emma looked almost predatory.

“I get it though, you know. I do,” she continued, her eyes following the path of her finger, “the last thing I want either is the kid hearing what we do to each other. Besides, it’s different with us, isn’t it? Than what you used to do with Graham.” Without warning, Emma’s fingers tightened around Regina’s throat and the Mayor gasped, her vision beginning to haze as the reality around her became foggy and unclear. Though she had room enough to, she didn’t struggle, for Regina found it far better to succumb to the feeling as it separated her from that which grounded her. “Because it was easier to be quiet when pain wasn’t involved.”

Emma released her hold on her and as Regina gasped for air, teeth sunk into the base of her neck. Regina elicited a loud cry of pleasure, her fingernails piercing Emma’s skin as the violence allowed her a short reprieve from the demons that resided in the back of her mind. Emma cradled the other side of her neck when she was finished, her tongue gently caressing the dark bruise that she had made. The intimacy of it startled Regina, but she shuddered in approval, surprised to find that she appreciated the feeling. That was probably dangerous for a number of reasons, all of which Regina would rather not think about.

“Is that the only reason you do this, then?” Regina asked softly, her eyes closed and her heart beating wildly in her chest, desperately trying to ignore the fact that the information she was given made the pit of her stomach feel as though it were inhabited by rocks. She was sinking deeper, drowning in something she didn’t understand. Regina hated that she craved to feel even more of it. “So you can spend more time with Henry?”

Emma laughed in response; it was filled with the sound of her self-hatred and sadness. The amount of raw emotion in the tone was almost startling and it cut through Regina like a knife. “Believe me,” Emma started, her voice fierce as her fingers curled around the fabric of the brunette’s undergarment, her grip tight as she pulled Regina’s hips roughly against hers, connecting them in the only way that ever made some semblance of sense to either of them. “I fucking wish that was the only reason I did this.”

A question resided on the tip of Regina’s tongue, but it was swallowed in a wave of passion and fury as Emma stole the very breath from her lungs. Regina fought against her constraints, the desire to tear Emma apart and own everything that she was consuming her whole. She was left pinned however, at the mercy of the one person whose powers Regina had feared since her birth, having always known that the day would come when Emma Swan would destroy everything that she was.

Defeat, she silently mused, was surprisingly pleasurable.

Emma fell to her knees, a position that should have made Regina bask in the power that she once had. Yet as Emma tore the fabric from Regina’s body that hid what she coveted, reality swam back to the forefront, hitting Regina with such clarity that she franticly backed away from the woman beneath her. “No,” she told her firmly, the strength behind the command masking the fear that had suddenly gripped her. What Emma sought was far too intimate and would cross a line that Regina had thought she had clearly drawn before them.

Then again, Emma never really did do what she was told.

“I hate your stupid rules,” Emma told her without an ounce of apology in her tone for what she was forcing on her. Her fingernails scraped up tanned thighs, leaving angry red marks in their wake. Regina’s head fell back against the metal cabinet, her cheeks flushed in arousal and anger. She hated Emma, with every fiber of her being, yet even that didn’t feel genuine anymore. Everything had become so blurred, so distorted as they twisted something shameful into a dangerously addictive eroticism that blinded them to the truth they sought to bury beneath the pain.

“Stop it, Miss Swan.” Regina moved to push Emma away with her free hand, but leverage and strength were not on her side. It was quickly pinned against the cabinet.

“Say please.”

A growl escaped Regina’s lips, but as she had long ago lost the ability to intimidate the Sherriff, it was met with a determined stare. “I wouldn’t stoop so low as to ask you for anything, even if you were the last person on this earth,” she told her furiously. “You are beneath me.”

“Well that’s too bad,” Emma began, her voice thick with desire, not at all phased by the insults being thrown her way. Her eyes were fixated on the apex of Regina’s thighs, finding it damp with arousal despite the denial the woman fervently tried to voice; and as Emma spread her with her fingers, Regina felt herself take a shuddered inhale of breath, gripping the cabinet with such force that her knuckles flashed white. “Because as screwed up as it is,” Emma finished, her hot breath tickling Regina’s sensitive flesh, forcing the brunette to suppress a groan by biting down hard on her bottom lip. “I think I’m starting to like being beneath you.”

“Emma, don’t you dare—!”

Her plea was ignored. Regina heard herself cry out at the feeling of Emma’s mouth on her, furious beyond all sane thought that she had dared disobey her. Yet when Emma released her grip on her hand and it came down to wrap in a bed of blonde hair, instead of roughly pushing her away as she intended, Regina found herself unconsciously pulling Emma closer. The sensations Emma provided her seemed to strip her of her sanity as Regina propped one leg up on the far edge of the Sherriff’s desk, giving Emma more room to do with her as she pleased. It was as though Regina didn’t have control over her own body anymore, but perhaps that was only to be expected, as it seemed it no longer belonged to her anyway.

It wasn’t rough this time, nor was it bruising. It could never be considered tender either, considering what they were to one another, yet there was something about the careful way that Emma took to pleasing her that it almost seemed like she cared more about Regina in that moment than herself. That had never been what their passion was about and yet Regina felt herself straining her hips further into Emma’s face, her cheek’s flushed as she whispered inaudible praises, finding that she drowned in the feeling of something so unexpected.

But the moment of ecstasy was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door, the sound allowing reality to crash down around them in the most brutal and unforgiving way.

“Emma?” Mary Margaret’s timid voice asked through the barrier between them and complete humiliation. Regina nearly choked on her breath, her pleasure coming to a screeching halt as panic began to overtake her.

Emma pulled away from Regina so fast that she ended up in a heap on the ground. “Shit!” she exclaimed without thought, which made Regina pull angrily at her constraints in a silent gesture to indicate her stupidity. But it was echoed by Emma as the movement made a loud banging noise of metal against metal. Regina’s fist clenched in irritation that they were both apparently on the extreme side of idiocy this afternoon. God, this could not be happening right now. Regina would ask what it was she did to deserve this, but it would be such a pointless inquiry as she knew the list was more than a mile long at this point.

“Are you alright…?”

“Yeah!” Emma called back as she picked herself up off the floor in a hurry, her hands everywhere at once as she tried to make herself look presentable. It was probably a futile task, given the lack of proper time to do so. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, showing Regina in one gesture the lack of class her upbringing failed to allot her. Why she foolishly desired her, she really had no idea sometimes. “Just… hold on a second!”

Regina’s free hand found Emma’s white tank top as she furiously pulled the woman towards her. “Unlock these, or so help me…” she breathed in warning, not wanting to be found by the likes of Snow White while she was half-naked and handcuffed to a damn file cabinet. Whether she deserved the humiliation or not, there still wasn’t even a word to describe how catastrophic that would be to her psyche.

Emma cupped the back of Regina’s neck, the gesture meant to calm her as she pressed her forehead to hers so she could whisper quietly enough so as to not be overheard. “Relax,” she softly insisted, blue eyes catching brown as Emma tried to convey honesty beneath her gaze. Regina actually wished that for once she could find comfort in it. But such things were not allotted for those wicked of heart, so Regina learned to live without the feeling some time ago. “I won’t let her in here. Trust me.”

“I can’t.” That was asking too much, especially after Emma had brutally destroyed most of her defenses in an embarrassingly short amount of time. Regina felt utterly naked, in every sense of the word, and vulnerability had never been the best of circumstances for her to develop trust in someone. It was a foolhardy sentiment anyhow.

“Well you need to, because I don’t know where the key is right now.”

“Wha—!?” Regina’s outrage was immediately silenced by a hand clapping over her mouth, muffling the rest of her words. Emma looked at her as though she couldn’t believe she had been so stupid and Regina honestly felt the same way about herself in that moment. This was going from bad to worse and it was entirely her fault.

She should have never come here. Why was it that she seemed lack all sense of self-control when it came to this woman?

“Emma, what’s going on?” Mary Margaret was starting to sound worried, but it was Regina who was panic-stricken when she saw the handle of the door start to turn. “Is there someone—?”

Emma was off of Regina in a flash, her hand gripping the door handle so that she could be the one to pull it open, just enough so that Mary Margaret could see that she was alright and in one piece through the small opening she had made. “Sorry,” she apologized, sounding out of breath and looking flustered. Regina closed her eyes and suppressed a groan; it was obvious to anyone with eyes what it was that she was doing in her office, even to someone as thickheaded as Snow. “I was just… uh, exercising.”

Regina wished her hands were free so that she could throttle her. What kind of flimsy excuse was that? It really was a blessing sometimes that Emma never became the royalty she was born for, as she would be absolutely horrible when it came to politics.

Regina didn’t need to see Mary Margaret’s face to know that she was skeptical. “Exercising,” she repeated. She paused for a moment before she asked, “Alone?” It was obvious by her tone that she didn’t think so, even though her voice went up a few octaves to make it seem like an innocent question.

For being a self-proclaimed lie detector, Emma certainly did not know how to lie herself; her pause was entirely too long. “I…”

“He’s in there, isn’t he?” For some ungodly reason, Mary Margaret seemed excited by the prospect of some unknown man that apparently Emma was in the habit of hiding. Regina’s face soured; she was certain she did not want to know the details of Emma’s sordid little heterosexual tendencies.

Emma, however, just seemed confused by the question put forth by her roommate. “He… who?

“Your secret boyfriend; the one you sneak out all the time to see. Come on, Emma, you really think I haven’t noticed?”

Emma faltered at that assumption and Regina had to contain a snort at being thought of as Emma’s anything. It was entirely ridiculous. “Oh, uh—” Emma began, but was spared having to lie to her friend as Mary Margaret interrupted her, all smiles and bubblegum and everything else that made Regina positively nauseous.

“Can I meet him?”

“You know, now is a really bad time,” Emma told her seriously, trying to convey a double meaning in her words as she pressed herself further into the small opening of the doorway, making sure Regina really couldn’t be seen. “If you know what I mean.”

“Oh,” Mary Margaret responded, deflating for a moment before it seemed she caught on to what Emma was saying. “Oh. Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t—”

“It’s fine,” Emma assured her quickly, trying to wave it off even though this was quite possibly one of the most humiliating situations either of them had gotten themselves into in a long while. Regina leaned heavily against the cabinet, just waiting for it to be over. She was starting to get a migraine. “It’s my fault; I forgot that we were supposed to meet for lunch. But uh... I’ll see you at dinner though, right? We can talk then, I promise.”

After some more embarrassed apologies and confirmation that they would speak at dinner, Mary Margaret finally did turn away, allowing Emma to close the door on what surely would’ve been a train wreck of a situation if it had went any other way. After slumping against the wood, Emma exhaled a relieved breath before shooting an apologetic look towards the woman she had forced to stay chained up throughout the entire ordeal. Regina did not look pleased.

“And what, pray tell, you do you plan to tell her exactly?”

Emma sighed heavily, pushing herself off the door before running her hand through her tussled hair. “I don’t know,” she admitted as she crossed the room to her desk, beginning to search for the key amidst a pile of paperwork. Her highly disorganized way of working made Regina turn up her nose in disapproval; how she ever got anything done whilst being surrounded by a mountain of crap, she’d never know. “I’ll think of something.”

“You better.”

Emma’s hand slammed down on the desk in irritation as she turned to face Regina, her blonde locks tumbling around her face to frame her displeasure at being spoken to like some kind of peasant. “The only reason I lie about this is so it doesn’t get back to Henry,” she told her harshly. “Believe me, I have no sympathy for your piece of mind or your precious little reputation.”

“You have no sense of decency, you mean. I don’t know why I’m surprised.”

Emma’s face darkened. “Keep pushing, Regina. I’m not afraid to leave you there all day.” She turned back to the mess on her desk, but it was only for a moment before frustration got the best of her and she furiously shoved most of it onto the ground. “Jesus, I don’t know why I keep letting you do this to me!”

Regina clenched her jaw, the anal retentive part of her personality internally twitching at the mess Emma had just made. My god, it was as though she were raised by wolves. But perhaps even that was better than if Regina had allowed her to be raised by Snow. “Do what, exactly?”

“Drive me fucking insane.”

Regina wished she could find comfort in the fact that she at least seemed to crack Emma’s sanity in half as she had hers, but in the end there really was no way to put a positive spin on their situation. They were sinking deeper and deeper everyday into something that would inevitably swallow them whole. And the worst part about it was, despite how unhealthy their relationship was, neither of them were sure if they could ever really find it within themselves to stop it.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THREE
Arrangements

Emma did eventually find the key under a large pile of papers, and when she released her, Regina went to work on making herself at least look semi-presentable in the reflection of one of the windows; she had a meeting in an hour and the last thing she wanted to do was attend it looking like some cheap corner-side prostitute. Regina wiped her smeared lipstick off her face with a tissue and combed her hair with her fingers, and though it certainly wasn’t an ideal result, it would have to do for now.

Emma watched her the entire time, leaning against the edge of her desk in a haphazard, borderline-masculine fashion that Regina really wished she didn’t find attractive. “What time do you want me to pick up Henry?”

Regina turned from her reflection, her eyebrows raised almost to her hairline at the presumptuous nature of the question. She almost laughed at her, but contained herself. Still, the certain amount of power she held over the situation made Regina smirk in cruelty as she spoke to Emma like she would an irate child. “And what makes you think I’ll allow you to see him today?”

“You didn’t get off.”

It was said so simply, so factually that it made Regina color in irritation. Did Emma truly believe her dependent? Even if a part of her was, it was entirely arrogant of the girl to assume. “Believe me, dear, I think I can survive the night without you.”

Regina began to breeze past her, content on leaving Emma without a proper answer as to when their next time together would be, as she had so many times before, but the words that left blonde’s mouth following her statement made Regina stop mid-stride. “Can you?”

It sounded so cocky that Regina whipped around, her face darkening. She was getting tired of Emma believing she had some semblance of control, when they were both so clearly out of it that it wasn’t even funny anymore. Then again, perhaps it never was to begin with. “Do you ever wish to see me again? Because I swear to you, Miss Swan—!”

“Yeah, I do.”

The sincerity in Emma’s words made Regina falter for a moment, having expected the woman to come back with another arrogant comment that would no doubt make her want to tear Emma’s limbs from her body. Regina stared at her, completely dumbfounded for a moment that Emma actually wished to spend time with her, because despite the pleasure they gave one another, sometimes Regina wondered if it was really enough to override all the hatred that they felt. But it was the realization that, for once, Emma didn’t sound as though she hated her at all that made Regina unable to form a response.

Were they not just furious with each other a moment ago?

Emma just shrugged a little self-consciously, shaking her head as she ran her fingers through her hair. She avoided all eye contact, having realized how she sounded when she affirmed her desire to continue their little arrangement, despite how unhealthy it was for both of them. But she pushed past it, asking Regina, “So… when do you want me to pick him up?”

“I…” Regina tried, yet found her mouth had gone dry. She shifted her gaze as she swallowed. This was such an awkward exchange and yet somehow it still managed to feel almost natural. The lack of sense that any of this made was absolutely maddening, yet Regina found herself indulging in the simplicity of its complication. She didn’t know what else to do. “Tomorrow,” Regina answered finally. “You can have him for dinner and head over once he’s in bed. Make sure he does his homework before letting him watch any television. And no—”

“Sweets,” Emma finished for her. “Yeah, I know the drill.”

Their eyes connected and Regina cleared her throat, stepping away from her. “Good,” she said, tugging on the hem of her dress shirt in an awkward attempt to make herself appear a little more put together than she felt. Something was way off in their exchange and it made her feel uneasy, yet Regina found she did not have the strength to revert it back to the norm. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Regina turned from Emma and headed out of the Sherriff’s office without allowing the woman to say another word, her feet carrying her quicker than normal from the building as the pit of Regina’s stomach lurched in an uncomfortable way she knew better than to try and diagnose. And as she wrenched open the door of her car and allowed her eyes to stray back to where Emma resided, Regina knew that her sanity would never be able to handle it even if she actually wanted to understand.

[x]

Saturday was a day of leisure for anyone who wasn’t Regina Mills. Being the Mayor of a town seemingly full of complete imbeciles did not give her the privilege of a day off, but following an ungodly amount of paperwork and a meeting with the city council to determine if rezoning was needed to make way for new businesses (which it wasn’t, as it wasn’t very cost effective and she had already given everyone a livelihood when she created this damn town), Regina left her office after informing her assistant that she would be taking a long lunch. She wished to pick up Henry and spend a little time with him before he was shipped off to Emma’s for the night, as it seemed with everything going on lately that she was lacking quite a bit in the mothering department.

Guilt was a powerful motivator and Regina’s had recently been eating her alive more often than not. Though it couldn’t be helped that she was constantly busy with work, she found it to be rather horrendous that she was spending more time with Emma than her own son as of late. It wasn’t acceptable, in any sense of the situation, so she picked Henry up from the house ten minutes later, tearing him away from his comics with the promises of hot chocolate and mother/son bonding time.

He seemed more excited about the treat than her, but Regina would take her victories where she could get them nowadays, as they seemed so few and far between.

“Did you do something bad?” Henry asked her as they sat across from each other in a booth at Granny’s, steaming cups of hot chocolate in front of them that Regina was unsure she could actually stomach drinking. It was a needless amount of calories and sugar, but as Henry liked it, Regina made a point to push down her displeasure and take a hesitant sip.

His question surprised her. “What do you mean?”

Henry shrugged, fidgeting in his seat slightly. He was always uncomfortable around her lately and it made Regina’s heart ache, but Dr. Hopper was convinced it was only a phase and so she tried to ride it out, patiently waiting until the time he would come round. “You never give me sweets,” he pointed out, which was true. It was the guilt factor; it seemed to make Regina do the unexpected. “And you’re letting me sleep over Emma’s again. I thought you hated her.”

Regina pursed her lips slightly, trying to think of how to word her explanation. After a moment she told him patiently. “Miss Swan and I have come to an… arrangement.” Her nails drummed against the ceramic cup in her hands before she finished, “I thought you would be pleased.”

Henry said nothing, merely staring into the bottom of his cup.

Regina reached across the table, concerned about his behavior, and tried to lightly cover his hand with hers. “Henry, what is it?” Her son pulled away from her touch. Regina tried to not let it show that it bothered her, but when she pulled back her hand it was almost dejectedly.

“I don’t want you guys to be friends,” he said finally.

Regina would hardly call her relationship with Emma Swan friendly, but that still begged the question, “Why not?” She had believed Henry wished her to get along with his birthmother so that he would get to spend more time with her. And although Henry did seem happy every time Emma would come to pick him up, there seemed to be something more important beneath the surface to warrant his displeasure with the situation.

Henry hesitated for a moment, seemingly unsure if he should answer. But finally he looked up at her, determination in his eyes as he told his mother, “Because it’s going to confuse her when she needs to defeat you and break the curse; she can’t even see that this is all part of your evil plan and it’s going to ruin everything!”

Regina stared at him for a moment, trying not to let his words sting her in the way that only he could ever achieve as she forced herself to release a sigh. It came out more frustrated than patient. “What have I told you about this curse nonsense? Fairytales are not real and I do not have some kind of evil agenda. Now I’m trying to be very patient with this phase, but you’re starting to hurt my feelings, Henry. Do you understand that? I’m just trying to do what’s best for you and I wish you could see that.”

Henry looked a little ashamed of himself at the mention of hurt feelings, yet he still eyed her with a fair amount of distrust. Regina wished it wasn’t warranted, but the truth was that he was right about everything. Perhaps it wasn’t fair of her to lie to Henry like this, but Regina was convinced it was better that he never know the truth; it was far too much for a young boy to handle. But more than that, there was the selfish part of her that knew that if he ever knew, truly knew all the evil that she had done, then he would never be able to look at her the same again. That would destroy the only part of her heart, the only semblance of love that she had left in this world. Henry was her everything; she couldn’t lose him.

The overhead bell indicating an arriving customer chimed and Regina found herself looking up, catching sight of Emma who had come into the diner looking a bit frazzled. She stopped at the counter, a little out of breath as she ordered a coffee and a burger to go from Ruby.

“Emma!” Henry exclaimed, his eyes landing on his birthmother as he grinned from ear to ear. He climbed out of the booth to go greet her before Regina could stop him, as Emma was clearly far too busy for once to stop for pleasantries, but the woman turned, a smile breaking out on her face as she caught sight of Henry.

“Hey, kid!” she greeted warmly, enveloping him in a hug that made the corners of Regina’s mouth twitch as she tried to suppress the pang of jealousy in her heart. She had raised him, loved him, cared for him, and yet Henry gave a woman he barely knew everything Regina had worked so hard to deserve. It wasn’t right. “What are you doing here?”

“Mom took me out for hot chocolate.”

“Wow. Hell must have frozen over, huh?” she lightly joked, squeezing him on the shoulder before turning to face Regina. An awkward air enveloped the room as their eyes connected, reminding Regina why they did not speak to each other outside of the meaningless banter during their little trysts. “Mayor Mills,” she greeted after a moment, at least having the decency not to use the informality of her first name.

“Miss Swan,” Regina acknowledged, tightlipped. She took in Emma’s appearance and noted, “Busy afternoon?”

Emma exhaled a long breath, looking positively exhausted once the topic came up. “You have no idea,” she told her, yet didn’t elaborate more on the subject; the crime in Storybrooke wasn’t a very appropriate topic to discuss in front of a ten year old. At least Emma had the sense to realize that.

“I trust you won’t be late picking up Henry this evening?” Regina asked, needing to confirm their plans after seeing how busy Emma was. She didn’t want her son to be disappointed because of the woman’s lack of time management skills. “Or are things too—?”

“No, it’s fine; I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it,” Emma promised, making Henry beam at the confirmation. Regina watched the woman ruffle her son’s hair before leaning against the counter, her eyes catching Regina’s before finishing, “Things are a bit hectic right now, but I’ll make sure I’m outta there by five; you don’t gotta worry.”

“Can we play more Mario Kart tonight?” Henry asked, bouncing a bit on his heels. “I think I can beat you now; I was really close last time!”

Regina’s eyebrows rose at the mention of the game, not entirely pleased that Emma was using their time together to rot her child’s brain with such nonsense. “Sure, kid, whatever you want.” Emma smiled, before reminding him, “But you gotta finish the rest of your homework first, alright? You’re too smart a kid to get behind in school.”

Henry looked a little disgruntled, but eventually relented with a nod.

Mario Kart, Miss Swan?” Regina asked, disapproval coloring her tone as she clucked her tongue lightly in judgment. Despite the pleasant surprise that Emma enforced the rules about homework without painting Regina out to look like the bad guy in the process, it paled in comparison in that moment to the irritation she felt that Emma didn’t even bother asking if it was alright if her son played a game meant for the mind-numbingly stupid. Surely if she wished to play video games with Henry that badly she could find something that was at least semi-educational.

“It’s G rated, relax,” Emma responded, not even bothering to suppress her eye roll. “You don’t need to be such a fun sponge all the time, you know.”

Regina colored in irritation at Emma’s words and had a thing or two to say about how she had the ability to take away more than just fun, but the two women were interrupted by Ruby who came over to bring Emma the coffee she had ordered.

“Your burger will be up in a minute,” the waitress told her, which Emma responded to with a grateful smile as she started to dig her wallet out of her jeans to pay. “But hey,” Ruby continued, her tone a little higher with curiosity as she leaned in towards her, a small smirk playing on the edge of her lips, “What’s this I hear about you having secret late-night rendezvous with a mystery man? Is he—”

Miss Lucas,” Regina exclaimed pointedly, her eyes hardening at the mention of anything to do with that in front of her son. Ruby looked offended by the interruption for a moment before her eyes landed on Henry who was a few paces behind Emma, looking entirely confused by the shift of tone in the conversation.

“Oh, hey Henry,” she greeted, at least having the decency to look a little sheepish. Emma and Regina held equal looks of exasperation; this conversation was entirely unsuitable to be had in front of children. It was also one that did not need to be the topic of idle gossip, for a variety of unpleasant reasons.

“What’s a ‘rendezvous’?” Henry asked curiously.

Regina was certain she was starting to get a migraine, but luckily Emma thought quickly, pulling a couple dollars in quarters from her wallet before handing them to Henry. “Here, kid; why don’t you try to go win me something on the claw machine? I can never do it and you’re a lot more coordinated than I am.”

“Really?” he asked, a smile lighting up his face before it immediately fell, remembering that his mother was there. Regina had never let him play with that germ-ridden thing; she believed it to be atrociously unsanitary due to all the grubby little hands that had previously touched it, but when Henry turned to face her, expecting to be told no, Regina forced herself to exhale a defeated breath.

“Go on,” she encouraged him. She had hand sanitizer in her purse and besides, Regina did not want Henry to be around for what seemed to be the start of an adult conversation. She was certain even she did not want to be around for this conversation, but curiosity as to what Emma would give as an answer caused Regina to pause.

As Henry ran off to play, leaving his hot chocolate forgotten on the table, Regina pulled some papers out from her purse and tried to make herself look busy. She did not want Ruby to believe she had an interest in Emma’s affairs, as the change in their relationship would be too easily noticed. Ruby might have an unhealthy obsession with makeup and slut-wear, but Regina was not foolish enough to believe the girl stupid for it; she had learned long ago that such assumptions were unwise, as people often surprised you at the worst of times.

“So?” Ruby pressed, now that Henry was gone. She leaned over the counter, her breasts practically spilling out of her top. Regina had to contain her snort of displeasure at the girl’s blatant disregard of her own dignity as she shuffled through her paperwork. “Is it true?”

“I, uh…” Emma faltered for a moment, glancing over at Regina, taking note of how uninterested she was forcing herself to appear during this whole exchange. As her gaze rested once more on Ruby’s eager face, Emma uncomfortably shifted her weight between her feet. “Did Mary Margaret tell you it was?”

“She just said she suspected it, but what else would you be sneaking out of the apartment for at one in the morning?” Ruby asked, chuckling a little at the implication that she knew exactly what kind of relationship Emma was currently partaking in. It was thankful that she did not know the extent of it; the things they did to each other’s bodies were pleasurable, yes, but also unfathomably vicious. “So come on, spill; who is he? My love life has been incredibly dull as of late, so I’m going to have to live vicariously.”

“Ruby, order up!”

“Ah, hold on a second,” Ruby said before Emma could answer, holding up a finger before turning to get the burger the Sherriff had ordered from Granny. When she came back and slid the styrofoam container of food across the counter, Emma gave her a tightlipped smile. She was trying to be friendly, but it was obvious that everyone’s interest in her personal life made her feel very uncomfortable. Regina knew the feeling.

“Look, I’ll tell you the same thing I told Mary Margaret,” she began, gathering the food up in her hands as she got ready to make a quick getaway. “This… thing that I’m doing, whatever it is, it’s not exactly official or anything. I really don’t want to risk screwing it up by telling people about it right now, you know? But I promise, if it gets serious, you’ll be the first to know, alright?”

Ruby looked disappointed, but Regina’s nerves had significantly lessened by Emma’s response. It was not only vague, but it also halted any more prying questions one would have on the subject, at least for now. But in a small town such as Storybrooke, gossip was easily spread, and if Emma did not learn to be more discreet about their arrangement then the questions would continue. Regina chewed on the inside of her cheek, finding herself irrationally worried all of a sudden that she would actually be forced to end things with Emma to save face, when not a day before she was in Dr. Hopper’s office looking for some kind of cure.

And perhaps it would be better if she found one; perhaps everything would be easier if she could just let go of the things she craved from Emma and found another outlet to release her stress, but the fact of the matter was, Regina always did have a nasty little habit of making all the wrong choices in life…

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOUR
Concern

“This is so fucked up.”

Regina was going to respond with some kind of demeaning comment regarding Emma’s complete lack of eloquence, but considering she couldn’t move from the ground without risking intense physical pain, she didn’t have the effort to be cruel. So instead she responded with a slightly sarcastic, “Well spotted,” her gaze fixated on the ceiling, watching as the fan in her kitchen continued to spin above her. The motion was making her a little nauseous and yet Regina couldn’t tear her eyes away, much like her inability to separate herself from that which was slowly tearing her sanity apart.

Emma was thrown haphazardly over the Mayor’s body, her breathing still erratic from the destructive act they had just participated in. Though Regina wasn’t overly fond of this kind of closeness, she doubted Emma could move without causing herself more pain either. Both of them were beaten, bruised, and exhausted. Regina was also fairly certain that one of them was bleeding, but that was a situation that could be addressed later.

“Maybe we should go to therapy,” Emma suggested offhandedly, chuckling a little to make light of a really messed up situation. She sounded half-serious though, which made Regina sigh. If only things were that simple.

“It doesn’t work, trust me.”

“Oh my god, don’t tell me you actually—!” Emma started to exclaim, but as she shot upwards to try to look down at Regina she cried out, her hand gripping her torso as she fell back into her. “Holy shit, Regina; I think you cracked one of my ribs!”

Regina scoffed, her eyes rolling in the back of her head as she corrected, “More than likely it’s just bruised. Don’t be dramatic; it’s highly unattractive.”

Emma winced as she had to use extra effort to pick herself up off of the woman beneath her. “You never find anything I say attractive, so excuse me for a minute while I don’t care.” She let out a heavy breath as she finally situated herself against the wall, relieved to not be putting her body through so much pain when it wasn’t coupled with pleasure.

Regina still hadn’t moved. The kitchen floor was littered with broken dishes from Emma pushing her up onto the counter that held her drying rack, and now Regina was fairly certain that at least a few remnants of that disaster were now partially embedded in her skin.

This time, it had gotten completely out of hand; far more so than usual.

“We need to stop doing this.”

Emma looked down at her, her eyebrows furrowing slightly as she absentmindedly ran her fingers over the deep abrasions Regina had made in her skin with her nails. It was almost nostalgic, as if she desperately wanted to remember how it felt when they were made. “You mean completely, or the violent part?” The question was just met with a sigh, but it didn’t deter Emma from speaking the truth. “Cause I don’t know if we’re capable of having sex like normal people, Regina. We’re way too fucked up.”

Regina wanted to say that they should stop with all of it, as that would have been the intelligent thing to do, but the truth was that she didn’t know if they would be able to part completely. Their passion had started to become so routine that the loss of it might actually, in some screwed up way, manage to devastate her. The chaos of Emma had become just as much a constant in Regina’s life as her morning coffee, and truthfully, Regina had always hated the idea of change. This was her life now.

“I don’t know,” she answered, knowing this was probably not the best time for them to think of a solution anyway, given the current state of their physical forms. Deciding to disregard it for the time being, Regina waved Emma over as she commanded, “Help me up.”

Emma smirked, playing a game that Regina already knew she wouldn’t have the patience for. “That depends; are you going to finally admit it’s me who’s in control?” she asked, alluding to an argument they often had in the midst of entanglements while they fought for the chance to be proven right. “Because I gotta tell you, your whole delusion of being the aggressor is starting to become kinda hilarious at this point. I mean, look at you.”

Regina colored in annoyance, wondering why she even bothered trying to speak with someone so very pompous. She exhaled an impatient sigh. “Your delusion of power only comes from the fact that you’re physically stronger than I am. Don’t confuse that with control, Miss Swan. Need I remind you that it is I who dictates when this happens, not you?”

“You know as well as I do that if I texted you at three in the morning and told you to come over and fuck my brains out, you would without a second thought, so save it,” Emma snapped, Regina having apparently hit some sort of nerve. If she had the effort, she would probably gloat about that. But seeing as she could barely move from what Emma had done to her, she merely replied with the first thing she could think of.

“Believe me, I wouldn’t have sex in that hovel you insist on calling a home even if I were forced to at gunpoint.”

Emma quirked an eyebrow at her answer. “And if I called from some swanky, upper-class hotel room?” she challenged, reading between the lines annoyingly well. Regina always did hate that about her, amongst a long list of other things.

The Mayor let out a long puff of air, her patience all but run out. “Just help me off the damn floor,” Regina demanded, switching the topic, because she would rather not give confirmation that Emma was probably correct in assuming that. The woman’s head did not need to get any bigger.

The Sherriff seemed to assume her victory anyhow though and gloated, “I’ll take that as a yes then.”

Regina glared, giving up on getting any help; it was probably foolish of her to ask for it in the first place, given who she was with. “This kind of arrogance is precisely the reason I don’t like you,” she informed her before gritting her teeth, trying to pull herself to a seated position. However a very unpleasant streak of pain went through Regina’s form and she cried out, crumpling over onto her elbows.

Emma’s entire demeanor changed immediately. “Shit, are you okay?” she asked, concern in her voice as she crawled over to Regina, sweeping away the bits of broken dishware to the side so she could kneel beside her. She delicately touched her arm, the tenderness in the action making Regina uncomfortable. She swatted her away.

“I’m fine.

“Yeah, you look fine,” Emma responded, her words weighing heavy with sarcasm. “Seriously, stop being stubborn for two seconds and let me help; I…” but she faltered, her eyes getting a little wider after she had assisted the brunette into a seated position, mostly against her will as Regina was not enjoying the feeling of being coddled. “Shit, Regina; I think you’re bleeding.” Emma’s hand slipped behind her back after noticing blood on the floor and Regina winced at her touch. When the Sherriff pulled her hand back, Regina could see that it was covered with a fair amount of blood.

“Jesus,” Emma breathed, distress crossing her face before she wiped her hand on her bare thigh. “I think one of the dishes sliced your back. Here, don’t move; let me get a towel or something. Can you hold yourself up straight?”

“I’m not an infant,” Regina snapped, irritated by the concern she was being shown. “And I doubt the wound is anything life threatening, so if you don’t mind, can you just help me to my feet so I can go take a shower? I feel disgusting.”

Emma looked at her like she had gone insane. “Regina, you look like you’ve been hit by a truck—”

“Likewise,” Regina sneered, but Emma wasn’t listening.

“—you can’t even stand on your own, and you’re fucking bleeding. The last thing I’m going to do is leave you right now; and just so you know, you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to be able to take a shower without help.”

Regina’s eyes went wide at the implication, beginning to grow angrier with each passing word that left Emma’s mouth. “You are not staying the night,” she told her fiercely. Emma had crossed so many lines before, but that would be going way too far.

“Whatever,” Emma dismissed, knowing she wouldn’t get anywhere if she tried to argue with her right now. “Just put your arms around my neck and hold on, alright? I’m going to try to do this slowly so it doesn’t hurt you anymore than it needs to.”

“That’s rich, coming from you,” Regina muttered under her breath, but Emma just ignored her comment so she sighed, reluctantly doing what the woman had asked.

Emma helped her to her feet in one smooth motion, only causing Regina mild discomfort as she was careful not to aggravate her bruised flesh. She, on the other hand, apparently didn’t pay mind to her own injuries because when they had straightened, Emma released a loud hiss of pain, having to lean a bit into Regina’s side as she tried to endure it.

“Emma?” Regina asked, unable to hide the concern in her question. She had momentarily forgotten that she wasn’t the only one in pain and she had probably put too much weight on her bruised ribs. But Emma merely let out a soft chuckle after she had caught her breath, trying to make light of the situation.

“You actually know my first name?”

Regina rolled her eyes, not wishing to dignify that with an answer, even if it was in jest. She was fairly certain that Emma knew she made a point to use informalities to establish distance between them anyway, and if the subject was properly broached, it ran the risk of their interaction becoming much too personal.

Emma took another moment’s pause to collect herself before inhaling a deep breath, shifting off of Regina so she could stand on her own two feet. “I’m starting to think that from now on we should just stick to light bondage,” Emma joked, wincing a little as she clutched at her ribs. She shook it off though as she pulled her hand from Regina’s wound once more, assessing its current state. “I think the bleeding has stopped,” she noted, sounding relieved that it wasn’t as bad as she originally thought. “Do you think you can walk?”

“I’ll be fine,” Regina assured her. Yes, every step would be painful, as her body looked as though Emma had used it as a punching bag, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t manage. She just didn’t want to get up without help before, as she knew that ran the risk of making everything worse if the damage was more than she anticipated. Thankfully, it seemed the worst thing that would come out of this would be a couple scars and a few days of limping. “And I’m fairly certain we haven’t done any form of bondage before, light or otherwise,” she added as an afterthought.

“Handcuffs,” Emma reminded her, though shrugged at her own uncertainty at what ‘bondage’ actually entailed. “I don’t know. Mostly I just said it cause I think you’d look hot in the outfit.”

Despite herself, Regina actually laughed. Though it pained her slightly because of how beaten her form was, it still felt surprisingly good. She couldn’t even remember the last time she laughed; it had felt like years. “Only in your dreams, Miss Swan.”

Emma just smirked, a silent indication that she probably would be dreaming about that tonight.

When they finally made their way into the bathroom, Emma helped her sit on the edge of the porcelain tub. Regina allowed it without protest, but only because she couldn’t assess the damage that had been done to her back herself. More than that though, Regina knew she needed Emma to clean it; she couldn’t reach the wound and the last thing she needed was for it to get infected. As the tub began to fill with water, Emma gently encouraged her to turn a little to her side so she could sit next to her and get a better look at the injury.

“How bad is it?”

Emma paused for a long moment, wanting to judge it accurately before she answered. “It doesn’t look deep, but you’ll scar.” Regina sighed softly. She had assumed, but it was still disheartening to hear. Most of her scars were emotional, as Regina had always been able to keep her body looking pristine with magic. Now, here, she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Still, part of her was thankful because it could have been much worse.

Emma wet a facecloth in the water of the tub before delicately sliding it across her back. Regina winced, but resolved not to make a sound. She had made her choice when they decided to practically tear her kitchen apart during a whirlwind of passion, and yes, it had been very worth it. Despite the final outcome, how they got there had been incredibly erotic and Regina had reveled in every delicious moment of it. It wasn’t often that she allowed herself to become completely unhinged like that, and even though Regina wasn’t completely comfortable with the fact that she only seemed to be able to do so with Emma, the fact still remained that it felt remarkably freeing.

“Am I hurting you?” Emma asked carefully, her tone much softer than normal. Regina merely shook her head, finding that her voice didn’t seem to work when she focused far too much attention on the comforting nature of Emma’s hands on her. While the Sherriff cleansed her injury, her other hand had found its place on Regina’s hip, her thumb making small circular patterns against her skin. Emma touched her as though she was something precious, something to be handled with the upmost respect and care. It was entirely disconcerting.

Despite how good Emma’s hands felt against her though, it made an uncomfortable heaviness set in the base of Regina’s stomach. She was just about to tell her to stop when suddenly Emma’s hands were off of her. “Get in,” she told her, nodding towards the tub encouragingly. “I got most of the blood off you, but I think it’ll be better if you submerge it.”

“And you know this from all your years at medical school?” Regina couldn’t help but snipe, trying to establish a fair bit of distance between them as it was far easier a situation to deal with. Emma had put her hands on her again, trying to help her into the bathtub, but Regina shook them off of her. She didn’t want to be touched right now; it made her feel something she knew better than to analyze. “I can do it myself,” Regina snapped, deciding that she hated the feeling of being coddled. She was just badly bruised, not some kind of goddamn cripple.

Emma clenched her jaw in annoyance, eyes narrowing. “You know, I feel really bad for whoever is going to be forced to take care of your ass when you’re old and decrepit. You’re a freaking nightmare sometimes. I’m just trying to help, Regina.”

Regina’s eyes flashed as she carefully lowered herself into the water. “Well, as you can clearly see, I don’t need nor want your help,” she told her, carefully settling herself back against the edge of the tub so as to not aggravate her injury. “So why don’t you use the bathroom upstairs to clean yourself up before you leave.” Though it was worded as such, it wasn’t a suggestion. Emma sighed heavily, running her fingers through her tangled hair.

“Fine, I give up. Do me a favor and try not to slip on your pride when you get out.”

Regina pursed her lips in annoyance but said nothing as she watched Emma rise from her seat on the side of the bathtub. She just needed some space after the disturbing amount of intimacy that passed whilst Emma was washing the blood from her body, and if the Sherriff had any sense of decency, she would respect that. And if she had any sense of sanity, she’d want that as well.

They were something to each other, yes, that much was undeniable at this point, but they could never be that.

Turning from her, Regina grabbed the shampoo off the rack. But once she had put some in her hand and tried to raise her arms to lather her hair, she emitted a loud groan as her body gave her a very painful reminder that she had been roughly slammed against her marble counter a countless number of times. Emma stopped in the doorway and turned, prompting Regina to firmly tell her, “No,” before any words had actually left the blonde’s mouth.

“Too bad,” Emma retorted as she made her way back over to the bathtub. Regina was starting to suspect that she was doing this just to irritate her now, which Regina was ashamed to admit was actually working. Her self-control, it seemed, was lacking in a wide variety of areas now. “Scoot up,” Emma told her, apparently intent on getting in behind her and helping like Regina was some sort of child. The Mayor’s eyes flashed in warning.

“If you value your life, Miss Swan, you will get out of my bathroom.”

“And if you don’t want me to pick you up and physically force you to move, you’ll do what I tell you,” Emma retorted, far too intent on destroying the last bit of pride and dignity that the brunette had left. She took a step forward, an eyebrow rising. “Don’t test me, Regina. I will do it.”

Regina didn’t doubt that and so her face clouded in irritation, begrudgingly beginning to move forwards to allow Emma to settle in behind her. In the end, she didn’t want to subject herself to anymore humiliation than she had to.

“Why are you doing this?” Regina demanded, frustration curling off of her like smoke as she felt Emma place her legs on either side of her body. She was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, despite how much more difficult it would’ve been should she had to. Regina didn’t need nor want this and Emma knew it, so why was she forcing this on her?

Perhaps the most important question though was why Regina wasn’t making a better effort to fight against it. A few aggravated words and indignant glares were nothing compared to what she was capable of. But like everything else Regina didn’t want to address, the question was shoved into the back of her mind, forgotten in an instant in lieu of less complicated matters.

“I don’t know. Partially because of guilt, partially because I’m a decent human being,” Emma retorted, using a sarcastic tone to cover her honesty even though Regina hadn’t found herself blinded to the mysteries of Emma Swan for quite some time now. Regina often found herself wishing her perception of the woman hadn’t changed, but it was nothing more than a futile desire born from a suppressed fear.

“Something you probably know nothing about,” Emma finished, an afterthought of murmured words meant to irritate Regina, because it truly was easier for them to argue than it was for them to have a normal conversation. But Emma just sighed heavily as she reached in front of the Mayor, holding out her hand. “Hand me the shampoo.”

Regina practically threw it at her, the bottle landing next to Emma in the water. As the liquid splashed on the edges of the porcelain and Emma rolled her eyes before reaching to retrieve it, Regina felt herself exhale a long, defeated sigh. She didn’t know why she even bothered to try anymore; Emma never did do what she was told, so to expect anything different when it came to matters between them would be nothing short of foolish.

And Regina Mills might be a lot of things, but the last thing she planned to be painted as by anyone was a fool.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FIVE
Need

They did not speak while Emma washed her hair. Regina found it better to just stare at the far wall, her eyes fixated on the grout between the tiles as she put far too much effort into remaining completely still. Her muscles were tense, causing the ache in her back to grow worse after each passing minute of the self-inflicted torture. But it was far better than the alternative, because as Emma began to run the soap covered loofa over her skin, Regina had the overwhelming urge to just lean backwards and sink into her.

And that was most definitely not going to happen.

There was a part of her, it seemed, that ached for the feeling of closeness she had so long denied herself. But there was a reason Regina did so, a reason she was so guarded and cold, and so she sought to crush that foolish desire within herself once it dared shine a light on the comfort of her darkness.

The moment was enjoyable yet Regina acted as though it were loathsome, relaxing although she refused to allow herself to feel it. And it was comforting; a realization that sought to frighten her beyond measure. But as Regina forced herself to ignore each and every one of those things, the silence between them continued to stretch onwards, enveloping the room with unspoken tension.

The air around them was starting to become heavy, nearly burdensome as Emma’s movements began to slow, allowing her to map every inch of Regina’s skin with the utmost precision and care. Regina could feel the woman’s eyes on her, burning holes in her that pierced her skin, the heat of Emma’s gaze running through her veins like fire. And so when the inevitable light touch of Emma’s lips finally pressed against her skin, Regina found herself trembling with need, her darkness falling to the light as she forgot, for one moment, what they were to one another.

The loofa floating forgotten in the water, Emma’s hands splayed out against tanned flesh, her mouth hot against each and every mark she had made. Apologizing, almost, for the cost of their shared madness. Regina felt a hand slide up the bruised flesh of her ribs, another snaking into her hair as Emma encouraged her to turn her head to the side. Without thought Regina complied, a small sound of contentment releasing from the back of her throat as Emma’s lips found a home at the base of her neck. Regina’s fingers tightened, only half aware that she was now gripping the other woman’s thigh. Emma pushed against her, almost cradling her now, the heat of her breasts a vast contrast from the rapidly cooling water they resided in.

“Stop,” Regina ordered in a singular moment of clarity, her breathing beginning to labor as she felt herself become aroused by a moment the two of them were never meant to share. Yet even as she said it, her body fell back against Emma’s, arching towards the feeling of tenderness that Regina knew someone like her would never really deserve, yet was being given all the same.

There was something disturbingly beautiful about the way they fit together, Regina mused, but as neither of them felt they had the right to be complimented in such a way, the feeling felt forced and unnatural. What they had, whatever they had, was never meant to be this way. But perhaps it was ultimately the wrongness of that choice that they both found appealing.

They never did make the best decisions.

“I don’t know if I can.”

The admission was barely audible; the words muffled by the shame Emma felt as she buried her face into Regina’s neck, breathing in her scent as her fingers mapped every dip and curve of the woman she was meant to hate. It almost sounded as though it pained her, to realize that she craved something besides the torment that Regina needed to exercise. Her heart beating rapidly in her chest, her eyelids hooded and lips parted, Regina wished more than anything that she didn’t understand that feeling.

“Emma, please… ” Regina Mills was not one to beg, yet the desperation she felt as she sunk into a sensation that she knew would ultimately destroy them both had stripped her of her care and pride. She didn’t want to continue making all the wrong choices. “If we do this—”

“It’ll make it stop,” Emma breathed, desperation behind her tone as she raked her nails lightly over one of Regina’s strained nipples. Emma’s lips were pressed against the base of her ear, her hot breath making Regina involuntarily shiver in a mixture of fear and anticipation. “Won’t it?” For someone so strong, so fierce, Emma sounded so terribly small that moment. She was trapped in this insanity just as much as Regina, fighting for a chance to free herself from the addiction that bound them together in inevitable destruction.

And perhaps Emma was right; perhaps coming together in a manner neither of them would be able to emotionally handle would give them the push they needed to stay away from each other. If nothing else, it would most certainly frighten them both enough to run from whatever lay on the other side of their pain. And perhaps, if she was lucky, Emma would even run so far that Regina would never again have to fear that she might lose her own son. That was what she had wanted, wasn’t it; to feel as though she had taken some semblance of control back into her life? To no longer be a slave to her own agonizing lust?

Regina’s eyes fell shut, trying to block out the unrecognizable feeling that filled her abdomen as she turned her head, resting her forehead against the woman who was offering her the same out that Regina herself had sought for what seemed like ages. And it was then that she realized, in a moment of complete clarity and unbridled emotion, that she didn’t want one.

No.

Emma gasped as fingers closed around her throat, Regina having pushed her away so that she could pin her against the edge of the tub. There was fire in her eyes; an undeniable anger burning in the pit of Regina’s stomach as she found herself taking offense to the one thing she had wanted to do herself for weeks. “No, you don’t get to do that to me,” Regina hissed, her lips mere centimeters from Emma’s. “You don’t get to come into my life, tear it to fucking shreds, and then just waltz out of it as though you’re some kind of hero for finally having the guts to draw a line in the sand. I won’t allow it.”

