A/N: A little tale about the things that Regina finds in Emma. Because there's more beneath the leather than meets the eye.

This is just a little idea that I had when I was dialogue-ing with myself in the shower - a little more conversation here, a little shift in the sequence of events there, a little (a lot?) less damage to my ship... Starting with the beginning of The Cricket Game and moving forward a bit from there. It's a little Swan Queen, simply because I can't help myself, though I'm not sure to what degree just yet.

...I don't own nothing. I think that's fairly obvious. So, without further ado:


This, I Find In You

Chapter 1: A Kindred Spirit


"…I'm not sure that's best."

If she'd been a wolf, like that Lucas-girl, her hackles would have been standing on end.

"Oh, so now you think you know what's best? In all your five minutes o-"

The blonde crinkled her nose and took a step closer, waving a hand as though to banish a sudden stink.

"Regina, I… I didn't mean it like that."

She crossed her arms, shields up – not even trying to keep the bite out of her voice.

"So how exactly did you mean it?"

Emma recognised resistance when she saw it and slumped slightly, green eyes disappearing momentarily beneath the hand that rubbed nervously at her forehead.

"I meant… let's take things steady, okay?" – she straightened up, locking green eyes with brown – "I don't know if I'm sure of anything right now, least of all what's 'best'. I've only been back here for what? Six hours? I…" – her posture softened – "I need a little time. I need time to adjust – to him, to you, to…" – she gestured broadly and shrugged – "…everything. I'm not saying that you won't see him more – you will. I promise you that. He's as…" – Emma took a deep breath – "He's as much yours as he is anyone else's." – Regina's arms lowered to her side at this concession, but only barely concealed her surprise at the words that followed next – "…I'm not going to let anyone take that away from you. I want this to work, but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up unfairly… not mine, not yours, not Henry's." – her smile was gentle, rueful – "I'm not about to traipse about, doing things that can't be undone unless I'm sure that they're the right things to do… the best things." – She fixed Regina with a pointed look – "For everyone."

Plump lips pursed.

"Miss Swan-"

"-Emma."

The correction was gentle, but a correction nonetheless. The brunette sighed.

Fine.

"Emma." – Her voice lowered, and she took another steeling breath – "…Why are you doing this?"

The blonde planted both hands in her pockets, and rocked slightly on her heels, chin up, green eyes cool and serious.

"You're not the only one with something to prove to the kid."

An eyebrow arched in question.

"I somehow doubt that." - He worships the ground you walk on. Just like the rest of this godforsaken town - "You are the Saviour, aren't you?"

The rocking stopped and the green eyes softened with something akin to sympathy.

"Hey, listen – just because Henry doesn't know how big of a screw-up I've been, doesn't make me any less of a screw-up. Henry's the only thing I've ever done right."

What you've done!?

A muscle in the brunette's jaw flexed with ire.

"You didn't do-"

Emma's eyes widened in surprise at the other woman's change of speed. She resisted the urge to curse under her breath, and held up her hands defensively – whiplash, she didn't need.

"Geez, Regina… Hold on a second – I was talking about when I gave him up. I mean, it probably makes me sound like a terrible person to say it, but in all my life – out of everything I've ever done? Giving him up? ...Giving him to you? …That's the one thing I did right. Everything else?" – she shrugged – "Just sort of… happened."

The blonde squirmed uncomfortably and Regina tried to ignore the warmth in her chest, the sudden moisture in her eyes, the softness of her gaze belying the edge in her voice.

"Very touching," – and it was – "but not quite what I meant. Why do you care?"

about me? What I think? What I hope?

"Because my whole life, I never wanted to be a hero – certainly never wanted to be a... 'Saviour'. All I ever wanted was a family, to be loved…"

"-And?"

and I took that from her.

Emma stepped towards her, and for one awful moment Regina thought she was going to reach out and touch her. She swallowed hard, wrapping her arms around herself, not liking one bit the compassion she saw in those green eyes, waiting nervously for the blonde to finish her sentence.

"And…" – she began carefully, slowly – "in that respect, I think we are a lot alike. You want a family, you want to be loved… and if you find that with Henry? I don't want to be the one that screws that up for you. You've lost enough already."

Silence falls between them, and Regina closes her eyes, Emma's words still echoing in her ears. In that moment the blonde does take one more step – does reach out and touch her. She places a hand on her arm, and squeezes gently. It rests in the same place that it did all those weeks ago, in the town hall.

And if you asked her later, Regina would tell you that it was just her imagination.

…But in that moment she could have sworn she felt a spark.


A/N: I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it :D Please review! There should be more before too long...