'Wake the hell up and face your fears.'
With her arms firmly crossed over her chest and her lips set into an angry pout that could easily be perceived as one of her infamous petulant gestures, the woman known as Regina Mills looked out through the windshield of the beat up truck she was riding with her two companions, and as her eyes settled to an undefined spot along the scenery, those words kept dancing inside her head.
'Wake… the hell… up...'
For reasons she couldn't quite comprehend, the words kept bouncing inside her skull, repeating themselves over and over again like a broken disc she couldn't stop. It was kind of weird, because of all the things Mary Margaret told her that day, of all the things that had some truth to them, that she was too afraid to face her own shit was the one she wouldn't agree with.
That she pushed everyone away and acted all bitter with the world? Yes, and why wouldn't she when the world was apparently set against her. That she was stupid? Most definitely; she also had a chip on her shoulder and was not settling so well among the rest of the group; but that she was afraid? nah, she didn't think so.
She was actually one of the only survivors in their community who wouldn't hesitate on walking out of the comforts of their little houses and their little fenced gardens to face the harsh reality of what lived outside their gates, which was a world where the dead was no longer dead but the enemy.
It was a hard reality, sickening, hard to grasp, but she wasn't afraid of it, and she sure as hell wasn't trying to hide from it like most people were doing. She was also not afraid of fighting or of killing walkers either, so what Mary Margaret said was way off base. And yet, those words were the ones that wouldn't go away.
For the longest time, that was all she did, think about what she was told and sit in the middle of Robin and Mary Margaret as they made their way back to Storybrooke, bumping shoulders with the two of them as the truck jerked with each reckless change of gear.
It was rather annoying, how this man couldn't drive stick for shit, but as it happened, no one commented on it. In fact the ride was made without any of them exchanging a word, and even Mary Margaret who was usually in a chatty mood, was contributing to the ongoing silence.
Not that she blamed anyone for that, after all, with the way the other woman and herself kind of got at each other's throat back at the drugstore, spirits were heated and emotions were still running a bit high.
At least from her part.
It was not her fault though, because the way she saw it, things wouldn't have taken such a sour tone if it wasn't because Mary Margaret almost got them all killed.
She has been careless, she didn't listen when Robin tried to tell her what not to do and she didn't give a damn when she called her out for it. Oh, because she did, she set it upon herself to give the woman a harsh reality check that was meant to put some senses into that pretty little head of hers...
Little did she know that the doctor wannabe was going to have the audacity to turn things around and start going off on her.
At the end, they told each other a few things that have been brewing between them for a while, Mary Margaret calling her off for her apparent nasty attitude and her fear of opening up to the people who were supposed to be her new family, and Regina bursting her bubble of rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers because by God, for someone who has survived a world that would put stone after stone in her way, Mary Margaret was such an optimistic fool, one that should never, set foot outside of Storybrooke again.
She should have known this before agreeing to escort her out but there she was, surviving yet another walker attack, unscratched.
It wasn't until they reached their community and Robin killed the engine right outside the gates, that the silence was broken. It was of course, Mary Margaret the one who did it.
"Well since neither of you will say it, I'll do it, I'll say this was a productive day. We did good."
Instead of making reference to the medicine they were able to find or even the few provisions they brought back, the woman lifted the stupid bar of chocolate she almost died for and flashed a huge silly smile their way.
Regina just stared at her angrily, not even sure if she should reply to that because for crying out loud, the probably stale piece of shit was the cause Mary Margaret stupidly decided it was a good idea to jump over the pharmacy counter, breaking the the glass into a thousand pieces and thus attracting at least a dozen walkers into the store.
It almost got them all killed, thing that Regina would forever blame on the other woman because she did that after she was told to stay still without touching anything.
So was she still angry? Hell yes. Angry at the woman, and more so, angry with herself, because she almost let the closest thing to a doctor they had die over a chocolate bar.
Not only that, but wheter she was willing to admit it or no, Mary Margaret was one of the people she knew longer in their group so as annoying as the short-haired woman could be, the thought of loosing her over such a stupid thing rubbed her in all the wrong places.
