DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Zombie Fic Fest 2012 at Zombi_fic_ation. Thank you to all the Mods for their hard work and for letting me play. I don't normally go for zombie stuff, but that was half the fun of this challenge, trying something new. Prompt: 357. Once Upon a Time - Emma, Henry, Regina + Any/All - Of course the first person Henry points his finger at when the zombies come to town is Regina. But this time, the one-time evil queen is just as surprised as everyone else. Beta: Ariestess
SPOILERS: Up to and including Season One, Episode 11, Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com
What Happened to Happily Ever After?
It wasn't supposed to end like this.
This was supposed to be her happily ever after. And there was no way that it included hoards of mindless zombies lurching around sunny Storybrooke. There was definitely no plan that had the undead chasing and munching on poor cursed fairytale folk who were trapped there, unable to leave the city limits and flee this madness. It was like shooting fish in a barrel and something needed to be done about it.
Regina Mills swore and poured herself some MacCutcheon whiskey from her private stock, the amber liquid splashing over the ice clinking in her crystal glass, soothing her frayed nerves. This situation certainly called for something stronger than her homemade apple cider. She shook her head and sighed wearily. No, this was definitely not how her happily ever after was supposed to go. In her darkest of hearts the Evil Queen seethed and would have none of it, but this wasn't her fairytale realm anymore. Here in this mundane land, she was simply the mayor of a town in trouble.
Big oozing gobs of trouble.
As mayor, Regina had been informed almost immediately when Dr. Whale had come across the first unusual case at the hospital several weeks ago, but she had thought nothing of it. She dismissed it and let the hospital staff deal with it. A mistake at the time perhaps, not that she would admit it now. Besides she had been too wrapped up in other, more important issues, namely the newly elected sheriff in town, Emma Swan.
The Mayor was a strong believer in keeping your friends close, and your enemies even closer. How much closer could she be than being wrapped around the delectable blonde, as the unpredictable woman lay spent and exhausted in her bed? It hadn't been as hard as expected to get the woman into her bed, a dinner to thank her for saving her from the fire at City Hall and to discuss a visitation schedule with Henry. A few glasses of wine later and it had almost been too easy. And what at first had been a calculated attempt to keep the new Sheriff in town under her control, she quickly realized was a futile endeavour. Emma Swan would not be easily tamed.
And deep inside, Regina was glad.
Truth be told, she wanted an equal, both inside the bedroom and out. She wanted someone to challenge her, who would think on their own, who was powerful in their own right, and yet still chose to stand by her side.
Regina wanted someone to love and who loved her in return, she just wasn't sure she deserved it. Somehow though, Emma Swan had done just that, working her way beyond the walls, slashing her way through the prickly attitude and bluster, and found the frightened girl lurking deep inside.
Despite her best efforts, Regina Mills had fallen for the good sheriff and it scared the hell out of her.
So it was no wonder that in the thrall of this unexpected turn in their relationship and the consequences of how it would affect the curse, Regina had ignored Dr. Whale's dire warnings. She had only glanced at the various reports crossing her desk about the spread of the bizarre virus, barely registering the warnings about the similarities it had to a flesh-eating disease, not really realizing the alarming rate it was spreading through the hospital and beyond, until finally she saw it splashed across the front page of The Daily Mirror.
It was all downhill from there.
The Mayor's office phone hadn't stopped ringing from terrified citizens. Dr. Whale and his staff had all succumbed to the virus themselves so there was no one left to work on a cure or antidote, or guard the infected. The worst case zombies had escaped from the hospital wards where they were being kept and were on the loose in Storybrooke.
No one was safe.
Regina knew the Sheriff's office would be no calmer, so she wasn't surprised when Emma left her a message, fear lacing her voice, informing her that the police station had been overrun. Relief washed over the Mayor as Emma told her she was off to get Henry from school, to get their family to safety, and that she would meet her at Regina's house.
That had been over an hour ago, and the Mayor was starting to get worried. Regina had quickly retreated from City Hall, barely escaping into her car as an infected Sidney Glass and his pack of paparazzi colleagues hounded her. They had all been bad enough when they were alive, let alone as a group of shuffling, brain munching zombies. She only had to run one down to make her escape back home, hopefully she would be able to wash the remnants of Peter, the pumpkin eater, off of her grill with a little elbow grease at some point.
Swirling the amber whiskey in her tumbler, Regina tried to figure out how she could fix this horrible mess they were all in. Her head snapped up as she heard a chainsaw roar to life. It was nearby but she relaxed a little and smiled as she recalled that Emma had used one on her favourite apple tree not that long ago.
