DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story deals with difficult situations (See Warnings). It is Swan Queen with a lot of twists and turns. Some turns are pleasant while other twists are not. The later chapters of this story are beta read. Huge thanks to Mooglesmuse for beta reading and the support for this story and my others.
WARNING: This story deals with terminal cancer, mentions of rape and murder, as well as possible character death.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To daughter2artemis[at]yahoo.com

This is How It Ends
By In-Betweens (aka Tweenlove-n-hate)


Chapter 1

Now or never, Regina, now or never.

There was a very good reason why she was doing this, she told herself over and over again as she stood in front of a nondescript apartment building. The car she'd driven here was parked around the corner where she had been sitting, waiting, and watching for her prey to return home. She did not like to think about why the woman she was stalking would be coming home so late and dressed as she was.

Surely the bottom half of that red cocktail dress had simply been misplaced, it did not come off the rack that short? Did it? Regina would forgo thinking about what the blonde was doing wearing such an outfit on a weeknight. Maybe she was a little jealous that there were people who could still enjoy themselves into the wee hours of the morning on a weekday—a school night. It would not do to think about the philandering's of this woman when there were much more important matters to attend to. Such as walking into the very same apartment building she had been surveying all evening.

It was unacceptable to be so nervous. She was not some common woman. She was not told no lightly, and in this matter failure was not an option. She would leave this wretched city with what she wanted, no. She would leave with what she needed. It was simply a fateful misfortune that what she needed happened to be something only the woman inside this apartment building could give her.

Looking up the twenty story building she felt a touch of rain upon her cheek. Her lips pursed into a thin line as she looked at the waiting doors in front of her. She would not stand out here in the rain contemplating failure. She was Regina Mills for god's sake! She did not do failure or fear.

Fear was for the weak and no one would ever describe her as weak. No one. Except, maybe, herself. In this moment, as she stared at the glass doors of the modern Bostonian architecture, her vision blurred, her heart raced, and she was scared.

Scared enough to look around her to make sure no one saw her wipe away her tears. It had been years since she had allowed herself to cry, five to be exact. Five years, almost to the day, she had shed her last tear. When in a position such as hers you could not afford to shed tears. You needed to be strong and resolute. You needed to be constant and supportive and brave. You could not be scared or helpless or tearful. You had to be the adult. You had to put others in front of yourself and never look back.

She wouldn't look back. Not even now. There was a simple way to forgo the humiliation she was about to endure. It was so easy in fact, she almost considered it. All she had to do was turn on her high heels and walk back to her car. Turn the ignition, check her rearview mirror and pull out into traffic, only looking back to ensure her safety while driving. There would be no other reason to look back. She could face failure head on, it did not need to slink in behind her like a coward. There in lie the problem.

She couldn't do it.

The shame of it, the cowardice of taking off would forever eat away at her. She was here for a reason, she had a purpose here, and she would fulfill that purpose even if it meant she had to degrade herself in the process. The means would be worth the end result. It had to be worth it in the end. This trip would and could not be worthless. It would be fruitful. It had to be.

It was now or never.

The sky above Regina began to rumble as the storm that had been approaching all day finally arrived. How poetic it was for the sheer cut of lightening sparking across the dark ominous sky be the backdrop in which she finally succumbed to what needed to be done.

Looking at the call buttons with the names of residents, found the name she was looking for, squared her shoulders and crossed the open lobby to the elevator. The elevator thankfully was in working order and it only reeked of stale air, aftershave, and a touch of a sweet floral scent. Pressing her thumb to the round 8 she watched the edges light up in acknowledgement of her destination. Stepping to the back wall of the metal lift she waited patiently for the doors to close, thankful when no one stepped into lift with her. Whatever doubts or fears that had plagued her since her arrival here in Boston washed away. They had no place here anymore.

Steeling herself against whatever was to come; Regina promised that she would not be leaving this building alone.

Emma smiled lazily at the cupcake in front of her. The flame on the single candle flickered in front of her, weaving and waving about as she leaned down against the countertop. With her arms crossed in front of her as she leaned down the flame's reflection glittered in her eyes. She pursed her lips as if to whistle and blew. The candle did not extinguish, rather it flickered and continued to burn brightly.

Huh…Emma thought with a snide smirk, maybe her wish for world peace was too much for the poor candle. Laughing at her thoughts, at least to herself, she pulled in a breath of air, the flame bending towards her for a moment, and readied a new wish. With it in mind she…

*Knock* *Knock* *Knock* *Knock*

…sputtered a bit at the unannounced visitor knocking on her door and looked at the candle as if the wax star burning brightly in front of her held all the answers. Like, who was at her door at eleven pm? The candle didn't give her an answer so, that only left one last way to find out. She sighed and the flame burned out in a puff of smoke. Shrugging, she swiped some of the icing off of the cupcake and walked to the door. With her finger firmly in her mouth licking and sucking it clean of the frosty goodness she opened the door.

The sight of a well-dressed woman in what Emma could only describe as killer business attire stood before her in the hallway. Popping her finger from her mouth Emma swallowed, giving the brunette a once over. The black pinstripe slacks and grey 'prada designer someone or other' blouse stood out against the deep red lining of her black trench coat. The shoes though, they really caught Emma's attention. They were black close toed four inch heels, any further design of the shoes were lost behind her pants. But honestly Emma was tempted to ask where the woman had purchased them. Then again, by the mere look of them they cost more than she made in a month.

"Miss Swan?" The woman's tone was hollow, as if already bored.

Geeze, she only just got here, Emma's inner viper snipped.

Emma narrowed her eyes, "Whose asking?"

"Is Ms. Emma Swan available?" The woman asked again, her resigned look making it clear that she wasn't going to be an easy shoo away. Emma didn't like her already but Emma didn't like a lot of people so that wasn't very surprising.

"Look, whatever you're selling, it's probably too expensive for me anyway, so…" Emma nodded her head in farewell, and pushed her palm against the edge of the door closing it in the woman's face.

Rather, she tried to close it in the woman's face.

A gloved hand shot out and kept the door from closing. As if to further the point that she wasn't going anywhere the tip of her heeled foot also joined the hand in keeping the door open.

"Look lady I'm not really in the mood for visitors." Especially ones that know me as Swan.

"Then you are Miss Swan, Ms. Emma Swan?"

Emma already felt like she'd been asked that a hundred times in the last minute. Why was it she couldn't enjoy her birthday in peace? All she wanted to do was grab another beer from the fridge, plop down on the couch and watch some television. Basically sulk the night away. "Yeah, see, you already asked that. When I asked who was asking you ignored me. I don't typically let strangers into my apartment or talk to them unless they're attractive."

The what's-her-name-woman huffed out an insulted breath. "Lucky for me then as I normally would have no wish to speak to someone of your…" Her brown eyes took in Emma from head to toe and the blonde couldn't help the shiver that coursed through her at the appraising look. The smirk that formed on the brunette's face, tilted to the right side of her face, made her look a bit evil. So maybe that movie about the devil wearing prada was somewhat factual. "…lesser caliber."

Emma laughed harshly, shaking her head from side to side. "You really have a way of sweet talking your way into a stranger's apartment…" Emma sarcastically cast, rolling her eyes at the glare directed towards her.

The only reason Emma hadn't closed the door, with the woman's foot in the jam, was merely due to her curiosity and fear that this woman was sent here by a mutual friend. She was infinitely curious about who this woman was. Even if it seemed that hell would have to freeze over before she was given a name.

"I'm going to give you five seconds to move your foot and hand. If by that time you haven't moved them I'm going to close the door on them anyway." Emma warned. "One…"

"There is no need to resort to violence Miss Swan I am…"


"…merely here to speak with you for a…"


"…moment. Would you please refrain from counting it is not like I…"


"…am an imbecile! I am capable of counting to…"

"Five," they said at the same time, their voices melding into one although the brunette's snotty tone almost gave hers a bigger edge than Emma's.

Emma brought her other hand up to the door and kicked her sneakered foot against the tip of the high heel in the doorway, making the woman stumble as her foot was moved back out into the hallway where it belonged. Nodding, as if saying, see ya, Emma pushed the door closed.

Almost closed.

"WAIT!" The woman raised her voice, and slipped her entire body into the small crack preventing Emma from closing the door. Again.

For the love of… "What is your problem?" Emma raged stomping her foot as she crossed her arms in front of her chest. What was this woman's problem? Oh god…Emma froze, what if she was some crazy lunatic that escaped from a mental hospital? Or a wife or family member of a begrudged person she'd help put back in jail for skipping bail? Swallowing Emma tried to remember which drawer in the kitchen had her handgun in it.

"Regina." The woman spat out as if the name was a curse.

"What..?" Emma questioned again not following the woman's train of thought.

"My name." Emma blinked. "You asked who was asking. My name is Regina Mills. I've come to speak with you about an urgent matter. Please, may I come in?"

Emma went over the cases she'd had in the last month. There were at least a dozen of them and Mills didn't register as any in her mind. To be sure she'd have to look through the notebook she kept on the cases she had collected on. Normally there was no time like the present in her mind, but with an unidentified friend or foe literally halfway through her doorway, well, Emma would have to wait to check her files.

"Forgive me if I say no." Emma really didn't care one way or the other if the woman didn't forgive her. "For now. What's the urgent matter?"

The woman—Regina, sighed her hands still against the edge of the door to keep it open at least enough so she wouldn't suffer any harm from it hitting her. The gloves put Emma on edge and the trench coat that she had been admiring before suddenly made a pit form in her stomach.

"It is a matter that should not be discussed with me hanging through your door…"

"Look, Regina…"

"Ms. Mills or Mayor Mills…will do, Miss Swan." The edge to the woman's voice was back, and her eyes narrowed into slits again.

Wonderful, the harpy's back, Emma rolled her eyes, "Whatever. Ms…wait a second." Emma stopped and scrutinized the woman in front of her. She'd said Mayor, but the Mayor of Boston was currently Thomas Menino, had been since 1993 and this woman certainly wasn't him. "Mayor, Mayor of where?"

The Mayor heaved a sigh, and looked as if she wanted to pinch the bridge of her nose in irritation. "Storybrooke, Maine."

Emma spit out a laugh, "You're shitting me, right?" Who named a place Storybrooke?

"I can assure you, Miss Swan that I am not…" Her face contorted into distaste "…shitting you. Now, may I please come in?"

"Yeah, alright, fine but stay by the door for a minute…" Emma opened the door and stepped away from it towards the kitchen. "Kay?"

"Yes, that will be fine Miss Swan, thank you." Emma nodded, and let Mayor Mills close the door behind her.

Emma kept her eyes on the brunette as she stepped backwards through her apartment, her hands sliding over the edge of her counter tops to help guide her. Finding her notebook on the counter by the coffee machine she opened the book and looked through the last twelve entries. None of those she'd brought in had been from Maine or had any close relative named Mills. Satisfied she closed the book and moved back towards her guest, who was taking in the apartment as critically as she had taken in Emma's lounging-gruff look.

Seeing a frown crease the woman's face Emma crossed her arms, defensive of the obvious distaste. "So, I'd apologize for being a bitch but I'm not exactly sorry. Can I get you some coffee, tea, a beer?"

Regina turned to look at her, an expectant smile upon her face. "Coffee would be lovely."

"Sure, it'll be a little while." Emma pre-warned.

"That's fine."

"Okay…" Emma felt uncomfortable as she got the can of coffee from her cupboard and grabbed a filter off the shelf. She only had two mugs as she never needed more than that. She'd only just gotten the second one because her favorite I <3 New York mug chipped last week. Turning around she leaned against the counter, her hands gripping the edge as her eyes tracked Regina's slow progress around the apartment.

The brunette's heels clicked against the hardwood floors, echoing around the otherwise silent space.

"So…" Emma cleared her throat, "You said you had something important to talk to me about. I don't know what it could be…" Emma laughed, nervously, "I've never even heard of Storybrooke, Maine. Let alone been there."

Regina turned around slowly, her focus no longer on the beautiful skyline visible out Emma's windows. Emma liked the apartment for that very reason. The west wall was nothing but windows making the place seem larger than it really was. There was just something about being able to look out onto the vastness that was Boston, the freedom one could feel, even if it was rainy and you were trapped inside.

The click-clack of the heels pulled Emma from her thoughts as she pushed off the counter to lean against the island that was between herself and Regina. Crossing her ankles behind her she bent down a bit and crossed her wrists in front of her against the brown slate stone. She watched Regina like a hawk taking careful note of each of her movements and the flickering of her brown eyes.

"I would suppose you wouldn't have heard of it. However, where I live does not truly pertain to why I am here."

"Well it should, I mean you came all this way."

"How far I've come…" Regina sighed and looked to the right, "is irrelevant. I would have traveled oversees if that was where you were located."

Regina saw the single cupcake on the other end of the island with its birthday candle and missing frosting. The smell of dissolute smoke was vaguely upon the air between them. Her brow raised in question as she met Emma's eyes once again.

"It's my birthday." Emma explained easily, shrugging her shoulders.

"Oh, Happy Birthday." Regina's eyes actually sparkled a bit and the wish seemed to be genuine. But as soon as it had arrived any warmth or kindness quickly vanished. But not before Emma caught sight of the other woman's worry.


Emma stared at Regina, trying to get a better read on the woman. The gate was down, it had crashed back down the moment Regina had seemed to relax—if that were even possible. Emma didn't know Regina, but she could guess that Regina was the uptight type of person who really really needed a good lay to relax. Even then, Emma could hardly see Regina relaxed.

An image of the brunette's eyes dark and lidded flashed across her mind's eye as her ears imagined hearing the low and husky voice of the mayor moaning in pleasure, on their own accord. Silk sheets would frame the woman; her mouth would fall open in a soundless cry as her back arched off the bed and…


Emma blinked away the haze that had come over her thoughts and spun around to get the coffee. "How do you take your coffee?"

"Black.With one sugar."

You could tell a lot about a person by how they took their coffee, and Regina's preference made Emma cringe, only while her back was to Regina of course. She wasn't that rude. Emma couldn't stand black coffee. She preferred half and half or Coffee Mate sweetener, hazelnut or French Vanilla. To each their own…

Bringing both cups of coffee back to the island Emma put the newer plain black mug in front of Regina and sipped at her own. She watched as the mayor simply stirred hers around. The Mayor's thoughts seemingly trapped, drowning, lost in the depths of the caffeinated brew so intently she looked at the liquid.

Clearing her throat, Emma pulled Regina's attention back to the matter at hand. From the startled look on the brunette's face, Emma assumed it wasn't every day that Regina was lost in thought. "What's so important to come all the way to Boston to talk to me? I'm not exactly on anyone's list of 'must sees' in this city, Madame Mayor. To be honest? It's more than a little creepy to think you'd come looking for me even if I was overseas."