"Are you seriously going to shove that thing in my face?" Regina asked at last.
Mary Margaret, probably sensing how Regina was a minute away from going off on her again, turned all serious.
"Anyway, I'm going to… you know, go now." Saying nothing more, the doctor apprentice climbed out of the truck and headed straight into Storybrooke, walking happily as if she almost didn't have them all killed by a small herd of walkers.
Regina just watched her, shaking her head because really, the woman has been so damn reckless out there that it was no wonder David never wanted her out of the safety of the fenced and gated community they built for themselves.
"Can you believe this woman? I don't know what I was thinking when I said yes to this."
"You and I both, this run was bloody stupid." Listening to the man's marked up English accent, Regina agreed as she watched her go.
But anyway, shaking her head as if to clear it of any kind of thought and hopefully, from any kind of ill mood, Regina blew out a breath and leaned forward to reach for her backpack. It was resting between her boots and once she reached it, she opened it and took a plastic bag containing at least the dozen small bottles of booze she found earlier on.
They were all of the cheap kind and quite honestly, bad, but when the world ended and everything as you knew it went to hell, you just had to take whatever you could get. And right in that moment, the thought of dulling her senses by getting drunk out of her mind on crappy alcohol didn't sound so bad.
"Well… despite all the nonsense and almost getting wiped off for good, at least I got myself a little treat."
"Let me see."
Robin, who much like herself was still sitting inside the cabin of the truck, moved a hand in her direction to take the bag; but before he could reach it, Regina pulled it back to her chest.
"Uh-uh, finders keeper." She looked at him, taking special notice of the way he arched an eyebrow as he looked at her and yes, it crossed her mind right there that she wouldn't mind a companion to get totally wasted with.
Sure, on any other day, this mysterious English man wouldn't be her first pick as she wouldn't say she knew him that well, but what the hell? He was there and he wasn't so bad.
"I can share though, if you are up for it." After saying that Regina climbed out and walked to the back of the truck, her intentions to hop onto the cargo bed and just sit there. She wasn't in the mood of seeing anyone inside and since there was no threat of walkers nearby, she was going to indulge.
Once settled, she opened the bag and started rummaging. Now, much to her surprise, because she hasn't been so sure he was going to join her, Robin hopped in soon after her and without saying a word, he took a bottle of his own. By the time she opened her first one and took a gulp, Robin was already ahead.
But she could catch up… or at least she was going to try. With that in mind, she sucked it up and went for it.
Grimacing at the way the fiery liquor burned a path from her throat to her stomach, Regina looked at the label of what she just tasted. It was rum, and because she wasn't much for drinking straight liquor, she shivered at the strong sensation invading all of her senses.
It was a momentary thing, then without thinking it too much, she took another gulp. This one went down easier.
It didn't take long for her to finish the first small bottle, and even though she could already feel the effects of the alcohol running throughout her entire body, she opened a second one and inspected the label. This one was vodka.
"The medicine was a good find." She said absentmindedly, thinking that when MM first suggested they should go out and find it, she thought it was the worst idea ever. First because she couldn't see the three of them working together and second, because she has been so sure that Robin was going to say no to the request and she was going to end up babysitting Mary Margaret by herself. But now that the mission was accomplished and her sour mood was dissipating, she was kind of glad they did it.
It wasn't much, sure, but going out and finding things the community needed, beat the hell out of just staying indoors watching time simply pass her by.
She wouldn't know how to put it into words, but despite the troubles they faced because of MM, in a way she has been part of something that contributed for a common cause and that made her feel good, it made her feel as if she was doing something that mattered.
True, she got her ass chewed by Mary Margaret as a response to how she angrily went off on her for putting them in such great danger, but that part didn't matter anymore.
Now, going out of Storybrooke to look for provisions the way she did has never crossed her mind before, but now that she had the experience, she could see how doing it gave her a purpose, one that couldn't be fulfilled by taking shifts, teaching people how to fight with knives or just sitting by waiting for time to keep moving forward. No, she wasn't made for that kind of life, not after all she has lived through; so, the more she thought about it, the more sure she was that she wasn't made to stay in Storybrooke, at least not in this point of her life.
