"Mom, hey, listen. Could you..."
"Emma?" It was not her mother's voice on the other end of the line. It was deeper, had an authoratative ring to it, and was also sexy as hell. Emma took her phone from her ear and looked at its display. Mayor Mills, it said. Emma giggled and put her phone back to her ear.
"My bad, wrong number. Sorry, Regina, I meant to call my mom," she apologized, though it may not have come out all that clear as Emma was more than a little inebriated.
"I figured," Regina answered after a short moment in which she sorted through Emma's slurry words.
"Yeah, you would. You're smart like that," Emma said grinning to herself.
"Well, thank you, Emma. Do you want to call your mother now?"
"Nah, I've got time. Hey, do you miss Neverland yet?" Emma asked as if they'd been chatting for hours, or as if they were the kind of people who chatted on the phone with each other. Regina frowned.
"Missing Neverland? Are you serious?"
"What? Like nothing? I mean, not even the fresh air or the... humidity, or something? It's pretty cold in Storybrooke, Maine," Emma babbled.
"It wasn't exactly a pleasurable vacation, Emma," Regina snapped.
"No, I know. I mean, I really do know. But we came back okay, all in one piece and all that. Dad's all right, too, now. Did you know?"
"Yeah, I heard."
"It's good... it's... we were pretty rad on that island, weren't we? We totally kicked Pan's ass!" Emma giggled again.
"That we did," Regina agreed finding herself slightly amused by Emma's drunkenness.
"We moved heaven and earth to get our son back," the blonde continued. "He messed with the wrong set of mothers."
Regina just barely kept from laughing at this. She rolled her eyes at herself. Since when did Emma Swan make her laugh, since when were they chatting on the phone like friends? Shouldn't she be scolding her about something?
"May I ask where Henry is while you're out on the town?"
"Oh, he's here with me, we're having some beers at The Rabbit Hole," Emma answered promptly and laughed when she heard the shocked silence from the other woman. "Gotcha!" she called.
"Emma," Regina warned testily.
"Relax, Henry's with my parents. We're still all holed up at Mary Margaret's little apartment. We should really get our own place, though. What do you think?"
"Henry could always move in with me if it gets to crowded at your parents'," Regina suggested.
"You don't happen to rent rooms at the mansion, do you? I'm almost ready to... nah, never mind." Emma seemed to think better of whatever she had wanted to say. Her voice hinted that she wasn't very happy with the living arrangements at the moment. A lot had been said and done on the island, things needed to be talked about, solved somehow. But obviously not tonight.
"Hadn't you better call your mother now?" Regina asked into the thoughtful pause Emma had left open.
"No, I don't want her to see me like this. She'll just gonna asked what happened and why I was drinking and all that stuff mothers ask. I don't need that right now. Say, why're you still up?"
"It's only 9.30, Emma. Not yet my bedtime," Regina answered, once again rolling her eyes.
"Oh, good. Then you wouldn't mind giving me a lift, would you?"
"Robby here has taken the keys to my bug. He says I'm not supposed to drive anymore. Who does he think he is, it's not like I could get arrested... I'm the sheriff," Emma ranted.
"It's a small town, Emma. I think you can walk to your parents' from The Rabbit Hole," Regina told her.
"I don't know if I can walk... I'm not sure I can stand," Emma answered somehow sounding proud of herself.
Regina sighed. She could just hang up and pretend this phone call hadn't happened. Of course, Emma could just redial. Or she could hang up and call the idiots, one of them would surely get Emma and bring her home. Or she could - and she couldn't quite believe herself that she was contemplating this - drive down to The Rabbit Hole, put Emma in her car and drive her home.
"All right, I'll come down there, wait for me," Regina commanded and tried not to think about why she would even do that.
"Really?" Emma asked. Her voice sounded... impossibly young and vulnerable, surprised and thankful.
'It was only one word, Regina. It wasn't like she wrote a thank-you-letter for services rendered,' the dark-haired woman scolded herself.
"Yeah, really. Sit tight," and then Regina hung up the phone.
Regina entered The Rabbit Hole and looked around. This wasn't an establishment she had spend much time in. She had been here once with Graham... on an almost date, one could probably say. It had been a bust. She'd had a ridiculous notion that night that she needed some romance in her life but had overlooked that the man didn't have a heart and thus no real capacity for romance. Or maybe they just hadn't clicked. No, they hadn't clicked, Regina had never clicked with anyone but Daniel, and that had been a long time ago...
