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21 February 2014 @ 12:05 am
OUAT Rumple & Regina Fic  
Set at an unspecified point post 3x11, and I fully expect it to be Jossed as soon as 3x12 airs, but it's a conversation I've been wanting them to have for ages, so I thought why not? WARNINGS for all the incredible fucked-up-ness that was Rumple, Regina and Cora's backstory -_-;

Title: No More Terrible Thing
Rating: Light R (for concepts)
Fandom: Once Upon A Time (TV)
Characters/Pairings: Rumpelstiltskin, Regina, mention of Belle, Cora and Henry. Rumple & Regina, Rumple/Cora, Regina & Cora, Rumple/Belle, Regina & Henry
Summary: After his miraculous resurrection, Rumple and Regina have a conversation that is long, long overdue, though no less painful for that. They were almost family, once. They are ... perhaps not so far from it once again
Wordcount: 3033
Warnings/Notes: Spoilers up to the mid-S3 finale. Um. Abuse, betrayal, revenge, love and hate, almost-father-daughter relationship, teacher-and-student relationship, basically everything bad Rumple and Regina ever did to each other and the odd, screwed up affection they have despite/because of it -_-;
Disclaimer: Not mine

No More Terrible Thing

"I missed you."

Rumpelstiltskin spun at the sound of her voice, startled out of his hard-won moment of solitary contemplation. He'd been in the thick of it since he'd returned, torn between enemies and loved ones as the latest crisis stole most of his attention and time, and tearful reunions the rest of it. This was the first moment he'd had alone since his miraculous resurrection, Regina thought, the first space he'd had to catch a breath.

Which was too bad, because it was the first time she'd had a chance to catch him alone either, and she was damn well going to make the most of it, whether he liked it or not. If she didn't say this now, she was never going to.

He recovered a little, still squinting at her in shock, and leaned on a stick she wasn't sure if he actually needed or only kept hold of out of habit. She watched his mask come back, the aloof, vaguely mocking face he wore when he wasn't sure what was happening and didn't want you to know it. It was ... achingly familiar, and almost comforting, in this world where so much had changed and it seemed only the painful things had stayed the same.

"I beg your pardon, dearie?" he asked, every inch the imp for all his human features, and Regina found herself smirking a little, a bitter and happy amusement. "I'm afraid I didn't quite catch that --"

"You caught it fine," she interrupted, prowling closer with all the instinctive armour of the Queen she had once been, drawing alongside him with a little mocking smile of her own. "If you tell anyone, I'll set you on fire and deny it to my dying breath. But you heard me correctly. I said I missed you. And ... I meant it."

He stared at her, utterly pole-axed, and the expression looked delightful on him. The suave manipulator, so confident and pained, the figure she remembered from so much of her life, and he looked so stupefied now. It was wonderful, a bubble of humour up from a much mended heart, and she grinned at him a little more genuinely for it. He blinked, nonplussed.

"I, ah." He shook his head, all at sea and so suspicious for it. "Thank you? I'm sure I don't know what brought this on, my dear. But thank you, I suppose."

Her smile slipped a little, a shadow falling across her at the reminder, and Regina moved a little bit away from him, turning her face instinctively to obscure her expression. A slow lesson, that one, to hide her face from what frightened her, but one that had slipped in through the cracks in her defenses over the years. Without an endless anger to be her shield, she had found a flinching thing inside herself at times.

She didn't have to explain, of course. She could borrow his shield of mocking as her own, in lieu of an anger that had crumbled over long years in Storybrooke, and not have to admit the truth. But if she did that, then there would have been no point in her coming here. As she'd thought already, if she didn't say this now ...

"You died," she said eventually. Her voice was cold, but not so steady as she'd wanted. She felt him grow still behind her, the force of his stare a weight on the back of her neck. "The Dark One doesn't die. Rumpelstiltskin doesn't die. In all the years I've known you, that's been the truth. You were the one thing in all the world that would never die, that would never leave me alone. But then ... then you did. You died, and I realised ... that I missed you."

She turned back to him, her chin tilted up in desperate defiance, and found him staring back with such a pained confusion in his eyes. More, so much more than she'd expected, a blank confusion and a stunned edge of ... hope? Something like it, maybe. She blinked, recoiled a little in confusion from an expression that belonged more to the likes of Belle or Baelfire, people that meant something to him, than it did to her. Her grief shouldn't mean anything to him, nothing more than a weakness to exploit or a frailty to mock, but that wasn't what she was seeing now. Not in him, not in herself.

