A/N. I just wanted to briefly pop back into this fandom and say thanks to two people from the SQ world who kept me sane while writing my lesbian mystery, The Red Files: Thanks to awesome Exquisiteliltart and Scribes. :)

CHAPTER ONE


Wanted: One Evil Henchperson

Duties include: Crowd control, sabotage, spying, stalking, cleaning (inc. wet work), arch cackling, implementing various nefarious schemes as required. Experience not necessary. Blackened heart useful.
Apply in person to: the Dark One, c/o Granny's. Tuesday, from 10am.


Applicant One: Eugenia Lucas

The Dark One, formerly known as Emma Swan, adjusted her choker (black, glossy, suitably evil) and eyed Granny skeptically from across the diner's best table by the window.

"And why do you want to be my henchwoman?" she asked. "Is grilling cheese sandwiches not ringing your bell anymore?" She gave her a condescending smirk.

Granny huffed. "Well I'm not serious. But I came to see if you were. And why are you holding interviews here? I'm running a respectable business, not some villain's recruitment center."

"Are you planning on stopping me?" The Dark One let her fingers twitch, and enjoyed the surge of powers sparking from the tips. It was her best trick to date, learned during an unfortunate incident she chose not to dwell on. (Besides, her hair had almost grown back.)

Granny paused. "Apparently not," she ground out. "Just keep it scorch-free will you? Those are brand new tablecloths."


Applicant Two: Sidney Glass

Sidney Glass slid his pinstripe, suit-clad ass into the seat opposite the Dark One and looked at her nervously. She met his gaze evenly and knew her unsettling, glittering eyes had made many a former acquaintance run screaming into the night. To the odious little cretin's credit, he did no such thing.

"I have experience," he began, clearing his throat, and pushed some paperwork over the desk. "Twenty-plus years in the service of the Evil Queen, and a number of years as a loyal lickspittle for Mayor Mills. I can do a phone tap blindfolded. I'm excellent at following people. Oh, and I can spell. That might be useful. Because, you know, I have journalist credentials. And I can spin the news anyway you like. Never underestimate the power of a compromised press."

"Mm."

"I can also sabotage vehicles; no car is too big or too small." He looked at her brightly. "I have particular experience with VWs."

"I recall." The Dark One glared at him. "Shit, Sidney, I knew it was you!"

He swallowed, clearly not having thought through how boasting about almost killing Emma Swan when she'd first arrived in Storybrooke might not endear himself to her now.

"I'm, uh, also excellent at being a yes man," he rushed on. "No deed is too slimy nor dirty for me to not declare it 'impressive'."

"What if I wanted to massacre a bunch of kids?" the Dark One asked, eyebrow lifting in challenge. "Say starving, disabled third-world country orphans?"

"Uh, bold choice," Sidney said tentatively. He squirmed in his seat for a moment. "But I'm sure you'd have excellent reasons." He looked at her hopefully.

"Mm." The Dark One repeated as she flipped further though his resume. "Wait, you're claiming credit for kidnapping Kathryn? And killing Graham?"

"A good henchman always takes the blame for acts his employer might later regret. For instance, I could tell everyone that I did all your clothes shopping since your elevation to evil glory."

The Dark One glanced down at her skin-tight leather pants and black corset. Black thigh-high boots. OK, it might be a little on the overkill side but she'd felt like celebrating feeling shit-hot and bullet proof. She also might have borrowed the outfit from a certain ex-evil queen's crypt.

"What's wrong with my wardrobe?" she demanded and gave him her most menacing glare.

"N-nothing," he said, gasping. "It's very … you!" He smiled reassuringly. "And I love what you've done with your hair. Top knots are so hard to pull off."

The Dark One's lips twitched. "OK, why do you want the job? I'd have thought since Regina freed you from the loony bin you'd want to clear out of here."

"Regina," he spat darkly. "Regina needs to pay. And who better to administer some justice than you, her arch nemesis? I'd be happy to help with the details. I have some creative ideas…"

"No. I'm not interested in the petty vendettas of my employees."

