It was Mary Margaret and Ruby's idea, but it would never have happened if it weren't for the weekly baby play date, or if Snow hadn't been exhausted from staying up all night before with baby Neal. Aurora had asked about Halloween, having never been in this realm during that holiday, and Mary Margaret had giggled, remembering the night she and Ruby had a little too much wine and had decided that the best Halloween costumes would be themselves.
The other moms prodded her into sharing what was so funny, and when she explained, they all latched onto the idea and started making enthusiastic plans for a party.
Regina, when she heard about it, raised an eyebrow and said it appeared that none of them had gotten enough sleep in months, but even she reluctantly agreed to put her name into the hat--mostly because Henry was giving her The Big Eyes at the time.
"Remember," Mary Margaret cautioned, "No telling who you got. It needs to be a surprise."
Regina rolled her eyes again in a way that reminded Mary Margaret of her daughter--huh, funny--and didn't even look at the piece of paper in her hand before closing the door.
"There's a prize for the best costume!" Mary Margaret called through the door.
Regina looked down at the piece of paper in her hand and sighed.
Emma had a more practical approach to the matter. She had gotten wind of the scheme from one of the dwarves, who was dating a--well, it got a little complicated after that--and she was avoiding her mother at all costs.
She figured she only had to hold out for one more day before all the assignments were distributed, and then they'd have to just… redistribute hers.
She sipped on a coffee and peered above the dashboard of her car just in time to see Mary Margaret's smiling face in her window, her hand poised to rap on the door.
"Emma!" Mary Margaret said, clearly audible through the glass. "I'm so glad I found you. I've been trying to give you your paper for days."
Emma sighed and rolled down the window. "I've been busy."
"I know," Mary Margaret said, in a tone that made it clear she did know exactly what Emma had been trying to do but didn't particularly mind. She held out a hat. "Two left!"
Emma reached in and pulled out a paper. Mary Margaret beamed. "I just gotta go find that nurse..." She practically bounded away.
Emma looked at the folded paper in her hand. She almost didn't even have to read it, but she unfolded it slowly anyway.
Yep, she was screwed.
Emma knew she had to participate to a certain level, despite her initial reluctance. She hated to disappoint her mom, and Henry--well, he was pretty into it, actually.
"So, who'd you get?" he said, without preamble, perhaps hoping that she hadn't had enough coffee that morning to sufficiently defend against his chipper approach.
Emma eyed him and took a bite of her bagel. "I'm not supposed to tell."
Henry pouted, and Emma went on high alert, prepared now for…
"Mom won't tell me who she got, either."
"But I think she wants to win the contest, and I'm pretty sure she's going to need my help--or maybe I could help you instead."
Emma narrowed her eyes at her son, who widened his innocently.
"I'm just saying that I could be very helpful. You know, if you need ideas." He blinked a couple of times for good measure.
"Nice try, kiddo," she said, and Henry grinned. He scooted from the booth and grabbed the other half of her bagel.
"Love you!" he shouted as he dashed out the door.
Emma pouted at the small piece of bagel she had left. So Regina was going all out, it seemed. If Henry's information was reliable.
Maybe Emma could find out. Scope out the competition, so to speak.
She wolfed down the bagel in two bites, grabbed her jacket and coffee, and set out to casually cross paths with the mayor.
"I don't care how much it costs, this needs to be fixed immediately," Regina was saying. "It's unsafe." She gestured at the playset behind her. Most of it looked just fine, but one of the supports for the swings was listing to the side.
Mr. Muffin, one of the original contractors who helped build the playground and apparently Mary Margaret and David's old pastry chef--he made the most delicious baklava Emma had ever tasted--scratched his head. "It's going to settle--"
Just then, Regina spotted Emma. "Sheriff Swan," she said, frowning, "what are you doing here?"
Emma said, blandly, "Patrolling." She looked at the structure. "That doesn't look like it's just settling to me."
