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What Ever Happened to the Transylvania Twist?

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The whole thing is tacky and distasteful. A mandatory Halloween party a week before October 31st. A multi-purpose room filled with drunk academics in costumes they think clever. There at least two of her colleagues dressed as students. One TA with a tag on his jacket that simply reads “costume”. The head of her department is wearing a sort of revisionist take on Snow White. Complete with faux-fur and white muslin that has been dirtied just enough.  It’s Mary Margaret’s idea of commenting on her greatest hit, no doubt. The damn thing makes her own costume look ironic. An Evil Queen’s response to Snow White revisionism. Blood colored lips to match her vest. Black silk over fitted trousers.  Just her luck. With a heavy sigh Regina sips her cider and notes the time. One hour. Until it is acceptable for her to leave. 


“Do not.” Marian nudges her ribs, furrowing her brow.


“What?” Regina pushes her friend’s quiver and her quills away from her face. Marian’s Robin Hood costume is her worst idea yet. 


“I know that look. You’re planning your exit strategy.”  She takes a bite from a cocktail wiener only to spit it out. “Fuck, would it kill them to budget for these things?” 


“With the pennies Blanchard manages to convince the Treasury we don’t need?” With only Marian around she can scoff. “And please. Zelena can only watch Henry until eleven tonight. That’s hardly an exit strategy.” 


“Aha. A coincidence, sure.” A smirk grows on her face and that can only mean one thing. “Hey, your mortal enemy just showed up.” 


“Which one?” Regina asks despite knowing the answer to that question. There can only be one person she means. 


“Your favorite.” 


She is dressed as a mummy of all things. The white of drugstore bandages wrap around the brown of her skin. Toilet paper sticking to her shoe, of course Emma Swan couldn’t resist a bad joke. 


“Don’t be ridiculous.” She says, pointedly looking away from Emma Swan. “I hate them all equally.” 


“No special feelings about her getting that west-side office. The one you specifically requested for the lighting? Her parking space being right next to yours?” 


“None beyond reason.” 


A lie. Regina has tended to this particular grudge ever since she discovered that one of her articles ended up in Swan’s undergraduate syllabus without previous consultation and worse it was meant to encourage her students to find the flaws in her argument. 


“You have no thoughts about that obnoxious noise her car makes?” She pokes her side and Regina does her best to remain unaffected. “Or what did you call them? Those stupid perfect curls of hers?”


“I never said that.” Regina crosses her arms, being vaguely aware of Emma Swan being somewhere in her vicinity. “And no. I hold no special resentment towards her.” 


“Great! Because she’s coming this way.” Marian says waving Swan over with a smile. It makes Regina’s expression twist into a scowl. “What? She’s friends with Hua over at the sociology department. And  I have no mortal enemies.” 


“You’re set on torturing me.” 


“Torture?” Swan asks, suddenly in front of her. “Getting into the spirit of things already, huh”. 


“This whole night is an exercise in it.” Regina can feel her eyes on her. Taking in the details of her outfit, dipping where the fabric folds. It isn’t bold but it isn’t discreet either. She hates it. Truly loathes those brown eyes finding her own. “And now you’re here. It’s just kicking it up a notch along with the canned meat.” 


“Regina…” Marian scolds her. 


“Carved out any hearts tonight yet? Bitten any heads off?” Swan replies, completely unfazed. Entirely relaxed. “I heard the library administrator  is feeling pretty down. If you’re looking for a new victim.” 


“That bore of a woman?” Regina’s muscles contract at that. It has never been a secret that she is perceived as difficult in the department. It’s her work that cements her place here and that at least keeps her insecurities at bay. “Haven’t you heard? I like to play with my prey.” 


To her right Marian chokes on her drink and coughs out the remaining fizz from it. Her friend gives her a curious look, one that suggests an idea. Mierda . No. That look has turned knowing. Regina shakes her head as she widens her eyes. 


“I’m getting a new drink. You want anything?” She slaps her shoulder. “No? Good. I’ll be a while.” 


