In the Velvet Darkness, Chapter 7

Previously: Chapter 6 [X]

Apols for the lateness. Work. Long holiday. Stuff.

* * * * *

Monday Morning

When Emma woke, it was dark and the house was mostly silent, so she let her eyes drift shut again. Her first thought was that she must have moved in the middle of the night, because she’d gone to sleep with her head tucked into Regina’s shoulder, legs tangled together, arms wrapped around each other. Actually, she’d fallen asleep for the first time right on top of Regina, although she had no doubt that Regina would want to categorise that as having made her pass out from incredible sex. It would be hard to argue otherwise: Regina had promised to fuck her until one of them broke, and Emma was pretty sure she’d achieved that.

She reached her arm out to find Regina, but hit nothing but cold air.

Her eyes snapped open. She wasn’t naked, she wasn’t in bed and Regina wasn’t beside her. She was on the couch and she was wearing the pyjamas bottoms and college sweatshirt she’d woken up in on Friday morning. The digital display on the microwave ahead of her read 6.47am.

“Regina?”

Nothing.

“Regina!”

This was probably another dream, she thought. Close her eyes, wake up again, and Regina would be there, maybe even with that look in her eyes that said Emma was special. That could work. Yeah, that would definitely work. She squeezed her eyes shut, but she was still alone on the couch when she opened them again.

“Regina!”

A rumble from the refrigerator caught her attention, and her head snapped around, unused to the noises of everyday life after days of silence only broken by the two of them. It scared her. She was honest-to-God scared, because working fridges and blinking microwaves were not part of the Storybrooke where Regina was kinda-maybe hers. She liked that Storybrooke. Fake Storybrooke had naked Regina, who held Emma like she was the most precious thing and let her call her ‘Gina’ and was all pretty and hot and sexy and, well, naked.

Panic rising in her gut. Jesus, not this again. No. Not fair. Not happening. No, no, no.

Maybe this wasn’t some kind of magic thing. Maybe Regina had woken up in the middle of the night and realised that Emma wasn’t what she wanted after all, so she’d gone home. Only that was so much more terrifying than the thought that it was only magic fucking with her life. They hadn’t said the words, but she was sure they loved each other. They hadn’t just been fucking: they had been making love. The sex had gone from rough and fast to sweet and slow then back again, but always tender. Being with Regina was better than anything Emma could have wished for. And maybe Regina wasn’t in love with her the way Emma was completely in love with her, but it had felt like that. No-one could have faked the levels of emotional intensity they had shared.

She scrabbled up from the sofa, hurried to her bedroom. Her bed was unmade, but the sheets were still tucked in on one side, and there was only one indentation in her pillows. The bag with Regina’s clothes was not on the chair by the bed, only the long-sleeved tee she had been wearing on Thursday, the one she’d ripped on a stray nail in Mrs Dubchek’s garage while investigating the theft of some power tools. Regina’s robe was not on the floor. The plate from the midnight snack she’d brought for Emma—‘I cannot believe you are going to eat cold lasagne,’ she had said, but the eyes were soft and the smile was tender, and it was definitely love, because it had to be, couldn’t be anything else—was not by the bed.

“Regina!”

Think, think. What was happening? What did she need to know?

“Henry!” she shouted. “You here, kid?”

She dashed through to his room. It wasn’t exactly as it had looked on Friday morning. The book bag which had been on his chair, and which Regina had moved to the bed, was gone. His cellphone was not on the bedside locker. His wardrobe door was open and some of his favourite clothes were missing. Someone had been there and taken his things.

Phone. She needed her phone.

She sprinted back to the couch, stubbing her toe on the coffee table as she skidded to a halt.

“Jesus fucking shit!” It hurt like a bastard, and she awkwardly lifted her foot to rub it before retrieving her phone.

