Title: Fight or Flight
Author: A. Magiluna Stormwriter
Feedback address: stormwriter@shatterstorm.net
Date in Calendar: 25 June 2014
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairing: Regina/Emma
Rating: PG13 [for language]
Word Count: 1917
Summary: There are days I just want to get away from everything.
Spoilers: An AU taking place between ep 03x10 "The New Neverland" and ep 03x11 "Going Home".
Warnings: No standard warnings apply.
Website: ShatterStorm Productions – Doggie Duo
Link to: http://bdkk.shatterstorm.net/
Archive: ShatterStorm Productions & AO3 only…all others ask for permission & we'll see…
Feedback: Constructive criticism is always welcome.
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Disclaimer: "Once Upon a Time," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Once Upon a Time," ABC, or any representatives of the actors.

Author’s Notes: This is definitely not my normal way of writing Swan Queen. I rarely take Emma's POV, or so it seems. This story is kind of a timewarp ep in that it's after the Nevengers return to Storybrooke with Henry, Pan, and the Lost Boys, but before they learn that Pan and Henry have body-swapped or that Pan's set up the new curse. This got surprisingly melancholy for what I'd originally expected this to become. Then again, this is Emma and Regina, who are some of the biggest angst-monkeys in the Muse Cave.

Dedication: My muses, as always…

Beta: Shatterpath, but all remaining errors are entirely mine.

There are days I just want to get away from everything. The days when it all weighs down so heavily on my soul that I don't know how I can even breathe, let alone function. The days when I want to pack up and run as fast and as far as I can get from this damned town and the destiny it holds for me. That destiny and all of its inherent rules and expectations makes my skin crawl.

When it gets so bad that even being around my parents is too much, I fight the overwhelming urge to skip town. Instead, I change into sweats and running shoes, then to exhaust myself into oblivion while roaming the streets of this still-strange home of mine.

Sometimes I can pinpoint what sets off one of my "fight or flight" episodes. Most of those times, unfortunately, it's related to my parents and their entire fairytale existence and belief in things like True Love and Happily Ever After. Or they get all holier than thou over Regina and everything she does. Like they have the right to know anything about her personal life that doesn't involve them directly. If that's what being royalty is all about, then count me the hell out!

The urge to run has been getting stronger again. It started when we were in Neverland. That place is like the stuff of nightmares. I know Disney made it all fun and games, but it's not and Peter Pan's an evil bastard. Honestly, Storybrooke's really ruined my childhood and all of the Disney I grew up with. I hate this town and what it's done to me.

Today's run is longer than normal. That whole "Lost Girl Emma" thing's been rearing its ugly head as Snow and Charming are being less than subtle about another child. It was bad enough to hear her talk about it in that damned cave, when none of us were sure we'd make it out alive, but having to live with it in close proximity in the loft? Yeah, no thanks, I'm good.

A stitch in my side is the only thing that slows me down eventually. I bend over, arms dangling toward the ground, as I feel muscles trembling all over my body. After a minute or two, my surroundings start to invade, pushing out the thoughts still racing in my brain. The salty tang hits first, a refreshing change from my own rising B.O. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore is next; the sound is soothing as my own heart rate adjusts to match it. Equilibrium restored temporarily, I straighten and start to make my way down to the water. I'm not quite ready to return to the loft and all of my stress again.

Making my way down past the ruins of Henry's castle -- the sight of it still makes my heart ache like the loss of a loved one -- I feel drawn to the siren call of the waves. Maybe a quick splash in the shallows will help brace me for a return trip to town. As the grasses give way to sand, I catch movement in the corner of my eye and slow down, instantly on guard.


She glances up from the boulder she's huddled against and, even from this distance, I can see her eyes are reddened and glassy. Crap! Slowly walking toward her, I check for signs that she wants me to leave her the hell alone, but nothing comes. She sighs and turns her gaze back to the waves before us, the breeze blowing her hair about. She's dressed similarly to me, but her clothes are far more tasteful and expensive, of course.

"Never let it be said that the Mayor dresses sloppily, not even to get sweaty from physical activity."

Her dry tone makes me chuckle, despite the huskiness indicative of many tears shed and sobs stifled. I take care to lean against the boulder next to her, but not too close. I don't want to invade her personal space too much, nor do I want to overwhelm her with my sweat-marinating self. The boulder is still warm from the day's sunlight, so it feels good against my back as I follow her gaze out to the water stretching off toward the horizon.

"Did they send you to come check up on me?" she finally asks several minutes later.

"No. I needed--" I bite off the rest of that thought -- to get away from the chaos -- and clear my throat. "Let's just say I needed to run off some excess energy."

From the corner of my eye, I can see her turn to study my profile, eyebrows bunching slightly in a frown. "I'd think your life is pretty good right about now. You've got Henry back, Neal's not dead and still in love with you, the pirate's clearly pining for you, your parents and all of their friends hail you as a hero."