The buzzing sound was on the move though, and before she knew it Regina heard the front door open and then bang shut. The scream of the chainsaw engine died as quickly as it had begun and then there were locks being thrown shut and a chair scraped across the foyer to barricade the door from intruders, as if it would stop the undead.
Regina shook her head and threw back her drink, before grabbing a second glass and pouring out another round. Scared voices were headed her way, footsteps approaching, and Regina turned to face her guests.
"This is all HER fault," Henry Mills glared at his adoptive mother from the doorway to the study, his dark eyes glittering with anger and fear as he pointed a finger, wrongly accusing her. Regina's heart sank, but she wasn't surprised.
"Henry, stop it," Emma burst out from behind him, chainsaw held tightly in one hand. "I know you think your mom is an evil queen, but that does not mean that she is behind every nasty, apocalyptic thing that comes to town."
Emma glanced up at Regina and paused, her head cocking to the right as she thought about what she had just said, suddenly unsure.
"You aren't are you?" Emma's voice was low and hesitant.
Regina couldn't help the smirk that graced her lips as she took another sip of her whiskey and simply cocked an eyebrow in response. Henry simply crossed his arms and fumed, not believing the woman didn't have something to do with this whole bizarre mess.
"Thank you for retrieving Henry from school." Regina sighed and handed her lover the other glass of whiskey. The woman looked like she needed a good stiff drink. "I was getting worried about the two of you."
"Nothing we couldn't handle." Emma smiled, gladly taking the drink and downing it quickly.
"No help from you," Henry spat at his mother. Emma frowned as Regina just set her jaw as the anger built. They might not be blood, but they were certainly as stubborn as each other.
"Henry, enough of that. Go upstairs and pack a bag," Emma said, elbowing him as he threw her a surly glare. "Your mom and I need to talk about what to do next." They watched in silence as Henry stomped off, heading upstairs to do as he was asked.
"We can't leave," Regina said softly, turning back to the window. Pulling the curtain open slightly she could see bodies shuffling along outside, searching, hunting for the living.
"The hell we can't," Emma said from behind her, reaching out a hand to pull her lover from the window and the horrors outside. "You have to think of Henry."
"I always think of Henry," Regina said, pique colouring her words, making them a little sharper than intended. She sighed and tried again. "I also have to think of the citizens of Storybrooke."
"He thinks you are behind it," Emma began to pace, wanting to be gone, far away from this nightmare, before it was too late.
"Of course he does," Regina snorted, not at all surprised despite the twinge of pain and hurt that flashed in her chest. A thought occurred to her though and she turned a sharp glare towards Emma. "Is there anything about this in that damned book of his?"
"It's a book of fairytales, Regina, not Tales from the Crypt." Emma cocked an eyebrow and shook her head.
No help there then. Regina ran long fingers through her dark hair in frustration. It would seem she was running out of options and there was only one way to solve this zombie problem. She'd been denying her feelings long enough, she only hoped it was enough to break the curse and return the people of Storybrooke back to their magical selves. She would have a fighting chance to protect them all as the Evil Queen once again.
"We have to leave here, now. It's the only way," Emma broke into her thoughts, clutching the chainsaw tighter, clearly anxious as the shuffling and moaning outside was growing louder.
"Running isn't the answer." Regina sighed, looking up into her lover's eyes.
"Then what, Regina? Fight them? Battle a mindless hoard of zombies, watch while they eat everything I care for in this world? I can't do it. I won't lose you now that I've " Emma's voice choked up and she glanced away, embarrassed at revealing so much.
Regina's heart thudded loudly in her ears at Emma's declaration. The woman had feelings for her, deep feelings. Even thought she suspected her of being the Evil Queen. She moved closer, pulling Emma into her arms, revelling in the moment.
"Shhh, my dear. I have a plan," Regina murmured, cupping Emma's pale cheek. "You should know by now that I always have a plan." Their eyes locked and the heat between them flared to life. Regina was determined to have faith in love once again. It was time for the first test. "We have to get Henry and then I'll break the curse. Once we're back in the fairytale world I can deal with this zombie situation."
"You mean " Emma blinked, her voice trailing off in disbelief. She had trusted Henry on one hand but on another level she had thought it couldn't possibly be true. In a world where zombies roamed the streets, then anything was possible apparently.
"Yes, it's true. I am the Evil Queen." Regina stood straighter, and her eyes seemed to glitter with hidden depths of power. "But I've changed, you've changed me. I was fighting this this attraction for so long, and now... Well, now there doesn't seem to be a point if this is to be our last stand against the army of zombies."
"Regina, I" Emma started but the sound of wood crashing interrupted her words and the two women turned to face several zombies making their way towards them.
Archie Hopper led the undead, his arms reaching towards them, his shirt torn and bloody. He grunted and groaned as he blindly made his way into the study. Growling and snapping next to him was his Dalmatian, Pongo, also infected but still at the side of his master, faithful even in death.