Regina didn't seem to mind Emma's bluntness; after all, the brunette had started it with her hostile introduction.

"My son is why I'm here Miss Swan. He is the reason I have come all this way and he would be the reason I traveled to the ends of the earth to find you."

Emma took another sip of her coffee, holding her mug loosely in her hand above the counter as she shook her head from side to side in question, "Oh…kay…I'm not following. What do I have to do with your son?"

"He is not my biological son."

"Uhhh…" Emma felt something ghost across the back of her neck, warning her against whatever was to come from this conversation.

Regina sighed and put her mug down. It took the brunette only a moment to look away from her coffee mug and into Emma's blue eyes. "He is your biological child."

The fire behind the mahogany eyes kept Emma transfixed even as Regina literally tore apart everything she'd worked so hard to build up. The mug slipped from her hand and the sound of porcelain breaking echoed through the apartment as Regina jumped back from her side of the counter, the hot liquid racing towards her as it splashed across the countertop.

Emma snapped out of her daze as the coffee burned her arm. Hissing she moved to grab some paper towels. She threw them down on the counter and let them absorb most of the coffee while she rushed over to the sink and ran her arm under cold water. Her skin was red and irritated and her hands shook.

My son

Regina was here to talk to her about her son, the baby that she had given up ten years ago. Regina was here because of the same child that Emma had done her best not to think about all day. It was hard, especially on his birthday and Christmas and mother's day and today but she did her best to drown away those days into alcohol induced blackness. He was better off without her. She had nothing to offer a child even ten years later. Sure she had a job and an apartment but she only just settled down into this apartment six months ago and her job wasn't steady. Nothing about her life was steady. A child deserved to have stability in their life. Didn't they?

So why in the world was Regina here? Why come now? What was it that she wanted from Emma so many years later?

"I suppose I should have expected that." Regina spoke from behind Emma, and the blonde spun around, the faucet still running as her eyes bore into the brunette.

Beneath her breast her heart hammered erratically against its cage, begging to be released. "What the hell are you doing here? Why the hell did you come? What right do you have to even come looking for me? I…I…this is, ugh…get out!"

"Now Miss Swan I know this is a very shocking turn of events but if you would just calm down…"

"CALM DOWN!? CALM DOWN!? Lady you need to get the fuck out of here before I call the cops. You shouldn't even know who I am! It was a closed adoption. Closed! Legally binding. How…" Emma seemed to be losing steam, even if she had more questions than answers at the moment. "…how did you even get my name?"

"I have my sources." The cryptic bullshit with the shrewd smirk was not what Emma needed to hear or see right now.

"I asked you to leave. No, I told you to leave. So, I think it's time that you do that." Emma moved to stand directly in front of Regina, cutting her off from any part of the kitchen. She promised herself that if this woman did not start moving immediately she was going to force her to walk out her door.

Regina squared her shoulders and threw down the damp brown colored paper towels that she had apparently used to clean up the mess Emma had made. Emma hadn't even noticed.

"I am not going anywhere Miss Swan. I am here to discuss with you—"

"What! What are you here to discuss? Hmm…?"


Who the fuck is Henry?!


Regina heaved a deep breath, "My son."

Emma froze. Henry…

The little bundle of wiggling flesh and deep red rosy cheeks and blue eyes much like her own had a name. He wasn't just 'the kid' or 'the boy' or 'the baby'—though he wouldn't have been a baby in a long time. He wasn't the infant swathed in cloth that she watched a nurse carry away from her and out the door of the hospital wing for her to never see again. He was still a figment of her imagination as she had no idea what he could look like now all grown up. She hoped he didn't look like his father.

So, she didn't know what he looked like but now she at least had a name to go along with her imaginations of him in a big backyard with a puppy and a loving doting mother and father.

His name is Henry

Swallowing Emma nodded, "Oh…" Emma felt her heart begin to slow down—thankfully. The last thing she needed was to have a heart attack on her 28th birthday. The fight or flight instinct slowly seeped out of her, her breath still lost to her as she looked at Regina.

Regina…is the mother of my kid.

"Yes. Well…" Regina stuck her hands into the pockets of her trench coat and pulled it around her for a moment. Her eyes were weary as she looked around the kitchen before focusing on Emma once again, her arms slacking at her sides as she relaxed. The distance between them was of no concern to Regina, even if it was a bit uncomfortable to stand toe to toe with Miss Swan.

The mere idea of this hard woman as a mother frightened Emma, but not enough to say anything. If Regina had come all this way because of Hen…because of the kid, then she obviously cared about him one way or another. Didn't she? She certainly seemed to by the vehemence she exhibited at the idea of her insulting him.

"So, what about the kid?"

Regina's jaw flexed, apparently she didn't like the term 'the kid'. Oh well, too bad.

"He has a name…." Regina hissed.

"Yeah, Henry, which I just learned so sorry if I'm a little uncomfortable even saying 'the kid' let alone Henry. I've done my best not to think about him for my own personal reasons, so having his name and his mother thrown into my face isn't exactly how I wanted my birthday to go." Emma shook her head and looked down at her feet, her white easy spirit sneakers vivid against the hardwood floor.

She needed a moment to collect herself. Just a single moment where she could pretend that Regina Mills, Mayor of Storybrooke Maine hadn't just arrived at her apartment wanting to talk about Henry Mills, Regina's son, but really he was Emma's biological son. Emma didn't care much about biology. Never had. Her biological parents had left her on the side of the road to die. At least she had had the decency to leave Henry in the capable hands of the State of New York.

In all the foster homes she had been in she'd met a great deal of women, of mothering types, and judging by what she had seen of Regina thus far, Henry would have been a spoiled little kid that got everything he wanted so long as it fit under Regina's strict rules. Strict parents were not bad parents. They weren't. Emma had seen sweet and loving parents and she'd seen strict and hard faced parents in her day. They were both good parents, they just never seemed to want to keep her around.

She'd seen bad parents, learned to spot them easily so she knew what to expect of her stay in their homes. Here, as she looked at Regina, Emma didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Not a single red flag on the detection system she had created for her own survival and hadn't had to rely on for nearly eleven years. So…she might be a bit out of practice, but so far Regina Mills was racking in the points for having the balls to come down the east coast looking for her.

For whatever reason it was she did.

Really, Emma had no intentions of thinking about her past unless she had a bottle of liquor available. Which come to think of it, she didn't, just three beers in the fridge.

Great…Groaning, Emma ran her hand through her hair, pushing it back away from her face as she looked up. Regina was still right in front of her, watching her like a hungry lion did a gazelle.

"Do you have a point here, or are you just here to annoy the shit out of me?"

If looks could kill, Emma would have been twelve feet under. Not six, but twelve. "I assure you Miss Swan I have a point to make. I simply wished to have a civilized conversation with you. I had hoped to ease you into the knowledge of who I am. I simply did not take into account your…" Regina looks as if she's swallowed something bitter as she drags her eyes down Emma and back up. "…personality."

Emma laughed bitterly, "If you're here to just insult me then I think it's time you hit the road, Jane."

"Excuse me?" Regina doesn't seem to understand the reference.

"You know, like hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more, no more, no more no more?" Still, there was nothing. "Ugh…pop-culture reference that you should get because you're obviously older than I am."

Regina's eyes widened, and her jaw slacked a bit lower. "Be that as it may, I believe that we should both take a seat."

Emma rolled her eyes, "You have a knack for ignoring me. I don't want to take a seat, I want you to leave."

"I cannot do that Miss Swan." Regina's eyes blazed for a moment, and Emma swallowed nervously at the look upon the woman's face.


"I promised myself that I would not leave here without you."

Emma took an involuntary step back. Now she was really contemplating looking through her drawers to find the handgun she hadn't used since the last time she went to the shooting range to get certified. "Ha…" Emma breathed a convulsive laugh, "You aren't leaving here without me? Like kidnapping?"

"I believe the term would be abduction as you are no child." Emma's heart plummeted into her stomach. "I am not a criminal Miss Swan. I have no intention of taking you against your will. I simply hope that you've inherited a decent nature, and will come on your own accord." There was no physical eye roll but Emma could hear it in her voice, that and the woman calling her an imbecile without actually saying it aloud. How odd, she could so easily read the woman and she'd only been standing in her kitchen for…fifteen minutes.

"To Maine!?"

"No to Tahiti…" Regina rolled her eyes, "Yes…to Maine."

Emma laughed, cause what else could she do? "Look, lady, I'm not going anywhere with you."

"I do not believe you understand the imperativeness of this situation, Miss Swan."

"No, and I don't think you understand what it'll mean for you to be thrown in jail if I call the cops. So, do us both a favor. Get to the point or get out. Actually, do both. Get to the point while you're getting out."

Regina seemed to consider her options for a moment, her teeth ground together as she glared at Emma. Emma shivered under the gaze but felt like she was slowly becoming immune to it…if only a little bit. Regina looked like she could be a mighty imposing woman when she wanted to be.

When the mayor continued to remain silent Emma shook her head and grabbed a tight hold on the woman's forearm. Knowing in other circumstances Emma would never do this; she pulled Regina along with her heading towards the door. She wasn't one for man-handling a woman, but special circumstances and all.

"What do you think you're doing?" Regina still had the sense of mind to ask why she was being man handled.

"The door's this way…" Emma explained.

"Wait…" Regina's desperation seemed to return full force as she yanked her arm free of Emma's hold, nearly stumbling backwards in her heels by the force she pulled away with. "Henry needs your help."

Emma sighed frustrated, and turned impatiently to look at the Mayor. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Henry is ill. He's very…" Regina's voice caught, "…the doctors say he's dying."

"Die…" Emma felt bile rise as everything seemed to turn upside down.

"They say that but…they're wrong. There is a way to help him. To save him! He needs a transplant. He needs something only you can give him. He has a very distinct blood type. He's already had a transplant and he's rejected it because of his antibodies. He needs another transplant or he's going to die, Miss Swan. So, I've come here, all this way, because Henry needs you to come back with me. He needs you and I…I need you to save my son. I can't stand by and let him die."

Emma recoiled as if slapped, "What?" Her brain literally could not compute what it was being told by her eardrums. The words were there and they sounded like English, but surely Regina wasn't speaking English because none of this made any sense.

"Miss Swan I'm beginning to think that you have a very limited vocabulary."

"Piss off."

"And a crude one at that."

Emma notices the tiniest of smirks spring across Regina's face before she is back to pacing back and forth across her kitchen.

"You know what, Madame Mayor…" Emma seethed, the title sounding like the gravest of insults. "You can't just come here and tell me that my…that Henry is dying and expect me to just stand here and take it. What do you want me to do? I've never even met the kid. I held him in my womb, yeah, sure, for nine months but I never even held him because I was afraid that if I did I wouldn't be able to let him go. And we both know I'm not eligible for raising a kid. So I'm glad that you got him, and that he is happy…" Emma's forehead creases, "…was happy. But what do you want me to do? Why did you come all of this way? Why couldn't you just let me pretend that he was fine and happy and had a puppy or some animal with a big backyard to play in? Why come here and tell me he's dying?"

Regina allowed Emma her rant, allowed her a breakdown. It was only fair. Regina had a similar breakdown, has had many similar breakdowns in the last three years. However, she cannot contain her indignation. Isn't it obvious why she has come? Hadn't she just spelled it out for Miss Swan? She needs the blonde dunce to return to Storybrooke with her and be an organ donor to Henry.

"I've come here because, as much as it pains me to admit it, I cannot help him. I cannot make him better. I have raised him since he was six days old. Six days, Miss Swan, the earliest you are allowed to adopt a child. I've held him through every illness, every nightmare, been there for almost every first of his life, and I plan to be there to see the rest of them!" Regina's voice cracks and tears gather in her eyes. "He is ten years old. He is a ten year old boy that should be playing sports and bruising his knees falling off his bike. Instead he spends all his free time in the hospital and his only friends are the nurses and doctors that he sees every day!"

Emma's mouth is open but nothing escapes but a disgusting blend of sounds that did not make a legitimate word, it didn't even come close.

"He is only ten, Miss Swan. He has hardly lived his life. A life I am grateful for you to have given him by carrying through with the pregnancy, grateful because I have not known the joy I've felt while raising him anywhere else in my life." A wayward tear escaped Regina's eye without her knowledge of it. At least, that's what Emma thinks because she keeps talking, keeps explaining to her the depth of the situation while burying herself and Emma deeper and deeper still.

"But I cannot help him now. I cannot ease his pain. I was tested, I am not a match. The entire town has been tested. He is beloved by all! He is a very special boy. Wiser than his years and genuine…so very genuinely good. Young though he may be. He has a beautiful soul and the biggest heart I've ever seen!" Regina closed her cupped hands against her chest, her eyes pleading. "Complete strangers have offered to give him what he needs. Now I need you to offer the same. I need you to save him, Miss Swan, because I cannot live without him."

Emma is mesmerized by the woman in front of her and the pain that she is emanating just by standing where she is. Behind her through the windows rain blurs the image of the Boston skyline and lightning streaks across the sky. Besides the sound of their shared breathing and the tap of raindrops against the window, there is nothing. Nothing but silence as Regina finally stops talking and Emma stares openly in shock.

Regina must realize she is crying because she looks away and her hand moves up to her face and when she turns back there are no traces of her tears. "Please…" The desperation is back, except it's sharper and more deadly than it was the last two times.

Third time should be the charm, but Emma can't speak. She can't even move right now. She just stares and blinks and breathes because that's all she's capable of at the moment. "Please, Miss Swan."

Emma wants to clutch at her own chest; she wants to scream because this cannot be happening. She does not want to hear about the joy Regina has had while raising Henry. She does not want to see the anguish the woman feels over the possibility of losing him, of knowing she cannot help him. Emma just wants to go back to how her life has been, carefree and unburdened. She does not want the pressure of saving Henry's life on her shoulders, because what if she doesn't measure up? What if Regina is wrong? What if she isn't a match? What then?

What happens when she goes all the way to Maine, does this test that Regina wants her to do—because there is no way Regina just knows that she's a match, it's all just wishful thinking and there will have to be lots of tests and doctors and dozens of needles—and what if she does all that? What if she goes and does it and they find out that she can't save Henry? What then? To have gone all that way and done all of that, to have met her son, seen his face and heard his voice and gotten to know him only to lose him? No…

No, she couldn't do that.

What if she doesn't want to give up part of her liver or a kidney a lung—though she wonders if one could give up part of their lung—and make it so she can't do what she does for a living? She can't be a bounty hunter if she doesn't have a kidney or part of her lung. Hell she wouldn't be able to play soccer if she doesn't have a kidney—at least that's what her TV shows tell her. If she does this, if she saves the kids life, what life will she have?

