DISCLAIMER: I don't own Once Upon a Time or Swan Queen or any of the characters associated with the show. They belong to ABC and Disney and a bunch of other people who aren't me.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for everything up to 3x16 "It's Not Easy Being Green."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To procrastinatingsith[at]gmail.com
"Regina!" Emma had knocked. Several times. And she would swear to that under oath - or on pain of fireball. Whichever one was necessary after Regina found out Emma had picked the lock on her back door and let herself into the mayoral mansion.
Emma had a good reason though, damn it. Zelena had thrown Regina into the clocktower. She didn't care what the stubborn woman said. It wasn't possible be thrown that far and fall through that much glass without getting injured. She owed it to Henry to make certain Regina was okay.
"Regina," Emma called again. Maybe she wasn't home, but... the house just felt occupied even if silence was the only thing echoing back to her.
A quick glance into the study and the kitchen revealed no one and Emma knew she couldn't put off going upstairs any longer.
Regina's room was just off the top of the stairs. Emma crept forward. She started to call out again and thought better of it. If Regina was so injured that she couldn't call back to Emma, she didn't want to risk startling her. She was trying to avoid a fireball to the face here. Not court one.
The door to Regina's room wasn't shut all the way. Emma pushed it open, her fingers brushing against the wood. "Regina?" she called as it slipped open.
If she had waited a moment longer to speak, Emma would have swallowed the words down and backed out of the room. As it was she was left staring at Regina's bare back as the other woman stood in front of a full length mirror. Her scarf had been discarded on top of the dresser while her blouse and bra lay in a puddle at her feet. She still wore her heels and slacks. Emma was grateful. She didn't think she could take any more than she was already seeing. She wouldn't survive.
"Miss Swan! What are you doing in my home?" Regina demanded, glaring as her eyes met Emma's in the mirror.
"I, um, sorry." Emma's face burned and she averted her eyes. It wasn't fast enough to erase the vision she had been presented with when Regina had whirled to face her intruder.
"Is spying a new Charming family trait?" Regina demanded, taking a step forward. "Or one you're embracing in a desire to make my day even worse than it already was?"
"Shit, I'm sorry, Regina," Emma attempted to apologize again. It was difficult when forming words and coherent thoughts was still a struggle.
"You said that already, dear. It is still not an explanation."
"Yeah. Right. I mean, I thought you might be hurt. You know, after you went flying through the clocktower." Emma couldn't contain her instinct to glance up soon enough. Regina hadn't retrieved her blouse yet, but one arm was laid across her breasts in some attempt at modesty. Emma's mouth went dry at the sight and her brain almost shorted out again. "And I was right. Your back looks pretty nasty."
"That does not give you the right to intrude upon my home," Regina snapped. "Uninvited and unwanted."
"I knocked," Emma retorted, forcing her eyes back to the floor but taking a step closer at the same time. She refused to back down from Regina. "And I called out. You didn't answer. I thought you might be laying up here unconscious or something."
"Since when is that your concern?" Regina asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Henry would never forgive me, and you know it," Emma answered, scuffing her toe into the rug that looked far too fancy for her to be standing on. Her eyes flickered up again, this time to Regina's face, before shifting away again.
"My son doesn't even remember me." Regina murmured, sounding more resigned than angry.
"I know," Emma said. "But he will." It was the truth as far as Emma was concerned. She might wish that Henry never remembered this insane town and the magic that it contained for his own safety but part of her knew that he would eventually. Nothing good could last in her life. "And when he does, I don't want to disappoint him. I spent enough time doing that for the first ten years of his life."
"It's a feeling I'm familiar with," Regina allowed.
Emma's eyes met Regina's again and this time she held her gaze. "And I was worried about you."
Regina's brow furrowed, catching the personal nature of the statement. "Why?"
"You did something for me and Henry. You gave us this wonderful life when you didn't have to. You thought you were going to lose Henry forever and you still did it. I never got a chance to thank you for that." Emma shrugged. "I owed you one."
"You took care of Henry. You don't owe me anything else," Regina said, straightening to turn back to her mirror.
"There should be someone to take care of you too," Emma said, taking another step closer, hands held up in the air in mock surrender. "Even if you don't need it."
The faintest hint of a smile curled across Regina's lips. "Perhaps we should consider it another magic lesson?" Her smile twisted into a bitter grimace. "If things continue on this way with my dear sister, knowing how to heal will be a skill that you will very much need."
"Yeah," Emma agreed, barely paying attention to the words as she stepped closer still, relief that Regina was going to let her help filling her. She cleared her throat. "So how do I do this?"
"Chose the laceration you want to close. Make certain it's free of glass and debris and then visualize it closing with your magic."
"Okay," Emma said. "I can do this."
"I should hope so," Regina agreed. What she was about to say next was lost in a gasp as Emma ghosted her finger down the rough, reddened edges of the first cut. The unexpected touch made Regina shiver. "What do you think you're doing, Miss Swan?"
"You said to make sure it was free of glass!" Emma said, her voice unnaturally high pitched. "How else was I supposed to do that?"