What could she say? She was suffocating in there; she didn't want to go on group dinners and movie nights and play pretend that the world outside wasn't falling to pieces, she didn't want to spend her days planting seeds and baking cookies like most of the other women were doing and most definitely, she wasn't made for turning a blind eye to Samdi and Drizella parading around as if they were Queen and King of Story-fucking-brooke.
"Yeah it was." That was Robin's short reply and she didn't try to add more to it. She just sat and drank from the new bottle, each swallow making her think that yes, she should start going on runs. There was so much she could find out there, so much she could do...
"I think I want to stay out here. Go on runs, scavenge… I can even make a map of what's nearby and see how it could benefit us."
"Is that what you really want or is the booze talking for you?" Robin asked without taking a look at her, he was apparently too busy inspecting the label of one of the bottles.
Sending a sideway glance his way, Regina snorted. She did feel a bit funny but not enough to say she was letting alcohol talk. No, her mind was clear. "That's what I want, I guess. I just know I don't want to be back in."
Shrugging, Robin finished another bottle before throwing it away. "Trust me, it's better in there than out here. There's not only walkers roaming around, you know?"
Chewing on the inside of her cheek, Regina looked at him, trying to remember how much time had the man spent inside Storybrooke. That she could remember, ever since they found that safe haven, almost none, as he was always out doing something.
Clearing the fields, hunting, making runs… you name it, because whatever was needed from outside Storybrooke's fences, Robin was always the one to get them.
Hell, he didn't even stop going out when he and Will were ambushed by another group of survivors and had everything stolen. Guns, Robin's crossbow, both their bikes.
"And yet you keep going out."
"It's better for you, not for me."
Her eyebrows rose and her lips curved into a grimace. "Why, because I'm a woman and I'm better off cooking your dinners? I can take good care of myself out here, you know? Better than most of the men we have back there and you saw that today; so tell me again, why is it better for me being stuck there?"
Apparently not even bothered by her small rant, Robin simply shrugged. "I'll tell you this, keep mixing your booze like that and you'll regret it in the morning."
As if in defiance, Regina drank a bit more.
Didn't he know that she didn't need alcohol to regret the things she did? Smiling to herself, she shook her head no. Of course he didn't know, he didn't know her like at all: she didn't even know him that well either and if it wasn't because Mary Margaret thought it was a good idea that the two of them should be her chaperones for her little adventure, they wouldn't even be out there drinking together.
Yeah, they have been in the same group for a little over six months now, but she couldn't remember the two of them ever doing anything by themselves, and the brief interactions they had were definitely not enough to consider him more than a travel companion. Sure, an important integrant of their group, but not someone she was close with.
She did like him though, as far as she could tell he was an okay guy, and even though he came a little rough around the edges sometimes, he was the kind that would go out of his way to make sure every single person of their group was safe.
"You know what we should do? We should go out and look for your things, the ones that were taken from you. I mean… you look weird without your crossbow and let's face it, driving stick isn't your strongest point. You need your bike back."
"Well look at that, you didn't strike me as a funny drunk but here you are pulling jokes on me." The corners of his lips twisted the slightest bit as he said that and she did nothing but stare; it was the first time she saw him do something like that and she almost did a double take.
Now, did she react like that because she was drunk? Not quite, but she was perhaps a little tipsy and her tongue did feel a little heavy as she talked.
Not that she was going to tell him that she wasn't yet past her drinking comfort zone, as experience told her that if a man thought you were drunk, you should play along, so in case he tried to pull something weird, he wouldn't count on you being alert.
Not that she believed he was going to try something, as he didn't seem like that kind of guy; but still, there were things that stuck with you even after the world went to shit and being that kind of alert was one of them.
But back to the man sitting by her side, Regina hummed as she watched him. She didn't know him… never even tried to. She just knew that he mostly stuck with his original group of Little John, Mulan and Will, and that while he and David also became close, it was a companionship based on necessity.