Emma did not fight against her grip, allowing Regina to do with her as she pleased as her gaze bore uncomfortably into hers, a small smirk starting to tug at the corner of her lips as she began to choke. Regina found the reaction entirely disconcerting and growled her displeasure, her grip loosening on Emma’s neck just enough that she would be able to breathe. Despite the temptation sometimes, the last thing Regina wanted to do was kill her.

After Emma had sucked in a few lungful’s of air, her smirk grew wider. “You need me,” she gasped out, a mere realization that sounded akin to a taunt to the Mayor’s ears, despite its intentions.

“I own you,” Regina corrected fiercely, not wishing to be thought of as weak. “You’re nothing but a glorified pet; one that I don’t wish to rid myself of yet. Do not overestimate your importance.”

Emma laughed, but her amusement was laced with hatred at being spoken to in such a demeaning manner. “You said earlier that you, Miss I-Don’t-Need-Anyone’s-Damn-Help, went to therapy to try to stop this,” she mentioned, reminding Regina of a statement she probably shouldn’t have ever voiced. “So I think…” Regina’s wrist was suddenly locked in a death grip, Emma using the strength she always favored to gain control to pry Regina’s fingers from her throat, forcing the Mayor’s arm down so quickly that the movement aggravated her sore body, causing Regina to emit a loud gasp of pain. “The fact that you didn’t when given the opportunity, speaks fucking volumes about my importance, Regina.”

A snarl left Regina’s lips as she tried to furiously shove Emma away from her with her free hand, but within seconds it was pinned to her side just as the other was. She winced in pain from the hold Emma had on her already beaten body, but it went either unnoticed or uncared. “So you know what I think?” Emma continued, looking her dead in the eye with all the seriousness in the world. “I think, if you really want this little arrangement to continue, you’ll do us both a favor and shove your stupid pride to the side for two goddamn seconds and just tell me the fucking truth.”

Regina stared at her, hatred in her eyes and a fire in her gut as her insides twisted violently with the shame of being exposed. She clenched her jaw, resolute in her stubbornness as she opted to say nothing. It infuriated Emma.

“God damnit, Regina; just say it!” She shook her in her wave of aggravation, making Regina cry out in pain once more as she gasped for breath to endure it. Regina’s eyes snapped upwards to look at Emma, her own anger beginning to grow.

“Why is this so important to you?!” she shouted, unable to control her own volume as her desperation for the answer took hold. “Why does it matter what regard I hold you in? It changes nothing!”

“Maybe not for you, but it’ll give me a reason to stay, you idiot,” Emma snapped, her patience as well as her politeness having run out long ago. “Either you want that or you don’t, but you have to make that choice; now.

Regina had thought she had already made her choice perfectly clear, but as it was something else that Emma sought to ease her doubts, Regina was forced to voice another thing she did not want to. Because, knowing Emma, she would walk out that door and never look back, not because she wanted to, but because she knew Regina didn’t want her to. So, to give her what she wanted, Regina finally and begrudgingly mumbled her answer.

It apparently wasn’t satisfactory. “Louder.

Already furious about having to admit a weakness and humiliated over the way it came about, Regina exploded at her request. “Does this give you some kind of sick satisfaction?” she shouted at her, furiously fighting against the hold Emma had on her, the urge to throttle her senseless overwhelming her completely. “Does it make you feel powerful, to know that someone like me needs you? Is that it? Because I can assure you, dear; it certainly isn’t because you’re worthy of it. I’m just a goddamn masochist, and you’re merely the worst thing I could ever hope to latch onto.”

Emma said nothing in response. She just stared at her for a long time, waiting for Regina to calm down of her own accord before finally letting go of her wrists. Regina continued to seethe, her chest rapidly rising and falling as she took heated breaths, but she didn’t attack her; in the end, there really wouldn’t have been a point to. Emma had already won.

But the Sherriff didn’t gloat; she didn’t smirk or look satisfied by her victory. Instead she just looked at Regina for a long time, the silence deafening the woman to the point of madness, until finally Emma spoke four simple words to her that bore the risk of changing everything.

“I need you too.”

[x]

The sex was so much better after that.

The anger they had both felt about being trapped in a lie had vanished, allowing them to be released from the guilt it so often caused. The dependency they had for one another still warranted shame, but now it only sprouted from the desire to keep their secret from the rest of the world. Neither of them wanted the truth exposed to those who could stand to hurt them with it, and while that once was a fear they had about each other, now, when their eyes met during the midst of passion, the two women were able to trust each other with their greatest weakness, because it appeared they had always been one in the same. The freedom of knowing they were not alone was, it seemed, unmatched in its comfort.

The pain was still there; the violence, the suffering. Though they never spoke on it, both believed they were not entitled to the pleasure they received, and so they often sought to pay a price in order to truly deserve it. The entire mentality of it was a nothing short of a sickness, but as it was so immensely personal, it was a topic that was often strayed from. They were something to each other, yes, but such admissions were reserved for those who were their everything.

The violence did, however, lessen. Neither felt the need to prove that their dependency was a lie anymore, so when they came together it was no longer a fight to hide the truth, but merely a way to compliment the darkness that resided within them. They gave and they took with equal measure and Regina was glad, honestly, for neither of them needed another incident like the one that took place in her kitchen. Though it was fulfilling in its own way, it left the risk of exposure, as there were only so many lies they could tell about their beaten bodies until someone took notice that they looked one in the same.

It was better, Regina believed, to be able to hide the truth with long sleeved shirts and strategically placed makeup, than have the rest of the world notice the pain of their bruised ribs whenever they moved or the limp in their step whenever they walked, as such things were far harder to hide. Pain, they realized, could be achieved without going to such extremities.

Though neither of them enjoyed the fact that they were bound to someone who’s personality clashed so viciously with their own, in some way, they had managed to come to an understanding. They both craved the power and control they had either lost or had never been allotted, and so to rectify that through their actions it became ritual that Regina chose when and Emma chose how. Though Regina wasn’t overly fond of submission at first, she also realized it wasn’t exactly preferable for Emma to drop everything and come to her whenever she called. The control shifted between them depending on the circumstances and it achieved a balance they found they both needed; and in time, they had both learned to find enjoyment in the weaker parts of their role.

As a queen, Regina was unaccustomed to being on her knees. Yet after she had forced Emma out of bed early on a day the woman would have been able to sleep in, Emma had grumpily stormed into her office, ripping the leather belt off from around her jeans before quickly binding Regina’s hands behind her back in protest. Regina merely smirked, allowing the Sherriff to get back at her in whatever way she pleased before one hard push to her shoulder brought Regina to her knees.

“You knew I didn’t have to come in until ten,” Emma accused, trying to stifle a yawn as she unbuttoned her pants. Her glare was fierce but her cheeks were starting to flush, unable to deny the arousal that Regina’s simple, yet submissive position gave her. Still, Emma didn’t hesitate when she told her, “You’re a dick.”

Regina merely chuckled from beneath her, a wordless gloat at her own power as she watched the Sherriff strip herself of clothing. It was when she was angry, Regina had found, that she was attracted to Emma the most. “And this is how you repay my unkindness?” she asked, goading her to further her own ends. “I’m disappointed in you, dear; I would have thought you a tad more creative. Any idiot can tie someone up with a belt.”

“Oh, believe me,” Emma retorted as she kicked her jeans to the side, leaving them just as forgotten as her hope for sleep was. “I’ll get you back for this.” She grabbed a fist full of Regina’s hair, wrenching her head backwards so fast that a small sound of surprise fell from Regina’s lips. Emma leaned over her, looking her dead in the eyes as a challenging smirk formed on her lips. “But not right now,” she taunted in a low voice, her breath making Regina’s lips tingle in anxious anticipation of the act that was sure to follow, “Because I know that’s what you want.

Emma pushed the Mayor from her with such force that Regina nearly toppled to the ground. She managed to steady herself however as Emma began to rid herself of the last piece of fabric that separated Regina from what she wanted. Despite Emma’s outward annoyance at being woken, it certainly didn’t seem as bad as she made it out to be, as her thighs were already glistening with the proof of her arousal.

“And what do you have in store for me?” Regina wondered aloud, her tone mocking as she didn’t believe Emma could truly punish her with her dominance, as Regina had begun to enjoy the freedom being stripped of choice gave her. It was something new, yet not entirely unexpected as the power she held over everyone in her town became rather burdensome at times. So for a few stolen moments each week, Regina reveled in the chance Emma gave her to release that stress. “Spanking? Orgasm denial? Whatever it is you’re planning, dear, I very much doubt it will give you the retribution you seek for your lost sleep.”

Emma laughed. “You really think I don’t know what will piss you off?” Her hand was in her hair again, wrapping it around her fist as she roughly pulled Regina over towards her desk. “Your weakness, Madame Mayor, if you haven’t already noticed, is that you enjoy hearing yourself talk a little too much.” Emma’s hand swept across Regina’s nicely kept desk, scattering her nameplate and half her work onto the floor before perching herself atop it. “So I ordered you a little something off the internet the other day. I’m just sad it hasn’t come yet.”

Regina fumed, her eyes on the remnants of wasted hours of organization. It seemed Emma knew more than one way to get under her skin, should she wish it. “If you think for one minute that I’m going to allow you to gag me—”

“You will,” Emma told her with determination, her smirk still having yet to fade as she spread her legs on either side of Regina’s face, opening herself up to the pleasure she would demand from the woman situated beneath her. The scent of her caused a craving within Regina that she knew she would never be able to resist, despite countless efforts. “Because there’s a reward system involved, and trust me when I tell you you’ll love what I’m offering in exchange for your silence.”

Regina was about to respond to that with some sarcastic comment that would no doubt cause more needless irritation, but the moment she opened her mouth to speak she was roughly pulled forwards, Emma demanding that Regina’s attention become focused on the apex of her thighs. “No,” she interrupted, her morning grumpiness still very much a factor. “Just shut up and fuck me; I haven’t had my coffee yet and I swear to god if you keep me from it longer than you have to, shit will go down in this office.”

Regina chuckled low and deep in her throat, the feeling of it vibrating Emma’s sensitive core before she relented to her need, allowing her tongue to trace a slow, lascivious line between the Sherriff’s folds. It was, easily, one of the things Regina would have never believed she would have the pleasure of experiencing, as before she had deemed it far too intimate to justify its appeal. But things had changed and despite the fact that she and Emma were not in any kind of real relationship, nor did they even really enjoy one another’s company, they were bound to one another through their shared desire for pain and control; and so, on some level, a certain amount of trust had begun to form.

After all, need, as Regina believed, prevented the desire from merely taking and running.

And perhaps it was foolish, her inability to foresee an end, when nothing this fleeting could ever last without the strength of an emotional bond, but as Regina sunk her teeth into the succulent flesh of Emma’s thigh, feeling nails dig painfully into her scalp as a breathless cry of, “Fuck, Regina, yes!” filled the otherwise silent room, Regina found she couldn’t even begin to care.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIX
Exposure

“Are you just going to stand there all day, or do you actually plan on speaking anytime soon?”

Regina didn’t even bother looking up from her mountain of paperwork when the former editor of the newspaper stood before her, waiting for his presence to be acknowledged. It was doubtful her dismissive manner was what Sidney preferred, but that was the best he was getting at the moment; she had far too many things to do to waste needless time, and already the man’s hesitation was trying her patience.

Sidney cleared his throat uncomfortably. Regina still didn’t bother to make eye contact, deeming him unworthy of it until he proved otherwise. “I have some information you might be interested in hearing,” he began. Pausing momentarily, knowing the full weight of his words before they even left his mouth, Sidney carefully continued, “It’s about Sherriff Swan.”

That got Regina’s attention and her eyes snapped up to meet Sidney’s, the pit of her stomach sinking uncomfortably in her gut as she realized what it was that the man might know. Regina had forgotten she had asked him to keep tabs on Emma, as it had been so long since they had discussed her. Her jaw locked as she tried not to look as alarmed as she felt, she raised an eyebrow in his direction. “And why is this the first time in weeks that I’ve heard an update? When I appointed you to the task, Sidney, I had thought you would be competent enough to fulfill it. I’m starting to believe that I was wrong; you should have had something of use for me ages ago.”

Sidney looked uneasy, which did nothing to set Regina’s mind at rest. “With all due respect, Madame Mayor, if you were anyone else, I would have.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“I would rather not elaborate,” Sidney requested, unable to hold eye contact with Regina as she stared him though as though she wished her gaze could set him aflame where he stood. “If you don’t mind.”

Regina’s heart was pounding heavily in her chest, no doubt in her mind that Sidney knew exactly what it was that she did with the Sherriff in her free time. “And you’re here to, what?” she asked, her voice dangerously low as her dark eyes pierced into the man in front of her. “Blackmail me?”

“No, of course not,” Sidney answered, actually sounding surprised that Regina would think such a thing. His eyes finally caught hers again, a certain amount of affection in his gaze that reminded Regina of the old days. Perhaps she was too quick to judgment. Sidney had always been rather infatuated with her; it was doubtful he would betray her trust like that. “I just thought, given your current relationship with our Sherriff, that you may be interested in what I witnessed last night.”

“We are not in a relationship,” Regina responded icily, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end from irritation that he would ever assume such a thing. “She is merely a tool for my pleasure; that is all.

“Of course,” Sidney responded without hesitancy, not wishing to anger the Mayor any further. As it was already, Regina looked as though she were going to throw something heavy at his head. “Sleeping with the enemy is, undeniably, a useful tactic in—”

Shut up.

Sidney fell silent.

Seething in her seat, Regina’s eyes landed on the manila envelope in his hands. “Am I to assume the contents of that explain why you are here?” she asked, expectancy in her tone as she held out her hand. Sidney did not hesitate to hand it over, yet his explanation was not what she expected.

“No,” he answered. “It is a peace offering; a gesture of trust.”

Regina wasted no time in opening it. Spilling the contents out on her desk, Regina found countless pictures of her greeting Emma at her door, each photograph time stamped between one and four o’clock in the morning. On top of them lay a cassette tape, making Regina’s eyes snap up at him furiously. “You bugged my home?” She looked ready to murder him on the spot. “Or was it this office’s privacy that you decide you were privy to? What the hell were you—!”

“It’s from the bug I planted in the Sherriff’s office,” Sidney quickly explained, not wishing Regina to think he crossed a line. “I assure you, I was not looking for more proof of your affair.”

Regina exhaled an unsteady breath, realizing exactly what was on that tape and what Sidney must have heard. Her pride alone kept her from coloring with embarrassment as she tried to remain composed. “Is this everything you have?” she asked, looking over the contents of her desk. Sidney nodded.

“I thought you may want to dispose of the evidence yourself.”

Regina pursed her lips but said nothing to express her gratitude that he had least had the sense of decency to allot her that pleasure. After a long moment she exhaled a long breath, looking up at him. “If this isn’t what you came here to tell me, then what is?”

Sidney looked a bit wary of how the Mayor might take his information as he tentatively began, “I regret I do not have pictures, as I believed it best to no longer follow the Sherriff after… well.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably as his eyes shifted to the evidence on his desk. “But I happened to catch sight of her last night at The Rabbit Hole. She was… with a man.”

He sounded almost sympathetic and it made Regina clench her jaw. “And why would I care who she spends her time with?”

“I just… thought you might want to know,” Sidney explained, looking terribly uncomfortable over this entire exchange. But it seemed he genuinely cared for Regina’s emotional wellbeing, despite the fact that Emma Swan had absolutely no influence what so ever when it came to that part of her life. “They looked… close.”

Regina’s stomach lurched, but she ignored the implications of the feeling as she kept her gaze firm on Sidney as she explained, her tone low and dangerous, “What that woman does in her free time is no concern of mine, Sidney, nor is it any longer your business. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” Sidney responded, his eyes lowering a little in respectful acknowledgement. “But if you ever require my services again—”

“I know where to find you,” Regina finished for him, her tone impatient as she began to start to feel rather on edge. She wanted him out of her office; she had other matters to attend to. “Now if that will be all…”

Sidney got her hint and gave her a tightlipped smile before he turned on his heel, heading out of Regina’s office without another word. When the door closed behind him Regina wasted no time picking up her cell phone, pressing the button on her speed dial for Emma before putting the device next to her ear. Now that Sidney had left, the Mayor’s façade had fallen, allowing her to give way to the feeling of panic that seemed to be creeping up her esophagus. She was almost certain she was going to vomit.

Emma picked up on the first ring. “Regina, this is kind of a bad time—” she sounded a little overwhelmed, but that was no concern of the brunette’s.

“Get over here,” she demanded. “Now. You have fifteen minutes.”

Regina heard the faint sound of Emma trying to protest, but it was ignored as Regina hung up on her. In a wave of aggravation she found herself unable to control, Regina cried out as she threw her phone clear across the office. Damnit. If Sidney knew, there was no telling how many others had their suspicions.

Though Sidney’s nature as a reporter gave him the ability to find out secrets that this town wished to hide, there was another just as sneaky who posed much more of a threat if he was aware of her situation with Emma: Mr. Gold. That conniving bastard would use the information at the most opportune time to see to it that he got what he wanted from her, and that was not something Regina wished to wait around for.

Something needed to be done, but for the first time in quite a while, Regina found herself without the first clue as to how to stop something that bore the risk of being so incredibly damaging.

[x]

When Emma strode into Regina’s office, her entrance was needlessly dramatic as she slammed the double doors open with her hands. She looked immensely irritated by the disruption to her life. “You couldn’t wait another half hour? Jesus, Regina, I do have a job, you know. I had to keep Leroy’s drunk ass in the back of the squad car just to—!”

Regina didn’t look concerned in the slightest about her plight; Leroy would probably sleep through their little meeting anyhow. “We have a problem,” she told her seriously, her hand slapping a photo on the desk before sliding it over to her.

It was by far the worst one that Sidney had taken; though the view through her kitchen window left the evidence out of focus and partially obstructed by one of her curtains, there was still no doubt as to what they were doing. Emma’s eyes widened as she took sight of it and wasted no time gathering it up into her hand to get a better look, her expression slowly turning from one of disbelief to horror.

“What the—who had this?!

“That’s irrelevant,” Regina answered, not wishing Emma to know the extent of her involvement with Sidney, as the Sherriff was probably still under the impression that he no longer worked for her. There was no point in giving away all her secrets, after all. “This particular problem has been taken care of, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have been entirely too careless. Do you even understand the repercussions should someone like Mr. Gold get his hands on this kind of information? He would own us, Miss. Swan. And I don’t know about you, but that is certainly not something I want happening. We cannot afford anyone to have suspicions about us.”

Emma looked disbelieving that Regina chose not to elaborate, but did not argue the decision; she knew it would be a waste of breath anyway. Exhaling a long sigh, Emma tossed the photograph back onto Regina’s desk before slumping heavily into a chair. She looked completely overwhelmed. Regina could understand the feeling. “Look I’m… I’m trying to take care of it,” Emma said finally, avoiding eye contact with the woman who was staring her down.

How?” Regina asked, unable to keep the bitterness out of her tone as she revealed the information that she knew. “By sleeping with the first guy you meet in a bar? Your lack of self-respect is utterly appalling; I don’t know how you can stand to look at yourself in the morning.”

Emma looked surprised by the blatant question and, to Regina’s irritation, her expression turned into something akin to amusement not long after. “You’re stalking me now?” she asked, a hint of a smirk tugging at the edge of her lips as her arrogance decided to finally make its grand debut in the conversation. “That’s cute, Regina. You know, in a completely psychotic sort of way.”

Regina’s face darkened. She really was not in the mood to be tested. “Whoever you sleep with sleeps with me by proxy, so excuse me if I wish to not be passed any STDs because of your lack of common sense. Your blatant disregard for not only your own health, but mine, is entirely unacceptable and I can’t believe you would—!”

“Jesus Christ, relax!” Emma exclaimed, interrupting Regina before she went off on a tirade that was sure to last the better part of a half hour. “I’m not sleeping with him and I don’t plan to, so maybe before you go off on another jealous rampage, you’ll shut up for two seconds and let me explain!”

Though Regina was relieved to hear that Emma had yet to do anything so utterly moronic, the feeling paled in comparison to the fury she felt over the insinuation that she cared for the entirely wrong reason. She slammed her hands on the desk, getting a small twinge of pleasure as the sound made Emma noticeably jump.

“I am not jealous,” Regina hissed through her teeth, though her furious insistence probably did nothing to prove otherwise. Regardless of her awareness of that, the brunette continued viciously, “I really couldn’t care if you suddenly felt the need to get gangbanged by a group of dwarves, so long as you don’t think you have the right to sleep with me afterwards. I will not put myself at risk for you, Miss Swan; you are in no way worth it.”

Emma’s amusement had completely left her and now she looked extremely insulted. “Do you really think I would do that to you? For fuck’s sake, Regina!”

“Then what the hell were you doing with that man, if you weren’t planning to fuck him in a desperate attempt to prove your rather laughable façade of heterosexuality?” Regina demanded, wishing more than anything that she didn’t sound as betrayed as she felt. Her stomach felt heavy and her heart clenched in her chest, a sign of everything Regina had so often chosen to ignore. Swallowing hard, she forced herself to push the feeling down once more.

“That wasn’t—you really think I was with him because I was freaked out by the whole gay thing?” Emma asked in disbelief, looking at Regina as though her insinuation was unfathomable. And perhaps it was, but it was the first thing Regina thought of. “You’re not the first woman I’ve slept with, Regina; not by a long shot,” Emma explained, almost exasperatedly. “Besides, I haven’t hid my preference from my friends; Mary Margaret, Ruby… they know I’m attracted to women as well. I only got a man to play the part of ‘happy boyfriend’ to keep them as far off the trail of you as possible. You’re welcome, by the way.”

Regina clenched her jaw, her eyes still hard as she stared at the woman across from her. Though the way Emma said that made it seem like it was all just a well-coordinated act, the fact still remained that whoever she was using as a diversion may not understand the role he truly held. The thought made Regina uncomfortable for a variety of reasons that she would forever make a point not to address. Sanity, it seemed, was dependent on how much one allowed themselves to accept as truth; and lately, Regina found herself accepting less and less.

“And does this man know that you’re just—?”

“Yeah,” Emma interrupted, not wishing Regina to believe he was a threat of any kind to her. However she began to look a little embarrassed, fidgeting uncomfortably in her seat for a moment before reluctantly revealing, “I’m… uh, paying him.” Regina’s eyebrows rose in disbelief, but before she could comment on how ridiculous it was that Emma had to purchase herself a fake boyfriend, Emma continued quickly, “Which you should really chip in for, by the way; turns out lying isn’t cheap.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Dead, actually.” Emma shrugged, trying to push past how Regina’s judgmental looks made her feel. It seemed, despite her desire to act the contrary, what Regina thought of her actually held some level of importance.

“Look, this isn’t just my secret you know,” Emma reminded her. “I did the first thing I could think of. The other day Ruby commented that I sort of smelled like you and I had to make up some bullshit about how I must have bought the same perfume, which is stupid as hell because I’ve never actually owned any.” As she released a sigh, Regina noticed how terribly exhausted she looked by how much work it entailed to keep their affair secret to those she loved. Emma slumped further into her seat, rubbing a kink out of the back of her neck as she mentioned, “Which I need the name of, by the way; Ruby wants to borrow it. Fuck only knows why, since she can’t stand anything about you.”

Regina’s lip curled in distaste at the thought of that trashy girl smelling anything like her, so she waved her hand as she dismissed the problem with, “I’ll give you the rest of my bottle. Suddenly I think a change of scent is in order.”

“Fine, whatever. But you still gotta fork over some cash, because I’m not about to pay Al fifty bucks a date without some help. That’s not fair.”

Regina’s brow crinkled, trying to think of anyone she knew with that name. No one was coming to mind. “Al who?” she finally asked after she gave up trying to figure out who Emma was referring to.

“Alan Urchin. You know, the homeless dude that always hangs out around the carpet and flooring shop asking for money so he can feed his dog.”

It took a moment until Regina realized she was speaking about Aladdin. Though she had never met the man personally, she made a point to familiarize herself with the fairytales of this world, so that she would have a more accurate picture of who might be populating her town. It was, after all, impossible for her to know them all.

Despite this not being the time or place to find herself strangely pleased with herself, Regina smirked; what Aladdin had become in this world really was strangely fitting. And the dog, she assumed, must be what happened to his filthy little monkey friend. It was almost gleefully funny sometimes, how perfectly her curse worked, but Regina contained her laughter; they really did have more important things to focus on and she didn’t need Emma thinking she was insane for succumbing to such an urge when it would be seemingly out of nowhere.

“You’re paying a homeless man?” Regina asked, skeptical as to how this could be considered a decent plan. “You really think that won’t be cause for skepticism?”

“Hey,” Emma defended, sitting up straighter in her chair. “He’s a really nice guy, not to mention really hot; at least once you clean him up a bit. Besides, who else do you think would take me up on my offer and not ask questions about it? He needs the money, Regina. And by the way, if things were a little different, the fact that he doesn’t have a home would in no way deter me from dating him. I’m not that shallow.”

Regina merely snorted at the implication. Sometimes she wondered how Emma managed to function, as she was so completely moronic at times. “Dear, you’re sleeping with me solely because you think I’m attractive,” she said, as though she were explaining something to an ignorant child. “If that’s not shallow, I don’t know what is.”

“That’s not the only—!” Emma began to protest, but cut herself off as she deemed it not a worthy topic to discuss right now. “Ugh, you know what? Nevermind, I don’t have time for this. I still have Leroy in the car and I need to get him to the station so he can start to detox. So can you just write me a check so I can get outta here, or do you need me to fuck you first?”

It was said in such a degrading manner, making it sound as though their trysts were nothing more than a business transaction and it made Regina color in insult as she violently grabbed her purse. After pulling out her checkbook and hastily scribbling out an amount, she crumpled it up and threw it at the woman in front of her. “Here, happy? Now get the hell out of my office.”

Emma held out her arms in an angry, yet hapless gesture. “What the fuck is your problem?” she demanded as she grabbed the check off the floor in front of her. “I thought this was what you wanted!”

Regina’s eyes were dark with hatred, the pit of her stomach burning with the same feeling of worthlessness that she had always craved, yet now only sought to make her sick. “Good day, Miss Swan.” Her tone held finality and it did not go unnoticed.

Emma stood from her chair so abruptly that it toppled over behind her, the sound of wood against wood echoing through the room. Her expression was colored with all the upset that Regina herself had buried in favor of her anger, and it wasn’t long until the same emotion won out in Emma.

“Fuck you, Regina,” she spat before turning, striding from the office without sparing the Mayor another glance. The door banged loudly in her exit and the woman’s absence finally allowed Regina to succumb to the overwhelming feeling inside of her. Slumping into her chair, her elbows landed on her desk as she covered her face. Disturbingly, her first instinct was to cry of frustration, and it took an intense amount of self-control to disallow the childish reaction.

Emma Swan was not, and would never be worth her tears. She just wasn’t that important.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SEVEN
Truth

The ringing of the doorbell echoed through the manor, the sound almost foreign to the introverted nature of its residents.

“I got it!” Henry called out, taking the steps two at a time. Regina instinctively panicked as she watched him practically fly down them, paranoid that he was going to trip and land on his face; he wasn’t the most graceful of children. Thankfully, when Henry jumped from the third step to the floor and made a loud bang that echoed through the front hall, he had landed on his feet before coming to a skidding stop at the front door. Regina released a breath she didn’t know she had been holding.

What have I told you about running?” the Mayor called out from the overhead arch of the kitchen entranceway but, as expected, her words had gone unacknowledged.

Sighing softly, Regina turned back towards the kitchen and resumed the preparation of her dinner, leaving Henry to greet his friends at the door. It was so rare that her son was invited to do anything by his peers and Regina didn’t want to ruin this for him by potentially scaring off the only friends he had actually managed to make. According to Henry, she frightened a rather large portion of the kids at his school. Regina thought it more likely that she scared their parents and the feeling merely rubbed off on their offspring, but it was pointless to try to argue her side of it; Henry hadn’t exactly been in her corner as of late, and it would have only amounted to wasted breath.

However, Regina found her entire body stiffening when the sound of her son’s surprised tone floated over to where she resided. “Emma?”

The knife in Regina’s hand clattered to the marble countertop, her task of dicing an onion instantly forgotten in lieu of the unexpected visitor. It had been nearly three days since Regina had seen the woman; after the incident in her office, she thought it best that they get some space from each other. The fact that Emma had somehow managed to hurt her feelings that day invoked an irrational panic in Regina, as the last thing she should ever feel is stung by someone who held no true meaning in her life. Emotions led to attachments, and Regina knew more than most that attachments like that never led anywhere good.

Although Regina was fairly certain that her ability to actually care what Miss Swan thought of her was nothing more than a momentary lapse of sanity, she did not want to take the risk that it was something more. Though it was undeniable that things had begun to change between them over the last few weeks, Regina chose to believe that it was only due to their shared admittance of need, nothing more.

Which, it seemed, Emma was fully demonstrating at the moment. Despite her irritation that the Sherriff showed up at her house uninvited, Regina couldn’t help but smirk a little in satisfaction; Emma really couldn’t stay away from her. It was a thought that made her feel all the more powerful, which was something Regina found she desperately needed in that moment in order to not storm in the other room and start screaming at her like some kind of desperate, scorned lover.

That, more than anything else, was completely out of the question. Regina Mills had her pride, after all.

“Hey, kid.” Emma must have taken in Henry’s bundled up appearance and the knapsack in his hand because immediately following her greeting she asked, “Where are you off to?”

“The Boar triplets are having a slumber party,” Henry answered. Regina could almost hear the smile in his tone. “They invited the whole class. Mom says their parents must be insane, but I think it’s going to be cool. I’ve never been to one before!”

There was a short pause before Henry’s tone changed. “Are you here to see my Mom?” He didn’t sound very thrilled about that, and truth be told, neither was Regina. Though she may feel a little more put together than she had five minutes ago because of Emma’s desperate need to see her, it still didn’t mean she wanted to deal with this right now.

“Yeah, I have some stuff I need to talk to her about; boring job things and whatever.” Emma laughed softly, a tone meant to ease Henry’s mind about their relationship being anymore more than that, but only stood to make Regina more on edge. She knew that wasn’t why she was here; she had an office for such things, after all. “Being an adult really sucks sometimes, you know? But have fun at your party. And hey, if anyone says they want to play ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’ with you, just tell them no.”

Regina exhaled a soft groan at the woman’s words, feeling herself already starting to get a headache. While she appreciated that she told Henry not to participate in any of those filthy little games that kids liked to play with one another, it really wasn’t necessary as Regina was certain Henry was clueless as to their existence. Why Emma insisted on trying to parent when she had absolutely no experience, Regina would never know. It was entirely ridiculous.

As expected, Henry curiously inquired, “What’s that?”

“Something you are way too young for, kid. Let’s just leave it at that.”

A car horn honked outside, giving Henry his cue to exit. Regina was thankful, as she was sure he would continue to ask questions about that damn game if he hadn’t been given the distraction. “Mom, I’m leaving!” he called out as he wasted no time barreling past Emma to run out the door, excited about his first peer outing in quite a long time.

Regina left the kitchen to try to say a proper goodbye to her son, but it seemed Henry had already left, and instead she was confronted by the sight of the woman she had been purposely trying to avoid. Emma was standing in her front hallway a little awkwardly, hands stuffed into the pockets of her jeans as she gave Regina a half-smile that looked almost apologetic for barging her way back into her life.

“Hey.”

Regina felt her lip upturn in displeasure. Emma came over completely uninvited and unwanted and that was the only thing she had to say in greeting? Surely she could have done better than that.

Regina’s response was icy as she stated pointedly, “I didn’t send for you.” She worded it in such a way that it sounded as though Emma really was nothing more than her own personal whore, as the bitter part of Regina wished for the blonde to be stung by her words as much as she had been by hers.

It was, perhaps, the need for revenge over something that should hold so little meaning that worried Regina the most.

She did, however, get the response she wished for. Emma’s lips turned down into a frown, upset crossing over her face for a moment before she had enough sense to hide it. “Yeah,” she responded, her tone having gotten much softer despite trying not to look fazed by Regina’s words. “That’s uh, kinda why I’m here.”

Regina scoffed; she really did not have the time to indulge Emma in her seemingly never-ending mission to cause her misery and unrest. It was that thought which prompted the sharp response of, “Because you have a natural-born instinct to irritate me?” as Regina’s hands rested on her hips, straightening her spine in an attempt to look taller and therefore more intimidating as she stared down her uninvited guest.

Despite Regina’s efforts to cause the Sherriff enough discomfort to just turn around and leave, Emma stood rooted to the spot. Her stubbornness, it seemed, was Regina’s constant undoing.

“Because I wanted to apologize,” Emma corrected, holding her gaze to show the sincerity in her words. Suddenly it was Regina who felt very uncomfortable, and her firm demeanor noticeably faltered as an unexpected feeling settled in her gut. Knowing it was better left unacknowledged, Regina instead raised a challenging eyebrow.

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Look, I…” Emma began, taking a hesitant step towards Regina who instinctively took a step backwards in response. She felt far more comfortable when there was a noticeable amount of distance between the two of them and Emma seemed to catch onto that so she stopped, exhaling a soft sigh.

“I’m sorry,” she began again, at least having the decency to look guilt-ridden. “I shouldn’t have—well, you’re… you’re not some kind of chore for me, or anything. I didn’t mean to make it sound that way, I was just stressed out and I… I don’t know, am apparently a huge idiot or whatever when it comes to this sort of stuff. I’m just… I’m really sorry. Okay?”

Jaw locked and muscles tight, Regina fought against the urge to let her emotions play out on her face. Though a part of her was glad that Emma apologized, the fact that Emma realized she needed to only stood to aggravate her, as it meant she really had shown far too much weakness that day. Her eyes hardening, Regina stared at the woman before her; she needed to undo the damage her silly emotional outburst had caused before this got way out of hand.

“Your apology is hardly necessary, Miss Swan,” Regina dismissed, trying to be as diplomatic yet ultimately standoffish as much as humanly possible. “Despite what you may believe, I really do not care much for what you think of me. You’re a means to an end; that is all. Don’t ever confuse what we’re doing with anything else, because I fear you will be sorely disappointed.”

Emma quirked a challenging eyebrow at her. “Really.” It wasn’t a question, as it was filled with too much skepticism to ever come off as such. But Regina kept her composure and stared her down, determination in her eyes, set on seeing that this foolishness came to an end.

Really.

In one smooth motion that Regina failed to even register as reality until it had already happened, suddenly her back was against the far wall, Emma’s body firmly pressed up against her newly captured form. A surprised protest died on Regina’s lips as her mouth was quickly invaded by Emma’s tongue, the Sherriff holding tight to her wrists as she managed to steal both Regina’s breath and her sanity in one singular motion. A familiar haze began to invade the Mayor’s mind, laying waste to both her anger and her resolve as Regina hungrily devoured all that the woman was offering her.

It had always felt disturbingly natural, Regina realized, for her to just fall into everything that Emma Swan was.

But a small sound of protest left Regina’s lips as the contact was suddenly broken. Their passion, it seemed, had not been the Sherriff’s point. “You think I really don’t know?” Emma breathed against her skin, keeping firm on her hold to prevent Regina from fleeing from a conversation they both knew she didn’t want to have, “What I do to you?”

Emma’s tongue traced the hollow of her throat and Regina instinctively shuddered beneath her, her head falling backwards to rest against the wall, closing her eyes to try to block out Emma’s words. “How I make you feel?

“I lust after you.” Regina’s insistence was breathy yet firm, trying desperately not to release a moan at the feeling of Emma nipping softly at the base of her neck. She didn’t deserve the pleasure; not when she was ruining the moment like this. “That is all.

Emma merely laughed, the sound almost echoing off the hollow of her throat. “I fucking terrify you,” she corrected fiercely before pressing her thigh firmly between Regina’s legs, emitting a wanton gasp from the woman beneath her before Emma sunk her teeth into her shoulder, marking Regina as hers. The brunette cried out from the feeling, her nails digging into the flesh of Emma’s bicep as her hips twitched in insistent desperation.

“But you know what?” Emma breathed, her tongue tracing over the mark she made and then upwards, over the succulent flesh of Regina’s neck until she got to her ear. Her breath was heavy with arousal as her fingers splayed out against Regina’s skin, hiking up her shirt so she could feel the dip and curvature of her waist. It was then that Emma quietly revealed her own weakness, being whispered softly into Regina’s ear as though it were a schoolyard secret between friends. “You terrify me too.”

Regina’s breathing shallowed.

Her arousal giving way to panic, the Mayor suddenly shoved Emma off of her. “Stop it!” she shrieked, unable to contain her fear over what had been implied. It was completely unbecoming of her, but in that moment Regina really couldn’t find it within herself to care. “We are nothing to each other; nothing!

Emma’s chest was heaving, her eyes becoming dark as she stood before the woman who would rather live in denial then admit that something had changed. “Is that what you told yourself while you sulked for three days, avoiding my calls?” Emma took a step forwards and Regina felt the overwhelming urge to back away, yet found she had nowhere to go.

“I’m not telling you this because I want something more than what we have; I’m telling you this to make you feel better about this entire fucked up situation. You’re not the only one that this screwed with, you know! Half the time I can barely stand to look at you and the other half…” Emma trailed off, suddenly finding that she didn’t want to elaborate. Regina clenched her jaw, trying desperately to fight the slew of emotions that were threatening to make her ill.

“You care, Regina.”

Regina was beginning to feel akin to a trapped animal and so she bent her will to allot herself the freedom and space that she so terribly needed in that moment. In the end, there was nothing more she could do, as she knew Emma was stubborn and would fight to the last. That was something Regina knew she wouldn’t be able to handle.

“Fine!” she exclaimed fiercely, desperate for this conversation to just end. “What you said bothered me, and it’s been fucking with my head ever since because I’m not supposed to care; it complicates things and that is the last thing I want.” Dark eyes met light as Regina furiously glared at her interrogator. “Alright? Are you satisfied now?”

Emma exhaled a slow breath, her anger starting to dissipate from the confirmation. She nodded, releasing her hold on the brunette. “Yeah.”

“Good. Now get the hell out of my face.

Emma did as she requested, backing up a few steps so that Regina no longer felt backed into a corner. As she tried to steady her breathing, realizing that she had been nearly on the verge of a panic attack, Emma watched her. Her face softened with guilt.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly, sounding regretful. “I just… I don’t like when people lie to me.”

“Another childhood trauma from the rejected daughter in you, I’m sure,” Regina spat, still furious with her for making her admit something she had taken quite a lot of time and effort to bury. Her arms wrapped around her form, trying to find some small semblance of comfort after being taken much farther than she was ready for.

Hurt flashed in Emma’s eyes, but she did not deny it. “Yeah, probably,” she affirmed quietly. Her eyes shifted from Regina and the Mayor watched her start to recoil from the subject she had so fervently insisted on bringing up. This was exactly why they did not talk about what they were doing; neither of them were emotionally mature enough to do so. They were too messed up.

“I don’t want to date you,” Emma told her, pushing past her urge to run for once and actually facing what it was that she had started. “I think I’d probably end up killing you. All I wanted, all I want,” she corrected herself, “is the truth. If you can’t give that to me, then maybe…” Emma exhaled a long sigh, her expression showing how much she did not want to say her next words, “maybe we really should stop.”

Despite her anger, Regina’s stomach twisted in knots at those words. “I don’t want that,” she answered, without even fully thinking about it. Relief flashed on Emma’s face, but it was brief. She looked at Regina, knowing that she needed to test her before she allowed herself to feel good about it.

“Why?” The question was not unexpected, yet it was hated all the same.

Regina slumped against the wall, already utterly exhausted by the unexpected onslaught of emotions that she was forced to feel this afternoon. She looked at Emma helplessly, silently begging for her to just let it go for now. However, her request was quickly denied.

“Regina, just tell me,” Emma pleaded softly, desperation in her tone. “Please… make me stay.”

The brunette let out a loud sigh of frustration, running her hand through her hair. Honesty had never been a redeeming quality of hers, but as she looked at Emma, Regina knew that if she opted to say nothing at all, it would only stand to hurt them both so much more. It would end what they had, and that was the very last thing that Regina wanted right now.

Shifting her gaze so that she didn’t have to look Emma in the eye when she said it, Regina forced the words to come out of her. “Because you make me feel something I don’t want to lose.” The admission was soft, sounding almost painful to utter, but it was heard all the same.

Whatever was holding Emma’s emotions back seemed to break at those words and suddenly she had Regina’s face in her hands, crushing their lips together as she kissed her with such bruising passion that the brunette suddenly found that she couldn’t breathe. Everything felt lighter, easier almost as she allowed Emma to unburden her with a secret that had been crushing the sanity out of her for far too long. And so, hands grasping at the fabric of Emma’s clothing, Regina welcomed her in, allowing herself for the first time to feel something other than lust for the woman that had always drove her mad.

It was probably the worst idea either of them had ever had, yet they fell into its madness it all the same.

“Fuck,” Emma panted against her lips after they broke, pressing her forehead against Regina’s as her hand snaked up her shirt and over the taut muscles of her abdomen. She closed her eyes, her voice sounding terribly regretful as she breathed, “I so wish you had said that to me earlier…”

Regina’s eyebrows knitted in confusion, her breathing labored from everything Emma had made her feel. “Why?” she asked, allowing her hand to cup the back of the woman’s neck in some pathetic attempt to make her stay with her, even though she was fairly certain she knew why Emma sounded so regretful.

“Because I want to fuck the breath from your lungs,” Emma told her passionately, her fingernails raking over soft, olive skin as she pulled back a little to look her in the eye. Her lips turned down into an apologetic frown. “But I…”

“Have to go,” Regina finished for her, wishing she didn’t sound as terribly upset about that as she did. Taking a shuddered inhale of breath, Regina instantly rebuilt her walls in a desperate attempt to stop feeling everything she knew she was going to eventually drown in. She pulled away from her. “It’s fine, I don’t—”

But Emma grabbed her hand, pulling her back to her. “It’s not fine,” she told her seriously. “But it’s… it’s kind of my early birthday celebration.” Guilt masked over her face; she really didn’t want to leave her. Regina wished that served her some sort of comfort, but right then it really didn’t. She had allowed Emma to strip her naked, emotionally speaking anyway, and now she was basically abandoning her.

“Oh.”

Honestly, Regina didn’t even know her birthday was coming up, and though it was unfathomable that she would, since Emma had never mentioned it before now, an uncomfortable feeling twisted in her gut.

“Yeah,” Emma confirmed softly, chewing slightly on her bottom lip. “Ruby and Mary Margaret wanted to take me out drinking at The Rabbit Hole tonight since they both have to work tomorrow. My actual birthday,” Emma explained after a beat, even though Regina had gotten that herself. The blonde’s grip on her hand tightened before she admitted, “I actually came here to invite you. After, you know, the whole apology thing…”

Yesterday, Regina would have believed she’d never have an interest in such a thing. But today, now, it almost hurt her to remind Emma in a soft voice, “That’s probably not a good idea.” Regina exhaled a defeated breath filled with all the disappointment she hadn’t really expected to feel. “You know we shouldn’t be seen together.”

“Fuck that,” Emma said strongly, making Regina’s eyebrows rise in disbelief. The woman shrugged noncommittally as she amended, “Okay, I’m not saying come as my… whatever the hell you are, but everyone knows that we’ve gotten friendlier. You wouldn’t let Henry sleep over as much as you do if we hadn’t. Mary Margaret has even formed the theory that you might actually be human after all.” She smirked, trying to allow Regina to find the humor in it. But the brunette just sighed as she rested heavily against the wall.

“I can’t,” she answered regrettably. “I’m sorry.”

Emma pursed her lips, trying not to look disappointed yet failing miserably at it. Regina felt her heart clench in her chest and she reached for her, bringing them into an apologetic kiss that suddenly felt so much more real than anything she had ever felt before, despite the fact that it was probably nothing more than another, yet far more attractive, delusion to immerse herself in.

“You’ve fucked everything up now, you know that right?” Regina breathed against her lips, partially wishing she had never allowed herself to have these kinds of emotions, as she was certain they would crush them both in the end. Emma had changed everything by forcing her to admit what she felt and it was eventually bound to turn into something neither of them really wanted. That was how these sorts of things went.

“Yeah,” Emma whispered, sounding almost regretful herself. But she sunk into her, pressing her palm to Regina’s to feel the connection they shared as she allowed they brunette to consume her whole. “This is going to end badly, isn’t it?”

Regina closed her eyes as she leaned her forehead against Emma’s, breathing in her air as she nodded. “Yes,” she affirmed softly, knowing that the time would come when reality would crash down around them. “It most certainly is.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER EIGHT
Gift

Regina had been sitting in her car for the better part of the last half hour.

She was parked outside of The Rabbit Hole, thus far unable to gather up the courage to walk inside. Regina could see Emma through the window, laughing and having a good time with her friends as she drank a rather careless amount of liquor; it was a picture that, no matter which way you looked at it, Regina knew she would never fit into. And perhaps that was better, for neither of them wanted the other to fit into their lives in such a way, yet even the compromising notion of trying to look ‘friendly’ towards one another to the outside world still felt wrong somehow. In a way, that would be worse a lie than what they were living now.

Regina was uncertain of why she had come. What she said to Emma had been true; it was far better that neither of them be seen conversing in public. Yet it was the first invitation Regina received had that wasn’t out of fear, and the feeling of actually being wanted made her get into her car hours later against her better judgment. Now she merely looked foolish though, sitting there in her vehicle, just staring at Emma like some kind of deranged, lovesick stalker.

What the hell had that woman manage to turn her into?

That man was with them as well, Al… whatever. Emma was right, he was rather handsome once he cleaned up a bit. Though Regina knew he was only there for appearances, it still made her lip upturn in displeasure as she watched Emma laugh at something Ruby had said, leaning into this random man’s side who really had no business touching her like he actually owned anything that Emma Swan truly was.

The urge to rip the man’s still beating heart from his chest began to overwhelm her and Regina furiously stepped from her car, now set on the rather ridiculous notion of proving ownership.

She wasn’t about to do anything foolish, but Regina still felt that she needed to do something, so when she walked into The Rabbit Hole she kept her head down, immediately walking straight to the bar. Standing where she knew she could not be seen by the table she had been previously staring at, Regina snapped impatiently to get the bartender’s attention. He turned, looking rather irritated at being snapped at like some kind of worthless servant, but when he caught sight of the Mayor his eyes widened in surprise and recognition.

“Madame Mayor,” he greeted, looking a little intimidated that Regina was the one who was impatiently awaiting his service. Though Regina had no fathomable idea who this man was, it was hardly unexpected that he seemed to know exactly who was standing before him; everyone else in this town seemed to, after all. As it was when she was Queen, Regina’s name was whispered amongst them in fear of all she was capable of. It was something Regina believed she’d still enjoy, but most of the time it just ended up trying her patience. “What, uh… what can I get for you?”

Regina rested her forearms on the bar as she leaned over a little, nodding her head towards Emma, who had her back turned to the bar. “Do you see that blonde woman sitting over there?”

The bartended turned, assessing Regina’s target. “You mean the hot one with the boots?” he questioned, an assessment that made Regina’s face sour. Men of this world were terribly simpleminded creatures, it seemed.

