Actions

Work Header

stick to the coda conduct

Work Text:

Emma Swan is so not one for weddings. Maybe shotgun 1am weddings, maybe even jeans and a jumper weddings at city hall. Definitely not fifteen-foot train, three day extravaganzas featuring every cliche in the book. But Mary Margaret and David been her friends since college, David for longer and she owes them big time. Putting a roof over her head big time, not judging every single one of her stupid ass mistakes big time, every Thanksgiving and Christmas at their family’s big time. So she didn’t have a whole lot of choice to wriggle out of maid of honour, and she is honoured, she is, of course she is but helping to organise the wedding? All of this white satin shit? So not her area of expertise.

Neither are floral arrangements, or those weird fabric chair covers or being in a church more often than she had been when she was nine and living with that weird church mouse family because Mary Margaret is on her pre-wedding escape in some fancy hotel in another state and that leaves her as the only person who can talk to the pastor about the myriad tiny fucking things that are apparently essential to the wedding.

She’s also horrifically late for this tiny fucking thing which is meeting the pastor to discuss the ceremony because she got an influx of emails and requests from the Mayor's office which is killing her because this woman got the job last fucking week and she’s not even sure what the job is, vice mayor, advisor, spin doctor, whatever. She doesn’t even know the woman’s name because she never listens in those meetings at town hall because come on.

The Mayor is a fossil and the council members aren’t much better. And the notes get emailed to her the next day and after that Mulan (who is eternally frustrated with her lack of respect for bureaucracy) takes care of them. All she knows about the woman is that she has a bad reputation and she’s already taken a dislike to Emma despite having never even met her and just jesus christ. It’s a weekend and it’s 11am and she’s already having a day.

And now, on top of everything, the fucking organist is refusing to play Pachelbel’s fucking Canon.

“Jesus fucking Christ”, are the first words out of her mouth when Archie reluctantly told her. They’re standing in the centre isle of the church, and he’s actually decent, for a pastor, if a little bit of wet towel. There are a load of WASPy pantsuit and pearls women glaring at her from the back of the church and she may not be religious, but this guy looks like a mild gust of wind would blow him over so she apologises. Profusely. Because he does not need the pastor flaking out on her as well.

He fiddles with his collar and fixes her with an sympathetic look, “I’m sorry, Emma, but she just won’t do it. That’s her only condition for doing weddings."

“I’ll talk to her”, she says and then groans as he blanches.

Shit.

“What, what’s the problem now?”

Surely it’s just some old granny who’s played it so many times she doesn’t want to anymore. It’s got to be that. She’s praying for it to be that. She’s not going to be skinned or something. She’s got a list full of wedding related things to finish and a mountain of paperwork waiting for her courtesy of the mayoral bitch from hell who's busting Emma’s small time sheriff’s department balls via email so she's borderline praying to whoever’s up there at this point. She’s hoping at being in a church will amp up her praying noise and just this once the big man might take pity on her.

She takes a steading breath, then asks slowly, “Archie, is there something you want to tell me?”

He scratches his head and looks at the floor, “You might want to be…delicate.”

“Delicate?”

“She’s…somewhat difficult.”

Difficult. Shit. Delicacy may not be her strong suit but she can be persuasive. Nice, even. For Mary Margaret and David she can do nice. She gets the address of the organist’s next concert from Archie, because she figures this will go better in person than by email or phone and she can try to grab her after she’s done playing. She excuses herself quickly and catches herself when Archie says that he’ll let the organist know she’s coming and she thanks her lucky stars that he’s tuned into things. Delicate, right. She can do that. She's got delicacy coming out of her ass.

In her defence, she tries, she honestly does. She gets there early, sits through the entire fucking concert which is admittedly quite good, not that she knows the first thing about classical music. She’s right at the back because she brought paperwork with her to try and get through but she ended up abandoning it pretty quickly. She’s in a bit of a daze already, and it’s half the music and half racing around all week on police business and wedding business and she doesn’t know which one is more exhausting.

All she can see from the back is a broad sweep of stage, she doesn’t see much of the organist at all, who’s tucked behind a load of horns, other than the back of a glossy, dark head and the gentle sway of a slim pair of shoulders as she plays. When it ends, she claps loudly and stops herself from whistling like she’s at a baseball game and gets her first proper look at the organist as she stands and dips her head at the applause. She’s dark haired and tanned and wearing an expensive looking dark dress and then Emma loses sight of her because the woodwind section stands up. Fucking oboes.

She waits until the place empties a little and the orchestra is packing up, then walks up to where the organist is gathering up sheet music and pointedly ignoring most of the other players. And of course it’s just Emma’s luck that she’s ridiculously good looking. Between delicate and difficult she had kind of been expecting some monstrous old lady or a deranged, floral clad step ford wife church mouse. Or maybe like the log lady from Twin Peaks, but less endearing.

She definitely did not expect not the woman in front of her, practically poured into a tight black dress that, frankly, is doing something to Emma she’s not entirely onboard with. She's no going to ruin David’s wedding over cleavage, not even cleavage like this (though if she was going to ruin a wedding over cleavage, she highly doubts she could find better). It’s a perfectly suitable business slash formal wear dress but still. She hasn’t seen anybody look this good in formal wear since she crashed a law major’s christmas party back in college and ended up sleeping with the professor.

She bites her lip and composes herself and coughs to announce herself, the woman turning to face her, an eyebrow arched as she looks Emma up and down. She wishes she’d worn something nicer than tight jeans and a leather jacket, which is admittedly her best leather jacket, but still doesn't scream concert hall as much as dive bar juke box. She powers through it and starts to talk, trying desperately to channel nice.