"With. Magic." Regina gritted out.
"Sorry. Um..." Emma hesitated, torn between touch and not knowing how else to proceed.
"Stop apologizing and finish it," Regina said, her voice taunt, fingers curling into a fist down at her side.
"Does it hurt?" Emma asked, her voice as gentle as her touch had been.
"No." The tension in Regina's shoulders disputed her claim and Emma frowned.
"I'll try to be quick."
"Yes, thank you," Regina said, sarcasm dripping from her words.
Emma bit her lip to keep from saying anything else. It wouldn't help the situation and it was miraculous enough that Regina was letting her do this. She closed the cuts one at a time. Each one was easier than the last, but no matter how much she concentrated she couldn't heal them without touching Regina.
"Can you feel it?" Emma asked, closing yet another cut. The way her fingers tingled as they brushed against Regina's skin was wreaking havoc on her concentration.
"Your magic is as irritating as it's wielder," Regina remarked, meeting Emma's gaze in the mirror. There was a softness in her eyes that didn't match her voice.
Emma laughed. "I'm going to take that as a compliment."
"In what world was that a compliment?" Regina demanded with an arched brow.
"In one where you missed me," Emma countered, moving on to the next laceration. There were only a few left now. Her fingers trailed down Regina's back until she found it. Regina shivered beneath her touch.
"I? Miss you? Hardly," Regina scoffed. "The only reason I missed you is because Henry was with you."
"So you did miss me," Emma crowed in triumph.
Regina snorted, shifting as she tried to control the urge to squirm. "If that's how you wish to interpret my statement, Miss Swan, I can't stop you."
"You know you're really bad at this whole not caring about people thing," Emma muttered, ducking her head to get a better look at the spot on Regina's lower back.
Regina tensed, freezing into place at Emma's words. "It's easy enough when one doesn't have one's heart."
Emma stopped mid-motion, her fingers curling forward, nails digging into Regina's back for an instant before she forced herself to relax. "I thought you said she didn't take your heart."
"She didn't or I would be in far worse shape." Regina sighed. "I chose not to put it back in. It's too dangerous at the moment."
"For you or for everyone else?" The question sounded casual and disinterested. In truth, it was anything but. They had been challenging each other since the moment Emma had come to Storybrooke and that wasn't going to change now.
"Do not make this about Henry again, or doing the right thing." Regina spit out the words as if they were the most ludicrous thing she had ever heard. "I'm trying my best. If she controls me, there is no one in this town capable of stopping me."
Emma's hands cupped her shoulders. "I could. Maybe. You haven't killed me yet." She squeezed and then let go. "But I don't think that's what she has in mind. Zelena already controls Gold. If she wanted to kill us all, she could have already done it. Last one," Emma added, slipping around in front of Regina.
The scarf had hidden the jagged cut just below her collarbone while they were at the clocktower, but now it was plainly visible to Emma. Her eyes flickered up to Regina's and then away, unable to hold her gaze while they were so close to one another, and Regina was so...not wearing clothes.
"Then what do you think she wants?" Regina asked, refusing to look at Emma or acknowledge her closeness, staring at some point over Emma's shoulder instead.
It was the closest that they had been since Pan's curse had been about to strike. Emma's stomach churned with nerves and she straightened her fingers, forcing them to stop trembling before she let herself touch Regina again.
"I don't know," Emma shrugged, struggling for nonchalance. "I mean, I got it. Why you cursed everyone, once I realized it was all real. You wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere you had a chance at happiness, but Zelena " Emma sighed.
"She wants everyone to hurt the way she is," Regina murmured. "It's not an unfamiliar feeling."
"No," Emma admitted. "But couldn't she settle for just, like egging your mansion or stealing your favorite outfit or something?"
"Not everyone is as juvenile as you, Miss Swan. Or as apt to take their vengeance on defenceless apple trees." Regina glanced down. "Are you nearly done? I don't recall a simple healing taking this long."
"Almost," Emma muttered, concentrating on finishing up. "And don't insult my skills. I'm still rusty." Emma's fingers slid away from the now healed laceration and trailed down to the v of skin between Regina's breasts, coming to rest over where her heart should have been. "What does it feel like?"
"Empty." Regina's hand covered Emma's, fingers wrapping around her hand. She didn't move to push Emma away, so Emma didn't move. She was so close to Regina her lips were almost brushing against Regina's cheekbone.
"Is it safe? Your heart." Emma asked, one hand dropping from Regina's side to rest on her hip.
Regina snorted a laugh. "As safe as my heart ever is, dear. But it's good of you to be concerned." The words were dismissive rather than warm and appreciative.
"You should have given it to me," Emma murmured.
"What?" Regina snapped. She seemed to regret her blurted question, shaking her head and pursing her lips into a tight, thin line that made her displeasure clear. "Why would I do that?"
Emma shifted back enough to tap her own chest a few times with her knuckles. "Safest place for it. It's like a lockbox or something. Didn't anyone tell you?"
Regina's glare made it clear that no one had or she would not have been asking.
