A/N: Hi guys, sorry it's taken so long to get this chapter to you, I've scrapped it and started it over several times, but I think I've finally got it. I basically thought we were a little over-due for a Classic Swan Emotional Freak-Out, so yeah. The title of this chapter is what I've named Emma's insecurities on the whole (I was feeling a little Aladdin that day...) because I think it's appropriate that Regina get to see how Emma sees Emma.

This is the longest chapter yet. I've also written in a kiss.

Anyway, without further ado, I present:


This, I Find In You

Chapter 10: The Street Rat


"...Emma?"

Silence.

"You're avoiding me."

"…No."

Regina leaned her forehead against the door.

Twice in two days she'd slept wrapped in the arms of one Emma Swan.

This morning she had woken to cold sheets.

Emma had locked herself in the bathroom, and she was left standing outside.

"…Will you let me in?"

"No. I'm going to have a shower."

She sighed.

"Can you even undress yourself in your state?" There was a thud and a muffled curse "…Emma?"

"Uh… No?"

She tried not to roll her eyes, she really did.

"Miss Swan…"

Through the gap under the door came the sound of a grunt and a shuffle, and finally the clicking of the lock. Regina placed a hand on the knob, and paused.

"…Are you decent?"

"Decent as I'll ever be."

With a small shake of her head she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. She sat on the edge of the bath tub and folded her hands primly in her lap, her eyes focused on the woman that sat before her. Emma's nose wrinkled.

"There's really no avoiding you, huh?"

"No."

They sat there for a moment, the silence hanging awkwardly between them.

Regina breathed deeply, preparing herself to break the silence. She didn't understand this shift in behavior, and now that she and Emma were on the same side of the door she wasn't sure she wanted to. They had been doing so well – the second most successful interpersonal relationship of her life to date, and now the other party had taken to hiding behind locked doors. She wasn't sure, but she didn't think that boded very well for them… if there was indeed a 'them' to be boded for. She fidgeted a little, couldn't help herself. She wanted to know what had gone wrong, what she had done wrong.

She just wanted to know.

"…Why?"

Emma didn't need to ask 'why what?' Grown women didn't hide in bathrooms without provocation. She pulled her knees up to her chest, and wrapped her arms around them, hugging them close. This wasn't something she was accustomed to, letting someone into her proverbial bathroom, certainly not in this state, and certainly not someone that had such a hold on her as Regina did. She leaned her head forward, all the better to mumble into the denim of her jeans.

"I just thought I'd imagined it, y'know?"

How elucidating.

"I actually don't know, dear."

"It's just… you'd never say something like that. Not to anyone that wasn't Henry."

Ah.

Emma leaned her head back against the wall and gave a half-shrug.

She seemed to be trying for 'casual and disinterested', but the sheer amount of nervous energy pouring off of her was ruining the effect.

"And, see… I like you. Plenty. And you're Henry's mom. And I owe you for that. So much. Like, so much you wouldn't believe." Emma screwed her eyes tight shut. 'Casual and disinterested' wasn't working. Now it was time to pretend that she wasn't sitting on the linoleum in her mother's bathroom, having this conversation with her son's other mother. "See, the thing is… I really don't like to think about how little there is that I wouldn't do for you. And kissing you…" She trailed off with a choke and swallowed. Hard. "…Wow. But love's a… it's a big word, Regina. A-and I'm me, and you're you, and-and i-it's a… big word."

Regina's heart suddenly felt like a cold stone in the bottom of her chest.

"…When you say that you're you, and I'm me… what do you mean… exactly?"

Seconds ticked past and she closed her eyes – it seemed to be what she'd feared. Tears had begun to threaten, and her throat had started to tighten before Emma spoke.

"It's just you – you're beautiful. And me? Well, I'm a… I'm nothing but a street rat."

That was… unexpected.

And sad.

Unexpectedly sad.

…That wasn't right at all.

"Oh."

The tears that had been threatening a moment ago decided to spill over, but now for an entirely different reason. They spilled for Emma. They spilled for the wonderful, infuriating, magnificent creature that couldn't see her own glorious reflection for the scars her life had left behind.

A street rat?

Emma tilted her head to look at her companion, her brow furrowed.

"What?"

It took a moment for Regina to find her voice, and when she did, it was little more than a whisper.

"…You don't see it."

"See what?"

"What I see."

"Which is… what?"

Regina unfolded her hands from where they had fallen still in her lap, and she pushed herself off the edge of the tub, coming to kneel in front of Emma.

She reached out and touched her knee, her thumb beginning to sweep back and forth, back and forth, over the fabric that covered her skin.

"…Regina?"

The exasperation in Emma's voice was gone, and it trembled instead. Her mouth twitched down in that way that it did when she wanted to be strong, but Regina knew.

Their eyes met, and she knew.

"So… you think yourself a street rat, and who knows? It might even be true." She smiled, "…But if it is true, it doesn't matter. If you are a street rat, you are my street rat, and I will not have another. I want you. Am I understood?"

Emma's lower lip trembled, and she nodded, a single tear sliding down her cheek.

"It's just I-"

"Shush. I'm not done."

She knew that if she was interrupted now, she'd never get it out.
Emma nodded again and smiled in understanding, mouthing the word 'okay'.