That's the rub.

That's what stops her heart cold. She's more concerned about herself than she is about her biological child.

She wonders if that's normal. Should she instantly agree to go with Regina to Storybrooke, Maine? Strangers, Regina says, have offered to help Henry because he's such a good kid. And if she doesn't offer the same, what does that make her? A monster? The villain? She's never thought of herself as a hero but by no means has she ever thought of herself as a villain either.

And still there is a deeper level of thought that she finds herself delving into. What if she does save Henry? What if she goes to Maine, and gives the kid whatever body part he needs and her life is the same? And then…and then Regina doesn't want her to be around Henry? What if she has to leave? Emma's seen it happen before. Not to the extent of giving a body part and then getting the heave-ho, but it's the same concept isn't it? What if she measures up biologically only to fail socially? Could she go to Maine and sit down and talk with her son and learn his secrets and tell him some of her own, and then just leave because she did her part? Would Henry even want her to stay? What if he was angry at her for giving him up?

What if 'this'


What if 'that'.

What if…

"I, I…" Emma can't speak, she can't think in consecutive thoughts. She needs to sit down. And damn it, she wants to stay standing just so she doesn't prove Regina right. The bitch had told her that they should sit, and she's too stubborn to admit that Regina was right.

"I know this is a lot to take in, I understand the shock of…"

"No you don't." Emma whispers her voice hoarse.

"Excuse me?"

"You don't understand the shock. You don't understand how much this is to take in…yeah, maybe learning the kid you're raising has cancer or something that's going to kill him is big. But he's your kid. He's yours, he's not mine. I gave him up, I broke all ties with him because I'm not what's best for him. Having this thrown on me is NOT something I ever expected!"

Regina's eyes darken, "I assure you that learning your son is dying and you can do nothing to stop it is more than whatever measly shock you're feeling right now, Miss Swan." If words could cut, Emma would be sliced down to the bone. "I certainly did not expect to bring my son to the doctors and have him diagnosed with stage three cancer! I did not appreciate that fate being thrown on my son, on myself. I did not expect to find that our saving grace was not a saving grace at all. We'd found a match! We didn't need you, because we had our miracle. But his body unexpectedly rejected it. No one had taken into consideration that he might have a rare immune system antibody. After all who thinks a cancer patient has an astounding immune system?" Regina laughed at the irony of it. "It caused a cellular immunity to develop and he rejected the transplant. His chemotherapy and the immunosuppressants could do nothing, but you can!" Regina challenged, going so far as to point a finger at Emma for emphasis.

"You need to stop saying that!"

"I will not!" Regina yelled and stepped closer to Emma, once again toe to toe with the woman. "I will not stop saying it because you are. You are the only one that can help us. His father is dead…"

Whatever color had been in Emma's cheeks fled as she became extremely pale. "H..how do you…" Emma swallowed feeling ill once again.

"I have my sources, Miss Swan." Seeing how pale Emma was becoming, Regina quickly moved to reassure the woman. "I am not here to judge your actions. I would even go so far as to say he deserved everything he got."

One day, Emma would have the strength to question who exactly those sources Regina spoke of were, but for now she was too relieved to know that Regina knew the darkest part of her past and yet still wanted her help. Regina even seemed to understand her actions, and thought her just. Well, her and three jurors then. The other nine were just assholes in comparison.

"I am here to help my son. I assure you that if there were any other option, any other way I would have much rather taken those routes. I have tried them already. I do not want to ask for help, Miss Swan. I have never wanted to ask for help and I haven't needed to in years. But I…I need it. I need you to help Henry."

"I, I need time to think about this." Emma finally says her voice sounding like it usually does, when not emotionally bombarded. "I can't handle all of this right now. I need time. Okay? You want my help? You want me to do this? Then you need to leave me alone. Like, right the fuck now."

"I can't…"

"It wasn't a question." Emma insists, not willing to back down on this.

The resoluteness that was Regina Mills seemed to take a moment to consider her next move. Instead of fighting the issue and pushing the line back another five steps, she seems to accept that nothing more can be done tonight. Anything more and Emma will completely shut her down, and that cannot happen.

"Fine…" Regina sticks her hand into her pocket and pulls out a small black and white business card. "…my card. I am sorry to spring this on you, on your birthday." Regina states, her eyes looking from Emma back to the cupcake. "Do understand that I had no choice."

"Whatever…" Emma waves Regina off, her arm tight around her stomach. She notices Regina pull something else out of her jacket pocket and put it next to her card. "I'll call you." An age old promise that's left broken hearts scattered like leaves on the wind. Emma isn't quite sure if she's capable of putting Henry's heart or Regina's for that matter, atop that ever growing pile. She just needs time. That's all. She needs just a few minutes, a few moments, maybe a few hours to think all this through. To really sit down and buckle up and think long and hard about what this all means for her, what this is going to mean for Henry and Regina and all those strangers she's never met who seem so much better than her in comparison for offering up what she's hesitant to.

Emma doesn't watch Regina leave; she's staring out the window at the rain. It isn't until the door closes that she runs into the bathroom, the door slamming against the wall and swinging on its hinges as she dives for the toilet and loses what little was in her stomach.

What feels like hours later, Emma leans away from the porcelain, the seat down as she flushes it. Falling back on her haunches she just stares blankly at nothing. This day certainly hadn't ended like she'd hoped it would. No good movie on the television, no alcohol in her system, and no way that she would ever forget about her evening.

"Huh…Happy Birthday to me."

Closing the door behind her, Regina turns to look at the blue paint and imagines Emma standing exactly where she had been as she'd left with the simple addition of tears on her cheeks. Emma does not seem like the tears type, but Regina knows from her recent experience that situations like these change people.

Not always for the better.

Pulling her trench coat close to her she stalks down the hallway to the elevator. Jabbing her finger against the call button she waits for it. Her mind racing as she sees its slow progression through the slowly lighting up numbers above the doorway. She had promised herself she would be triumphant so there was a bitter taste in her mouth now as she stepped into the elevator without so much as a true promise from Miss Swan to call her. The elevator doors close and before she even realizes it she is at the lobby.

Tying the sash of her trench her heels echo through the empty foyer. Without an umbrella she decides to dash across the street once it is clear. Waiting under the overhead of the building she only has to wait several seconds before it is clear to run across the street and down the block to where her car is parked.

Above her, Regina imagines Emma's eyes tracking her, pitying her, and at the moment Regina would take it. If Emma pities her, pities the situation she and Henry are in she is more likely to do something to assist them.

Unlocking the car she slips in and turns the ignition. Turning on the windshield wipers she waits for her GPS to turn on. A GPS is apparently a must-buy according to frequent travelers' guide. She was honestly glad she purchased it. Mapping out a city as complex as Boston in comparison to Storybrooke? Ha, without it she would have been looking for Miss Swan's apartment building for days.

Typing in the address of her hotel Regina realizes she never should have made the reservation. It was a sign. One from Fate, telling her that she WOULD need the room because she WOULDN'T be returning to Storybrooke with Miss Swan immediately. Sighing, Regina closes her eyes and tries to regain some semblance of herself. She will not cry. She will not, not after doing so in that dastardly woman's apartment!

Running her hand through her wet hair Regina looks in her rearview mirror, swallows, and pulls out into non-existent traffic. She will wait until tomorrow afternoon before returning to visit Miss Swan. If the woman has not already called her at that time.

If the blonde refused to assist Henry, to assist her…Regina refuses to contemplate such a future at this time. Instead she prays that this world will allow for one miracle, just one. She will never ask for anything ever again after this. Once she has secured Henry's future, she will need nothing more. Nothing, she promises whoever may be listening. Hoping that someone is, because she needs all the help she can get, especially if Emma fucking Swan is supposed to be her saving grace, her and Henry's Savior.


Chapter 2

'Sleep It Off'

The hotel room was passable. Honestly, it was a dump. But a clean shabby dump in comparison to her home, like everything was in comparison. All she needed was a clean bed and bathroom. The bed was a twin and she worried she might fall off she was so unaccustomed to such a small sleeping arrangement. It would have to do. She was not staying in this room more than one night. By tomorrow she was going to be back in her own home with her son in her queen sized temper-pedic mattress. She was used to being swallowed by her bed. Now she was afraid the rug was going to swallow her when she fell off this one.

Careful she hung up her clothes in the small closet. It wasn't even a sixth of her closet at home. She had one dress bag to hang, her current outfit and her trench coat. She did not plan to stay here long. She had hoped to already be on her way home, but obviously that was not how it was meant to be. Sighing, she settled down onto the miniscule bed and without warning fell into a restless sleep.

"Damn it!" Regina cursed as she stood in front of Emma Swan's apartment door. Her knuckles were red raw from all the knocking she had been doing. She'd taken to banging on the door with her closed fist, so now from her pinky to her wrist was just as red. On both hands.

There was no answer. She'd been here for hours. Hours!

She knew she shouldn't have left last night. She should have insisted that Ms. Swan come with her then. She knew her history. She knew how Ms. Swan didn't stay in one place for very long. She knew how Ms. Swan had a tendency to disappear. She should have known better. She did know better but she had been angry, distraught, and just so bone wearily tired.

Everything in her life had been a fight. Everything since she was a girl she'd had one uphill battle to surpass after the other. This was just another one of those battles and she feared, for the first time, that she would not come out on top.

She'd lost before. She'd lost loved ones and friends and maybe even a bit of her sanity in the past but she'd always come out of each battle. She'd never perished in the fight. It might not be winning but she didn't consider it a full loss. She still had her life, her health, and her heart (which had been full of anger and hatred before). Now she was about to lose two of the three.

Henry was everything to her. He was her whole world now. He held her heart more than anyone had before. He'd given her a reason to try, to really try and be a better person. He'd brought such joy to her life, such happiness. If she lost him she might as well die. What would she have left? Her health…the one thing she wished she could give to Henry. Good health. Ha! Perhaps physically. Mentally she'd be as bad off as Jackson.

Dropping her forehead onto the blue door, Regina squeezed her eyes closed and banged on the door. Her arm was as heavy as her heart as she banged, banged, banged, banged. Nothing. Not even the sound of shuffling footsteps. The room behind the locked door was as silent as the calm in the eye of a storm.

"Please…" Regina begged, her voice hoarse from the shouting she'd done in the last four hours. She was only now beginning to realize just how hopeless all that shouting had been. Emma Swan was obviously not home and she'd already been asked twice by neighbors to get lost. She'd merely spared them a glance and they'd quickly vacated the hallway and turned up the music in their own apartments.

No one, it seemed even here, could withstand the angry haunted look that promised the cruelest of tortures if they did not leave her sight. A lot of good her perfected minion glare did her now.

"Please…" Regina whispered her shoulders shaking as she fell to her knees her arm dragging down the door with her. She banged her forehead against the metal again before wrapping both her arms around herself.

She was helpless to stop the tears as they fell continuously down her cheeks. Her last hope, Henry's last hope, was nowhere to be found and it was because of her. Henry was going to die and there was nothing she could do about it. She had nothing more to give. She'd done everything, even made another deal with Mr. Gold and just like it always had been…it wasn't enough.

Screaming against the ache in her chest, Regina dropped her chin onto her chest and cried. She released all the pain and frustration she had felt for the last few years. How ironic it was that she finally broke here. Kneeling in the middle of a foreign public hallway in Boston while staring and leaning against the door that might as well be the brick wall that'd she'd faced her entire life. This time, like all the others, she found herself lacking and could not vault herself over it. Did she have energy to climb up it? Ha, she didn't even have energy left to lift her arm to knock on the door again.

Calming herself, Regina leaned away from the door and rolled her shoulders. This…pathetic show of emotion would not do. She was better than this. She was Regina Antoinette Mills. She was not a woman to toil with. She was and would be Emma Swan's greatest nightmare. Ms. Swan thought she could run? There was not a rock that Regina would not have upturned to hide the rat Ms. Swan was.

After she left this building she would call Sydney Glass and Mr. Gold. They would need to find Ms. Swan. No matter what it took, she would get that cursed woman to Storybrooke. She was not going to ask again. She would hire private contractors to bring her the woman alive. If Ms. Swan wanted to run, then Regina would chase her.

"To the ends of the earth…" Regina promised as she stood up. She brushed off her pants, wiped at her eyes and fixed her makeup. She gave the thick door one last scathing look before she turned on her heels and left. There was work to be done and a blonde woman to find and drag kicking and screaming to Storybrooke.

Emma was having little success in finding a comfortable position. She'd spent the last two hours tossing and turning in her bed. She'd smacked her pillow enough that if it were sentient it would probably be dead.

Her couch was looking better and better as the minutes continued to tick by. Her mind was restless, and honestly? That didn't happen very often. Usually she could shut her mind off and rest like a baby. But that was the problem. She had a baby in mind. Not just any baby, but her baby, her son, Henry.

He now had a name and a face. That bitchy Madame Mayor whatever-her-last-name-was had decided to leave not only her number but a picture on her counter. Henry was a cute kid. He looked like, well, he looked like the perfect mix of his father and her. He had his father's nose and the shape of his eyes but everything else was hers. He even had her colored eyes. She stared at the picture for what felt like an eternity before she'd thrown it away from her and finished off the three beers she'd had in the fridge. The one time she didn't have enough alcohol to numb the pain she felt in her chest was the one time she needed it most.

Emma growled into the darkness of her room. The shadows around the walls looked like monsters ready to swallow her whole the moment she closed her eyes. They hadn't scared her this terribly for years. She'd watched that movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore where after someone died the shadows would come to life, moaning and groaning before they attacked you and took your soul to hell. Emma had been six or seven at the time. She had been afraid to turn off the lights for weeks when she went to sleep afraid the shadows would think she was dead. She was a heavy sleeper, even their moaning and groaning wouldn't wake her up if the screaming of her then foster parents didn't wake her up.

Her need for the light to be on hadn't gone over well with her foster parents at the time. They let her keep it on though after the first time they'd turned it off on her and she'd woken up screaming crying. They didn't want a crying six year old in their bed at one in the morning any more than she wanted to be a six year old crying because she was afraid of the dark without someone to comfort her. Their biological son tortured her for being afraid of the dark for the next year she was with them.

Emma hadn't known the difference between hell and heaven at the time. She was too young to really understand. She knew the difference between good and evil and could put faces of fairytale characters and cartoon characters in each category. She'd never known where to put herself. Not when Tommy, the foster couple's biological son, told her that she was going to go to hell because she was a bastard. Emma had believed him, she was six, she didn't know any better. He was fourteen and she adored him, even as she feared him.