"Petty?!" Sidney gasped. "She… she…"

"Nor henchmen with stutters. Send the next candidate in."

"But…"

"NOW." She let her fingers turn into flaming torches and her eyes gleamed.

Sidney scurried from the diner.


Applicant three: Snow White – aka Mary Margaret – aka Mom

"Mom," the Dark One sighed. "What are you doing here?"

"I think you know!" She slapped the job ad on the table and stabbed it with an accusing finger. She plopped into the seat opposite and tsked her villainous overlord daughter, her mouth drawn down into a disappointed line. "Do I even want to know what 'wet work' is?"

"I saw it in a Tarantino movie once," the blonde said with a lazy grin. "I think it means dead body clean ups."

"That is just disgusting." Snow pulled a face of pure revulsion. The Dark One rolled her glittery eyes.

Snow shuddered. "Just how many people are you planning on killing anyway? We raised you better than this!"

"You didn't raise me at all," the Dark One countered. "If you want to get technical, you and Daddy Dearest tossed me in a tree and let me fend for myself."

Snow blushed. "That's not exactly what happened."

"Uh huh." She looked at her mother. "So why are you here?"

"I want my daughter back! The nice one who didn't advertise for wet workers and spies and saboteurs!"

The blonde shrugged. "I don't plan to use my henchmen for all that, but I was just keeping my options open. Never know what the future may bring."

"But still, Emma … don't you miss who you were? Oh, I remember that sweet girl in the gorgeous pink dress…"

"Mom! You made me wear that and forced me on a date with a one-armed, creepy, misogynist pirate after you caught Regina perched on my desk giving her best double entendres a work out."

Her eyes glazed over at the memory of Regina's lacy thigh-highs peeking through her skirt slit and hearing her wicked tongue, slinging retort after retort at her. Emma was sure they'd been about one snarky exchange away from seeing how high that lace went before Snow burst in with her judgiest of judgy faces. Kill joy.

"Well even so, I just want you to know there's so much good in you, we made sure of that," Snow said desperately.

"Yeah, by ripping it out of the foetus of someone else's kid. You don't get the high moral ground, here. OK, so is that it? I have a bunch more candidates to see."

"But Emma! You used to be such a good girl! You were perfect!"

The Dark One snorted. "Then you never knew me at all."

She raised her hand. Snow White flew through the air, bounced through the diner door and out onto the street. She sat up, dusted herself down and glared back at her daughter, who gave her a cheerful wave.


Applicant four: Ruby Lucas

"So in sum, I can hunt, track, and sniff around and no one ever knows I've been there," Ruby concluded with a bright smile. "This job sounds way more fun than scraping the mould off Granny's cheese blocks and recycling meals customers only partially ate."

"Shit!" The blonde blinked. "That really is evil. Maybe I should reconsider Granny's application."

Ruby grinned. "Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of nice things that go with being good, but look at you – all bad ass and cool now. I think we'd make an awesome-sauce team."

The Dark One cocked her head. "Ruby, Granny would kill you if you joined forces with me."

Ruby shrugged. Far too nonchalantly. The blonde eyed her suspiciously. Then the penny dropped.

"OK, who put you up to this? Snow, I suppose? You were sent to spy on me?"

The other woman blushed slightly at being caught. "Look, hon, she only wants what's best for you. We all do. We miss old Emma."

"Old Emma was as vanilla as a milkshake and went on dates she had no interest in while dressed like a 16-year-old prom queen just to please her mother. You can let Mom know her Emma won't be back."

She waved her hand and Ruby also skidded through the diner door out onto the street in a tangle of long limbs and red shorty shorts. The Dark One admired the impressive view then returned to the business at hand.


Applicant five: Henry Mills

"Kid?"

"Yeah Mom?"

"Why are you here?"

"For the job interview."

"Shit. I knew I shoulda put an age limit on this."

"Mom!"

"What?!"

"You swore!"

"I am the Dark One now!"

"Yeah, but still. You said only lazy people swear."