"Fuck," Emma growled and pulled the cord on her chainsaw in one desperate tug. It roared to life and she held onto it for all she was worth. "Get behind me and stay close. We have to get Henry to safety and figure this out." Regina grabbed a wrought iron poker from the nearby fireplace and brandished it like a sword, protecting Emma's rear.
Emma winced as she sliced through Archie's arm, sending him howling to the ground as gore spewed everywhere, down but not out. Regina kicked at another zombie lurching towards them, Bashful if memory served correctly, while swinging hard with her poker and hitting the attacking Pongo soundly, sending the poor dog flying into two other zombies shuffling in, attracted by the commotion.
With a mad yell, Emma lunged forward slicing and dicing her way through the approaching pack of zombies, Regina close on her heels. Slipping and sliding through the slimy carnage around them, Emma killed the chainsaw and they stood victorious, trying to catch their breath. The two women glanced around and realized they had hacked and fought their way to the bottom of the stairs in the foyer when they heard a toe curling scream coming from upstairs.
"Henry!" Regina gasped, their eyes locking for a moment in horror as they realized he was alone and unprotected. As one they turned and ran up the stairs. In the hallway outside his bedroom stood two familiar figures reaching for Henry as he stood pressed against the wall, his book of fairytales clutched to his chest.
"No, we can't leave without them! I won't!" Henry called out. "They are my moms!" His face lit up as he saw them approaching.
Mary Margaret and David turned to stare at what the boy was looking at. Their shirts were torn and black goo and gore was all over them but their eyes shone with concern and fear, not the glazed stare of a zombie.
"I'm so glad you're okay." Mary Margaret wrapped her arms around Emma pulling her into an embrace. "We saw the group clawing its way inside the house and had to make sure." Emma swallowed hard as she realized that this was her mother, for real. Dropping the chainsaw with a thud, she turned to hug her mother back, glancing up to meet her father's steady gaze.
"We need to go, now," David said, his voice deepened with barely concealed fear. He kept a close eye on the top of the stairs, waiting for something to crawl its way up to their level. There was a shuffling thumping sound headed their way, certainly they wouldn't be alone for much longer.
"It's too late to run, and you wouldn't be able to get past the town limit anyway." Regina sighed. "There is only one thing is left to do."
"You mean " Henry came forward, his eyes wide with shock and joy. Regina glanced down at the boy and smiled, the only thing she had loved in this world, until his mother had come into town.
"Time to break the curse," Regina's voice echoed almost, the power starting to rise within her.
"But how?" Emma asked, just as shocked.
"With true love's kiss," Mary Margaret whispered, fingers coming to her lips as a memory surfaced for an instant and then flittered away again. She grabbed David's hand and held tight, watching as Regina glanced at her and nodded sadly.
Stepping forward, Emma blinked trying to comprehend. Regina grabbed her hand gently and pulled her closer, her other hand slipping up to cup her cheek tenderly.
"I'm sorry, my dear," Regina said softly, glancing down at her lover's full plump lips. "I've been holding back, for fear of just this moment." Regina looked up again, meeting shimmering blue eyes. Her thumb moved and wiped at a falling tear. Regina smiled, her hand trailing down Emma's body, to pause over her heart, feeling it beat there.
Emma shifted closer, feeling like the world was spinning around her, like energy was pulsing through her, and from her. Her eyes widened, as if her heart had been squeezed and held tight, pulsing hot and pure. Emma's eyes locked with Regina's and she lost herself in the dark depths, barely registering what was going on around her. There was only Regina, and that was fine by her.
"I love you." Regina's words flowed over both of them, and then she closed the scant distance between them, their lips meeting tentatively at first, then pressing harder, deeper. Regina eyes fluttered shut and she held on for dear life.
Around them was the shuffling grunts of the undead, the screams of their friends and family, a vortex of sound swirling and exploding around them, like the center of a hurricane. And still they held on, claiming and being claimed.
Finally their kiss broke, and with it, so did the curse.
Blinking her eyes open, Regina almost feared what she would see. She quickly realized they were in her palace, in fairytale land, but the zombies were still there, crawling towards them along the hallway. Despite their imminent danger, she waited desperately for Emma's eyes open, to hear what the woman had to finally say.
"Fuck, no!" Emma growled, her eyes opening wide, glittering with anger. Regina's heart sank, devastated. And then she was roughly pulled to the side as, behind her, a zombie lurched, missing her by mere inches.
A sword lay at her feet, where the chainsaw had previously settled, so Emma grabbed it and swung it as if she had been doing it all her life. The blade sank deep hitting bone with a dull thud. The zombie screamed in anger and frustration, but did not stop.