Now she wondered if he wasn't right. Maybe she wasn't going to go to heaven. Not after all she'd done in her life. Certainly not after the things she'd done in her past. But now? After turning the Mayor away, thinking about herself rather than her own child? She knew, without a doubt, that she was no hero, no good guy. She had her faults but she never thought they went as deep as they apparently did. She was selfish bitch when it came down to it but she never realized just how selfish she was. She'd deluded herself into thinking she was the good guy. That what she did helped, made her a better person, made up for all the crap she'd done.

Emma knew she was no innocent young damsel in distress. Maybe as a child she could have been considered innocent and a damsel, but as the years passed and she grew older she became what she needed to be to survive. It was hard sometimes to think about what she might have been if things were different. She tried not to think of the what if's of the past. She had too many what if's of the future to worry about. At least those ones she had a chance of changing. There was nothing she could do about her past. There was only the here and now and what could be done presently.

So, where was she? She was here, the biological mother of a ten year old boy who needed her more than he'd possibly ever needed her in his whole life…and she was what? Going to turn the other way? Walk away? Run? Like she did with everything else?

This was where she needed to draw the line. She needed to do the right thing here. She hadn't had a choice—not a real one—in the past, but now she had one. She'd done what she thought was best for the kid ten years ago. She'd given him up so that he'd have his best shot because that wasn't with her. She was an eighteen year old kid just getting out of juvie and the foster care system. She had dark shadows looming over her that no one should ever have to worry about while also worrying about a kid too.

She didn't want him to go into that system but she couldn't let him stay with her. She'd ruin him, maybe even get him killed, and there was a better chance of him being adopted as an infant without ties to her than if she kept him, struggled with him, and then had to give him up when he was older. Older kids rarely got out of the system she knew from experience. She wanted him to have a chance. She wanted him to have more than she ever had and more than she could ever give him. She was lucky. An adoption agency got in touch with the warden around her eight month. He wouldn't see the inside of the system. He'd be with a nice family.

He got that, or at least it seemed like he did. He'd found where he was meant to be. His mother, his real mother, had come all this way to beg for her to help him. She had some brass ones to do that. Especially since the Mayor knew about her history. Not everyone would come knocking on her door knowing the crimes she'd committed but Regina had. Regina had come knocking on her door ready to drag her from her own apartment kicking and screaming—of that Emma was sure.

Good. Henry deserved that kind of love and devotion and care. He deserved Regina, Mayor—what was her last name? Something with an M…Emma shook her head as it went through the possible last names. Myers, Michaels, Miller, oh oh! Mills! Mayor Mills!

What Henry didn't deserve was the lot in life he'd been dealt. He didn't deserve to be in the hospital as much as the Mayor said he was. No kid deserved to go through everything he was probably going through. What was it that she could really do for him anyway? He didn't need her in his life. He had Regina—even if she was kind of scary—she was scary because she was scared she was going to lose her son.

She wouldn't. Emma didn't know how that'd happen but she knew that Mayor Mills would not lose her son. Emma just, well she couldn't be the one to save him. She was no savior. She was no ones last hope, only hope. She couldn't be. She wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility. She honestly wasn't ready for that much heartbreak. She'd want more. She'd wanted more of the kid after he'd been born. She'd even thought to keep him. She'd wanted nothing more than to keep him with her and hold on to him forever. But she pushed him away. She gave him up. She didn't keep him.

She didn't keep him because she was doing what was best for him. He wouldn't be safe with her. Still wouldn't be. She needed to keep her distance from him now.

Now she was going to do what was best for her. She was going to stay away from him.

Beyond the door of her bedroom and the walls of the apartment building the rain storm continued to rage, the wind howling as it swept through the breaks between the buildings. Lighting flashed, thunder crashed, and the night wore away to morning. Morning became afternoon and before Emma could understand where all the time had gone there was knocking at her door.

The phone had been ringing, she was sure of it, but she didn't even bother to pick it up. She let the machine pick it up as she curled into her blankets and hid under her pillow.

The shadows were gone, leaving a constant stream of gray light coming from the window and from under the crack of her door. Her eyes were tinged red from all the staring she'd done through the night, and possibly crying, she couldn't really recall that much. Her eyes stood out deftly against the dark circles that rounded out her eyes.

She didn't even think she'd gotten any sleep. She hadn't even closed her eyes in what felt like years they were so sore and itchy. She blinked and it felt like there was a gallon of sand stuck between her eyelids and her eyes.

Hissing Emma kept her eyes closed even as they burned. If she kept them closed she could pretend to be asleep and if she was asleep she wouldn't hear the calls of Mayor Regina Mills of Storybrooke Maine, mother to her dying kid, standing outside her apartment knocking on her door. She could pretend that last night was nothing but a horrid dream—or maybe a lucid daydream, or would it be night-dream since she'd had it during the evening?

Breathing in the scent of her pillows Emma remained hidden under them. The air grew warm and stale and she wondered if she could just suffocate herself to death. Then whatever organ Henry needed could be his because she wouldn't need any of them anymore.

The banging at the door didn't go away for two and a half hours. There was screaming and shouting in the mix too but that was fleeting and only lasted as long as it took one of her neighbors to come tell Regina to shut up.

Emma was afraid to move out of bed and honestly? She felt like the shittiest person alive. She had no reason to get out of bed, so she stayed until the sun went down and the rain began again but this time it was softer, just like a spring shower rather than a full on thunder storm.

There wasn't any disappointment placed on her shoulders here, not in her bed, her place, her sanctuary. There wouldn't be any further thought of Henry or his mother or what his voice sounded like or what his favorite color was. He wasn't her responsibility. Not anymore. The only person she had to worry about was herself.

She didn't deal with things like this. She ran from them. And as soon as she could convince herself to get out of bed she would be gone.

No one would find her. Not even Mayor Regina Mills with her sad desperate eyes, Prada clothing, her nice shoes, phone number and picture of a smiling handsome dirty blonde ten year old boy who needed her.

Well…almost no one would find her.

"Damn it!" Emma growled as she threw her blankets off of her. In her aggravation she cleared off her bed of all the pillows, sheets and even had thrown her bedside lamp against the wall. The metal base of the lamp hit the wall and left an indentation. Looking up from where she'd sat on the edge of the bed her hands nearly ready to tear at her own hair, she saw the mark and stared.

She stared and stared and stared before she fell onto her side and stared some more.

There went her security deposit.

Laughing, choked at first, but then a full on belly laugh, she laughed and laughed. Before she knew what she was doing she had a duffle bag with most of her stuff in it, her hand-gun included. She was looking for her car keys and having a bit of trouble finding them in the dark. Outside the sun had long since set and she was getting a late start on running, but she couldn't stay here anymore.

Not anymore. She'd leave a note or something. That'd offset any search party looking for her.

Seeing her keys by the coffee pot, where she must have left them two days ago, she walked around the counter and stopped. Her hand came away with a piece of paper stuck to her sweaty palm. Looking down at the number she sighed, stuck it in her pocket before moving to grab her keys. Seeing the picture of Henry on the floor she smiled, picked it up in the same downward bend as she did her duffle bag and left her apartment.

Throwing her stuff into the back seat of her yellow bug she started the engine and peeled away from the curb, heading north.

Emma only realized a half an hour into her trip that she had no idea how in the hell to get to Storybrooke freaking Maine.


Chapter 3

'Nightmares of the Past'

Regina pulled her black Mercedes into the driveway. The roads had been slick but the farther north she had driven the farther she had gotten from the rain. It seemed the storm that had passed through Boston had also taken a spill here. There were puddles still formed in the streets and the sidewalks were a light black rather than their usual dull gray.

Sighing as she cut the engine off, Regina looked at the time. It was nearing six o'clock. Henry should just be finishing up with his session with Archie. No doubt Graham was inside somewhere, probably the kitchen, with Kathryn. The three had formed a rather unexpected friendship through these hard times with Henry.

Graham had always been of interest to Regina but as Henry had progressively gotten worse before he'd begun to get better her focus had turned to him. Henry had become the only man in her life that she had much time for. The dalliance that she and the Sherriff had been holding for as long as she could remember had ended. It was only after it had ended that their friendship had grown to consist of more than their business meetings and evenings spent at his room at the Inn.

Regina did not have many friends in the past. Her past was littered with the bodies of the people she'd once considered friends and many of them had died at her own hand. Her longest living friend, the last time they had seen each other, they had almost killed each other. So to find a true friend who was willing to put up with her mood swings and her cancelled plans and even come over with a bottle of wine after a long day was startling.

Kathryn had been more of a surprise than her friendship with Graham. Kathryn was a certified teacher and Regina had hired her to home school Henry when she realized it would be to his benefit to stay away from the germs found at a public school. At least here at home she could control as much as possible.

It was comforting as well. She felt almost justified in her assumption that no matter what the three of them put their minds to they could accomplish it. They were certainly a force to be reckoned with. Regina with her power over the very town itself, Graham with his influence, and Kathryn with her intellect and charm, they were a trio made of the best and worst kind. It was exactly what Regina needed to survive the last four years. The strength that she could pull from Graham and Kathryn had kept her sane, conscious, and strong through the worst of Henry's illness.

She hoped that tonight they would be able to help pull her heart out from the gutter where she'd left it laying useless and dead back in Boston. Taking a deep breath Regina steeled herself, checked how she looked in the mirror one last time before she stepped out of the car and made her way into her own house.

She rubbed hand sanitizer into her hands and kicked off her shoes, opened the closet door with her elbow and pushed her shoes inside and hung up her jacket before she moved any further into the house. As she was just walking up from the stairs into the main foyer of the house her cellphone rang. Opening it at the sight of Mr. Gold's name flashing she turned back around and walked back down the stairs to give herself some privacy. Kathryn and Graham would be upon her soon having heard the door open and close without Archie having said goodbye. They'd be worried.

Regina expected Graham to come around the corner in five seconds with his weapon drawn and facing the ground. She knew him well, well enough to only wave after five seconds had passed to greet him. The sigh echoed as he left her alone to her call and called out to Kathryn, "Just Regina…Ryn"

They would bombard her with questions the second she closed her phone. She knew they would, so she knew to make this conversation quick.

"What do you mean you can't find her?!" Regina hissed.

"It means that I have been unable to locate the approximate location of Ms. Swan." Mr. Gold explained, as he moved around his own shop moving the phone from one counter top to the next as he moved and looked around in his belongings.

"I don't think you understand what this means—"

"No, dear, I know perfectly well what it means if I cannot find Ms. Swan. So don't get your knickers in a twist, I shall find her before the end of the work day tomorrow."

"You sound so sure of yourself,"

"And you sound so unsure of yourself. You know what our deal is, dear." Yes, Regina knew well what their deal was. She'd made it in her greatest time of need and wondered, not for the first time, if she hadn't made a mistake. "Do tell Henry I said hello, please." The line went dead and Regina growled as she turned on her heels and walked through the house.

She wouldn't be calm until she knew for certain that Mr. Gold was not simply playing with her. It wouldn't be the first time. This time however it was too important not to enlist the imp of a man's help. He was the only one that she could turn to help her find Henry's mother. He had, after all, found Henry ten years ago.

Archie paled as she met his eyes. She couldn't even muster a proper hello. With her hands fisted at her sides she walked right passed Archie, "Good night Doctor, do see yourself out." Any other pleasantries were forgone as she made her way towards the living room doors.

Normally she would inquire how the session had gone and how Henry was really doing as the boy hardly ever told her the truth these days. He didn't want to upset her or make her feel any worse than she already did for being unable to help him, so he often kept quiet about his ills and pains. It was why she'd hired Archie. Henry needed someone he could talk to that was safe. He also needed someone he could talk to about the anger he felt towards the world and oftentimes her for what was happening to him. Archie and Henry would officially be seeing the other in therapy for two years come next month and the improvement was phenomenal. Phenomenal enough that Regina paid Archie an outrageous salary.

Standing before the closed living room doors for a moment to calm herself down, Regina rolled her shoulders and neck twice before shaking out her hands. Satisfied that she didn't look as if she was going to murder someone, she opened the sliding doors into the living room and stepped inside.

Henry was lying on the couch, an IV pole behind him attached to his arm as he held tightly onto the stuffed bear that she had gotten him when he was two years old. He didn't sleep well without Mr. Brownie, Mr. Brownie was the formally deep brown bear's name. Now he was more of a soft oak color. Mr. Brownie was like a third member of the family that couldn't ever be forgotten. It was Mr. Brownie that Henry held onto as he went through chemotherapy with one arm as he held onto her hand with the other. It was Mr. Brownie that Henry woke up to after each test, biopsy, transfusion, and the transplant, with her sitting beside the bed as well of course. The stuffed animal offered Henry comfort that sometimes Regina could not.

Feeling the familiar burn of tears she fought them off like she had learned to do years ago, and stepped around the armchair facing the couch. Henry was fast asleep, the TV flickering as ads popped up and the screen displayed the name of the composer of the soft classical music playing through the speakers. Classical music, she'd played it to help Henry fall asleep as an infant and even though he loathed admitting it to his few friends while he was younger, there was a burned CD of Henry's favorite composers in his bedroom that played on repeat all through the night as he slept. Regina had her own copy of the CD in her bedroom and played it as well. The third copy stayed in the small CD player that the hospital allowed into Henry's room while he was staying overnight. They couldn't bring in ipods or iphones so Regina resorted to CD's and a player to let Henry have at least this small comfort.

Sitting on the coffee table directly across from the couch Regina leaned over and kissed Henry's forehead as she brushed his hair back away from his face. He stirred a bit but didn't wake up. He looked so peaceful in his sleep. So calm and safe and handsome, he looked like any normal kid sleeping on his couch after a long day at school. Except he hadn't gone to public school for two years and it was probably his visit to the doctors this afternoon that had tired him out. Not to mention the fact that there was an IV attached to his arms giving him fluids he needed to stay healthy.

Kissing his forehead again Regina breathed in his scent before leaning back. She stared at his face for a few minutes. She'd never left him for such a long time before. She'd been gone for two days. The longest Henry had been away from her where she couldn't physically see him was a sleepover he'd had. Before that it had only been hours that had separated them, not days and hundreds of miles.

"He's been good these last two days, curious as to where you went, but good. He was able to keep down his breakfast and dinner today. Lunch made him feel a bit sick."

Regina nodded at the news, swallowing as she kept her eyes on Henry's slowly rising and falling chest. "He…" she cleared her throat, "…he usually has more trouble during the afternoon because of the…"

"…medication." The two women said together. Regina turned away from Henry and looked to the woman standing in the doorway.