“Yes,” she said dryly, which made him look back at Regina a bit sheepishly for saying something like that in front of the mayor of the town. Regina disregarded his assessment of Emma though and pulled one of her credit cards from her wallet before handing it over to him. “Anything that she orders tonight, put on my card. I’ll come back and pick it up tomorrow afternoon. Understood?”

The bartender looked a little perplexed by the offer, though probably because it was coming from her. “Really? That’s… well that’s damn generous of you, Mayor.”

Regina tried to downplay it by waving her hand dismissively. “She’s an employee of mine and apparently today is her birthday. According to some people, that requires me to be nice.” Regina nearly spat out the word in an attempt to show the halfwit how much she loathed doing this. She didn’t need him running his mouth all over town about her good deed, after all. That would spread like wildfire and raise too many questions about her and Emma’s relationship.

“Still,” he responded, looking impressed, “that’s really—”

“I really don’t care what you think it is, just do what you’re told,” Regina interrupted, her voice growing hard. Her patience was reaching its end. “Now do I have to repeat myself, or was your feeble mind actually able to comprehend my request?”

The man tried to stutter some worthless reply, but it was interrupted by a firm, “Just see that it gets done.” Regina waved her hand to dismiss him, becoming increasingly bored by the tedious interaction with the simple folk of this world that she was being forced to endure. “We’re finished here.”

Looking insulted, the bartender scoffed beneath his breath and turned from her. But as Regina slid away from the bar, she heard the distinctive mutter of, “Bitch,” which, despite its intention, only stood to make Regina’s lips turn up into a self-satisfied smirk as she began to walk away. It was a label that had been plastered on her so many times before that it no longer fazed her because yes, she was a bitch; it was the anger and fear she instilled in people that made her powerful, and that was something Regina would never wish to change.

She was nearly out the door when the hair on the back of her neck stood on end, a familiar shiver rolling down her spine as Regina realized, quite suddenly, that she was being watched. It was an awareness she had adopted when she was Queen, as so many sought her head in revenge, and though here she did not have to worry about being assassinated, she still found the instinct hard to ignore. Her hand grasping the door handle, Regina momentarily paused as her eyes snapped upwards and across the bar, quickly assessing the source of the feeling. Perhaps it was foolish though, as a part of her already knew before she even bothered to look up.

It was Emma.

Their eyes connected from across the room and a familiar heat began to consume the base of Regina’s abdomen; her pupils dilated, her breathing shallowed, and suddenly she felt the desire to be pulled towards the unexpected sense of comfort she had always managed to find within the woman’s gaze. But despite the feeling, Regina forced herself to push it to the side, her stomach beginning to flutter with nerves at being seen, as that was not how she had intended this to go at all. So without a second thought, Regina pushed the door all the way open and strode out of the establishment, her pace quickening as she tried to reach her car.

She didn’t make it very far.

A hand clasped around her wrist just as she was about to pull open her car door, suddenly stilling Regina’s exit so suddenly that she nearly jumped in surprise. “Regina, wait—” Emma tried, but Regina pulled her hand from her forcefully, taking an instinctual two steps backwards to establish the distance that their public relationship so required.

Hands,” she warned Emma sternly, her voice low as she quickly assessed their surroundings. Thankfully, no one was around to see the desperate gesture that Emma had foolishly attempted. “We’re in public, Miss Swan.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I just…” Emma looked at her, her eyes taking in everything that Regina was as though she was seeing her for the first time. The look on her face made Regina increasingly uncomfortable, as it was far too intimate to not be hidden behind closed doors. “You… you came.” She looked unfathomably happy about that, and despite Regina’s instinct to dismiss it with some snide comment, instead her lips twitched upwards into the tiniest of smiles.

“Yes,” she affirmed softly. Regina tore her eyes away from her though, trying not to outwardly show how pleased she was that even a simple gesture from her had somehow managed to make Emma happy. Regina couldn’t even remember the last time she had ever made anyone happy; with how at odds she was with Henry lately, it seemed to have been far too long. It almost surprised Regina, how good it felt to make someone smile, instead of cringe away from her in fear and loathing.

Still, it was a dangerous feeling to have, especially considering where they were and what they were supposed to mean to one another. “But it was a bad idea,” Regina insisted, needing Emma to realize that she had made a mistake. “I shouldn’t have—”

“Shut up.”

Regina’s eyes snapped up, having not expected that response in the slightest, but before she could comprehend the situation enough to form a furious retort, suddenly her hand was in Emma’s and she was being pulled around the far side of the building. The dark shadows enveloped their secret sin as Regina felt herself being pushed rather unceremoniously against the brick wall, her words of protest dying in her throat as Emma kissed her hard, her fingers grasping the fabric of Regina’s clothing as she pushed into her.

“I know you want to dismiss it,” she whispered against her lips, her breath smelling of sweetened liquor and stale cigarettes, a drinking habit that Regina would be sure to see cease later. “I know why you need to leave, but… thank you, for just showing up. You’re all I fucking wanted for my birthday anyway.”

Regina’s fingers found her neck as she looked into Emma’s eyes, her breath becoming shallow as the rest of the world melted away against her better judgment. “Then have me for it,” she breathed, suddenly remembering how unfinished they had left things between them earlier in the day. Emma quirked her eyebrow in surprise as she took Regina’s words in a way other than what was intended.

“Here?”

That seemed to snap Regina out of her wanton haze as she gently pushed Emma off of her, more reminding herself than Emma where they currently were. “No, not here,” Regina scoffed, finding the Sherriff’s intense lack of public awareness utterly unfathomable. Even intoxicated, she should know better than that. But then again, it seemed Regina had momentarily forgotten herself as she had allowed Emma to practically grope her outside a bar.

“I’ll leave the door unlocked,” she promised instead, knowing her offer would be more to Emma’s liking anyway. “Henry will be gone all night. Come over when you’re finished and…” Regina smirked a little, taking a step forward to run her hands up the taut muscles of Emma’s stomach as she pressed her lips to her ear, “if you don’t overdo it on the liquor, you’ll have a surprise waiting for you when you get there.”

Despite how much the promise of something good awaiting her seemed to excite Emma, her lips however did turn down into a slight frown. “You want me to stop drinking?” Regina affirmed that with a small murmured affirmative, which prompted the response, “Why?”

“Because I want you competent enough to enjoy all the dirty little things I’ll allow you to do with your birthday gift,” Regina responded softly, allowing her lips to drag across the soft skin of Emma’s cheek as her arms snaked around her waist. It was intoxicating, it seemed, just to touch her. Regina couldn’t stop herself and she found herself momentarily glad that the shadows provided them with enough cover to not be seen by anyone who would happen to pass by. “So stop asking questions and just do as I tell you, yeah?”

Emma shuddered beneath her touch, her throat seemingly having gone dry as she croaked out a small, “Yeah.” Regina smiled victoriously, enjoying the power she held over Emma’s competent thought as she allowed her fingers to trace the small dip in the woman’s bottom lip.

“There’s a good girl,” she murmured softly before giving into one last moment of weakness and capturing her lips with her own. Emma sunk into her, her hands grasping for her as she moaned softly within her mouth. Regina’s eyes fell closed as she pushed against her once, just firmly enough to hold a promise, before finally parting from the woman she found she craved in all the ways that would ultimately destroy her.

“Go back inside,” Regina softly encouraged her, nodding her head towards the bar. “You don’t want your friends to—” But her words came too late, as the distinct voice of Ruby was heard around the corner, no doubt wondering where her friend had disappeared to.

“Em?”

Emma’s eyes widened as her grip momentarily tightened on the base of Regina’s jacket, apparently shocked still. It didn’t last long though and she lightly pushed Regina away in haste as reality slammed into her, whispering a frantic plea of, “Shit, hide!”

Regina’s heart had leapt into her throat and she instinctively backed away from Emma as far as she could go, looking around to try to find an adequate place to disappear. But the building was surrounded by a high fence and there was absolutely nowhere to go, nor anything to try to hide behind.

Where?” Regina bit back in a heated whisper. Emma just looked at her helplessly, looking near on the verge of a panic attack over the possibility of being found in a dark corner with the Mayor of Storybrooke. Regina understood her fear.

Knowing that she had to be the one to get them out of this as Emma was far too intoxicated to try to come up with anything believable, Regina got right up in Emma’s space, attempting to wipe the smeared lipstick off the other woman’s face. “Follow my lead,” she whispered, just before Ruby stepped around the corner to lay eyes on what had the ability to become the biggest disaster if it wasn’t handled exactly so.

“Mayor Mills?” Ruby’s voice was filled with both confusion and instantaneous suspicion. Regina, however, ignored her.

Suddenly a loud slap echoed through the dark alley. Emma clutched her cheek, having not expected that in the slightest, her eyes turning dark as she glared at Regina in disbelief and anger. Regina played off of her reaction, getting right in her face as she hissed, “You have no right to tell me how to raise my son! And if you have an ounce of intelligence underneath all that peroxide, you’ll stay out of my business. Because believe me, Miss Swan, I can destroy your life with just a snap of my fingers. Do not test me.”

Regina turned in a whirl of furious determination, her eyes falling on the surprised face of Ruby before she eyed the girl up, a hint of a sneer playing at the edge of her lips. “Move,” she ordered, right before she practically ran into her to force the woman out of her way. Ruby stumbled back a little, disbelief and anger etched on her face as Regina breezed past her, heading towards her car.

From behind her, Regina could hear Ruby exclaim, “What the hell was that?”

“Her time of the month probably?” Emma responded, at least competent enough to sound angry about it. “Whatever, let’s just go back inside. I’m not going to let that bitch ruin my night.”

As Regina circled her car to get to the driver’s side door, she briefly looked up to see Emma following Ruby back into the bar. But before she went back inside she turned, her eyes connecting with Regina’s as she shot her a secret smile. A comforting feeling of warmth invaded the Mayor’s chest as she she opened her car door, seeing it returned in kind.

Perhaps they were starting to get better at this after all.

[x]

“—Holy mother of fuck.

Regina smirked from her place on the bed, watching Emma nearly trip over herself once she caught sight of her. She had left the front door unlocked as she promised, but thought it better if Emma came up the stairs to find her little prize rather than be greeted in the entranceway. The expression the Sherriff wore as she raked her eyes over the steel-boned, black corset that pushed Regina’s breasts so far together it looked as though she could get lost in them, was by far worth the wait.

“I take it you approve.”

Emma’s eyes trailed from the tips of Regina’s stiletto heels, all the way up to the garter belt that held her stockings up. Her eyes landed on the riding crop situated carefully on Regina’s lap, her fingers playing with the base of it with a hint of promise. It seemed it had been worth it to keep some of her undergarments from her Queen days, as Emma looked as though she were about to spontaneously combust on the spot. “Happy fucking birthday to me,” Emma muttered, mostly to herself as she stood completely in awe of what sat before her.

Emma went to move towards her but Regina held up her hand, stilling her movements. “Ah, ah,” she tutted softly, her smirk growing larger as she told her, “First, I have some ground rules.” Her statement was met with a grumpy expression.

“You know I hate rules.”

“Yes, well,” Regina began, crossing her legs as she leaned back on her hands, giving Emma a better angle in which to practically salivate over her, “I think what I will be offering you in exchange will be very worth it.” Emma quirked an eyebrow, intrigued.

“Oh yeah?”

“Mmm,” Regina affirmed softly, allowing her hand to trail up her thigh as she ever so slightly spread her legs for Emma, allowing her to see that she wasn’t wearing any panties. Emma’s breath noticeably shallowed. “I am more than aware, Miss Swan, of your desire for me to be subservient to you, and I make a point to never become a true subordinate because, quite frankly, my pride doesn’t allow it. But…” Regina’s fingers brushed the small landing strip neatly trimmed over her mound, revealing the best part of Emma’s gift, “for one night, and one night only, I will allow you to use me as your slave and I won’t, in any way, question or mock your dominance.”

Emma raised her eyebrows, surprised by the offer. She also, however, looked unfathomably excited by the prospect of true dominance. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

Emma bit her bottom lip, no doubt thinking of all the dirty little things she would make Regina do. But then she realized something and her eyebrows knitted in confusion. “Where do the rules come in then? That riding crop come with a safety word or something?”

Regina scoffed. “Hardly; safety words are for men.” Emma smirked at that answer, but she still looked confused, wondering what the catch was. So Regina crossed her legs once more, wanting Emma’s full attention as she explained. “My only requirement is that, while I will do whatever you want and say whatever you wish, you are not allowed, in any way, to ask me anymore about what I feel for you, or talk about what our arrangement has become. Is that understood?”

Regina had already dealt with more honesty and emotion in one day than she had in the last ten years; she wanted this night to be fun, and she knew that wouldn’t happen if things began to get too heavy. There was only so much she could handle. Regina just wanted to take a step back, and it seemed Emma did not have a problem with that because she nodded, beginning to cross the room to her once more, eyes still trailing over her form like she couldn’t believe she was real. This time, Regina allowed Emma to come to her.

Emma straddled her waist, her hand curling dark locks as she pulled Regina’s head back far enough to expose her throat. Her eyes were dark with lust, her lips slightly parted as she stared down at the woman who was willing to do absolutely anything she wanted for one night, just so she could have a nice birthday. It was a gesture Regina never believed she would care enough to give, but it seemed she rather enjoyed making Emma happy.

“So if I asked you who owned you…?” Emma breathed, her lips a mere fraction from her newfound slave’s as she took the riding crop from her hands, claiming ownership over their new toy. “What would you say?”

Regina’s eyelids fluttered closed as Emma trailed the flat end over the hollow of her throat, her thighs tightening around her hips. “I would say you do,” Regina gasped out, feeling Emma trace the shell of her ear with her tongue. The brunette shivered in wanton anticipation beneath her, but her pleasure was short lived as suddenly Emma’s hand grasped her throat, her grip tightening as she forced Regina to look at her.

“Not good enough,” she hissed, cutting off Regina’s oxygen supply for a moment as she repeated her question. “I asked who owned you, bitch; say it with some feeling or don’t fucking say it at all!”

Emma released her grip to allow Regina to speak and the brunette exclaimed, without any hint of hesitation, “You do, Madame Swan!” Her voice was breathy as she struggled to get the intake of air she had previously been deprived of, but her words were still strong and assured as her hands found the hem of Emma’s tank top, grasping onto her like she was the only thing worth holding onto in this world. “You own everything that I am,” Regina continued, her voice thick with desire as she stared into Emma’s hardened eyes, “and everything that you will make me become.”

It seemed to be the kind of expression Emma was looking for, yet still didn’t fully expect. She exhaled a shuddered breath, looking down at Regina as though, in that moment, she might very well be the best thing that had ever happened to her. And as Emma kissed her with all the bruising passion that Regina’s words had instilled in her, the Mayor realized that beneath all their little games, hidden behind words breathed out of forced submission, was a truth that, with each passing moment, was getting so much harder to ignore.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER NINE
Pancakes

When Regina awoke the following morning, she was consumed by a haze of confusion and pleasure as she arched her back, pressing herself deeper into the feeling as a sleepy moan fell from her lips. It took a few moments until she realized that the last thing she should be feeling when waking up was a mouth between her legs and she instinctively jerked backwards, her eyes popping open in paranoia and surprise. But strong, assured hands fell to her thighs, squeezing them lightly in an attempt to calm her.

“Relax, it’s just me.”

“You—” Regina tried, still only half awake and barely competent as she sleepily blinked at Emma, confusion still evident on her face as she tried to become aware of the reality of her waking world. After a moment’s hesitation, Regina found the question she was looking for. “What the hell are you still doing here?”

Emma scrunched up her face in a sort of half-apology, sitting back on her haunches between Regina’s thighs. “I fell asleep,” she admitted. Emma’s tone was tentative, as she knew Regina would not be pleased about that; though a lot of the lines in their relationship were blurred beyond recognition yesterday, there were still some things that Regina wished to keep intact. There was a disturbing level of intimacy associated with waking up beside someone and it was something Regina was neither prepared nor emotionally ready for. Her face darkened.

Emma took in Regina’s expression and stated, sounding disappointed by what she had found in the other woman’s gaze, “You’re angry.”

“What was your first clue?” Regina snapped, shifting away from Emma so she could sit up against her pillows. As she pulled her legs up to her chest, Regina noticed the tears in her stockings and realized, quite suddenly, that she was still half-dressed in the ridiculous outfit she had put on for Emma’s pleasure. Though her corset lay forgotten on the floor, the straps of her garter belt pulled uncomfortably against her skin and Regina unsnapped them, wishing to rid herself of her attire. As she began to unroll her stockings down her legs, she continued, “You’re overstepping your bounds, Miss Swan. If you don’t begin to tread more carefully, I think you’re going to find you won’t like what happens.”

Annoyingly, Emma did not look at all fazed by her threat. Instead she just watched Regina toss her stockings across the room, a little smirk plastered on her face as her gaze took in every dip and curve of Regina’s nude form. “The ‘hot mess’ look really works on you, you know,” she casually mentioned, completely disregarding everything Regina had just said.

The brunette immediately touched her tousled hair, irrationally self-conscious all of a sudden as she realized how she must look. She had done her hair and worn her makeup in such a way that it was akin to the appearance she used to favor as Queen, and there was no fathomable way that could look attractive in the morning. Regina scowled at her. “Don’t mock me.”

“I’m not,” Emma told her seriously, still looking at her in that irritating little way that made a heat ignite in the pit of Regina’s stomach. It made the Mayor unable to keep a hold on the anger she was meant to be feeling as she watched Emma crawl towards her body, her movements slow, yet precise, like a lion stalking their prey, expecting that she would start to run at any given moment. “Why do you think I tried to wake you up by fucking you?”

Unfathomably, Regina did not move from her. Perhaps though, her pride would never allow such a cowardly reaction. Instead Regina kept herself still, her eyes hard as she stared Emma down, challenging her. “Because you have the hormonal equivalency of an adolescent male?”

Regina’s snarky reply only made the woman’s smirk grow wider as she placed her hands on her knees, encouraging Regina to bring them down. Despite herself, the brunette complied, allowing Emma to crawl on top of her and straddle her waist. It was immensely difficult apparently, to deny one’s self a pleasure that had already been allotted. The warmth of Emma’s body spread through Regina as she looked up at the woman who had owned her body the previous night in some of the most degrading, yet pleasurable ways she could have ever imagined.

The façade of ownership, it seemed, held more truth in it than Regina was willing to admit.

Emma’s nails raked softly over the curvature of the Mayor’s hips, her eyes deadlocked onto Regina’s as the blonde’s wanton gaze stole any and all competent thought from Regina’s mind. “Because you…” Emma breathed against her lips as her hands cupped the fullness of Regina’s breasts, allowing the brunette’s strained nipples to brush against her palms, “are the most breathtaking woman I have ever had the pleasure to look at.”

Regina’s eyes fluttered closed as the blonde pulled at her taut peaks, sending sparks of pleasure straight to her core that had ignited with a burning passion at Emma’s softly spoken words. Suppressing a moan, Regina leaned her forehead against Emma’s, whispering the only truth she could feel in that moment as her fingernails dug deeply into the skin of Emma’s hips. “I really wish you would stop saying things like that…”

Emma bit her bottom lip softly, allowing her fingers to trace a slow path up Regina’s heaving bosom, bypassing her heart that was beginning to pound in anticipation beneath her ribcage. She wanted Emma to completely devour her, chew her up and spit her back out again, fucking all semblance of sense from her mind and body as Regina would writhe and beg beneath her, desperate to be hurt by her just a little bit more.

There had been a disturbing amount of accuracy when Regina had first believed Emma to be her addiction, for it seemed that no matter how much she had her, her craving would never find itself sated.

“I’ll make you a deal,” Emma began, her tone purposeful as she cupped the back of Regina’s neck in a startlingly possessive manner, prompting the brunette’s eyes to pop open and a small gasp to fall from her lips. Emma smirked at the reaction her simple gesture had caused, her eyes darkening as she basked in her ability to quickly reduce Regina Mills into nothing more than a needy mess. “I won’t say anything nice to you for the rest of the day,” Emma continued, her tone holding all the expectancy of one who sought to cause a strong reaction, “if… you make me breakfast.”

Regina was momentarily taken out of her haze of lust at Emma’s unexpected proposition, and the sudden disturbance to her wanton mood irritated her. She pulled back from her, raising an eyebrow at the innocent smile Emma had quickly plastered on her face. Regina’s expression soured. “Boundaries, Miss Swan,” she reminded her, her tone low and dangerous as she felt herself being manipulated.

“Hold on a second,” Emma requested, already looking like she had won even though Regina had no intention whatsoever of allowing it. “You haven’t heard the best part yet.”

“Oh yeah?” Regina replied dryly, skepticism in her tone as she inquired, “And what might that be?”

Emma smirked, grabbing a fistful of Regina’s tousled hair as she wrenched her head to the side, exposing her neck so that she could lick a long, tantalizing line up to her ear. Despite her current aggravation, Regina was unable to hold back the breathy moan that was exhaled from the feeling. “If you promise to make me pancakes,” Emma whispered enticingly, her hot breath tickling Regina’s oversensitive skin, “I’ll bend you over the kitchen counter first and fuck you so hard that you won’t be able to sit down for a week.

The desire that had left with Emma’s earlier request was suddenly back in full force, overwhelming Regina’s senses as her fingernails pierced the skin on her thigh, trying to hold her resolve but feeling it begin to crumble in a rather embarrassingly short amount of time. Her response was the first thing she could think of, which was the rather pathetic protest of, “That is entirely unsanitary.” Emma chuckled against her skin, playfully nipping at the base of her neck as she allowed Regina’s desire to work against her futile insistences that they respect the boundaries of their arrangement.

“That wasn’t a no,” Emma reminded her as she pulled away to look down at Regina, knowing she had already won by how the Mayor was seemingly unable to stop herself from grasping at the firmness of her ass, bringing their hips impossibly closer as she growled against the flesh of Emma’s throat over the irritation her weakness had brought her.

“You’re intolerable.”

“Maybe,” Emma responded, her eyes falling closed as she allowed Regina to suck and pull at the skin of her neck, marking her in a wave of aggravation as she tried, desperately, to prove an ownership that they both knew that Emma really held. “But you like it.”

Despite her wish to the contrary, Regina found she couldn’t even begin to deny that one bit.

[x]

Regina’s fingers curled around the far edge of the island counter, her breath hitching in her throat as she felt Emma’s fingers brush teasingly over the apex of her thighs. “You know,” Emma began, her voice low and sultry as she took in Regina’s flushed appearance, “having you in this position makes me wish I had brought your punishment for waking me up the other day.”

Regina tried to spread her legs a little more and push her hips back, desperately wanting more friction than what she was being allotted, but Emma pulled her hand away, content on driving her to madness. Regina scowled. “Do I need to be in a special position now for you to gag me? Because I’m fairly certain that could work in a number of different scenarios.”

A loud smack echoed through the kitchen as the flat of Emma’s hand connected with Regina’s ass. The Mayor lurched forward, groaning over the combined sensation of pain and pleasure. “Did I say you could speak?” Emma exclaimed, her voice hard as her commanding tone held a rhetorical nature.

Regina smirked in response, content on playing Emma’s little game, if that’s what she wished. But she wouldn’t take it lying down; that privilege had been revoked once the sun came up. “You haven’t given me anything worth being silent for yet, dear.”

Emma’s hand connected much harder with Regina’s ass this time, causing the Mayor to hiss in pain as the bruises that were littered all over her lower body from their previous night’s activities were prompted into darkening. “You done?” Emma asked, her eyebrows rising in expectation. “Because if you’re not, I could always use the ball gag and strap-on I bought on some other woman…”

Regina’s head whipped around, her eyes darkening at Emma’s words and its subsequent ability to silence her, even though there was a part of Regina that knew the Sherriff would never really do that; they seemed to be stuck with each other now, for better or for worse. Regardless of the idle nature of her threat though, Emma smirked at her little victory, and it managed to get Regina some semblance of a reward.

“That’s what I thought,” Emma said, voice dripping like poisonous honey as its sweetness sought to destroy her will. A solitary finger slid into the confines of Regina’s tight passage, giving the brunette something, but not nearly enough to even begin to sate her need. Regina’s fingers tightened around the edge of the counter, her knuckles flashing white as she tried to stop herself from demanding more, since she knew where that would get her right now.

“You’d like getting fucked like that though, wouldn’t you?” Emma asked her, her other hand tangling in Regina’s hair as she forced her cheek against the cool marble of the counter, wanting to see the desire in her eyes as she taunted her with promises of future pleasure. Another finger slipped inside of her and Regina moaned low in her throat, feeling herself almost filled enough to sate the ever growing ache between her thighs. “Wouldn’t you?

“Yes!” Regina gasped, not caring much for irritating Emma anymore, not when she was so close to being given what she wanted. “Gag me, whip me, you can string me up by my goddamn nipples for all I care right now, so long as you just—!” But Emma’s fingers were retracted from her in an instant, being replaced by a hard slap that landed more between her legs than on her ass. Regina cried out, her nails scratching the surface of the counter as she panted with the delicious combination of pain and pleasure.

“As appealing as desperation looks on you, Mayor,” Emma tutted softly, sounding amused by the response she elicited, “I don’t think I asked for anything other than a one word answer.”

Regina growled in frustration. Though she knew Emma would eventually give her what she wanted, it was agonizing torture until she got there. “You didn’t actually specify,” she bit back, unable to contain her instinct to challenge. There would always be a part of her that got off on riling Emma up, struggling for sexual dominance they both knew she would never have, but Regina craved to fight for all the same. “So maybe the next time you want a desirable result, you should try to rub two brain cells toge—oof!

Emma’s body flattened against hers so hard that it knocked the wind out of Regina as her abdomen was pushed uncomfortably into the edge of the counter. Fingernails dug into her ass, Emma’s other hand forcing Regina’s head back by her hair so she could look her dead in the eyes. “Do you want to get fucked?” Emma asked her, her gaze darkening with provocation.

Regina’s breathing was labored, looking entirely at Emma’s mercy except for one, perfectly curved eyebrow that rose when she countered with, “I don’t know, I guess that all depends on how badly you want pancakes, doesn’t it?”

Emma noticeably faulted, a retort failing to fall from her lips in a respectable amount of time. Regina’s smirk grew wider.

Suddenly flustered by her lack of a proper response, Emma let go of her. “God damnit, I can’t believe you just beat me over pancakes!” She actually seemed legitimately upset over that and Regina couldn’t help but laugh at the pout that had graced Emma’s once determined face as she hoisted herself off the counter top.

“You poor thing,” Regina replied, only half-mocking her as she watched Emma’s facial expression turn grumpy over her failure. She chuckled as she advanced on her, guiding her backwards with one hand until Emma’s back had met the far wall. Covering Emma’s body with her own, feeling the heat of their breasts press together, Regina lightly taunted against her lips, “You really want those pancakes, don’t you?”

Emma’s face soured before admitting in a small, albeit slightly defensive voice, “I can’t cook. It’s… been awhile since I’ve had some. Don’t judge me.”

Despite how she should probably feel about such an admission, Regina realized that may be the most adorable thing she had ever heard. Emma so desperately wanted something as simple as pancakes that she forfeited dominance, just so she could stand a fighting chance of having Regina cook her a nice breakfast. Her lips twitching upwards into the smallest of smiles, Regina snaked her arms around Emma’s waist, holding her in such a way that it almost seemed domestically intimate. She chose, however, not to dwell on what that could mean.

“Stop pouting; you look like a child,” Regina chided softly, her fingers tracing delicate patterns along Emma’s silken skin. “I said I’d make them, didn’t I? But you promised you’d do something for me first, and so far all you’ve managed to do is—”

But Regina’s words were cut off as suddenly their positions were reversed. Emma slammed her up against the wall forcefully, fire in her eyes as she sought to make good on her word. “I’m really hungry,” was all she offered as a response before their lips collided in a wave of bruising passion that coaxed both the breath from Regina’s lungs and the sanity from her mind. She shuddered, falling into a familiar haze that she had recently found she couldn’t fathom living without.

Though she would never admit such a thing out loud, Emma was by far the most skilled kisser that Regina had ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She gave and she took with equal measure, finding the delicate balance many often sought between passionate lust and pure, unbridled emotion. She made Regina feel rather weightless, yet still managed to fill the pit of her stomach with a heavy yearning for every silent promise of pleasure that Emma’s lips etched upon hers.

Grasping at the dip in the Sherriff’s waist, Regina cried out against soft lips as Emma’s fingers got lost between her folds. Her touch was firm, yet deliberately less than what Regina was truly craving. Emma had always liked to take her time with things, as though a part of her always expected that she would never be able to do this again. And perhaps before that fear was warranted, but they had now fallen too far, sunk too deep that the thought of ever ceasing was completely unfathomable. Yet Emma’s fingers still mapped out every ridge, every dip, every curve of Regina’s sex, memorizing it by a careful touch as she watched the pleasure splay out across the Mayor’s face from her teasingly skillful ministrations. Still wanting, in the end, to know all of her.

“You’re fucking beautiful, you know?” Emma breathed against her lips, an observation it seemed she was unable to contain as she watched Regina’s lips part, her pupils darkening with lust as she panted out her approval of the things Emma was so easily able to make her feel. But the words struck something in Regina as a frightening feeling of warmth filled her chest once more, and so grasping the back of Emma’s neck, fingernails just barely breaking the skin, she sought enough competency to speak.

“You said…” Regina gasped, her forehead resting against Emma’s as her eyes closed, hips twitching in pleasure as Emma’s fingers found the spot that was able to make her head spin and her vision fog. “You promised…” she tried again, a breathless reminder as she pressed her hips farther into Emma’s hand, “that you wouldn’t… mmphh… say anything… nice…”

A smirk slowly began to form on Emma’s lips, remembering her earlier words. “Right, sorry,” she chuckled against the hollow of Regina’s throat. The sound felt as though it vibrated down her spine and Regina groaned low in her throat as she felt the heat of Emma’s mouth on her, arching her back as, in that moment, she forgot everything else existed but the woman against her. “I meant to say,” Emma whispered in her ear, amusement in her tone, “that you’re so ugly that sometimes it physically hurts me to look at you.”

Regina laughed. The sound was quickly enveloped by a loud moan however once Emma picked up her left leg, coaxing Regina to wrap it around her body as two of her fingers slid deep inside of her, a teasing fulfillment that Emma knew was still not enough for her. “Fuck,” Regina breathed, shuddering in need beneath her as she clenched her muscles, pulling Emma in further, deeper. “More,” she demanded breathlessly, to which Emma merely chuckled.

“Patience.”

I don’t have any!

Though Regina’s eyes were closed, her face etched in desperation as her lions ached with a terrible need she found she could no longer suppress. She could feel Emma smile against her lips. “I know,” she relented softly, as though it was something she almost loved about her. She gave Regina what she wanted though, easily working a third inside of her as she twisted, allowing the sides of her fingers to momentarily brush against the tender spot within Regina that made her gasp and quake with wanton lasciviousness.

Emma situated her hips over the hand inside of her, using the entire force of her body to push even deeper inside of her as Regina’s back began to slam against the wall in a rhythmic motion. Regina grabbed Emma’s face between her hands, crushing their lips together as she allowed the blonde to swallow every gasp, every moan, every whispered word of praise as she gave herself entirely over to the sensations that felt more real in that moment than the world that they actually lived in.

A surprised sound fell from Regina’s lips as suddenly a hand was beneath her ass, lifting her up to allow her other leg to wrap around Emma’s form as well. “You can’t—!” Regina tried breathlessly, trying to make Emma understand that as she was a full grown woman, the likelihood of her being able to hold her up for very long was slim to none. But Emma just pressed her firmer against the wall, giving herself the leverage she needed as she slid a knee beneath the hand that was holding her up for extra support. A smirk crossed Emma’s face, a challenging twinkle in her eye.

Watch me,” she told her firmly, set on doing this her way. Sliding her fingers out of her, Emma pressed firmly against Regina’s aching core, knowing that their current position would’ve only allowed minimal movement if she had opted to stay within her. Regina’s hold tightened in Emma’s hair, her mouth falling open in a silent plea as Emma began to circle her fingers over her sensitive flesh.

“Look at me.”

Her mind clouded with pleasure, it took an incredible amount of effort for Regina to do as she was instructed. There was a part of Regina which foolishly believed the gesture of looking into Emma’s eyes as she brought her to orgasm would be nothing but erotic, but as their gaze connected and Regina’s heart rate increased, the intense feeling of intimacy that passed between them startled the brunette so badly that she had to shut her eyes again. “No,” Regina breathed against her lips, her heart having leapt into her throat as the feeling of tightness began to envelop her entire body as she got closer to the edge.

Emma didn’t push her, knowing that there was only so much Regina could handle before she forced herself to run from it all; as it was, too much had happened between them already. So Emma just whispered the simple relinquishment of, “Okay,” across her lips before she kissed her hard, increasing the pressure on her clitoris so hard that for a moment, Regina’s eyes did pop open before they flew shut once more, the name of her lover falling from her lips as she cried out in ecstasy.

Emma held her firmly as she allowed Regina to quake against her in the aftermath of pleasure. The brunette’s fingers were woven firmly in her hair, her face buried in her neck as her breath came out in short, labored bursts. “Fuck,” Regina breathed, both as an exclamation of praise and a furious realization that she had said Emma’s name, her first name, out loud when she came. That had never happened before, as Regina had always taken careful effort in insuring that it didn’t. But Emma did not comment on it, which was probably a wise decision on her part.

Emma loosened her grip a little, letting Regina’s feet hit the floor. Out of breath and feeling a little dizzy, Regina held on to the woman’s side as she asked the first thing that came to her mind. “So,” she panted, trying to find her grip on reality once more, “do you want your pancakes in special shapes, or…?”

Emma just burst out laughing.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TEN
Threats

It had become a relationship.

A part of Regina knew that, yet refused to address it as such out loud. An admission like that would make it seem more real, and should it ever become real that would make it a mistake Regina would have to rectify, something she would have to cease doing to save them from the no doubt painful ending it would entail, and that was the very last thing she found she wanted to do.

It was complicated, hiding it, but in a way it was no more complicated than what they were doing before. Lies were still told, lines were still drawn, and the fear of caring for one another became replaced with the fear of what would happen should one of them decide they wanted more than what they were being given.

Thus far however, both of them seemed rather content with what they had, despite how ridiculous its outward appearance may seem should they ever peer close enough to look at it. It was easy in a way, almost too easy to be anything more than just some kind of fantasy they had taken to deluding themselves with.

Regina could still remember how it felt, months ago, when she had wanted nothing more than to pluck the heart from Emma’s body and crumble it to dust. She remembered the fear of the ‘Savior’, who, Henry was convinced, would end the curse. Regina remembered hating Emma, with every fiber of her being, and yet now they shared secret smiles when no one was looking, and a passion that far surpassed anything Regina had ever known or felt before.

Emma still irritated her. That was something she believed would never truly go away, just as Regina’s stubbornness never ceased to frustrate the woman who shared her bed. They bickered constantly, though mostly about mundane issues, because the topic of their relationship was never brought up. Both of them had questions they knew the other couldn’t answer and if they pushed it, if they strained the delicate balance they had managed to find with one another, something awful was bound to happen.

It probably didn’t help though that others had always, yet completely unintentionally, managed to make it so much harder on them. At one point Mary Margaret had apparently gotten ahold of Emma’s phone and saw a text she had written to Regina that stated, much to Emma’s dismay, “I swear I’m gonna come over there and beat your ass raw,” which was then followed by Regina’s challenging response of, “You can certainly try, dear.”

Thankfully, the sexual nature in which Emma intended to do said beating was not apparent and the Sherriff had quickly explained that she was frustrated with Regina’s demanding workload and was just blowing off steam with an idle threat, which apparently had led Mary Margaret to insist that threating the Mayor was probably not the smartest way to go about anything, idle or not. Regina couldn’t help but smirk in self-satisfaction after hearing the fear she instilled in the woman, but Emma was still frantic about nearly being caught and now made a point to never let her phone out of her sight.

And then there was Ruby, who must have been told about the text from Mary Margaret because after that she eyed them both much too suspiciously for Regina’s liking. That prompted a week’s worth of staged arguments in Granny’s just for her benefit and, after a while, Ruby stopped looking at Regina with anything other than distaste.

But the worst of it was certainly Henry, who had come home unexpectedly one too many times. It got to the point where both Regina and Emma had to convince him that they were working on renovating the Sherriff’s station together, which explained the late nights and, sometimes, early breakfasts in the morning. After Emma had insisted on using that damned gag on her, they realized it helped in more ways than one, and now Emma stayed over sometimes, fucking her well into the night before Regina banished her to the couch and insisted to Henry the next morning that Emma had once again fallen asleep in the middle of work, which she hoped was sound reasoning of why the woman was in their house so early the next morning.

The excuse was flimsy and they both knew it, but as Henry was only ten, the real reason for Emma’s late night sleepovers never occurred to him. He did, however, eye them both with a fair amount of suspicion and more than once blew up at Regina over ‘corrupting the Savior’ before no doubt running to Emma to try to convince her of the same thing. She and Emma never spoke about Henry’s dislike of them spending time together, but it was obvious to each that it bothered the other. But what could they do? It had gone on far too long now to stop and, quite frankly, neither believed they could even if they wanted to.

Besides, there would either come a time when things between she and Emma would come to its natural end, or hell would freeze over and they’d have to sit down and have the ‘when two people love each other’ talk with Henry. Which, in all honesty, was probably never going to happen. Regina was far too guarded to give anything of real significance, and Emma, who had severe abandonment issues, was not willing to open herself up as it would cause her to be too easily crushed should their relationship see an end. So it seemed that if they kept a fair amount of emotional distance, they were unable to label the other as a threat, which was probably not the basis of any healthy relationship, yet it was the basis of theirs nonetheless.

It might not be anything close to normal, but it still made Regina smile. As it had been so long since she felt herself do that, it was really all she could ask for anyway. Anything else had the potential to overcomplicate things, effectively ruining the small bit of happiness that the simplicity of that feeling gave her.

Although, to Regina’s dismay, it seemed there was another that stood to complicate things for them. She was in her office early one afternoon, going over a mountain of paperwork she had already put off in lieu of having sex with Emma on her desk the day before, when she got a text from the Sherriff that simply read, “We have a problem.”

Clenching her jaw, Regina stared at her phone, trying to force down the impending sense of panic that was creeping up her esophagus. There were a number of things that could mean and she wished Emma had had enough sense to specify that first.

“What’s happened?” she wrote back, hoping that Mary Margaret, or worse, Henry hadn’t gotten ahold of Emma’s phone again. There was at least a page and a half of sexting from earlier in the day, a promise of everything to come once the sun went down and they were able to be alone. The exact nature of their relationship was explicitly stated within those words and it terrified Regina for a moment, because there really was no possible way to lie about the intentions of what had been said to one another should someone have seen.

This was why Regina tried to encourage Emma to start deleting her texts right after they were received, but a part of her knew that Emma was too scatter-brained to adhere to such a request all the time. It was frustrating, but as they texted each other for a fairly large portion of the day now, Regina knew it was unreasonable for her to expect that Emma wouldn’t slip up every now and then.

A minute later her phone beeped, indicating Emma’s response. Preparing herself for the worst, Regina looked down at the screen. “Al wants to end our arrangement,” Emma had written, “I guess he met someone.”

Regina exhaled a breath she didn’t know she had been holding. On a scale from one to catastrophic, that only warranted a minor emergency. However, it did still pose an issue, as Emma’s façade of being in a relationship had kept quite a lot of questions at bay about how much time the two of them were spending together lately. Pursing her lips, Regina began to type out a response. “Where are you right now?”

“Home. Why?”

Regina had thought the ‘why’ would be obvious, but didn’t comment on such in her reply. “Is he with you?” she wrote instead. If Emma wasn’t going to fix this, it was obvious that she would have to. Emma had a soft heart and the fact that this man might want to peruse a real relationship with another woman would probably prevent her from doing anything about it.

Her phone beeped a minute later. “Regina, please don’t do anything stupid.”

Regina hardly thought keeping an employee in line was considered ‘stupid’, especially when the fear she instilled in everyone in town kept many from speaking out against her. It was a risk, yes, to reveal herself; but the possibility of her and Emma’s relationship becoming scrutinized by those she loved solely because Emma no longer had the façade of a ‘romance,’ worried her even more.

“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Regina had texted after she was already halfway to her car, deciding to take matters into her own hands. “Don’t let him leave.”

[x]

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The man’s eyes were wide as Regina entered Emma’s apartment, her jaw set and her eyes hard as she strode right up to him with a sense of purpose that could not be ignored. Al looked like he was either going to pass out or burst out laughing, but the only thing that managed to come out of his mouth was those few uttered words of disbelief as he stared at Regina as though he believed that he must be hallucinating, because who in their right mind would get into bed with her?

“Unfortunately for you, this is not a joke,” Regina sneered, placing her hands on the island counter as she leaned forward, getting in his space enough that it would bother him, yet leaving the obstruction between them because she knew Emma wouldn’t allow her to get too close, in fear of what she would do to him. Regina did not like being dicked around, especially by someone whose services she was paying for.

“You’re sleeping with her? Her?” Al exclaimed, looking at Emma as though she had to be mentally deficient for ever fathoming to do such a thing. “Are you suicidal?” Emma just shot him an apologetic look from her seat on the barstool, her expression indicating she wished to be anywhere but in the middle of this right now.

Regina ignored the implications of Emma’s insanity for bedding her, instead choosing to focus on the issue at hand. “Do you have any idea what I do to those who try break their agreements with me?” she asked him, though quite rhetorically as she continued, “When you said you would do this, you entered into a verbal contract, which is binding in the state of Maine and I swear to you, if you for one minute think you are going to get out of it, you are sorely mistaken.”

“Regina, don’t threaten him,” Emma tried to intervene, but her words held no effect. Mostly because Al didn’t even seem to think they posed much cause for alarm.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, waving it off as though Regina’s words were pointless, “I don’t have anything of value she could take from me anyway.”

“Oh no?” Regina challenged, a hint of a sneer on her crimson lips. “This is all because of some other woman, is it not? And does she too have nothing of worth to lose, or are you just that willing to condemn her to a life on the streets as well? Because I can make that happen with just a flick of my pen, dear. Don’t tempt me.”

Al’s face immediately reddened in anger at her effective threat, but it was Emma who slammed her hand down on the counter and exclaimed, “Regina!

Regina whipped around to face her, eyes darkening at being challenged by the one person who was supposed to be on her side. “Do you even understand what would happen if this… this street rat ends our arrangement prematurely? Do you think people won’t begin to wonder why? It’s bad enough we’ve been entirely too careless by allowing others to see how much time we spend together, are you really so ignorant that you believe people won’t gossip, forming the theory that your relationship with him ended because we were having an affair?”

“Stop it, you’re being paranoid—” Emma tried, but her words only managed to further enrage the brunette who believed, quite strongly actually, that she was not being paranoid. Regardless of that though, there was another point that had to be made.

“Even if I am, this man is an employee, a subordinate, and I will not see my money wasted because this idiot feels the need to try to find a life of his own! I own him, as do you, so perhaps you should start acting like it because I am through with your irritating little mission of trying to always do the right thing. This screws us, Emma; and I, for one, am not about to just bend over and let it happen.”

“You’re not going to be bending over for anything anymore if you think you can keep talking to me like that,” Emma bit back, her eyes growing dark with anger as she stared her down. Emma had never been afraid to challenge her, and while it could be unfathomably sexy at times, now it was just plain irritating. Regina glowered, not having a response to that as she didn’t really feel the need to test if Emma was serious or not.

Al’s lip, however, upturned at the implication of Emma’s words. “Ugh, that’s disgusting.”

Shut up,” both of them snapped simultaneously. He fell silent, but it was only for a moment before his lips crept into a smirk as he realized something.

“It really scares you that much, doesn’t it; that people will find out about you two?” Al looked dead at Regina when he said it, although the hint of a threat behind his words effected Emma just as much as it did her. As Regina’s gaze grew hard, realizing what it was that he was implying, Emma’s face only masked in disappointment.

“Al, please don’t…”

“Don’t what?” he bit back, straightening up with confidence and anger. “Stoop to her level? I’m not going to sit here and listen to her threaten Jade’s livelihood, Emma. That’s messed up. If you can’t control your girlfriend, then I will.”

“She’s not my—”

But Regina interrupted her, not really caring much for how Al labeled their relationship at the moment seeing as it paled in comparison to what he was threatening to do. Her hand grasped the front of his shirt, slamming his torso into the hard edge of the counter as she got right in his face. “Now you listen to me, you sniveling little weasel; if you so much as breathe a word of this to anyone, I will put an end not just to you, but everything and everyone that you love. I will not be blackmailed by some worthless—”

Enough!

Emma grabbed Regina’s hand, forcefully tearing her away from Al before stepping between them. She looked about ready to deck them both in the face just to stop this battle from continuing. She turned to Regina first, pointing at her furiously, “I am sick to death of you thinking you own everyone. Al is a goddamn person and if he wants to end it than he’s allowed to. We pay him per date, so no, he doesn’t actually owe us anything. Now do me a favor and sit down, shut up, and let me handle this, because you’re doing nothing but making it worse.”

Regina’s eyes flashed, furious that Emma would dare speak to her in such a way. “I am not your pet, you can’t just command me to—!”

“God damnit Regina, I said sit down!” Emma shouted, pushing her backwards a little so Regina landed rather unceremoniously on one of the bar stools.

Her eyes widening in shock and anger, she looked up at Emma, the expression of pure fury on the woman’s face actually making Regina pause. She really was not in the mood to be tested. Regina locked her jaw, keeping herself from spewing profanities and threats that would no doubt only stand to make everything between them worse. And while that thought didn’t actually bother her, as she was fairly certain Emma wouldn’t actually leave her over this, Regina did not want to get into such a spat in front of a witness. So, despite what she wished to do, Regina did silence herself; at least, for a moment.

Once Emma realized that Regina was going to comply with her wishes, she wasted no time rounding on Al. “And you,” she addressed him, the anger in her gaze beginning to mix with a hurt that could not go unacknowledged, “I thought you were my friend. What you’re threatening to do doesn’t just hurt Regina, you know, it hurts me too. We share a son, Al. Henry really doesn’t need to know what’s going on between us. Hell, we don’t even know what’s going on between us most days, so what do you think that’s going to do to a ten year old boy? We don’t want to confuse him or give him some false hope for the family that we’re probably never going to become.”

Al, at least, had the decency to look ashamed of himself, but Emma wasn’t through.

“So I’m not going to stand here and tell you that we’re not going to cave to blackmail, because we are. To protect Henry, we don’t really have any other choice,” Emma admitted, though didn’t look as ashamed about that as Regina did, who was quickly becoming angrier the longer this went on. No one owned her and yet there Emma was, stating quite plainly that he could, should he want to. “So I want you to name your price, and then I want you to get the hell out of my house.”

Al exhaled a long breath, beginning to look terribly guilty, however still held the strength of purpose in his eyes indicating that he wasn’t about to back down either. “I don’t want your money, Ems. I don’t need to be paid off to keep my silence about you. Her, maybe,” Al admitted, nodding his head towards a glaring Regina, “I don’t like her, but I wouldn’t do that to you. All I want is the guarantee that she won’t go after either Jade or me and I swear on my life, I won’t breathe a word of this to anyone.”