“Hi, Regina? Archie said he’d tell you I was stopping by to talk to you.”

She’s already turned back to the sheet music, instead intent on the pile of music in from of her, shuffling it into place and frowning, “Sheriff Swan, yes? Nice to finally meet you. Make it quick.”

Something’s a little off if Archie told somebody to expect the Sheriff and not just Emma, off duty, but whatever. It’s probably just a church thing, with titles and all and she has an opening.

“Right. You’re doing the Blanchard-Nolan wedding? I know you said you didn’t want to play Pachelbel’s Canon but-“

Regina doesn’t even look up at her when she interrupts and says, “For a police officer, your comprehension skills are certainly lacking. I clearly state on my website that I don’t play it.”

Emma sets her jaw and then tries her most charming smile, “I thought if I asked you in person might make an exception.”

“Absolutely not”, she sounds immensely bored as she flicks through the papers and then slips them into the folder and Emma nearly screams in the middle of the concert hall.

Who did she piss off to get stuck with a ridiculously good looking asshole to try to negotiate fucking wedding musical with. She takes a deep breath,

“Are you joking?”, she asks, trying not to grind her teeth, “It’s one song, one song for two people who’re getting married.”

“Yes dear, I’m quite aware of what I’m doing when I play for weddings.”

“Oh, come on!"

Regina slams her folder down and glares at Emma, “It’s a dreadful piece of music.”

“Jesus, it’s one song.”

Regina begins to walk away, scooping up her folders. “It’s overdone and extremely unsophisticated.”

Emma grabs her arm as she tries to brush past and Regina snatches her arm from her grip and practically spits at her, “Do not try to manhandle me."

“Seriously?”

"Seriously, Miss Swan. I will play any song in the musical history of the world apart from that one. I will play Bohemian Rhapsody if you ask me to. Get the bride to pick another.”

“Will you not even consider this?"

“No. Now, can we wrap this up so I can go home?”

Emma throws her hands up, “Fine! Fine.”

Regina gives her a distasteful look, “If you’re quite finished.”

“Yeah, sure, I’m done. I can’t wait to see you at the wedding.”

Regina stops and gives her a slightly strange look, “Unfortunately, I'm sure we’ll see each other sooner."

She opens her mouth to try to ask what’s that supposed to mean but Regina is brushing past her, folder in hand and she’s left in the middle of a fucking concert hall with nothing trying desperately not to stare at her ass as she walks away. She spins on her heel grabs her phone, calls Ruby.

“Hey, Rubes? This is definitely a two bottle of wine kind of night.”

It’s two weeks later before she even has a chance to think about the stupid fucking organist.

Mary Margaret is home, the Mayor’s office has backed off a little, thankfully, and everything else is more or less sorted so she’s feels like she’s finally caught a break. She’s avoided the new city manager too, by the grace of god, because while she may have backed off a little, Emma still gets pointed messages from her secretary every day.

It's all fine until she’s listening to Mary Margaret gush about how excited she is to walk down the aisle in the fairytale wedding she’s been dreaming about since she was a girl and she remembers. She’s at dinner at David’s and they’re both there and she’s about to start breaking the news when she remembers just how ridiculous the woman was and just how much Mary Margaret cares. She’s so not giving into this.

She manages to get out of dinner early by some miracle, dodging the unstoppable tide of wedding talk for at least another day. Driving home, she clicks on the link Mary Margaret sent her a month ago and finds Regina's website. It’s pretty basic, no information other than a couple of testimonials, a link to Archie’s church and a few youtube videos where it’s just the audio of her playing. And sure enough, displayed clearly on the inquiries page is the fact that she won’t play Pachelbel’s Canon.

Also displayed clearly on the inquiries page are two phone numbers. Emma scribbles down them both and sets her jaw grimly, starting to drive as she dials one of them. It’s an office number that’s vaguely familiar and then there’s the familiar mayor’s office voicemail that has her frowning. She works in City Hall? she thinks, a little perplexed and then dials the other one.

The phone rings twice before it’s picked up.

“Regina Mills”

Mills…? The surname is now familiar to her and this is giving her some cause for concern. Something else to do with the wedding maybe? Mills is quite a common name? There’s silence on the other end of the phone and she starts to talk before it gets awkward.

“Hi. We met a few weeks ago at one of your concerts. The Blanchard-Nolan wedding?”

“Sheriff Swan.”

She hasn’t heard her name said with this much contempt since high school.

“Yeah. I thought you might have reconsidered”, she flicks her indicator and merges into the next lane.

“Why, because your stellar conversational skills would have persuaded me?”

“What if we pay you more?”

The reply is scathing, “Miss Swan, do you really think I need money? Out of my jobs, do you think playing the organ is my main one?”

“I don’t know what you do for a living, lady.”

“Sheriff Sw-“

She sounds pissed off and so Emma cuts her off quickly, “Could you not find it in your heart just to do this, just once?”

“You haven’t exactly moved me, Sheriff.”

Some asshole pulls out in front of her, making her slam on her brakes harder than her car can really deal with. She swears, thumps her horn and, not gonna lie, totally forgets that she’s on the phone and shouts at the window at the guy, “Watch it, asshole”.

“I could have you official reprimanded for that”, comes the snide response.

She’s at her fucking wits end at this point and is just totally 100% done with this shit.

“Look, lady, I’m not about to let you ruin my friend’s wedding because of your ridiculous music snobbery.”