"Your-" Emma cut herself off and started again. "Cora tried to rip it out but she couldn't. I guess my heart's stuck in there pretty good. If we put your heart in there, I don't think Zelena could get it out again."
"That is quite a stunning leap of magical logic, but let us suppose you're right. What happens when I wish to have my heart back? Is it yours forever then? I would like to-" It was Regina's turn to cut herself off.
"Feel again." Emma supplied the words Regina couldn't bring herself to say. "Even if it means hurting more? Henry still doesn't remember."
Regina cocked her head to the side. "There are good things too. Losing Henry doesn't hurt so much without it, but loving him isn't nearly so sweet. I wouldn't give that up for the world."
"Yeah," Emma agreed, nodding in understanding. "I think you could, take it back, I mean. If it was in my chest. There's a difference between trying to rip something out with force and being given it back."
Regina swallowed. "I can still feel it. It's not gone, just dulled. I haven't forgotten."
"Yeah." But this time Emma was confused. She wasn't sure what Regina was trying to say.
"You don't get to use this as an excuse to take Henry away from me," Regina ground out after a moment.
"I know that," Emma said, pulling away defensively. She shrugged. "Can you blame for wanting to go back and get away from all this crazy? You gave us this amazing life and you could come too. Nothing's holding you here."
"Destiny, Miss Swan. Destiny holds us here and I don't think it will let either of us go so easily." Regina sounded bitter.
"I thought we were done. I was destined," Emma sneered the word. "To break your curse. I did that. Now what? I have to save everyone in this town from paper cuts and stray curses until the day I die?"
"I've been thinking much about destiny lately. Neither of us have been able to escape it yet," Regina pointed out.
"But we didn't know about it then," Emma countered. "We were just being manipulated into it by other people. Gold mainly, with some help from Neal and fucking August."
Regina glanced up at her. "You think we could avoid it now that we know about it?" Regina shook her head. "But should we? Do we want to?"
"Well has destiny ever done you any favors? 'Cause it sure hasn't for me."
"Tinkerbell told me I have a soulmate. He's here, in town."
"Oh well, that sounds different," Emma said, withdrawing and turning to pick her leather jacket up from where she had tossed it on Regina's bed. "Good for you."
"Do you want it?" Emma asked, genuinely curious. "I don't think I'd like being told who I should be with."
Regina's gaze darkened. "No, I have had enough of that for a lifetime. But the idea of finding someone who loves me is an intoxicating one."
"Henry loves you." It seemed important to say, to remind Regina of that until Henry could do it for himself.
"He does," Regina agreed. "And I wouldn't trade it for anything."
"But sometimes it gets lonely," Emma supplied.
"Henry told me once that I'd brought time - change - back to Storybrooke." Emma shrugged. "I guess that's what I do, mess things up. But it means you don't have to follow fate or destiny or any of that crap, I think. So if you don't want to be with this guy, change it. Do something else. Take a chance."
"Whatever you want," Emma said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world, as if choice was something that everyone had.
Regina laughed. "No, I don't think that's wise, dear."
"Still want to curse Snow off the face of the Earth?" Emma asked wryly.
"Not at the moment, but I'll let you know, should I change my mind," Regina promised.
"You do that," Emma said agreeably. "And think about what I said." She smiled at Regina. "You should be happy. Even if your crazy sister is trying to wipe out this whole town."
Regina rolled her eyes. It made Emma smile as she turned to leave. "Emma, wait." Emma stopped, glancing back and raising her brows in a silent question. "Thank you. For coming to check on me."
"Any time," Emma said, as if it were nothing.
Something passed over Regina's face that Emma couldn't identify, one of those confusing looks so full of emotion that it made Emma's throat tighten in sympathy. Then Regina stepped forward, her hand covering Emma's wrist and pressing her body against Emma's. Emma had just a moment register softness and warmth and the firmness of Regina's thigh against her own before Regina kissed her. It was the faintest of brushes, lips against lips before Regina pulled back to look at Emma.
"What the hell was that?" Emma didn't wait for an answer. She leaned into Regina, her hand finding Regina's hip and pulling her into her body. She kissed Regina, pouring frustration, desire and passion into one simple gesture, as if she would never be able to get enough. Regina clung and pushed and kissed her back just as fiercely. It was beyond anything Emma would have dared to imagine.
"What was that?" Emma asked again, when they separated, breathless and heart racing with desire.
"Taking a chance. Ignoring destiny," Regina proclaimed, sounding every inch of the queen she had been, her head held high, defiant and challenging.
Emma laughed, low and a little uncomfortable. "I like it."
"Yes?" In just an instant, Regina had shifted, softening and sounding vulnerable. It took moments like these to remind Emma of the fragileness of Regina's heart. She was so indestructible in every other way, it was easy to forget.
"Definitely," Emma said. "We should try it again. Practice it until we get it right."
"You're ridiculous," Regina said but she held Emma close and tilted her chin up for another kiss, willing to believe that perhaps destiny could be changed, that perhaps even without a heart one could find that heart's desire.
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