Emma’s eyes shifted to Regina, waiting for her to comply. It took a long moment, but Regina begrudgingly gave her a quick nod. Though she was not overly fond of caving to anyone’s demands, Regina did not want this to go on any longer than it had to. She just wanted this man out of Emma’s apartment so the issues between them could be dealt with, because sitting quietly was not exactly a mastered skill of Regina’s and her patience was quickly wearing thin.

After Emma had agreed to Al’s terms though, the man quickly left the apartment, leaving the two women alone. Emma had closed the door behind him, her cheeks puffing out as she exhaled a long breath. “I’m sorry,” she tentatively apologized, guilt masking over her face as she began to turn around, “for pushing you like that. I shouldn’t have—”

But Emma’s words were cut off, the breath being knocked out of her as Regina furiously slammed her up against the door. It felt much better, to retaliate in such a manner. “Oh, you’re sorry, are you?” Regina spat, fury in her eyes as she pinned the woman beneath the weight of her body. “Do you have any idea how humiliating that was for me?”

You?” Emma asked, disbelief coloring her tone. Though she could have easily, she did not try to remove Regina’s hands from her. “I’m the one that had to stand there and watch my… whatever the hell you are to me, threaten my friend, who I had, on more than one occasion, told how fucking amazing the woman I’m with is. So thank you, Regina, for proving me to be a goddamn idiot. I really appreciate that.”

Regina faltered for a moment, an uncomfortable tightness settling in her chest at Emma’s words. She had really said that? As far as Regina was aware, no one in their right mind would ever classify her as such. “Why the hell would you even say something like that?” Regina demanded, her voice cracking with a sudden burst of irrational worry over how Emma might view her. ‘Amazing’ was something she could never live up to and if Emma truly thought that, it put an enormous amount of pressure on not just their relationship, but on her as well.

It also didn’t make any kind of fathomable sense, giving their past together. But perhaps that was something Emma made a point to never address, as it would ruin the beautiful lie they had created with each other. Despite how unhealthy it probably was, Regina was actually immensely grateful for it.

“I don’t know, brain damage?” Emma spat, furiously pushing Regina’s hands from her, making the Mayor back up a few steps so they could establish the space they both so desperately needed. Regina was beginning to feel a little ashamed of herself, which made her feel awfully conflicted due to her previously born anger.

“You should have just let me handle it,” Emma told her, her voice growing softer as it began to color with upset. She ran her fingers through her hair, slumping against the door. Emma looked exhausted, but having this secret always had been a heavy burden for her. “Why do you always have to act like some kind of evil dictator? I mean for fuck’s sake, maybe if you had just come and talked to him like an actual human being, we could have figured something out. But no, instead you have to jump right into threatening him! But hey, I guess that worked out really well for you, huh? Christ.

Regina chewed on the inside of her cheek for a moment, a hard look in her eyes. There were a fair amount of things Regina hated in this world, but having to admit that she was wrong easily topped the list. And so it took an extraordinary amount of effort for her to finally concede, “I… may have had an error in judgment, I’ll admit that…”

“Oh, you may have?” Emma snapped, irritated by Regina’s unwillingness to apologize. “Really, you fucking think so? Well shit, somebody call Mensa, I think my girlfriend might be a genius!” Sarcasm dripped from every word and though its insulting nature was clear, it paled in comparison to the word Emma used.

“I am not your girlfriend.”

“Fuck, whatever!” Emma exclaimed, throwing up her hands in exasperation. “Lover, fuck buddy, my goddamn sex slave—who the hell cares? You’re missing the point, Regina, so can you maybe, for once in your life, get your head out of your ass and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you? Because if you can’t even recognize that you did something wrong here—!”

“I just admitted that I made a mistake, didn’t I?” Regina shot back, looking at her haplessly because she was uncertain what Emma even wanted from her anymore. It was entirely frustrating. “And I’m sorry, okay? I don’t know what else you want from me!”

Emma let out a long breath, her anger dissipating at Regina’s words. “That,” she told her softly, exhaustion taking over once more as she looked at the brunette wearily, “I just… I wanted you to apologize. You never do and it’s tiring, Regina, to always pretend like your complete disregard for my feelings doesn’t bother me.”

“I…” Regina started, but closed her mouth so she could choose her words carefully. Before Emma, the only other person that could ever make her feel guilty like this was Henry. Every day it was getting so much harder to ignore the reasoning behind it, but for the sake of her sanity, Regina pushed it to the side once more.

“I don’t mean to disregard your feelings,” Regina admitted after a moment’s pause. It was hard, telling the truth, but the small moments of honesty between them was what allowed them to keep their relationship going. And as that was something Regina did not plan on losing, she conceded to Emma’s wish for her to just be an actual human being for once, and not the strong, no-bullshit Mayor façade that Regina insisted on wearing day after day. “I just… have never really had to worry about anyone’s but mine before. I suppose it takes some getting used to. I’m sorry.”

It only took two steps until Emma had her wrapped in an embrace, leaning her head on Regina’s shoulder as she exhaled a long sigh. “Thank you.” Her breath tickled Regina’s neck, and despite how much closeness had always frightened her, she found herself burying her face in the crook of Emma’s neck. It was easier sometimes, to just give into it, especially after they were done fighting with one another.

“I know you’re worried that someone will find out,” Emma whispered softly against her skin, her hands running down the Mayor’s back in a gesture meant to comfort and protect. “But I’ll figure something out, okay? I won’t let that happen.” Emma looked up at her, azure eyes boring into a deep set of onyx as she lightly touched Regina’s face. “Do you trust me?”

Regina had always believed otherwise, yet one singular word fell from her lips without a moment’s hesitation, startling her beyond measure as Regina realized, in that moment, that she had somehow allowed Emma to become someone of the utmost importance to her.

“Yes.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER ELEVEN
Proposal

“I miss you.”

The three words flashed on the screen of Regina’s phone, causing her attention to be diverted from the town council meeting. An uncomfortable yearning filled the Mayor’s chest as she read the words four times in her head before allowing her eyes to fall on Emma who was seated at the far end of the long table. The Sherriff shot her a sad smile and it took everything Regina had to not outwardly respond to it, as many eyes were situated on her instead of Sidney, who was actually the one speaking at the moment.

Leaning back in her chair, Regina covertly slipped her phone off the wooden surface and placed it down on her lap. While she had never been an avid texter, with how much she and Emma had communicated that way lately, Regina was able to reply with only having to look down at her phone once. “Are we having attachment issues, dear?”

Suddenly Emma’s phone went off in the middle of the meeting, the chorus of Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” ringing through the room. Regina looked exasperated; not just at Emma’s failure to put her phone on vibrate, but at the teeny bopper ringtone that she had apparently chosen for her. Regina didn’t peg Emma for listening to that kind of trash, which meant Henry’s constant insistence of putting on Radio Disney must have rubbed off on her, something Regina would be sure to rectify once they were able to actually spend some time together.

Emma looked embarrassed as all eyes turned to her and she muttered, “Shit, sorry,” as she hastily switched her phone on silent.

For appearances, Regina shot her a scathing look before looking toward the editor of the newspaper and encouraging, “Please continue, Sidney. That is, if no one else plans to rudely interrupt you.” Her eyes shifted to Emma again, who was mocking her words beneath her breath before catching Regina’s eye and smiling sarcastically at her. Regina merely raised a challenging eyebrow in her direction.

Sidney cleared his throat before continuing his proposal of printing “The Mirror” on recycled paper – as it was much more cost effective and would allow them to add a few extra pages of content – but Regina allowed him to ramble on until she would ultimately be forced to allow him to do whatever he wished, since a part of her was still paranoid that he would one day decide to use what he knew about her and Emma against her. Speaking of which, a minute into Sidney’s speech, Regina felt the phone on her lap vibrate, indicating the arrival of a new text.

Glancing downwards, she read Emma’s response. “Yeah, my issue is that I’m attached to an asshole.” Regina had to contain a smirk as she typed out her reply.

“Appearances, dear.”

It only took a moment until her phone vibrated again. “Not what I was talking about.”

Regina knew that, but she didn’t want to admit that their new arrangement was a mistake. With Al out of the picture, they both opted to only see each other once or twice a week, in the dead of night, so as to not arouse anymore suspicion. As they had fallen into a routine where they were able to spend quite a bit of time together, the sudden lack of it was starting to become surprisingly hard. But as Regina didn’t have another viable option, she would rather not address it at all.

“Madame Mayor?”

“What?” Regina questioned immediately, looking up at Sidney’s expectant expression. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her and she felt foolish at her attention being caught wandering. “Oh, yes… of course, that sounds perfectly acceptable. I expect you’ll make the arrangements immediately?” Sidney nodded gratefully and Regina turned to the rest of the room. “Now, I believe Mother Superior has some concerns about this year’s Miners Day Festival?”

“Yes, thank you, Mayor Mills,” Mother Superior responded before standing up and addressing the room. “It’s been brought to my attention that once again we have a disturbing lack of volunteers, and I would just like to point out—”

But Regina tuned out the rest, not caring much about the mundane issues of the town at the moment. Turning back to her phone, Regina chewed lightly on her bottom lip, wishing she had a better response for Emma than the only thing she was feeling right now. After hesitating a moment, she finally typed back the reply, “I miss you too.”

Really, with the amount of juvenility in their relationship, it probably was no wonder why Emma chose a ringtone with as much maturity as they had. They were supposed to be adults and yet they were akin to teenagers texting beneath their desks at school, unable to stand the thought of being apart for mere hours. Though then again, it wasn’t just hours, was it? This was the first time Regina had seen Emma in days, and though the Sherriff was supposed to come by tomorrow night, it still felt too far away.

Their attachment really had become rather disgustingly pathetic. It was a blessing that no one knew, if not for any other reason than solely due to that.

But then Regina caught Emma reading her text, watching the small smile break out on her face at Regina’s confirmation that she wasn’t the only one, and Regina realized that as disgusting as it may be, it still made her feel good to, for once, make someone else happy. It was then that Regina realized what she wanted to do, despite whether it was smart or not.

“Go away with me for the weekend,” she proposed in a hurried text, knowing if she didn’t do it now then she would probably end up losing her nerve, as the risks involved in it were rather great if they didn’t handle it just so.

The sound that came out of Emma once she read Regina’s text didn’t even sound human, yet still managed to cause attention all the same.

Though Regina was pleased that Emma seemed happy over her proposal, she was utterly exasperated by the woman’s lack of control over her own reaction, which forced Regina to smack her hand on the table in irritation. “Miss Swan!” she snapped, knowing people would expect her to do so. “This is the second time you’ve interrupted the meeting. Now are you able to put aside your attention deficit and act like an adult, or should I ask you to leave?”

“Sorry,” Emma immediately apologized, looking sheepish, however still shooting a displeased look at Regina for pointing it out again. But it wasn’t as though she had any other choice, with what they were pretending to be to one another and all. “I just… ah, am excited about the festival and wanted to volunteer.”

“That would be a great help, Sherriff Swan, thank you,” Mother Superior gratefully responded, prompting Regina to suppress an eye roll. Now she had to deal with Emma’s bad excuse giving them more reasons to be apart, so without hesitation, Regina rectified the situation.

“I think that everyone here would be more than willing to volunteer, wouldn’t we?” Regina suggested, which didn’t sound like a suggestion at all. Everyone picked up on that and immediately mumbled hasty agreements, not wanting to go against the Mayor’s decision. Honestly, volunteering was the last thing Regina wanted to do, but if it gave her and Emma an excuse to spend more time together, she would take it. “Now, if there are any other orders of business we need to attend to…”

“Actually Mayor, there is one more thing about the festival,” Mother Superior started, which made Regina just wave her hand impatiently, allowing her to go on even though she was certain she wasn’t going to care in the slightest. This had been one of the most mundane and pointless meetings they had had in a while.

Regina’s phone vibrated on her lap again. “You’re serious?” was Emma’s response, which Regina replied to with an affirmative. After a moment she got another text, this time asking, “Where?”

“Let me take care of the details,” Regina typed, keeping one eye on Mother Superior the whole time so she wouldn’t get caught again with her attention wandering. “Just think of an excuse to get away for a few days.”

After an assurance from Emma that she would, Regina looked up, catching her eye. There was an instantaneous warmth that filled her from the other woman’s gaze and Regina couldn’t stop herself from sharing a private smile with her, knowing that even if their weekend together caused questions, it might very well be worth it.

[x]

“Are you able to watch Henry for a few days?”

Kathryn looked at the woman sitting across from her, eyebrows rising as surprise colored her face. “Are you going somewhere?” she asked. She looked entirely perplexed by the idea, but Regina was expecting that seeing as absolutely no one left Storybrooke. And although she wasn’t planning to go outside the town border – mostly because she was uncertain that she even could, despite being the one who created the curse – Regina also knew that none of the residents were actually aware of why they were so reluctant to leave, which would halt the questions of her own ability to do so.

“I have some business to take care of that will bring me out of town for a few days,” Regina explained, her fingernails drumming on the table in light anxiousness, hoping that Kathryn wouldn’t question what her business actually entailed, since she hadn’t thought that far ahead. She could always end the questions by saying it was ‘personal,’ but that would be cause for curiosity and that was the last thing Regina wanted.

Kathryn, however, had always been intelligent enough to not delve too far into her business, as she knew Regina was a private person. “Of course,” she complied, giving Regina a small smile before it fell, giving into curiosity before she mentioned, “I’m just surprised that you asked me to. Haven’t you been allowing Henry to spend more time with Emma lately? She just seems like a more logical choice for a babysitter than me, given that she’s his birthmother.”

“Yes, well,” Regina began, allowing her expression to mask in slight annoyance as she explained, “Apparently Miss Swan’s knack for inconveniencing me has once again become a factor, as she will be unavailable this weekend. I didn’t ask for the details, but I trust that whatever her reasoning, it must be important as I doubt she would want to pass up the chance to spend more time with my son.”

Ruby interrupted the pair of women as she stopped at their table, sliding them the coffees they had ordered. Having overheard their conversation, she took it upon herself to fill in the gaps with, “Emma has to appear in court in Boston; something to do with when she was a bounty hunter, I guess.”

“I don’t believe I said I cared to know the reason why,” Regina responded, irrationally irritated by the interruption. Ruby had not been invited into the conversation, so sharing her two cents on the matter was just inconceivably rude. “Miss Swan’s business is none of mine, nor do I think it’s yours to share.”

Ruby, however, chose to be even more irritating as she leaned on their table with one hand, peering at Regina curiously. “So you’re going out of town too, huh? That’s interesting.”

Regina glared at her, not at all enjoying the tone the woman had when she said that. “And why, pray tell, would that even be in the realm of anything ‘interesting’?”

Ruby just shot her an innocent smile and responded with, “No reason. Enjoy your coffee,” before turning from the table, leaving Regina filled with a new sense of foreboding paranoia. Knowing that the situation needed to be fixed sooner rather than later, Regina glanced in the direction of the bathroom. It seemed she needed to, once again, make Emma aware of Ruby’s possible suspicion.

Honestly, that woman and her ability to smell sex a mile away was really starting to become an immense inconvenience to Regina’s private life.

Glancing up at Kathryn, she shot her a tightlipped smile. “Could you excuse me for a moment? I need to use the facilities.” It seemed that the bathroom was the only place at the moment where Regina would be able to find some semblance of privacy.

“Actually, I think I should be heading back; David will be expecting me home soon,” Kathryn admitted. “We… well, we promised to work on some things this afternoon. But give me a call, alright? I’ve missed you, Regina; it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to just sit down and talk.”

That was true. And if Regina were being honest with herself, there was a part of her that missed it as well. Though she still kept her at arm’s length, Kathryn was the closest person she had to a friend. Smiling softly at her, Regina relented with, “Of course. We can work out the details of when you’ll be picking up Henry as well, as I’m not entirely sure what time on Friday I’ll be leaving yet.”

After Kathryn had grabbed her coffee and they exchanged some parting words, the Mayor slid from the booth and headed towards the back of the diner, walking down the small hallway to reach the ladies room. Finding it was currently occupied, Regina exhaled an impatient sigh and pulled out her phone, figuring she could just text Emma until she had the privacy for a phone call.

But halfway through her text the bathroom door swung open and a body emerged, nearly running straight into Regina. The Mayor snapped her head up, a protest on the tip of her tongue until she realized who it was that almost slammed into her. “What the hell are you doing here?” Regina asked, her tone having more a snap to it than she intended.

“Me?” Emma repeated, looking at her like she was the one in the wrong, as they were supposed to avoid face-to-face contact with one another until the weekend. “I always come here for lunch, I thought you knew that.”

“Right, because I make a point to keep track of your personal schedule like some sort of deranged—” Regina began sarcastically, but then heard footsteps coming their way and so, in an irrational bout of panic over being seen with one another, instead pushed Emma into the bathroom, following her inside before closing the door behind them.

“Oh yeah, because this isn’t suspicious at all,” Emma grumbled as she tried to steady her footing after being unceremoniously shoved into a room with only one way out, looking at Regina like she had lost her mind. “What are you even doing here? Unlike me, you can actually cook; can’t you eat lunch at home?”

“I came here to speak with Kathryn about taking Henry for the weekend, since in case it slipped your notice, someone does need to watch him while we’re off screwing for the better part of forty eight hours.”

Emma’s face soured at the bitchy nature of Regina’s explanation. “Jesus, what crawled up your ass and died?”

Regina exhaled a loud breath, slumping against the bathroom door. She knew she wasn’t being entirely fair. “Miss Lucas,” she answered after a moment’s pause, not entirely keen on admitting she was taking out her bad mood on Emma without precedence. But as that was why she wanted to speak to her in the first place, there was no gain in lying about it. “She overheard me telling Kathryn that I was going to be away for the weekend and apparently decided that it was ‘interesting,’ seeing as you will be out of town as well. I really didn’t like the way she looked at me when she said it.”

Great,” Emma said amidst a heavy sigh, gripping the edge of the sink behind her as she leaned back on the porcelain. Hiding their relationship was starting to become more exhausting with each passing day, and it was clear that a part of Emma was growing immensely weary of it. If Regina was to be honest though, a part of her was too, but it wasn’t as though they had any other choice. “So… what? Do we have to stage another argument or something? Because I’m getting kind of tired of it and I’m pretty sure it just sounds forced at this point.”

“I don’t know,” Regina admitted, not particularly fond of the idea of causing another public scene, “but whatever you do, I’d appreciate it if you did it before we left.”

“Me?” Emma asked, disbelief plastered on her face as she got tasked with a responsibility she clearly did not want. “Why me? It’s you she overheard!”

“Because I think we both know how I’ll go about doing it, and I’m fairly certain you don’t want me harassing anymore of your friends anytime time soon,” Regina responded impatiently, looking at Emma as though she should have known better. There was only one way Regina responded to situations that threatened her privacy, and as it had already been determined that Emma frowned upon her methods, it was therefore only logical that she be the one to rectify the situation.

“God, you’re useless sometimes,” Emma muttered, pushing herself off the sink so she could head outside and speak with Ruby, but before she got to the door her forearm was grabbed by Regina, halting her movements.

“This isn’t my fault,” Regina protested strongly, finding it awfully weird that Ruby would suspect something just because they happened to be leaving town around the same time. “You must have done or said something that aroused her suspicion, as anyone in their right mind wouldn’t believe something was going on between us without some help!”

“Why, because you pull off being straight so well?” Emma snapped, pulling her arm from Regina’s grasp roughly. She didn’t like being blamed for this just as much as Regina and her first instinct seemed to be to lash out. “Or because you don’t think anyone would believe that someone as sophisticated as you would be shacking up with someone like me?”

“What? No,” Regina answered, looking utterly perplexed by the turn in the conversation. Emma sounded offended and that wasn’t her intention at all. It seemed she somehow released a deep-seated insecurity of the Sherriff’s, as Regina couldn’t fathom how this topic came up any other way. “I only meant that I’m a private person. Who you are has nothing to do with it, nor does it make a difference how my sexuality is perceived. If we didn’t have Henry to think about, hiding this wouldn’t matter as much.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” Emma’s words were barely audible, but Regina heard them nonetheless. The woman tried to breeze past her but once again Regina stilled her with a hand clasping around her wrist, pulling her towards her. She wanted Emma to look at her when she asked this.

Brown eyes met blue and Regina’s brow furrowed, a heaviness weighing in her stomach as she realized the implication of her words as she put them forth. “Do you think I’m ashamed of you?”

It worried her, that Emma might be beginning to resent being in the shadows, as that would be indirectly asking for something Regina was certain they would be better off not having. Having others aware of what they were doing would shatter their carefully chosen image of what they believed their relationship had become. It was something neither of them wanted to really address, as it would question the small bit of happiness they seemed to have found in one another.

“No. I don’t know,” Emma answered, her response coming out a bit flustered as she hadn’t seemed to have expected the question. She sighed after a moment, shaking her head. “Honestly Regina, it doesn’t even matter. Even if you are, it’s not stopping you from fucking me, so it’s not like I’m losing out here.”

“I’m not ashamed of you,” Regina told her firmly, needing her to understand that. She didn’t want her to have insecurities that weren’t even warranted; they had enough issues as it was. “Emma, I’m not,” she repeated, making sure the message had gone through. Regina’s grip slacked on the Sherriff’s wrist, allowing her hand to slide down so they could tangle their fingers together. She waved off the next part of her admission though, hoping to make it sound inconsequential, “Besides, there’s a shallow part of me that enjoys showing others everything they can’t have, so I’ll admit that recently it’s been a little irritating that I’ve been unable to do that with the most beautiful thing I possess.”

Regina had never been one to say the right words, but it seemed she had finally managed to when Emma’s expression softened, a small smile breaking out on her face. “You’d want to show me off?” she questioned, sounding almost disbelieving that Regina would ever want such a thing. Regina was unsure how she couldn’t believe that though; the woman did own a mirror, did she not?

But before Regina could tell her to not make a thing out of it, suddenly her back was flattened against the door and Emma’s lips were on her, hands grasping the sides of her face as she kissed Regina with the intense bout of feeling that had been deeply instilled in her at the brunette’s words. Regina emitted a soft gasp against her lips, allowing herself to sink into the feeling for a brief moment before Emma pulled away. Regina felt a little lightheaded, but it was a feeling she had often come to enjoy.

“God, you are so getting laid for that,” Emma breathed passionately against her lips, which prompted Regina’s to turn up into the tiniest of smirks.

“I always get laid by you, dear.”

“Yeah, but…” Emma trailed off, her eyes taking in every inch of Regina’s face as she lightly chewed on her bottom lip. Her expression made Regina’s breathing shallow as she felt Emma’s hand lightly snake around her hip, holding her close. It was a connection that the brunette had forgotten how to live without. “It’ll be different this time,” Emma softly admitted, suddenly sounding a little wary by how Regina might take her proposal.

Heart pounding in her throat from the implication, Regina was quiet for a long moment before finally finding her words. They still came out strained however, tinged with an emotion Regina had always worked tirelessly to suppress. “I don’t… I don’t think that would be a good idea.” If Emma touched her like she meant more than what they were supposed to mean everything would change, much more than it already had, and that would perhaps sink them a little too far into the fantasy world they had created with one another.

“Yeah,” Emma agreed, leaning her forehead gently against hers as she played with the hem of Regina’s shirt. “But… I think I need to.” Emma’s eyes found hers once more, a question beneath her azure orbs. It was soft, tentative. “Will you stop me if I try?”

Regina’s eyes fell closed as she leaned heavily against the one person who had finally managed to destroy the cold, heartless life that she had cursed herself into. It was a gesture of defeat, a realization that despite what should have transpired between them, it had turned into something entirely different, and it was impossible to deny that throughout its madness and chaos it had managed to make Regina unfathomably happy, whether or not that emotion was born from a foolish delusion or not.

And so, when she whispered her answer into Emma’s ear, it was with the knowledge of everything they were risking, and everything they stood to gain should they only allow themselves to have it.

“No.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWELVE
Mine

Regina sat on the porch outside the quaint little cabin she had chosen for her and Emma’s weekend alone. She had gotten there a little earlier than she had arranged for them to meet, wanting to make sure the place was tidied up. It had been nearly a year since she had stepped foot in this place, as Henry and she only used it for summer vacations. After an hour of dusting and last minute preparations, Regina now sat in the wooden rocking chair outside, idly sipping some iced tea as her eyes fixated on the dirt road, waiting to see any sign of Emma’s unfathomably bright vehicle through the cover of the trees.

She didn’t have to wait very long. Emma was late, as Regina had expected, but not nearly as much as she had thought. A small smile crept across her face as she watched Emma’s yellow bug come to a stop in front of the cabin and as Regina got to her feet to greet her, the driver’s side door swung open.

“Thank fucking Christ for GPS,” Emma said, looking a little frazzled as she stepped from her vehicle. Regina couldn’t help but smirk; sometimes she found it terribly amusing, how dependent Emma was on modern technology. “Do you know there’s a road that basically leads you off a cliff? Why, why would anyone do that? That makes an entire sense that is none. I swear, I should have never—!”

But Emma’s words were cut off as she was pressed against her car, Regina effectively trapping her as she placed her hands on either side of the Sherriff’s body. “Hi,” she said pointedly, her eyebrow rising in expectation. Emma looked a little sheepish, realizing she had gone off on a tirade before even greeting her.

“Hey,” she mumbled as she squished her face to the side in apology. Shooting her a hopeful look, Emma mentioned sweetly, “You look beautiful. Perfect, even.” Regina laughed, knowing the compliment was only being used to get her out of being rude.

“That’s better,” Regina relented, allowing her hands to snake around the Sherriff’s waist, pulling her body flush against hers. Their lips met in a soft kiss and Regina could feel Emma sink into her, forgetting, for a moment, her aggravation with out-of-the-way dirt roads and her unwillingness to just use a GPS in the first place. When Regina pulled back slightly, Emma leaned her forehead against hers, biting her lower lip as a smile broke out on her face.

“I stand by the perfect comment.”

Regina chuckled, but told her quite seriously, “I wouldn’t if I were you, dear; I would just end up sorely disappointing you.” But Emma just shook her head, running her hands over the soft skin of the Mayor’s neck before sliding them through her hair. Regina murmured her approval, the sound coming out low and appreciative from the back of her throat.

“Somehow I doubt that.”

[x]

And you have dinner ready?” Emma exclaimed in surprise, a large grin breaking out on her face as she watched Regina pull lasagna out of the oven. She leaned over the kitchen counter as she reiterated, “Once again, I say perfect.” Regina just lightly rolled her eyes as she placed the bake on the cooling rack.

“Of course I made dinner; if I had waited for you to offer to do so, we’d be sitting down eating bagels and pretending it constituted as a meal.”

“Hey,” Emma defended, her face masking over in faux offense. “I can make eggs too, you know, and cereal; basically a wide variety of breakfast foods.”

“Besides pancakes,” Regina mentioned, taking off her oven mitts and placing them on the counter, smirking to herself before turning towards Emma, watching the woman’s face fall in remembrance of how she was too inadequate a cook in that area. Regina found her shortcomings to be rather endearing though, as it gave the woman a reason to need her.

“Yeah, besides pancakes.” Emma’s eyes lit up though after a moment and Regina knew what question she was going to ask before it even passed her lips. “Hey, do you think maybe in the morning…?”

Regina chuckled softly as she affirmed, “Yes, I specifically made a point to bring the ingredients for you. I even brought my cookie cutters so you can have them in those ridiculous shapes you insist upon.”

“Oh my god,” Emma practically moaned, slumping over the counter so dramatically that the sight made Regina burst out laughing. Her cheek pressed against the cool granite of the surface, Emma mumbled appreciatively, “Can I just keep you forever?”

Regina noticeably faltered at those words, her laughter dying in her throat. Emma seemed to realize what she had said a little too late and practically shot up straight, her eyes widening as she stared at the conflicted look that was suddenly plastered on the Mayor’s face. “I’m sorry,” she rectified quickly. “I didn’t mean—”

“It’s alright,” Regina interrupted softly, allowing herself to give into the warmth that had invaded the pit of her stomach at Emma’s words. Her lips turned up into a small smile as she admitted, “It’s… nice. To feel wanted.” Regina felt foolish for even saying such a thing, as it sounded entirely too soft-hearted for the person she had put careful effort into becoming, and she turned away from Emma to focus on serving dinner instead of her slight embarrassment.

Suddenly arms were wrapped around her waist, Emma having come up behind her to lean her chin on Regina’s shoulder. “You’re more than wanted, you know,” she told her softly, her fingers splaying out against the thin material of her shirt as she traced patterns across the Mayor’s stomach. “I wasn’t lying when I told you that I needed you, Regina. I do. I just…” Emma trailed off for a moment, her lips brushing the base of Regina’s neck, making the brunette’s eyes flutter closed at the feeling as she leaned back into her, allowing Emma to wrap her up in a feeling only she had ever managed to instill in her. “I guess then, I just didn’t realize in how many ways that was true.”

Regina felt herself exhale a shuddered breath, her heart beginning to pound mercilessly in her throat as the realization she had fought so hard to never voice moved past her lips. “We’re in a relationship.” It was said barely above a whisper, but it was heard all the same. The words echoed in Regina’s mind, taunting her as a reality she thought would never come to pass was laid out shamelessly before her.

They had completely immersed themselves in the delusion they had built and it was startling, for Regina to realize that she no longer really cared. It was easier, she found, to just let it happen than try to constantly struggle against it.

“Yeah,” Emma agreed, her voice just as soft as she slid her hands down Regina’s arms before lacing their fingers together, wrapping her arms around her once more in an effort to make the brunette feel protected from the truth that Emma knew she had so often ignored. “Does that scare you?”

Senselessly.

Regina could feel Emma nod into her neck, her hot breath tickling her sensitive flesh as they realized, together, that they had found themselves spread open and vulnerable to a person they each had vowed to hate. It was utterly terrifying and strange, but the comfort that was instilled as they held one another in their arms, sought to protect them from the damage they could easily inflict upon each other, should they allow themselves to see past the surface of what they had created. It was a promise, almost, that they wouldn’t do that to each other.

If only it was that easy to keep.

“Yeah,” Emma admitted, her fingers tightening around Regina’s as her desperation for strength took over, “me too.”

[x]

“I look ridiculous.”

Emma was sprawled out naked on Regina’s leather futon, one leg thrown haphazardly over the back of the upholstery, her eyes raking down the Mayor’s form with a hungry look in her eye. “That’s a matter of opinion,” she murmured, her eyes now fixated on the phallus that was strapped to Regina’s body, situated between her legs. “And it’s completely wrong, by the way, because damn.

After dinner they had gotten to the true purpose of their alone time together, yet despite Emma’s whispered words the other day of how she wished to touch her, when they both tried, they found themselves completely overwhelmed and defaulted to their natural state of sexuality. It was easier, they realized, to do after the truth that had just been admitted. Regina knew that the time would come when they would – at this point, it was almost inevitable – but with how much had changed, it was simpler to just take a step back for the moment and be with each other in the way that they had grown accustomed to.

Well, mostly accustomed to.

“And why can’t you be the one that wears this, again?” Regina lightly complained, feeling completely out of her element as she knelt between Emma’s spread thighs. While they had used a strap on before, it had always been Emma who dominated in that sort of way. She held previous experience and Regina had been more than willing to comply with the roles they had found themselves in. Now, however, experience meant nothing as Regina was suddenly meant to do the opposite of what she had expected when Emma suggested that they use it.

“Because I want you to,” Emma answered, biting her lower lip softly as she raked her nails up soft, supple thighs. “Come on, Regina,” she lightly begged, pulling the woman towards her so that Regina’s body would collapse against hers, the thick phallus pressing firmly against her nether lips. Emma hissed softly at the contact, her eyes growing dark with lust. “Indulge me for a minute…”

“If I indulge you, it will hardly be for just a minute,” Regina breathed, feeling their breasts press against one another, the tautness of their nipples scraping against flushed flesh. Emma’s fingers wrapped around her bicep, her nails digging in as she pushed against her, a hungry smile gracing the corners of her mouth.

“Then indulge me until I can’t take anymore.”

A low growl left Regina’s lips as she allowed her head to dip down, running her teeth over the hollow of Emma’s throat. She could feel the other woman’s pulse jump and quicken beneath her tongue as she traced the area she would mark as hers. When she bit down into succulent flesh, Emma cried out her name, her hand tangling in a mess of chestnut locks as she pulled Regina closer to her, shuddering beneath the feeling of pain that paved their rocky path to pleasure.

Fingernails scraped the back of Regina’s neck as Emma pulled herself closer, her lips a fraction from their destination as her pleading words sought to fill the last bit of hollowness inside of Regina. “Take me. Own me,” Emma begged, as though she felt she couldn’t bear the thought of anything but. The strength inside of her had waned, her control willingly being given to the one person she never before trusted it with. It was a desire that could not be ignored. “I want to be yours, Regina…”

“You are mine.”

It was said with such strength, such conviction, such passion that it left no room for question or doubt. Regina threw her down on the futon, letting Emma’s back collide with the surface before Regina grabbed her wrists, pinning them over her head as she looked down at the woman who was now so much more than a mere possession. Her breasts heaving and lips parted, Emma looked more vulnerable than Regina had ever seen her look before.

“I need you,” Emma breathed, the meaning so much more than what the words implied. Regina could hear it in her tone and it made her heart clench in her chest, a soft look masking over her face as she slowly nodded her understanding.

“I know,” she whispered, leaning down to take Emma’s bottom lip softly between her teeth. When her tongue entered her mouth it wasn’t with lavish greed, but with an acute awareness of what was being offered to her. Emma gave herself over to the feeling, moaning softly in her mouth as she arched her back, slightly straining against Regina’s hold. Lips fell to flushed porcelain, kissing the woman beneath her as Regina murmured against her skin, “I need you too.”

When Emma turned her head to capture her lips once more, a small sound of need fell from the back of her throat as she kissed her with reckless abandonment, sliding her soaked arousal over the shaft between Regina’s thighs. Regina plunged her tongue deep into her mouth, swallowing Emma’s moan as she reached down between them, switching on the small vibrating bullet inside of the harness. It was then Emma’s turn to devour her gasp of pleasure, the blonde’s hips rocking in wanton impatience, awaiting Regina to fill her.

Regina broke the kiss for a moment, exhaling a shuddered breath as she rested her forehead against Emma’s. Her face was flushed, eyes darkening in lustful need as she wrapped her hand around the phallus, her knees gently encouraging the blonde’s legs farther apart. Emma complied without hesitation, her breath hitching in her throat as she felt Regina place the tip at her opening. Hand cupping her cheek in a gentle manner that demanded unwavering attention, brown eyes found blue as Emma pleaded softly against her lips, “Don’t hurt me.”

It was strange; a relationship born from pain only for them to be frightened of it in the end. But it was a different pain they feared, the pain many others had thrust upon them when they were the most vulnerable, and yet there they were, splayed out and emotionally naked, trembling beneath each other’s gaze because they had always known better than to ever allow this to happen again. And so Regina dug her fingernails so hard into Emma’s hip that she drew blood, wanting her to know that she understood the real meaning behind her words, as she looked deep into azure eyes and fiercely promised, “I won’t.”

Smearing the blood from the deep crescent marks across the taut muscles in Emma’s stomach, Regina inhaled a shaky breath, the pleasure coursing through her from the vibrations between her thighs, and slowly pushed into her. Emma whimpered against the base of her throat, her eyes falling closed as she grasped at the skin of Regina’s back, pushing her hips against the shaft as she allowed it to fill her.

A small, breathless chuckle of disbelief followed. “I didn’t think it’d happen like this,” Emma admitted, holding Regina close to her as she spoke. “It… wasn’t supposed to go this way. There was supposed to be a bed covered with fucking flower petals or something…” The image of the absurdity of that scenario filled Regina’s mind and she laughed softly as Emma finished, “Or whatever it is that people do.”

It was ridiculous, the image of the two of them making love atop a bunch of rose petals, surrounded by candles and soft music, or whatever the cliché of that act was. But it wasn’t them and both of them knew it. That had never been what their relationship was about, and though they had started this with the hope of momentarily fleeing from the inevitable, it seemed it had found them anyway. There was only so much they could outrun before their legs gave out, forcing them to sink into the one thing they had feared the most, yet found a sense of comfort in all the same.

“This is more our style,” Regina breathed against her lips, a smile breaking out as she realized that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Emma’s expression mirrored her own, the blonde’s incomparable beauty radiating through her grin as she laughed quietly, conceding to that with a nod as she pressed her fingers deeper into the flesh of Regina’s neck, gripping her hard enough to bruise.

“Yeah… it really is.” Her smile then made its way into a smirk as Emma pushed her hips against her, allowing the shaft to fill her as deep as it would go. A breathless gasp falling from her mouth, her eyes found Regina’s with an unwavering purpose as she commanded, “Now fuck me until I can’t breathe.

A playful gleam dancing behind her eyes and a wanton flush covering her body, Regina pressed her lips against her ear, coaxing one of Emma’s legs up over her shoulder as whispered, “Yes, Madame Swan.”

[x]

Regina had lost count of how many times she had fucked her. They were both slick with sweat, grasping for one another and Regina pushed into her, finding herself unable to stop even though tears stung the back of Emma’s eyes, the amount of orgasms beginning to overwhelm her as she choked back a sob of ecstasy. Regina felt lightheaded, the vibration between her thighs having brought her to a few already herself, but the way Emma arched and thrashed beneath her was beyond mesmerizing as they had never, not once, allowed themselves to go this far.

“Please, please,” Emma cried, her fingernails drawing red, angry patterns on Regina’s back as she tore straight into her heart, finding that it no longer was blackened and raw. Regina fell head first into the overwhelming feeling of exposure, allowing the light within Emma to destroy the darkness that had always found its home within Regina’s corrupted soul. Burying her face in the crook of Emma’s neck as her body began to convulse in pleasure, Regina muffed the scream of another orgasm as she grasped for her, pouring out the fear of her inevitable metamorphosis into the only place she found she truly felt safe anymore.

Lips met in a feverish desperation, drinking up all that the other was as Emma’s fingers tangled in her hair, possessively keeping what was deemed to be hers as Emma’s inner muscles clenched around the shaft, pulling it in further, deeper, harder. “Don’t stop,” she begged, almost sounding like she was crying with how hoarse and broken her voice had become. Regina knew that she could feel it, deep within her; the change that had instilled as they came together in the way it seemed they were always meant to. “Don’t ever fucking stop.”

Regina sought to make good on that promise as she continued pushing into her, bringing a hand she found was trembling to trace the softness of Emma’s lips. She breathed into her, feeling Emma take all that she was as her eyes met an openness that Regina knew was hers to fill. “You’re mine,” she reiterated in a shuddered exhale of breath, feeling the heat of acceptance run hot like fire through her veins. “Emma, you’re…!”

Yours,” Emma gasped, finishing her sentence as her back arched in pleasure, her body beginning to tremble as another wave sought to crush her beneath the weight of their shared need, a word that now meant far more than what they had ever dared to believe. Emma’s head fell back, her lips parting with the hint of a smile as she gave herself over to her. “Regina,” she breathed before it overwhelmed her, pleasure etching across her face as her eyes shut tightly, fingers marking fresh bruises as Emma held onto Regina like she had become her anchor to this world and the fantasy they had created for each other.

Emma screamed, her body wracked with the passion coursing through her as Regina stilled her movements, grasping the blonde’s pleasure-stricken face as she watched the woman she once sought to destroy fall before her, finding that she was forever grateful her efforts had failed. Regina smiled before she kissed her, gently coaxing Emma down from her high as she pressed her body flush against trembling flesh, realizing that she was the piece of her that had been missing for as long as she could remember.

Emma’s hand eventually hit Regina’s shoulder a couple times, a silent plea for a short reprieve. Regina chuckled, enjoying the fact that for once it was Emma who caved first before shifting and gently pulling the shaft from her reddened and engorged sex. As Emma wiped away the hair that was stuck to her forehead, struggling to find her breath, Regina unhooked the straps that bound the phallus to her before throwing it carelessly onto the floor. The sound of it hitting the ground seemed to snap Emma out of her haze and she groggily opened her eyes, looking at Regina with a newfound light that once was delved beneath darkened shadows.

She reached for her and Regina came without hesitation, situating herself half on top of the still trembling mess that was the unfathomably beautiful Emma Swan. But the blonde didn’t seem to notice or care that her body was not finished feeling everything that Regina gave her, because her shaking hand cupped the back of Regina’s neck, a small smile breaking out on her face as she affirmed, “Mine.”

“Yeah,” Regina breathed, gently covering Emma’s hand with her own, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that their need would always go both ways. “Yours.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Past

“Do you ever think about it?”

Regina looked up from her pancakes, confusion masking over her expression at Emma’s words. “Think about what, dear?” She watched Emma put another bite in her mouth, finding herself silently appreciating the way the other woman’s lips wrapped around the fork. Emma’s eyes were trained on the morning sunrise over the lake, slightly swaying back and forth in the old rocking chair before she swallowed her food and looked at her from across the small patio table.

“How we got here.”

Regina softly smirked, her mind flashing back to their first time together. It had been almost seven months ago, if she was doing her math correctly. It didn’t really seem that long now. But Regina nodded, picking up her cup of coffee as she affirmed, “All the time. I actually remember that night quite vividly, if you must know.” Before, the things that passed between them that night used to haunt her; now Regina found herself glad for the memory. Chuckling softly, she asked, “Why, do you need a reminder? Because you were rather drunk…”

“Yeah, which you wasted no time taking advantage of!” Emma exclaimed, laughing through the accusation. Regina’s mouth dropped open, feeling her face flush a little in embarrassment. It had always bothered her that Emma had had to be drunk for it to happen the first time and she had not. It made Regina question far too many things that she now knew to be true, but back then only stood to conflict her to the point of utter madness.

“That is not true,” Regina defended, not wanting to be painted out as some kind of predator, even if it was in jest, “you practically threw yourself at me! What on earth were you expecting me to do?”

“That,” Emma affirmed, smirking a little as she stabbed another piece of pancake with her fork. Her eyes met Regina’s, a hint of a tease behind her gaze as she said, “I knew you wanted me to fuck you. No one gets that close to someone’s face when they just want to scream, Regina. You had me cornered and I remember…” Emma bit her lower lip in remembrance, the fork hovering near her lips as she went on, “your breasts.” At how simplistically animalistic that sounded, she laughed before putting the piece of food in her mouth.

“Oh?” Regina questioned, her eyebrow rising in question before she took a sip of her coffee, trying to hide her small smile. “And what exactly do you remember about my breasts?”

Emma took a moment to swallow before continuing, still chuckling softly. “Sorry, I know that was vague. Just… I remember when you pushed me back against the wall, screaming… something – God, I don’t even remember what we were fighting about – and your breasts, they brushed against mine and that’s… that’s when I saw your breath hitch in your throat and your eyes grow darker. And when I called you a bitch, or whatever the hell it was, you looked down at my lips and—”

“And then halfway through my complaint over your lack of tact, you practically attacked me,” Regina finished for her, smirking into her coffee. Emma merely shrugged, as though she didn’t understand how there could be any other options at that point. A large part of Regina was glad that she chose not to go another way though, as they would probably not be where they were now should she have decided differently.

And this place, whatever it had become for them, had managed to give Regina the sense of happiness that she had desperately craved for so long. No matter how it came about, no matter what it may turn into, Regina would always find herself appreciative that, even for a moment, she really had it.

“And you called me ‘a pathetic excuse for a bitchy, suburban hierarch’,” Regina recalled, unable to suppress the amusement in her tone. “I remember because I was surprised you knew that word.”

Emma laughed, leaning back in her chair as she grabbed her coffee off the table. “Oh yeah?” she lightly teased, “So it was my sophisticated vocabulary that turned you on then? Because I don’t remember much protest on your part after I kissed you.”

“No, dear,” Regina answered, placing her own cup back down on the table before turning towards her, at least wanting to be truthful about how she had felt at first. “A part of me was still in shock that you actually did it, which is why you heard no complaints. I never thought you’d have the nerve.”

If she were to be honest, it actually amused her, how Emma could remember every single detail of how Regina looked when she first realized there was something else beneath all her hate, yet Emma couldn’t even recall the words that got them to that point. And so Regina filled in the gaps for her with, “If you’d like to know though, I believe the point of no return for me was when you shoved your hand up my skirt and told me point blank that if I didn’t like your mouth, then I should probably find a way to put it to better uses.”

Emma nearly choked on her coffee, making Regina burst out laughing as it got all over the front of the Sherriff’s shirt. After she coughed a few times, trying to breathe through her laughter, Emma looked at her, blonde hair tumbling around a face that was masked in surprise. “I really said that?” Regina affirmed with a nod and a self-satisfied smirk crossed Emma’s face. “Nice.”

Regina didn’t bother suppressing her eye roll at Emma’s unabashed approval over her drunken decisions, as perhaps she really did have every reason to be arrogant about it. But as Emma leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees, she voiced her realization out loud, “Damn, I’m ballsy when I’m drunk. That could have gone really badly, you know? Like sexual harassment suit badly.”

“Yes, well,” Regina responded, no longer trying to hide her amusement as she reluctantly admitted, “It was crude, but ultimately effective. You were lucky that even through my hatred for you, I found you to be extremely attractive. Because if I hadn’t, then yes, that could have gone over very badly.”

“Yeah,” Emma affirmed, laughing softly as she looked over at Regina. Their eyes met and a small smile tugged at the edge of the blonde’s lips. “But I really was though, wasn’t I?” she asked, a question that seemed to be rhetorical because Regina knew, just from the way Emma was looking at her, that in that moment she believed it with every ounce of her being when she softly clarified with, “Lucky.”

Regina felt her face flush involuntarily, so she scoffed to downplay it, tearing her eyes away from the source of her embarrassment. “Tell me that after a few years of dealing with me, then you can speak on the matter,” she muttered, trying to dismiss the compliment that had made her stomach flutter uncomfortably, worried that she would never really live up to the high expectations that Emma had set for her. It just seemed highly illogical, given all that had happened between them since they had first laid eyes upon each other.

Regina expected Emma to have some sort of protest, or at least get a little frazzled over the fact that she had implicated years into their relationship when it had only just started, but Emma merely smirked as she rose from her seat, coming over to place a light kiss on Regina’s lips. “Okay, I will,” she said simply, shooting her a dazzling smile that Regina could do nothing else but return in kind. “Do you want more coffee?”

The offer was politely declined and Emma merely shrugged, saying, “Suit yourself,” before she turned, heading back towards the cabin to pour herself another cup. Regina leaned back in her chair, watching her go, finding herself unable to allow the smile Emma had coaxed from her to fall just yet.

It seemed so simple, Regina silently mused, how they had managed to fall into this comfortable place with one another. But a part of her worried that it only seemed easy now because they were here, alone and away from the rest of the prying eyes of Storybrooke. When they left, they would need to come to a decision about what they wanted to do; and that, Regina feared, was when the simplicity in all of this would manage to completely disappear.

[x]

Emma’s nude form sparkled under the midafternoon’s sunlight, the water droplets that littered her skin from their swim in the lake drawing Regina’s eye as she appreciated for a moment, in the stillness of nature and the calm that resided after their passionate lovemaking, how utterly beautiful the woman atop her really was. Regina was sitting on the edge of the small dock, her feet dangling in the water as Emma rested her head upon her lap. The Sherriff had Regina’s hand in hers, fingers mapping every inch of her palm with careful precision and enough unbridled interest to cause the brunette speculation. Regina raised an eyebrow, looking down at her.