“And I’m not about to be harassed into playing it by some idiot sheriff with a penchant for bad leather.”

“You’re going to play it."

“I most certainly am not.”

“There’s still more than a month until the wedding, Regina. I’m going to find way to make you play it.”

There’s a laugh from the other end of the phone that wouldn’t sound out of place in the mouth of a disney villain.

Regina speaks and she can practically feel the smirk on her lips, “I’d be careful, dear. You have no idea what I’m capable of.”

Emma’s starting to shoot something back when she realises she’s talking into the dial tone. She screeches and tosses her phone across the car and snarls at the guy behind her who dared to honk at her. One way or another, that damned woman will play the fucking song.

Over the next few days, she spams Regina’s phone with calls and texts and she may have even stooped to attempting to rick roll her a few times via email. She gets nothing in response and has to take a step back to reconsider. It’s 1pm and she’s at her computer in her pyjamas surrounded by empty bowls and mugs because, hey, it’s her day off and she’s been adult enough for long enough to give herself a break. She’s going through her own emails, deleting newsletters and junk she can never be bothered to unsubscribe from when it hits her. It’s perfect.

She opens a new tab and starts to find as many shitty, ridiculous websites that have daily newsletters as she can find and signs Regina up to them all from some discount fashion website to a weird looking Latvian car dealership somewhere in Montana. She spends most of her afternoon doing this, until she’s exhausted everything she can think of and she’s satisfied that even the best spam filters aren’t going to block half of this.

She does a celebratory spin in her chair and then sends one final email and marks it as urgent. So maybe spamming some-one’s inbox isn’t like stealing their cat and holding it hostage (which she has done more than once and, hey, it gets results every fucking time) but if Regina is anywhere near as tidy and put-together as she looks, this will piss her off to no end.

Ruby’s staring at her like she’s crazy and at this point, she’s not entirely sure that she isn’t.

“You did what?”

“She’s a nightmare, an actual walking, talking nightmare and I need her to play this song.”

She picks at the label on her beer bottle and then takes a sip. She’s glancing at her phone every few minutes and it took her like five minutes after walking into the diner to tell Ruby everything.

“You know how wound up Mary Margaret is, everything has to be perfect.”

“Not that I’m finding this anything other than hilarious slash ridiculous but I’m pretty sure MM would disapprove of your methods.”

“Ignorance is bliss, Rubes.”

She clicks her emails again and there’s nothing. Shit. Maybe she miscalculated. Maybe Regina has like super spam filters which catch everything and maybe she spent her entire afternoon doing nothing. She sits and chats with Ruby for about an hour more, one eye on her phone, before she gives up and makes to leave. As she does, Ruby catches her eye from the table she’s waiting a few metres a way and hums the tune of Pachelbel’s Canon. She glares at her and manages to flip her the bird without the customers seeing. Granny, however, does she it and eyeballs her until she throws her hands up in surrender and scurries out of the door.

She stumbles into work five minutes late the next morning, balancing coffee and a bear claw in one hand and a stack of folders in the other managing to slam the folders onto the table a split second before the bear claw slips and falls, giving her a moment to snag it out of the air, getting a large splash of hot coffee on her shirt in the process.

“Shit”, she mutters, reaching for a tissues.

“That’s hardly appropriate work place language, Sheriff.”

She nearly drops her coffee at the familiar voice and manages to place both it and her breakfast on the empty desk before she turns and she’s Regina fucking Mills perched on her desk like the fucking queen on Maine. She manages to stop herself staring at her legs for too long before she snaps her head up.

“What the hell are you doing here, lady?”

Regina grins at her, and it’s oddly feline, “I was wondering whether you were totally oblivious or knew and just didn’t care.”

Emma pauses, replies warily, stalking over to the cupboard and pulling out one of the boxy department uniform shirts. She strips her jacket and shirt off quickly, uncaring if she’s watching or not. When she turns back around, buttoning the beige shirt, she notices that Regina has almost certainly been watching and looks entirely unashamed about it.

Emma scowls and snaps, “What are you talking about.”

“Why, Sheriff”, Regina stands and stalks over to Emma, ever so slightly taller than her in her heels, “I’m the new city manager.”

Emma’s mouth drops open and she curses herself for not clocking sooner. If she had just read the damn notes from the meeting she would have realised. If she hadn’t traded Mulan her nightshifts for three weeks in exchange for handling her emails she would have realised.

“No smart comment?”, Regina says, looking thrilled.

Emma clenches her teeth, “What city manager plays the organ for weddings in their spare time?”

Regina shrugs effortlessly, “I was a virtuoso as a child. Everybody needs a hobby.”

Emma starts to speak and is promptly cut off.

“Now, Sheriff Swan. As for your inappropriate conduct with regards to my personal email address yesterday, we have a few options. I can write you up for this, make it into a horrible search engine result for your name or…”

“Or…?”, Emma spits out

“Or we can come to arrangement.”

“What do you want.”

“Nothing in particular. Just to know that when I tell you to jump, you’ll ask…”

She trails off, looks at Emma expectantly.

“How high?”, Emma grinds out from between her teeth.

“Very good, Sheriff."

Emma’s currently jumping mainly consists of being the city managers gopher. Fetching lunches and coffee for her despite the fact that she has a whole herd of interns that glare at Emma every fucking time she walks up to Regina’s office.

She’s now full time wedding planner, sheriff and personal assistant. These days, she gets her kicks from deliberately messing up Regina’s lunch order and dropping off the wrong coats to be dry cleaned.