Robin was good with a crossbow, and his willingness to take on the tasks nobody else would take, made him quickly become a huge asset in the group.
Other than that, she didn't know much. She knew he lost someone… but then again, didn't they all?
Narrowing her eyes, her mind began to wonder and probably because her judgement was starting to become a bit impaired, she decided that yes, she wanted a sneak peak of who was really Robin Locksley.
"And what kind of drunk are you?"
"The asshole kind, not quite there yet though."
Regina looked down at the empty bottles by his side. There were three and then there was the one in his hand; she was still on her number two so he definitely held his drinking better than her. "Rumor has it you are an asshole when sober, and you can't be the same when both drunk and sober."
Shrugging, he tilted his face towards her and their eyes met. From up close and with the sun still shining bright, she could see that his eyes were a pretty shade of blue and for some reason that took her aback. She hadn't noticed those eyes until that moment and she was going to assume that it was because she hasn't been so close to him before, at least not looking directly to his face. No, whenever they were in the same place at the same time, it was always from certain distance and well, it was hard to see his face from afar, but from up close, it was hard not to get entranced by his stare.
"From what I've heard, you are no ray of sunshine either."
Dragged back to reality, Regina arched an eyebrow and nodded her appreciation to that comeback. "Touché, I'll drink to that." Finishing the vodka and reaching for another small bottle, she went on. "But still, I don't know if I'm ready to see you turn into a full asshole drunk. It will take momentum from my place as a happy drunk and I'm not ready."
"You won't, I'm not even halfway there." But even as he said that, he took another bottle and gulped it down. He did it without flinching, but when he made no attempt of grabbing more alcohol she knew that he was done for the day. "You know what, I do want my stuff back and a one on one with the asshole who took it, but that track is long cold. He and his woman have my bike and Will's and a huge advantage, so for all I know, he's all the way to New York right now."
"We can make it as far as Canada if we want to." And wouldn't that be something?
"New York… the place must be full of walkers now."
Clearing her throat, the brunette moved her head away and settled her eyes up to the skies, thinking that being out there doing anything at all, sounded better than whatever she could do in Storybrooke. As for going with Robin? Well, they did good earlier that day so they could become a good team. Maybe she could even snatch him from Will so they could do their own runs.
Yeah, she knew they would probably never make it as far as New York, not with the roads blocked and infected with walkers, but they could be out and about looking for things.
He definitely knew how to handle himself out there and since she wasn't so bad herself, they could do whatever they wanted to.
"I think we should do it now. Like, we should go and just do it. Go as far as we can go, maybe we'll get lucky and find your things." Yes, she wanted to leave now...
"You got anything better to do?" Her face turned back towards his and for some reason she smiled.
He didn't return the smile but as if considering it, he chewed on the inside of his lips. "Not a bloody damn thing. Alright, let me go get a couple of things." Jumping out and getting down to the ground, Robin walked to the gate and made it inside.
It took Regina more than normal to get out of the back of the truck to climb into the cabin and she started to wonder if she was drunk and in denial. She probably was, Robin too because otherwise, they wouldn't even consider what they were about to do. But because she didn't want to waste time thinking, she hurried as much as she could.
As for getting a few things of her own? In her wobbly legs she knew she wouldn't make it inside without making a show so she would have to do with what she brought for the initial run. She could do okay with it, she has packed the essentials to be out for at least a couple of days and she was going to trust Robin to get them some provisions. Whatever she could need later on would have to be found on the road.
Robin didn't take too long to come back and she didn't even check what he got, but when he threw her way a bag of pretzels snacks and a bottle of water, she reached for them.
"If we are going to do this, you gotta eat that. Can't have you shit-faced, it makes you slow and stupid and I can't have that."
Rolling her eyes, she glanced at him as he started the engine. "Don't be an asshole, I'm fine.'
"Eat it." He said almost in a growl, then in a matter of nothing they were driving away.
For a while they rode it in silence, Regina eating in small bites and sipping water while he focused on the road ahead; but when she noticed that the truck no longer jerked whenever he changed gears she snickered. "So all you needed to drive this thing right was a little bit of alcohol in your system."