I snort at that, scratching at the back of my neck, but don't meet her gaze. "Yeah, some life. I'm so special, they're seriously talking about replacing me with a new baby. I guess they don't like the fact that I won't play their doting baby daughter for them."

"Living up to parental images of perfection is never an easy thing to do." She sighs softly, turning her gaze back to the water. "I swore I'd never become my mother, and then I ended up doing the same thing to Henry. Maybe it's better than Henry's with you."

That makes me turn to stare at her. "You're kidding, right?" When she shakes her head, it's my turn to sigh. "Regina, I don't give a damn what my parents or anyone else says. You raised him for ten years. Yeah, I came into town and tried to take him away, but that was before I knew you who were, what you did for Henry that I clearly couldn't. He needs both of us."

She smiles sadly. "No, he has you and your parents. He's even got his father. He wants nothing to do with me. I'm not going to fight him on that either. He's twelve years old now, and he's seen and been through enough in the past two years that he's old enough to make his own decisions."

"Are you even listening to yourself right now?" She starts to speak, but I continue on, barreling over anything she might try to say. "He needs you more than ever now. He needs both of his mothers to help him. Neal may be his father, but he's about as useful as a moldy sponge. Henry needs stability after what he's just gone through. Neal may make a lot of pretty promises, but he never keeps them. Trust me, Regina, I learned that the hard way. When the going gets rough, he'll pack up and run."

"Like you want to?"

"Wh-What?" I'm disgusted that my voice cracks on that simple word. I return my gaze to the waves again, trying not to blush at being caught.

"You're not the only one trained in observation, Emma. I've been watching you from the moment you stepped foot in my town. I think I've come to recognize your tells, as you call them. You've been running more than is probably healthy since we returned from Neverland."

"I'm just letting off steam--"

"Keep telling yourself that until you believe it, dear, but it's going to take a long time. Trust me, Emma, I learned that the hard way."

The sound of the waves crashing against the shore surrounds us again for several moments. I don't know about Regina, but my thoughts revolve around Henry and what's best for him weighed against my need to get the hell out of this damned town and its craziness.

"Come on," she finally says, standing up to brush sand from her pants. "We should head back to town before it gets too late. I'm sure your idiot parents have Henry either hopped up on sugar or bored out of his skull. I suppose we could take him to Granny's for a late dinner."

I nod as I stand up, repeating her movements. "Thank you for inviting me, Regina."

"Oh, I didn't invite you out of kindness," she replies, meeting my gaze again, but I can see the muscles twitching at the corners of her mouth. "I'm expecting you to pay for dinner. After all, you have ten years to make up for. Aren't we competing for the Best Mom title?"

I don't bother to hide my surprised laugh at her comment, then take my life in my own hands as I grab her hand and drag her along, running toward the surf. Except I'm not being careful about where we're going, and fall headlong into the water after tripping over a rock. In my shock, I reflexively tighten my grip on her hand, rather than let go. The last thing I hear before my head is enveloped by an incoming wave is Regina's indignant, startled shriek. Part of me hopes I'll drown, so I don't have to deal with her anger over this.

"--damn it, Emma!" are the first words I hear as I resurface, followed immediately by her spluttering laughter. "You did that on purpose!"

I shake my head. "I swear on my love for Henry that I didn't. Well, I brought you to the water on purpose, but I didn't plan on tripping or getting us both soaked. I am sorry about that. Can-- Can you poof us dry or something?"

"Can I poof us dry or something?" She repeats my words in that low, deadly tone that always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and me wonder why I can't smell ozone. "Do you still think that magic is just parlor tricks? Seriously?"

"Okay, wrong choice of words. Please, Regina? At least dry my shoes and socks so I can run home without totally blistering my feet to hell. I'll owe you big time."

She rolls her eyes, but I can distinctly hear her mutter, "Idiot," before she flicks a wrist and we're both standing there completely dry and, if I do say so myself, smelling fresh from the shower. "Better?"

"Thanks, Regina!" I reply, impulsively leaning forward to kiss her cheek. At the last second, she somehow turns her head and my lips don't touch her smooth cheek. Oh no, that would be the easy thing that should happen. No, I distinctly feel her soft lips against mine. And moan. Damn it, that didn't actually come out of my mouth, did it? She pulls back suddenly, turning to look out at the water, but I can see the flush darkening her cheeks. "Regina, I--"

She holds up a hand, clearing her throat, and smiles. "Now you owe me, Ms. Swan." Her tone turns decidedly playful, something I would never expect from her. "And I definitely intend to collect my payment. Now, let me get us home in one piece and dry. We wouldn't want anyone talking about how we both arrived at your parents' home soaking wet and shivering."

Before I can do anything beyond a dumb nod, mind thoroughly fixated on what her payment might be, purple smoke envelops us. Time to figure out this new development that's now fighting my urge to get the hell out of Dodge.