Today is a Thursday and she’s off in a few hours and she's sitting at her desk when her phone vibrates with the opening bars of the imperial march from star wars and she groans. She picks it up slowly, answers, “Yes?”

“I need you to fetch something from my office.”

“Aren’t you in your office?”

“My office at home, Sheriff. How your parents managed to avoid Darwinian extinction is beyond me.”

Emma snaps at this point, because it’s 4pm and it’s been two weeks of gophering and she’s just tired, “Well it’s beyond me too, seeing as I’ve never met them.”

Regina is silent on the other end of the phone for a few beats, then coughs and continues, “Apologises, Miss Swan. My mistake.”

“What do you want.”

“Kindly fetch me the stack of papers on the education budget from my office at home. Up the stairs, first door on the right. There’s a spare key under a fake rock on my back porch. The papers should all be together on the left hand side on my desk in my out tray.”

“On it.”

“Oh, and Sheriff?”

“Yes.”

“If you snoop through my belongings, I will know and I will punish you.”

Emma hangs up on her and slams the phone onto her desk, “You can cover me, right?"

Mulan looks tiredly over at her, “What now.?

“Got to go pick up some files for Her Majesty."

“Well, don’t take too long, there’s a whole stack of reports to do and I’m leaving early.”

“Right, thanks”, she says pulling her jacket on and grabbing her stuff.

She’s walking out the door when Mulan shouts after her, “Try to avoid the bear traps, I’m sure she’s got them set up all over her house just to catch you out.”

“Ha fucking ha."

The key is where Regina says it is, which is a bonus because Emma’s not entirely convinced that Regina wouldn’t deliberately tell her the wrong place just to mess with her. She lets herself in, through the spotless, industrial standard kitchen and only pokes her head into the downstairs rooms before she trudges upstairs, not bothering to wipe her boots before she hits the carpet.

The office is a lot more subdued than the one at city hall. That rivals the Mayor’s own and is plastered in strange, Twin Peaks style tree wallpaper and is generally designed to make anybody who steps into it feel twenty times smaller.

This is cosy, dark wood, cream carpet, walled mostly by bookcases. Everything still looks insanely expensive, but that’s to be expected from Regina. She approaches the desk, and sees the photo frames on top of it, the back of it plastered in children’s crayon drawings with scrawled words in Spanish and semi-recognisable sketches of Regina and a boy who she assumes is the one in all of the photos. He’s cute, and it’s as much of a shock to find out Regina has a kid as it is to see just how much she obviously adores him.

She feels an odd tugging in her chest and snatches the files off the desk, pausing for long enough to check she as the right ones before hightailing it back down the stairs because suddenly that cosy study feels suffocating.

She’s back downstairs in seconds, heading for the kitchen, wondering if there’s anything she can do to piss Regina off before she leaves and when she walks in she very nearly collides with a small dark shape.

She lets out a shout and in a second there’s a canister in her face and then a blazing pain in her eyes. She lets out a screech and promptly drops the folders.

The kid phones Regina and then the police whilst she’s huddled in a corner, frantically wiping at her eyes. When he gets off the phone, he sits on a stool at the kitchen island and watches her. She thinks. She can’t really see right now.

“What are you doing in my house?"

She wipes at her eyes once more before she answers, “You’re Mom sent me.”

“Oh…”, the kid has the decency to sound a little chagrined, “Well, at least you can corroborate
your stories with her when she gets here. Who are you?"

She sighs and blindly tries to stand, reaching for the counter top, “Kid, I’m the Sheriff.”

“Ah…”

“That sounds like the sum of it.”

She hears him slide off the stool and then his hand is on her elbow and he leads her to a chair, “You’re not mad?”

She sits down with a thump and nearly topples over but manages to stay upright, “Nah, what you did was an appropriate response to finding a stranger in your house. Good job.”

He preens for a second and then looks guiltily and her face and they sit in silence until they hear gravel crunch in driveway and then Regina is bursting through the doorway because of course she gets here before the police. She grabs the kid and pulls him into a tight hug, staring furiously at Emma over his shoulder.

“Henry, could you stand outside and wait for the police to arrive?”

“But Mom…”

“Now, Henry. I need to have a word with Sheriff Swan.”

Henry goes, scuffing his feet a little and then Regina is in front of her, poking her hardin the chest and glaring, “You stay the hell away from my son, Sheriff.”

Emma lets out a frustrated cry and throws her hands up, “Me stay away from him? How about you and your family stay away from me. He pepper sprayed me, Regina! You let an eleven year old carry pepper spray!”

“Twelve, and Henry is very mature for his age.”

Emma’s nose is running furiously and she wipes at it angrily. Regina is a blurry shape in front of her and she’s glaring fixedly at a point over blurry Regina’s shoulder. Before she can speak she hears sirens and a crunching of gravel and then Mulan speaking to Henry.

She tries to wipe her face before Mulan enters the kitchen but fails when she walks in and hears a stifled chuckle.

“Ms Mills.”

“Officer Fa.”

“I see that there’s been a misunderstanding here.”

Regina, being a complete asshole, sounds amused, “Yes.”

“Emma, you alright?”

Emma rolls her eyes and winces when it burns, “Right as rain, Mulan.”

Then Regina is shepherding Mulan out of the kitchen and she can hear lowered voices and then the sound of the cruiser pulling away. The telling clack of heels announces Regina’s presence once again and she lingers in the doorway, watching Emma.

“Henry says that you weren’t angry with him.”

“No. It wasn’t his fault.”

“Quite right”, she says the words without bite and then walks over to Emma, leaning over her and holding her face still with warm hands.