"Shut up." There was no harshness on his tone and because he used his free hand to reach for a couple of salty pretzels, she was going to say none was intended.
Humming, she slid closer to the window and rolled it down, letting the breeze sweep around her and barely noticing the few walkers roaming along the road. She rarely ever did now, as they and their slow movements were now as much part of the scenery, as the trees and vegetation growing wild all around.
She wasn't sure for how long she just did that, but she did know that by the time dusk started to creep in, she was starting to need a bathroom break.
"So is that old boyfriend of yours the reason you don't want to be back in Storybrooke?"
Turning to him, she saw that he was looking at her curiously. It was for a few seconds only, then he was back at paying attention to the road ahead.
Now she wasn't going to lie, the question caught her by surprise and she didn't know what to answer.
"Is that what you think?"
"I don't know, that's why I asked."
Pursing her lips, the brunette crossed her arms to her chest. "I know everybody thinks I'm salty because he kicked me to the curb and I don't know, maybe I am, but not because I wanted to keep him. He's an asshole and we were definitely not going to last long anyway."
And they weren't, their fallout started way before Drizella came into the picture, but for some reason, they just stuck together anyway. Maybe it was a way to combat loneliness or whatever, but it wasn't because they were head over heels for each other. Yes, he has meant something to her because he taught her everything she knew about surviving, but that didn't take from the fact that she knew they were doomed almost from the beginning.
They were two bulls clashing horns, and that was not a good base to carry on a relationship.
"I think it's more like my ego got bruised. I mean nobody wants the person you are supposed to be with tell you he only got with you because there was nobody else available."
"Shut up, he told you that?"
Wondering why she was telling him all that, Regina licked her lips. They were not even friends and in the first and longest conversation they ever had, she was already telling him things she has told nobody else. But it was what it was and be it because of the alcohol or because she needed some kind of closure, she went on.
"He did." Sure, those weren't exactly the words he used but it was what he meant.
"What a piece of shit."
"It doesn't matter now. That was a long time ago and as it happens, I'm done with men and hooking up and all that mess. Got more important things to worry about... like not turning into a walker." Let Drizzela keep Samdi, let her realize on her own how much of an asshole he really was.
"How about the other one, Graham?"
Groaning because no, she didn't want to talk about that one night stand horror she did, Regina twisted her lips. "That was a mistake, there's nothing more to say about that."
Yes, at first she thought that the man, with his good looks and neverending attention, was the perfect medicine to cure a wounded pride, but it took her just one night with him to see how he ended up being a mistake; a huge one that wouldn't leave her alone and who was constantly on her ass inviting her out and wanting to get on her good grace, but that was a tale for another day.
"You know what the problem is with you, all of you? You wanna shit where you eat and then when things go south, you make a fuss of it."
Allowing her eyes to scan his face, she bit down on her lips. He was focused on driving, but every once in a while he would turn to her and their eyes would meet. "Well Robin, there are not many places to eat these days so what else is there to do?"
Scoffing, he said nothing, but his eyes lingered longer this time before returning where they were supposed to be.
"So I'll take you don't want to bother with cute little things like dating and all that."
"Nah, I made that mistake once and it didn't end well. Now I just leave that mess to the rest of you, as I have no time for that kind of drama."
"Yeah, as it turns out, me neither." Shifting on her seat, Regina turned back to the window and peered outside. By now Robin was slowing down because the road was thinning out. Cars were in the way, left in the middle, and where there were so many vehicles, there were always walkers. " I need to go to the bathroom."
"Yeah, it's getting kind of late, we should probably find somewhere to stay the night." Throwing his arm back and letting it rest along the back of the seat, he turned so he could take a look behind. While doing so his face was directly pointing towards hers and as he put the car in reverse, Regina just watched him.
Robin… the truth was that she has never put much attention to him, at least not in a way that she could really appreciate him. But now that her mind was not in the right place, she decided that in another kind of life, he would definitely be someone she wouldn't mind hooking up with. He didn't look half bad, he had pretty eyes, nice lips and what was better, he wasn't that awful to be around.