Perhaps ... perhaps that was why she'd come here. Perhaps that was why she'd chosen to say this now, when they were neither of them what they'd once been, and when both of them had paid so many prices for that.

"You were always there," she explained softly, to the pained thing in his eyes. "The evil imp, the dark teacher, the sly opponent. You were my worst friend and my best enemy, for so long. You knew everything about me, used it against me so many times. You were the one person in any world who knew who I was and why I was, and when you died ... when you died, I realised how much I'd always relied on that. How much I'd always enjoyed knowing you were there, knowing there was someone as ... as bad and as twisted and as evil as me. Someone who would look at me and have to know that what he saw wasn't worse than himself. Someone who'd been where I'd been, someone who'd been as great and terrible as I ever was. Someone who ... who'd been worse than me, and found love anyway."

She bit her lip, the wild grief she'd nursed since giving Henry up, since she'd sacrificed her son's every memory of her to preserve his safety, rushing up through her once more. She raised her head, a half-snarl caught on her scarred lip and all the cracks in her blackened heart breaking open once more, and he met her. He held her gaze, that flayed understanding of his that had always been there, under their hate and their anger and their mutual mockery, and she almost laughed at the perfection of it. At the perfect illustration of what she meant.

"I missed you," she said again, an open breaking in her voice that they would never have allowed themselves, once upon a time. "I hated you, and I trusted you, and when you were gone ... When you were gone, Rumpelstiltskin, I missed you so much."

He looked away. Flinched, really, his gaze flying desperately to the white-knuckled hands knotted around the top of his cane, his chest heaving with more force than all the long centuries of control would have allowed him before his death. Or before Belle, maybe. Before love had broken him open, as love for Henry had broken her. He looked away from the broken pain of her, and there was a bleak sort of triumph in that, an empty victory like the vengeance she'd clutched to her chest for so many, many years.

But then ... then, after a moment, he moved again. Not looking at her, not yet, but a stillness came over him, some fragment of his old power, the strong, terrible thing that had been born from whatever horrors he'd suffered once upon a time. Not the magic, the artful waves of his hands, but the words. The weapon he'd spun from a knowledge of the human heart, the weapon he'd used against her time and time again, and only more cutting for the gentleness of it.

"Your mother broke my heart once," he told her distantly, as he watched the pale lines of his own fingers. His voice absent and calm, an idle explanation except for the weight of it, for the curious heaviness behind it. "I loved her, the first I'd loved in so long, and she shattered my heart from under me. And so ... I hurt you. You, your father. I would have hurt you anyway, would have used you anyway, but for what Cora had done, I wanted vengeance. So I broke you, destroyed you as she had destroyed me beforehand, and I delighted in it. I took pleasure in having done that to you."

Her lip curled, a dark little bubble of knowing amusement in her chest, and Regina hugged her arms around herself. She knew. Oh, she knew. From all sides, in all ways, and perhaps that was why it had always been this way between them. This trusting hate, this knowledge of what they'd done to each other, this desperate need regardless.

"I know," she said, the dark confidence of the Evil Queen, and he looked at her then. Rumpelstiltskin, not the Dark One. The man, pale and tired, who had been the monster for so many years, who had been the demon that had broken her.

"You would have been my daughter," he admitted, soft and pained into the stunned hitch of her breath, and smiled an odd little smile in front of her. "A fate you were lucky to avoid, perhaps. I did more than enough damage as it stood, without having made you love me first. But you would have been my daughter, if not for her. You would have been mine. And that, I think ... that was what I could never forgive her for. That was why I could never forgive Cora for what she'd done."

Regina stared at him, her confidence shattered over a blind confusion, too many wounds torn open at once to understand what it was she felt. She stared at him, flayed open, and he moved towards her. A hitching, hesitant movement, a careful set of stumbling steps. He raised his hand, careful and gentle, the imp's fluidity in the movement and the man's fear in making of it, and hesitantly reached to rest it over her heart. He held her eyes as he did, asking permission in that odd way of his, and smiled a lopsided smile when she couldn't find strength to deny him.