It took only a moment before her bottom lip began to quiver and her hand shot up to cover her mouth and nose as she sucked in a shallow breath, her heart racing against her chest as everything just seemed to fall into place. She had promised herself two days ago that she would not return home without Ms. Emma Swan and here she sat in her living room with her dying son and her best friend and Ms. Swan was nowhere to be found. Her son's last hope was nowhere to be found and it was all her fault!

Even as she sobbed, no tears fell from her eyes as she rested her head on Kathryn's shoulder. Kathryn led her out of the living room so she would not wake Henry. Graham closed the door on the sleeping boy who opened his eyes at the click of the door and stared sadly down at Mr. Brownie. He squeezed the bear tighter against his chest and wished not for the first time that his mother would no longer feel such pain because of him.

Kathryn stood outside of Regina's bedroom door watching as Graham deposited the sleeping woman into her own bed. Henry was lying on the other side of the bed and Graham was careful not to wake either of the sleeping Mills. Turning off the light of the room as Graham stepped out into the hallway with her she closed the door. Leaving it open a crack just in case. "Sweet dreams…" She whispered into the quiet room.

She slept in the guest room—that might as well be her own room now that she'd stayed over so often in the last two years. Graham had work to go do so she'd stay the night. Usually one or the other would stay here twice a week, usually on nights before or after Henry had a doctor's appointment or one test or another. Graham had to work tonight, like he did most nights. He'd taken as much time away from the job as he could so he could be here for dinner and to see how things had gone with Regina's trip.

Neither of them had needed to hear how badly it had gone when Graham had come back into the kitchen to tell Kathryn that Regina had come home alone. Kathryn hoped as she walked Graham to the door and kissed him goodbye, that the valium Regina had taken would keep her dreams sweet. She'd need the rest. Tomorrow they all had a lot to talk about and a lot of things to figure out.

Dr. Ronald McCarthy had come into their little township and had brought with him an allusive feeling of hope. Hope for the future. The same hope that had been lacking for the last five months since the word terminal had first been spoken by Dr. Whale.

Regina did not like the slumped shoulders. She did not like how Dr. McCarthy could hardly meet her eyes as he made his way slowly down the hallway towards her, towards all those waiting for his diagnosis. His findings.

They had all been hopeful. There had been an optimism residing in the current Storybrooke residents in the last two days thanks to the hope Dr. McCarthy offered.


It had been like being hit with a blunt force object to the head. It had knocked Regina clear off her feet and right into Graham's waiting arms. There was nothing more they could do. They were sorry. The tests showed that it couldn't be stopped. Unless they could find another match there was very little they could do.

So, it was terminal.

Dr. Whale broke the news to the all-powerful Mayor that there was nothing she could do when it mattered most. Regina Mills was a formidable woman. She could be your worst enemy if you wronged her. So she knew that Dr. Whale did not speak lightly when he told her that Henry was coming out of remission wasn't the worst part of his bad news. The chemotherapy wasn't working and the disease was spreading. It would cause multiple organ failure within the next two months. He was sorry but the disease was fatal. Fatal, meaning death was eminent and there was nothing she could do. There was no cure. There was nothing left that hadn't already been done.


The illness, the silly little illness that had begun as nothing more than a fever and a bad case of the stomach flu was terminal.

Regina wasn't known for taking anything while lying down. So she'd made calls. Hundreds of calls, logged in even more hours of research looking for the best. Only the best would do because only the best would consider looking at a 'terminal' case. Five days after the word terminal had been spoken to her Regina had welcomed a second opinion. They too spoke the hitherto forbidden word.

So she sought after a third opinion. Then a fourth. Dr. McCarthy was her fifth opinion and Regina did not know if she could handle hearing the forbidden word spoken from his lips.

This is it. Now or never, Regina thought as Dr. McCarthy came closer.

Regina took a deep breath, standing from her seat on unsteady legs. Beside her Kathryn stood as well. Her friend placed a hand gently on her back, a welcome show of support. In the corner of the waiting room sat Mary Margaret. The church-mouse-esque woman had her hands clasped tightly in her lap. They were nearly as white knuckled as Regina's. The teacher's eyes were locked on Regina and the approaching doctor. Everyone's were. Everyone was waiting. Watching, wondering, hoping…

Where was Graham? Regina thought a bit panicked as she realized he was nowhere to be seen. He had gone to get them all some coffee, but that had been ten minutes ago. What was taking him so long? Where was he when she needed him most? That was it. If he decided coffee was more important than being here with her while she learned the fate of her son she would find a new Sheriff. Maybe Sidney would do. The man certainly had helped, had put in more hours than anyone else (except Regina) in finding another option, another doctor, another treatment plan, just another anything. Anything but looking at hospices, and funeral homes, and coffins and, just, well anything else.

Everyone's breath held tightly in their chest as they waited, even as they all knew, just by looking at Dr. McCarthy, that his words would not be the ones they wanted to hear.

"I'm sorry…" Something akin to a broken sob escaped Regina's lips as she nearly fell back into the chair she'd just risen from.

Graham had just stepped back into the waiting room with a thick paper holder with four steaming cups of coffee just like the ladies liked them. The sight he saw made his fingers lose their grasp on the holder, the coffee spraying everywhere even as he jumped over the mess and ran into the waiting room, catching Regina in her near swan dive into the hard tile floor.

"Woah…" He held Regina tight, helping her remain on her feet even if her legs begged her to sit and remain off of them.

She couldn't. Regina swallowed the bile that rose. She felt dizzy, as if the world had just upturned on its axis.

No…no, this could not be.

"Surely there is something that can be done?" Regina begged, her eyes glazed with tears that would not fall.

Dr. McCarthy shook his head sadly in answer.

"This can't be all there is!" Regina nearly screamed. She never raised her voice, never. Not in all the years that anyone had known her had she raised her voice this loudly before. "You, you, you're the best oncologist in the country! You cannot tell me that there is nothing else that can be done!"

"Mayor Mills I am truly sorry…but there is nothing I can do." His emphasis was lost to Regina. What did he expect her to do if he could do nothing? Hadn't she already found him? Found another option?

"You're sorry!? You're SORRY!" Regina lurched forward ready to punch the man. However Graham's deft grip on her kept her exactly where she was. "You arrogant self-righteous bastard! You were supposed to be the best. Surely the best can figure something else that can be done."

"Mayor Mills I understand that this is difficult…"

"No, no, do not tell me that you understand. You don't understand. No one here can understand! No one!" Well, maybe Mary Margaret could, if she could remember actually having a daughter to lose, "You, you can't just tell me there is nothing that can be done." Regina swallowed the lump in her throat as she looked into Dr. McCarthy's eyes. "There has to be something else. Something more! You did all the tests that these idiots have done! You're the highly recommended specialist. You should have found something others missed!"

"I'm sorry Mayor Mills, but sometimes there is nothing else to find. Nothing else that can be done. Sometimes things like this can't be fixed. I'm sorry, I truly am. Henry seems like a wonderful boy. But it might be time that you start considering what is best for Henry. More invasive tests are only going to prolong his pain."

"No, no…" Regina shook her head violently from side to side before glaring at the elderly gentlemen in his white lab coat. His visitor badge mocked Regina now that he had come and done nothing, given her nothing more than the doctors here had given her. Insincere condolences and the same diagnosis that condemned Regina every time it was given.Over and over and over again.

"Regina…" Turning her head sharply Regina met Mary Margaret's eyes. The young woman had, at some point, stood from her seat in the corner and had moved to stand within the small circle that had gathered. Mary Margaret was not as skilled as Regina however, and Regina took great pleasure in that small fact, because Mary Margaret's cheeks were wet with tears at the news. Regina's tears hadn't fallen. She refused to let them fall. She had to be strong. Even in the face of such travesty.

"No…" Regina whispered. Her chin quivered as she held the caring eyes of Storybrooke's beloved Princess—even here—Saint Mary Margaret Blanchard. She was still the same caring and kind woman who had given so much and asked for nothing in return. Regina snapped her eyes back to Dr. McCarthy, unable to stare into Mary's eyes any longer. They would break her.

Mary Margaret Blanchard would break her and Regina would be damned if that happened.

She would raise hell and high water upon this earth before she let some doctor tell her that she was helpless, again. That there was nothing she could do. Again! There had to be something. She was Regina Mills! The Evil Fucking Queen for goodness sake! No one told Regina that she couldn't do something! No one told her she could not have what she wanted. And by god she wanted a cure, she wanted there to be something the doctors could do.

So, she would get it. Even if it was the last thing she did. Henry was not going to die. There would be no need to look into 'alternative measures' and think of Henry's pain. He would not be in pain anymore, not when she found a cure. Even if that meant she had to invent one herself. Or make a deal to ensure one.

Regina took a seat as Dr. Whale finished up a phone call with someone or other. Regina didn't care. Regina had one purpose in life and at the moment the only reason she hadn't made Dr. Whale hang up the phone was because she didn't know if it pertained to Henry's case. It had been three weeks since Dr. McCarthy had left—been driven out—of Storybrooke. Two weeks since Regina had made a deal she would never regret for as long as she lived—she was sure of it.

Regina had refused to pay the man for his work. He had promised to sue, but had quickly changed his mind when Graham and half the town seemed willing to string him up at the merest inclination of Regina's head. This town was hardly news worthy but it was notoriously known to support their fellow neighbor. Given that they deserved the help of course, and for once, it seemed that Regina did—if only because by helping her the town helped Henry. It was a win-win.

Last week there had been a Donor's Fest, as they'd called it. Half of the town had shown up to support Henry as he was the only member of the large community with cancer. Of half the town a fifth of those that arrived had their blood tested to see if they were a match for the beloved Prince of Storybrooke. Regina had paid mostly out of pocket with the help of the hospital. They had in it the open parking lot outside the west end of town hall. It was large enough to hold the fair. They had candy, baked goods, games and information booths spread out throughout the area. They had over sixty volunteers to help hold the festivities. For each family it had cost $30 to get in. The money would be used to pay off the expenses and then donated the excess to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Regina was affluent, and could easily keep up a lavish lifestyle even with all the money she was spending on chemotherapy, so half of the refund she had gained back from the fest she donated to Make a Wish Foundation. A charity, like many others, that Regina only became aware of because of Henry's diagnosis. Her life really had been very small in comparison to what it had become since they found the cancerous tumor in Henry's liver.

"We've found a match."

"A match?" Regina asked, ecstatic as she stood in Dr. Whale's office.

Henry was back in his room at the hospital with Granny and Ruby. The two Wolfs' had arrived as a surprise and brought with them gifts. They had gifts in the form of Henry's favorite soup now that he was back on chemotherapy, chicken broth and rice soup and an oatmeal raisin cookie, both fresh from Granny's Coffee Shop.

With extensive chemotherapy and two surgeries, Henry had been in remission for nearly a year before another tumor presented itself. It was this past Halloween that they decided it was time to look into donors now that the tumor had been removed and the doctors talked about upping his chances should he be put onto a donor list. Unfortunately because of his remission he wasn't even close to the top of the list because his risk factors of living even after the transplant were low. He was a high risk transplant candidate so if they had a chance at a transplant it had to be offered to him specifically from a match they found.

Out of the thousand people who had attended the gathering—truly touching Regina deeply—a hundred and fifty people donated blood. Out of those hundred and fifty, there was one match. One single match. And with it one single flame of hope that had literally grown into an electric torch for Regina. One was all they needed. Just one, that was what Dr. Whale had said, and now they had that one.

"Who is it?" Regina asked impatiently.

Dr. Whale looked down at the sheet in front of him, the number and name of the individual on top bolded. The stark black thick print stood out against the rest of the smaller thin print that Regina would probably be unable to understand in-depth.

"Well…it's good news in the case of they'll actually go through with it." Dr. Whale seg-wayed, knowing that Regina's reaction was going to be conflicted. She would never ask this woman for help, she would rather die than owe anything to her, and yet now she would owe the life of her only son to her.

Regina's lips thinned, "Who is it…" She pronounced thickly as she looked at Connor.

"Ms. Blanchard."

Regina's eyes widened as she leaned back against the chair heavily. Her heart rose into her throat as she stared unblinkingly at Connor. Sure that she had stepped into the twilight zone. Surely he hadn't just said that the only match found in all of those who'd been tested was the one woman with whom Regina could not turn to. Would not turn to and yet, had no choice.

The irony of it all! To do everything in her power to ruin the preachy little goody two shoes. And now? To have everything on the line with only one ray of hope shinning from Regina's nemesis. Biting into her bottom lip she sucked in a deep breath and tried to remain calm. She truly did.

"Ms. Mary Margaret FREAKING Blanchard!?" Regina raised her voice, her face red as she gripped the arms of the chair till her knuckles went white.

Connor flinched as he pushed his chair back, even farther away from his desk, glad that at least that piece of furniture was between them.

He waited, silently, as Regina calmed down. After fifteen minutes, she finally looked up and met his eyes. "Have you informed her yet?"

"No. I thought it prudent to talk with you first. Just in case."

"Just in case she decides, what? Not to do it? Blackmails me? Holds this over my head for the rest of my life?" Regina laughed bitterly, "That woman has been adamant about how unfit I am as a mother, now she can hold it against me that in my son's time of need I can't even offer him what he needs most, but she can." Stewing in her loathing for Ms. Blanchard, Regina rang her hands together as they sat in her lap. What choice did she have any more on the matter? Henry needed this transplant and if Mary Margaret was willing to be bed ridden for at least three weeks, a week in the hospital at minimum, Regina would accept her generosity with a grain of salt. She would kiss the woman's feet if she agreed to this transplant. She realized she was that desperate.

Sitting up straight, composed once again, Regina looked to Dr. Whale. "Shall we do this then, doctor?"

Connor fumbled as he reached for his phone, "Yes, of course. Just wait one moment, and…" He dialed Mary Margaret's number. The woman was not home, as she would not be this time of day, she was a teacher after all. Thankfully summer break was just around the corner, that would give the teacher plenty of time to recover and she had plenty of people willing to help her should she go through with this transplant.

The phone rang and rang and like he expected she did not pick up. He left a brief message asking her to call him and when he hung up he was surprised to see Regina standing up and picking up her bag. It wasn't until she was at the door that he realized she expected him to follow her. "Aren't you coming doctor?"

"Uh, uhhmm…" He fumbled with his things, grabbed the folder with Mary Margaret's results and then his keys, before stumbling out the door with Regina after locking up his office.

The drive to Storybrooke Elementary School was a short one. Regina wondered why Connor looked so pale as he stepped out of the car. It wasn't as if she had broken too many traffic laws. She had only been twenty five miles above the speed limit at all times, not wanting to hurt anyone unneedly. It wouldn't do to be too irresponsible. She was the Mayor after all.