“What are you doing?”

Emma smiled as she answered, “Memorizing.” Regina’s eyebrows knitted, but before she could question as to why Emma felt the need to do so, she got her answer.

“When I was a kid, nothing was ever permanent,” Emma began, tracing the lifeline in Regina’s palm, her eyes focused on her task to perhaps keep her distracted from the fear of vocalizing personal matters. “Towns, family, friends, possessions… they all changed eventually. Most of it was shit but… the things that weren’t, the times I liked, the people, or whatever, I don’t know… I guess I just got into the habit of trying to remember them as best as I could, since there’d always come a time when I didn’t have them anymore, you know?”

It was a testament, truly, to how much their relationship had changed. Personal matters like that, being spoken so openly and with only a slight hesitation, required a certain amount of trust that neither had ever believed would be allotted. So Regina laced their fingers, pressing their palms firmly together to show Emma that her offered truth did not go unacknowledged as she responded, “It probably isn’t healthy for our relationship, dear; to expect such an ending.”

Emma looked up at her, eyes like the heart of a fire as they shone brilliantly in the afternoon’s sun. “And you don’t?” she questioned, as though she knew better than to expect optimism from the woman who now owned everything that she was.

“I do,” Regina admitted, although had half a mind to lie to prove her point. In the end though, it would do neither of them any good. She really did, truly, believe that things would end terribly between them, but that didn’t stop her from trying to find happiness in what she had now. “But my point still stands, even if it is terribly hypocritical of me to even say so.”

Emma’s lips turned up into a smirk, appreciating Regina’s admittance when she could have just as easily pretended to be something she wasn’t. Bringing their clasped hands down between her breasts, just slightly over her heart, Emma looked up at her. “Can I ask you something?” The question was soft, tentative.

“That depends; is it going to involve doing more lewd things out in the open where everyone can see, or could we go inside for this?” Regina was teasing her, but only half so as she did have a bit of an issue before about swimming in the nude in the middle of a public lake, regardless of the fact that there were no other homes around for miles. The sex was… well, nothing short of fantastic, honestly, but even sitting on the dock naked, despite there being no one in sight, still made Regina feel a little uneasy and overexposed.

Emma just rolled her eyes. “My bad, I’m sure all the fish around were really offended by our sweaty, animal ways. I’ll be sure to send them a written apology, once I figure out where I put all those fucks I give.” Despite herself, Regina snorted at the woman’s sarcasm. Emma flashed her a shit-eating grin before shifting in her lap, lifting herself up a little so she could be at eye-level with Regina. Her expression turned serious. “No but really though, can I ask you something?”

Regina’s eyebrows knitted at Emma’s tone, not expecting the question to be something so serious after the fun, light day that they had shared together. Nodding her head, Regina eventually relented, “Of course.” There was a beat of silence for a moment however before she amended, “But I can’t guarantee that you’ll get an answer.” It was the most truth she had to offer at the moment, as Regina couldn’t know for sure if she’d be comfortable with answering until she knew the question that bore at Emma’s curiosity.

Emma bit her lower lip, pausing for a moment as she worked up her nerve to ask. It did nothing to sate Regina’s growing anxiety. She felt Emma touch her, running a solitary finger down the claw marks in her upper arm, evidence of their passion, but more importantly the state of it. “Why do you need it?” Emma finally asked, her voice softer as she knew it was not a subject easily broached. “The pain.”

Regina instinctively stiffened, a reaction that Emma felt and responded to immediately. She squeezed tighter to her hand, trying to give her a sense of comfort. “It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me,” Emma said quickly, wanting Regina to know that she would never push her for something she wasn’t ready for. “But if you do, I’ll tell you my reason. I mean… we’re both fucked up, right? But… I don’t know, now, anyway, it seems a little stupid to be fucked up alone, when we can be fucked up together.”

“How very poetic of you,” Regina responded dryly, causing Emma to smirk as she lightly shrugged; there was a twinkle of mischief in her eye as she decided the route to go with this was to play cute, which would effectively save her from getting into trouble over a subject she probably should have never brought up.

Regina knew before she even started though, that the Sherriff would probably be successful in that endeavor. Emma always had been annoyingly good at fixing the broken, whether she was aware of that ability or not.

“Hey, if you wanted a poem, you should have just asked,” she replied, chuckling a little at the no doubt ridiculous things in her head before she began something that no one should ever be forced to hear. “Alright, uh… we live in Maine, we like pain, I love licking your body like, uh… oh! A candy cane—”

“Oh dear Lord, I beg of you to stop,” Regina insisted, the horrified look on her face making Emma collapse with laughter against her chest. Regina had to purse her lips to stop herself from doing the same, not wishing Emma to know how easily she was able to sway her feelings just by being utterly ridiculous. The adorable nature in it was something Regina never thought she’d be taken with, but like so many other things, Emma Swan continued to defy the normalcy that Regina had become accustomed to.

“So you don’t think I should become a writer?” Emma joked through her chuckles, looking up at Regina’s falteringly poised expression as it began to give way to amusement. “Oh come on, you know you liked it. That was romantic as hell.

Regina smirked, though still managed to contain the laughter that was threatening to burst from her at Emma’s little demonstration of what she considered to be ‘romance’. “Your definition of that word is awfully skewed, dear,” Regina answered, lightly teasing her. “Better you stick to surprising me with sex toys; it’s a win for all involved.”

“And you say my definition is skewed.”

“It is,” Regina answered, finally allowing herself to laugh softly. Emma knew she had won anyhow, but perhaps she had always known she had the ability to make Regina feel at ease. If nothing else, it would explain why she felt the need to stick around when the brunette gave her more than enough reasons not to. Maybe they both had always craved to be needed in more ways than just the physical. “I never said mine wasn’t,” Regina continued, admitting to her own shortcomings when it came to romance, “I just honestly believe my definition is better.

“Oh yeah?” Regina’s smirk was mirrored by the blonde as Emma shifted her position, swinging one leg over the Mayor’s firm thighs before straddling her lap. “So if I showed up at your house with flowers and got down on one knee to serenade you, you wouldn’t think that would be romantic?”

Regina laughed, allowing that picture to play out in her mind. “Honestly, I’d worry for your sanity.”

Emma smirked, draping her arms around Regina’s shoulders. “Yeah,” she admitted, chuckling. “I’d probably be worried too, if I were you. I have an awful singing voice. Really, I’d probably make your ears bleed.”

Regina allowed her nails to claw lightly up Emma’s thighs, looking her in the eye as she leaned forward just enough to breathe her air. “I’d much rather you make other parts of me bleed,” she whispered against her lips, a smirk tugging at the edge of her mouth as she watched Emma’s breathing noticeably shallow from the shift in the air around them.

“Yeah?” Emma questioned softly, brushing her lips over Regina’s before taking the bottom one between her teeth, lightly nibbling on it. Regina sucked in a small bit of air, feeling Emma’s tongue tease the curvature of her mouth. “That could always be arranged, you know…” She bit down then, tearing into Regina’s bottom lip just enough to make her bleed. The Mayor gasped sharply, feeling Emma suck the blood from the small cut.

Though it was erotic in its own way, Regina couldn’t help but push Emma back for a moment. “You do things before you think,” she chided, wanting the blonde to be more aware of her behavior, despite how easily it was going to ruin the moment. “Ingesting someone’s blood can be dangerous, Emma. What if I had some sort of disease? You don’t know—”

“Oh my god, shut up,” Emma interrupted, using her hands to push Regina flat on her back on the wooden dock. Regina had a protest, but it died on her lips as Emma’s thigh slipped between her legs. “I think…” Hands fell to delicate wrists, pinning them above Regina’s head as Emma slid her nude form against hers. The brunette’s breathing shallowed. “That if you had any diseases, I probably would have gotten them by now, don’t you?”

“Diseases of the blood are different than STDs,” Regina tried to explain, but her words just ended up muffled by Emma’s lips upon hers once more, the blondes tongue stealing into her mouth for a quick taste, just enough to make Regina forget what it was that she was complaining about. Then lips fell to her neck, a long wet line being trailed upwards towards her ear. Regina shivered.

“Are you clean?” Emma asked, her hot breath tickling Regina’s skin. It sounded more like she was taunting her, as she probably expected anyone that meticulous about order would be the same when it came to health. She wasn’t wrong, but that was beside the point.

“Yes, but—”

Emma bit down on the junction between Regina’s neck and shoulder, making the Mayor’s back arch and her toes curl. Once again, she forgot what it was that she was arguing. It was clear Emma didn’t care anyway, or at least found no cause to worry.

“Good,” she breathed, her hand cupping the fullness of Regina’s breast, her thumb slipping over her rapidly hardening nipple. “Me too.” Emma smirked and Regina could feel it against her skin. “But if you want me to fax over my medical records…”

Regina knew she was teasing her, but she did raise a good point. Perhaps Regina’s careful nature left a lot to be desired sexually, but she’d rather be safe than sorry. They both had a son to think about. “If you want me to participate in blood play with you, that would be preferable, yes.” Emma merely laughed against her neck, the sound vibrating every nerve in Regina’s skin.

“Fine, whatever you want.”

Their lips connected once more in a wave of intense passion and longing, however Emma was more than aware of Regina’s reluctance to have sex out in the open, as she had already protested it earlier in the day. Doing it in the water wasn’t much better, but it did shield quite a lot of it at least. And maybe it was stupid, to be so paranoid when Regina was certain there wasn’t anyone around for miles, but it was in her nature. Therefore they only made out for a short while until Emma broke the kiss, biting down on her bottom lip as she looked at Regina sprawled out on the dock, her thumb lightly brushing the cut she had made.

“Can I compliment you, or are you going to get all weird again?”

Regina laughed softly. In a way it was ridiculous to even ask, as Regina believed it more than obvious at this point that she had given up on having the façade of distance and a different rule for every occasion. “Go ahead, if you’d like to,” she encouraged, running her fingers through a cascade of blonde waves. Emma smiled at her.

“You are…” Blue eyes trailed over every inch of Regina’s form, taking in every dip, every curve, appreciating what Regina had to offer her. It seemed Emma was going to say something deep, something meaningful, but what came out of her mouth instead was, “so fucking hot.”

Regina burst out laughing, Emma shortly following suit. “Your poetry is masterful, dear. Really.”

“I meant to say something else,” Emma admitted, leaning against her form as she chuckled against her skin. “I don’t know, I guess I lost my train of thought. I swear I can do better than that.” Regina was still laughing softly, running her fingers gently through Emma’s hair as she felt the blonde snuggle against her breast.

“I know you can,” she told her softly, a small smile on her lips as she remembered, “More than once your words have left me breathless. But…” Regina paused for a moment before finishing, “Sometimes… sometimes simplicity is nice too. It might not have the same ring to it, but it’s appreciated all the same.”

Emma smiled against the side of her breast, her eyes closing as she allowed herself to sink into a feeling of closeness neither of them had ever really allotted themselves to have before they found one another. The sun was warm on their skin, the sound of the wind in the trees beginning to lull them into a peaceful stillness that made Regina question why she still found herself so guarded. So many of her defenses had been kicked down by Emma Swan, and though she had been reluctant to let them go without a fight, the fear of what laid on the other side of it – vulnerability, openness, honesty – in the end, didn’t seem as bad as she had thought they would be.

Yes, it probably would end horribly between the two of them, but for just one, singular moment in their lives, perhaps it would be better to unburden each other, as they had carried around their pain alone for so long. Was it wise, when they both believed they wouldn’t be each other’s forever? Probably not. But in that moment, Regina just wanted to stop feeling crushed beneath the weight of her past.

It was a long time before the brunette spoke, and when she did, her voice was soft, worried about how Emma might view her once she voiced her confession, her reason. “My mother.” It was only two singular words, with no explanation of how they came about, but Emma understood all the same. She lifted her head to look at her, expression filled with all the emotion that Regina’s trust had instilled in her, as it seemed she wasn’t expecting it.

“Two foster parents,” Emma replied in a whisper, as if her worry was the same as Regina’s, even though it seemed they were one in the same, both having been abused in their childhood. It made sense, but Regina never really thought it her place to speculate why Emma preferred pain with her pleasure. Personal matters had never been of interest to her, until she finally realized that Emma might very well be a kindred spirit; broken and damaged, yet finding a way to allude strength throughout it all. “Two separate families. One was actually a woman. She… she was the worst, honestly. An angry fucking drunk, you know the type…”

Emma trailed off, beginning to look apprehensive about sharing more than Regina. So the brunette continued to comb through Emma’s hair lightly, elaborating a little more with, “My mother was just a sadist.” It was, truly, the word that described Cora Mills the best. She believed pain was the only way for Regina to learn, and so she molded a masochist over the years that stood unmatched in her belief that suffering was what she truly deserved. It was sick, but so was what Emma had gone through. This world, it seemed, really was no better than the one Regina had come from.

Emma said nothing more, something Regina found she was glad for. They didn’t need to elaborate; neither of them were the type to cry over the past, as it would ultimately change nothing. Recognizing that it happened, sharing it even, seemed to be enough for both of them anyway. Emma’s lips quirked into the tiniest of smiles, a thank you almost, for the honesty that Regina had allotted her, before she leaned in and kissed Regina softly.

“Fuck her,” Emma said passionately, which was the only response Regina really needed. Once again, it was the power of simplicity that spoke volumes more than a well-thought out speech ever could. It was human, it was instinctual, and it was real.

And so Regina’s answer was the same. Cupping Emma’s cheek gently in her hand as she looked her in the eye, a fierce protectiveness running through her veins, she told her firmly, “Fuck them.

Emma smiled at her, taking comfort in the fact that Regina looked as though she wished she could erase that pain from her life, just as Emma looked as though she wished she could do the same to hers. Though it changed nothing in the end, though their lives could never be rewritten, Regina brought her in for a deep kiss, needing Emma to know that she truly did appreciate having someone, for once, standing firmly in her corner.

But as they fell into one another, the world around them blurring to nothing, they each failed to hear the distinct click of a camera shutter in the distance, too wrapped up in their own comfort to notice that someone else was looking to see it end.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Blackmail

They were kissing, Regina’s arms lightly draped over the blonde’s shoulders as Emma backed her up towards the door of the cabin. Impatient hands mapped the curves of her body, accenting a breathless desperation to get inside so they could fall into one other, touching and fucking and owning for one last time before they would be forced back into the reality where their façade of indifference prevailed over the truth.

Regina’s back was flattened against the front door as one of Emma’s hands reached blindly for the handle, the other already sliding through the folds of her dampened sex. Regina exhaled a sharp breath of air, but it was nothing to do with what Emma was doing to her. Hands finding well-muscles biceps, Regina pushed the woman atop her slightly backwards, a breathless request of, “Wait,” falling from her lips as a bout of panic ripped through her by what she felt against her back.

“It’s fine, we’re almost inside—” Emma tried to convince her, the momentary lack of distraction making her able to finally push the door open. But Regina cut her off, turning around so sharply that she nearly knocked Emma backwards.

“No, it’s…!” she began, but when her hands clasped around a piece of paper taped to their front door the words died in her throat. Ripping it from its place, Regina’s hands began to tremble as an uncomfortable feeling of foreboding filled the pit of her stomach. Someone had been here.

“What is that?” Emma asked, the question coming out breathless as she was forcefully ripped from the haze of wanton lust that had previously sought to consume her whole. Regina didn’t answer, her eyes scanning the hastily written words on the piece of paper that threatened to bring her on the verge of a full scale panic attack.

I’m sorry, I didn’t have a choice. – SG

It was one simple sentence, and yet the reaction it provoked from Regina as it brutally ripped her façade of happiness in half completely blinded her to all sane reason. Anger spread through the brunette’s body like a raging fire and the note crumbled in a tight fist. It was thrown to the ground, the apology deemed worthless as an overwhelming emotion ripped its way through Regina’s veins. She was inside suddenly, a lamp that had previously found its way into her hand being smashed to pieces on the mahogany floor. Emma was yelling something to her but it fell on deaf ears as the overwhelming urge to tear the world to shreds consumed Regina’s entire being.

She was shaking, seething as reality punched its way through the fantasy Emma and she had made together in this place. An unintelligible sound fell past her lips as an antique paperweight was thrown into the large mirror that accented the southern wall; Regina watched her reflection, broken and furious, shatter to pieces before her. Emma was still screaming, but the blood pumping in Regina’s ears masked the sound, making it become nothing more than a mere whisper. The only thing she could hear was Sidney’s words replaying over in her mind, taunting her to the point of insanity.

I’m sorry, I didn’t have a choice.

Firm hands gripped her shoulders and Regina lashed out, not wanting to calm down. She knew who was behind this, the only person that would have enough leverage to make Sidney turn on her: Gold. Regina knew, she fucking knew this was going to happen, as there was only so long they could find comfort in a private fantasy before someone found a way to use it to their advantage. A part of her hated herself, for ever allowing something like this to come to pass. They should have been more careful, and they most definitely should have never come to this place together.

They had sunk too deep, and now they would drown for it.

“Regina, please! Listen to me!” Emma pleaded, grip locked tight to her biceps as she pushed Regina rather unceremoniously onto the couch, getting atop her in a desperate attempt to make the woman beneath her stop thrashing in rage. “We’ll fix it, do you hear me? We’ll fix it!

“How?!” Regina screamed, her face flushed with anger, breathing shallowing as Emma’s arms wrapped around her, cradling her in an attempt to make her feel safe from the reality that tore brutally through her mind. Regina shook in her arms, her fury giving way to panic as she collapsed against her chest, feeling more than hearing Emma’s whispered hushes against her ear. Emma had her cheeks pressed between her hands, the warmth of her palms being stained by the first tears that fell from the brunette’s eyes.

“Henry,” Regina gasped out, her only thought being for him instead of what exposure of their relationship would do to her, to them. “He can’t know. You don’t understand, he’s so… he’s going through enough, I can’t—I won’t thrust something like this on him. He wouldn’t know what to do with it, it’s too complicated for him to understand, it’s—!”

“Shh,” Emma hushed her before pressing her mouth gently against a quivering bottom lip to halt her words. “Breathe,” she encouraged lightly, her hands running down the brunette’s back in a desperate attempt to get Regina rational enough to formulate a plan. “Please, just stop and breathe for me for a second. Can you do that…?”

Regina didn’t believe so, yet tried nonetheless as what she was doing now had absolutely no fathomable gain.

Selfishness had always been a large factor in the reason Regina chose to hide what they were doing from the rest of the world. Yet when they were presented with the very real possibility of it actually happening, Regina realized, in a moment of blinding and unbridled clarity, that her image, her reputation, and her desire to live in a world that she probably wasn’t meant to, meant nothing when put against the well-being of her son. It wasn’t even the fact that he didn’t want them to be friendly, let alone anything more than that; but when the inevitable acceptance of the situation came, as it surely would, Regina feared that her son would begin to hope for a family that neither of them believed they could truly become.

A child in the mix, a shared child no less, complicated matters to the point where Regina felt at an absolute loss about what to do. They had to think of him, of Henry, before they could take a moment to think about what this could do to them.

It took quite a while, but eventually Emma had her breathing regularly again. Regina furiously wiped at the tears that had fallen, staining her cheeks with evidence of her helplessness, angry that she had allowed that emotion to give way when it did nothing to help the situation at all. Tears were ridiculous, powerless things that did no more than release an emotion better kept ahold of; for when it was channeled correctly, it could become a rather powerful weapon, instead of controlling her to the point of utter uselessness.

“I don’t understand,” Emma said finally, looking at Regina like she couldn’t fathom why the note came into being in the first place. “Why would Sidney even warn us? I thought he hated you; wouldn’t it further his own agenda to plot with Gold?”

“No,” Regina said quietly, her eyes closed as she tried to concentrate on the sound of Emma’s heartbeat as she lay against the softness of her skin. It was the only thing that was keeping her calm at the moment, although she knew that feeling would be short lasting after her tentative admission. “He’s in love with me; he has been for quite a long time now. He would never willingly betray me.”

Emma stiffened at those words, though Regina was unsure if it was because he was now a threat to their relationship on another level, or because she realized they had been playing her for quite some time. Perhaps it was both. “What?

“I’m sorry,” Regina apologized, though with the full knowledge that her words were coming a little too late. She looked up at her, wanting Emma to see the truth in her eyes despite the fact that it would be of little comfort. “I should have told you the truth months ago when he brought the evidence of our relationship to my attention, but I…”

“Didn’t want to burn that bridge just in case you felt the need to try to destroy my life again?” Emma answered for her, her tone low and dangerous as she pieced things together in her mind.

Regina often wondered if Emma liked to conveniently forget what it was that she had done to her ever since they met, or if the Sherriff just found herself struggling to push the past to the back of her mind so that she would be able to focus on the future without any regrets. However she dealt with it though, Regina was certain it wasn’t healthy for her; but perhaps that was to be expected, as nothing about their relationship was really good for them, in any sense of the word. They had immersed themselves in a façade and it was beginning, rather abruptly and without any formidable warning, to crumble down around them.

“You really are a fucking piece of work sometimes, you know that?” Emma exclaimed, the veil she had placed over her eyes being lifted for a moment to expose the ugly truth beneath. “Jesus, Regina. There are other people, other things in this world besides you and your never-ending agenda.”

“Emma…”

“No,” she stopped her, not wishing to hear excuses at the moment. Honestly, Emma looked more furious with the fact that evidence of Regina’s betrayal was brought up, more than the fact that it existed in the first place. “I don’t want to deal with this now. I actually make a pretty strong point to not deal with shit like this ever, so can we just move on to focusing on the actual problem at hand?”

Regina let out a heavy sigh, being reminded, once again, why they would never truly work and why this relationship would eventually see its inevitable end. They ignored the truth in favor of a reality they built around prettier lies, both desperate for even the smallest chance at happiness that to get it, they had to wish the past out of existence. But they couldn’t live in a world where the bad was consciously erased if there were other people around to constantly remind them of the truth they sought to hide. The fear of reality was, honestly, one of the biggest reasons why they had chosen to keep their relationship a secret, even after they realized they were bound to one another.

Second, at least, only to Henry.

“We need to give Gold whatever it is that he wants,” Regina said finally, softly. It was by far the last thing she ever wanted to do, as she never wanted to bend her will to that manipulative bastard of a man if she could help it. He had done enough to her already and now, finally, she was strong enough to fight against it. But when it came to Henry, the rules changed rather drastically, and Regina couldn’t allow her son to know something that had the chance to damage his already fractured psyche.

“And what if we can’t?” Emma asked her, the needed question posed delicately as she voiced a matter that Regina wished not to think about. “What if his demands are too much? The man hardly thinks in terms of ‘small’.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Regina said fiercely, a strong wave of motherly protection coursing through her blood. It was, perhaps, her only redeeming quality. “I would do anything to protect Henry, despite what he or anyone else may choose to believe, and this – whatever the hell it is we’re doing – immersing ourselves in this silly little fantasy, is something he never needs to know about.”

Emma swallowed, undoubtedly wary about what Gold would demand for his silence, but she nodded her head without hesitation. Despite how much they could disagree on things, they had always managed to come to an accord when their son was involved. “Yeah. I think it’ll just mess the kid up, if he ends up getting caught up in the middle of our stupid need to… fuck, play ‘house’, or whatever it was that we were trying to do in this place.”

Play house. That really was what they were doing, wasn’t it? Sleeping in the same bed, eating meals together, laughing and forgetting the truth so that they could allow themselves, for once, to smile and pretend they lived a life that reality would ultimately deprive them of ever having. A happy ending, for either of them, seemed to never really fit into the picture of their lives; they were far too damaged, and what they were doing was just as foolish as the blind leading the blind, yet they insisted upon indulging in it all the same.

Emma exhaled a shuddered breath, knowing the time of foolish fantasies was over, a realization that looked like it could very well crush her. She leaned her forehead against Regina’s, breathing in the air that sought to fill her with a life they could never live, and whispered her gratitude for the lies. “Thank you, though; for… pretending with me.” Emma smiled at her, but it was filled with a sense of overwhelming sadness. “It was nice while it lasted.”

“Yeah,” Regina softly agreed, wishing more than anything that it didn’t have to come to an end. It was the only thing in quite a long time that had made her feel like she was worth something; that her existence, for once, was meant for something more than just pain. “It really was…”

[x]

Although reality had torn its way through their beautiful façade, it didn’t necessarily mean that things had to end between them; it merely meant that they had to sit down and actually talk about what they wanted to do. Neither woman was particularly good at that, which made Regina glad that they opted to go to Gold’s shop first.

Still, the anxiety that was creeping up her spine as they two women walked into the pawn shop wasn’t all to do with the confrontation they were about to have. If truth were told, Regina was worried that they wouldn’t be able to find a way that would allow them to continue their relationship in a healthy manner. What they were doing now – pretending the rest of the world, the past, didn’t exist when they were together – obviously wasn’t working, nor did it allow for the stability that any true relationship needed.

It was strange, to think about wanting something like that with Emma, but the comfortable routine they had fallen into while they were away had made Regina unfathomably happy. It was nice, to just be able to be with someone, outside of just the physical; to just touch and smile and laugh. It had been so long since Regina had felt happiness like that that she had almost believed herself incapable of it. But just because she enjoyed it, didn’t mean that it would work out. If they wanted to stay together they needed to start addressing some things, and Regina was unsure if either of them even could. They weren’t exactly the most functional of people when it came to partnership.

Yet at the same time, they had grown so attached to each other’s company that it didn’t seem like they could fathom letting go of it either. They had suddenly found themselves trapped between what they wanted and what they needed, and Regina had no idea how to proceed.

But there were other things that needed to be addressed first, so when the chime above the door made Gold aware of their presence, Regina’s face darkened at she laid eyes on the man who sought to destroy the only damn good thing she had.

“Ah. Mayor Mills, Sherriff Swan,” Gold greeted, a smug look passing over his face as he took in the angry expression of his visitors. “I’d say this is a surprise, but then, I’d be lying. Please, make yourselves comfortable…”

His feigned politeness did nothing to sate Emma’s aggravation and she slammed her hands on the counter, demanding, “Where are they?” Regina’s hand curled around the blonde’s forearm, a silent warning not to do anything foolish. Gold was a very powerful man, and though it pained Regina to have to be the one to think logically for once, she knew one of them had to and it seemed Emma had already made a point to throw rationality out the window. She looked like she wanted to strangle him where he stood.

Temper, dearie; you wouldn’t want to make me do anything rash, now would you?” Gold reminded her, the threat in his words clear. Regina lightly pulled Emma back to stand next to her, deciding it’d probably be better if she put more space between her and Gold. Emma seethed, but relented to Regina’s silent plea.

“What do you want?” Regina asked flatly, getting to the point. There was no need to dance around the issue, after all.

Gold, however, seemed not to have the same mindset. “It’s interesting,” he mused as he gathered up a mess of papers into his hands to clear the counter space, “that two people who seem so adamant about keeping their relationship a secret would be so foolish as to come here together. Don’t you think people will find it a little strange, that you both seemed to have come back to town at the same time?”

That made the two women noticeably pause; they had been so consumed with anger that they hadn’t thought about that. Emma’s bright yellow bug drew enough attention as it was, and at the moment it was parked directly behind Regina’s car in front of the shop.

“Luckily for you, however, I only require dealings with one of you,” Gold continued, the self-satisfied smirk on his face making Regina internally twitch. She would love nothing more than to break his nose, not to mention a wide variety of other body parts. Emma looked to be on the same wave length.

“Which one?” Regina asked impatiently, not in the mood for his needless show of dramatics. But it was Emma who answered her.

“You.” Regina turned to look at her, surprise coloring her face at Emma’s assurance. The blonde shrugged, trying to make it seem as though it didn’t matter even though Regina could tell that it bothered her. “I already owe him a favor. Now I guess it’s your turn.”

“And we have a winner,” Gold exclaimed, smiling at them in a way that looked far more cruel than pleasant. “So why don’t you run along now, dearie; let the Mayor and I have a little chat.” Emma’s face darkened at being dismissed.

“I’m not leaving her with you,” she snarled, but Regina just slid her hand further down Emma’s arm to lace their fingers together briefly, turning the woman’s attention to her.

“No, he’s right about how suspicious this looks; we can’t both be here,” Regina reminded her gently, not wanting to further Emma’s aggravation; as it was already, she looked positively livid about having to wait on the sidelines during all of this, as it effected her as well. So to try and keep her distracted, Regina suggested, “While I’m dealing with this, could you do me the favor of picking up Henry at Kathryn’s for me? Just tell her I called and said I was running late and that you could have him for the evening; or whatever you feel is a good explanation, okay? Take him to my house and I’ll meet you there later.”

Emma’s lips turned down into a frown. “Are you sure?” she asked, side glancing Gold with mistrust. Regina gave her a small smile meant to comfort her, though she doubted it did much good in the long run; Emma was still going to be on edge until she knew for sure what was happening.

“Of course, dear. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine; there’s nothing this man can do to truly harm me,” Regina answered before leaning in, giving the woman a chaste kiss on the cheek. Emma looked surprised by the gesture, but there was no point in hiding it seeing as Gold was already more than aware of their relationship. “Now go on, I’ll see you soon.”

Fine,” Emma struggled with relenting, but as she shot Gold a furious look she added, “But if I don’t see you in an hour I’m coming back here and breaking both his kneecaps.”

“I’d say those are perfectly acceptable terms, wouldn’t you?” Regina answered, giving Gold a sarcastic smile that was only met with a bored look. Finally it seemed he wished to get on with it, and Emma hanging around was only prolonging the discussion further.

After the door chimed once more, an indication of Emma’s exit, Regina turned to him, the dark look immediately settling back across her features. “Alright, she’s gone. Now get to your damn point before she comes back with a baseball bat, because I really don’t think you’re going to fair well at the end of that confrontation.”

Gold merely smiled at her, in that irritating little way that he always did that set Regina’s nerves on end. “What an adorable love story,” he mentioned as he turned around, gathering up what no doubt was the evidence of their affairs into his hands. “The Evil Queen and her White Knight; why, it almost writes itself, wouldn’t you say?”

Regina didn’t bother suppressing her eye roll. Taunting her with it was just boringly tedious, as it seemed Gold didn’t know as much as he thought he did. “If you actually believe I love her, you’d be sorely mistaken. I enjoy her company; that is all. Not that the state of our relationship is any of your business, but then, you do have an annoying little habit of sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, don’t you?”

“I’ve made it my business, dearie,” Gold reminded her before slapping a photo down on the counter, revealing a picture of the two women in the water. Though the lake shielded the explicit aspects of their nudity, it was still fairly obvious they weren’t wearing any clothing. Emma’s back was to the camera, Regina’s arms draped around her shoulders while she smiled widely at her, as if nothing else existed in the world in that moment but Emma Swan. Fury ran through Regina’s body, but she suppressed it in favor of acting indifferent. She merely raised an eyebrow at him.

That’s the best you have?” Regina asked, forcing her tone to come off as bored as she stared at him like he must be an idiot for starting a confrontation when he didn’t even have anything horribly explicit.

“Of course not, but I find that this is the picture that proves my point the best,” Gold answered. “Believe me, I have seen far more of you and our beloved Sherriff than I ever wanted to. Perhaps you both should find a better place to consummate your little relationship than outdoors. But, then, it’s only a suggestion…”

Regina’s face flushed in anger and embarrassment, a snarl forming on her lips as she forced herself not to throttle the man senseless. It was a rather difficult urge to suppress. “And what point does this picture prove, exactly?”

“Isn’t it obvious, dearie?” Gold responded, although quite rhetorically as he continued with far too much glee than the situation really called for, “True love.

Regina burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it; it was just so ridiculous. Emma being her one True Love? The man must have tripped over his cane and fallen on his head if he believed that.

“You honestly think—?”

“I’m not in the business of guessing, Your Majesty,” Gold told her strongly, as if it was insulting that she would even believe so. “I know what True Love looks like, and that,” he continued, pushing the picture towards her even further, “is it.”

“You’re even stupider than you look,” Regina snapped, the amusement giving way to aggravation that Gold would assume such a foolish thing. “My True Love died, if you don’t remember. It’s not exactly a ‘second chances’ kind of deal.”

“Correction,” Gold responded sharply, “Your first love died. They are not one in the same.” Regina merely scoffed at the implication, but Gold wasn’t finished. “You can choose to believe what I have to say or not; in the end, it really has no bearing on my terms of the release of any and all incriminating evidence I have against the two of you.”

Regina’s patience was nearing the end of its rope; she just wanted this over with. “And what are your terms, exactly?”

“The deal I’m proposing is this,” Gold began, gathering the picture back up in his hand to place it back with the others. Regina had half a mind to just break in here later and get them, but Gold wasn’t stupid; he probably had made copies. “In exchange for the photographs, all I ask in return is that when the time comes when you both realize the extent of your feelings, you do not shy away from making that one… final… kiss.

Gold’s needless dramatics irritated her and Regina made no effort to hide her eye roll. “Please, you really think that will break the Curse? Even if we do happen to fall in love with one another, I can guarantee you that it won’t be strong enough. She is not my destiny.”

“Says you,” Gold replied with a little smirk. But then a thought occurred to him and he mentioned, “Oh and, don’t get it wrong, dearie; even if you both do decide to start telling people, I do have a much higher threat to hold over you. Because, you see, I don’t think it would look very good if a politician had compromising photos of her and her lover released to the public, do you? And believe me when I tell you, I have pictures that could sell for some very high prices.”

Regina colored in anger once more. “So what, I won’t get the pictures until True Love’s kiss breaks the Curse? Is that what you’re saying? Because it is not going to happen and I will not stand here and allow you to hold this over me for the rest of my damn life, Gold!”

“I won’t ever ask for anything more, cross my heart,” Gold responded, shooting her a smile that was in no way comforting. “If you really don’t believe it’ll happen, then why are you so hesitant to agree? If nothing happens, as you believe, then you have nothing to worry about. The pictures will never see the light of day and your precious little Curse will stay intact. It’s a win/win, if you ask me…”

Regina fumed as she exclaimed heatedly, “Fine, you have a deal. But I swear to you, if you try to do anything more, I will—”

“I always honor my deals, Your Majesty,” Gold interrupted, giving her a dramatic little bow as a show of good faith. Regina scoffed at the gesture. “Or, don’t you know that about me?”

He did have a point. As spineless and manipulative as he was, Gold did always stick by the deals he made. Still, it was of little comfort as Regina did not like the thought of those photos being in his possession. It made her terribly uneasy. But as there was nothing she could do about it at the moment, she merely scowled at him.

“We’re finished here.”

Regina slammed the door open with the flat of her hands as she exited the shop, the fury inside of her thankfully preventing her from breaking down on the sidewalk. She didn’t believe for a second that Emma was her True Love, but that didn’t mean she hated being blackmailed any less. What was worse was that Emma was expecting some kind of explanation and Regina knew she could not give her one, as she still believed the Curse was all part of Henry’s delusion.

Regina felt utterly trapped, and the feeling stood to suffocate her. She didn’t know what to do.

TBC…

Chapter Text


CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Grey

“That’s it?” Emma questioned, skepticism masking over her expression at Regina’s explanation of what had happened in the pawn shop. “He just wanted a favor to be used in the future?”

Regina knew it wasn’t the most convincing story, but it was the only thing she was able to think of that would sound plausible. Telling Emma the truth was entirely out of the question, as it would lift the veil that shrouded the most intricately woven of lies that she had ever told; this town, these people, the lives and past she had created to make it unquestionable to those trapped within its grasp. Their relationship was difficult enough without exposing an unforgivable truth that the so-called ‘Savior’ would no doubt find herself unable to look past.

Gold was wrong anyhow. Emma might be something to her, but True Love was supposed to be something magical, something two people were destined for, and how their relationship began was not the things that epic love stories were made of. They fell into something together that was merely born from their broken desire to connect to someone just as damaged as they were. It was a passing fancy –granted, one Regina was certain she would enjoy while it lasted – but there was absolutely no ‘forever’ about the two of them. She couldn’t fathom how that wasn’t painstakingly clear to Gold, but perhaps he was merely covering all his bases.

Regina didn’t know why he wanted the Curse to end so badly, but as she doubted it was going to happen anytime soon, perhaps it wasn’t pertinent to worry about it.

“That’s what he said,” Regina answered. To try to make her lie more convincing she added, “And believe me, dear, it might seem like nothing now, but I’m certain when the time comes for him to cash it in, it won’t be something I’ll be particularly ecstatic about participating in. It unsettles me, to owe something to that man. You don’t understand what he’s capable of.”

“Yeah, no, I get it,” Emma responded with an exasperated sigh, as though Regina’s insistence of how bad it could be was futile. “I owe him a favor too, remember? And yeah, pretty sure that’s gonna suck balls when the time comes, but I just don’t get why he couldn’t propose that deal in front of me.”

“It was a business transaction, dear; a private matter between the two consenting parties. Also, I believe he enjoys being needlessly dramatic. But it’s of no matter… what’s done is done. We cannot change that.”

Emma still looked skeptical, but she didn’t question it any further. Perhaps she knew better than to prod at Regina when she had already had a trying day. She slumped against the wall in the study, kicking up her leg so that her dirty boot was making a rather ghastly imprint on the nice wallpaper. Regina inwardly cringed. “So what, we don’t get the pictures back until you cash in this favor, whatever the hell it’s going to be?”

“Yes,” Regina hurriedly answered before giving into the slight anxiety that was creeping up her spine at Emma’s blatant disregard of her nice things. She honestly couldn’t understand what compelled the woman to act in such a manner. Wasn’t common decency, well… common? “And for the love of everything, Miss Swan; if you do not remove your foot from my wall, I will be forced to remove it from your body.

Surprise passed over Emma’s face before recognition kicked in and she slid her foot down to land with a thump on the wooden floor. Regina’s eyes flashed at the mark she had made, although a part of her knew she was only focusing on such a trivial matter because it was easier to deal with than the present situation. She really didn’t want to have the inevitable conversation about their relationship, as she was unsure on how to even broach such a delicate matter.

“Oh… sorry,” Emma mumbled, shoving her hands into her pocket as she tried to shoot Regina an innocent look. The Mayor merely scowled at the half-assed apology.

“You are so utterly barbaric sometimes.”

“Yeah, well, shit happens.” The response was said with an uncaring shrug, as Emma apparently didn’t feel the need to seem guilty anymore after Regina’s assessment of her etiquette, or lack thereof. She quirked an eyebrow at her, “And really, you’re going with Miss Swan again? I thought we were past all that crap.”

Regina puffed out her cheeks as she exhaled an impatient sigh, leaning against the side of her desk. “The day you stop being irritating is the day I will cease to call you that,” she answered. She gestured at her wall haplessly, “Honestly, look at what you’ve done; you’re like an oversized child. Do you even know how much that wallpaper costs?

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Emma exclaimed, rolling her eyes as she pushed herself off the wall. “If I clean it off, will you shut up? You’re obsessing.”

“I am not obsessing—”

“She said defensively.”

Regina fumed, allowing herself to get riled up because her anger was the only thing that truly made any sense anymore. “Just get a damn rag and clean up your mess,” she snapped, further proving Emma’s theory that she was getting defensive. And Regina knew, somewhere in the back of her mind, that she was being utterly ridiculous, but it still didn’t stop her in the slightest.

“Guess the honeymoon’s over,” Emma grumbled as she stomped off into the kitchen, doing what Regina asked of her. The Mayor exhaled a long sigh, running her fingers through her hair. It was aggravating her, that she didn’t know how to start the conversation they needed to have, and perhaps she was taking it out on Emma unfairly, but it was just easier sometimes, to fall back on old habits.

“Mom?”

Regina looked up, seeing Henry in the doorway of the study. Her irritation dissipated almost immediately and she smiled at him. “Hi, honey. Did you have fun at Kathryn’s this weekend?” She pushed herself off the desk to cross the room to the small couch in the southern corner, beckoning her son to come join her on it.

“Yeah. David played baseball with me,” Henry answered as he tentatively glanced at the seat his mother was offering him. It seemed he did not deem it to be any threat however, since he reluctantly went over and sat down next to her. “Emma said I had to finish my homework before I watched any TV, but I’m done now, so can I?”

Regina was about to answer, but she didn’t get the chance.

“You know what you should watch, kid?” Emma said, interrupting Regina’s train of thought, as she came in with a wet rag. Her presence seemed to surprise Henry, as he no doubt believed she had left once Regina had come home. But Emma barely even noticed as she bent down to scrub the mark she made off the wall. “The Avengers. Seriously, it’s so awesome. I think it’s still on Pay Per View, if you can convince your mom to order it.”

“His bedtime is in an hour, I hardly think that gives him enough time to watch a movie.”

Although Henry did look excited by the prospect of the movie, his gleeful expression diminished rather quickly, only to be replaced by utter confusion. “Is Emma going to live with us now?” he asked, seemingly out of nowhere. The question made Emma drop the rag she was holding and Regina to nearly choke on her own breath.

“What? No. Why would you…” Regina tried, but had to take a moment to try to collect herself through her sudden burst of irrational panic. “Why would you ask that?”

“Because she’s always here and now she’s cleaning. You tell me all the time I have to clean up after myself because I live here, so if she’s not going to live here, then why are you making her clean?”

Although it sounded like a perfectly rational question that a ten year old would ask – since the logic behind it would be flawless if only those factors were involved – Regina couldn’t help but hear the bitterness in his tone at the prospect of his birthmother moving in with them, and Regina was almost certain that had everything to do with her and nothing to do with Emma. He really didn’t like how friendly the two of them had gotten and it was entirely disheartening, for a wide variety of reasons.

“Because people should always clean up after themselves, not just when they’re at home,” Regina struggled to answer. Her eyes found Emma’s, who was looking akin to a deer stuck in headlights, so Regina sighed, knowing she wasn’t going to get any help with this as she finished, “And you know Emma and I have been working on a project together. Believe me, dear, I wouldn’t have her here under any other circumstances; we are merely colleagues, it would be inappropriate.”

“Liar,” Henry accused. His words made Regina’s face color in shock at being spoken to in such a blatantly rude manner. Her son knew better, or at least she had thought so.

“Hey,” Emma spoke up, suddenly finding her voice. “That’s not a nice thing to accuse your mom of, kid. Like she said, we’re just—”

But Henry was up on his feet, anger washing over his face as he pointed at Emma, having decided that since he had opened the door to the issue he might as well barrel through it headfirst. “Then you’re a liar too!” he accused, causing Emma’s jaw to slack; surprised that his rage had made a rather unexpected turn in her direction. Regina wondered if this was the first time her son had ever yelled at her.

“I know you guys are friends now; I’m ten, not blind!” Henry raged, looking almost on the verge of tears from the prospect. It tore Regina’s heart in half. “You promised, Emma; you said you wouldn’t let her corrupt you and you did! Now everything’s ruined and everyone’s going to be unhappy forever, and it’s all her fault!

Henry fled from the room, his temper tantrum sweeping both women up in its wake as the air became thick with foreboding tension. Regina felt like her insides were crushing in on one another, twisting and violently succumbing to the force of her son’s rejection. It was suffocating, to continue to do this day after day; Regina didn’t know what to do anymore. It was clear this phase wasn’t going to go away anytime soon and it made her feel rather nauseous. She didn’t know how much more of this she could take.

Emma was at her side immediately, noting the distress on the brunette’s face. “Hey,” she tried softly, kneeling down in front of the couch so she could be eyelevel with Regina. Emma’s hand cupped her cheek, her thumb sliding over soft skin that was beginning to flush with the premonition of future tears. “He’s just a kid, you know? It’ll pass. He can’t believe this fairytale thing forever; at some point, he’ll need to grow up.”

“You don’t understand what it’s like,” Regina choked out, trying desperately to force her tears to stay at bay, but one slipped down her cheek of its own accord, Emma’s thumb immediately wiping it from existence, “to have your own son think you’re some… despicable person. It doesn’t matter how long it lasts, it still rips my heart from my chest to see him look at me in that way.”

The worst part about it was Regina knew it wasn’t entirely undeserved. All the things Henry believed that she had done, she actually had done. But perhaps what upset her the most was that Regina had once convinced herself that this place, this town, would be the beginnings of a new life. It should have been a clean slate, a place where she could raise the son she adopted with love and with care, but old habits die hard and it wasn’t as though she had made herself into this miraculous new person who actually deserved to be cared about.

Perhaps she didn’t do as much evil here as she did back in the Enchanted Forest, but she wasn’t exactly a good person either. She had hurt many people – a large percentage of the time on purpose – and even to this day, even in this moment, she couldn’t bring herself to even regret the things she had done, outside of the fact that they seemed to have unintentionally hurt Henry in the process.

Regina had believed a child’s love was unconditional, but it seemed she was wrong. How foolish she had been, to think she could force someone to care for her, just because she took care of their basic needs.

“He loves you,” Emma responded strongly, as though the force of her words had the ability to instill belief. It was almost as if she knew what Regina was thinking. “He’s just going through something right now; you have to give him time.”

“I fear it isn’t that simple,” Regina whispered, her words nothing more than broken remnants of the life she foolishly had convinced herself she could have. She took a shuddered inhale of breath though, refusing to cry anymore in front of Emma; the mere fact that she was even comfortable enough to do so in the first place was unsettling enough. Regina couldn’t even remember the last person who had seen her tears and now Emma had, twice.

“Why, because you really are the Evil Queen?” Emma joked, trying to make light of the situation, but it only stood to darken Regina’s expression. Emma noticed this and her face immediately softened as she grasped Regina’s hands in hers. “Hey, no, don’t do that; don’t let Henry’s anger project on your self-image. That can’t be healthy.”

“With all due respect, dear, I hardly think you’re one to lecture about unhealthy behaviors.”

Emma relented to that with a soft shrug, not going to argue her point. “Okay, fine; that’s fair,” she told her, yet still gently squeezed Regina’s hands in hers encouragingly, seemingly set on making her feel better in whatever way she could.

“Alright, look at it this way,” Emma began, finding a new course of action to take in her quest to mend Regina’s broken heart. “Even if what Henry says is true – which okay, I know is weird and probably requires doing heavy amounts of LSD to believe, but bear with me for a second – even if you were this so called ‘Evil Queen’ who takes people’s hearts and ruins people’s lives, you’re not— well okay,” she amended, thinking about how much truth that statement actually entailed, “you do have a bit of a problem with trying to ruin people’s lives actually…”

“Is this supposed to be helping?” Regina interrupted bitterly.

“Sorry, just trying to be honest and that wasn’t exactly it,” Emma admitted, looking a little guilty for saying it in the first place, as it meant amending it probably hurt Regina further. “Look, my point is, even if the world had gone backwards and you were this person Henry thinks, you still wouldn’t be her now. And you wanna know why?”

Emma gave her a soft smile, trying to prove this to her with the care she held for the woman in front of her. “Evil can’t love, Regina,” she told her firmly. “That’s like, pretty much the basis of ‘evil’ in every story, isn’t it? And you love Henry; anyone can see that from a mile away. So don’t get caught up in this image he’s projecting on you because it’s not true. Yeah, you can be an unfathomable bitch at times and are manipulative as shit, but you’re also the sweetest woman I’ve ever met in my life, even if I had to dig pretty damn deep to find the person you try to hide.”

Emma reached up, tenderly tucking a piece of Regina’s hair behind her ear as she finished pointedly with, “Good and evil are black and white concepts, Regina, and you’re pretty much the greyest person I’ve ever met. And you know what? I think the color suits you.”