Swan laughs when Marian’s quills hits Regina in the face one last time. Fixing her with a glare, she considers her options. The choices in this multi-purpose room with the shitty grey carpet. Follow after Marian in an anti-social and pathetic display or spend her remaining time gritting her teeth through another impromptu Chaucer lecture. Emma Swan is at least entertaining. 


“So...” She begins with a tilt to her head. “Did you and Mary Margaret coordinate your costumes or…?.” 


“Yes. We spent months discussing how to properly portray the varying  perceptions of gentile and jewish women in fairy tales.” Her fingers press against her temple as a reflex. “Obviously not. I threw on whatever I had in my closet that could pass for--”


“You had all this in your closet?” 


“Some of us have more than a leather jacket in our hangers.”


“Joke’s on you,” Swan bites her lip, completely unaware of it. Infuriating. “I don’t own any hangers.” 


“Ugh.” Regina tries not to notice the smokey eye she has given herself. The vaguely kohl looking make-up lining the shape of her eyes. “And what are you commenting on with this tripping hazard you’re wearing?”


“Mummies are cool and budget friendly?” She taps on Regina’s almost empty cup.


Regina rolls her eyes but accepts her offer to refill her drink. Correctly guesses cider and if a thank you rolls out of her lips then that’s only her business. Swan goes for a light beer that makes her drop her shoulders. Comment on the tenured professors in the room. Gold’s obsession with male victimhood and that affair with one of his PhD students that was kept quiet. Her impression of Jones’s overstated and probably fake English accent. Despite herself and entirely because of her drinks, Regina finds herself laughing.


“How does it feel?” Her tone sounds a bit more serious on her third beer. Even if she snorts through the question.


“How does what feel?” 


“To be a part of the most exclusive club in the department.” 


Regina quirks an eyebrow just at the moment that the lights are cut and the Time Warp is blasted at full volume. It figures this where the night is headed. 


“You know, you, me, and Marian.” She raises her voice over the music and steps closer. “The diversity club.” 


Ah. That particular crack that when pressed allows her insecurities to slip past her. It must show because Emma Swan is shaking her head in regret. 


“Is that they call it?” The cider has lost some of its sweetness. “How politically correct of them.”


“I can’t imagine that Mary Margaret is super thrilled with you decolonizing her students. Right after her intro classes too.”  


“Can’t imagine Blanchard being thrilled with me in any way,” Regina tells her, forgetting herself. “If I remember correctly, she voted against my appointment before she got that promotion.” 


“There’s no way that’s true.” 


“Check your sources.” Her fingers have a will of their own as they pull at one of Swan’s bandages. “We can’t all write about monsters in outer space to impress her.” 


Swan blows air through her nose in disbelief as they gravitate towards each other. Away from the crowd and the re-imagined for the dance-floor Twilight Zone theme. 


“That’s funny,” She sucks in a breath as she looks at Regina. “You know, the other day she suggested I teach a class about urban fantasy?” 


“The keyword, I imagine, being ‘urban’?” A stifled laugh escapes her. “She had me teach Spanish literature for a term. It’s all these damn priests and nuns who couldn’t write worth a damn.”


“Ha. That checks out.” Her tongue darts out to moisten her lips and Regina remembers to hate it. To find it irritating. Like the thousand annoying things she cannot remember about her. “How do you say no to her?” 


“Perhaps you should shock her into dropping these suggestions.”


“Oh yeah, with what?”


“Tell her you want a half year class on the politics and sexuality of pulp science fiction.” A shudder grips Regina and she tries. Tries to look away from Emma Swan. “Can you imagine that? It’d make her fall off her--”


“You read my dissertation?” She asks, her eyes too bright.


“What makes you say that?” The cider burns in her stomach. 


“You literally just paraphrased its title.” 


Caught red-handed. Regina thinks she should walk away and leave Swan with her half empty cup. Instead she sighs and keeps her eyes locked with hers. She isn’t one to look like a deer caught in headlights.