Walking down once familiar halls, Regina found Mary Margagret's classroom easily enough. The children were just collecting their things and Mary Margaret was calling out through the classroom, wishing them all a wonderful day and she'd see them tomorrow. Hmm, Regina looked at her watch, it seemed class was finished and school was finally over. Wonderful, now Regina wouldn't have to worry about the children stealing away half of Mary Margagret's attention.

"Mayor Mills…" Mary gasped as she saw Regina and Connor. "Connor…"

Regina raised a brow, wondering when Connor and Mary Margaget had become close enough to be on a first name basis. No worries however, she simply stepped into the room, careful of the children running out of the room around and about her.

"…to what do I owe this visit?" Mary Margaret asked as she fiddled with some papers on her desk, her smile never faltering as she looked between the Mayor and Doctor. Regina noticed that her hands were shaking and apparently clammy since she wiped them off on her skirt several times. She knows…Regina thought with a grim smile.

"I believe that it should be self-evident why I am here with Dr. Whale, Ms. Blanchard."

The teacher had the graciousness to blush and then promptly fall into her seat. "I'm a match…" She stared blankly out into the room, her eyes remaining open. She stood up suddenly and stared at Dr. Whale, not even taking a moment to blink at the news. "When can we do the surgery?"

"Uh, well, the sooner the better and…"

Regina stared, unable to help herself. "That's all? Nothing more? You know you're a match and now it's…what? You'll just willingly jump under the blade? Not even taking a moment to comment, insult, or…" Regina waved her hand in the air uselessly, "blackmail me?" Regina's eyes hardened. "Why?"

"Of course not!" Mary Margaret's voice was breathless, unbelieving as she stared at Regina. "What do you take me for Mayor? Heartless? I would never use this against you. We have our issues with each other." Mary Margaret shook her head, "How or when they began I can't even remember, but this is not about us. This is about your son. About Henry. About a little boy that needs help and if I can help him then I will do everything I can. He doesn't deserve this…" Mary Margaret looked at Regina, her eyes softening, just as her tone did. "and honestly Mayor, neither do you."

For the second time in the same month, Mary Margaret Blanchard nearly ruins her. Ruins her, makes her crumble and break and fall to pieces. Almost.

Her jaw works restlessly as she makes sure not to let it tremble, the burning at the back of her eyes nearly unbearable. "Well, then…there are several things you and Dr. Whale will need to speak about. Once you had concluded your talk, if you are still willing, then…I shall I…" Regina looked away, turned on her heel and simply left the room. Running was not a sign of cowardice. She just, she had somewhere else to be. Anywhere else really, because for the first time in what felt like forever, she knew that everything was going to be okay.

Regina turned onto her side, moaning in her sleep as she relived some of the worst moments of her life, and some of the best. Beside her she felt a small hand grab onto her hand and hold hers tightly. Relaxing into the mattress she turned back towards the source of the comfort.

"Everything will be okay…" The small voice whispered into the darkness around them. "I promise. She'll come. Everything will be okay…" Henry whispered, running his thumb back and forth across his mother's hand, watching as her face relaxed and her shoulders sagged, the tension in her body slowly leaving her alone long enough so she could sleep soundly.


Chapter 4

'Welcome to Storybrooke'

Archie Hooper enjoyed the quietness of Storybrooke. The streets were always empty at this time of night and it was the perfect time for a stroll. It was nice sometimes to be away from people. He liked his times of solitude where it was just him and Pongo walking quietly. He was a psychiatrist. For hours a day he listened to other people talk about their problems and sometimes it was nice to hear nothing but the sounds of nature and his own footsteps on the ground echoing around him.

It was peaceful.

Calming, serene, and he was happy to be out and about tonight. The storm from the day before had kept him cooped up in his apartment so tonight he promised himself and Pongo a bit of a longer walk. Others might think him crazy for being out so early in the morning; it was nearly one A.M after all. He didn't mind the time so much. He was a bit of a night owl, him and Pongo that is.

Holding onto Pongo's leash he strolled down the damp sidewalk, watching as the wind blew wet leaves across the black asphalt of the street. He was walking passed the clock tower when he heard it. The sound of an engine sputtering, the BANG and clack of its parts meshing together in ways he guessed it shouldn't. Looking down the street he saw headlights coming in his direction. Curious, he thought. Anyone still up at this hour was usually on foot, much like him. He waited at the curb of the sidewalk and watched the yellow bug come to a halt in front of him. The engine was cut and the creak of metal against metal hurt his ears as the driver's side door opened.

A tall muscular blonde woman that Archie knew he'd never seen before stepped out and looked at him like he was a bug. He'd been stared at that once already today. The Mayor had come back from the first and only business trip that he'd ever remembered her taking out of Storybrooke. She came back very agitated. It seemed she was even more frustrated and angry than she had been before she left, and he'd thought that was impossible. That is until he'd been leaving his session with Henry and saw the Mayor down the hallway hissing something into her cellphone. She'd turned on him after slapping the phone closed and he'd felt even more like an insect in that moment then he'd ever remembered feeling. He feared she was going to simply lift her foot and step on him. Instead she'd told him he was free to leave, to find his own way out. He found his way out of the house faster than he ever had in the last three years.

That was another reason for his walk. After that encounter he needed a bit of time to collect and center himself. Shaking himself from his thoughts as Pongo barked once at the strange woman before sniffing at her, and wagging his tail, Archie really looked at her. She looked a mess. Her eyes were swollen and tinged pink and she had dark shadows under her eyes. He wondered how long she'd been traveling.

Swallowing, he fixed his glasses and put on his best welcoming smile. It wasn't every day that he met someone new in Storybrooke.

"Well, hello. Uhh…welcome to Storybrooke."

Emma looked at the tweed looking man and grinned, "Uh, hi. You wouldn't know where I could find a place to stay would you?"

"Uhm, well, there isn't any hotels around these parts. We don't get many visitors. But, there is a, a uhm, Bed and Breakfast. Yes, a B&B that you can stay at. If you follow this main road and make a right down the second block you'll find it at the very end of the lane. It's Granny's Inn."

Emma nodded taking in the information. "Thanks,"

"Archie, my name's Archie Hopper. Dr. Archie Hopper." Emma should have known he was a doctor of some sort, he looked the type. Though she would have guessed professor or teacher, hell maybe he was both.

'God I must be tired if I'm debating with myself what kind of profession this stranger has.'

Emma stuffed her hands into her red leather jacket, feeling a bit awkward, "Yeah, well, thanks Dr. Hopper." Emma looks from her watch to the clock tower across the street and squints, looking back and forth between the two. 8:15? Odd, they should probably have someone fix that. Sparing the doctor another look she got back into her car to find the Inn he had mentioned.

The Inn was certainly out of the way. Emma missed it the first time she drove down the block. You would think that the sign would be lit so late at night, like a beacon for visitors to follow. Hmm, maybe this was the only place with a vacancy for a reason. There's a simple sign hanging above the door that reads: Granny's Inn. Across the street is an open parking lot that Emma pulls into. Getting out of the car with her bag in hand she locks the doors and notices that the closed shop she's parked in front of is Granny's Dinner.

Looking back and forth between the two establishments Emma walks across the street, figuring it was normal in a small town like this to have a figure head of the community. Someone that ruled the businesses. Though, why would they name it Granny's? Sure it sounds homey but this late at night it looks…Deserted? Yes, but no. Dead. Eh, not what she was looking for. Creepy. Yes, creepy!

Walking into the Inn Emma was surprised to see three people milling about what appears to be the front desk. The place had looked dead from the outside, looking around Emma realizes it still does.

"Uhm…" Emma clears her throat as the older woman behind the desk hands the man in the black suit jacket and cane a wad of cash. Emma's seen this enough times to keep her mouth shut. Not her place to say anything about illegal activity in a town she's not even sure she's going to be staying in for very long.

"Let's try to keep the money coming in on time from now on, okay deary?" So, the man with the cane had an accent. Emma couldn't place it. It certainly wasn't an American accent of any kind. Odd, since this town seemed too small to gain the attention of foreign investors. Then again, who was she to say anything about foreigner investor's methods? She knew one thing for sure.

She wasn't going to get involved with this man. There was just something about him that rubbed her the wrong way. The hairs on the back of her neck were a bit off putting since they mainly wanted her to get out of doge as fast as possible at the sight of him. Last time she hadn't listened to the little prickly hairs she'd ended up in a LOT of trouble. Too much trouble. She'd learned her lesson and wondered if there was another B&B she could stay at for the night. Dr. Hooper had seemed adamant that this was the only available place for her to stay over-night. Then again, there was always her car. Wasn't like she hadn't slept in her car a few dozen times in her life.

"Hey..!" Emma cringed at that 'mothering' tone. "Where are you going?" The woman behind the counter asked and Emma raised a hand to point at herself before noticing the woman was looking at someone over her shoulder. Behind her was a young woman, maybe a bit younger then herself, with dark brown hair with a dyed red portion. Emma looked at the red shawl covering the woman's head and shoulders and thought of little red riding hood. With the red shawl, hair, and the big purse that might as well be her basket of goodies going to Grandma's house. She certainly wasn't dressed to see Grandma, though, not with those heels and that short skirt.

"Out." And her attitude was a little much for the fairytale character.

"Out where?" Granny asked, and Emma took a step back, letting the two have the conversation not over her shoulders.

"On a date."

"At 1 in the morning? Isn't that a little late to just be going out on a date?"

"No, not for my dates." Emma did her best not to chuckle.

"Excuse me?" Emma stepped between the two of them. There, she was saving Red from undoubtedly a long winded speech from her…Grandmother?

Granny sighed and looked to Emma, surprised that she didn't recognize the woman. "Can I help you?"

"I'm looking for a room…"

"You're looking to stay?" Red Riding Hood asked somewhere behind Emma.

As she did Emma noticed the cobwebs on the key slots and offered as bright a smile as she could at the sight. The question from the young woman, who apparently wasn't leaving for her date just yet, made her really think about just roughing it in her car.

"Yes…" Emma looked away from the girl wondering why it was so surprising that she was looking to stay. First Dr. Hooper, and now the two that lived/possibly ran the only Bed and Breakfast in town. Was business that slow? Then again, the cobwebs spoke for themselves. She just hoped the rooms were kept in better order. "You have any vacancies? If not I can…" find someplace that didn't give her the creeps and actually had other guests staying in it.

The older woman quickly shook her head, "No, we have rooms. Plenty. Hmm…what kind of view would you like? There's the square view where you can see everything in town or the wood view, quieter but not much to look at…"

Emma sighed, "Just a room with a bed and a shower will do." Emma cut the older woman off as she looked at the dozen or so available keys.

"Here, the Swan room will do." Granny handed Emma the key to the swan room, a small figurine on the key in the shape of the bird made Emma laugh.

"What, may I ask, is so amusing?" Emma was surprised to still see the cane man as well as Red standing behind her at the door. The man with the cane stared curiously at Emma as he leaned heavily against his walking stick with both hands.

"Sure you can." Emma grinned at the man before turning back to the older woman, "Granny, right?" Granny nodded, "Which way to the room?"

"Up the stairs, third door to your left. Got a view of the woods instead of the square, but…" She grinned, "Biggest bathroom we have."

Emma offered her a genuine smile, "Thanks. When it's a decent hour I'll give you what it cost for the night."

"Only staying the night?" Emma ignored the man's voice as she took the offered keys and walked up the stairs.

"Hmm, was it something I said?" Mr. Gold asked the two Wolf women.

"Maybe it was what you didn't say." Ruby bit out as she put up her shawl around her head and left the Inn.

Granny didn't bother apologizing for Ruby. If Mr. Gold didn't know Ruby's personality by now then he never would. She didn't have any excuses left for her granddaughter. She also didn't have any excuses for the young woman who'd just arrived either. Looking at the now missing key, Granny watched Mr. Gold leave, realizing she had never gotten the woman's name.

The next morning before Emma even opened her eyes Storybrooke was alive and abuzz with her arrival. There were stories floating around that she was here to arrest Mr. Gold for smuggling. What exactly he was smuggling varied depending on who you asked. Kind of like Emma's description ranged from bad to worse to impossible.

According to Mike, the owner of the bar in town, Emma was a burly six foot five weight lifter with a buzz cut and a studded leather collar. Rudy laughed at that description and wondered where Mike got six foot five burly buzz cut studded collar from 'five six or seven blonde with a cold shoulder attitude' because really? Even as drunk as Ruby was last night she never mentioned anything that remotely sounded like buzz cut.

While Ruby and Granny fielded questions about whom their mystery guest was Emma took her time getting ready for the day. She'd only gotten five and a half hours of sleep, but she thought it'd be better to get this day over with than wait around. Standing in front of the oval mirror on top of the dresser in the rented room Emma stared at herself.

Normally she wouldn't care to put much of anything like make-up on. The other night for Ryan-what's-his-jackass-face she put on some lipstick and blush to play the part. It had been part of the job. Now she was contemplating dolling herself up to see her son. She wasn't even sure she'd get to see him at all. If Mayor Mills was smart she'd make sure Emma got nowhere NEAR Henry. Just by talking to the Mayor yesterday Emma knew the Mayor had a decent IQ so the chances of actually meeting Henry today were very slim. Still, she couldn't blame the Mayor for what she may or may not do.

So…maybe it would be better just to be herself? That was better than pretending to be something-someone she wasn't. Wasn't it?

Emma pulled on her red leather jacket over her white tank top. With blue jeans and her favorite pair of tennis shoes—no scuff marks—she left her room locking it behind her. Looking at her watch she decided it would be better for everyone involved if she got coffee. Seeing a decent crowd at Granny's Diner Emma pushed her hands into her pockets and strode across the street. Checking Lucy, her yellow bug, she nodded satisfied that Lucy had been left in peace through the morning. No spray paint or tags on her car. Those were a bitch to clean off and occasionally appeared on Lucy while in Boston.

Walking into Granny's Emma knew something was off. It was…quiet. A moment ago there had been ample chatter, almost excited tales being shared but now? You could hear a pin drop.

Have you ever had that feeling that people were talking about you? Rather lively for at least a few minutes and as you walk in the room it goes silent enough to distinguish who just sneezed in a crowd of twenty? Well, for the first time in her 28 years Emma now knows what that was like.

Every pair of eyes in the quaint little diner looked at her, judged her, and after passing their judgment went back to their conversations, which became soft and hushed. Groups of three or more leaned into each other as they whispered, one or two of the group looking at her every few seconds.