The lock screen told her that it was Monday, and that she had over twenty missed calls and a bunch of unread messages from Henry, Snow, David and Ruby. Scanning them, she saw that most dated back to Friday, but there were a few from Saturday and Sunday as well, all on the same theme of ‘where are you?’ The most reassuring message was a voicemail from her father, saying that he and Snow had taken Henry to their apartment for the time being. At least her son was safe.

She moved to her front door and opened it, looking out on the street and seeing people moving around in the Carpenters’ house, going about their daily routine. The sounds of nature and cars making their early-morning way around town filled the air.

Definitely real Storybrooke. She was definitely home.

Alone.

And then a new thought occurred to her: what if the spell hadn’t been real at all? What if she had been stranded by herself and the Regina in Fake Storybrooke was as fake as everything else there? What if it had all been a figment of Emma’s imagination? What if she had merely wished a Regina who actually returned her feelings into existence? What if the real Regina had been at home in the mansion for the weekend, thinking Emma had disappeared without Henry?

And why, in the name of God and all things fucking holy, did she have to keep coming up with new nightmare scenarios?

She dashed back down the hallway and checked herself in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. She might have been wearing Friday morning’s clothes, but she had a prominent hickey on her neck. She lifted her sweatshirt and turned around. Yep, those were nail marks on her back. And she saw a bruise just above her hip, sustained while colliding hard with the door handle as she carried Regina through to the bedroom.

Of course, a fake Regina could have left real marks.

Shit. God-fucking-damn-it and shit.

There was only one way to find out what was real and what wasn’t. Without any further thought, she closed her eyes and focused all her energy and emotion into a single thought: Regina.

When she opened her eyes, she was in the Mayoral mansion, her stomach queasy from the teleportation and her heart pounding from the fear that she might learn something she didn’t want to know.

“Regina?”

She headed towards the master bedroom, taking the stairs two at a time. She yanked open the door, only to find the room empty. The bed had not been slept in, but there were clothes strewn across on the floor, which was the least Regina-like thing Emma could imagine. She cast her mind back to Thursday, when she and Regina had met for lunch at Granny’s. Regina had been wearing a grey pencil skirt, cream blouse and her black leather jacket, which was exactly what was lying on the floor, along with a white lace bra that Emma figured would be almost entirely see-through when worn. It would probably be completely translucent after Emma’s mouth had been pressed against it, licking and sucking and teasing, forcing that little moaning noise from Regina.

Concentrate, she ordered herself. It was so not the time for thinking about her favourite subject.

Again, she closed her eyes and tried to quiet her mind entirely, letting her magic tell her all she needed to know.

Living room.

She hurried back down the stairs but moved more quietly when she reached the hall. The house was too silent for someone to be up and awake. There was no smell of coffee from the kitchen, and there was almost always coffee brewing because Regina mainlined the stuff. Yeah, something was way off about the situation, and she wished she’d bothered to get dressed and bring her badge and gun. Bare-footed and in PJs was no way to face danger.

She eased open the living room door, peeking her head around it. There was a distinct smell in the air, and it wasn’t coffee or even cider. It was whisky, rich and peaty. Emma slipped inside the room and was surprised to find Regina on the couch, snoring lightly, one hand on her belly, the other clutching a photograph. An open bottle of malt whisky sat next to a half-filled glass on the coffee table. Regina had missed the glass a few times, judging by the drying blobs of alcohol around it. More photographs were strewn across the coffee table and onto the floor in front of the couch.

As she got closer, Emma saw most of the pictures were of her and Henry; some, just of her. The one Regina was holding had always been one of Emma’s favourites. It had been taken in New York during a school trip to the batting cages. Emma was standing behind Henry, showing him how to swing without pulling his hips. He was staring up at her from beneath his helmet and she was laughing back at something he’d just said. The only thing which could have made the moment better would have been if Regina had been behind the camera and not the mother of one of Henry’s school friends.

Looking at the sleeping woman, at least she now had an explanation for Regina’s arriving at her house in disarray on Friday morning, although a hangover would have been Emma’s very last guess.