Regina watched in horror for a moment and then stood to full height. Emma was protecting her, giving her the time she needed to save the entire fairytale realm. Power and magic gathered around her as she murmured softly under her breath. A cleansing incantation, a simple spell really, just magnified. That was going to be the issue, how to increase the spell. Regina would need more power. At her side she felt a small hand slip into her own, her son's tiny face looking up at her with new hope and love. They shared a smile and she felt the boost in her power grow exponentially.
Henry grinned and reached out, finding Snow White's hand, who also held James by her side. Again Regina felt the power of their love coursing through her adding to the building wave deep inside.
"Now, Emma." Regina's voice was low and echoed in their ears and chests, the power causing a wind to swirl as it continued to gather in strength and power. Emma turned to see her family standing behind her, supporting Regina in this final battle. Reaching back Regina took her hand and they shared a smile.
Turning to face the relentless zombie still coming for her, Emma sank her sword into the putrid mess of the thing's chest, straight through the heart. Power and energy suddenly unleashed, into and through her and out down the blade. It felt hot and cold at the same time, pure and clean, honourable and true.
The zombie froze, seemingly confused and clutching mindlessly at the blade sticking into his heart.
Regina murmured something, a soft chant that increased the energy pulsing between them all. Focusing all her attention, she gave a final push. From the blade came a white bolt of light, energy building into the chest of the zombie, before it exploded out of the creature's back, splitting and hitting the next zombie in the chest, and then the next, continuing to work its way through all the infected. A boom sounded as the magic spell exploded beyond the castle, moving out in a flashing white light, hitting every shuffling zombie in the land.
Emma watched as the zombie before her fell to the floor, a puddle of rotting flesh. She grimaced at the stench and pulled the sword from the corpse on the floor with a sickening squish, black putrid ooze covering the metal. The world around them seemed to shimmer one last time and then the dead man was suddenly recognizable.
Mr. Gold, Rumplestiltskin, lay shrivelled and dead at their feet.
Behind them, the zombies still standing, shuffling mindlessly, still salvageable, also shivered in the light, the magic moving through them with each beat of their reanimated hearts, as they magically began to revert back to their normal fairytale world selves.
Regina sank to her knees, exhausted, awaiting her fate. She was at the mercy of her enemies now; she could only hope that Emma would find it in her heart to forgive her some day.
"Mom, you did it!" Henry said, wrapping his arms around Regina's neck. Tears washed down her face, as she pulled his thin frame closer, love flowing through her now, just as the power had a moment before. It was as if the spell had cleansed her body and soul, as well, an added side effect it would seem. He pulled away, still bouncing up and down beside Regina, holding her hand tight. "I knew you could do it. You just needed the White Knight to show you how."
Behind them, Snow White and James held each other, crying as their memories came flooding back. There would be much to work out, to atone for, but for now their world was back and their loved ones were safe. And they had the Evil Queen to thank for that.
Emma stood, taking everything around her in. It was true; the damned fairytale book was real. Her parents, her son, her lover, all looked up at her as reality sunk in. She finally had the family she always wanted. The sword fell from her fingers with a clatter by her feet as she took a step, and then another, to stand before Regina, before the Evil Queen.
In her mind all she could hear was Regina's words, and all she could feel inside was the power of this love pulsing through her. The same feelings she had been so afraid to reveal. Emma sank to her knees beside Regina, her dark eyes blinking sadly up at her. She tucked a tendril of dark hair back behind Regina's ear and smiled.
"I love you, too," Emma murmured softly, pulling her lover close, reassuring her as she wrapped her arms around her, breathing in the scent of apples, sunshine and something all Regina. "We'll figure the rest out. I promise."
Regina nodded and snuggled close, soaking up the warmth and love surrounding her. Inside her brittle dark heart seemed to shatter, leaving only joy glowing there at long last. It was all so unbelievable.
After all, who knew it would take a zombie apocalypse to find her happily ever after?
As night settled over the fairytale realm like a dark cloak covering the land, all was silent in the palace. Celebrations and tears, families reunited, love embraced and shared, it had all had come to a reluctant end until the new dawning day began once again.
Somewhere in the palace, a large dark mirror shimmered and swirled, a hint of a reflection hidden within, moving the smoky haze. A soft shuffling sound floated up, a low moan coming from somewhere far away. Suddenly a decaying hand slammed against the mirrored surface from the inside, a trail of black ooze streaking down. Clawing upright, the creamy glazed eyes of the undead stared straight ahead, and what was left of the Genie of Agrabah searched for something, someone. His mouth opened wide and he screamed in frustration, long and tortured, before sinking once more into the mists of the mirror
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