So this is what a fish feels like at the aquarium…

Making her way, slowly, to an empty seat at the counter Emma sat down and saw the woman—Red Riding Hood—from last night, in a skimpier version of what appeared to be the uniform here. She was talking to a tall muscular uniformed cop, or what appeared to be one. He had a sleek face and a bit of facial hair that added to his mystique. By the way Red Riding Hood, as Emma was calling her for now, was leaning over the counter smiling and batting her eyelashes she was interested in him. He looked a little old for her, but who was Emma to judge?

"Aww…come on Sherriff not even a short ride in your cruiser?"

"Not unless you've broken the law. And a good girl like you Rubes, wouldn't have broken any of those, have you?"

"Of course she hasn't…" Emma tried not to snicker as Rubes(?) was cock blocked by her grandmother. "There are other people who need to be served Ruby. Not to mean you aren't important to serve as well Sherriff."

The Sherriff laughed, "No, I completely understand ma'am…" He nodded his head and picked up the tray of three coffees and a plain brown bag. Emma wondered who it was that was getting the other two coffees. Maybe his deputies?

I shot the Sheriff but I did not shoot his dep-uuu-ttyy…Emma hums to herself. It's none of her business who the other two cups of coffees are for, but this is what she does when she's bored. She people watches and makes up stories about them. It's something that has helped her pass the time since she was a little girl. The tales she can come up with for complete strangers sometimes even impresses her.

Today she's using the people story telling/watching, it to keep her mind off the whispering that's going on behind her. Speaking of the whispering, she chances to look over her shoulder. She catches at least four people looking at her, who quickly shut up as she glared at them. Maybe she should have gotten dressed up to walk in here. Just to give these brown nosers something a bit juicier to talk about.

A woman sits next to her, "Don't mind them. They're all just big brown nosers."

Just what I was thinking…Emma turned to her right, surprised to see that the slightly shorter brunette with short, raven hair was actually talking to her not about her.

"Oh, yeah that was easy to pick up on when the whole place went quiet the second I walked in."

The woman laughed softly. "You'll have to forgive us, we're not accustomed to strangers passing through."

Emma hummed as she lifted her eyebrows, you don't say. Her only response was to look away from the only person who'd even attempted to talk to her when Ruby—was that what Granny had called her?—came over. Note pad in hand the waitress smiled.

"Well, good morning Stranger. What can I get for you?" Emma didn't know why but Ruby's smile and her—apparently—natural flirtatious personality makes Emma return the smile. Maybe it was because Emma used to be just like her before she grew up. Still, feeling some kind of kindred connection to the waitress she decided to flirt back a bit. She crossed her arms in front of her on the counter and leaned toward the woman showing her own bit of cleavage—not that she was showing as much as Ruby was.

Ruby's smile turned into a Cheshire cat grin.

"I'd worship the ground you walk on if you can get me a good cup of hot coffee with two sugars and cream."

Ruby wiggled her eyebrows at Emma and winked at the woman sitting beside her, who Emma still didn't get a name for. "Well, you'll just have to start calling me Lady Red then won't you?" Ruby chuckled, "Coffee, hot, cream and two lumps coming right up. To go?"

"I'll call you anything you want if you give me good coffee…" Emma teased, before she thought about it for a moment. She looked around the diner before shrugging. "What the hell, to stay. I need some information with that coffee. You good to give that also Lady Red?"

"Well, I don't know. Depends on what you're asking. Might cost you more than a bit of flirting."

"Why don't you take this woman's order and we can discuss the prices I'll have to pay for what I need to know."

"You got it Blondie. –No?" Ruby asked at the flinch, "Yeah, you're right. Stranger suits you much better." Turning to Emma's right Ruby's smile softened. "What can I get for you today Mary Margaret? You're usual?"

Mary Margaret nodded, "Yes, please Ruby, thank you."

"No problem." Ruby walked away with what appeared to be a natural spring to her step.

"So, mind if the Stranger asks what your usual is?" Emma inquired, curious. She'd never stayed in one place or kept her routine the same long enough for someone to know her usual. It didn't pay to be predicable. Not with her jobs or her past.

"Only if the Stranger gives me her name."

"Emma," The second she mentioned her name it was like she'd spoken into a malfunctioning microphone, her name was repeated over and over again behind her. "Is it really so unusual for someone new to come around?" Emma couldn't believe that she was THIS interesting.

Mary Margaret smiled as she looked down the counter to Ruby who was eagerly approaching them. "M&M, your usual." Ruby handed her counter-mate her drink first then a brown bag with something relatively light in it as it didn't sink the bottom of the bag, Emma noticed.

"Thanks Rubes," Mary Margaret handed Ruby exact change down to the three pennies. Standing she took a sip of her drink and smiled. "Mmmm…perfect as always Ruby." The woman takes her things and turns to walk away.

"Hey, wait! You didn't hold up your end of the bargain." Emma turned to watch Mary Margaret leave calling out to her quickly. She didn't reach out for her. She knew from personal experience—on behalf of the people to grab her unexpectedly—you do not do that to strangers. It's a matter of manners.

"Hot chocolate…the only way it's supposed to be." She looked down at the brown bag, "Oh and whole wheat toast with strawberry jam."

"Homemade jam!" Granny called out smiling at Mary Margaret as several patrons laughed at the usual outburst Granny made about her special homemade jam.

Emma couldn't help but chuckle, "Ah, so that makes it worth the four dollars and…thirty eight cents?" The shocked stares from both Mary Margaret and Ruby let Emma know she was right. She's a perceptive person; it's what makes her so good at her job. She notices things most people don't. "Anyway, it can't be the only way hot chocolate should be made unless it has whipped cream and cinnamo"

"..on." Emma and Mary Margaret each look taken aback.

"You take it with cinnamon?" Emma asks, surprised.

"Yes, and it's weird." Ruby insists, "You're both weird then. Ha, well at least I know Mary Margaret isn't the only one that's nuts!" Ruby disappeared to sever someone else leaving Emma her coffee.

"It is nice to realize I'm not the only one who enjoys cinnamon in my hot chocolate."

Yes, Emma realized it is nice to know. Emma turned to Mary Margaret and grinned back at the woman before watching her walk away. Shaking her head at the oddity of this town and its people she waits for the crowd to thin down.

Most leave to make it to their jobs at eight thirty. Emma stays at the counter sipping her coffee, waiting for Ruby to come back. She watches some of the people stare at her back through the reflective surface of the display glass behind the counter. Smiling into her coffee she sighs wistfully wondering how long she'd be the side show of the town if she stays.

"So, tell me Ruby, where can I find Regina Mills at this time a day?" Emma asks as Ruby leans over in front of her, only three people still in the shop besides her.

Ruby's jaw drops at her as Emma raises her brow. "So, Mayor Mills? Where's she at?" Emma asks any playfulness she'd shown gone. This was serious after all.

"Ha..her office?" Ruby stutters, wondering where the playful stranger had gone.

"Wonderful. Where can I find that office?" Putting her empty coffee cup down Emma stands and puts two dollars on the counter.

"North. Up Main Street across from the Sheriff's office. Take a right outside the front doors it's about a fifteen minute walk up. You can't miss 'em."

Emma smiles, and puts a five dollar bill down on the counter next to the two dollars. "Thanks."

Leaving the diner she decides to walk. It's a nice day after all and within ten minutes she can already make out the Sherriff's office to the right of the road and diagonally across from it is what Emma assumes is the Mayor's office. Wonderful, now the day could really begin.


Chapter 5

'Mayor or Queen'

Regina smiled as she sipped at her cup of coffee. Graham caught her just as she was about to enter her office—like he always did—and handed her the cup, kissed her forehead, and walked across the street to the station. It was their routine. He was up at the crack of dawn, the first to rise and get into the office. They used to rotate the schedule, when Regina could actually afford to wake early and head into work on the second Wednesday of the month or first Saturday. That had stopped when Henry got sicker. Now she stayed home an extra hour or two to see Henry for at least an hour before she came into work. Her work days were cut short, she now worked half days most of the week and got all of her meetings done in the morning leaving her room for paper work during the afternoon. Whatever she did not finish in the office she took home and finished after she had put Henry to bed for the night or for the mornings where she still woke up at the crack of dawn but stayed home instead of coming into the office.

Today she was just happy to have something to take her mind off of the disaster today promised to be. She'd overslept, didn't finish overlooking the budgeting report that was due tomorrow morning for the fire department as well as the Sherriff's department and the volunteer EMTs and ambulance runners. It was going to be a long day of crunching numbers and calling offices and speaking to secretaries before being passed on to the Chiefs. At least Regina knew she could count on Graham to answer his phone since he didn't have a secretary and was currently hoping there was enough money in the budget for a deputy. If there wasn't room for it, Regina would find it…somehow. Graham needed more time for himself. What time he did have off he was often times found at her house, office, or at the hospital with her and Henry. Then again, there was the bonus for him that Kathryn was at her house, office, or the hospital with her and Henry as well. Still, Regina understood that he needed more time to himself. Or at least time he could spend with Kathryn without her and Henry being third and fourth wheels.

Shaking away those thoughts she turned away from the Sheriff's station and sipped at her coffee. She'd woken up late this morning, her night plagued with beautiful nightmares of the past, and surprisingly? It was the past year here in Storybrooke that plagued her more than the nightmares of old. Waking up late Regina hadn't had time to make breakfast as she usually did each morning. However when she walked downstairs she shouldn't have been surprised to find Kathryn already there with breakfast ready and waiting for her and Henry.

Henry woke up late himself and had matching black circles under his eyes. His smile had been infectious however and he'd even spent breakfast talking to her and Kathryn about the book he was reading, one Mary Margaret had given to him last week. It was a fairytale book and he had become immersed in the stories, if the stories hadn't made him so happy Regina might be worried. But anything that could put a smile on Henry's face, the likes of which this book seemed to do, was welcome in her home and in their lives. It had been far too long since she had seen Henry as excited as he was about…life in general.

Before she'd left home Regina helped Henry get ready for the day. He had lessons with Kathryn from nine until eleven before his blood count was checked, lunch, and then another hour and a half of lessons; mostly on doing the homework and assignments he was given. Whatever he didn't finish by the time Regina made it home at three would be finished before dinner, Regina helping him while Kathryn spent the afternoon out (with Graham at the Sheriff's department).

Henry was having a good day. He'd eaten a good portion of his breakfast and seemed chipper, which he normally wasn't in the morning. Before she left she promised Henry she'd be back by lunch today instead of three. They needed to talk.

First, Regina needed to call Dr. Whale and have him meet her at home. She didn't want to have this conversation with Henry in the hospital. She wanted him to be comfortable and free to tell her what he wanted. He was always uncomfortable in the hospital. He did put on a brave front for everyone else—her mostly. He would want to be home for this discussion, and so would she. She would need the comfort of her own home, of the walls that she and Henry had lived in for the last ten years to comfort her in this time of need. Talking to Henry about how he would like to spend the last few months of his life was not a conversation she wanted to have with her ten year old son. Ever.

There was still hope, just a little, inside her that Mr. Gold would come through on his end. She prayed that he was as good at finding Emma Swan a second time around as he was the first. Especially now that she was on the run.

Walking up the stairs to her office Regina greeted Judy on her way passed her assistant's desk. "Good morning, Judy."

"Morning, Madame Mayor." The woman stood as she cleared her throat and handed Regina a folder and the morning newspaper. "You're nine o'clock meeting is here." Judy informed as the Mayor almost made it into the 'safety' of her office. However her announcement stopped Regina in her tracks. "Early." Judy continued her statement as she watched the Mayor look down at her watch, noting the time.

Stepping back out the door Regina hooked her head around the corner and saw the two waiting men. "Gentleman, good morning, please follow me." She left her office door open for the two men and stalked towards her desk where she put down her coffee, the folder and newspaper. "Close the door behind you." She instructed and with a click the black and white door sealed the three patrons in the room together.

Pulling her leather jacket tighter around herself Emma made her way to the Mayor's office following the signs. Second floor to your right they directed. The second floor hallway is decorated in black and white tile and Emma thinks it fits Regina perfectly.

'Light and Dark, Caring and Cunning, Good and Evil, huh, more than fitting.'

Walking through the open door into the front of the Mayor's office Emma sees a young woman at her desk look up from a phone call.

"How can I help you, today?" The woman asks as she hangs up the phone with a bright and cheery, "have a pleasant day," to the caller.

"I'm here to see the Mayor." Emma looks to the closed doors of what must be the Mayor's private office directly across from the secretary/assistant's desk. Behind the desk slightly down into the large spacious office is a small waiting room with two chairs, a couch, and a small rectangular table in the center of the formation. There are paintings and even scattered magazines and what looks like the morning paper on the table as well. 'Like a doctor's office. Sterile, quiet, and passively engaging.'

Emma admits to herself that the painting behind the couch along the wall, four foot by three, is nice. It's a detailed oil painting of a forest at the edge of a sea shore with a castle high on a cliff above the crashing waves. From this far away Emma can't make out the entire drawing but even from here she can see the white dots that look like birds flying in the white clouded sky.

"Name? Appointment?" The sound of the other woman's voice pulls her from her thoughts away from the painting and the reigning monarch of such a castle, truly ruling from above.

Emma laughs, "Emma, and I don't have an appointment."

"I'm sorry, but unless you have an appointment I can't just let you in. She's very busy today so if you'd like to speak with her I can find you an opening…tomorrow evening at the earliest."

"No, that doesn't work for me."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you Ms…" The woman is pulling for her last name, but she wants this to be a surprise. Kind of like how Mayor Mills surprised her on her birthday. Unexpected and life changing.

'Fair is fair after all.'

Emma doesn't offer her last name, she's too busy making her way closer to the closed doors. "She in the office now?" Emma juts her thumb to the door as she stands in front of…she looks at the name plate…Judy's desk.

"She's in a meeting right now that can't be dis—hey wait!"

Emma shakes her head no, she won't wait. Besides, she has a feeling that whatever meeting the Mayor is in currently will simply be put on hold. After all, the woman had made it very clear to her that the most important thing in her life was her son, the kid, Henry. If she wasn't just trying to pull one over on her—and Emma really hopes she wasn't playing some kind of sick joke—then Mayor Mills will see her right now, this minute, the second she walks in without pause. That is, IF she hadn't been lying and for her sake? Emma hopes she wasn't lying because even if she is Mayor of this township in the middle of nowhere Maine, she is going to take great joy in kicking her ass.

As Emma walks into the office she whistles lowly at the magnificence of the office. She really wasn't off on her assumption that the Mayor was loaded and Henry was probably spoiled rotten. Emma really likes the horse, or is that a unicorn? Whatever it is, she likes it, on the wall and the black and white theme. It suits the Mayor just like the black and white tile did in the hallway. The way the room is set up almost resembles, in Emma's mind, a throne room.