"It hurts," he whispered, the pads of his fingers light over the terrified beating of her heart. "You always knew that, didn't you? How much it hurts to love someone, how much it breaks you open to be so bare. There's nothing in all the world that hurts more than love. There's nothing in any world so terrifying. But at the same time ..."

He looked up, that thing in his eyes that had been there when he died, something wild and terrified and more powerful than any magic she'd ever seen. He was so much weaker now, so much smaller, and she had never seen him so terrifying.

"At the same time," he whispered, the weight of his fingertip a burning brand against her chest, "there's nothing that makes you stronger, either. Nothing in all the worlds that can make someone more powerful, more terrible as love. She never understood that, your mother. She never believed it. But you did. You knew, didn't you, Regina? Always. You were always so brave in the face of love. So much braver than me." His eyes met hers, a rueful, ancient thing in the curl of his lip, and he bowed his head against her. "I was never your father. But if I had been ... If I had been, I would have been so very proud of you for that."

Something escaped her, some sound, a broken, clawing thing as it escaped her chest, and he caught her as her knees sagged, as strength fled white and pale away from her. He stepped into her chest, caught her as she fell against him, and she could feel him trembling through it. She could feel him shaking, this evil, desperate thing brought back to life, this monster she had trusted for so long.

"I know who you are, dearie," he murmured, careful fingers tangled in her hair while tears burnt their way down her cheeks and his leg shook desperately beneath them. "Not worse than me, no. Never, ever that. I should have loved you. I should have held you, and loved you, and cared for you, and I destroyed you instead. Made you my weapon to destroy my world. Made you ... made you the daughter I'd earned, maybe. But you were more than that. You were braver than that. Not the daughter of a coward, but of one of the bravest, most terrible women that coward had ever known. I relied on you. I used you because you were strong enough to be used, stronger than me, my best and most trusted enemy. You were my hope as much as Emma was, my dear. My Evil Queen. I used you because you knew how to love, and that ... that was the most powerful thing I knew."

It hit her like a wave, an exhaustion, and he pulled her close, cradled her against him with a pained, desperate caring, an amusement. The irony, the mockery of the pair of them, of all that they had been and why. He held her, the man who had never been her father, with that monster's love that had shaped her all her life.

"... Magic isn't the only thing with a price, is it?" she asked softly, with the hollow strength of him in her arms. He chuckled wetly, hidden behind her ear, and nodded against her shoulder. "Love does too. And hate. And vengeance. All of it. Everything. We pay for our parents' sins, and our children pay for ours, and there isn't anything that comes without a price. Is there."

"... Not that I've ever found, dearie," he agreed quietly. "Nothing I've ever seen."

She smiled. Regina, not the Queen. She smiled, pale and young in his arms, and rested her head against his, black hair tangled with greying brown. "And here we are," she murmured, her lip lifting in a bitter and happy amusement. "The once Dark One and the former Evil Queen, trying to pretend we know how to be heroes for the people we desperately need to love us. Stuck together once again." She laughed faintly, bright and a little bit real. "All because I trusted you not to die, and you so nicely decided to oblige me."

He laughed in his turn, pulling back to hold her shoulders and stare at her with that bright, evil thing in his eyes, the imp's mischief that not even a hero's death could burn from him. "You can rest assured," he said archly, "that it most certainly was not to oblige you, my dear." She raised her eyebrow, that challenge between them that was such a dark and familiar comfort to her, and he sneered exactly as he was supposed to, the devil cheerful by her side.

And then ... then it changed, his face, it softened, and he reached out to her once more. Not her heart, this time, but her cheek, a pale flutter of fingers against her face and a soft brush of knuckles beneath her eyes. Wiping away dried tears, she realised, with a jolt of shame and a shock of almost-anger. Wiping away what he'd wrung from her, and smiling pained and gentle for it.

"We know what love is, you and I," Rumpelstiltskin told her, absently, as he traced her cheek. "More than anyone, my dear, we know what love can make of someone. We know how weak and how brave and how strong it can make you, how terrible and how terrified. We know how love can bring you to destroy a world, and to sacrifice yourself to save one person. We know how monstrous it is, and how beautiful, and how much more powerful than anything else could ever be. We have tortured each other because of it, and stood together in spite of it, and fought together for the sake of it. And that, I think, we will always have in common. That, at least, we may always trust about each other. No?"