Regina snapped out of her thoughts when she heard the clear laughter of one Emma Swan from the bar and saw the blonde beating the counter.
"That's hilarious, man," she said to the dwarf at her side. It was... Happy? Regina wasn't even sure but he grinned as if he was.
"He might be Happy but he won't get Lucky tonight," Regina mumbled and walked over to where Emma sat with the dwarf.
"Emma," she said and the blonde's head whipped around at the sound, too fast, it seemed. Emma held her arms out to steady herself but she stll swayed. Regina held onto one of them.
"Whoa, what a trip. Hey," she said. Then she looked Regina up and down and smirked. "Hey," she repeated.
Regina lifted an eyebrow at the other woman.
"What?" she challenged.
"You're wearing jeans," Emma said. "I didn't even think you had a pair of those," she added still grinning.
"I have several. Can we leave now?"
"Dontchu wanna drink?" Emma slured and it came out so messed up that she had to giggle at her own words. "Don't you want to have a drink?" she repeated.
"No, thank you. I came here to drive you home," Regina replied testily and looked over at the dwarf who had been talking to Emma and was now looking at her. "Is there a problem, half-pint?"
Happy smiled at her but he didn't seem happy at the moment.
"No problem," he said and turned back to the bar. He put both hands around his beer.
"That wasn't very nice, Regina," Emma scolded. "Tell him you're sorry."
Happy looked back at the dark-haired woman hopefully.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Happy, is it?" he nodded. "I'm sorry that once again someone normally-sized swoops in and gets you not laid but we have to go," she told the dwarf and grabbed Emma by her elbow. She pulled the blonde from her stool but steadied her enough so that she could walk.
"This was such a bad idea," she grumbled as she maneuvered Emma out of the bar.
"Hey, hey... not so... damn, Regina, this isn't a race. I thought you weren't busy tonight," Emma complained as they walked over the parking lot to the dark Mercedes that was parked two rows away. And then she stumbled, and then she fell onto her knees.
"Emma? Are you... I'm sorry," Regina was still holding onto the blonde's arm but the appendant body was kneeling on the floor.
"Ow," Emma said.
"Can you get up?"
"Can you help me?" Emma asked and looked up at the other woman with pleading eyes. Regina felt like the wind was being knocked out of her. She also felt stupid of how she had behaved. It wasn't Emma's fault that the dwarf had hit on her, it wasn't even Happy's fault that it had made Regina mad. And she didn't even know why it had made her angry. All those men around Emma Swan were always so... hopeful. They seemed to think that they deserved her attention, earned it somehow, that them being completely enamored with her made her owe them her attention. Or maybe... maybe Regina was just jealous that Emma was getting all the attention? Yeah, maybe. It was as good an explanation as any.
Regina helped Emma to her feet and the blonde put and arm around her shoulders to steady herself.
"My knees hurt," she said.
"I'm sorry, I was... careful now. Let's just get into the car, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," Emma agreed and leaned onto Regina as they walked to the Mercedes.
"I like that car," she chatted. "It's really classy. There's a lot about you that's really classy, you know. The haircut, the clothes... not the jeans, really... or maybe even they are. You're one classy chick, Regina Mills."
Regina couldn't help but smile at this. She shook her head but her teeth still showed.
"Thank you, Emma. I guess I had a good teacher."
"Oh, now, she's a piece of work," Emma said almost reverently. "She was, that is... I... I'm sorry, Regina, but she was..."
"Evil?" Regina asked sarcastically. They came to the car and Regina leaned Emma against it as she opened the door to the passenger seat. She looked at Emma who nodded. "Kind of runs in the family," the dark-haired woman said and held the door open for Emma. The blonde looked at it then at Regina.
"I don't believe that. You dad wasn't, was he?"
Regina shook her head.
"No, my dad was... a good man. Weak, yes, but... good and kind."
"You're his daughter, too," Emma said thoughtfully.
"I guess," but it didn't sound convinced and Regina did what she ofted did when a conversation wasn't going the way she wanted it to: she pushed her hair back out of her face and lifted her chin, straightened her shoulders. As if she was still in control - of everything. "Need help getting into the car?"
"No, I... can manage," Emma answered and climbed a little laboriously onto the passenger seat. "All good," she then said and Regina closed the door.
When she slipped into her own seat, Emma asked:
"Why did you come and get me tonight? You could have just called my dad."
"And believe me, I wanted to," Regina murmured.
"But you didn't," Emma stated the obvious.