"Thank you!" Regina glared at Mr. Muffin, who huffed but said, "I'll have my boys take a look at it."
Regina nodded, and Mr. Muffin left.
Emma waited until he pulled out of the lot before saying, "I don't think his heart is in the construction business."
Regina sighed. "Maybe not, but it's his job, at least for now." She turned to Emma. "I think we should rope off that area."
"I'll get my tape."
Regina helped cordon off the affected area and Emma seized the moment. "So, I hear you're part of the Great Costume Swap."
Regina snorted. "Unfortunately."
Emma said, casually. "Yeah, me, too."
Regina made a noncommittal noise in the back of her throat. Emma glanced at her out of the corner of her eye.
Still casual, she said, "I was thinking it really isn't that big of a deal, right? I mean, Mary Margaret is pretty into it, but I don't really care about some contest."
Now it was Regina's turn to glance at Emma, who kept her eyes on the tape.
"Right," Regina said slowly.
"It's not like anyone's going to go all out. I mean, I can't imagine you--"
"No," Regina agreed, smiling her fake, predatory smile.
Emma knew that smile very well. "Right," she said, tying off the tape with a fake smile of her own. "Well, I better head back to the office."
She had a lot of research to do.
Saying the whole town was at the party was overstating the case slightly, but not by much. Even those who hadn't participated in the costume swap had made an effort tonight, and it showed. There were ghouls and witches and goblins--some traditional costumes from similar celebrations in the Enchanted Forest and some that were local to the costume shop just off the main road that specialized in political masks, superhero costumes, princess gowns, and various "sexy" versions of popular characters--which was sometimes a little bit awkward, given the population.
Granny's was the center of the chaos, but the whole street had been blocked off and people were milling around between shops for candy and treats, booths with games and cider, and a small, rickety stage that had been set up just outside the hardware store.
Mary Margaret was in her element. She made a pretty good Cinderella, she thought--the wig was a little long, but it conveyed the right idea. And her dress was perfect--full and stiff and blue.
Ruby was dressed up as Aurora. It looked like she'd actually borrowed Aurora's dress and wrap, but she was utterly failing at presenting herself with the princess' dainty bearing--and she appeared to be wearing thigh-high boots underneath the dress.
Aurora was a riotously pale Mulan, and Mulan was Snow from her bandit days, complete with bow and arrows. How had she managed to get her hair that curly?
Smiling, Mary Margaret scanned the crowd for her daughter, but she still couldn't see her. There was some sort of commotion across the street, and--
A familiar silhouette caught her eye, one with several extra inches of space around it. No--she had specifically told everyone that if they got themselves, they had to pick a new name.
Mary Margaret stalked toward her, brushing through people who were already turning, curious to see what was going on and possibly a little alarmed. She reached out and grabbed an arm, and her target turned, her hair adding several inches to her height, her severe makeup accenting an imperious look and arched eyebrow and Mary Margaret actually took a step back before she realized--
"Emma?" she said. She gaped at her daughter, who was absolutely, positively, the Evil Queen from head to toe, down to the plunging neckline, leather pants, and hat.
The facade broke as Emma smiled. "Pretty good, huh?"
Mary Margaret looked her up and down again, feeling just a little faint.
"I'll say," said Ruby, who must have come up behind Mary Margaret while she was still trying to process… this. "How did you ever pull it off without anyone knowing?"
"I have my ways," Emma said.
"Ways that involve breaking and entering," Regina said from their right.
Mary Margaret turned to look and for a minute the universe spun around her. Regina, it seemed, had pulled Emma's name from the hat, and while the outfit itself--T-shirt, jeans, boots, and that red jacket--wasn't anything compared to Emma's getup, Regina had somehow managed to capture Emma's essence in her stance and eyes. It didn't hurt that she had obviously used magic on her hair--it was long, blond, and somewhere between straight and curly. It wasn't especially flattering on Regina, but it was dead accurate.