“Someone had to. It was gathering dust in that sad little shelf at the library.” The truth is that Regina had been curious about her. About the woman who drives a piece of junk and keeps old yellowed novellas around for her students. Who seemingly writes her papers on post-its she leaves scattered everywhere.  


“And that someone had to be you?” 


They’re so close. Too close. That Regina knows she smells of rain and the cold outside. 




“Who would’ve thunk that Regina Mills, PhD--” One of her bandages comes undone and Regina has to bite the inside of her cheek. 


“Oh. Just shut up.”


“Is that how  you teach students to argue...”


She is so smug. So insufferable, so distinctly Emma Swan that Regina can only think of one thing to get her to stop talking. 


A kiss. One that catches her by surprise, makes her suppress a yelp against her lips. The song croons about witchcraft as Regina pulls her into the coat closet behind them. 


“Your Majesty, I don’t know what to say.” Swan mumbles when they break apart. 


“Don’t ruin this.” Regina kisses her again. Parting her lips, feeling what is left of the alcohol in her tongue.


They crash against the wall behind. Emma Swan has her fingers feeling the cotton of her vest. Working to unbutton it, to get to the warmth of her skin. Regina breaks away from her lips, now smudged with the red of her own lipstick, and moves down to her throat. To that throbbing pulse point.


“Regina” The groan alone is enough to send a rush of heat through her.


She presses her body against her shape and bites down a moan when Swan’s hands find the curves of her ass. It’s embarrassing how much Regina wants this. Wants her. With that old, corny song playing just outside the door and with the smell of mothballs of the coats.  


From my laboratory in the castle east. Regina finds that Emma Swan likes the feel of her teeth on her lips. To the master bedroom where vampires feast. The buttons of her blouse are finally coming undone and she can’t think of anything else. The ghouls all come from their humble abodes. Regina couldn’t have guessed the taste of her skin, the feel of her warm hands toying with her waistband. To get a jolt of my electrodes. 


“Just get on with it already.” She hisses. 


“You’re so impatient.” Her touch is light. Teasing and driving her up the fucking wall. Her lips kiss the corner of her mouth,  too tenderly. Too gently for two people who supposedly can’t stand each other. 


They did the mash, the monster mash. 


“Emma Swan if you don’t...”


She laughs quietly, shaking her shoulders. Moves to kiss the swell of her breasts and do as she is asked. Undo her zipper and make her way down. When. There is a sudden and violent jiggle to the doorknob. And they both seem to remember themselves.


“Christ. Is that you, Jones?” The voice outside seems to ask. “Zip up your fly and just give me my coat. It’s the tweed one.” 


The interruption is enough to sober Regina up. And the absurdity of the situation settles in. Quickly and without warning. A whole party of adults in ironic costumes wait outside. Drunk and half hungry.  This is a mistake. They got carried away by the beer and cider. In whatever conversation they’d fallen into.  Swan stumbles backwards looking dumbfounded. Very likely aware that they aren’t the kind to survive faculty gossip.  Yes. This is nothing but an impulsive mistake. No matter how good it felt. 


Swan presses her lips together and avoids her eyes and hands whoever-it-is his tweed jacket. Regina takes a moment to fix her blouse. Do those covered buttons of her vest. Run a hand through her hair. Leave before either can say anything about it.


It’s one and a half days to Halloween and Tilly is exhausted. Her new antidepressants are messing with her sleep and appetite. If she drags herself out of the bed for her afternoon classes then she considers that a victory. She presses her forehead against the desk and thinks of nothing but that slice of pumpkin pie Robyn left in the fridge and all the readings she hasn’t done. There is a shuffle of feet and bags. The end of intro to Sci-fi and Postmodernism.  It’s lucky that Doctor Swan doesn’t mind Tilly dozing off.  Even luckier still that Professor Mills’s class is in this same room and she doesn’t have to move. 


If Tilly were being perfectly honest, it’s this class change that makes Thursday afternoons worth it. Doctor Swan and Professor Mills tend to clash over it. The former will eat into the latter’s time. Forget her flashdrive in the CPU and run back in to interrupt her class. Professor Mills will roll her eyes, make some snide comment about whatever topic they happened to have covered. And will finally, finally kick out Doctor Swan with a knit to her brow.