There wasn’t even a word to describe how Regina felt in that moment. It was as though something warm inside of her had burst, slowly running through her body as it filled her with a feeling she never believed she would get from another after all the things she had done. For so long Regina had believed her fate to be set; consumed with revenge and anger, there wasn’t much room for anything else, let alone the privilege of love and acceptance. To get either of those things, Regina had always believed she needed to lie. And although she wasn’t ready to spill all her secrets to Emma – as the fear of what that would bring was still far too great – the acceptance Emma had about there being both a dark and light side within her, filled Regina with an emotion she couldn’t even begin to name.

Their lips met heatedly, desperately, as Regina sought to thank her in the only way she knew how. Words were meaningless anyway, as she needed Emma to feel what it was that consumed her whole. Fingers tangling in cascades of sun-kissed hair, Regina drew her towards her, breathing her in as she allowed Emma to chip away at the wall she had barricaded around her heart. Perhaps she wasn’t her one True Love, but the woman’s irrefutable light still poured inside of her, mixing with the darkness where Regina had made her home, creating the beautiful shade of grey that Emma firmly believed her to be. Although it was, perhaps, a bit strange that Emma didn’t realize the transition had furthered because of her.

The Savior of All… and yet Emma had no idea the true impact she really had on people, too consumed with her own darkness, perhaps, to notice the light radiating from her heart.

Air had suddenly become a needed factor and they both pulled away, yet only slightly. Emma was smiling at her, as though she was honestly surprised by Regina’s reaction. “I helped then?” she asked, like the concept was unfathomable for some reason, yet she enjoyed it all the same. Regina returned the smile in kind, chuckling a little at the amount of disbelief on the woman’s face.

“Yes, dear, you helped.”

Emma beamed, but it was short lasting as the current situation they had found themselves in came back to the forefront of her mind. Frowning, Emma’s words were soft and tentative as she voiced her opinion on the matter, which she was fairly certain Regina wouldn’t like, “We can’t keep lying to him like this, Regina. I think it’s only gonna end up making everything worse.”

The hurt look on Henry’s face as he accused both of them of being liars flashed in Regina’s mind. Though she wished she didn’t, Emma had a point; Henry was clearly upset by the fact that they had gotten friendlier, but his anger seemed to escalate further over the fact that he was being lied to about it. Henry’s paranoia that Regina was somehow ‘corrupting’ his precious Savior was likely becoming worse because of it, which also did not help matters in the slightest. But was it wise to broach such a delicate subject with a ten year old? Regina was uncertain and that feeling of confliction set her at a terrible unrest.

“I’m afraid of introducing him to a routine that stands a high chance of not becoming a permanent fixture in his life,” Regina admitted. “It’s not as though I enjoy lying to him, but I’m worried that he could get used to it, and when our relationship comes to an end, it could hurt him far worse than not knowing ever could.”

“No, I get that,” Emma conceded, exhaling a long sigh as she too looked utterly lost on how to proceed. “I just… I keep thinking that there’s a good chance that he might end up finding out on his own, walk in on something, and then what? I mean, we’ll probably scar the kid for life. He’s already in therapy; we really don’t need to give him more reasons to go.”

Regina stayed silent, unable to come to a decision or formulate any other suggestions. All of the books she had read on parenting had never prepared her for this kind of scenario.

But it seemed Emma had an idea as her hand gently squeezed Regina’s knee, getting her attention. “Maybe we should just…” But then she trailed off, uncertainty crossing her features as she realized this might not be Regina’s preferred plan of action. She continued regardless however, as now Regina was looking at her in question. “Alright, I know you’re probably gonna hate this, but… what if we talk to Dr. Hopper about it?”

Regina’s face immediately darkened.

“Look, I know you’re not his biggest fan,” Emma continued quickly, “But he’s worked with the kid for a long time now and, I don’t know, maybe a professional opinion would help? I mean he can’t be all bad; you even went to him once, didn’t you?”

“Yes, and the blithering idiot had nothing of use to help my situation,” Regina bit back, still bitter over the last therapy session she had with the man. “His big solution was that we talk to one other, as though that would magically stop us from being self-torturing imbeciles.”

“Uh, Regina?” Emma asked tentatively, one eyebrow rising in her direction. “To be fair, I think a lot of our problems could be solved if we just talked to each other.”

“Well fine then, dear, by all means, let’s talk,” Regina snapped, irrationally aggravated over being countered. Emma, when confronted by this request, merely stared at her with a deer-in-headlights expression. It was enough to prove her point. “See, and this is exactly why the solution was utterly unrealistic; we don’t know how to do that, now do we?”

Emma sighed heavily. “Well then maybe we should go to therapy anyway,” she muttered, which was exactly the answer Regina was not looking for. “We obviously suck at this. I mean, maybe it could—”

“I am not about to participate in couples therapy,” Regina interrupted, as though the idea was absolutely unfathomable. They may have their issues, but that didn’t mean they needed to share them with someone who could mediate them. It made her feel entirely uncomfortable, for someone to know what it was they were doing so intimately.

“Then this relationship probably is going to go to shit,” Emma bit back, unhappy that her idea was shut down so quickly. She eyed Regina with a sudden mistrust, as though perhaps that was all part of her well-calculated plan to make the masochist within her even unhappier. “Is that what you want?

Regina looked at her haplessly, unable to understand how Emma could even think such a thing. “Of course not—”

“Well me either,” Emma told her seriously, wanting Regina to understand that although she too was pessimistic when it came to believing they stood a chance, that didn’t mean she didn’t want to try to fight against what they both assumed was the inevitable. “Look this isn’t my first choice either. Do you really think it’s gonna be fun for me, to sit there and have my head dissected? Pretty sure I’d rather get twelve root canals in a row. But the fantasy we made in your summer cabin, I… I don’t know, I really liked it. And maybe it’s stupid of me to hope for, given how screwed up we are, but I think it’d be nice if that could be our reality, instead of our dirty secret.”

Regina pursed her lips, apprehension coloring her features. Of course she agreed with Emma; it would be nice to have that become their reality. But Regina was convinced it would never be so because neither of them believed they truly deserved to have that kind of happiness or contentment in their lives.

To be allotted that pleasure would mean that they would have to sacrifice something for it, as they both had learned long ago that nothing worth having ever came easy. And if it did, Regina was fairly certain they would become suspicious, and that only stood to make things worse. At least this way, they knew what pain they were sacrificing to pay the price for their happiness. That would always be far better than having the unknown loom over them, taunting them into paranoia as they waited for the other shoe to drop.

Emma watched her for a moment, noting the conflicted look on Regina’s face. “Come on, Regina,” she gently prodded, “I know it’s going to suck but if we have to go for Henry anyway, we might as well deal with some of our shit while we’re there.” Emma’s hand gently squeezed her knee in a silent promise, trying to find a compromise. “If we can’t handle it, we don’t have to go again. I’m not trying to commit you to something I don’t even know is going to work yet.”

Regina exhaled a long sigh, not really having the effort to fight this any longer, as Emma seemed persistent and her stubbornness had always been rather unmatched. “Fine,” she relented, although made a point to make it clear in her voice that she wasn’t happy about this arrangement. “I’ll make an appointment, but I really doubt it’s going to do us any good.”

Emma shot her a small smile, happy that she had agreed to her proposal. “I guess we’ll see,” she responded with an indifferent shrug. She didn’t really have high hopes either, but it seemed she was more open-minded to it than Regina was.

“Yes,” Regina agreed slowly, already thinking of a thousand ways this could go wrong. “We most certainly will.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
Therapy

Figuring out what to do about Henry was, as expected, the easiest part of the session.

Archie encouraged Emma to implore to his fantasy, as he believed it would be the easiest way for Henry to understand. Regina wasn’t in total agreement with this, but as their son’s dislike of them spending time together was so heavily rooted in his belief that Regina was the Evil Queen, she begrudgingly agreed that it wouldn’t hurt to try. They, of course, were not going to explain the true depth of their relationship to Henry just yet, however; Archie thought it would be wise to use the word ‘close,’ as it would be nearest to the truth without overwhelming the boy.

After working out that Emma would try to explain to him, as delicately as she could, what it really meant when Henry said he wanted her to ‘defeat’ the Evil Queen, she would then go on to explain that good people have to try to do the right, the honorable thing, and that perhaps ‘defeating’ Regina in that manner wasn’t the way to do that. The Mayor sat, as poised as ever, during this entire conversation, trying not to let on that it was setting her teeth on edge, as it was suggested that Emma explain to Henry that love was the only weapon that could truly conquer evil.

Emma nearly choked on her own breath after that statement.

“But I don’t love her!” she insisted loudly, her eyes growing as large as saucers at the implication. Regina could see all the muscles in Emma’s body tense, as though she was preparing to jump out the damn window just to escape this conversation if it continued. For someone so insistent on having a real relationship, it seemed endgame scared her quite badly. Either that, or perhaps Emma was frightened of Regina’s reaction to what the blonde seemed to believe was some kind of accusation.

“No, I didn’t…” Archie tried, looking very uncomfortable as he nervously fiddled with his glasses. He glanced at Regina as well, perhaps trying to gauge if she had the same reaction as Emma, but all he was met with was an impassive stare and a raised eyebrow. It didn’t bother her, since she knew what it was Archie was implying in the first place, and it wasn’t that they were in love.

What was bothering her, however, was how this solution was only furthering Henry’s belief in the Curse that was, unfortunately, actually real. Even if it did get him to be alright with what was going on between them, it was counteracting all the months of therapy Regina had put him through in the process. Dr. Hopper was supposed to be getting Henry away from this delusion, not immersing him in it more. But what else could they do, when the child’s entire belief system was wrapped in it? If they tried to speak to him like two normal adults, he would probably shut down even further. It was absolutely maddening, and Regina hated feeling so trapped in the insanity of it all.

“I merely meant,” Archie continued, shifting his gaze back towards Emma, “that in the world of fairytales, there are things such as ‘true love’s kiss’ that can counteract any evil curse, therefore I believe the overall general rule of ‘love conquers all’ is embedded in this fantasy world he has created for himself. But love is not always romantic; there is a mother’s love for a child, love for one’s friends…”

“Oh,” Emma responded, now looking a little sheepish at her reaction as she glanced over towards Regina, sinking a little further into the couch as if the shame-filled movement counted as some kind of apology for her overreaction. “Okay. Uh… yeah, I can do that.”

All in all, the conversation about Henry only took up about half of their session. At least ten minutes of that time, however, did consist of a rather heated argument. After a while, Regina found she was unable to keep her silence any longer and demanded why in the hell it was important that Emma speak to her son first, which then made Emma snap that Henry was their son, and it took a little while until Archie had them both calmed down enough to explain why he thought the order in which they spoke to Henry would be pertinent to his acceptance. Regina still found she wasn’t happy with it, but was glad that at least Archie implored that she speak to him about it in a normal fashion, so that way Henry would at least be able see the reality of their relationship beneath the fantasy of good vs. evil.

Balance, apparently, was the key to getting Henry to be okay with it after his delusions of fairytale characters eventually subsided with age.

Coming to a solution over this should have set both women at ease, but knowing what was coming next in the last half hour of their session only stood to make them both tense up when Archie began, “Now as I understand it, you both have some relationship issues you’d like to address?” He looked between Emma and Regina, who had purposely sat as far away from each other as they could on the couch once they had gotten there, knowing they would probably need space once this part of the session came about.

Neither woman spoke for a long time. Archie did not push them, merely watched them take tentative side glances towards one another before, finally, Emma was the one to break the silence. “We kind of suck at talking to each other about what’s going on.”

“In general, or between the two of you?”

To Dr. Hopper’s credit, he had refrained from judgment after being requested to do a session with the two of them. Regina believed he might have the nerve to be cocky about it, as it was he who had suggested early on that there may be an emotional attachment between them, but he never once spoke about it or acted as if them being together was anything other than natural. It did make things easier, however the topic at hand still set both women on edge. Neither of them felt entirely comfortable about having their relationship dissected, but perhaps it was something that was needed, as they both seemed so utterly inept when it came to including a romantic interest into their broken lives.

It was Regina who confirmed, “Between us.” She had the urge to fidget under Archie’s gaze but contained herself, as she was not the type to show how nervous a conversation of this magnitude made her. “We sort of… fell into this, so to speak. Neither of us were expecting it to turn out the way it did, and now that it has, we’re uncertain of what to do about it.”

“I see,” Archie commented. He sat further back in his seat, his fingers idly drumming his pen in the air before he cleared his throat. “As a point of interest, how do each of you classify your relationship to one another?”

“She’s my girlfriend,” Emma said, without even taking a moment to think about it. Regina scoffed at the term however, and Emma turned to look at her, irritated disbelief etching over her features. “Oh my god, don’t even tell me you’re going to sit there and act like you’re not when you were the one who said we were in a relationship first.”

Regina’s brow creased in irritation at Emma’s tone, which made her answer sound rather condescending when she spoke. “Of course not, I just find the term rather juvenile. We’re not in grade school, Emma.”

The blonde rolled her eyes. Just the fact that they were having a conversation about their relationship seemed to set them both on edge, as it didn’t take a lot to provoke sarcastic banter. “Oh, I’m sorry, what do you want me to call you then; my lover, my partner?

Regina just raised a pointed eyebrow at her before turning to Dr. Hopper and answering his previous question and Emma’s all at once with the simple phrase, “She’s mine.

Despite Emma’s aggravation at Regina’s ridiculous insistence that she shouldn’t use the term ‘girlfriend,’ hearing her words did make her face soften in remembrance of the night they first made love. She smiled.

“That seems rather possessive,” Archie noted, making careful effort in keeping his tone neutral so it didn’t come off as being judgmental. “I wonder, Regina, if you feel this way because of the… uh,” he seemed to struggle with the right word for a moment before deciding on, “BDSM undertones, I suppose, that your relationship had when it began?”

“Oh my god you told him what we did?” Emma exclaimed, looking at Regina like she must have lost her mind for talking about something of that nature with someone as relatively innocent as Archie Hopper. “You could have talked about it without mentioning our kinky power play, for shit’s sake! Nobody needs to know about that.”

“I merely said that our sex was violent, I didn’t go into details,” Regina shot back, not enjoying being looked at like she did anything wrong. “But thank you, dear, for confirming that we have a clear dominant and submissive in our sexual relationship. I’m sure that was terribly needed for Dr. Hopper’s assessment. Which, by the way,” she continued, turning back towards Archie, “if you were implying what I believe you were implying, you would be wrong; Emma is the dominant one, not me.”

“Interesting,” Dr. Hopper responded. He apparently didn’t expect that and began to scribble something down on his clipboard.

Emma groaned, covering her face with her hands as she sunk further into the couch. “Our sex isn’t the problem,” she muttered, looking as if she wished to just die where she sat. “Can we please talk about something else?”

Emma’s reaction to the turn of conversation intrigued Regina, as she didn’t think the Sherriff would be this shy when it came to her sexual exploits; but, then, perhaps she was only hesitant to speak about them because she was doing them with her. The thought made Regina’s face sour. Emma had once accused Regina of being ashamed of her, and it would be terribly hypocritical now, if that were the case with this.

Archie, however, did not heed Emma’s request. “It’s been noted that sometimes when a couple participates in power play in the bedroom, that in the relationship the roles actually switch. Has this been the case with you both, or are you on equal footing?”

Emma still looked as though she were trying to slow the onset of a headache, so Regina answered for them after taking a moment to think about it. “I do, actually, seem to have a bit more control in that area, yes.”

“Emma, would you agree with that?” Archie asked, trying to get the woman back into the conversation. Emma sighed, but eventually sat up, seemingly a little better now that they were actually speaking of their relationship and not what they did in the bedroom.

“Regina’s bossy,” she told him. “So obviously she’s going to try to call the shots whenever she can.”

“And you let her?”

Emma merely shrugged, however did look a little apprehensive about whether or not she was actually supposed to. “Yeah, I guess. It’s just easier that way.”

“And why is that?” Archie prodded, the first sign that he was trying to get underneath Emma’s skin and find out how she really worked. The Sherriff seemed to sense that and she fidgeted in her seat.

“I don’t know,” Emma mumbled, her eyes looking anywhere but at him. She took a moment to formulate her answer before she spoke again. “I guess I’ve just always been pretty bad when it comes to the relationship thing, so it’s just easier if I let her handle it.”

Regina snorted, causing the attention to fall on her once more. “And you think I’m any better at it?” she asked Emma, looking at her as though she had gone mental. “My last relationship was—” before you were even born, she almost said, but realized at the last minute how that would sound, “well over a decade ago.”

“Yeah well my last one was with Henry’s father,” Emma reminded her. “And that turned out… less than ideal.” She shrugged, running her fingers through her hair self-consciously. Exhaling a long sigh, Emma continued, “I don’t know, I guess I just figured that you were the most capable one in that aspect. Maybe I was wrong, and that’s really going to suck if that’s the case because I’m really, really horrible when it comes to this stuff.”

“You’re not horrible,” Regina told her, not even thinking of her response before it was voiced out loud. Emma’s eyebrows rose at her assessment and Regina found herself flushing lightly against her will, not particularly fond of the attention she got from Archie at her words, when they were only meant for Emma. But she finished regardless, wanting Emma to know, “You… well, you say all the right things. It’s something I’ve come to appreciate.”

Emma smiled softly at that admission, as she knew there was a time when Regina practically begged her to stop talking, as her words made her feel things that at the time she didn’t want.

“Do either of you think it’s possible,” Archie began, looking over his notes for a moment before shifting his eye contact between both of them, “that the reason you don’t talk to each other about your relationship is not because you can’t, but because you both believe you don’t have adequate experience in order to form a valid opinion on the subject?”

Neither woman answered, prompting Archie to take that as an affirmative to his theory.

“There is no right or wrong when it comes to how you feel about your relationship or how you wish to see it progress,” he told them patiently. “It’s only a matter of finding what works for both of you; expressing both your contentment and your concerns, and finding a way to come to a solution that benefits the both of you.”

Archie sat up a little straighter in his seat as he finished, “So I am going to ask each of you, one at a time, to express something you are content with in your relationship, and something you are concerned about. Emma, I want to start with you.”

Emma apparently didn’t believe she would be chosen first and the question made her uncomfortable. Her lips turned down into a frown, but she didn’t fight Archie’s choice, as she probably knew it would just lead to another pointless argument. “So you want me to say one good thing and one bad thing?” she asked, making it seem like she wanted to double check even though Regina could tell she was merely stalling. She was fidgeting in her seat, unable to find a comfortable position when she felt so utterly exposed.

Archie nodded that her assessment was indeed correct.

Exhaling a long breath that puffed out her cheeks in almost a comical manner, Emma continued shifting her position on the couch as she drummed her fingers against the leather. “Uh, okay. A good thing… well, I guess that would be that she invited me on a… okay, I don’t know if it was ever meant to be a romantic weekend alone, but that’s what it turned out to be and it was…” she smiled in remembrance and the sentiment echoed on Regina’s face as she watched her, “it was really great. I’ve never done anything like that before.”

Archie’s eyebrows rose at that information, apparently not expecting that their relationship had already reached the point of romantic weekends alone. If truth be told, half the time Regina was surprised it had too; more so that she had been the one to suggest such a thing in the first place. It was completely unlike her, but it seemed when it came to Emma, deviating from the norm had become somewhat of a routine.

After a moment’s pause, Archie inquired, “And a concern?”

Emma pursed her lips, her eyes shifting to Regina momentarily before her gaze trained on the ground in front of her. The admission was nothing more than a mumble, as if she was almost ashamed to admit that something they had both agreed on really wasn’t working anymore. “The whole secret thing is starting to suck a little,” she said, talking more to the floor than the two other people in the room, “plus it’s fucked us over one too many times now.”

Regina’s mouth pressed into a tight line at Emma’s words. She knew, logically, where the woman was coming from; first Sidney, then Al, which had preceded the icing on the cake of horrible situations: Gold. In truth, it probably only was a matter of time until people found out of their own accord. But as they were only going to admit to Henry that they had grown closer, Regina feared ‘coming out’ to the rest of the town. If their son was to overhear the true nature of their relationship from idle gossip, it could prove to be rather disastrous. They needed to take things slow.

“That’s something I’d like to get back to,” Archie responded, before slightly gesturing with his pen over towards the Mayor. “But before we do that, first I’d like to hear your answers, Regina.”

Regina’s eyebrows rose, having expected they would discuss Emma’s issue first. Apparently that was not the way Dr. Hopper wanted to do this however, so she let out a long breath as she sat back against the couch, crossing her left leg over her right. The position made her feel more composed as she hesitated for a moment, thinking on her answers.

“It’s been quite a long time since I have felt close to anyone,” Regina began tentatively, eyebrows knitting as she tried to put her feelings into words. There was another pause as she made a point to pretend as though there was no one else in the room, as Regina realized it would probably be the only way for her to feel comfortable enough vocalizing what it was that she felt. “I didn’t really believe I was capable of it anymore. Emma proved me wrong and, I don’t know why, seeing as there is probably no fathomable reason why I should ever do so… but I seem to trust her rather implicitly. I feel safe with her.”

Regina didn’t need to look over at Emma to know that she was smiling like a fool at her words. Not wishing to color in embarrassment, Regina made a point to push onwards to the concern she had. “However,” she continued, “I believe Emma dismisses the things I have done to her in the past, because for her it’s easier to act as though they didn’t happen than to address how she could still feel things for me after the countless amount of things I have done to her. I don’t think suppressing that is healthy and it’s probably going to end up being a problem later on.”

Emma’s smile faded in an instant, a defensive look crossing her face. “What the hell is wrong with you; do you want to get into a fight?” She threw out her hands in a gesture of furious disbelief, unhappy with the fact that Regina felt the need to bring something like that up when they could have just gone on ignoring it forever. “For Christ’s sake, Regina, why can’t you just leave it alone?”

“Because you can’t just lock stuff away in a box and throw away the key; it doesn’t work that way,” Regina snapped, not enjoying being spoken to in such a tone. “And excuse me for not wanting to spend the next few months or years or whatever wondering if you only care for the person you’ve made me into, not the person that I am.

“What the hell is so wrong with wanting to start with a clean slate?” Emma demanded, her eyes darkening at the argument the topic provoked. “And obviously I do like the person you are, most days anyway, and maybe I just—wait,” she faltered for a moment, allowing Regina’s words to sink in, “did you say years?

Regina’s face reddened of its own accord. “That’s hardly the point,” she bit back, not realizing what it was that she had said until it had been pointed out by Emma. Now she felt a bit foolish and presumptuous, considering both of them were so convinced it would end at some point that the prospect of it going on for so long was probably utterly ridiculous. “So perhaps you could allot me the favor of putting your childish need for a subject change aside for a moment, and actually focus on what the hell it is we’re discussing.”

“If I may…” Archie tried, but his words fell on deaf ears as the two women continued to glare at one another.

“Oh I’m the one that’s childish?” Emma snapped, looking at Regina like she was being terribly hypocritical. “You’re the one that can’t ever let anything go!”

“Facing one’s issues is the mature thing to do, but seeing as how you’ve made a point to do nothing but run away from your problems for the majority of your life, I don’t know why I’m surprised that you wouldn’t be aware of how skewed your perception of childish behavior is.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open in offense. “Oh, fuck off—!”

“Please!” Archie pleaded loudly, his hand slapping down on his clipboard to get their attention. Once he had gotten it however, he did look a little sheepish for raising his voice. “I’m sorry, it just seems that you both are getting a little off track.” Before either of them could protest to that however, he quickly continued. “Starting with a clean slate is not necessarily a bad thing.” Emma shot Regina a triumphant look, but it was quickly wiped from her face when Archie finished with, “But if it’s not agreed on by both people in the relationship, it could stand to do more damage than good.”

Regina raised a pointed eyebrow in Emma’s direction, causing the Sherriff to scoff, infuriated over being proven wrong.

“Emma,” Archie addressed her, his tone much softer so as to not make the woman feel like she was being attacked. “While I do understand why you would not want to, it seems your unwillingness to talk about it is only causing Regina discomfort in the relationship. If the positions were reversed, would you want her to dismiss your feelings?”

Emma scrunched up her face in annoyance as she folded her arms across her chest. “No,” she admitted, albeit a little grumpily. Emma really hated being wrong, probably as much as Regina did. It was that observation, and that observation alone, which prevented Regina from throwing her victory in her face. Eventually Emma sighed softly, relenting, “Fine, we can talk about it. But it has to be on my terms.”

“And what, exactly, are your terms?” Regina asked, propping her elbow up on the arm rest of the couch as she peered at her curiously. Emma clearly did not want to do this in therapy, which then made her wonder what the entire point of coming here even was. But in the end it was probably no matter, as Emma was at least agreeing to speak about the subject.

Emma shifted her eyes for a moment, looking a little embarrassed to answer. “I’ll tell you later,” she responded, her words coming out in a mumble. Regina read through the lines fairly easily and she looked at Emma in disbelief.

“You want to ruin sex by having a serious conversation in the middle of it?”

No,” Emma replied, looking a little disgruntled at Regina voicing that out loud. “I want to make the conversation less painful by including something fun. It’s a totally different vibe.”

Regina rolled her eyes at that. “If you say so, dear.” Though it wasn’t the most preferable of circumstances, at least they had come to a middle ground. That was more than Regina was expecting, given how persistent Emma was about not wishing to speak about such matters.

“Relationships are about compromise,” Archie said, nodding his approval over their terms even though they probably weren’t something that should have been voiced in front of a third party, “Which brings me back to Emma’s concern, Regina, and how you plan to compromise with her on that matter.”

Regina turned her head around to face him so fast that she nearly gave herself whiplash. “Excuse me?” Her eyebrows were raised almost to her hairline. “There is nothing I can do about it. It’s not as though I’m overly enjoying the secrecy either at this point, but I don’t want Henry hearing about our relationship second hand. He already believes we’re both liars and he’ll be furious with us if he finds out we purposely chose to use a word that was misleading.”

Emma was starting to look uncomfortable and shifted in her seat. “No, I didn’t—when I said it was a problem, I didn’t actually mean I wanted to do anything about it. I was venting my frustration, but I get why we can’t. It’s not a big deal…” She was imploring her words to Archie, even though Regina knew they were really for her. Emma really didn’t want to get Regina upset with her over this, as it seemed she didn’t expect them to sound like she needed their arrangement to change.

“Have either of you ever gone on a date?” Archie asked suddenly, causing them both to falter momentarily.

“With each other?” Emma questioned, looking a little perplexed by the change of topic. Archie nodded, but it was Regina who answered him.

“Of course not; we can’t be seen in public together like that.” She spoke to Archie as though he were an unfathomable idiot for even asking in the first place, considering what they had just been talking about.

“Unless you both feel the need to participate in public displays of affection during a date, I don’t see why it would be impossible,” Archie told them, momentarily fiddling with his glasses. “To an outsider, you would merely seem like two people spending time with one another. You could enjoy each other’s company over dinner or what have you, like you would with anyone during a date, and then conclude your evening in the privacy of your own home.”

Emma stared at Regina. Regina made a point to keep her eyes trained on Archie however, trying to ignore the hopeful look that was starting to grace her lover’s face at the possibility of having a bit of normalcy introduced into their lives.

“I just believe it might be helpful to your relationship’s evolution if you allowed yourselves to indulge in something other than the sexual aspects of it.”

“I took her to my cabin for the weekend!” Regina protested, not wanting that gesture to be dismissed. That was more than just sex, obviously.

“Yeah, but how often are we going to be able to do that?” Emma asked her softly, as though she almost felt a little bad for speaking the truth. “Look, maybe it’s stupid but I… I’ve never really done the whole normal date thing, and I kind of…” But she trailed off, unable to finish. She looked rather self-conscious all of a sudden, as though her desire for something normal was perhaps a foolish notion, given who they were.

“You want to,” Regina finished for her. Emma pursed her lips, shrugging lightly through a half-nod. Her hesitation for finally voicing that she did, truly, want more, caused Regina to exhale a long sigh. She knew this day would come, and perhaps she was foolish for thinking they could put it off for a little while longer. Time didn’t stand still; at least… not anymore. And if Regina wished to keep what they had, she had to stop fighting against the clock.

“Okay,” she relented softly, after a few beats of silence. “I’ll take you out, if that’s what you want.”

“Really?”

Surprise washed over Emma’s features, but it quickly made way to a small smile that Regina realized she always wanted to make grace the other woman’s face. It truly was strange, the place they had found themselves in, but perhaps it only felt that way because neither of them was used to having any semblance of happiness, let alone believed they would find it within each other.

And so when Regina answered her, despite knowing that it might not be the wisest thing to do, she still did so with a smile and the confidence that it at least would strengthen her relationship with the one woman she found she couldn’t stay away from.

“Of course, dear.”

TBC…

Chapter Text


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
Reveal

Please don’t hate me.

It’s a plea that would’ve seemed entirely less dramatic and foreboding if Emma wasn’t currently on Regina’s front doorstep, out of breath and nearly soaked to the bone. Even from the short distance between the driveway and manor, the sheets of rain that had been pouring down with relentless torridity for the better part of the afternoon seemed to have bested Emma, as she was shaking in her boots with her arms tightly wrapped around herself, looking akin to a drowned rat.

“Henry, is he…?” was Regina’s breathless question, her chest constricting at the thought that something could have happened to him. But Emma was quick to shake her head, not wanting to give Regina an unwarranted panic attack, even though the Mayor was fairly certain she could have accomplished that by not showing up at her door looking like the damn world was ending.

“He’s fine; I just dropped him off at Dr. Hopper’s office. But I—”

Jesus,” Regina exhaled heavily, interrupting the Sherriff’s train of thought as relief flooded across her face. However, it was quickly replaced with irritation at Emma having managed to scare her in the first place. Her hand clasped around Emma’s wrist, pulling her out of the rain with a terse, “What on earth is wrong with you? You can’t come to my door, looking like you’re expecting the world to crumble out from underneath you, and not expect—!”

“I know, I’m sorry,” Emma hastily apologized as she closed the front door behind her. She tried to push the hair from her face, but the sopping mess was sticking to her cheeks and her attempt to rectify her appearance really didn’t make her look any more emotionally put together. “I just… I need to tell you something before you pick him up later, and I—”

Emma was still shaking. Her jacket looked completely soaked through and as much as Regina wanted to know what caused Emma to rush over here in such a manner, she also didn’t want the woman to get dreadfully ill for it. So Regina halted the woman’s words by stepping beside her, beginning to peel off the god awful red leather jacket that Emma insisted on wearing during any and all bouts of bad weather, even though it was obvious that it did her no favors under extreme conditions.

“Whatever you need to say can wait a moment,” Regina told her, her tone indicating she wasn’t to be argued with. “Look at you; I swear you have no regard for your own well-being half the time. Where the hell is your umbrella?

Emma looked a little taken aback at being fussed over, but her expression immediately turned perturbed at Regina’s chastising. “I don’t know, at home? I’m fine, Regina, it’s just a little water. It’s not like I’m going to melt or anything.”

“No, I suppose that your rampant idiocy is just going to help you catch pneumonia instead,” Regina bit back, hanging the jacket on the coat rack. Her eyes swept over Emma’s form, taking in her white tank top that was soaked through, giving Regina a rather unashamed view of the navy bra that lay beneath it. As attractive as that picture was though, Regina tore her eyes away and ordered, “Take those dreadful things off of you. I’ll be back with a towel and some fresh clothes.”

Emma blinked at her. “What… here?” It wasn’t as though the foyer provided her with much privacy, and it seemed Emma was surprised that Regina didn’t order her to do it in somewhere like the bathroom, as it was perhaps more civilized than stripping out in the open. But that was the least of Regina’s concerns.

“Well what did you expect, dear, that I would allow you to track water all the way through my home?” Regina answered, eyebrow rising. “I don’t wish to spend all evening cleaning up after you, Emma, so if you don’t mind, I would appreciate it if you did as I asked so we can sit down and discuss whatever it is that had you march over here in the pouring rain as though your life was on the line.”

Emma looked as though she were about to say something, but Regina finished curtly with, “Which, I assume, is not as dire as your dramatics indicated, seeing as you have yet to interrupt my insistence that you get yourself in something more suitable.”

Emma exhaled an annoyed sigh before waving her hand at Regina, as if she were trying to brush off the accusation that perhaps her entrance was a tad over the top for what the situation actually called for. “Fine,” Emma relented before beginning to strip off her tank top, “it might not be dire, but I wanted to give you a heads up. Excuse me for caring enough to not let you barrel head-first into something blind.”

Regina held out her hand for the tank top and Emma tossed it to her. It was caught easily as the Sherriff began to peel off her jeans. “You spoke to Henry, I assume,” Regina asked, guessing that was the reason for Emma’s hasty visit. The blonde nodded and Regina sighed softly; whatever it was then, it didn’t seem good, as Emma hadn’t exactly come over here with a smile plastered on her face.

Regina caught the jeans that were tossed to her, allowing herself a moment to rake her eyes over Emma’s bra-and-panty-clad form before she turned away, telling her, “Let me put these in the dryer and I’ll be back with a towel and some clothes. We can talk afterwards.”

Emma implored her to hurry as she wrapped her arms around herself, trying to find some semblance of warmth as she was forced to stand in the middle of the foyer in just her undergarments. For her sake, Regina did come back as quickly as possible. As Emma began to dress in the clothes provided for her – which incidentally, were things she had managed to leave there during her prior visits that Regina had “forgotten” to inform her she had found – Regina made quick work of towel drying the woman’s hair.

Emma let out a small sound of protest and batted her away, however. “I’m not a child, Regina; you don’t need to do that.”

“Yes, because you seem so capable of taking care of yourself,” Regina responded dryly, not caring much for Emma’s hatred of being coddled. Perhaps it was just second nature, for her to take care of the things she… well, cared about. And so she forced the towel back on Emma’s head without her permission, stubbornly doing what she wanted. The Sherriff merely sighed, relenting to her care as she knew arguing was pointless.

She still, however, mumbled, “I can take care of myself, actually,” to which Regina merely replied to with a soft snort of disbelief. Emma rolled her eyes, pulling at the hem of her Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. “At least your weird habit of hoarding my clothes came in handy. I’ve been looking for this for months, you know.”

“I don’t—!” Regina began, but her words only fell way to an aggravated scowl as she pushed the back of Emma’s head lightly with the towel. “It’s hardly my fault you leave your things lying around. I’m beginning to think you purposely ‘lose’ them just so you can leave here in my clothes. If you wanted a better wardrobe, dear, you could have just asked me to take you shopping.”

“Accuses the woman who probably sleeps with one of my t-shirts at night,” Emma retorted, making Regina’s cheeks color in irritation. “How many times have I asked if you found my stuff, Regina? For someone who claims every single time that you haven’t yet, you brought this stuff down really quickly.”

Not wishing to dignify that ridiculous accusation with an answer, Regina merely scoffed as she tossed the towel over Emma’s head. Just because she didn’t entirely feel there was a reason for her to return Emma’s garments in a timely manner, did not mean she was doing something as pathetic as sleeping with them. What did she take her as? Honestly.

“Did you come here solely to irritate me, or were you planning on divulging the reason that could cause me to ‘hate you’ anytime soon?”

Emma’s face immediately fell, remembering the real reason for her visit as she took the towel from off her head, allowing it to fall lifelessly on the floor. “Oh… right.” She slumped against the wall, her face masked in an apology she had yet to explain her reasoning for. “Okay, look. I did… I said what Dr. Hopper wanted me to, and it seemed to get through to the kid, at least a little…”

But?” Regina interrupted, knowing that the word was coming. Emma sighed softly.

But… then he asked me something and I…” Emma was wringing her hands together, getting increasingly more nervous beneath the Mayor’s scrutinizing look, “I didn’t really know what to tell him so I, uh… might have told him that it would probably be better if he just, you know… asked… you.” Her face masked in guilt, knowing it wasn’t fair that she had put Regina in that kind of position.

Regina raised an eyebrow, trying not to look too alarmed until she knew what the question was. “And what was it that he asked you?”

Emma shifted the weight between her feet for a moment before answering, “He asked, pretty damn bluntly actually, if I was – and these are his words, not mine – uh, well… if I was ‘kissing’ you.”

Whatever Regina was expecting, it certainly wasn’t that. Her eyebrows got lost in her hairline. “He… what?” Emma looked as though she were about to answer, but Regina didn’t give her the chance. “Why didn’t you just tell him no? You may as well have just said ‘yes’ by your unwillingness to even give him an answer!”

“I didn’t want to keep lying to him!” Emma responded heatedly, very firmly in that corner of the issue. “And I wasn’t about to confirm or deny it without your permission; this involves both of us.”

“Which you clearly demonstrated when you placed all the pressure of this conversation on me,” Regina sarcastically bit back, running her hand through her hair in frustration. What on earth was she supposed to tell Henry now? This was not what either of them wanted, but perhaps it was foolish to believe their son was that naïve. He did live in the house they constantly had sex in, after all.

“I’m sorry,” Emma apologized, her lips turning down into a frown at the expression on Regina’s face. “I just… I didn’t know what else to do. The kid was getting pissed at us because of how much we’ve been lying to him, I didn’t want to do that again. I mean, you get that… right?”

“Of course I understand that,” Regina snapped impatiently. She, too, did not wish to continue doing that to their son; however, they had come to an agreement and suddenly everything had changed. It was a bit unsettling. “But this still puts me in an awkward position, Emma. Me, not you; I can’t stress that enough.”

Emma exhaled a long breath before shrugging a bit haplessly. “Look, I can… I don’t know, talk to him with you, if you want…”

Regina shook her head. “No, I don’t think it would be wise for him to see us as one unit, at least not this soon. Besides, I think it might be better if I perhaps confirmed that I…” she sighed, pursing her lips for a moment before voicing her thoughts out loud, “I don’t know, maybe that I would just like to bring our relationship to that level, and see how he feels about that first.”

“And what if he doesn’t like it?” Emma asked carefully, looking at Regina as though this had the potential to go horribly wrong. Which, in all honesty, it really did.

“We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it,” Regina answered, not knowing what else to do at this point. “Although I don’t think it’s smart to outright tell him where we stand with one another, I do believe that lying to him might end up being far worse.”

Emma nodded in agreement, but still looked a little wary. Regina felt the same. In the end though, they had to do what was best for their son, and Henry had already proven to them once that lying was not it. And perhaps it wasn’t the whole truth, what Regina was proposing to do, but it was better than nothing, and that had to count for something.

[x]

“How would you feel about that?”

The question hung in the air for quite a long time, Henry staring into his steaming cup of hot chocolate that Regina had especially made for this heavy conversation. Each tick of the analog clock on the wall heightened Regina’s anxiety as she watched the emotions play out on her son’s face from across the dining room table. He seemed awfully conflicted by the possibility and it took a long time for him to speak.

Finally, Henry’s mumbled response was a confused, “That’d be weird,” as he fidgeted slightly underneath his mother’s gaze.

It was disheartening to hear, at the very least, but Regina tried not to let her disappointment show on her face as she asked, “Because we’re both women?” She wanted to know why, exactly, it made her son uncomfortable. With the stigma behind same-sex couples, it was the first thing Regina thought of.

Of course though, that wasn’t it at all. “No,” Henry answered, actually looking confused about why that would even be an issue. If this conversation wasn’t already incredibly stressful, Regina might have actually taken a moment to pride herself on her decent parenting, seeing as her son didn’t judge such a thing. He did, however, have other issues that prevented Regina from patting herself on the back, which he demonstrated with his next sentence. “The Savior and the Evil Queen aren’t supposed to like each other like that; it doesn’t make sense.”

Regina sighed heavily, her fingernails clicking against the ceramic mug in her hand. She had yet to find the stomach to consume the liquid within it. “Henry, Emma and I are just people…” she tried, but Henry shook his head.

“You have to say that,” he told her boldly, “Because if you told everyone the truth, then Emma would have to break the curse. She’s the only one who can— oh.” Henry stopped himself mid-sentence, realization dawning on his face.

“What?” Regina asked, her eyes searching his expression as she tried to figure out what it was that had caused him a change of opinion. Henry was smiling a little now, beginning to look excited.

“It does make sense!” he exclaimed triumphantly, nearly bouncing in his seat. “Emma said that the only way to defeat evil is with love, and the only way to break a curse is with True Love’s kiss, so that means—!”

“Henry,” Regina cut in, her lips turning down into a frown; this was what she was afraid of. “Real life is not like fairytales. Just because I may start dating Emma, it does not mean that we’ll end up falling madly in love and share some earth-shattering kiss that will change everything. There’s a process that adults have to go through with their romantic relationships and it can be rather slow, as ‘love at first sight’ doesn’t actually exist. But more than that, it might not even work out between us, so I don’t want you getting your hopes up.”

“If it’s meant to be, then it will work though,” Henry assured her, as though Regina was the one who needed convincing of the facts. “And the Savior is supposed to save everyone – even the Evil Queen, I guess – so she’ll have to fall in love with you. It’s fate.”

Henry smiled broadly at her; it was perhaps the first time he had done that in months. “Don’t worry, Mom, I know it’s scary, but people won’t be able to hate you for the curse once they realize it was broken because you’ve changed. And you have, right; because you’re starting to like Emma? Evil people can only hate things, so you can’t be completely that way anymore.”

Regina was certain she was starting to get a migraine. That was no longer the world that she lived in and it had never been a world that Henry had been exposed to, so his insistency about it continued to heighten her anxiety. It was ridiculous, the notion that a kiss between Emma and she would change everything, as even if they did fall in love, it wouldn’t be pure enough for such a feat. So despite the fact that her son’s ‘delusions’ of the Enchanted Forest were actually correct, it worried her, on a maternal level, that her son expected some grand outcome to their relationship. This was entirely the reason why she was worried about speaking to him about this; Henry was certain that they would end up happily ever after, when that wasn’t something either of them could guarantee.

“Henry, please,” Regina insisted, not even having the effort at the moment to insist that his beliefs were false, “You’re expecting too much of us. This was why we were hesitant about telling you. We need you to understand that this might not be the beginning of some grand love story; we’re just two people trying to find some semblance of happiness within each other. There is the strong possibility that we might be looking in the wrong place, but that’s the thing about being an adult and having these kinds of relationships; nobody knows where they’ll find their happiness, so there will be times when, even if you want it to work out more than anything, it just won’t, because it isn’t the best fit for us.”

Henry looked as though he were about to argue, but thought better of it and scrunched his face up momentarily in thought. After a few beats of silence he asked her, “But you’re going to try… right? Because you like her and she likes you, and I could be right.”

Regina sighed softly, but did relent with, “Yes, we’re going to try. That is, if you’re okay with it.” It was probably a foolish thing to ask, given Henry’s expressed beliefs in its outcome, but Regina had to say it all the same. Her son, of course, nodded enthusiastically.

“So are you going to ask her on a date?” Henry asked, much too excited about the prospect for Regina to be entirely comfortable with. But as she didn’t know what to do about it just then, she just pursed her lips and nodded.

“I was thinking about it, yes.”

Truth be told, she already owed Emma a date, but they had yet to plan it so for all intents and purposes, that wasn’t exactly a lie. Regina had been finding herself thinking quite a bit about when and where they could have said date recently, after all.

Henry sat up straighter in his seat, apparently intent on helping plan it. “Go somewhere with burgers,” he told her. “They’re her favorite food and it’ll make her happy.”

Despite how badly Regina wished for him not to be too involved in this, for the sake of his own sanity as well as hers due to the pressure it entailed, she couldn’t help but smirk slightly at his suggestion. “I’ll make a note of that, thank you,” Regina responded, even though she was already certain she’d have to take Emma somewhere where the food’s nutrition was questionable at best. It was a little endearing though, watching Henry try to help, even though it scared her that they may just end up disappointing him in the end.

“She doesn’t like to dance though; she said she can’t do it, so maybe don’t—”

[x]

“How did it go?”

Regina exhaled a long breath, cradling the phone to her ear as she sat back against her pillows. “Well, the good news is that he isn’t opposed to the idea,” she began, idly picking at her nails with pent-up anxiety. “The bad, however, is that he now believes that we’re going to fall madly in love and share a kiss that will break the so-called ‘curse’.”

Emma groaned softly on the other end of the line. “Crap,” she muttered. “Did you try to—?”

“Of course I tried to explain to him the reality of it,” Regina cut in, a little annoyed that Emma would even question that, “But I fear it didn’t do any good. He was much too insistent upon helping me plan our first date for him to expect anything other than a ‘happily ever after’ for us.”

There was a small pause for a moment before Emma asked, “He helped you plan our date?” Regina could tell by her tone that she was smiling.

Regina sighed. She understood Emma’s feelings on that, as Regina had them herself at one point, but it still paled in comparison to the larger issue at hand. “Despite how endearing that may be, I really hope you’re aware of how problematic this is for us,” she told her pointedly. “If we break up, it could devastate him.”

“Yeah… I know,” Emma relented softly, her tone deflating slightly as she allowed reality to set in once more. “But isn’t this what a lot of single parents go through though? There’s always going to be pressure; whether or not the kid likes the situation, because either way, he’ll have expectations that we might not be able to live up to. Even if it wasn’t us – if it was just you or me dating someone else entirely – it would still affect him. So outside of putting our lives on hold for his sake, what else are we supposed to do?”

Regina was silent for a long time. Emma had a point; a point which had never even occurred to her, at that. Of course it did make things more complicated because they were both his mothers, and because he firmly believed they played important parts in a fairytale, but it may have turned out to be just as hard even if they were dating someone else. Henry could still find himself hoping for a family – perhaps a different one than the one she and Emma could give him together – but a family no less, and the pressure would most likely be the same.

So the question remained; do they put their lives on hold for Henry’s sake, or do they allow themselves to try to find their own happiness?

“It’s probably too late now,” Regina mused softly, “to take it back.”

“Yeah,” Emma agreed. There were a few moments of silence however before she tentatively suggested, “So maybe… maybe we can try to work on not hurting each other, since it’ll only end up hurting him. We already started this and I… I don’t know, I guess I kind of want to see where it goes. I mean yeah, it could turn out to be crap, but it could also end up being something really fucking great, you know?”

Regina smiled faintly, knowing that was something she could not argue against. They had already sunk too deep, so perhaps it was pertinent at this point to see what lay at the end of it all. As Henry now knew, there really were no more excuses for not trying to make it work.

“Yeah, I know,” Regina affirmed quietly. “And I think… I think that perhaps it’s time that we really begin to try.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
Date

Their fingers tangled together for one brief moment before anxiety overtook them, and as soon as it started it was over, arms completely at their sides as they hesitantly glanced over at one another. Although they had come clean with Henry about their relationship, it seemed there were some aspects that neither of them were quite ready for.

“That was—” Regina cleared her throat, trying to find the right word that didn’t make it sound as though she were rejecting Emma. But they were in public and it was perhaps too big a step for them to be taking at this point. Slow, it seemed, was the saving grace to their sanity when it came to their relationship.

Thankfully, Emma merely nodded in agreement. “Too soon.”

“Yes. Perhaps we should just—”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

The two women exited the parking lot, walking side by side up the concrete walkway to the bar. It was strange enough, the two of them being out together like this, so perhaps it was better if they didn’t barrel into this whole ‘coming out’ thing headfirst. As it was already, they would probably garner a fair amount of inquisitive glances in their direction; they had always put on quite the act of hatred in the public eye, so this outing alone would probably end up looking… well, rather strange to the residents of Storybrooke.