Emma squirms and tries to brush her off. Regina glares at her, “Hold still.”

Emma does and Regina is gently pulling down her eyelids one at the time and inspecting them closely, “I don’t think you have to go to hospital.”

“Good, because I don’t think I could drive there.”

Regina snorts and tilts Emma’s head back, walking to the fridge and pulling something out, then fiddling with a few cloths. She hears something being poured on them and squints to see what.

Regina comes back, cloths in hands, “Lean your head back.”

“What’s on those?”, she asks warily, catching Regina’s wrists as she moves forwards.

“Milk, Sheriff. The fat in it stops the chemical compounds in the spray from engaging with the nerve endings in your body. May I continue?”

“Sure."

She nearly cries out when the cloths are pressed onto her eyes and the pain abates a little.

“Better?”

She replies grudgingly, because she’s allowed to be grudging right now, “A little.”

“Good.”

Regina calls Henry back into the kitchen, and even without being able to see it, Emma knows they’re close. She can hear it in the way they banter between them, the bits and pieces in spanish that she can’t understand carrying the same affectionate tone as the light conversation about school and homework and friends.

Regina is cooking now and she’s put on some music on that Emma thinks is Etta James and she’s sitting there in silence with towels on her eyes until Regina sends Henry off to do this homework.

After she hears footsteps disappear upstairs Emma clears her throat awkwardly and speaks over the soft strains of music, “He seems like a good kid.”

“The best”, Regina replies and it’s the softest she’s ever heard her speak before.

“You must have been pretty young when you had him”, Emma says and then freezes. She peels the towels off her eyes and squints over at Regina who’s staring at her, “Uh, sorry, that was out of line.”

Regina wipes her hands on the cloth in front of her and stares at it when she replies, “I adopted Henry.”

“Oh”, is all Emma says and now her eyes are watering again and Regina is stepping forwards concernedly.

“Is it still hurting?”, she asks, frowning, her fingers tilting Emma’s chin up and from side to side and she checks her.

“It’s fine. Thanks.”

The song changes and Regina pulls her hands away slowly and goes back to the oven. With her back to Emma she says slowly, “I’m sorry about earlier. I wouldn’t have made a glib comment about your parents had I known."

“It’s alright. You didn’t know”, Emma says, and then gestures out the door towards the stairs, “And obviously you not someone who runs around making fun of adoptees.”

Regina stirs the pot on the stove and then turns back around, eyeing Emma up, “You know…if it wouldn’t be too much to ask, Henry might like to talk to you about being adopted.”

She's wringing her hands and Emma looks away, “I wouldn’t ask, but he…we had a rough patch a few years ago when he found out. He pushed me away and I held on too tightly. We had family counselling. But he might appreciate having an adult to talk to who knows about it.”

Emma hesitates, buys time by wiping her eyes with a dry cloth.

“I would but…I was never adopted.”

Regina flushes a deep red through her throat to her hair line and Emma would have killed to see this at any other time. She’s wringing her hands a little more frantically now.

“I seem to keep putting my foot in my mouth today.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s usually your job.”

“Hey!”

Regina smiles at her, a real smile, “You’re not a vegetarian, Sheriff?”

“No…?”

Regina takes the damp clothes from the table and looks down at her, “Stay for dinner. You’re in no position to return to work.”

“What’s cooking?”

"Asopao de Pollo”

Emma stares at her for a second, “Which is something with chicken, right?”

Regina rolls her eyes at her and goes back to the stove, “It’s like a stew. Don't pretend to be fussy, Sheriff, I’ve seen the way you shovel food into your body.”

Emma blushes and Regina laughs and they sit in a not entirely awkward silence until Henry joins them and fills the quiet with chatter about school and questions about Emma’s work and by the end of the evening her eyes have stopped stinging and she’s full and sleepy and manages to excuse herself before she lands head down in her food.

Henry gives her a high five, and he is really a good kid, he’s apologised at least four times for pepper spraying her and is kind and funny and smart and Regina is like Emma’s never seen her, soft and kind and an entirely different person. Regina walks her to the door and hesitates as Emma says goodbye.

“Sheriff?”

Emma turns around.

“I may be willing to admit that my treatment of you over the past few weeks might have been a little harsh”

Emma snorts, “You think?”

Regina gives her a look and she shuts up quickly, “I don’t expect you to run errands for me anymore.”

Emma nods and gives her a small smile, “You know, considering that you son pepper sprayed me and that you’ve basically been using me as a human footrest recently…”

“What, Miss Swan?”

“There’s a certain song for a certain wedding…?"

“Certainly not.”

“Regina, come on! Pepper spray!”

“And whilst you may not be running errands for me anymore you will bring me correct coffee order when we have meetings.”

“Regina!”

She gives her a devilish smile, “Goodnight, Sheriff Swan.”

Emma gives her one last look.

“No, Miss Swan.”

“Fine!”, she says, shaking her head and stepping off the porch, “Night.”

Regina shuts the door when she’s halfway down the path and when she does Emma stops and looks back at the house, almost glowing against the dusky blue light that’s settling on everything. She shakes her head again and pulls her jacket around her, walking briskly up the road to where she parked the bug.

It’s getting closer to the wedding day and Emma has broached a tentative kind of peace with Regina after the pepper spraying turned dinner evening. They have lunch once a week in Regina’s office in lieu of an official meeting and it’s surprisingly easy to be around her.