She knelt down on the floor and reached out her hand to rest on Regina’s cheek.

“Hey, beautiful.”

Regina jerked into wakefulness, her eyes unfocused before settling on Emma. Her face softened and she started to smile in return. And, hey, there was the special look which said love and home and belonging. This Regina had been with her in Fake Storybrooke, Emma knew.

“Hi.” Regina’s voice was hoarse from sleep and maybe from the guttural noises Emma had repeated coaxed from her over the last day, and it was still the sexiest thing Emma had ever heard. And for one perfect moment—the kind which could be replayed for years in her memory—everything in Emma’s life was good and pure and full of hope, because it all felt a lot like love.

But then Regina’s smile froze and her eyes narrowed, as she realised that they weren’t naked together and they weren’t in Emma’s Fake Storybrooke bed.

“We’re home.”

“Yeah. I guess the spell ended.”

“Henry?” Because of course that would be Regina’s first question.

“He’s with my parents. We can get dressed and go see him now, if you like.”

Regina nodded. “Yes, that would be best.” She was still waking, not quite herself yet, but she was hardening herself in way which was not the Regina who fed her late-night snacks and held her so very close. Hoping to stop the transformation before it could start, Emma reached out to smooth some hair from Regina’s forehead.

“I wish you’d been there when I woke up,” she said. “I missed you.”

“We’ve spent all weekend together. You can’t possibly have missed me already.” Regina pushed Emma’s hand away and sat up. Her lips pursed as she took in her surroundings. Seeing the photograph in her hand, Regina tossed it onto the table, as if she could pretend she hadn’t been clutching it to her chest in her sleep.

“Hey, come on. Don’t be like that. Of course I missed you.”

But Regina was already composing herself, smoothing out the wrinkles in her robe and running her fingers through her hair. Not that Emma cared what she looked like: Regina was always beautiful to her. She sank back on her knees and retrieved the photograph Regina had tossed aside.

“You know, we should do stuff like this together. Let the kid see that he has two moms who can deliver a mean pitch.” Regina-Emma-Henry, that was what she wanted and needed. She had hoped that was what Regina wanted too.

Regina blinked. “That’s hardly the most important order of business right now.”

“Really? ’Cause there’s nothing more important to me than us, than our family.”

“And not the fact that we’ve been caught up in a spell cast by your boyfriend?” Regina almost spat the final word. She stood up, stepping around Emma and starting to clear up the mess on the coffee table. “We were taken from our lives and exiled to another reality by magic. That’s tantamount to kidnapping. You’re the Sheriff, Emma. Why don’t you go do your job and arrest the perpetrator?”

“Because it’ll wait.”

“Lovely attitude. Do you treat all criminal activity in my town like this? Or just the major crimes involving people you’re dating?” Regina’s lip curled in disapproval.

Great. Emma took a deep breath. This was what she really hadn’t wanted, to be faced with the Regina of years ago who called her ‘Miss Swan’ in the bad way. Of course it had been too much to hope that she could have a normal life where she finally got to be with the woman she loved, after years of wanting and fantasising, and it was just good and easy and right. No, that wasn’t her life. Her life was waking up alone and stupid spells fucking with her and the woman she loved retreating back behind her barriers.

“It’s not as important as this.”

“Kidnapping is unimportant?”

“No. Of course it’s important, and, believe me, I will make sure he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” and she wasn’t even sure how she was going to do that, when there weren’t any statutes on the books for magical fuckery, “but this, you and me, is more important than anything. Do you have any idea how scared I was when I woke up this morning and you weren’t there?”

“I thought we had discussed yesterday that the spell was unravelling. It surely cannot have been a surprise to you that we have been returned here?” It was hard to tell if Regina was being deliberately obtuse—always a possibility when she wanted to avoid things—or was actually unmoved by events. Neither option was that great.