"Now listen to me, Swan. I like you. And you too, are Henry's mother. For that, for him, I am most indebted to you. I do not, and will not dwell on how far it is I would go for you, because it is very far. And kissing you… well, kissing you…" the business-like tone left Regina's voice, leaving it strangely husky. She coughed and, to her eternal embarrassment, blushed, "Well, it's certainly something, isn't it? …I'm not very good at this, Emma. I know love is a big word. It's a word I believed to be dead for me. It's just… I thought… I thought it might be big enough."

Emma let her head fall back against the wall with a thud, her eyes shut against the words that washed over her, and the eyes that pierced her through.

"Regina…"

Regina moved her hand from Emma's knee, and she cupped a warm, pink cheek in her palm, her thumb continued to sweep back and forth, back and forth, wiping away the moisture on her face.

"Emma, you… are perfect-"

Green eyes flicked open at the sound of the word. That word. The one that carried so much weight it – the one that kept people from keeping her, because she was not it.

"I'm not perfect. I'm just me, just… Emma."

And people don't keep Emma.

"Idiot." Regina rolled her eyes. "For me… you are perfect for me. You fit me in a way I thought was impossible. And maybe I'm just a fool. Maybe once your legs are working you'll run places that I can't follow. But Emma… loving you isn't hard. Not nearly as hard as you think it is. You… you are warmth, and light, and goodness, and all that is right in the world …Do you even know what that means? …To me? Gods, Emma! It's everything!"

The silence was electric.

Regina's fingers flexed where they had woven themselves into Emma's hair. She brought her other hand up to caress a flushed cheek, leaning herself forward slightly to maintain her balance.

"I can't ask you to love me back. You can forget I ever said a word. Just… don't leave. Please."

That was it.

That was all she had – every single last thing, laid out on the table.

And to be quite honest, Emma's perfect stillness was disquieting.

Regina broke the all-too-intense eye contact, and dropped her eyes to the floor.

So it was understandable, how hands that pulled her forward caught her off balance. She slammed her hand against the wall by Emma's head to steady herself, and the pulse in her neck jumped. Emma's lips were right there, and then there was a hand resting at the nape of her neck, drawing her closer. It took her a split second to realize that this was a kiss, and that this kiss, well…

This kiss was a kiss.

And Regina had her answer, in the language Emma Swan spoke best.

Emma's kiss did not devour, her lips and tongue did not consume – they plied, and they pursued. Her lips were sweet and soft, and felt like fire. It seemed as though her whole soul had been awakened, and her whole body melted. A tiny whimper escaped her, and Emma's whole body seemed to twitch in response.

And that hand… the hand that played beneath the hem of her shirt, the hand that strummed her strings and which drew her closer still, sent a shudder through her. Emma's legs had stretched themselves out, and Regina found herself straddling them, revelling in the heat of Emma's body that seeped through the layers of clothing that separated them. Emma was warmth and light and goodness, and she could feel it filling her, illuminating the corners of her soul where shadows had hid. This kiss, and the arms that held her, were a promise and she would have thought herself a fool for the utter giddiness that that idea inspired, were she presently able to think at all.

Emma's mouth broke from her lips, and blazed a trail along the line of her jaw and the column of her neck, and that hand stroked its way up her side. Regina twisted one of her hands in the fabric of Emma's shirt, and threw her other arm around Emma's neck and held on for dear life as those lips… and that tongue… and her teeth

Oh Gods.

Regina heard the moan that filled the room, low and sensual. Emma heard it too, if the way she shuddered was any indication. An ache began to throb at the joining of her thighs, the beginnings of a fire long-forgotten, and Regina instinctively rolled her hips forward. A gasp caught in her throat at the pressure, and Emma's hands moved across to dance beneath her breasts.

It was at this precise moment that she was struck by the unfortunate realization of just who and where they were.

"Em- …Emma?"

Her voice had come forth as a high-pitched plea where she'd meant it to be commanding.

Damn it all.

"…Mmm?"

Unfortunately Emma's voice came out exactly the way she'd meant it – thick with desire – and Regina could not have possible foreseen just how badly that tone would threaten her resolve. She bit back another whimper as Emma's teeth grazed over a particularly sensitive spot, and cleared her throat, bringing her voice back to a more familiar range.

"Emma… our first time… not on the floor… your mother's bathroom."

The woman beneath drew back to look at her, still in a haze, confusion written into her features.

"…Huh?"

Regina touched their foreheads together and smiled softly, gently tracing the curve of Emma's lower lip with her thumb.

"A bed."

"A wha-?" The penny dropped. "Ohhh! Fuck. Shit. Sorry. Yeah. Of course. A bed."

The stricken look on Emma's face was just too much. Regina's smile grew into a grin, and a chuckle began to blossom in her chest. The chuckle proved to be contagious and, in a moment, she and Emma were both close to collapsing with laughter.

Regina couldn't remember the last time she'd felt quite so light.


A/N: I hope this chapter was worth sticking around for, and I hope the kiss was satisfactory. I've not written a kiss quite like that kiss before, so I hope it's worth your while. It's highly doubtful that I'll jump this story up to M, if only because I've not done it before, and I don't want to ruin this thing.

A great big thank you to everyone that's following along with me and my sporadic updates, it's very much appreciated!

Please drop me a line, let me know what you thought :)