“You know, I feel really overdressed for this,” Emma mentioned as they stopped outside of The Rabbit Hole, fidgeting slightly in the simple yet elegant navy dress that covered her form. It would be casual enough if anyone else was wearing it, but as Emma preferred to dress in jeans and a tank top most days, it did scream ‘date’ from a mile away. “I figured you’d take me to some fancy restaurant.”

“I’m taking you out, dear, not the other way around,” Regina explained, a hint of a smirk tugging at her lips. “I thought it would be better if we did something I knew you would enjoy.” To be quite honest, she found Emma’s discomfort a tad endearing, as it perhaps made it seem far more like a real first date, and not just something they had finally gotten around to doing after months of fucking. “And for what it’s worth, I think you look beautiful.”

Emma flushed slightly, running her fingers through a tangle of blonde locks. “I still feel weird,” she muttered, embarrassed. “You always look great, but people are gonna take one look at what I’m wearing and know I’m trying to get laid.”

That was probably true. Still, Regina was pleased that Emma felt the need to dress up for her, so she couldn’t find it within herself to care very much about what other people thought at the moment. “Come on,” she lightly encouraged, moving towards the entrance of the bar. “Perhaps a few drinks will allow you to stop feeling so self-conscious.”

[x]

It seemed alcohol consumption did help, as it wasn’t long until Emma seemed to forget that anyone else existed other than the brunette that sat on the other side of the table. “Come on, just try it,” she encouraged, waving the greasy monstrosity in front of Regina’s face like an overexcited child. The Mayor’s lip upturned.

“Absolutely not.”

“It’s not going to bite you.”

“No, the saturated fat content will merely clog my arteries and get me one step closer to congestive heart failure,” Regina answered dryly, her fork clinking against her plate as she stabbed another piece of her healthy, non-lethal salad. Emma rolled her eyes.

“Okay drama queen, pretty sure one bite isn’t going to make you drop dead. Will you just live a little? I swear it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever tasted.”

Regina raised a perfectly curved eyebrow, still eyeing the burger with a fair amount of distrust. “I very much doubt that.”

A small pout graced Emma’s lips, trying to coerce her with guilt. “Come on, for me? Just one bite. You can’t live without ever having tried a burger, Regina. That’s like… inhuman.” She waved it in front of her face again, her pout giving way to a devious smile. Regina pursed her lips for a moment, but finally exhaled a defeated sigh and took it from the woman’s hand.

“Fine, but only because I know you won’t shut up until I do.”

Emma grinned triumphantly as Regina hesitantly brought it to her lips. And, alright, it wasn’t horrible but still… “You oversold it,” Regina told her flatly after she had swallowed, not wanting to give Emma the pleasure of knowing that it wasn’t as bad as she originally thought. Still, ‘the best thing she had ever tasted,’ it was not. Regina would still prefer a good helping of tonnarelli alle uova di riccio than what had just graced her lips.

“Whatever, you liked it,” Emma told her, not believing Regina for a moment. She picked another thing up off her plate, offering it to the woman across from her. “Fry?” she tried innocently, which only earned her an exasperated eye roll.

“Now you’re just pushing your luck.”

Emma merely smirked. “One day I’m going to get you to try all the awesome things you’ve deprived yourself of. Watch.” She popped the fry into her mouth, chewing through a wide grin. Regina laughed, amused by Emma’s assurance of her future victories.

“I suppose it’s good to have goals to aspire to, dear.”

[x]

“How… how?

Emma stared at the dartboard in disbelief, eyes trained on the dart that had firmly lodged itself in the bulls-eye. She threw out her hands haplessly, frustrated that she was losing when she believed her opponent wouldn’t be any good, and it caused Regina to chuckle as she took another sip of her scotch.

“Luck?” she answered innocently. Emma rounded on her, pointing an accusatory finger in her direction.

“You’re such a liar; you’ve so played this before! Luck doesn’t account for you kicking my ass that badly. This is ridiculous.”

Regina slid onto the barstool, clasping her hands in front of her on the table as she looked at Emma with the most innocent face she could muster. “I promise you, I’ve never played this before.” Which was true, but she was quite good at archery and it seemed her aptitude for aim had aided her quite substantially during this little game.

Emma’s expression turned grumpy as she took the darts from the board, placing them back on the table. “Whatever. I’m gonna drown my sorrows in another drink; you want anything?”

Regina looked down at her drink momentarily before assessing, “I’m alright, thank you.” Emma looked at her, then at the dartboard one more time before shaking her head in disbelief.

“You’re lucky you’re pretty,” she mumbled before stalking off towards the bar, causing another chuckle to move past Regina’s lips. It seemed Emma was a pretty sore loser, and despite herself, Regina found amusement in it. It might not be the most attractive thing on a person, yet Regina was beginning to realize that she found most everything attractive on Emma Swan as of late. Perhaps that in itself was the most ridiculous thing about this entire situation, yet it was hard trying to find a reason to care.

Regina was happy. And that, truly, was the only thing that really mattered in the end.

Of course, however, because the universe liked to have its kicks with delivering problems at the worst of times, Regina’s train of thought was interrupted by a body sliding into the barstool next to her. Eyebrows rising nearly to her hairline, Regina’s eyes landed on the scantily-clad form of Ruby, who was staring at her with a challenging look in her eye.

“May I help you?” Regina drawled slowly, eyes raking over the woman before her, wishing to make her feel uncomfortable beneath her scrutinizing gaze. Unfortunately, it did not work.

“What exactly are you trying to accomplish here?”

Regina bit the inside of her cheek for a moment, not enjoying the accusation behind the woman’s tone. Ruby was looking at her as though Regina had just announced that she was planning to murder a litter of puppies just for the sheer joy of it, and the Mayor found it inconceivably rude, that the woman would assume that Regina’s only endgame with Emma was manipulation and pain. Ruby didn’t know her, nor did she have the right to judge what she did in her private time.

Still, the woman did not exactly earn an affirmative to her suspicions, so Regina merely replied with, “I’m sure I don’t know what it is that you’re insinuating, Miss Lucas—”

“Oh, please,” Ruby interrupted, not even bothering to suppress her eye roll. It seemed she was through with keeping her silence during all of this. “As far as discreet goes, you’ve kind of missed the mark. Besides, I’ve known about you for weeks now. Emma’s really not as good of a liar as she thinks she is.”

Regina stared at her, finding herself growing unfathomably irritated by the fact that Ruby didn’t seem to be intimidated by her at all. No one else in this bar even dared to hold her gaze when she looked at them, and yet Ruby had the audacity to actually confront her? Who did this woman think she was?

“How long have you been watching us?” Regina asked point-blank. The unexpected question made Ruby falter for a moment and her eyebrows furrowed together in question.

“What?”

“Watching us, Miss Lucas,” Regina reiterated, as though she were speaking to an irate child. “How long? Because you’re not exactly one to blend in, so I’m assuming that once you saw us you made a point for us not to see you. At least, until, you could find a moment to harass me alone.”

Ruby narrowed her eyes, but relented with, “Long enough to know that if you’re screwing with Emma, it’s gonna end up devastating her. Anyone with eyes can see how much she likes you, Madame Mayor. It’s really not that difficult.”

There was a small pause as Ruby took a moment to study Regina’s face, as though she were trying to find the answer she was looking for beneath the Mayor’s defensive scowl. Seemingly unable to find it however, Ruby exhaled a long breath before continuing, “Look, I don’t know how long this has been going on, but I really don’t think it’s fair to keep her hidden away in the shadows like some kind of dirty secret that you’re ashamed of, especially considering how she feels about you. She’s my friend; I don’t want to see her hurt.”

“And you think I’ll be the one to do that, do you?” Regina cut in, her annoyance seeping through her words as she gestured to the bar around them. “Tell me, does this look like I’m still keeping her in the shadows to you? Perhaps we aren’t the most forthcoming people about our relationship, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ashamed of her, nor does it mean I’m planning on hurting her. And if you had just given Emma some time, I’m sure she would have told you the extent of our situation. Now, however, you are doing nothing but affectively ruining our date, which really shows how much class you truly possess, dear.”

Whatever Ruby was expecting, it certainly wasn’t that. Her eyes widened, but it seemed to only be at the mention of one, singular word. “You’re… wait— you’re seriously in a relationship?” Apparently, the concept that the Mayor would ever have anything meaningful was rather unfathomable to her.

Did people really find her that unapproachable? For Christ’s sake, last time Regina checked, she was still a person. And despite the popular theory, she did have a heart; one that, despite what anyone might believe, she had the right to give to whomever she damn well chooses.

Regina clenched her jaw, really wishing that this conversation was not happening right now. Surely she could have waited to have it with Emma, as this cliché big sister act that Ruby was trying to pull at the moment was grating endlessly on the brunette’s nerves. “Not that it’s any of your business, but—”

Ruby…?

The two women were interrupted by Emma, who had come back with another jack and coke in hand. She looked akin to a deer in headlights at the situation she had just walked in on; which was fair, considering Regina felt rather bombarded by it as well. The Mayor did, however, take that as her cue to distance herself from rapidly brewing drama and stood, informing Emma, “I’m going to step outside for a moment; suddenly I feel like a little air is in order.”

Before she stalked away however, she moved in and kissed Emma firmly, yet otherwise rather chastely on the lips, her fingers curling around the base of the Sherriff’s neck for one, short possessive moment. Perhaps the desire was born from the foolish need to prove something to Ruby, or merely came about for no other reason than the alcohol running through her bloodstream, but either way, it effectively made Emma sputter something incomprehensible as Regina retreated out the door of the bar.

She was through with having to explain herself to people.

[x]

Regina chose to stay outside until Emma finally walked out the door, joining her on the bench outside of the bar. She sat close enough for their knees to touch, and Regina looked up at her, a questioning look in her eye. It prompted Emma to sigh softly, picking at the fabric of her dress.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what, dear? That was hardly your fault.”

Emma shifted uncomfortably before her hand went to her hair, pushing it out of her face. “I should have told her a while ago; I knew Ruby knew about us, but I just… I don’t know. I thought ignoring it would make her stop having suspicions. It seemed easier.”

“We didn’t tell people because of Henry,” Regina reminded her. “You don’t owe her or anyone else an explanation. She may be your friend, but—”

Her words were cut off however as she realized Emma’s true reason for pushing her hair back was to grab a cigarette that was delicately placed behind her ear, something she no doubt bummed from one of the peasants inside with as much blatant disregard for health as her. Regina had forgotten, momentarily, that Emma had the nasty little habit of smoking when she drank; the last time she had found her outside the bar, she could taste it on her lips when they kissed.

“Hey!” Emma exclaimed in annoyed surprise once the foul thing was batted straight from her mouth, landing on the ground in front of her. Regina wasted no time crushing it with her shoe, making sure Emma wouldn’t pick the thing straight off the pavement and still try to smoke it. “What the hell, Regina!”

“That’s ending,” Regina told her sternly, her tone indicating finality on the subject, as it was a decision she would not stray from. “Cigarettes are a disgusting habit, and I would appreciate if you had a little more common sense. You have a son to think about now; I won’t have you wasting away your already questionable health over something so foul.”

Emma didn’t look very pleased about being chastised, but apparently knew better than to argue. Still, it seemed she couldn’t help herself when she mumbled the excuse of, “It’s only when I drink…” like that made any sort of difference.

“Yes, and I’m sure that’s how it started out for most people that now smoke a pack a day.”

Emma sighed heavily, but didn’t push the matter. She didn’t have the effort. Her eyes still trained on the crushed remnants of tobacco on the pavement, there was a moment’s pause before Emma said, “Ruby was just looking out for me… You get that, right?”

“Of course I understood her reasoning, but that didn’t mean she had to back me into a corner and accuse me of ill-intent.”

Emma nodded slowly, agreeing with her on that front. Another long bout of silence stretched between the two women until Emma’s pinky finger found Regina’s that lay next to her hand on the bench, discreetly linking them together behind crossed legs. “I told her I was happy,” she said finally. Her words caused Regina to slide her hand more fully over hers, weaving all their fingers together as she grasped the blonde firmly.

“And are you?”

“Of course I am,” Emma told her, looking at Regina like she couldn’t understand how that was even in question. “Look, I get that… that people might not understand it, or even like it, but the only person’s opinion that matters is Henry’s. And yeah, I mean I guess we have some issues on that front, but they’re still our issues to deal with. No one else really matters outside of him, so people can say or think whatever they want. It’s not going to change anything.”

Regina’s lips upturned into the tiniest of smiles and, despite being in public and knowing better, she leaned against Emma’s form, kissing her briefly on the cheek. Regina had never been one to really express her sentiments in words, but she knew Emma was aware that what she said was appreciated all the same. “Come on,” she softly encouraged. “Let’s go back to my house; I don’t want this to ruin our date and besides, I can think of quite a few things to do there that will make you even happier.

A wicked smile graced Emma’s lips as she affirmed, “Yeah?”

Regina pulled Emma to her feet with a gentle tugging on her hand, allowing the woman to lean slightly against her chest. Placing her lips to her ear, Regina confirmed, “And it would be my absolute pleasure to do so, my dear.”

[x]

“And how, pray tell, do you expect me to do anything when you’re—” Regina cut herself off though as her eyes landed on the intricate knot that Emma was tying, securing her left wrist firmly to the bedpost. It was far too complicated a procedure not to arouse Regina’s suspicion, as it wasn’t as though Emma was well-versed when it came to the schematics of BDSM. “Where on earth did you learn how to do that?

Regina could see the tips of Emma’s ears turn a little pink at the question, however she did mumble out the answer of, “In a book.” Regina’s eyebrows got lost in her hairline, an amused smirk gracing the edges of her lips at how embarrassed Emma was to admit that. It seemed someone had been doing their research as of late, and it was endearing, in a way, to know that Emma learned these things solely for her pleasure and, perhaps, her added safety.

Despite how pleased she was however, Regina still couldn’t stop herself from have a little fun at Emma’s expense. “And what was the name of this book, dear?” she drawled, smirk widening at Emma’s slightly flustered appearance.” ‘Bondage for Beginners,’? I’m touched you would go to such lengths.”

“Keep making fun of me and I’ll make sure you won’t be ’touched’ at all until you’re crying because you need it so badly,” Emma warned her, slipping into her role of dominance as she looked down at her. There was a challenging look in her eye as she pulled on the rope until it tightened. “Go on, I dare you.”

As much fun as that challenge actually sounded, Regina did not want that to become the basis of their sex tonight, so she kept herself quiet. Emma smiled at her, albeit a little mockingly, as she praised, “Good girl.” Regina’s eyes narrowed and the blonde chuckled softly before moving to the other side of the bed, beginning to bind Regina’s right wrist over her head.

“It’s called a French Bowline,” Emma told her after a moment’s silence, allowing the role play to dissipate between them for a second as she explained to Regina what exactly it was that she was doing. “It’s apparently less likely to leave bruises when you pull against them.”

Ah, Regina silently mused. As she was the one who found herself tied up more often than not in their sexual relationship, she was surprised Emma had thought about that. After all, she wasn’t the one who had to figure out a way to hide the bruises in the morning. And so Regina smiled at her, briefly, in a show of gratitude for being thought of, before she asked carefully, “And are… knots the only thing you learned in that little book?”

Emma smirked, pulling on the rope to tighten it as she answered simply, “Nope.”

“Care to elaborate?” Regina asked, watching Emma climb down off the bed. She headed towards Regina’s closet, opening it up before she began rifling through it.

“Nope.”

Regina sighed, a grumpy expression gracing her face momentarily as her request was denied. Rubbing her naked thighs together in anticipation, she tried to halt her curiosity, as she was sure Emma was only refusing to answer because the surprise was half the fun. Still, for someone who liked to know everything, it was fairly difficult for Regina to be patient about it.

When Emma came back with one of her neck ties, Regina cocked an eyebrow in question. “Henry’s not here, you don’t have to gag me.”

Emma chuckled as she crawled up onto the bed, holding the piece of fabric out as she told her, ”It’s not for your mouth,” before gently placing it over her eyes, tying it behind Regina’s head. The Mayor didn’t need to ask why, as she was fairly certain that sensory deprivation was being used so that she could focus more on feeling instead of seeing. It was something Regina had actually wanted to try, but had never gotten around to until now.

Biting down on her lower lip, Regina arched her back just enough to feel Emma’s arm brush against her torso, but just as quick as it came it was gone, leaving Regina tied up, blind, and unable to focus on anything other than the sound of Emma’s breathing. Although it built the anticipation quite quickly, it was also incredibly frustrating; Regina wanted to know what was going on.

It was strange, in a way, to realize how much she relied on her sense of sight to feel absolutely content.

“Patience,” Emma softly chided. Regina could feel her get off the bed, the pressure on the mattress becoming lighter all of a sudden. “I need to get a few things. Stay put.”

“Like I have much of a choice in the matter,” Regina mumbled, which was only met with a soft laugh before Regina heard the click of the door opening and feet padding against the carpet, getting softer and softer until she could no longer hear Emma at all. Leaning her head back against the pillows, Regina exhaled a small breath and waited for her to return, starting to become hyper-aware of her incredibly vulnerable state the longer the seconds ticked onwards.

There truly was an amazing amount of trust involved, to allow someone to both blind and immobilize you. It was a testament to how much their relationship had changed, for Regina to completely and willingly give herself over to Emma’s mercy, and not fear what the Sherriff would do with her power. If it were anyone else who had her in this position, Regina would be completely terrified.

When Emma returned, there were a few things that Regina heard that she took note of. One, there was a slight clinking sound, as if something was gently hitting the edge of a drinking glass when she walked; and two, after Emma had come to a complete stop next to the bed, she heard the distinct sound of a lighter flint. Regina’s eyebrows rose and her heart began to pound a little heavier in her chest, finding that the inability to assess the current situation gave cause for mild trepidation.

When once Regina would have favored keeping face above all else, she now found she trusted Emma enough to not exploit the weakness that her hesitation caused. Quite frankly, she really didn’t have anything to prove anymore. And so the question of, “What are you doing?” left Regina’s lips as she pushed her body up to a more seated position, trying to listen harder to the sounds Emma was making. In all honesty, Regina wasn’t entirely fond of hearing that fire was somehow thrown in the mix of all this.

The blonde must have heard the slight panic in her voice, as Emma immediately abandoned her task of preparing whatever it was that she was planning to do in lieu of easing Regina’s worries. Tangling their fingers together in an attempt to find comfort within the connection, Emma straddled one of Regina’s legs, firm thighs gripping soft flesh as the blonde pulled their linked hands over her left breast, over her heart, indicating a silent sign of trust and honesty.

“Hey,” Emma prodded gently, her thumb running over the back of Regina’s hand. “If you don’t want to do this, we can stop. But I swear I have no intention of hurting you; I just wanted to try something new. I’ve been, uh… well, kind of reading up on some stuff lately.”

Regina was silent for a moment, feeling the swell of Emma’s chest rise and fall softly beneath her hand, before she allowed herself to admit her concern. “Sharp pain I can handle, dear – as you very well know – but I am not the biggest fan of burns.” Regina nodded her head over towards where the sound came from. “I heard you lighting something.”

“I promise,” Emma told her, lightly squeezing her hand to accent the truth in her words, “I’m not going to burn you. That flame isn’t going to touch your body, okay? I just need it to heat something up. And besides,” Regina could hear the small smile in her voice as Emma told her, “I wouldn’t do something to you that I haven’t already tried on myself first.” A pause came then, proceeding her reluctant admission of, “Well, not anymore anyway. Cause, you know, I actually care about you and… whatever else now.”

Regina smirked at Emma’s offhanded comment about her emotions. “I find I care quite a bit about you too, dear,” she answered, not wishing for Emma to feel awkward about her admission. It was a strange thing for both of them, and perhaps they still weren’t one hundred percent communicative with each other, but they were starting to get much better at it.

Regina didn’t need to see Emma to know that she was smiling. “Do you trust me?” she asked her, sliding their linked hands down to rest at the curvature of Regina’s hip. The brunette answered without hesitation.

“Implicitly.”

“Then let me to make you feel good,” Emma responded softly, giving Regina’s hand one final squeeze before she leaned over to get whatever it was that she had brought into the bedroom. The Mayor could feel Emma hovering over her, hear the clinking of whatever she had placed in a glass, and then another sound she couldn’t place until, finally, Emma had situated herself back on top of her.

When the blonde’s mouth wrapped around her nipple, Regina shuddered involuntarily, a soft cry of surprise falling from her lips as nimble fingers curled around the ropes that bound her wrists. Emma’s tongue felt like ice upon her skin and the unexpected feeling made her arch her back beneath the Sherriff’s weight, finding that she instantly craved more of it. After hearing the flint of a lighter, Regina believed she’d be experiencing the complete opposite temperature, and perhaps it was actually how unexpected it all was that made the feeling that much more enjoyable.

“You brought ice,” Regina gasped out, feeling fingernails trace a teasing path over her torso, curving downwards to outline the dip around the brunette’s hip bone. Emma chuckled against her breast, her tongue having found a median temperature once more after being exposed to the heat of Regina’s flushed skin. She murmured an affirmative and Regina pushed her lower body more firmly against her thigh, pleading softly, “More.”

Emma shifted once more, and now that Regina was aware of what was happening, she could hear the soft sounds of Emma sucking on an ice cube. This time however, when Emma placed her tongue on Regina, it was much further south. The brunette’s hips jerked in pleasure as the contrast between the heat of her sex and the cold of Emma’s mouth made the nerve endings in her clitoris spark to life instantaneously. A low moan escaped her lips as Regina tried to push herself forwards, allowing Emma to take more of her into her mouth as her legs fell completely open, making way for the arrival of a wanton flush that was now spreading northwards across olive skin.

But as quick as the pleasure had come it was gone, Emma having pulled away after her mouth had become warm once more. Regina released a grumpy sound of protest, causing the blonde above her to chuckle lightly. “You’re seriously the most impatient person I’ve ever taken to bed,” Emma told her, her tone failing to sound like criticism; it was almost as though she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Ice isn’t the only thing I have for you, you know…”

“So I gathered,” Regina answered. Her breathless words were however immediately consumed by a cry of surprise; tiny drops of ice water landed on her clitoris, one after another, each sudden, yet brief contact making Regina’s hips twitch and the hair on her body to stand on end.

Ice clinked in the glass as suddenly the object was returned from where it came, allowing the hand that Emma had been using to hold the cube connect with the heat of Regina’s sex. Two fingers slid easily inside of her and the brunette gasped, the vast contrast in temperature causing her muscles to clench and draw Emma in deeper. A cold thumb slipped against Regina’s clit and the brunette bit down on her lower lip, muffling a small whimper as Emma moved within her once, twice… until ultimately withdrawing, leaving Regina flustered, wanton, and completely untouched once more.

“I utterly despise you sometimes,” she snapped, but her heart wasn’t in the annoyance Regina was trying to muster and Emma could hear that. She laughed softly and the Mayor could feel the bed shifting once more as Emma got something off the bedside table that would no doubt cause Regina more delicious torture.

“You really don’t.”

Although that was true, Regina didn’t confirm it; it wouldn’t do to get Emma cocky, after all. Trying to gather the will to let herself relax, Regina inhaled a long breath, allowing her body to lie completely still as she waited for Emma to give her the next surprise. It wasn’t long until it came and it certainly wasn’t something she was expecting; at least, not after the ice.

Something warm and thick hit Regina’s abdomen and the shock of both the consistency and the temperature made the brunette cry out in surprise, as it wasn’t what her body had gotten used to. “Too hot?” Emma asked warily after the reaction she had caused, but once Regina realized what it was that she was doing she shook her head.

“No, it just… surprised me, was all,” she breathed, feeling the substance begin to harden on her skin, making it feel a little tight. ”Is that candle wax?”

“Mhmm,” Emma confirmed in a low murmur as she situated herself snuggly against Regina’s side, tangling their legs together as she playfully nipped at the base of her neck. “Does it meet your approval, Madame Mayor?”

The question was accented by a singular drip landing directly on the tip of a hardened nipple and Regina hissed, arching her back into the brief stinging sensation before suddenly it subsided, beginning to cool rapidly by Emma’s gentle breath.

“I certainly don’t hate it,” Regina breathlessly admitted, turning her face so her nose bumped against Emma’s cheek, blindly following the curvature of her jaw and upwards, until she could take an earlobe between her teeth. Emma groaned, allowing Regina to play with her momentarily until she moved just far enough away that the brunette could no longer touch her. Regina growled, clearly not approving of this plan.

“I promise I’ll fuck you in a minute,” Emma told her, amusement in her tone at Regina’s inability to find any semblance of patience. “Just let me… decorate you first.”

The longer she was tied down and at Emma’s mercy, the quicker the anticipation for something more seemed to build. Regina couldn’t move, she couldn’t see, all she could do was feel the heat of Emma’s skin against hers, the only sound in the room becoming a mixture of their pronounced breathing. It was, perhaps, this complete inability to have any semblance of control which caused Regina’s arousal to coat her thighs and her skin to flush a deep rose as she waited, on bated breath, for the moment Emma would finally consume her.

It felt like ages. Drip after drip of wax coated the taut muscles of Regina’s abdomen, her skin jumping beneath each brief feeling of deep warmth. The brunette was only vaguely aware that Emma was spelling something out, but she found her mind too hazy to form a competent guess as to what it was. Regina’s breathing started to labor as Emma’s other hand began a teasing journey between supple thighs, touching her just enough to drive her to absolute madness. Pulling on her bindings, Regina pushed her hips into Emma, finding her patience had completely run out.

“God damnit, Emma! If you don’t fuck me, I swear to God I’ll—!”

Lips and teeth cut off Regina’s idle threat, a chuckle building in Emma’s throat as she kissed her with enough bruising passion to make the Mayor forget her own name, let alone her current frustration. Emma always did have a way of making the world around them blur to nothing though, and when once Regina believed they were doing nothing more than drowning in a fabricated reality, she now welcomed the feeling of suffocation with open arms, as in the end, Regina knew that Emma was the only one able to breathe life into her anyway.

Time blurred together; seconds became minutes and minutes became hours, as all Regina could feel was Emma against her, around her, inside her. Reality seemed distorted as the depravation to her sight heightened all her other senses, allowing the brunette to fall into the belief that truly, even for this short moment, nothing really existed outside of Emma Swan and the countless amounts of amazing things she was able to make Regina feel.

Her wrists ached as she pulled violently against her restraints, finding herself begging quite unashamedly as Emma made quick work of stealing her sanity from her mind from just the mere touch of her fingers. Regina didn’t know how long she was teased, nor how far Emma really pushed her until she ultimately fell, just that when she did, the intensity of her orgasm wracked her entire being, leaving her a trembling mess in the arms of the one person Regina knew she would one day give her all to.

Competency was a hard thing to find after that, but when she did, when her wrists were free and her vision restored, Regina looked down at her stomach, fingers delicately tracing each line of wax, as a small smile graced her lips and she read the singular word that Emma had spelled out against tanned flesh:

Mine.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER NINETEEN
Doubt

Dropping Henry off at school was a more difficult task than Regina imagined it would be.

He refused to leave the car until she told him how the date went, and his wide, hopeful eyes made Regina feel a little flustered and guilty. It was hard, watching him become so invested in something she could not guarantee would work out in the way he was expecting. In the end though, Regina conceded to his request, telling him that it went well and that yes, she would be seeing Emma again, and Henry apparently deemed that to be a satisfactory response because he smiled wide and told her that he “really hopes she finds her happy ending,” before running from the car to join his peers at school.

Regina watched him go, a heavy feeling settling in her chest as she wondered once more if they had done the right thing by telling him. Henry’s insistence that they were ‘meant to be’ did nothing but put an enormous pressure on them and their relationship, which she feared would become an issue later on down the line. And yes, perhaps Emma had been right in her belief that it would be hard either way, and although Regina no longer believed the end to their relationship was ‘inevitable,’ seeing as how well it had been going lately, that still did nothing to calm her fear that should it actually ever happen, it would completely devastate their son.

Trying to remind herself that there was nothing she could do about it now, Regina pulled away from the school and headed towards the diner, knowing she was going to need at least one more cup of coffee before she was ready to tackle the day. She had back to back meetings until mid-afternoon and it wasn’t as though Emma had allotted her much sleep last night. Not that Regina was complaining, mind, but she didn’t want to have to fight the urge to fall asleep on her desk all day either.

When Regina sat on a stool at the far end of the counter, Ruby gave her a tightlipped smile in greeting. “Your usual?” she ventured, to which Regina merely nodded. “Coming right up.”

There was an awkward air to the room as Regina came face to face with the one person who actually knew about her situation, and had the audacity to confront her about it. By Ruby’s look, it seemed a part of her may be regretting how she had spoken to her, in light of the true nature of her and Emma’s relationship. She was the Sherriff’s friend and only wished to see her happy. It just seemed, in the end, that Ruby found herself terribly surprised that Emma had found it in Regina.

It was of no matter though, not really. Just because Regina was dating Emma, it did not automatically mean that she had to be friendly with those that were close to her. She would be civil, yes, but that was about as much as she was willing to do. And in the end, that should probably be enough anyway.

When Ruby slid the coffee across the counter, Regina’s movements of digging in her purse for payment were halted by the words, “It’s on the house.”

Regina looked up at her, an eyebrow rising. “Excuse me?” she asked, wanting to know what the hell the woman’s angle was. Regina had never received anything on the house there before, and she wasn’t about to accept it now just because she was dating a woman that Ruby was friends with.

“Take it as an apology,” Ruby told her stiffly, as though the words were hard for her to even mutter, before turning, leaving Regina sitting there alone as she went to check on other customers. Suppressing an eye roll, Regina shoved her wallet back into her purse. Fine, a two dollar fifty apology she could accept, as she’d rather that than the actual words. Regina wasn’t overly fond of the idea of ‘talking out their feelings’ with someone she wasn’t overly fond of anyhow, and if this cup of coffee was the end of it, then so be it.

Regina was about to take her coffee and leave when a surprised greeting of, “Regina?” met her ears and the Mayor turned, finding Kathryn coming through the threshold of the diner door. She smiled at her and Regina returned it in kind, although hers was probably much stiffer than the one she was being given. Warmness, it seemed, only came easily to her when she was speaking to either Henry or Emma.

It didn’t seem to bother Kathryn though and she took a seat next to her. “I’m glad you’re here,” she told her. “We didn’t really get to speak this morning when you picked up Henry.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” Regina apologized, feeling a little badly about that. With anyone else she wouldn’t care, but with Kathryn she felt as though she should try to make a better effort not to be so rude and self-serving. “I was running late and I didn’t want to cause him to miss his first class. But thank you,” Regina nodded her head a little in acknowledgement, fingers curling around the cup between her hands as she finished, “for taking him for the night. I know it was rather inconvenient.”

“Not at all,” Kathryn insisted, brushing it off as though the notion were silly. “David, in particular, absolutely adores spending time with him. Honestly, when they get together, sometimes I feel like I’m babysitting two children.” She laughed a little, but it was interrupted by Ruby coming over to take her order. After Kathryn had ordered two coffees to go, she turned back towards Regina, this funny little half-smile on her face that made Regina feel awfully uncomfortable.

It didn’t take her long to figure out why.

“Henry told you, didn’t he?” Regina asked, sighing softly as she realized that Kathryn knew exactly why it was that she had needed a babysitter for the night. As she still wasn’t entirely comfortable with telling people, Regina was not looking forward to talking about this. Having people know was one thing, discussing it was quite another. It felt like an invasion of privacy, but perhaps talking about one’s relationships was what normal friends did, so she tried to just grit her teeth and bear through it.

“He was very excited,” Kathryn confirmed, although sounding a little apologetic that she had found out in a way other than directly from Regina. She could perhaps see, on her face, that it bothered the Mayor a little. “Look,” Kathryn began again, her hand clasping lightly over Regina’s wrist that lay on the counter. “I understand that you’re not the kind of person that likes to talk about what’s going on in their life, and it’s never really bothered me, so believe me when I tell you that I’m not going to expect that you start now. But…” she smiled at her softly, admitting, “I’m very glad you found someone that makes you happy, Regina. You truly do deserve it.”

Although Regina was grateful for her words, they still made her a feel a little awkward. It was strange, honestly, to realize that this was the first time that she was in a relationship that she had wanted to be in, and to have people comment on it. Her love for Daniel was a secret, as were her sexual relationships with Graham and Maleficent. And as for Leopold, the only public ‘relationship’ she had had prior to Emma, it was nothing short of a nightmare that Regina wished, every day, that she could erase from her mind. So to have someone sit next to her and tell her that they were happy for her, and to truly be happy herself, was nothing short of odd.

“Thank you,” Regina said softly, forcing herself to try not to show how awkward this was for her, in fear that she would color in embarrassment. Kathryn seemed to understand that it was not easy though, so she merely smiled at her as she took her two coffees into her hands.

“I have to swing by the shelter,” she explained in parting. “But it was nice talking to you, Regina. I’ll see you around.”

Regina nodded, watching her go before she stood, keeping the coffee cup wrapped tightly between her hands. Its warmth stood as a small comfort as she forced herself to get her mind back to her daily tasks and all the daunting meetings she would be forced to endure. It was easier, she found, than continuing to dwell on how odd it was that people were finding out about her love life.

Taking a sip of the hot liquid, Regina left Granny’s and headed back towards her car, hoping the caffeine would sustain her enough to be able to take on the day.

[x]

Emma was late.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected, as Regina often found herself wondering if the woman even believed in watches, but seeing as she was expected to pick up Henry from school in a half hour, Emma’s tardiness was becoming rather inconvenient. Looking over the paperwork on her desk, Regina idly rubbed her temples, wishing she had never gotten dragged into this situation in the first place. The countless meetings were bad enough, but now she had to deal with this irritating little assignment as well?

The door to her office burst open suddenly, a frazzled Emma practically tumbling through it with an apologetic look on her face. “Sorry, I was—there was this cat and, well, a tree… I don’t know, apparently it’s in my job description. Which is… stupid, but—yeah, sorry.”

Regina merely stared at her, one eyebrow continuing to raise the longer Emma’s flustered excuse went on. “Sit,” was all she said in response. It sounded more like an order than a suggestion and Emma scrunched up her face, knowing she had irritated her, and did as she was instructed.

“Sorry,” she mumbled again.

“You already said that,” Regina reminded her before exhaling a long sigh, training her eyes on the paperwork that lay out before her. “Two things,” she began, sliding over one sheet of paper towards Emma. “One, our foolish little lie of renovating the Sherriff’s office has come back to bite us, as it somehow spread around and now it seems the rest of the city council is expecting an update on our progress. I’ve taken the liberty of looking through the budget and assessing what we can afford, but I need you to give me a list of the necessary upgrades we’ll need to do. I know the building needs rewiring, but outside of that I’m uncertain of its current state.”

Emma’s face fell at the mention of work, but she let out a breath and took the paper Regina had given her. “Alright, I’ll have it back to you by Friday.”

“Wednesday.”

“Regina—”

Wednesday.

Emma shot her a grumpy look, but relented with a, “Fine, whatever. Wednesday.” Shifting in her seat, Emma almost looked wary to ask, “What’s the second thing?” Clearly she had come here expecting that they would be able to spend some time together after Regina’s shift, and while that wouldn’t be something the Mayor was opposed to, they did have other responsibilities that needed to be taken care of first.

“Mother Superior has faxed me the list of the volunteers’ duties during the festival this weekend and…” Regina hesitated for a moment, knowing how this was going to sound before she even uttered it, “I need you to ask for reassignment.”

Emma’s eyebrows rose, her interest peaked as she sat up straighter in the chair. “What, why?”

Not wishing to voice her concerns out loud, Regina slid the list of assignments across her desk wordlessly. She watched Emma’s eyes scan the paper for a moment before she came across her name, eyes widening a little as she read what task she was assigned to.

“The kissing booth?” she asked, amused disbelief washing over her features. “Isn’t this thing put together by nuns? I thought kissing was like, against their code of God or… whatever.”

“Yes, well,” Regina began, finding her jaw was a bit locked as she tried to keep herself from coloring in irritation, “Apparently some idiot thought that collecting money for charity would be a bit more appealing with some more… colorful options than selling candles. And while I’m tempted to agree with the additions of balloon animals and face painting, this on the other hand—”

“Will make you jealous?” Emma finished for her, smirking as she put the pieces together in her mind. Regina glared at her; she really hated that word, as it made her sound weak and pathetically unsure of herself.

“Hardly. I merely think that, if they are so insistent upon keeping this silly little addition, there are more suitable options available; like Miss Lucas, for instance. I’m sure half the town would spend quite a bit of money to get her attentions, even if it’s only for a moment.”

“Hey,” Emma responded, holding out her hands in slight offense. “Are you saying people aren’t going to want to kiss me? Because I’ll have you know, there are plenty of people who would spend their money to make out with me.” She hesitated for a minute before admitting, “Well, probably, anyway.”

No one is making out with anyone,” Regina said firmly, feeling her face color in an irrational bout of anger as the picture of Emma with her lips locked on half the town invaded her mind. “I hardly think the nuns would allow such a blatant display of sexuality. Chaste kisses, is probably more what they’re going for; promoting the silly notion of innocent love or… what have you. Regardless,” Regina pointed at the piece of paper in Emma’s hand, “I need you to speak with Mother Superior about changing it. I won’t have half the town’s germs passed to me, that’s just… completely unacceptable.”

“Because you’d be jealous.”

“Because it’s unsanitary,” Regina growled dangerously, not wishing to be painted as the jealous partner even though, in all honesty, it was very much a leading factor in why she didn’t want Emma to do it. If the positions were reversed, she was certain Emma would feel the same way, and she was also certain that she wouldn’t want her to point out the obvious either.

But it wasn’t as though that stopped her any. “And because you’d be jealous,” Emma repeated, a hint of a smirk still lingering on her lips.

Miss Swan—”

Emma leaned back in her chair, folding her arms over her chest. Her cockiness left something to be desired, but Emma always did have those few moments where she was annoyingly full of herself. It was something the brunette had come to expect; the façade of arrogance, to cover up her own self-doubt. “Come on, Regina. If you just admit it I promise I’ll ask for another gig.”

Unfortunately, Regina had her own façade of confidence to uphold as well, and so she was not easily bent to the woman’s will. “You’re being entirely unreasonable,” she informed her, right before switching the topic to something she knew would make Emma instantly forget her irritating little jest, “and if you wish to talk about admittance, perhaps we should finally have that conversation you promised Dr. Hopper we would have.”

Emma noticeably faltered and Regina arched her eyebrow.

“What, did you think I had forgotten?”

“No,” Emma mumbled, shifting in her seat as her eyebrows knitted in annoyance. “I just… I don’t know, the whole thing is just pointless. I don’t get why this matters to you so much. It’s not like we’re the type to hug and cry out our feelings, Regina. It’s just gonna be awkward.”

“It matters because for once in my life I’d actually like to embark on a relationship based on honesty,” Regina told her firmly, only mildly aware of how ridiculous she actually sounded. But that was the thing, wasn’t it? It wasn’t ridiculous at all. It was merely the fact that for so long she had made a point not to care about anyone or anything that it just sounded strange to her own ears.

“If we want this to work, Emma, and I…” Regina tapped her pen on her desk rhythmically, a little uncomfortable herself when it came to talking about feelings, “and I do,” she admitted, “I think it would be pertinent if we stopped disillusioning ourselves. We’re not perfect. This isn’t perfect.”

“So you want to make it even less so?” Emma countered, beginning to grow a little agitated at being put on the spot in such a manner. “Look, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that some things should just stay in the past. It’s over, Regina. Stop obsessing. We’re fine now; can’t that be all that matters?”

“Do you want me to make another appointment with Dr. Hopper?” Regina threatened, her patience quickly running out with Emma’s constant runaround. It infuriated her, that Emma promised to do this and yet was still putting it off. She couldn’t understand why this conversation scared her so much. Yes, it wouldn’t be pleasant, but wouldn’t they be better for it? “Because I swear to you, Emma, I will get him on the phone right now and drag you into his office myself. You clearly don’t want to speak about this with anyone else around – you made that perfectly clear during our first session – but my patience is starting to wane. You can chose to either speak to me, or to both of us. Those are your only two options.”

Or,” Emma responded rather dramatically, her words tinted with both irritation and impatience. “How about we agree not to talk about our past at all, and in return I’ll get out of the whole kissing booth thing. The way I see it, it’s a win for everyone involved.”

Regina exhaled an impatient breath. Sometimes the woman was maddeningly difficult to talk to, as her stubbornness was unmatched. “That is absolutely ridiculous; those two things are not even near each other on the scale of importance.”

“So you’re just…” Emma shrugged in feigned disinterest, “fine then, about me kissing half the town, just so we can have this conversation?” It was clear by the look on her face that she knew very well that Regina wasn’t. It was probably that which aggravated the brunette the most.

“This is a completely juvenile response to an adult problem,” Regina reprimanded her, her cheeks beginning to grow red from Emma’s infuriatingly obstinate behavior. “We are not making deals; you will do as I ask because that is what one does in a relationship.”

“Just like you’ve done as I’ve asked and dropped the damn subject?” Emma readily countered. “Or does it not matter when it’s me, because you like to be the high-and-mighty boss of fucking everything, including our entire relationship?”

“You know what?” Regina exclaimed angrily, slamming her hands on the flat of her desk as she abruptly stood, towering over the blonde opposite her. “If this is how you’re going to act, by all means, go out and kiss half the town. You could even fuck the entire state if you’d prefer, because it’s starting to become very clear to me that you have no regard for my feelings, nor any respect for the promises you’ve made to me. And if that’s the case, well…” Regina trailed off pointedly.

“What, you’re going to break up with me?” Emma asked, furious disbelief etched on her face. Regina kept silent, but her threat was made regardless. It completely infuriated Emma. “Great, that’s just fucking… great, Regina. Please, emotionally blackmail me some more, cause that’s fucking healthy. You don’t get your way and suddenly you wanna toss me aside?”

“This isn’t about getting my way—

“No? Then what the fuck else would you call it?” Emma demanded. “Threatening to break up with me—”

Regina pursed her lips in annoyance before adamantly denying, “I said no such thing.”

“You didn’t have to!” Emma shouted, finally standing herself so that she was eye level with Regina. The fire in her gaze threatened to ignite the brunette’s rapidly brewing anger in a fierce, unmatched challenge. “What, do you think I can’t read between the lines? You think I don’t know when you’re trying to manipulate me? I’m not a fucking idiot, Regina. And what’s worse is not five minutes ago you were sitting here telling me you want to make it work, yet the second something happens that you don’t like, you wanna throw it away? Tell me more about how you’re the mature one, please.

“Stop putting words in my mouth,” Regina snapped, glaring at her fiercely. If there was one thing she absolutely despised, it was that. “And stop being an unfathomable idiot. I’m not going to break up with you over this and you know it, but you are walking a very thin line when it comes to having sex for the rest of the month.”

“Fine, maybe you weren’t, but you obviously wanted me to think you were,” Emma responded hotly, pointing a finger at her in accusation. “That’s why you didn’t deny it when I asked. Tell me I’m wrong.

Regina didn’t deny it, but only because she knew Emma wouldn’t believe her even if she tried. That, and she was partially right anyhow; it seemed easier, to just blackmail her on the matter. And perhaps that wasn’t a healthy response, but it wasn’t as though Emma was winning any awards in that category either. So instead, her reply was merely an agitated, “Miss Swan—”

“Don’t fucking ‘Miss Swan’ me,” Emma snapped. “I have a first name and it pisses me off when you revert back to all that crap just because you’re angry. You wanna push me away? Fine. But do it as my girlfriend, and not as the stupid ‘all-powerful, bow down to my self-proclaimed greatness’ Mayor bullshit.

“Is that what you think of me?” Regina raged, throwing out her hands angrily. Offense colored her face, as she had believed Emma saw more to her than that; more than what everyone else saw.

“I don’t know what to think of you right now!” Emma exclaimed, looking completely lost amidst her anger. “I don’t even know why we’re arguing; this is so fucking stupid—!”

“We’re arguing because you don’t respect me!”

“Oh, and your first instinct to emotionally blackmail me is the goddamn pinnacle of respect?” Emma countered. “I’m not one of your subordinates, Regina, I’m your lover! So why don’t you try talking to me like I am and hey, maybe we won’t get into fights. For fuck’s sake.”

“I did try talking to you!” Regina fumed, becoming utterly exasperated the longer the fight went on. Her head was pounding and her chest felt tight. It was ridiculous, seeing how much they used to scream at one another, but they hadn’t since they had gotten into a relationship and Regina quickly found that she didn’t take pleasure in the confrontations any longer. “This came about because of your juvenile responses and you’re inability to stop being so goddamn stubborn. You promised me we’d talk about things, and yet instead—”

“Well then I lied, okay?!” Emma shouted, apparently having given up on beating around the bush any longer. It wasn’t doing her or Regina any favors, but perhaps unbridled honesty wasn’t either, because Regina’s jaw dropped slightly at the admission. “I don’t want to talk to you about that, I don’t want to talk about any of it. And you know what? That’s my fucking choice; you don’t get to dictate how shit goes in our relationship, Regina, so get over it.

“Why?!” Regina exclaimed, looking at Emma like she couldn’t for the life of her understand why she was so resistant to this. “Why on earth would it be so difficult for you to discuss this? Most of it is my own doing anyway! For Christ’s sake, Emma, I’ll admit that I was horrible to you; I tried to run you out of town, I framed you for theft, got you thrown in jail, bugged your office—”

Emma looked at her like she had six heads. “Are you serious right now? It’s not even about any of that!”

“Then what is it about?”

Emma was starting to look akin to a trapped animal; her eyes were wild, her muscles tense as Regina continued to push her. But she felt she had to, as this was nearing the point of absolute ridiculousness and Regina couldn’t understand why it was happening. Still, Emma tried to deflect her as best she could, although she looked like this confrontation was bringing her to her wit’s end. “I don’t—”

“Goddamnit, Emma, just fucking tell me!” Regina shouted, slamming her hands on the desk to accent her point. She was furious and while it was completely unbecoming, to come so undone in this way, she just felt so desperate to understand what was so horrible in their past that Emma would rather refuse to acknowledge its existence than actually deal with it.

But it was when she got her answer that Regina wished she had never asked at all.

“A part of me is still scared that you really did have something to do with Graham’s death, okay?!” Emma screamed, looking as though something inside of her had snapped in half. Her expression was crazed with a mixture of fury and unsettling self-doubt. “I just have this nagging feeling, in the back of my fucking head, and I can’t let it go. I can’t… I just, my instincts, they’re usually—” She was flustered, unable to really finish her sentences, “And how can I be with someone like that, huh? What am I—How can I feel the way I do about someone would could ever—?” But Emma cut herself off, chest heaving and eyes darkening. She looked like she was either about to tear the office apart or vomit where she stood. Perhaps both.

Regina couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe. She just stared at her, feeling like her world was crashing down around her, because she had killed Graham. In a fit of jealous rage, she had taken his beating heart in her hand and just…

Dust.

But if she admitted to that, if Regina truly showed Emma what kind of person she was, then where would that leave them?

Regina had wanted honesty, but that was laughable, wasn’t it? Perhaps some things were better off shrouded in lies. How foolish she had been, to believe that they could have had something even resembling normalcy. They were both such a disaster, yet Regina realized in that moment that it really was she who was the worse off between the two of them.

It was she who was the monster, she who would only ever be able to feel loved if she lied about her true self. Because Regina knew, she knew that Emma would leave her if she ever found out the truth, and that realization alone made Regina feel as though she were suffocating.