There was an odd lightness in Regina's chest, a stretched, clean pain that she associated mostly with Henry, with the lancing brightness of her son's love. It hurt so much more than hatred, so much more than anger, but there was something about it that felt so much cleaner, too. She smiled at Rumpelstiltskin, and it must have looked different, must have looked strange, because he started at her in wonder because of it.

"I missed you," she said softly. "You were my teacher, not my father. You'll never be the father that loved me. But I missed you when you were gone. I trusted you, and I hated you, and I think ... I think I always will miss you, when you're not there for me." She reached up, took his hand from her cheek, and held it with all the terrible might of a Queen. "I need you, Rumpelstiltskin. I don't want to. I never wanted to. But I do need you, and I never want you to die again. So don't, you understand me? Don't you ever die on me again, or so help me, I'll find a way to kill you a third time myself."

He stared at her, that stricken, helpless thing in his eyes once more, and then, slow and startled and bright, he smiled. The Dark One's impish grin, Mr Gold's devilish sneer. Her monster, that she had hated and trusted and loved for so very long.

"Of course, my dear," he murmured, stepping back a little to lean on his cane and hold out an elbow to her, bowing laughingly over his arm. "We have loved ones yet to protect, and heroes yet to manipulate, and enemies to lay low before us. Monsters to show the price of daring to stand against the Dark One and the Evil Queen. Or those who used to be them, anyway." He chuckled, bright and evil. "What say you, dearie? Shall we go tear the world open for the sake of love once more?"

And she stood beside him, proud and broken and terrible in all her love, and linked her arm with his with a bright sneer all her own.

"My dear," she said, mocking and happy, "I thought you'd never ask."
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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
(Anonymous) on March 30th, 2014 03:33 am (UTC)
I really loved this fanfic. Rumpelstiltskin and Regina's relationship is the most fascinating one on this show. They definitely feel strong love for each other, much more than either of them would like to admit! But I think Rumpelstiltskin knows Regina better than she ever knew him... and I am SURE that he meant for her to be redeemed after casting the curse. He did everything to bring that redemption to happen: made sure a child would be adopted by her (he knew more than anyone that a love for a child is strongest and can overcome any darkness), he took her with him to that wishing well so that she would suck up all that fairy dust and save Snow and Emma, he tried to talk her out of revenge over Cora's coffin, and more things I can't remember now...

as much as Cora broke his heart, I doubt he ever took it out on Regina. I think he cared very much for Regina, even while training her to be a monster. he seemed horrified that she went and killed an entire village (she didn't do that with magic) just because she couldn't find Snow. I think he looked at her as an out of control teenage daughter that he really loved, but she needed to learn a tough lesson
icarus_chained: Womanicarus_chained on April 5th, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed. Thank you!

I am SURE that he meant for her to be redeemed after casting the curse.

... I'm not sure I agree with this. Mostly because I think pre-Storybrooke Rumple flat didn't believe in redemption for anyone. Particularly in his interactions with Belle prior to refinding her, it does seem that he fully and thoroughly believes that once a monster, always a monster. Even his hopes for Bae don't really involve his own redemption, only a chance to see his son and talk to him again, apologise, maybe go back to how things were before without ever solving what caused them in the first place (he offered to turn Bae back into a child, that speaks more of wanting the bad history to go away rather than a desire/belief in redemption). FTL Rumple was fully aware of his own monstrous nature and the monstrous nature of others, and he did not in any way seem to allow for the possibilities of redemption.

So no, I don't think he planned for Regina to be redeemed. He made sure she adopted Henry because he needed Emma to come to Storybrooke, and he knew that when he was cursed he wouldn't have the memories to do it himself, so he had to count on Regina's desperate need for love to accomplish it. He was counting on Regina's memories and desires to set her downfall in motion, not trying to save her from herself. Rumple more than anyone knows how much love of a child corrupts as much as saves - he became the Dark One for his. And, um, I'm fairly sure bringing Regina to the wishing well was for the exact opposite purpose of saving Snow & Emma? They planned to block it off to kill Cora, no? Once he got his memories back, Rumple was still in full break-curse-and-have-vengeance mode until well into S2.