She’s still an asshole, but she’s actually kind of funny. And so, they still get riled up frequently but there are a lot less blow-outs. The only real sore topic is the wedding, which Emma is still trying to nudge forward despite the fact that Regina shuts her down every single time she brings it up.

This week, however, Emma has a cunning plan. They’re eating, and Emma has her phone out and manages to connect it to Regina’s bluetooth speakers. Nonchalant, pretending to be on googling things whilst Regina talks about deputy salaries and whatever other hideously boring things she talks about Emma sneakily presses play and watches as Regina straightens up and looks at her.

“What are you doing?”

“Just playing some music.”

“Somehow I don’t believe you.”

Regina is eyeballing her and she shrugs and turns the conversation back to the Sheriffs department. They need a new chainsaw, it’s getting to the time of year where trees start coming down on the backroads and messing things up. Also, she broke the last one doing something that she’s pretty sure Regina wouldn’t approve of so she’s trying to avoid discussing how it got broken. She also hasn’t kicked of with the canon because how obvious would that be, so it’s about ten minutes of light piano music before it starts and Regina just drops her pen and glares at her.

“Swan.”

“Yes?”, she asks as innocently as possibly.

“I know exactly what you’re trying to do and it’s not working.”

“What am I trying to do?”

“Turn it off this instant.

“Classical improves concentration and social skills.”

“Turn it off.”

“No.”

Regina starts to rise from her seat and so does Emma, watching her every move.

“I’ll turn it off if you play it at the wedding.”

Regina lets out a sound which is more like a growl than any noise a human should be able to make and circles the desk, Emma scramble up and racing around the other side.

“I’m not going to chase you around this office, Sheriff.”

“Are you sure? Because it looked like you just did.”

Regina glares at her and she feels like her flesh should be melting off her bones.

“Turn it off or I’ll put you on nightshifts for a week.”

“You can’t do that.”

“Can’t I?”

“You literally have no power over my shifts, I swear.”

Regina’s staring at her with a knowing smirk and she falters.

“You can’t, can you?”

“Do you want to take that chance?”

Emma gulps and weighs up her options watching Regina carefully and she rounds the desk and walks right up to Emma, right into her personal space. She stands there for a few seconds, staring at Emma who stares back, her tongue darting out to wet her lips before her phone is plucked from her hand and the music is turned off.

“Checkmate, Miss Swan”, she says, holding Emma’s phone out to her.

Emma groans and takes it, shoves it in her pocket.

“Now, if you’ll take a seat, perhaps you can explain to me exactly what you did to break the Sheriff’s department’s last chainsaw."

--

“So it’s a week until the wedding…”

“Yes?”

“Are you going to play it?”

“No.”

Emma rolls her eyes, “A week, Regina. Please.”

She finally looks up from her paperwork to glare at Emma, “You’re not going to drop this, are you?”

She shrugs, “They’re my friends, they’ve been good to me.”

Regina wrinkles her nose, “From what you’ve told me their taste abhorrent.”

“Yeah, good thing I don’t pick friends on what their taste is like”, Emma says and gestures to the office around them, “Are you going to play it?"

Regina sighs, “You’re like a dog with a bone.”

She looks at Emma, and smiles widely a second later. It’s a surprise. It’s predatory. Emma is a little bit scared and a little bit turned on, which is a surprisingly alright combination.

She can basically feel Regina’s eyes slide over her before she puts her pen down and the side of her mouth quirks up, “Those jeans are really working for you.”

“Huh?”

“You heard me.”

Emma smirks, straightens up, places her hands on her hips, “Is this meant to distract me?”

Regina places her pen down carefully, runs her eyes up and down Emma in a way that makes her shiver, “They’re also working for me.”

Emma narrows her eyes, leans forwards, places her hands on the desk. She sees Regina’s tongue flick out to wet her lips and bites her lip, “You’re flirting with me.”

Regina’s picked up her pen back up, already writing. She doesn’t look up when she says, “Something like that.”

Emma reaches forward, places a finger under Regina’s chin, tugs it up until their eyes meet. She leans in more, Regina’s face just a hair away from her own.

“Finally”, she murmurs, feeling her breath turn ragged against her lips, “Do it some more.”

Regina sucks in a deep breath, leans back just as Emma leans forwards, folds her arms.

“I’ll see you at the wedding, Sheriff.”

Emma jerks back a little and may or may not scuff her feet like a disgruntled teenager, “Yeah sure.”

“Emma?”

She jerks her head up and catches Regina’s eyes. The rest of her face has hardened into a indifferent mask, but her eyes are tight around the edges and she’s staring at Emma in a way that makes her feel entirely exposed.

“Nothing, Sheriff. Carry on.”

Emma nods curtly and turns on her heel, shutting the door firmly behind her as she leaves and not lashing out until she reaches her car and kicks the front left tire so hard she spends the rest of the day fuming, with her foot propped up on a chair.

She sees Regina once in the week before the wedding, when she’s demanding a totally unnecessary mid-week review of the sheriff’s office and it’s pissing it down with rain and she totally knows that Emma’s car is in the shop and the cruisers are having their annual work done and that Mary Margaret took pity on her this morning and dropped her to work.

“Sheriff, I simply don’t understand why you can’t make it.”

“Look outside, Regina.”

“It’s…drizzling.”

“It’s practically a force 10 gale and you know the cruisers are being worked on this week.”

“Yours isn’t.”

“Mulan is on patrol in it, because it’s a fucking storm, Regina.”

There’s silence on the end of the phone for a moment and then she says, “I’ll come and pick you up. Be ready in ten minutes.”