“Insufferable.” She says every time. 


They are the favorite topic of one of her group chats The aptly named Intro to Swan Queen  Endless source of speculation. And well. They’re just Tilly’s favorite thing about class. Doctor Swan actually looks something like her and gets what she’s trying to say. Doesn’t hurt she knows all the best piracy websites. Professor Mills listens and didn’t even bat an eye when she told her about her pills. And the shitty on-campus therapist who suggested she just try and do her work. 


The characteristic click of Professor Mills’s heels come as the hydraulic arm on the door stretches open. Later than usual. Tilly looks up from her spot on her desk expecting to find Doctor Swan fiddling with one last thing on the computer. Instead she is scratching the back of her neck and stepping out of the way. 


“Uh, sorry.” She swallows something back and looks away . “It was The Anubis Gates today and I didn’t notice the time.”


“It’s fine.” And the weird thing. Professor Mills seems to actually mean it. “I got held up at the office anyway.”


“Oh. Ok. Good?”


It’s so tightly tense that Tilly suddenly wants to walk out of her skin. She fishes her phone out her pocket and opens Intro to Swan Queen.


:eyes: :eyes: :eyes:




Something went down. They’re being awkward af I wanna die

“Uh, so guess I’ll see you around.” Doctor Swan balances herself on the balls of her feet. Like she has decided against something before turning on her heel.


“Emma.” That is the dead giveaway. Doctor Swan is always Swan. Insufferable. Time-thief. Unorganized. But she is never just Emma to Professor Mills. 



How tf are you so bad at giving us live updates. NARRATE.


“Yeah?” She does not look OK. Like she might pass out if Professor Mills keeps her eyes on her. 


“Your flash drive. You forgot your flash drive.” She unplugs and hands it over. 


Tilly has never seen something so fucking odd before. It feels like too many things are hanging up in the air for them. The way they exhale. How they seem on the verge of saying something but then close their mouths again.






“Thanks.” The half smile she gives her is pained, as if she is trying to bite down rejection. 


“You’re welcome.” Professor Mills sticks out her chin and her ankle bends of all things. Nothing about her ever bends. Or folds. 


Y’all  Professor just said you’re welcome


To Swan???? Was she being sarcastic??

No. Definitely not :skull: :eyes:


They fucked. 100%


Judging by the way Doctor Swan just walks into the closed door and how Professor Mills bites into her lip there must be some truth to it. 

Lmfao tomorrow’s event is gonna be interesting




Emma has always had a fondness for Halloween. It’s something she can celebrate on her own. It has nothing to do with family or some bullshit made up idea of togetherness. It’s shameless. About candy and cheap make-up. Growing up she could get lost in those big trick or treating groups. Everyone got the same whole-sale candy in their bags, the what did you get? questions never felt painful like they were on every other holiday. She has been eating platefuls of grocery store pumpkin pie in front of her TV for years now.


But today. She hates Halloween. And it isn’t October 31st yet. This event had completely slipped her mind. Witches, Ghouls, and Monsters in Literature. That’s the name Mary Magaret had given it. She thinks staying topical will make students come to more of these things. Emma is one of the big draws, she told her. It can make her feel like her shiny new toy at a show- and- tell. Whatever she says is supposed to be clever and inventive. But. Her brain has been fucking ball of mush since Regina Mills had pulled her by her mummy bandages and kissed her. Emma feels like she’s had to scrape herself off the floor every morning.


 It doesn’t help that Regina is sitting across from her. Having finished her half of the lecture, barely sparing her a glance. Because she is the other big draw to this event. Regina and her stupid pressed trousers and the straight lines of her blazer. Dark hair that Emma knows is like silk between her fingers. Those lips carefully painted the deep red of dark wine. Fuck. Fucking ball of mush. 


“This is a question for both of you, I guess.” It’s one of Emma’s best students who leans away from the chair. Kida Huchim eyes them both like she is onto their whole mess. “Would you say the horror of science fiction is different from the horror of folklore?”