On her belt, the sheriff's star caught the light. Emma raised an eyebrow and said in a passable Mayor Mills voice, "Breaking and entering seems to be a theme tonight, Sheriff Swan."
Regina smirked. "Who are you going to send to arrest me? Me?" She raked her gaze up and down Emma's body in a way that made Mary Margaret more than slightly uncomfortable. "I doubt you'd be able to apprehend me yourself in that."
"I'll make you a deal," Emma said. "You bring me back my jacket and I'll make sure it's as if this never left your closet."
Regina startled everyone by laughing, the sound as good-natured as Mary Margaret had ever heard from her. "Deal."
Just then, Henry pushed his way through the crowd. He was dressed up as Spiderman, and though he had lost or never put on his mask, his hair was artfully mussed.
"What's everyone doing over here?" he said. He looked over and his jaw dropped.
Despite Emma's very strong showing, the costume contest ended up being won by baby Neal, dressed up as--no joke--Maleficent, in her dragon form.
It was, almost everyone agreed, a well-deserved win.
"Babies," Emma said. "Their cuteness overwhelms good judgment." She was standing to one side, next to Regina, and fanning herself. She kinda wished she hadn't worn quite as much extra hair--she actually had to piece together her hair from more than one wig, and it was hot, itchy, and heavy, especially with the hat on top. The outfit itself was surprisingly easy to wear; the pants were an especially nice touch. Not at all as restricting as they looked.
"Henry was cuter as a baby," Regina grumbled. She looked at Emma and said, grudgingly, "You should have won."
"Everyone did a really good job," Emma said. "I'm impressed by your thieving skills."
Regina looked smug.
"Not as impressed as with mine," Emma added, her own smirk playing around her lips as Regina's smug look flickered.
"Yes," Regina said. "Tell me, how did you break into my vault?"
Emma shook her head. "Ah ah ah. Trade secret."
"Hmm." Regina dropped it, though Emma knew the subject wasn't closed forever.
"Besides, that was the easy part. The hard part was--" Emma gestured to her face and hair. "It took forever!"
"Well, I had magic. And maids." Regina said, almost graciously, then added, "At least, I did in our land."
The implication that she still managed to look more put-together than Emma was clear, but Emma had known that was true for a while and didn't rise to the bait.
"Did you try Granny's cider yet?" she asked.
Regina grimaced. "Unfortunately. She cornered me before I walked a block."
Emma grinned. "It was bad. Watery"
"Truly terrible," Regina said. "Mine is much better."
"Yours is alcoholic enough to take down a giant. And much better."
Regina hesitated. "I have some left. At home."
Emma blinked. "Is that an offer?"
Regina said, a little too casually, "It was just a thought, but if you're planning to stay--"
"No, I didn't--yes. That would be great." Emma fanned herself again. "As long as I can take off this damned wig."
"I don't know if it would fit through my door," Regina said.
"Let's just find Henry and make sure he's okay--he said he was going to stick with Violet and her family." Emma spotted him in the crowd and there was a brief flurry of parental networking and the satisfactory result that Violet's family would make sure Henry came back to the loft no later than midnight.
Emma returned to Regina. "Lead on, Miss Swan."
They walked back to Regina's house, Emma hunting through her mass of artificial hair to pull out bobby pin after bobby pin, the hairdo falling apart around her ears.
"That looks like a lot of work," Regina said.
"Worth it for Mary Margaret's face alone," Emma grinned. "There was a moment when she actually looked scared--and that was after she realized it was me."
"I hope someone got a picture," Regina said. "I'd hang it in my study."
Emma laughed. "I think I saw a camera somewhere." She finished taking down the wig and hat and sighed in relief as the night air hit her scalp. "I think I'll take off the makeup first, too," she said. "I feel like my face is about twice as heavy as normal."
She looked at Regina and did a double-take. "Your hair--" it was much shorter and darker than it had been, and it appeared to be changing more before her eyes.
Regina reached up a hand. "Oh, good," she said. "Blond is not my color."
"But blondes have more fun," Emma waggled her eyebrows.