Before Emma can protest she puts the phone down and Emma regrets the day the first cell phone was invented because there’s nothing like slamming a handset down in a situation like this and she’s tried it will cellphones in the past and all it got her was a repair bill bigger than the momentary satisfaction it gave her.

She waits until it’s been ten minutes before she starts grabbing her stuff because if Regina is dragging her out in this, she’s going to take her god dammed time.

She waits until she hears a link before she thumps down the stairs and swings the door open and is faced with one of City Hall’s fucking town cars. She rolls her eyes and waves the driver off when he tries to get out and open the door for her, “Stand down, soldier.”

He’s stony faced and when she slides into the back seat, and makes sure she takes of her coat at an angle that’s going to shower Regina in droplets they pull out into the traffic.

Regina scrunches up her nose in distaste as she’s hit with the rain, “Was that really necessary?”

“Was this really necessary? There’s a storm on and I should be working.”

“I’m sure Deputy Fa has it covered.”

Emma huffs and they sit in silence apart from a few questions about Henry that Emma asks which garner curt replies. The car pulls smoothly into the Mayor’s personal, sheltered parking lot at the back of City Hall. Emma makes to get out of the car but Regina’s hand on her arm stops her. She leans forward, and slides open the partition, “Claude, I don’t expect I’ll be needing you for the rest of the day. Take a break.”

The driver nods and they’re silent again until he shuts the car door. Emma’s frowning by this point and it takes a couple of seconds for her to speak. Regina’s hand is still on her arm.

“Regina…what’s this about?”

Regina’s hand falls from her arms and she shifts in her seat for a moment, her shoulders rounding slightly as stares straight ahead of her.

“You haven’t been by for lunch this week.”

“No…?”

“The last time we spoke…” Emma watches as Regina breathes in deeply, then continues, her city council meeting face sliding back on, “Sheriff, I hope I haven’t made you uncomfortable.”

“Regina…it’s fine”, Emma says, starting to reach for her, then stopping to rub the back of her neck, “I was under the impression that you didn’t want to see me until the wedding.”

Regina finally turns to look at her, "I didn’t expect you to stay away. You haven’t before.”

She smirks a little bit at this and Emma flushes, looks away, "I didn’t want to ruin things.”

“I’m afraid I’m the one who nearly did that.”

It’s silent, awkwardly so for a second and Emma is sneaking glances at Regina every few seconds. It’s shadowy inside the car, the light a little green as it comes through the tinted windows. The insides of the windows are starting to steam up a little and beyond them the rain in lashing down, even in the little courtyard. The trees are swaying frantically and there’s a empty chip packet blowing around the parking lot. Regina’s hair has frizzed up a little, and there are small damp spots on her shoulders from where Emma shook her coat. The window behind her is laced through with small threads of transparency again the condensation from where she’s been resting her head.

Emma scoots a little closer, taps Regina on the thigh with one finger to get her attention. They’re much closer now, a little too close for Emma to think clearly.

“So, when you say ruin things, do you mean ruin them by flirting, or ruin them by shutting me out immediately afterwards?”

Regina’s eyes flicker across her face and she reaches out to push a damp lock of hair behind Emma’s ear, “A little bit of both, I suppose?”

Emma frowns, despite herself, and starts to move backwards. She’s stopped by Regina’s hand on her arm, her thumb stroking little circles on the inside of her wrist. Her voice is low and catches a little when she says “I don’t want to ruin this, Emma.”

Emma clenches her jaw, “No offence, but if you won’t take a chance on something it doesn’t matter whether or not you think you'll ruin it.”

Regina tenses and purses her lips, then slumps, “You’re right.”

“Don’t sound so surprised”, Emma grumbles and Regina reaches out and slaps her arm gently, smiling a little.

Emma smirks and turns so her body is facing hers, “You do realise you just assaulted a police officer?”

Regina turns too, moving forward, a smirk to match Emma’s spreading over her face, “Sheriff, do shut up.”

“Make m-“

Regina’s kissing her before she’s finishing speaking and she can feeling her smirking against her lips -that bitch - so she grabs her hips and tugs her closer, pleased at the startled sound Regina makes against her mouth.

Regina’s hands are smoothing over the shoulders, one staying there whilst the other winds up her neck and into her hair, tugging a little as she bits Emma’s bottom lip. Emma groans and she can’t even think, can’t even conceive that this is happening in the back of a town car in a bougie-ass parking lot in the middle of a gale, can’t think with Regina’s mouth moving along her jaw to her ear, her hands fumbling to push Regina’s coat on her shoulders and she’s just more than a little blissed out right now and of course Regina notices,

“Still with me, Sheriff?”, Regina murmurs into her ear before lowering her mouth to nip at her pulse point.

Emma rolls her eyes and tugs at Regina’s hips, pulls her forward until she’s straddling her lap and Emma’s dipping her fingers under the hem of her dress. She presses a line of open mouthed kisses down the line of Regina’s throat, running her tongue along her collar bone when she reaches it and her hands on Regina’s thighs under her dress. Regina’s hands are tangled in her hair and she lets out a moan which is going to be seared into the inside of Emma’s brain forever before Emma decides to be an asshole.

She slips her hands up, palms Regina’s ass and brushes her mouth across her jaw, says into her ear, “Still with me?”

Regina just moans and kisses her, her hand slipping under Emma’s shirt to trace up her stomach and it’s just then that there’s a knock on the window and they both freeze.

“Ms Mills?”, a voice calls from outside and thank fuck that whoever’s out there knows better than to try to peer in through the window.