"No, I didn't. I thought... I don't even know what I thought."
"You like me, don't you?"
"Excuse me?" Regina said not for the first time that evening and looked over at a smirking blonde.
"It's okay, I like you, too."
"You're out of your mind, Miss Swan," Regina said and started her car.
"That's not the first time I heard that tonight. Neal said it, too, without the 'Miss Swan'-part" she told Regina.
"Neal was at the bar?"
"We were there together until... we started fighting," Emma informed the other woman.
"You were on a date?"
"Yeah, and it was... a bad idea."
"Where are you going?" Emma asked as Regina maneuvered her vehicle into the street where her parents lived, where she herself lived.
"Your parents'. Where else would I be going?"
"Don't drive me there, please," Emma begged and lay her hand on Regina's arm. "Pleeease?"
"Where do you want me to go?" Regina asked but the other woman just shrugged her shoulders.
"Not there," Emma answered sullenly and Regina pulled the car to the curb to park.
"Emma," she started and turned toward the blonde after she'd turned down the engine.
"They talked me into this stupid date. They will be sooo... they will ask me what went wrong and I don't know what went wrong. I just... I don't even know who that guy is anymore. And he knows zilch about me," Emma whined.
"Well, that's what dates are for, to get to know each other, aren't they?" Regina said and felt like a fish out of water. She wasn't exactly an expert in dating.
"But I know him, and I don't. I can't explain but... we don't fit anymore," Emma told Regina. She moved her shoulders as if she was uncomfortable and Regina interpreted that Emma was uncomfortable with Neal, with entering into a relationship with him.
"You don't have to be with him just because your parents think it's a good idea, you know?"
"I kinda know but... he's still Henry's dad." Emma sighed.
"Henry's got a lot of parents to chose from these days," Regina remarked sarcastically.
"Yes but... Neal has never been a parent. He doesn't know... he can't make the decisions. We have to make the decisions," Emma said and looked earnestly at Regina.
"Both of us?"
"Then we will," she agreed.
"Good, now... can you drive me to Granny's?" Regina looked at Emma quizzically but then shrugged her shoulders.
"All right," she said and restarted the car.
"I guess one should be you if one wanted a career as thief in Storybrooke," Emma whispered as Regina helped her through the door of Granny's B&B.
"That wasn't the idea behind this bunch of keys," Regina said. "Won't Ruby hear us?"
"Probably. Hey, Rubes, it's just me and Regina. I'm gonna crash on the couch tonight. There," Emma said and grinned at the other woman. "What was the idea behind the keys?"
"Control, I guess," Regina answered truthfully.
"Everything about Storybrooke is about control, isn't it?" They stumbled into the living room. "You're all about control, aren't you?"
"No, you know. Regina is all about control. You should let your hair down more often, you should... like dance more," Emma suggested and started to wriggle as Regina let go of her and she landed on the couch.
"I should dance more?"
"Yeah, and... I don't know... other stuff," Emma said suddenly evasive.
Regina sighed again and sat next to Emma on the couch.
"Other stuff," Emma just repeated and shrugged.
"Is 'getting drunk' other stuff?" Regina asked and Emma thought about it.
"Yeah, I think it is. And... going out and having fun."
"And dancing." Emma nodded.
"Do you like dancing?" she asked.
"Yeah, I... I do like dancing," Regina agreed and a small smile appeared on her face.
"I bet you have some moves," Emma said and grinned rakishly. Regina opened her mouth to give a retort but then she squinted her eyes at the blonde.
"We're not really talking about dancing, are we?" she asked suspiciously.
"Why, were you about to show me some of your moves?"
Regina sighed exasperately.
"Goodnight, Emma," she said and was about to get up but Emma held onto her arm, pulling her back down on the sofa cushion.
"Wait, I.. I wanted to thank you," the blonde said. "For... coming to the bar tonight and getting me. I... couldn't face my parents, so thank you."
"You're welcome," Regina gave back and was surprised when Emma hugged her spontaneously. She froze as she felt the muscular body of the blonde against hers. It was such a strange sensation, so alien, so uncomfortable, so... warm and soft.
"It's okay, Regina. People hug on occasion," Emma whispered into her ear and that caused another strange sensation. one that made the former evil queen even warmer than before.
The brunette patted Emma on the back, twice, stiffly and the sheriff let go of her.
"We gotta do that more often so you get the hang of it," Emma said. "I didn't like it myself at first but... it's kinda nice with people you like."