"Maybe that's what I need to change my fate: hair dye," Regina quipped. They reached the house and Regina unlocked the door, motioning Emma in. Emma set down the hat on the side table and put the wigs in a pile next to it, and then made a beeline for the bathroom, where she scrubbed for quite a while to remove as much of the makeup coating her face as she could.
When she got back to the living room, Regina already had two glasses of cider waiting and had turned on the TV to some old, scary movie, which she was ignoring to read a book. Emma had already been introduced to this quirk of Regina's during movie nights with Henry, so she just grabbed her cider and sank into the couch.
An hour later, Emma scowled at the TV. "Oh, come on. Who thinks it's a good idea to go by themselves into a wood shed when they know there's a killer on the loose?" She was sprawled on the couch with her legs crooked over the side to keep the boots from touching the fabric and earning her another glare from Regina.
"At least she's armed," Regina said, her book long since forgotten. Her hair was back to normal and not freaking Emma out. She had taken off her boots but left the rest of her outfit on, including the jacket. Where the jacket fit Emma like it was made for her, it was slightly too big on Regina, slouching around her shoulders and just a bit too long in the sleeves.
It looked really, really good on her.
"Maybe you should keep the jacket," Emma said. She looked down at her glass. How much had she had to drink?
"I'd miss you wearing it," Regina said. She looked surprised to have said it.
"So you do like it," Emma crowed.
"Not at all," Regina said archly. "But it suits you."
"Uh huh." Emma grinned, yawned, and checked her watch. "I should get going," she said. She swung her feet down and stood. Regina stood, too, and walked her to the door.
Emma picked up her stuff from the entry table. "This was… fun," she said.
"Fun?" Regina said.
"Yeah," Emma smiled. "I wasn't kidding, either--I'll put this back tomorrow." She ran a hand through her hair, knowing without having to look that it was a mess. Regina's gaze followed her hand and then swept across her face before making a quick detour to her cleavage. Emma glanced down, unable to help herself. She had to admit, this dress made her breasts look amazing. When she looked up, Regina had the strangest expression on her face, and then she leaned into Emma, pressing her back against the door.
Emma, startled, dropped the wig at her feet. "What are you--"
Regina kissed her. She had to stretch up a little, since she wasn't wearing shoes and Emma had the boots on, but somehow she made it work.
When she pulled back, Emma was flushed and it took a minute for her eyes to focus. She reached up a shaky hand to her lips and Regina smirked--right up until Emma's eyes sharpened and she stepped forward, into Regina's space.
"Miss Swan," Emma said, "just what do you think you're playing at? You can't abuse the badge like that."
Regina didn't step backwards, but it was a close thing. She glanced at Emma's lips. "And who's going to stop me?"
"I will," Emma said, "if it's the last thing I do." This time she initiated the kiss, and when Regina slid her arms around Emma's neck, Emma grabbed her and pulled her literally into her arms. Regina wrapped her legs around Emma's waist, and Emma turned them so Regina was against the door.
Emma moved her hands further beneath Regina's ass and Regina hissed and pressed her hips into her, letting her head fall back against the door. Emma took advantage of the long line of her neck and kissed down it.
"Emma," Regina said, her voice unsteady. She wound a hand into Emma's hair and tugged gently, and Emma lifted her head to meet Regina's eyes. Something in Emma's expression seemed to reassure Regina, because she lifted her chin and said, "I want my dress back now."
"Yeah, sure," Emma said breathlessly, feeling like they were on precisely the same page for once. "I can do that. You want me to leave it here or--?"
"Upstairs," Regina said. She glanced down. "But you'll have to take the boots off first."
Emma would never be able to repeat this feat if she tried. She looked Regina dead in the eye and, still holding her, turned to the staircase and kicked off her boots without breaking her stride. She made it up three steps before she almost dropped Regina, but Regina just slid down to her feet, hooked a finger in Emma's neckline, and pulled her the rest of the way.