With the large desk and black ominous looking arm chair and the grand windows behind it with the light shining in behind Regina, putting those sitting towards the Mayor at a slight disadvantage, it makes the Mayor look like the reigning queen. The light and grace of the Gods in her favor as they bathe her in their golden halo. It doesn't hurt that the room seems to be a bit off, there is a slight lift in the floor towards the desk, putting Regina slightly higher than anyone else in the room even if it is by an inch or two. It's like in the painting! A monarch, in this case a queen, reigns above her people.

'You just have the painting on the brain Emma. Regina's no queen. Queen like, yeah sure, but a Queen? Ha if she's a Queen then you might as well be a knight in shining armor come to save the day. And, like you already know, we're no knight of shining anything.'

"I don't want to hear excuses you said that you…" Emma realizes that she really did interrupt some kind of meeting and here she was thinking Judy just didn't want to let her in. There are two men sitting in the chairs in front of the large desk where Regina sits leaning forward aggressively.

Emma knew she was a tough one, and she can practically feel Regina's frustration from here by the open doors, where Judy has just gotten to her. "Judy what is the meaning of this I said I was not to be dis…"

The two men in their chairs turn around in them to look at who has interrupted the meeting. Emma recognized one of the men as the cane man from last night, whose name she never got. In the chair beside him is a glaring obviously frustrated and a bit uncertain dark skinned business man if his suit is anything to go by. She isn't sure what ethnicity he is and doesn't have long to really ponder on it because now that the two men have moved their chairs Regina has a clear line of sight of her.

Emma swallows, suddenly feeling like this probably wasn't the greatest idea in the world because the look of shock and rage on Regina's face? It scares her enough to second guess herself, which she hates.

Judy seems out of breath even though she just had to run around her desk and five feet. "I'm sorry Madame Mayor I can call…"

"No, no, thank you Judy that won't be necessary." Regina blinks, unsure that she is truly seeing Ms. Emma Swan in front of her grinning like a kid who got away with taking the cookie from the cookie jar and helping to hide the cat's victory over the canary—which she'd obviously never liked to begin with—from mom and dad.

"Yeah, she did try to keep me out, but you see…I never got the chance to tell her that you'd be interested in seeing me. Even without an appointment." Emma offers her best grin, hoping to at least appear cocky and sure of herself when she's neither at the moment.

"Madame Mayor?" Judy asks unsure looking between who she thinks is a crazy woman and the Mayor whom she holds in high regard.

"It's alright, Judy. Do make sure no one else comes in unless it is Sherriff Graham or Dr. Whale. You know I am not to be disturbed by phone also unless…"

"Yes, ma'am." Judy already knows who to put through and who to let in but being reminded like it's the first week on the job stings. She's been Mayor Mills' secretary for five years. She knows what she is supposed to do and what she is not supposed to do. She quickly leaves and sighs, swearing she'll sit in front of the door if she has to, to keep anyone else out of the Mayor's office.

"Thanks Judy…" Emma feels bad for the girl, but only a little.

"Who are you?" The man Emma doesn't know asks first. Not that she knows the man with the cane, but at least he is familiar enough to have given him a nick-name. Man with cane, or Cane Man makes him sound like a superhero, no no that won't do. He's too creepy to be a super hero. It's also a bit plain for a super hero, even if Batman and Superman are just as plain, at least they kick ass. Besides he has villain written all over him with his cocky attitude to rival that of Lex Luther. Hopefully he'll be the smarmy type of villain that never wins. Now THAT she thinks fits him well; kind of like Two-Face or Joker, but hopefully without the bloodshed, bad jokes, and explosions.

Turning back to the crowd of three and out of her comic book fan regression, she steps into the room, sticking her hands into her leather jacket as she walks around the office taking it all in. It gives her time to think about what she should say, how she should say it, and why she didn't think about this before coming in here.

"You don't like to answer questions do you, deary?" Cane Man asks as he follows her movements around the room, watching her carefully. There's a sparkle in his eyes that belies that he already knows the answer to all the questions he'd asked her last night. It makes her skin crawl.

Emma simply grins cheekily at the man and shrugs, running her hand over a particularly interesting engraving on the mantel she's now standing in front of. Its horses, racing horses in movement are carved into the marble looking surface.

Regina stands from her chair to watch Emma's every movement. "Do be careful, that's expensive."

No shit Sherlock, "You don't say?" Emma rolls her eyes as she moves away from the mantel only stopping when she notices pictures of Regina and Henry on the table beside the black leather (yum) couch. Emma picks one up the photo of Regina kneeling next to Henry. The boy's in a wheelchair and holding a stuffed animal while Regina looks at him. The adoration that is clearly visible on Regina's face slices at Emma's heart. She puts down the picture quickly, carefully as if by putting it down any other way the memory might be lost or disturbed.

Regina allows Ms. Swan the time she seems to need to acquaint herself with the room. She waits until she's standing behind Mr. Gold's chair before she addresses her. "What are you doing here, Ms. Swan?"

"Ms. Swan?" The cowering minion—which is just perfect because with Regina standing the way she is leaning slightly on the desk she truly does look like a queen and the man to Emma's right her faithful servant, or lap dog. Whichever. He sounds surprised, but the easy way her name rolls off his tongue makes Emma think that he's said it more than this once. 'How interesting.'

"This is the second time I've seen you around. Maybe it is time I introduced myself." Emma looked to the man with the cane. "Emma Swan."

"Just passing through?" He asked with a knowing grin. Emma notices he hasn't offered his name yet. Payback perhaps for making him work or wait for hers?

"You two have met?" Regina asked looking between the two. "When?"

"Last night," Emma answers off handedly, "Mr…?" Emma raises a brow at the man, having not caught his name while passing through Granny's Inn.

"Gold." Ha…how fitting.

"Mr. Gold here was conducting some business at the B&B last night when I got in." Business that looked like the illegal sort but that still wasn't any of Emma's business.

Regina looked curious, as if to say 'oh really,' "And what time did you get in?"

"Around one a.m." Would have been later had she not lucked out. "Got a little lost." Emma shrugs as if it wasn't such a big deal. When in reality the fact that she was here at all was the biggest deal in Regina's long life and Henry's short one.

"Is that so?" Regina inquires, and Emma can practically see the mines the Mayor is throwing out around her to catch her in a trap. Which, if Emma is honest with herself, mines aren't the best way to trap someone. Exterminate them certainly. But a bear trap could be just as painful but less deadly. The bear trap would also award the Mayor the answers she is looking for at the same time not just a corpse. It's a win-win for everyone—especially the one who would have been blown up otherwise.

"Yea, you see, for some reason my GPS didn't recognize this little township. It wasn't on any maps I bought either, which is a little weird…" There were a lot of small little places in the middle of nowhere that weren't on certain maps. "…but not completely uncommon." She did only buy the standard maps not the in-excruciating-detail ones that took up the entire width and length of the front of her car.

"If it wasn't on a map or you're GPS, how pray tell, did you find your way?" Regina was interested; she hadn't known that Storybrooke would not appear in certain maps or even on the GPS. She spared a look to Mr. Gold and saw him lift his eyebrows for a show before relaxing as he listened to Emma's explanation. He obviously wasn't as surprised as she was.

"It's what I do." Emma didn't want to admit that she'd really only found this place on accident. She'd stopped at just the right gas station and spoken to the right attended to get general directions here. Kind of like Fate was intervening, except Emma didn't believe in Fate. It was just dumb luck, because luck was something occasionally on her side, unlike Fate which was never kind to her.

"What is, dear? Getting lost?" Mr. Gold grinned at the Mayor's dig.

"Finding people." Emma replied, her tone a bit defensive. "I'm a bail bonds-person. I find people for a living. I figured finding you wasn't going to be that hard. You at least wouldn't be running from the law. Just upholding it."

There was silence in the room for several lone moments, uncomfortable. In Emma's opinion it was the 'I need to say something quick to end this madness' type of silence. However no one seemed willing to break it until…

"Hmm…" Mr. Gold looked to Regina with a smile. "We can reschedule if…"

"Yes," Regina cleared her throat, looking to Mr. Gold and Sidney. "Yes, I think that would be a wonderful idea. Tomorrow, speak with Judy about appropriate times on your way out. Thank you, both gentlemen, for your consideration in this matter. I will not forget it." Especially since Regina was sure Mr. Gold would make it impossible for her to forget it. That last bit was said for Sidney so he understood how grateful she would be if he left quietly and without a fuss even though his very nature was probably begging for him to stay and find out all he could about Ms. Swan. More so than he already knew now that he had a face to go with the file he had created on her.

"Of course Madame Mayor." Mr. Gold stood. "Good day Ms. Swan."

Emma nodded her goodbye, watching as Mr. Gold left immediately but Mr. Somebody stayed to talk/whisper secrets with Regina.

"Sidney…Sidney! I'll be fine. Yes, I'll call you." Regina plastered on a smile and walked the two men to the door. Once there she told Judy she was not to be disturbed (again) and stood before the closed doors for several minutes.

Turning around she saw Ms. Swan sitting in Sidney's former seat, facing her desk. Regina was grateful for this moment to compose herself. She had called Sidney and Gold here to talk about how they were going to get Ms. Swan here to Storybrooke and…here she was. Just like Gold said she would be.

Wonderful, another thing I may or may not owe him for. This all counts as one favor. It's all part of the same deal. Regina thought as she steeled herself before walking with her usual confidence to her desk. Instead of sitting behind it she leaned on the edge closest to Ms. Swan. "I am surprised to see you Ms. Swan." Especially after their last meeting, her subsequent return to Storybrooke, alone.

"Look, Madame Mayor, if this is going to work you are going to have to call me Emma." Because the Ms. Swan thing was old the third time she'd said it while standing in her doorway back in Boston.

Regina looked skeptical, "You are," a beat, "considering…this?"

It wasn't like she hadn't just driven five hours and passed this practically invisible town twice in her attempts to get here not to be considering it. "Do you think I would be here if I wasn't?" Emma rolled her eyes, because really what did Regina take her for?

Regina couldn't relax, not knowing how quickly Emma had dashed her hopes just a day before. "What's the catch, as they say?"

"Huh?" Emma didn't follow.

Regina rolled her eyes and sighed. She rearranged herself, shifting her weight onto her opposite leg as she crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her chin down as she looked at Emma. "What do you want?" The Mayor spelled it out for the blonde.

"I don't follow…" What did she want? To help? She'd made the conscious decision to do what she could for her son. She had the miles in her car and the sleepless nights with black circles to prove it. She was here, in Storybrooke Maine, which might as well be a cow lick township in Canada for how little Emma knew about it or cared.

Regina wasn't buying it. "How much money do you want in return for doing this?"

Well, there's the answer to Emma's previous question. Apparently Regina thought Emma was a con artist or some form of gold digger, maybe both or something worse. It made her angry, just a big bit.

Emma shook her head and stood up. "I'm not doing this to get your money. I'm doing it because it's the right thing to do." It had just taken her a long grueling twenty four hours to realize that. "If you think I'm some kind of con artist then you can go to heh…"

"Please…" Regina reached out and grabbed Emma's wrist, holding the younger woman still. "I merely want my bases covered. I am willing to pay, do…anything to save my son. I thought…"

Emma sighed, "You thought I would take advantage of that." Emma was still cold, her voice crisp as she turned to look over her shoulder at Regina. She had had a clear line of sight of the door. Had Regina not grabbed her hand she would have left cursing the Mayor the entire way. Regina had a right to worry about her but not because she wanted the Mayor's money. Looking from the Mayor to the hand holding her wrist she looked back up, "You going to let me go?"

Regina contemplated not letting the woman go. She could borrow a pair of Graham's handcuffs and keep the woman here whether she wanted to stay or not. It would be a bit harder to get things done as Connor was certainly not going to approve of kidnapping as a method to ascertain part of an organ but if it was what she had to do, she would do it. Without a second though. It wouldn't be the worst thing she'd ever done. Not by a long shot.

However, there were several benefits of not holding Emma against her will, so she let her go, releasing her wrist slowly. She was glad to see Emma turn to face her, her back now to the door, rather than watch as the bail bonds-person continue to walk right out of her office.

Emma didn't make her way back to her seat, but it was a start that she hadn't left Regina's office yet.

"I heard you…" The sound of Regina's desperate pleas echoing through her closed and otherwise still and empty apartment made her shiver even now. "…the first time about doing anything for your son. I just, I needed to figure out if I could do that too, you know?" Emma looked down at their shoes. How fitting that her white tennis shoes were the opposite of the Mayor's black heels in color and class. It matched the room even in this.

White and black; good and evil. Emma felt more like the bad guy in this matter, especially with the memory of Regina's strangled voice sounding through the apartment.

"And?" The rest of the statement was left unsaid, Regina's eyes and nervous shift spoke it for her. 'Can you?'

"Yeah, I can. So…where exactly do I have the tests done to see if I am supposed to do this?" Emma asked, testing herself as she looked up for a few seconds before focusing on the Mayor's black pencil skirt instead of her eyes. Her hands self-consciously slipped back into her jacket pockets. She pulled at the material of her jacket as she forced herself to meet Regina's eyes.

Emma still wanted to make sure that she was able to do this, to donate whatever she needed to donate. Thinking about it, Emma didn't even know what type or kind of cancer Henry had. She didn't know what organ she had just volunteered to give up or give a piece of. For all she knows, she could have just agreed to give up a lung or something. Not that she thinks people can give up an entire lung…can they? Ha, is that what they mean when they say you'll do stupid things for love? Before now Emma wouldn't know.

Emma's never been in love, and although this situation wasn't the type to have a budding romance of any kind, it had a form of love. One that Emma had felt while talking to her stomach late at night as she felt Henry kicking and moving around inside her. It had been ten years since she'd felt that light feeling she felt back then surround her chest. She had thought it was gas or just a pregnancy phenomenon but now, she was doubtful. Maybe it had been love the entire time.

As Emma thought more on what lengths she was suddenly willing to go to for a child she had still not even met Regina held up one slender finger, reached for her phone, pressed several buttons and tapped her foot twice before she spoke: "Dr. Whale, this is…"

"Dr. Whale?" Emma mouths the name, huffing a laugh at the sound of it before listening in to the Mayor's continued conversation.

"Yes, I will be coming by the hospital with Ms. Swan. She wishes to speak with you about…wonderful." Regina smiled as if she was the cat that just got the canary and the cream as she hung up.

"Follow me."

It wasn't a question and Emma quickly fell in step behind the brunette mumbling, "yes your majesty" under her breath.

Sparing one last glance around Regina's thrown room—ah office—Emma closed the doors behind them and wondered, not for the first time, what she was getting herself into as they clicked closed.

Part 6

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