Chapter 1: Regina

Synopsis: Emma has just started her senior year of high school, her eighteenth birthday just weeks away. When she meets a woman at a club looking increasingly uncomfortable as a man hits on her, Emma decides to intervene. What she doesn't know is that that woman would end up being her teacher in only a few weeks time, or that she'd end up falling in love with her.

Emma had never been to a club before. She was never into the idea of getting drunk and dancing with a bunch of strangers. Her best friend, however, clearly felt otherwise. She sighed a little, leaning against a pillar near the edge of the dance floor. Ruby was busy grinding on some guy that was probably twice her age- completely oblivious to the fact that she'd left her to stand on the sidelines. After a few songs passed, Ruby made her way over, grinning wildly.

"Hey, Em!" Her lips curved upward even further. "Come dance with me!" The brunette grabbed the blonde's hand, tugging her onto the dance floor.

"I'd rather not get between you and any one of those guys, Rubes." She responded lightly, noticing the guy she had been dancing with earlier staring over at them, obviously waiting for Ruby's return.

Ruby rolled her eyes, words spilling from her mouth with obviously no forethought. "Then find some girl to dance with." After a few moments of Emma not responding, Ruby sighed a little, rolling her eyes. "At least come get a drink with me."

Emma shook her head lightly. "If I get drunk, who's gonna be your designated driver?" Humor lined her voice. "Seriously. I'm fine."

Ruby nodded a little, obviously realizing the truth behind her friend's words. Even if Emma wasn't going to be dancing- it wasn't as if she wouldn't be okay on her own. "Fine," Ruby conceded, putting her arm around her friend, "But promise me you'll try to have some fun?"

Before Emma could even begin to accept her friend's plea, Ruby was already disappearing into the crowd of the dance floor.

For the next half hour, she waved off a few guys that had offered to dance with her. It wasn't that she didn't like to dance- it's just she didn't like that kind of dancing. Not with them, anyway. It was this kind of place that just made Emma feel incredibly.. awkward. She was too self-conscious and self-aware to be able to just let herself go and dance. How Ruby could do it as if no one was watching, she would never know. Ruby had a type of confidence that Emma could only wish to gain over time. But she kind of doubted it would ever happen.

After a while, her mind floated to the idea of leaving entirely and coming back to pick up Ruby later. It was an okay idea, but as much as she felt out of place, Emma would feel wrong not being there to look out for Ruby. If she needed help, the blonde would be there in less than a second.

In an attempt to pass some time and distract herself, she moved to the bar. She didn't have to get drunk to get a drink. And as far as she knew, they didn't ID here. Or at the very least, they didn't take IDs seriously. That suspicion had proved correct when they'd taken their first steps through the door. One quick look at the fake ID Ruby had gotten her from a friend of a friend and she was through. No one had even seemed remotely suspicious of her age. And the picture on the card? It looked nothing like her. It made Emma uneasy- like at any second someone would barge in and give her a ticket and haul her away. But after a few minutes, the paranoia that almost completely washed away. She still felt awkward, but there was a confidence about knowing something that all these people didn't. She was younger, but they assumed she was one of them. Not that anyone really cared anyway.

She leaned against the bar, her weight on her elbows as she waited for the bartender to make her drink. As she ordered, she tried her best to sound confident- like she had ordered that same drink a hundred times before. For a little while, she gazed over at the people who were dancing, wondering where among them her friend was and how long they would be staying. The brunette was completely hidden, surrounded by a mob of people. That whole keeping an eye on her thing was getting more and more difficult by the minute.

Emma's gaze snapped up as the bartender slid her drink across the bar. It was vodka and cranberry juice, something Ruby had made her couple times in the past. Before she had a chance to take a seat, a voice caught her attention just a few feet away.

"I would appreciate it if you found another woman to try to win over." It was a woman's voice. She sounded calm, but quite obviously annoyed. Her back was to Emma, but she could see the face of the man she was speaking to very clearly.

"I would appreciate it," the man began, repeating her first words in a slightly sarcastic tone, "If you wouldn't pretend to be so hard to get." He paused. "Sooner or later, you won't be able to resist this."

By the woman's words, Emma was positive she had just rolled her eyes. A giggle almost escaped Emma's lips, but she held it in. The brunette responded, "Trust me, I will. Easily. Now if you would please- leave me alone," her voice held a tone of authority. She would stand up for herself if she needed to further, of that the blonde was sure. But, why then was Emma feeling drawn into the conversation. She was unable to stop listening.

"You know, I don't think I want to." The man said pointedly, taking a drink of his whiskey.

Before Emma could stop herself, she stood up. Within moments, she was behind the woman and had cleared her throat.

Suddenly, the man looked up and met her gaze evenly. "Can I help you?"

Emma frowned, narrowing her eyes at the man. "You can. You can get out of my fucking way because if you get one step closer to my girlfriend, I'm going to rip your arm out of its socket." It almost scared Emma how confident the words exited her mouth.