He softens up later. When Belle comes back and Bae starts giving him ultimatums, he starts to earnestly approach the idea of redemption for himself. I think at that point, he started to view Regina's own attempts and their success/failure as an expression of his hopes/fears for his own. He doesn't much soften towards her as a person until Neverland, really.

I think the problem with his relationship with Regina was that she was always meant to be a means to an end. Even before she was born. She was the person his visions told him would cast the curse that would bring him back to Bae. He knew before he ever went near her that he'd have to corrupt her to the point where she was capable of killing what she loved most to curse an entire world's worth of people. That was always going to be a monstrous act on his part, and he knew it. He was making a monster of her, he always intended to make a monster of her, and in his worldview monsters could never be redeemed. So he never dared love her.

He probably would have, if he'd actually won her from Cora as a child. He's fundamentally incapable of not loving his child. But Cora cheated him, Cora broke his heart, Cora pulled his future and his child right out from under him, and after that every single thing about Regina was tangled up in the twin horrors of Cora's betrayal and Rumple's own evil intentions for her. He couldn't see her as someone he loved, he didn't let himself.

And yes, I think he was horrified at the extent of the evil Regina stooped to. In part because he'd caused it, in part because basically every life she took was on him and on Cora, but also because Regina never seemed to realise she was evil. She always thought she was an abused innocent, Snow's victim. Rumple admits straight up how monstrous he is. He always has. Regina's basic incomprehension that she was doing something wrong scared him a bit, I think.
icarus_chained: Flighticarus_chained on April 5th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
He does love her, I'm sure. He does think of her as the daughter he almost had, his student and his monster and his companion in battered evil, his fellow sinner struggling to be redeemed. They have a bond that they share with no-one else, a shared understanding no-one else has. But that is always going to be tangled up in guilt and pain and hate and manipulation, in the hurts they've done to each other and the monsters they made of each other. For Belle and for Henry Snr, for Frankenstein and Daniel, for the curse and the magic. They're never going to be simple.

I don't think Rumple planned for Regina to be redeemed. I don't think he planned for anyone to be redeemed. Storybrooke changed them both, and not just because of false memories and cursed lives. Rumple never saw beyond the casting of the curse itself, never looked beyond finding his son. He flat didn't imagine past that moment. The idea of redemption was something that only started filtering into his head when Belle returned, when Neal demanded more of him than just magic and penitence. He mocked Regina's early attempts, mocked her relationship with Henry, all the way through S2. It was only in Neverland, I think, it was only broken and then rebuilt, that he finally started to come around properly, that he started to support her efforts as much as his own. Because her hope was his at that point, and they needed each other.

They have ... a very complicated relationship -_-;
martyjrmcfly: pic#123072130martyjrmcfly on March 30th, 2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
have you ever seen the fanvid on you tube of Rumpel and Regina - Pinky and the Brain. it was hilarious! I must say, when these two are on screen together, they ROCK!! I loved how close they became in neverland... how Regina slapped him upside the head because he didn't bring Pandora's box in the first place. I loved how, when he told her that what's required to kill Pan is his life, she right away thought of another way. maybe we don't have to kill him. she really didn't like the idea of him having to give his life.

I love the way she THINKS she knows him so well. when she found out that Henry is his grandson, she told him something like "I know you and your dark heart" and he said something like, "you don't know me" which is right. she overestimates how well she knows him. she forgets that he is a few centuries older than her lol.

I loved the way Rumpel was proud of BOTH his biological child and his spiritual child in Neverland.
Bae showed some skill at calling the giant squid = WOW Bae is not as helpless as Rumpel thought
Regina showed some ocean skill too. she knew the squid by name(!) and called a little mermaid to help them.
icarus_chained: Considerationicarus_chained on April 5th, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen that vid, but yes, these two are often hilarious when they're together. Their mutual snark is fabulous, and probably the best thing about the whole Neverland arc, really. Heh. I ADORED Regina slapping him upside the head. She was so fabulous once she got fed up, swear to gods. She smacked the Dark One around and practically made Pan shit himself when she just up and tore the heart out of his chest.

And I loved that "If anyone's killing you, it's going to be me". They do ... they do love each other. In a very strange and painful and twisted way, but they do. They have so much history, and an understanding of each other that no-one else has. It's painful, but it's kind of wonderful in its way too.

Glad you enjoyed!