“That’s not what I’m saying either. What I’m saying is that you weren’t there, and I was all alone, and it scared me. It scared me because I didn’t know where you’d gone, and then I started to wonder if I had imagined everything that had happened this weekend, or if maybe it had been real, but you hadn’t been.”

Regina stared at the far wall, avoiding eye contact. “You’re making even less sense than usual.”

“For fuck’s sake! I was worried that the you who was with me in Fake Storybrooke was just someone I wished into existence, and not the real you at all. And that’s the worst thing I can imagine, because being with you was the best thing ever, and I couldn’t bear the idea that it hadn’t been real.” She stood, her hands on her hips, wishing that she was wearing something a lot more imposing than her ratty old sweats, and wishing she could look at Regina without remembering how it felt to be inside her, making her arch and thrust, begging Emma to stop-don’t stop-never stop-make her come-please don’t stop.

“Oh, so now you can’t tell the difference between the real me and your imagination?”

“Why are you being like so goddamned difficult? I’m just trying to say that I thought we were gonna wake up together and have a lazy morning in bed, maybe fool around a bit, and I’d even make you some of that hot tea you like and burn you some toast for breakfast. Instead, I woke up alone and scared and all I wanted was you to be there with me. And maybe I was hoping that you wanted that, too.”

Regina turned away, hiding her face from Emma. “Well, we don’t always get what we want in this life.”

“And you think I don’t know that?” Jesus, her whole life was one long list of things she had wanted, but had never got.

Regina ignored the question, picking up photographs from the floor and stacking them into a neat pile. Emma looked down at the one still in her hand, and it suddenly hit her what Regina had been doing. Drink plus wallowing in self-pity always equally unhappiness, usually caused by love. In fact, often caused unrequited love, which could hardly be further from the truth. God, she loved Regina so much that she could hardly contain it.

“You were going to give me up,” she said, knowing it was true when Regina tensed at the accusation.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Hook. He asked you to stay away from me, and you were going to, weren’t you?”

“I already told you that I dismissed him and his allegations.” Regina wouldn’t look at her, though, and that was enough for Emma to know that it was a lie, or a half-truth at least.

Regina would only have given into Hook’s demands for her own reasons, not because of him at all. It had to mean that she was doing it for Emma. Regina must love her back.

“Yeah, but you never told me what you were going to do about what he said. You were going to back off and let me be with him. That’s what all these photos and the drinking’s about.”

“As if I would do what he asked of me.” Regina tightened the belt of her robe in a classic defensive gesture.

“No, you wouldn’t. But I think you would do whatever you thought was best for those you loved.” She took a half-step forward, reaching out to lay her hand on Regina’s forearm. “I think you would do whatever you thought was best for me.” It was a gamble, she knew. Pushing Regina could only ever go one of two ways, victory or disaster. She might not be given to showing her emotions, but Regina felt things more deeply than anyone Emma had ever known. There were never any half-measures with her.

“And why should I ever do that?”

“Because you love me.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“No, it’s not. I love you and you love me.” It wasn’t exactly how she wanted to profess her love to another person for the first time since Neal, but she could feel Regina slipping away from her. “I’m in love with you and you damn well know it, and I think that maybe you’re in love with me too.”

“Emma, you know this is not who we are out here.” Regina’s hand swirled in the air, indicating the town. It still wasn’t an outright denial, though.

“How is it not?”

“You have a boyfriend. You have a family. Here, we are friends, nothing more.”

“Not now. Not after this weekend. You get that, right? You get that it’s you and me now? There’s no way I’d ever go back to Hook. I love you. I want to be with you.” Jesus. Why was this so hard?

Regina’s eyes were soft again, but sad—so achingly sad. “Oh, Emma. Life doesn’t work like that.”