The man looked at her in disbelief, then his expression changed. "Babe, if you wanted to get to know me, all you had to do was ask. You wanna dance?"

Emma's eyes widened in surprise, but a wave of anger came from somewhere unknown within her. "Move," she said forcefully. The man stepped back out of shock, a look that was quickly replaced by irritation. Before he could say anything in response, Emma wrapped her arm around the woman's shoulder. "Here's your drink," she told her, hoping the woman would take it.

She then realized that she hadn't so much as gazed over at the woman's face at all. It was all too likely that she was looking at her like a complete lunatic by now. What she had done was crazy and impulsive and… weird? For a few moments, she held the other woman's gaze, taking in her features. Her brown eyes held a look of mild confusion, but she seemed more amused than anything else. There was something else there too, something that Emma couldn't put her finger on. This woman was astonishingly beautiful. Her dark hair fell just above her shoulders, a small grin placed on her red lips. Oh God, was had she been thinking? And why was Emma staring? The blonde suddenly looked away for a moment, breaking eye contact. When her gaze returned to the woman, she attempted to look apologetic. How long had she been looking at her? Longer than was natural probably. She shivered.

The woman took the drink from her, responding with a small smile, "Thank you, Dear." She then paused to glance at the man. "If you don't mind," she began, taking a sip of the drink, "I would like to go dance with my girlfriend."

Emma's mind began whirling. She was likely going to have to explain herself once they'd gotten far enough away from the man. And she wasn't ready for that. She didn't even know what she had been doing, intruding on that conversation in the way that she had. She could hardly explain it. Suddenly, the woman set the drink down, standing from her spot at the bar. She didn't wait for the man to say anything else before taking Emma's hand and leading her toward the dance floor. They weaved between groups of people, Emma silent as they stopped close to the middle of the dance floor. The song was slower than many of the others that had been playing earlier. She vaguely noticed Ruby not far away, dancing with the same man she had been with less than an hour ago. Before she could realize that she was spacing out, a pair of hands were placed on her shoulders. Emma looked up in surprise.

"Well, Dear," the woman said, emphasizing the last word, "I would like to know what that was all about."

Emma didn't speak for a moment, unsure of what to do now that the woman's attention was directed completely at her. She just put her arms around the woman's waist loosely, struggling to form words and trying desperately not to look like she was at a middle school dance. "I-uh, was trying to help. That guy sounded like an asshole."

The woman nodded thoughtfully, though a smirk edged onto her lips. "I was very capable of handling myself... but thank you."

Emma just nodded, glad the music that was playing at the moment was slow. She didn't need to throw her less than perfect dancing skills into the already awkward situation. "I just wish he'd stop staring at us. Like, what the Hell is with guys that can't believe two women can be together? Was I that unconvincing?" She stopped talking suddenly, realizing that she had begun rambling.

The two of them swayed, the lights of the club dim. It was only as the other woman responded again, their eyes meeting once again, that Emma realized just how close they were. "To answer your question, you were plenty convincing... I, however, was not. Most people don't believe me during normal circumstances, let alone tonight."

Emma's mind raced as she processed the brunette's words. The way she spoke, it was mature. How old was she? Emma wasn't sure. Mid-twenties maybe? Older than she was, that was definite. And was she saying that she wasn't into men? That surprised Emma. But if someone like her was looking for a woman, it would be someone equally mature. Someone older, someone different than- Emma forced her thoughts to halt. She couldn't be thinking like this. Soon, she wouldn't even be talking to this woman. She could hardly be attracted to her. And besides- Her thoughts were stopped in their tracks yet again by a slightly commanding voice. "Dear…"

"Oh. Sorry," Emma said, meeting her gaze again.

"You haven't told me your name, you know."

She nodded, "Emma. I'm Emma." She paused. "And you are?"

"Regina," the brunette answered, looking amused.

Emma's expression lightened, glad to have a name for the face in front of her. It seemed to fit her well. "Regina. Does everyone call you that? Or is there a nickname? Reggie… Gina, maybe?"

Regina grin faltered slightly, shaking her head. "It's just Regina."

Emma nodded a little, suddenly hoping that she didn't make the other woman upset. "Regina it is, then." She said, trying to lighten the mood. "We don't have to dance anymore. He's not looking." Emma regretted her words nearly the instant after they escaped her mouth. She really didn't want to stop dancing, if she was being honest with herself.

Regina just raised an eyebrow, not stepping away from the blonde. "Oh, you don't want to dance with me, then?" She paused, before adding. "I see." She smiled and it lit up her features. Emma almost had to take a breath; she was probably staring again.

"No, I do," Emma said a little too quickly. "I was just thinking, if you're supposedly my girlfriend, the least I could do is buy you a drink?"

The brunette just watched her for a few moments before nodding and taking a step back, leaving about a foot of distance between them. "I'll take you up on that offer."

As they made their way back over to the bar, Emma had to force herself to look away from the other woman. A part of her missed the contact they had when they danced, but she was looking forward to talking to her, excited to see what was in store for their conversation.