Regina grinds her teeth and her eyes flutter shut when Emma moves back to kissing her neck and she snaps out a harsh “yes?” that could cut through glass.

“The storm’s getting worse and we need you inside to organise safety measure because nobody can find the Sheriff.”

Emma shuffles forward so that they’re pressed hip to hip and mutters, half to herself, “The Sheriff is otherwise engaged right now.”

Regina lets out an undignified snort and the sighs, “The Sheriff is with me, we were just discussing the measure we should take. We’ll be there shortly."

"It’s pretty urgent, Ma’am.”

“I said we’ll be there shortly”, she repeats, glaring at the window despite the fact that she can’t be seen from outside.

They hear the sounds of feet moving away from the car and Regina slumps, her forehead on Emma’s shoulder. Emma turns and presses a kiss to the top of her head, “You know, you’re pretty hot when you’re pissed off.”

Regina grumbles against her next, “Don’t.”

“We should get going.”

She raises her head and looks at Emma searchingly, lifting a hand to stroke her cheek, “I suppose this gives us something to potentially ruin.”

Emma turns her head into her hand, kisses her palm and smiles, “Potentially, yeah.”

Regina sighs, eyes where Emma’s hands are still stroking her thighs, “If you don’t remove those I’m almost entirely certain I will let the whole city drown.”

Emma grudgingly takes her hands away, tugging down the hem of her dress. She does everything grudgingly until they’ve run into the entrance of the building, Emma’s coat pulled over the both of them, and Regina tugs her into an alcove and kisses her, long and slow and deep, one hand on the back of her neck and one hooked around her waist.

She pulls away gently and wipes smudges of lipstick from Emma’s mouth, “We can continue this once we’ve saved the city.”

She turns to walk away and Emma grabs her and spins her back, pressing her against the wall and kissing her again.

“I can’t believe the city hired you”, Regina murmurs against her lips before firmly pushing her away and walking down the hall. Emma counts to ten, then follows, totally failing not to grin as Regina turns around and glares at her because of course she knew Emma was staring at her ass.

--

It’s a week later and the wedding turns out to be picture perfect, if everything Emma would not want her own to be. Mary Margaret hasn’t stopped alternately beaming and sobbing all day and David can’t take his eyes off his wife so if they’re happy, she’s happy. Even if Mary Margaret looks like a meringue, she’s happy. She’s also received more than a few compliments on her organisational skills which she’s more than a little pleased with.

She hasn’t seen her since a particularly frantic make-out session on the couch in Regina’s office on Thursday between meetings that ended with her bra across the room and Regina's secretary nearly bursting in on them.

Regina, of course, doesn’t deign to play Pachelbel’s Canon during the ceremony, but she does something suitably traditional that makes everyone coo with delight as Mary Margaret walks down the aisle. Though Emma has to crane her neck to even catch a glimpse of Regina’s back as she plays, she smiles at her intermittently throughout the ceremony.

They make it out of the church to the reception without a hitch and Emma’s standing at the far end of the room watching the newly weds dance when she hears someone walk up beside her.

“Disgustingly sweet, isn’t it?’

She spins at the familiar voice and it’s Regina, her hair curled in something that’s like a side-ponytail but transcends the dreadful 90s connotations of the word somehow. She’s stunning, so stunning that Emma forgets how to speak and just gapes at her for a minute. The dress doesn’t really help, tight and black and like the one in the concert hall that evening but much less formal - tighter and shorter with a cut out back and a swooping neckline and what is it about this woman that makes Emma short circuit.

Regina’s watching her knowingly and she manages to shrug it off, “Yeah, but if it means the end of my trials as maid of honour, I’m happy.”

She pauses and they’re quiet,

“Everyone loved your playing”, she says, because she can’t think of anything else to say that isn’t some dreadful come-on

“And what do you think of it?”, Regina replies, a playful look in her eyes

She steps closer and Emma’s eyes flicker down to her lips before she can stop herself.

“Your playing?”, she gulps as Regina steps closer again, right into her personal space, “It was alright.”

It’s totally the wrong thing to say because Regina’s stepping away and she looks a little bit put out until Emma grabs her wrist and tugs her close again. She drops her wrist and puts her hands on her waist and tugs her the rest of the way in, her hands slipping to the warm skin exposed by the low back of the dress, tugs her in until she can feel Regina’s breath brushing her lips.

“It was beautiful”, she murmurs and then, before she can make her move, Regina’s mouth is on hers and she stops noticing anything else.

It goes on for a while and she barely thinks about how it looks that the maid of honour is making out with the female organist at the edge of the dance floor at what’s possibly the most heteronormative wedding she’s ever been too. But it’s a wedding, she supposes, anything goes. She’d once been to one where the mother of the bride broke her hip and half of the attendees got punched so like. the WASPs can suck it up. And then she feels Regina bite down on her bottom lip and she really really doesn’t care anymore.

She somehow manages to pull away and moves her lips to Regina’s ear. She feels her shiver against her (when did they get this close) and she can’t resist pressing a slow kiss the pulse point behind her ear, just to feel that shiver again.

“You wanna dance?”, she says and it’s husky and low and even she thinks she sounds seductive.

Regina pulls back and looks at her, kisses her hard, then says, “I have a better idea.”

She takes her hand and leads her out of the ballroom, down the corridor and into a quiet room where she’s promptly pushed up against the door and kissed until she can’t breathe. She pulls away after a moment, strokes Emma’s cheek and bites her lip and Emma is just so far gone. She takes her hand and leads her deeper into the room and Emma thinks her opinion on weddings might just have changed significantly.