“Well, that is--


They both begin at the same time, Regina closes her fist around her armrest. She smiles at Kida and then throws back her hair. As if this were part of the lecture and not this strange shaped space between them. Emma gestures towards Regina and releases a breath she hopes no one catches. 


“I would say that there is a fundamental difference in it. To really answer the question I think we would need to ask what the purpose of these different types of stories is.” It drives her crazy. How Regina can sit with her spine so stiff and look so at home. “Folk tales are cautionary. Their horror is based around the fear of change or the loss of a way of life. The hidden agents of that change. Witches, vampires. Minorities.” 


She hates that her voice is always so smooth. That she can talk like this and keep everyone in her thrall. Someone clears her throat and Emma is made aware that an answer is expected from her. 


“Oh, uh. I’d agree with that,” Emma sees at least five pairs of eyebrows shoot up in the audience. “That might be a first, I know. But I think a lot of the horror of science fiction is really the horror of creation.” 




Whatever is left of her brain might be melting off under Regina’s skeptical gaze. 


“Right.  Like Frakenstein’s being terrified by this life he made. Maybe the whole genre is just disgust at what we’ve created. At ourselves.” Emma forces herself to laugh and shrug. “Uh, I don’t know if that really answers your question?”


Kida nods and gets a nudge from her friend right after. They get some five questions after that.  Mostly serious ones that have  discussion veering off topic at some point. Regina is the picture of restraint. With her crossed ankles and her small sips of water. Half of the questions try to pit them against each other. They’re phrased in a way that feels like a push. Emma supposes maybe that was meant to be part of the appeal of the thing. Mulan has sent her more than a few screenshots of student tweets that involve her and Regina’s. All these theories that turned out to be half true. But to their students’ disappointment every answer they give has the same false start and that walking-on-egg-shells quality to it. 


It’d be a lie to say Emma doesn’t hate it too. She downs the coffee that has gone cold and figures she will at least make an ass out of herself one last time. 


“So...” She says with her hands in her pockets. 


“Yes?” Regina picks at some non-existent thread at the end of her sleeve. 


“I thought we could talk?” It’s just them in the room. Alone with cobwebs, plastic bats and silly string hanging from the walls and ceiling. 


“There is nothing to talk about.” She snaps the cover of her tablet closed and rearranges her bag to make room for it.


“Are we just gonna go on like--”


“Like what?” Regina blinks, steadies her breathing. Emma recognizes it, from when she had her blouse unbuttoned and her lips swollen. Something too close to fear. And Emma knows how to fix it. How to transform that anxiety into something they can work with.


“Like you weren’t dead wrong space horror?” She says, trying to sound casual. “I didn’t want to say anything but…”


“Am I meant to believe you held back?” Her brow is creasing in the middle. 


“Just say you think everything written in that subgenre is a variation of Alien--”


“I wouldn’t know.” Regina lifts her chin and Emma could laugh with relief. “I have better taste than that.”  




“At least I’m not the one who claimed science fiction can only happen in industrialized societies to a room full of undergrads.” 


“Did I say that?” The puff of her chest is not something she has control over. 


“The question about VanderMeer’s monsters?” 


“Oh.” What she’d actually said is that it’s the terror unique to them. “Yeah. I definitely didn’t say that.” 


“Except you did. Then you made some offhand comment about magical realism that I cannot begin to tell you the kind of assumptions you’re making--”


“Did I miss something? Is this a defense?” Emma knows her lips curling upward. “Am I being graded?” 


“I’m just pointing out the flaw in your argument, dear.” A plastic bat swivels above their head, disturbing the cotton cobweb and silly string ecosystem. “Dissecting so that it can be examined. Explore what is really being said. Authorial intent or the lack of.” 


That. A whole three years later. Since Emma included Regina’s paper in her readings and included it in a discussion. Regina never forgets. Never forgives. And on the day before Halloween with pink silly string sticking to her hair Emma has to laugh. In her face. 