"Yeah, so I hear," Regina acknowledged but didn't sound thrilled about the prospect.
"I told you that I like you," Emma said. "I know you like me."
"I do?" Emma nodded.
"You like me against your will but you still do," the blonde told the mayor and they looked at each other.
"I don't know what to do with you... or about you," Regina uttered. Emma shrugged.
"Just let go," she suggested. And then she leaned in and touched her lips to Regina's, completely unexpectedly for both of them.
They seemed to stay there, pressed against Regina's, for an eternity and then they pressed a little tighter, opened a little, nipped at that other pair of lips.
Regina wanted to push Emma away but as her hands went up to Emma's collar, they didn't push her away like they were supposed to, they grabbed at the soft, worn fabric and pulled Emma closer. The kiss deepened quickly, with tongues joining the wild frenzy. Their whole bodies seemed to push and pull at each other, trying to get closer or away or on top.
Then suddenly, Emma was thrown back into the corner of the couch and Regina stumbled to her feet. She looked at Emma in shock for a moment, then angrily.
"Don't ever...," she said but her voice shook with passion, the passion she suddenly felt for the blonde. She blushed furiously at her own weakness, what she saw as weakness. "I have to go," she said.
"Regina?" Emma found her own voice again but she felt unable to get up from the couch as Regina fled the B&B.
Regina entered the diner the next morning and wasn't surprised to see Emma sitting at a table in the corner, nursing a cup of coffee in her hand. She took a deep breath and walked right over.
"Sheriff," she greeted and Emma looked slightly taken aback at the formality of it.
"Regina, good morning," she said.
"I wanted... it's... About last night," Regina found some words that seemed to state that she meant business, despite the tumultuous emotions she felt at the mere sight of Emma Swan.
"Last night? I... I'm sorry, Regina. Did I say something, do something? I'm afraid I drank way beyond my limit and, honestly, I can't even remember that we saw each other. Were you at the bar?" Emma asked confusedly and Regina stopped dead in whatever she had to say to the other woman.
"I...," she tried but then stopped. She looked at Emma, not certain that she believed that Emma could have forgotten... everything. Including that kiss. "You don't remember... anything?"
"I'm sorry. Did I say something to you or...?" Emma seemed clearly embarrassed and also worried that she could have done something... and she had.
But it certainly wasn't wise to remind her, was it? But shouldn't she remember? How could she have forgotten? A drunken tryst... nothing more. Regina closed her eyes for a second.
"No, I... I drove you to Granny's, you were really drunk and... I don't think that's very commendable behavior for a sheriff, Emma," Regina scolded.
"I know and I'm really sorry. It won't happen again," Emma promised.
"Good," Regina said and then looked around. She had been awake for most of the night and thought about what she would say to Emma Swan, how she would make it clear that something like what had happened between them on Granny's couch would never happen again. She had been so pumped with telling Emma off that she now felt impossibly bloated with words she was never going to say. She also felt bone-tired because she hadn't had a wink of sleep.
"Regina?" She turned back to Emma who was smiling up at her. "Will you join me for a cup of coffee? You look about as tired as I am."
But Regina shook her head quickly.
"No, I... I really have to go," Regina said and left the diner again.
Emma looked after her, her forehead furrowed. She didn't notice Ruby until the the other woman spoke.
"You are a chicken, Emma Swan," the waitress said. Emma turned to her.
"You heard me. And I heard you last night, the two of you getting it on on the couch... I mean, I don't know what you were thinking but... to tell her you don't remember? That's just cowardly, Emma," Ruby told her friend.
"She just would have told me that it was never to happen again and... damn, Ruby, I...." Emma shook her head.
"So you want her, big deal. And she wants you just as bad, Emma... you guys have to deal with that eventually."
"How do you know she wants me?" Emma asked not at all sure that the young woman was on the right track here.
"I smell things. I hear things... and the mayor's heart was beating so wildly when she saw you just now I was prepared to give CPR in case it gave out," Ruby told Emma. She looked at the blonde for a long moment.
"I don't think she'll ever admit to it,"Emma said.
"Probably not. Certainly not before you."
Ruby topped Emma's coffee off and gave the sheriff an encouraging smile.
"Don't tell my mom, please," the blonde asked of her friend before she could turn and leave the table.
"I won't," Ruby promised and then walked over to some other patrons in the diner. Emma stared into her black coffee, smelled its enticing aroma and wished... that things had gone a little bit differently this morning.