“Why the hell not?” She curled her hands into fists. “That look I get when I see you? I’m not cursed or under a spell or infected by some potion when you’ve seen that look every fucking day for years now. The way I look at you is because that’s how I feel for you. I want you. I love you. I’m in love with you. And maybe I needed a spell to act upon it, but it doesn’t make it any less real.”

“There’s no point discussing this.”

“Yes, there is. There is because this is who we are. Yesterday, that was what we could be together. Because we are so much better together than apart.” She shook her head. “And you didn’t need any potion or spell to make you love me, either.”

“We were in an alternate reality with heightened emotions and no consequences. You cannot expect how we behaved there to be replicated here.”

Emma threw her hands up. “You don’t stop loving someone just because there are other people around.”

“Funny. You seemed to have a problem admitting your feelings until there was no-one else around to see.” Regina’s jaw tensed and her eyes flashed with anger, and there—finally, at last—was the woman whom Emma knew, the one who brimmed with rage and had a talent for invective, but then Regina shook her head, her shoulders slumping. “We shouldn’t have given in to what we were feeling. It was a foolish mistake.”

She should have known this would happen. This, this pain she was feeling, was why she didn’t let people in; this was why she didn’t do relationships.

“It wasn’t a mistake. What happened between us could never be a mistake. I fucking love you.” Tears were stinging at her eyes, but she wasn’t going to cry. No crying, no crying, no crying. She wasn’t one of those kids, one of the weak kids. “And you love me.”

“I will always be there for you, whenever you need me. But anything more than that isn’t a possibility here. You must see that?”

Oh my God. She was being friend-zoned. That was up there with ‘It’s not you; it’s me’. What the fuck had she been thinking, expecting even a little bit of happiness for herself?

“No, I don’t get that. I want to be with you. I think you want to be with me. So, I’m really, really not seeing what the problem is here. Is it the gay thing?”

Regina snorted. “You’re not serious?”

And she wasn’t, not really, but she was willing to clutch at any straw which was something other than ‘Emma Swan isn’t good enough’, which seemed to be the gist of Regina’s argument.

“Well, then, what? Why can’t we be together?”

“That is not in our destinies.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now with the fairytale crap? I get that you all buy this shit, but we’re in twenty-first century America. Your destiny is whatever you make it.”

“How very trite.” Regina gave her an even more disdainful look. “Tell me, did you get that from Oprah, or perhaps a fortune cookie?”

Emma took a deep breath. Calm. She needed to be calm. Shouting and crying were not the answer here.

“Are you scared?”

“Scared? Whatever do I have to be scared of?” But there was enough of a flicker across Regina’s face that Emma suspected she’d hit a nerve.

“I dunno.” She shrugged. “Lots of things. What will other people think? Will it last? Maybe some of the same things I was scared of when I woke up. Maybe it wasn’t real. Maybe it was just the spell. But, it’s not. Well, it wasn’t for me. And I get that love is a scary thing, but that’s okay, too.”

“I have never cared what others think of me.”

“Henry? Me?”

“You’re not others.” Regina scowled as she realised what she was admitting. “I mean—” She shook her head. “We should get dressed and go see Henry, rather than wasting our time with this pointless conversation.” Without waiting for Emma to reply, Regina swirled her hand and light smoke enveloped them both. When it cleared, they were both fully dressed and on the street outside David and Snow’s apartment.

“This isn’t over,” Emma said.

“Oh, but that’s where you’re entirely wrong. This is very much over.”

* * * * *

Next up: Chapter 8 [A]

2 Comments

  1. Sezje
    Posted 1 August 2014 at 1.27am | Permalink

    HOW VERY DARE YOU. You put them back happy or so help me Spaghetti Monster I’ll come at you with a manky boot

  2. Posted 6 August 2014 at 8.54pm | Permalink

    I spent the day reading this on AO3 and *loved* it, so thought I’d see what else you’ve written. Seems as though I have a lot of what I’m sure will be excellent reading with which to occupy myself until the last chapter of this is posted. Thanks!

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s