“Nothing. It’s just…” Emma shakes her head. “You’re a little bit of an asshole?” 


Regina’s cheeks darken as she sizes up Emma. Maybe for a coffin, judging by the stiffness of her neck.  Emma is right back in that coat closet, teasing her with her lips. 


“How dare you say--” A vein grows thick on Regina’s forehead just as her heel clicks closer. 


“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.” Emma breathes out. “You know I only used your article in class because its argument is ironclad, right? Like that thing is impenetrable.” 


Her eyes grow darker even if they do not soften. Mush. Fucking mush. They’ll have to call the janitor to come mop Emma off the floor. 


“You’re an idiot.” She mutters, trying to inject steel into her tone. 




Regina’s eyes drift down to her lips just as she allows Emma’s fingers to pick out the cobwebs and silly string off her hair. 


“You’ve taken worse from me.” Fear has been replaced only by a challenge in her look. “And I never said I didn’t like it.”


Maybe it’s a mistake. To lean closer in this empty classroom with the projector still on. Casing their shadows on the wall. 


But Emma thinks they’re past the point of caring. 


Her charger. Audrey forgot her fucking charger. Left plugged in and everything. She had even checked her stupid bag to see if she had everything and she didn’t notice it missing. Ugh. It isn’t the kind of thing that would survive the lost and found. That classroom is all the way on the North-East side of campus and she’d been halfway home. Por la puta. This is what she gets for thirst-going to a department event. Audrey blames that stupid Swan Queen gc. And Kida. She blames Kida most of all for dragging her to that dungeon of a classroom. 


One floor down. Five to go. 

She maybe also genuinely cares what Professor Mills thinks of her. Because of the talking-to she gave her generally not submitting three out of five assignments. Skipping out on her midterm that one time. She’d told her to sit during her office hours. Taken her glasses off and said, “Don’t become a waste of my time, Miss Ramirez. You have a good strong voice in the work you do submit. God knows we don’t need another gringa’s take on our ‘struggle’.” Audrey could not not show up to this. That and her getting riled up by the Swan is nothing to be missed. 


Finally. -5A. Pointless half-floor in the dumbest corner of campus. Audrey will just run in there and then she can go home and start setting up the horror marathon. She pushes the door open only to hear a yelp. 




It’s Professor Mills with her hand still around Swan’s waist. Her lipstick smudged. Matching the shade Swan has on hers. They both look at her wide-eyed and stunned. Disheveled like they hadn’t been during their lectures. Shirts untucked and hairs out of place.


Holy shit. Holy shit. 


“Miss Ramirez…” Professor Mills begins with a shaky voice and really. Audrey is trying to look anywhere but her face. 


“I didn’t see anything!” Audrey says a little too loudly. “I’m just here to get my charger.” 


She rushes to the back row and drops it on her way back. Like a moron. The Swan actually laughs which she is sure earns her a smack. Audrey refuses to look and confirm her suspicions. 


“Bye now!” If she trips on her way out then at least there is no one there to see it.


El chisme del siglo and she is just gonna sit on it. Because she is honorable and shit. 


If the gc only knew. 



Henry pulls on her hand so comically hard that Regina only knows to laugh at her son. He is a werewolf tonight, fake fur sewn to the end of his sleeves. Regina used her own makeup to draw his hairline lower and give him a wolf nose. He’ll only be five once and that Chewbacca costume from last year’s trick or treating had to be repurposed somehow. Regina made herself into a vampire with eyeliner, her boldest lipstick and that too-light foundation the store wouldn’t take back. There is a story to be told about a vampire mothering a werewolf, she is sure. But three hours of knocking on strangers’ doors for candy has just about burned her neurons.  The neurons that had survived Emma Swan, that is. The rest of them spend their time conjuring images of her.  Regina blames the season. This day for it. 


“Mama, come on! It's the last house!” Henry says impatiently. “Lucy and Roland are gonna get all the good candy!”


“Mi vida, I’m sure everyone gets the same candy.” Regina tells him,  realizing that she is carrying his weight in sugar. “And sharing is good. Remember what we talked about?”