Emma’s hands were shaking as they came up to tangle in her hair, pushing it back from her face as she tried to steady her breathing. It wasn’t working. She looked on the verge of a full scale panic attack, and what was worse was that Regina couldn’t do or say anything to ease her doubts, as her throat had gone completely dry at her unexpected words. “I just… I can’t,” Emma stuttered after a long moment, backing up a few steps. “I can’t… can’t do this right now. Ever. I just, I need to… I have to go.”

“Emma…” It was the only word that could make it out of Regina’s mouth; it sounded so very small, the crushing weight of fear suppressing its volume.

But Emma was running away, as she always did when confronted with something she could not handle. It was her instinct, after all. “I’m sorry,” was all she offered as Emma all but fled from the office, ignoring the last, desperate call from the woman who was so terribly afraid that she would not return to her.

Emma!

But she was already gone.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY
Festival

Emma was avoiding her calls.

Which, in hindsight, was far better than what Regina had feared she was going to do, which was pack up her bags and leave town. It seemed, however, that Emma’s roots had sown too deep in Storybrooke for her to just up and disappear without a word, and Regina found herself very thankful for that; not just for her sake, but for Henry’s as well. Still, Emma’s unwillingness to talk to her made Regina’s stomach twist into knots.

On the third day without any contact and the fifth time that Regina had called her that afternoon, the phone was eventually answered. Unfortunately, it was by someone that Regina had not expected, nor wished to hear from. “Regina, please stop calling,” Mary Margaret requested, her voice faltering a little at such a bold request coming from a timid school teacher. “Emma doesn’t want to speak to you right now.”

As Regina was unaware that the woman even knew about their relationship, her words actually gave her pause. But perhaps it was stupid, to expect that she wouldn’t, when she was roommates with Emma and it wasn’t as though they were in the habit of hiding it any longer. Still, the thought of Snow White knowing her business and acting as though she had any right to stand as a buffer between her and the woman that she lo— just, her damn woman, was utterly irritating.

“This doesn’t concern you, Miss Blanchard,” Regina responded dismissively. “Put Emma on the phone, now.

“No.”

Regina’s eyebrows rose, her entire body stiffening at the blatant refusal of her request. Mary Margaret seemed a little surprised at her own boldness, but still pushed onwards.

“Look, I don’t know what happened, as Emma won’t tell me, but whatever it is, whatever she did or said to you, she… well, she seems really afraid to face you now. She’s completely wracked with guilt and I think…” Mary Margaret exhaled softly as she finished, “I think it would be best if you just gave her time. Okay?”

Mary Margaret’s words instantly halted Regina’s angry retort as her eyebrows knitted, her jaw dropping slightly at the information. Emma felt… guilty? She had never even considered that possibility, as Emma had been right all along. But now that Regina thought about it, Emma was pushed to reveal a fear that was not only a horrible accusation, but one without any proof. She merely had a feeling, and despite that feeling being completely right, the fact that Emma had no knowledge of the truth did, actually, put her in a rather bad position.

And it was horrible, perhaps, for Regina to have decided that she was going to fervently deny it, as she knew what ending the truth would bring. But she couldn’t, she wouldn’t lose Emma; she was her happiness now and perhaps it really would be horrendously dishonest, to base their relationship upon a bed of lies, but Regina, now, couldn’t help but believe that Emma had been right all along; that sometimes, it really was best to look forwards, and forget about the past entirely.

And so that was what Regina planned to do.

“Fine,” Regina conceded after a long moment’s pause. “But tell her…” She sighed, fingers idly twisting the fabric at the base of her shirt, “tell her I’m not angry; that I would just like to talk.”

Mary Margaret promised that she would before uttering some final words of parting. Regina exhaled a heavy breath as she put down her cell, looking out the window of her kitchen. This was her fault; she should have never pushed Emma into revealing her doubts. Why couldn’t she have just trusted her that it was better before? Why did she insist on having the foolish notion that they could ever become something real and genuine, when Regina’s entire existence in this town was based on the biggest lie she had ever fabricated? It was foolish and she needed to rectify it as soon as possible.

Regina refused to lose the only thing, the only person that truly made her feel like she was worth something. It just wasn’t acceptable.

[x]

“Will Emma be here?” Henry asked, looking up at his mother with curiosity as they stepped onto the festival grounds. Regina pursed her lips, watching the people bustle around as they made last minute preparations for when it would be open to the public in less than an hour.

“I don’t know,” she replied honestly, hearing her voice drop a little in foreboding disappointment. If Emma were still trying to avoid her, she would have probably gotten out of her volunteer duties.

Henry side-glanced her suspiciously. “Are you guys in a fight?” he asked, his tone sounding like an accusation. Regina merely sighed, her shoulders slumping a little in defeat.

“I really don’t know.”

If this was a fight, it lacked the amount of yelling and anger one would expect from such a confrontation. Whatever it was though, they certainly weren’t good at the moment. Regina had hoped Henry wouldn’t notice, but as he had seen a significant lack of his birthmother this week, perhaps that was too much to hope for. Of course she could have just lied and told him that everything was fine, but it would probably only stand to be counterproductive, as her son had demonstrated many times before that he was not as naïve about these situations as Regina would’ve preferred.

“Well whatever you did, you need to fix it,” Henry told her, as though it were that simple. Regina noticeably bristled at the notion that Henry believed she was the one to have screwed things up, but as it partially was her fault for pushing Emma in such a manner, she didn’t argue with him. He didn’t need to know the details anyway.

“I’ll try,” was all Regina promised him instead; it was as much truth as she was willing to allot him at the moment. It seemed to satisfy Henry though, at least momentarily, because the next time he turned towards her in question, it wasn’t about Emma.

“Can I go get my face painted?” he asked, bouncing a little on his heels.

“I don’t know if it’s open yet, but you can ch—” but before Regina could even finish her sentence, Henry was already bounding off towards the booth. Regina blinked, watching him go for a minute before she shouted, “Stay in my line of sight! Henry…?”

“Okay, okay!” Henry called back, and Regina didn’t need to see his face to know he was rolling his eyes at what he would probably consider her smothering. “Jeez.

Shaking her head at her son’s exasperation, Regina turned and headed towards Mother Superior. The woman turned and spotted her about halfway across the distance, giving her a tightlipped smile in greeting.

“Ah, Mayor Mills, I was just about to come find you,” she said, shuffling through a few papers in her hand before handing one over to Regina. As she was in charge of the finances, she would not be assigned to a booth, which Regina was immensely thankful for; she wasn’t exactly the type to bring joy to the masses after all. “This is the finalized list of all our volunteers and their respective duties. If you could just reiterate with each of them beforehand the method of logging their donations, I don’t think I’ll need your assistance until after the festival has ended and we’re ready to begin a final tally.”

Mother Superior smiled, a genuine one this time, as she looked over at Henry bouncing on his heels in front of Ruby as he requested his face to be painted pre-festivities. “I wouldn’t want to impose on the time with your son; he seems very excited.”

“Yes,” Regina agreed, watching Henry smile ear to ear as Ruby motioned for him to sit in the designated chair. It was nice to see him so happy, even if it was for just a moment. “He does.”

Clearing her throat, Regina turned her eyes towards the sheet of paper in front of her, finding herself searching automatically for one name in particular. When her eyes fell on it, indicating that Emma really was here somewhere, Regina felt an odd mixture of emotions. She truly was glad for the chance to speak with her, but still unhappy that Emma’s name was next to the booth that stood to give Regina a massive, jealousy-induced migraine.

Although, that problem could easily be rectified.

“Will that be all?” Regina inquired, wanting to get started as soon as possible; or rather, be allowed to approach Emma under the guise of official festival business whilst Henry was sufficiently being babysat. When Mother Superior affirmed that it was, Regina turned and headed towards the face painting booth. Ruby was in the middle of painting an intricate design on her son’s face when Regina cleared her throat.

“Here,” she told her stiffly, handing Ruby a form that she had pulled out of her purse. “I will need you to keep an accurate log of your earnings throughout the day; this sheet should make that rather simple for you. If the numbers do not match up at the end of the night, however, you will need to come speak with me.”

“Yeah, sure,” Ruby dismissed, her words sounding more like a ‘whatever’ than what was actually spoken. She basically tossed it on the table without sparing it a glance before leaning back towards the boy with her brush, telling Regina, “I need five bucks for Henry’s face though, before I forget.”

“Five dollars for face paint?” Regina asked, looking as though she were being robbed at gunpoint. That was absolutely atrocious, charity or not.

“I want my whole face done!” Henry pouted, sensing Regina’s hesitation as he pointed towards the board with the prices. Of course he would get the most expensive one. But Regina merely sighed, content on keeping her son happy, as it was so very rare that he was actually pleased with her.

“Fine, you may do what you wish; it’s your face,” she relented, digging a bill out of her purse before handing it to Ruby. “If you wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on him for a moment, Miss Lucas?” Regina requested, although with her tone it probably sounded more like a demand than anything else; it was just in her nature. “I need to see to it that all the volunteers get these forms.”

“It’s not a problem, this is probably going to take me a little while anyway,” Ruby answered, scrunching up her face a moment in thought before putting the brush back to Henry’s cheek. Regina muttered parting words of gratitude before turning, walking through the array of booths and tents that were being set up until she came to the far end of the grounds. It was there that her sights set on Emma.

The Sherriff was sitting behind her designated booth, one leg propped up on the counter space, looking terribly uncomfortable about being assigned to the spot, as a few people kept glancing at her and whispering. Regina scowled, no doubt believing that they all thought they had a chance to kiss what was hers, and that thought alone allowed her to stalk up to the booth with a sense of purpose, instead of the trepidation she believed she would have.

“This isn’t happening,” Regina told her firmly, without even bothering to greet her first. Emma nearly fell backwards out of her chair, as she had been balancing it on one leg before Regina showed up, effectively startling the hell out of her. The other legs of the chair hit the ground with a loud smack and as Emma tried to get her bearings enough to speak, Regina slapped down a crisp one hundred dollar bill in front of her.

“Wha—?” Emma tried, looking terribly confused by this entire interaction, as she apparently didn’t believe their encounter would go this way. Emma most likely expected an argument, or at least some semblance of anger being thrown her way for the accusations she had made.

Right now, however, Regina had other things to deal with.

“If you don’t think that’s enough, I’ll put down some more,” Regina told her, explaining her actions. “But I wish to buy you out of this silly booth, because you were right, it would make me jealous. Your lips are solely for my benefit, and I intend to keep it that way.” The confession was not an easy one, and Regina’s entire body was stiff as a board as the words made it past her lips, but she found denying it was not doing either of them any favors. And, considering what had happened the last time they spoke, they had enough problems; there really was no need to add more.

“You… I—okay,” Emma stumbled, still looking perplexed by what had just happened. She looked up at Regina, the woman’s final sentence being played over in her head. It seemed to confuse her even more. “But I don’t—hold on. So, you’re not…?”

“Going to break up with you over what you accused me of?” Regina finished for her, assuming that was the question Emma was going to pose. “No. Unless you were going to ask me if I was angry about what happened, which is a more complicated matter, and one that I suppose I would have to answer truthfully with ‘partially.’ However, we do need to talk and your avoidance of me is not making that any easier.”

Regina knew that her business-like approach to the situation was probably less than ideal, but in the end it saved her from feeling the emotional weight it carried whilst in public. She wished Emma understood that, but Regina’s answer merely made the Sherriff shift uncomfortably in her seat as she allowed the information to wash over her. Her face masked with such a terrible guilt that it almost pained Regina to even look at her.

“Regina, I really am so—”

“Please,” Regina interrupted her, voice cracking under the strain as Emma’s expression made her heart clench in her chest. “Don’t. Not… not here.”

Emma pursed her lips into a thin line, her eyes a window to all the pain she felt for a situation she actually held no blame for. It pained Regina, quite immensely, to watch the woman she cared so deeply about hold herself responsible for Regina’s own idiocy. Happiness, it seemed, was a subjective term. And perhaps they were never meant for the purity of it, but Emma had told her once that the grey that resided within Regina’s soul was more than adequate for her. It was perhaps that knowledge that allowed Regina to push past the nagging feeling in the back of her mind, the part of her that wished to be truthful with the woman who now held her everything, just so that she could do whatever it was she needed to keep Emma close to her heart. For Regina knew, with every fiber of her being, that for someone as so innately good as Emma Swan, there really was no acceptance, nor understanding, for murder.

And Regina knew she couldn’t stomach Emma looking at her with the inevitable mixture of disappointment and disgust, should she ever know who Regina Mills truly was. This was… this way was better. It had to be.

Emma looked down at the hundred dollar bill on the surface of the booth for a moment before taking it in her hand, clearing her throat as she tried to momentarily push past everything that they needed to discuss. “I don’t—uh, I mean, this is a charity, right? There’s not exactly a cap on the money being earned. Not that I don’t… appreciate the gesture, Regina, but I don’t know if Mother Superior is going to be too thrilled about losing a booth…”

Regina’s lip curled in displeasure. She hadn’t really thought of that, but Emma did raise a valid point. It wasn’t as though you could really ‘buy out’ a charity. “Then ask around and see if anyone is willing to switch with you,” Regina told her, but realized at the last second that it sounded like she was once again demanding things, and she amended with a, “please.”

Emma scrunched her face to the side in thought for a moment, a look that seemed so innately Henry that it actually gave Regina pause in appreciation, until the blonde finally nodded. “Yeah, okay. I just… yeah, I’ll ask around,” she conceded before standing, leaving the booth until she came to a stop in front of Regina. As Emma tangled her fingers through her mess of curls, a reaction born from her discomfort, Regina felt her face soften, wishing things were once again as easy as they were when they found themselves entangled together in her summer cabin.

“I forgot,” Emma said after a moment’s pause, “about all this.” At Regina’s furrowed brow, Emma’s eyes shifted towards the booth she had previously been sitting in as an explanation. “I never wanted to do this. Just… before, I liked making you squirm; I know it’s fucked, but I love it when you get all jealous and possessive. It… I don’t know, makes me feel wanted, or whatever. I never really intended to follow through with it though.” She exhaled a long breath, before shrugging and continuing, “And then, you know, after everything that went down, I forgot that I agreed to do this. It was kinda too late to back out then, unless I wanted to come off as a giant asshole.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Regina asked, feeling as though Emma really didn’t owe her an explanation in regards to why she was even here. Charity, she figured, was just what good people did, regardless of its less than ideal circumstances.

Emma shifted her weight between her feet. “I didn’t want you to think that it was out of spite,” she admitted softly, “because it wasn’t. The only person I ever want to kiss is you, Regina. I just… was an idiot and forgot about the whole thing until this morning.”

The temptation to just live in the façade of happiness once more overwhelmed Regina for a moment, and her fingers tangled with Emma’s as she pulled her towards her for one, brief kiss on the lips. She knew there were others around, people who would watch and no doubt gossip over the display of affection that they had just witnessed, but in that moment Regina really couldn’t find it within herself to care. All she saw was Emma and the perfection the woman could offer her, if only they could find it within themselves to ignore the past. It was an offer that Regina knew she would never be able to pass up.

Still, what was said was now out in the open, the option of fully ignoring it all becoming nonexistent, so Regina lightly squeezed Emma’s hands in hers and requested, “Come over to my house after this is all done. Please. We… well, I would like to fix this, and I hope that…”

“Yeah,” Emma whispered, an answer Regina was expecting and yet felt elated to hear all the same. “I do too. I mean, you’re my fucking…” But fear seemed to halt Emma’s words and she stopped, shifting her eyes away from Regina’s prying gaze.

“I’m your what, dear?” Regina asked, her heart pounding in her chest as she kept a tight hold on Emma’s hand, bringing it a little closer to her body. She had an overwhelming need to hear the rest of her sentence, which Emma seemed to realize as she took a hesitant breath.

“Everything,” Emma answered softly, her shoulders sagging slightly as she allowed the weight of her words to wash over her. She shook her head though, still unable to look Regina in the eye. “You’re my everything, Regina. I… I don’t want to lose that. You.

Regina exhaled a breath she didn’t know she had been holding, forgetting for a moment where they were as she took a step forward, cupping her hand along the softness of Emma’s cheek as she rested her forehead against hers. “You won’t,” she promised her fiercely, her words soft enough for only Emma to hear, yet powerful enough to cause the blonde’s hand to tremble slightly within her grasp.

They stood there for a moment, breathing each other’s air, finding themselves unable to step away despite how inappropriate this amount of affection was in the public eye. It was so much easier, Regina found, to just pretend. It was nowhere near the realm of healthy, for them to slip so easily into a world where nothing bad existed in their relationship, but as Regina wanted so desperately for them to be happy, she welcomed the momentary façade with open arms. After a few long seconds Emma’s eyes shifted once more, away from the intensity of Regina’s gaze, before she breathed in realization, “Everyone’s staring at us.”

“Let them,” Regina told her, finally realizing that her reputation, her dignity, meant nothing when placed up against Emma. She was the light in the darkness, a place she could finally call home. “It really doesn’t matter, because all I can ever see is you.”

The weight, the emotion behind those words seemed to rob Emma of breath for a moment, and she looked into Regina’s eyes, seeing the truth that prevailed through the tangled web of lies that allowed them to come to be in this place. She too, it seemed, would much rather live in this moment, no matter how false it truly was. Fingers grasping the back of Regina’s neck, Emma allowed their lips to come together once more, finding that, even though their happiness may not be purest born emotion in the world, it was more than enough for the both of them. And that, truly, was all that they could ever really ask for.

[x]

“Mom, can I get some pizza?” Henry asked, looking disdainfully at the soggy fries that he was holding, a product of Emma’s inability to make edible food.

The Sherriff had traded assignments with Leroy, who, as far as Regina was aware, still had yet to get any takers, and it seemed Emma was failing at her new task just as much as he was. Still, Regina was glad that she was able to get out of the kissing booth, and her good mood seemed to benefit Henry quite immensely. She pulled a couple more dollars from her wallet, allowing him to stuff his face with as much junk food as he wanted, because at the end of the day, she really didn’t have the heart to tell him no. They were both enjoying themselves and as that was a rarity with them lately, she did not want to be the cause of it ending.

As Regina handed her son the cash, she said, “If you’d like, but remember to get the excess grease off with a napkin first,” because some things, in the end, never did change. Henry murmured an affirmative before taking off towards the pizza stand, a wide grin on his face from the freedom his mother’s happiness was allotting him.

Regina watched him go, a small smile gracing the edge of her lips that found itself fading instantly at the sound of a voice behind her. “I hear congratulations are in order,” Gold told her, coming to stand next to the woman who bristled at the intrusion to her happiness, “for coming out. Really, dearie, it seems you and your little lady are the talk of the festival. I’m sorely disappointed I missed the show.”

Regina’s jaw clenched, keeping her eyes trained on Henry, for she was sure if she took one look at Gold’s smug expression that she might just sock him in the jaw. “What do you want?” she asked flatly.

“Merely checking in on an investment,” Gold replied airily, as though his words held less weight than how crushingly important they truly were.

Regina’s eyes darkened as she sneered, “I hardly think you can call blackmail an ‘investment’.”

“Semantics,” Gold responded, waving off the accusation. He peered at her, watching Regina’s reaction as he pried, “So, how are things in your little slice of paradise; flourishing, I hope?”

Despite Regina’s urge to snap at him that the state of her relationship wasn’t any of his business, instead she allowed herself to smirk slightly, realizing that she would rather crush his hope than succumb to her own aggravation in that moment. “Your belief in this is foolish,” Regina told him, realizing in that moment, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it truly was. After the moment that had passed between her and Emma earlier, there wasn’t any question to that. “It’s already been proven that your theory is incorrect.”

Gold’s eyebrows rose, disbelief masking over his face that Regina would willingly admit that the feelings between her and Emma had grown that strong. “You love her,” he deduced, although annoyingly, did not seem as crushed by that information as Regina hoped he would be.

Still, she did not answer him outright. It was a belief that perhaps Regina had known for quite awhile now, but never really allowed herself to feel. But Emma really was all that she ever saw, and all that she found she ever wanted to see. She too, it seemed, was Regina’s everything. And although the brunette had believed that the moment when she realized such would be utterly terrifying, instead it sought to fill her with a sense of comfort that Regina found was unmatched against anything she had ever known before.

“Ah,” Gold murmured, realizing why Regina did not answer his question. “You have not told her yet.”

Regina side-glanced him, her irritation growing once more. “It doesn’t matter. It still proves your theory to be immensely ridiculous.” And that, above all, was her point. Still, it did not seem to deter Gold any.

Wrong,” Gold told her, the smug look back on his face as he held up his finger as though coming to some great conclusion that would no doubt further Regina’s urge to throttle him senseless. “You see, these things are not black and white, dearie; they are dependent on the two people involved. And I am inclined to believe that since you have yet to tell your love the extent of your feelings, she has not voiced them either.”

“She doesn’t have to,” Regina growled, her patience beginning to wane. She knew what Emma meant when she said that she was her everything; she could see it in her eyes, feel it in her heart. The words, in the grand scheme of things, were rather irrelevant. They didn’t need to say them, as they understood how much they really meant to one another.

“Wrong again,” Gold told her, smirking at how his words bristled Regina to the point of her hand twitching, suppressing the urge to lash out. “The woman who was taught that… what was it?” Gold feigned thought for a moment before finishing, “Oh yes, that love is a weakness, has found herself in love with a woman with severe abandonment issues. You both have yet to say it, not because it doesn’t need to be said, but because you fear the other’s reaction when you show that much vulnerability. It is once you push past that fear and allow yourselves to really feel the trust that those words entail, that things will begin to change. Mark my words, Madame Mayor; it will happen. Of that I am certain.”

Regina scoffed, trying to ignore the small bout of paranoia that Gold’s insistency had planted in the back of her mind. Regardless of his belief, she still thought it was rather ridiculous that Emma be her one True Love. It was too difficult for them to get to this place with one another for it to be anything close to resembling ‘destiny’. Still, the small worry that everything she had worked for, how much she had sacrificed to get her happy ending, could be destroyed in the matter of a mere moment, gave Regina noticeable pause. It was practically unfathomable, yes, but it still gave cause to minor trepidation.

“Remember we have an accord,” Gold told her in a soft, yet strong voice as they both realized Henry was making his way back over to them. He could sense her hesitation. “You don’t want to find out what happens when people break deals with me, Regina. Trust me on that.”

As Gold slinked away, back to the darkness from which he came, the brunette found herself trying to force a smile at Henry’s joyous look as he held up the biggest slice of pizza she had ever seen in his hand. It took a lot of effort, but Regina finally did manage to push aside her doubts for the rest of the evening. However once the festivities were over and Emma and Henry were standing before her, ready to go back home, Regina found that the feeling of unjustifiable fear was back, threatening to swallow her whole.

To give herself some time to clear her mind from all her worries, Regina implored Emma to take Henry back to her house alone, promising that they would sit down and talk after she had finished with all her financial responsibilities that she had volunteered for. Emma agreed, although the promise of ‘talking’ did seem to unearth her own fears once more as uncertainty shone in her crystal eyes. Regina wished she could ease her doubts, but found her throat had gone dry and instead offered her a small smile in exchange, hoping it would suffice.

As Regina watched the two of them go, hand in hand away from the festival grounds, she suddenly found herself wondering if love truly was strong enough to conquer all, because if Gold was right, the hardships that would follow stood to challenge the one thing that Regina knew, more than anything else, she never wanted to find break.

TBC…

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
Love

“I see you’ve helped yourself to my liquor cabinet in my absence.”

Emma nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Regina’s voice, spilling some of her drink on the leather of the brunette’s couch as she was forced out of what Regina could only assume was some desperate attempt at relaxation, despite the obvious fact that Emma had been having difficulty finding it without the help of alcohol. Her eyes, which had been closed previously as she immersed herself in the soft music she had put on, were now squinting as Emma tried to focus on Regina’s form in the threshold of the doorway.

“I was bored,” was all she offered Regina in explanation before wiping the liquid off the couch with the fabric of her jacket. The Mayor sighed heavily, watching Emma ruin more of her nice things yet not having the effort to chastise her for it. “You’re late.”

“I’m fairly certain I didn’t specify how long I would be occupied for,” Regina reminded her as she shrugged off her jacket, laying it across the back of a chair before walking over to her desk. Switching off the music, her eyes caught Emma’s unfocused gaze. “Care to enlighten me as to where our son was while you were soaking your liver in an abundance of poison?”

“Asleep,” Emma replied defensively, her eyes narrowing at Regina’s assumption that she would be so careless a babysitter as to do so with the kid around. “The festival wore him out.” There was a beat before Emma told her, “I’ve been waiting for you for hours, Gina.” Off of the disapproving look born from the sound of an unwanted nickname, Emma quickly corrected, “Regina.”

The brunette exhaled a sigh. “It’s been two,” she corrected, shaking her head as she crossed the room to pour herself a drink; she wasn’t going to be the only sober person in the room, especially after the irrational worries that had been invading her mind for the better part of the day. “And don’t pretend as though your desire to dull your senses has to do with anything other than your inability to have a serious conversation with me. It’s insulting to my intelligence.”

Emma sighed, fidgeting in her seat. “Well, you know me, never doing the mature thing,” she responded with an uncomfortable laugh, trying to lighten the accusation. “Fuck it, right?”

Fuck it, Regina silently mused, if only it were that easy.

“So I’m just supposed to pretend that you didn’t accuse me of murder?” Regina asked her sharply before turning to be confronted with a look of pure panic on Emma’s face. Regina kept her composure however, allowing the glass of freshly poured scotch to touch her lips. The liquid burned its way down her throat, distracting her from the pain that Emma’s expression brought her. She didn’t wish to put her on the spot like this, but Emma’s inability to face anything wrong in their relationship was starting to become incredibly hard.

Regina really wished she knew what had happened in Emma’s life, for her to fear admittance of problems this badly.

The blonde downed the rest of the liquid that was in her glass in one gulp, standing quite abruptly afterwards before crossing the room to refill. Regina leaned against the side of her desk, watching the emotions play out across the woman’s face as Emma tried to find the response she was searching for. It took a long moment, but after the soft clinking sounds of crystal against glass as Emma sought to further diminish her mental capacity, she asked Regina, “Do you really want to do this while I’m drunk? Can’t we just…” She exhaled a long breath before pleading softly, “leave it? You know, until tomorrow. It’s been a long day, Regina.”

“You’re always going to have some kind of excuse,” Regina told her plainly, watching Emma slightly wince from the truth. Her hand slipped then, spilling liquor on the surface of the marble countertop while in the midst of trying to pour herself another drink that she probably had no need for. Regina sighed, gently nudging Emma out of the way so she could clean up her mess. “I will admit though, that this is less than ideal; however considering you’ve yet to slur at me in an unintelligible manner, I’d say ‘drunk’ is overstating quite a bit.”

“Give it a half hour,” Emma murmured underneath her breath as she grabbed Regina’s abandoned drink, swallowing it in one long gulp. She then proceeded to practically gag. “Jesus Christ, what the fuck is this crap?”

“Scotch, you uncultured imbecile,” Regina shot back, irritated that Emma had helped herself to her drink without even asking. “It’s meant to be sipped, not chugged in some barbaric attempt to not deal with your problems.”

Emma smirked at her, placing the now empty glass down before crossing her arms, leaning her left side against the flat surface of the wall. “You want to hear something fucked up?” Regina didn’t dignify that with a response, instead choosing to roll her eyes as she continued to mop up the mess Emma had made. “It actually kind of turns me on; you know, when you insult me sometimes. I don’t know why.”

“Because you’re an idiot,” Regina said flatly, allowing her annoyance to give way as she repoured herself the drink that Emma had stolen from her. The blonde laughed, making an overdramatic display of sexual arousal as she rubbed her hands over her form.

“Mmm, talk dirty to me some more.”

Despite her aggravation, Regina found herself smirking. “Your ridiculousness truly knows no bounds,” she told her before taking a long sip of her drink. “Nor,” Regina continued, advancing on her a little, “does your desperate insistence of topic switching. You really think I don’t know what you’re doing?”

Emma’s previous amusement fell at Regina’s words, her lips turning down into a frown. Turning so that her back was now flattened against the surface, she pleaded softly, “Come on. I haven’t seen you in days and then what you… you know, said to me, today at the festival, I—” Emma pushed herself off the wall, crossing the small distance between them as she allowed her fingers to slide down the smooth skin of Regina’s arm, tangling their fingers together. “Can’t we just… pretend for a minute? We’re good at that.” She looked at Regina beneath her lashes, prompting the older woman to release a small sigh.

If truth were told, Regina didn’t want to have this conversation either. Gold’s insistency had shaken her a little, and honesty was one of the things that paved the path to a pure love. Yet at the same time, Regina didn’t want to take someone into her bed that believed her to be a murderer; not because it wasn’t true, but because she knew Emma’s heart would never be able to dismiss her own doubts for long. Regina didn’t want this to become a problem later on, but trying to get Emma to speak with her was like pulling teeth.

Perhaps opting for a full frontal assault when it came to the subject though, was entirely the wrong way to go about this. Maybe it wouldn’t be completely unreasonable to put it off until the morning, as Emma’s defenses were down when she was half asleep anyway.

Regina finished the rest of her liquor before placing the glass down on the counter. She looked at Emma, finding herself getting lost in a gaze that begged for one moment of happiness. Giving her a sympathetic smile, Regina’s fingers traced the line of the Sherriff’s jaw as she stepped closer towards her, eradicating what was left of the small space between them. “What happened to you, love,” Regina asked quietly, finding herself unable to help her own curiosity, “that made you so frightened of a relationship with flaws?”

Emma averted her gaze as she tried to pull away, but Regina’s hand found her wrist and kept her still. “Tell me,” she pleaded softly, “and I’ll take you to bed. We can forget about it for the night, I promise.”

Emma hesitated, side glancing Regina as she took a moment to decide if the revelation would be worth it. After a moment she asked her, “Have you ever been thrown out like yesterday’s trash?”

Regina kept herself silent, as no, she had not. She’d been sold like a whore to further her mother’s own ends, but no, never anything like that. Regina may have never felt wanted, but she had never felt completely tossed aside either.

Emma pursed her lips, shrugging like it didn’t matter even though the look in her eyes said differently. “After so many times, you learn to let shit go pretty quickly; keeping people happy becomes a priority. That, or you just say ‘fuck all’ and run, never letting people get close enough to hurt you in that way. But I…” Emma exhaled a long sigh, refusing to look the brunette in the eyes. “I can’t run from you, Regina. Fuck knows I’ve tried.”

Regina let go of a breath she didn’t know she had been holding and cupped the back of Emma’s neck, bringing the woman close enough to breathe her air. Her grasp was firm, possessive. “I’m not one of your foster parents,” she told her firmly. “I’m not leasing with an option to buy. Trying to keep me happy all the time is unreasonable, not to mention quite pointless because…” Regina gave her a soft smile, wanting Emma to feel the truth in her words, “you’re it for me, Emma. Can’t you see that? I couldn’t toss you aside even if I wanted to, because you’d leave with a part of my heart.”

Emma pursed her lips, closing her eyes as she leaned her forehead against Regina’s. “It scares me sometimes,” she breathed, “how much I feel for you. The more it grows, the more I’m fucking terrified that I’m going to lose you…”

Regina tightened the grip on the back of Emma’s neck, causing the woman to open her eyes to look at her. “I’m not going anywhere,” Regina promised fiercely, needing her to know that more than anything else. “You’re mine, Emma.”

The vulnerably in the blonde’s gaze made Regina’s heart clench in her chest as she whispered, “For how long?”

Fingers tracing the fullness of Emma’s bottom lip, Regina answered with the strongest truth she had ever known, had ever felt for another human being. “For as long as you’ll have me.”

Emma’s breathing shallowed for a moment at her words, and she looked up at Regina with the most intense vulnerability shining through all the happiness she never believed she’d find. Draping her arms around the brunette’s neck, she brought Regina towards her, wrapping her up in an embrace as she kissed the breath from her lungs, the love from her very soul. Regina grasped on to her hips, guiding Emma backwards until the blonde’s back hit the wall, coaxing a small moan from her lips that Regina knew, that no matter how long she lived, she would never tire of hearing.

It had taken years filled with pain, filled with loss and with hopelessness, but as Regina found herself in Emma’s arms, the woman who had become her everything, she realized that every horrible memory, every painful experience, was all worth it; for Regina knew in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that Emma was her happy ending. And in the end, nothing could ever compare to that.

[x]

Pain had become so routine in their lovemaking that to find themselves falling into one another without it should have felt strange. Yet it was perhaps the shared realization that their lives had been filled with far too much agony already, which allowed them to slip into this comfortable state of being with one another without so much as a word of discussion. Masochism was their shared weakness, but perhaps together they could find strength in something else entirely, opening them up to a world neither woman truly believed they would ever belong in, yet found they enjoyed exploring all the same.

Their hands were linked, the heat of their connection causing fire to run through Regina’s veins as she arced her back, groaning softly as Emma got to work kissing every inch of her skin. Her lips found everything from the base of Regina’s feet to the tips of her fingers, her tongue hot against trembling flesh as Emma allowed the brunette to feel all the love that resided in her heart. Nimble fingers grasped at the bed sheets, a breathless plea falling from full lips as Regina allowed Emma to open her up and fill her with the acceptance of forever. It was frightening but it was beautiful, and as Emma breathed life into her, Regina knew that there was no other place she would rather be than in the comfort of her embrace.

Time stood still as Emma pushed into her, filling the emptiness that had once sought to consume Regina whole. A shuddered gasp broke the silence of the room as fingers wrapped around the back of Emma’s neck, Regina’s thumb lightly caressing the hollow of her throat as she fell into the intensity of the blonde’s gaze. Emma’s legs tangled with hers as she moved within Regina’s depths, watching each expression she gently coaxed from her with an acute fascination. It was almost as though she couldn’t believe that they had truly found this with each other, for it was ingrained in both of their minds at a young age that damaged people could never find true happiness.

But everyone was undoubtedly wrong, for if this wasn’t the definition of true happiness, Regina couldn’t even begin to fathom what was.

Emma’s lips found her jaw, her cheek, her forehead. Regina could feel her heart pumping firmly within her chest as the woman who used to tear her apart now touched her in near worshiping fascination. Regina trembled beneath her, sliding her lips up the sheen of sweat that was beginning to form on Emma’s skin. Whispering her name in her ear in soft praise, Regina tangled her fingers in a cascade of blonde locks, finding herself slowly being driven to an edge that there was no hope for ever coming back from.

Emma felt it as well and as she twisted her fingers deep within her, causing a shuddered gasp to fall from the brunette’s lips, she buried her face in her neck and whispered against her skin, “You feel it, don’t you?” Her voice trembled in fear and Regina tightened her hold on the woman atop her, desperately wishing that she could have Emma fall into her soul in the way that she was always meant to. She wanted to wrap her up, protect her and complete her, so that Emma couldn’t find it within herself to fear the most beautiful thing they had ever created together.

“Yes,” Regina affirmed, the word mixing with a gasp of pleasure as Emma pressed her knee against the back of her hand, allowing the fullness of her palm to rub against her sensitive flesh. Regina’s lips parted and her eyes rolled in the back of her head, sharp fingernails marking flushed flesh as the blonde increased the speed of her movements, stealing all the words from Regina’s mind except for one, singular word. “Emma…

She had wanted to say it, had felt without a doubt that right then would’ve been the perfect moment to tell Emma the true extent of her feelings, but instead the world blurred to nothing as the wave of ecstasy crashed over Regina’s form, leaving her mind gloriously blank for one, long moment as Emma gently kissed her down from her high. And as she grasped onto heated flesh, burying her face in the bosom of the woman who had taken her heart, Regina knew it really didn’t matter.

For Emma already knew anyhow.

[x]

Sunlight streamed through the curtains as a new day broke the horizon. Regina had been awake for a little while now, finding herself unable to move from the warmth and comfort of her bed whilst it was occupied by the serene picture of Emma fast asleep and content beside her. Regina hand was tangled in a mess of hair as she propped herself up on her elbow, watching her fingers run gently across the soft skin of Emma’s arm. The blonde grunted and twitched in her sleep and a small smile broke out across Regina’s face, finding something terribly endearing about Emma’s morning grumpiness.

She was sleepily swatted at. “Quit it,” Emma whined, rolling over and taking half the covers with her. “S’early. Fuck’s sake, babe.”

Babe now, is it?” Regina questioned, her eyebrows rising to her hairline. Emma heard the disapproval in her tone over the term and she threw the covers over her head, mumbling beneath them.

“Gonna call you ‘muffin’ for the rest of your damn life if you don’t leave me alone. M’Fucking off today, Regina. Need sleep.”

Regina smirked, amused despite herself. “Fine,” she told her, crawling out of the warmth of the bed. “I’m going to get Henry ready for school, but you’re having breakfast with me after I drop him off.”

Regina couldn’t really hear Emma’s mumbled response from underneath the covers, but it sounded like a, “Whatever,” which was enough confirmation for her.

Awhile later, Regina was back in her bedroom, kicking off her shoes as she looked down at the sleeping figure atop her comforter. Emma was sprawled on her stomach, legs hanging off the edge of the bed, and Regina was fairly certain that she was drooling on one of her throw pillows. Shaking her head, Regina chuckled as she crawled in bed beside her, leaning down to place a light kiss on Emma’s shoulder.

“Get up,” Regina demanded in a low voice as she pressed her lips to her ear. Emma noticeably twitched as she was awoken from her slumber, a grumpy protest falling from her lips almost immediately.

“G’out, muffin…!”

Regina rolled her eyes and shoved Emma’s shoulder lightly. “I gave you an hour and a half, and I swear to you, if you call me that one more time, I am not above pushing you right out of this bed and onto the floor.”

Emma, not one to back down from a challenge, did so without thinking. “Pumpkin,” she stressed instead, trying to take advantage of Regina’s failure of specifics. However, the obnoxious term was close enough, so without hesitation Regina put all her weight against Emma’s back, beginning to push.

A small screech fell from Emma’s lips as her hand grasped onto the edge of the bed, trying to keep Regina from throwing her off the mattress. “Alright, alright!” she conceded loudly, half of her already off the bed once Regina stopped moving against her. Emma growled in displeasure as she resituated herself, lying back against the pillows. “You suck,” she accused as she let out a long breath of defeat, blinking the sleep from her eyes.

Regina smirked, pushing the hair off the blonde’s forehead. “I’m persistent,” she corrected as she settled in next to Emma, content on relaxing for a little while before she got up and made them breakfast. Emma shot her a grumpy look before grabbing one of Regina’s hands, taking it with her when she rolled over so the brunette would be forced to spoon her. Regina had never been overly fond of cuddling, but she allowed the position, at least momentarily.

They lied there in silence for a little while, Regina allowing Emma to fully awaken on her own terms now that she had at least roused her from slumber. But it was sometime between when Emma’s breathing started to slow and Regina placed a soft kiss against the back of her neck to remind her to stay awake, that the Mayor remembered why she had allowed Emma to put off the conversation they needed to have. So it was with full awareness that Emma’s defenses were down when Regina told her softly, tentatively, “I knew that Graham had a… heart condition.”

It was the closest to the truth that Regina could muster and Emma instinctively stiffened at the unexpected words. Still, she continued, “I was angry; jealous that the both of you were going behind my back and I thought…” Regina sighed softly, tightening her hand in Emma’s. “I knew the stress of us fighting could possibly hospitalize him, especially after his mental breakdown, or whatever that insanity was…” It was a lie that she had practiced a hundred times in her head since the accusation was made, but it didn’t make the words come any easier. “I wanted to hurt him,” Regina admitted after a long stretch of silence. “But I never thought it would…”

“Kill him?” Emma finished for her in a whisper, her words nothing but broken fragments of the strength she once held. Regina nodded silently behind her back, finding that she was holding her breath, waiting for Emma’s reaction to her admission of ill-intent. It was the closest she could give her to honesty, and the only thing that would explain Emma’s suspicion of her. The silence between them stretched onwards and Regina’s heart was firmly lodged in her throat by the time Emma finally spoke.

“He died right as he was leaning in to kiss me.” It sounded as though she were talking to the wall more than Regina, the guilt weighing heavy on her words. “So if anyone pushed him past the brink, it was probably me.”

Regina took a hesitant breath, intending to tell Emma that it wasn’t her fault, but the blonde continued, needing to get everything out at once.

“That’s fucked up though,” Emma murmured, her whole body stiff wherever Regina was touching her, as if she too was afraid of the reaction she’d provoke, “that you would do that, knowing that he—” Emma shook her head, pulling away from Regina for a moment so that she could turn to look at her. “I mean jesus, Regina, couldn’t you have just spread around town that he had chlamydia or something, like a normal fucking person? You don’t screw with someone that has a condition like that, jealous or not. I swear, sometimes you really don’t think of anyone but yourself, and that’s…” But she didn’t finish her sentence, instead averting her eyes from the brunette as she set her jaw.

“I’m not proud of it,” Regina told her honestly, as she had never been particularly proud of those she had murdered; they were a means to an end, a piece that didn’t quite fit with the bigger picture she was trying to create. Their deaths were for the greater good of her happiness, as disastrously fucked up as that was.

“But you were right,” she continued, a statement that prompted Emma to look at her once more. “If someone or something didn’t benefit the wellbeing of me, or my son, I really couldn’t find it within myself to care about the consequences that my actions held. I’m probably always going to be selfish in that way, but I…” Regina chewed on her bottom lip for a moment before revealing, “I’ve expanded my horizons a bit to include you in the things I deeply care for, and I think that, perhaps, the fact that we’re so different in that way can actually stand to benefit me, just as I hope there are parts of me that could end up benefiting you. After all, isn’t that why people say that opposites attract?”

Emma pursed her lips for a moment, looking at Regina in silence. Whether she was assessing or judging her, Regina wasn’t certain, until Emma spoke once more. “Sometimes I wonder whether it’s smart of me to trust you in the way that I do,” she admitted softly. “I know you lie; I know you manipulate things to further your own ends. And yet I would trust you with my life, like… without fucking thought. I don’t get it, and… fuck, sometimes I think I must have gone insane for it.”

“Emma,” Regina implored gently, her eyes softening as she reached out to cup her lover’s face in her hand. “I swear to you, I would never intentionally hurt you. I’ve done a lot of horrible things, made a lot of bad choices, especially when it came to you, but now I…” Regina noticeably hesitated, her paranoia seeking to destroy the moment she found she really needed to have. It took quite a lot of effort, but as Regina pushed past her fear, she locked onto Emma’s gaze and told her fiercely, honestly, “I… love you. Quite a lot, if I’m to be honest, and I… would never want to jeopardize my happy ending with you; not for anything. You are the reason I smile in the morning, Emma, the reason I am no longer consumed by a sense of hopelessness. Only a fool would throw that away.”

A lump rose up in Emma’s throat as she found herself instinctively smiling at those three little words that held more weight than anything either of them had ever known. Her hand covering Regina’s that lay delicately on her cheek, her eyes shone with more emotion than the brunette believed she had ever seen before; disbelief, happiness, love, acceptance. It was strange, how different Emma looked in that one moment. It was as though Regina’s declaration allowed her to let go of all her fears of abandonment, of worthlessness, as she swallowed hard.

“I love you too,” Emma breathed, the words barely audible and yet blasting volumes within Regina’s heart. The brunette’s fingers tightened their grasp on Emma’s hand, seeing nothing, feeling nothing other than the woman in front of her.

“Is that enough?” It was a soft question, yet Regina’s need for an answer was reflected deep in her eyes. She knew she wasn’t perfect, she knew there were a great many flaws that Emma would have a hard time overlooking, but in that moment, with the way the blonde was looking at her, Regina prayed to any God she could think of that Emma would say that it was, for she knew it might very well break her if she could not.

Emma smiled at her softly, leaning forwards so that they were breathing each other’s air, allowing their clasped hands to fall to her lap. And as Emma pressed her forehead against hers, the Sherriff’s fingers curled around the base of her neck, wanting Regina to feel the fierce honesty in her words as she whispered without thought nor hesitation, “It’s more than enough, Regina.”

Her emotions getting the best of her, Regina closed the distance between them, needing Emma to feel the effect that her pure, uncontested love had on the soul of someone whose heart had once been so shrouded in darkness. Their lips met and an instantaneous warmth enveloped Regina’s body, igniting all her senses from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. It was intense, it was beautiful, and it was true.

And, within an instant, it all came crashing down.

The ground rumbled beneath their feet, the warmth and honesty between them expanding so much that it physically pushed outwards, causing the two women to break quite suddenly as an array of colors filled the light in the room, whooshing away from the center of their hearts as it fled the manor in an instant, washing over the rest of the town. The reaction happened so fast that it caused their hair to whip around their stunned faces, leaving them alone in a new world that would seek to destroy the happiness that they had managed to find within one another.

It was the most suffocating thing Regina had ever felt.

“No,” she whispered in agony, the realization of what was happening hitting her full force, pushing the breath from her lungs and the sanity from her mind. “No!” Regina exclaimed as she scrambled off the bed, backing away from Emma so fast that she ended up tripping, landing in a trembling heap on the floor. Her heart was pounding mercilessly in her throat, every fear she had ever had being washed over her tenfold as Regina stared helplessly at the woman she knew she was seconds from losing. It made her want to cry out, rip the world to shreds, and run from the inevitable truth as fast as her legs would carry her, and yet Regina found she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe.

“Regina,” Emma pleaded, looking as though she too were seconds away from losing her mind. Her hand was shaking as she motioned erratically to what had previously passed through the air. “What… what the fuck just happened?” Her eyes were wide, looking as though she were desperately trying to fight the truth that had been laid out in front of her. There was no mistaking what had just happened though, no pretending the magic that had passed through the room was anything different, as Regina knew that the moment Emma stepped back into town she would be confronted with every single lie that Regina had told anyway.

She was certain she was going to be ill.

“Regina,” Emma repeated, her voice a dangerous decibel now as she stared her down, her eyes begging her to say that what had just happened wasn’t what she thought. It looked as though the truth might very well break her. “Tell me what— please, just… tell me I’m crazy. Cause that… I mean it’s—”

“The curse,” Regina told her in a broken whisper, closing her eyes as a tear slipped down her cheek. She felt as though she were being swallowed whole in a nightmare she needed to wake up from, but the world had always been harsh and cruel towards her, so perhaps it was foolish to have expected anything but the pain she was destined for. Still, the love Regina had in her heart prevented her from lying to Emma any longer; she couldn’t stomach it, not on top of everything else. “I think…” Regina breathed, her expression turning pained as she uttered words she knew she could never take back, “I think we just broke it.”

Regina wiped the wetness from her cheeks, a trembling hand coming up to tangle in a mess of chestnut hair as she gathered the courage to look at Emma, the fear in her heart becoming justified in an instant at the expression on the blonde’s face. Emma looked as though she were torn between laughing, crying, or punching Regina square in the face whilst screaming. There was no love in her gaze any longer, only disbelief and soul-crushing betrayal.

Her lie had destroyed them.

“Please,” Regina begged through her tears, her voice cracking from the strain as she felt her whole world being brutally ripped to shreds. “Please, Emma, forgive me…” It was a futile plea and they both knew it, yet it was the moment when Emma’s darkened gaze met hers, the finality in her eyes ripping Regina’s soul apart, that the brunette finally knew that a happy ending would never be in the cards for someone like her.

For no one could ever love the Evil Queen.

THE END