But because she was done with the opposite sex for now, she shrugged it off, took off her gloves and just started looking into her bag to find what she needed to empty her bladder. It wasn't much, she just got paper and sanitizer and when Robin finally parked in a place that felt safe enough, she rushed to find somewhere private to relieve herself. Robin went too, only that he did it a couple of feet from the truck and that was it.
It was the luck of being a man.
Once finished, she walked back. By then the effects of the alcohol were not as strong as they were back when they were parked in front of Storybrooke so there was no problem with her legs. She did however feel a little light headed and not fully on her element, so she decided not to push it.
"Come on." Robin motioned her to follow him once she made it to him and taking her backpack, she did.
They only encountered a handful of walkers on their way, nothing they couldn't handle even while slightly drunk, and when they found a good enough place to hang their boots for the night, they cleared it too.
It was a two story house, small but comfortable enough under the circumstances. It even had an attic, and standing right underneath the open hatch that lead towards it, she wondered why there was no ladder.
"Do you think there could be something up there worth checking?"
Narrowing his eyes, Robin stood in front of her and looked up. "A little storage maybe. Could be the walkers we cleared fell from there."
"Help me up." She said, decided to go and check. Wasn't that the point of their little trip, to find things to take back to Storybrooke? Maybe the people who lived in the house stocked up the attic, maybe there was nothing but it wouldn't hurt to check.
Robin hummed as if considering it, then he bent down a little and motioned her to use his thigh as a level. "If you die up there, it will be on you."
"Yeah yeah." Stepping on his tight and getting impulse, she reached for the entrance. He had to help her get there as she struggled a little to get in, but once up she just had to smile. "Well… not bad. There's definitely a few things we could use."
And there were, it wasn't like a huge find but it was a decent one. A few boxes of canned meat, some MRE's, water, a first aid kit, candles, blankets… there was even cash. That last one she didn't even touch, but the rest she handed it down to Robin.
When it was time for her to get down she looked through the hatch and snorted. "Okay…" Now, it wasn't like it was a huge drop but let's face it, she was in no condition of making the jump without hurting herself.
"Come on, I got you."
"Okay." Sitting down and letting her legs hang loose, she started to ease her way down, she did it carefully but when she felt him grab her legs and then her thighs, she got too confident and basically let herself drop.
The motion made her gasp and as a way to get a grip, she grabbed his shoulders, but much as he said, he got her. Then, once it was certain she wasn't going to fall over, he let her slip all the way to the floor.
Now, in the process of putting her down, his arm remained on her and as she slowly slid against his body, he ended up circling her waist and holding her close.
It happened as if in slow motion and then again, too fast, but once she was on the floor, Regina lifted her gaze up, her eyes glued to his as he stared back at her. Yes, she was definitely still drunk, she knew because she couldn't take her eyes away from his and as he held her to him, she couldn't help but to feel a tingling sensation forming in the pit of her stomach.
It was weird… having him press against her with one arm stubbornly wrapped around her waist as her hands remained over his shoulders…
Add to that the alcohol in her system and voila, catastrophe presented itself in the form of a kiss.
She didn't know who started it; in her state, it wouldn't surprise her if it was her but it could have been him all the same; the only thing that she knew for sure was that now her lips were lightly brushing against his.
It was crazy, for a few seconds, time stood still and even though they were not taking things any further, her heart was pounding very hard inside her chest and her head was clouded, she didn't even know what she was doing. But then, as quickly as it began, Robin pulled away as if her lips were burning his. He even took a few steps back away from her.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?"
On her part, Regina lifted a hand up in the air and pressed her fingers to her temples, the implications of the situation finally registering in her brain. She just kissed Robin. It has been her and she didn't even know why!
"I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking." She said, clearing her throat and closing her eyes. "I'm fucking drunk."
"Well you better sleep that off before you keep doing stupid shit. I'll take the first watch." And with that said, he walked away, leaving her behind and wondering how bad she screwed up this time…