“Hmmph.” If she didn’t know better she would have said he growled. “OK.” 


They walk up a sparsely decorated front porch. A plastic tomb  and a badly carved jack-o-lantern. The door is open just crack, enough for a thin yellow line to mark the wood under their feet. Whoever the owner is making a show of fetching the candy for the children. Lucy dances in her spot, in her zombie ballerina outfit that every mother behind these doors found just a tad too morbid. Sabine and Jacinda are too delighted by it. Marian couldn’t resist dressing her son as the least frightening creature of the Black Lagoon. Just a mask with a strong elastic that Roland keeps trying to pull loose.. 


Marian shares a conspiratorial look with Sabine and Jacinda. Her surviving neurons tell Regina that this is something of concern. 


“Quick, before my mistress comes back!” The door swings open and it’s Emma Swan with a bowl of candy. 


“Oh, I think it’s kind of late for that, Swan.” Marian says making Emma freeze with a fistful of candy in her hand. Freeze at the sight of Regina. 


Perhaps, there are things that should have remained untold. Things that shouldn’t have been shared while applying monster make-up in between sips of cider. 


Henry slips out of her grasp and steps forward to give Emma a toothy smile. It gets him a grin in return. 


“What are you supposed to be?” He asks her, lifting his jack-o-lantern for her to fill. 


Heat crawls up Regina’s neck when she sees the very obvious bite painted on Emma’s neck. Half-painted. The pulse point Regina had given special attention to just a day ago. Bruised and made into her Halloween costume. 


“Uhh…” Emma looks at her, seemingly lost for words. “Well it’s uh…”


“A vampire’s friend, sweetheart.” Regina tells him, holding her breath with a smile. 


“That’s one way to put it.” Sabine says and Jacinda snorts. 


Henry turns blinks up at Emma and then turns to give her a look. As though he guessed Regina had something to do with it. But thankfully, that seemed to be all the explanation a five year old requires. 


“ Uhh, you guys are the scariest monsters I’ve seen all night!” Emma says, in an attempt to save them both some face. 


“Really?” Lucy twirls in her bloodied tutu. 


“Oh, I’m terrified!” Extra candy goes into their loot. “I’ll have nightmares for weeks!” 


Roland makes his hands into claws and slides from Marian’s side to poke at Lucy. She stomps her ballerina foot and chases him down the stairs. Running circles on the lawn while growling and all the related monster noises. 


“Hey, careful you two!” Marian rubs her temples and laughs. “Whose idea was it to make a holiday that’s designed to give kids sugar?” 


“Looks like that’s our cue to go.” Jacinda says with a sigh. “That tutu will be gone by the time we get home.”  


Regina puts her hand on Henry’s shoulder and gives it a gentle squeeze. 


“Say thank you, carino.” If she is smiling then it’s only because it’s Halloween. 


“Thank you, mama’s friend!” He says so cheerfully before running to join the others in their game. 


She knows to be mortified and attempt to leave before her friends’ laughter attracts too much attention. She sets one foot off the porch only to be pushed back by Marian. 


“Get back in there.”  She says through her teeth. 


“But Henry…”


“Will  be crashing from his sugar rush at mine. He’ll be fine, trust me.” Marian gives her another push. “Now go finish the job, Vampira.” 


Regina glares at the back of her head. Because it’s the only thing keeping the blood from coloring her complexion.  She turns on her heel to find Emma leaning against her door. For a moment Regina remembers the anxiety that comes from this. From a twisting knob or an empty classroom. Faculty gossip and existing in the mind of others.  But her remaining neurons, the ones begging to be burned too, remind her that the world exists outside of campus. 


“That was one hell of a trick they just pulled.” Her eyes  fold at the corners from her smile. “Get it? Because it’s--”


“Because it’s Halloween. I get it.” Regina rolls her eyes and closes the distance between them. Catches her lips with hers, grazes them with her teeth when she lets go. “Aren’t you going to invite me?”


“Now who is the one with the bad jokes?” Emma laughs her way back into a kiss.