"So sue me. I'm having an evil day."

"So about the job…"

"Stay in school, kid. This is a full-time position."

"What does 'wet works' mean? Is that like cleaning the bathroom and kitchen?"

"Something like that."

"Who do you plan to spy on? I'm great at spying – remember Operation Cobra? And I'm super sneaky. Just ask Mom. Other Mom."

"Look, Henry, your mom would never approve of me hiring you as a henchman, OK? So just forget it."

"Who cares what she thinks?" Henry asked enthusiastically. "You're the Dark One now. What you say, goes. Right?"

She twirled her fork in the air – hands free. It kept her mind focused when she had too much turmoil upstairs. She was doing a lot of fork twirling lately.

"Cooool!"

She sighed again. "I can't hire you, kid. I'll probably be doing some diabolical stuff soon and you have the heart of the truest believer."

"So?"

"Well so – cross contamination and all that jazz. What if I infect you with my evil or something? It's too big a risk."

"You don't want me to be evil then?"

"No! Shit! Come on!"

"Why not? Aren't you, like, revelling in it or something? Enjoying your limitless power?"

"Not the point."

"Why's it OK for you to be evil and not me?" He pouted dramatically.

"It's just…" She stopped and her eyes narrowed. "OK kid, I see what you're doing here. Very sneaky. Take your sneaky little subversive arguments and go back to school."

"Mommm…"

"No." Her voice was steel sharp, brooking no dissent.

She snapped her fingers and instantly Henry had disappeared. She hoped he was back in his class. She'd have to check later if that spell had worked.


Applicant six: Grumpy

"So I can get into really small holes," he finished triumphantly. "Can lay all sorts of booby-trapped surprises down for the bad guys and boom!"

"Grumpy," the Dark One interrupted, "I AM one of the bad guys. THE baddest, bad guy."

Stymied, he stared at her. "Shit. I forgot. Uh, hell. I'll withdraw my application. I'm so used to you being the savior and all. And this gig sounded way more fun than digging magic dust out of mines for no pay and a sour smirk from the Boob Fairy."

"I'd have thought my wardrobe was a bit of a clue Emma Swan doesn't live here anymore."

Grumpy snorted. "Sister, we all went through our goth stage; it don't mean a thing. You should see my skull earrings. Can I ask you something, though?"

"What?"

"Why do you even need a henchman?"

"Well like the advert states, I need…"

"No, I read the ad. I mean can't you just wave your hand and get whatever you want anyway? Rumplestiltskin never had a henchman. You sayin' you're weaker than him? What's the real deal here, anyway?"

"Get out," the Dark One growled and twisted her wrist viciously. Grumpy tumbleweeded his way down the street with an indignant serious of grunts, which gradually faded as he bounced around the corner two blocks away.


Applicant Seven: Regina Mills

"Well, well, if it isn't the Dark One herself," the mayor purred, easing herself into the booth. She folded elegant hands on the table and looked at her companion closely.

"Are you having fun yet?" Regina asked.

"What?"

"Having the unrivalled power of evil pulsing through your veins. It must be something?"

"Yeah, it's a pretty heady high," the Dark One admitted.

"I was quite fond of it myself," Regina said with a soft, faraway look. She shook her head and returned her attention to The Dark One. "I trust you didn't employ our son as your evil henchman? He expressed an interest, but really Miss Swan, he's only thirteen."

"Don't be ridiculous, Regina. I sent him back to class."

"Good," Regina said. She studied her. "So – this is the look you're going for? A little derivative isn't it?" She peered closer. "Actually it's a lot derivative. That corset is mine! You stole my clothes again!"

"What do you mean again?"

"Oh don't tell me you've forgotten the blue shirt. You roll into town and two days later are wearing my favorite blouse!"

"You said I could keep it! Remember your speech about how it was all I was getting?"

"I was being dramatic to make a point! Something you're sorely lacking. You have no stage craft at all! And you do realize true evil doesn't have to advertise for hired help. You get applicants beating a path to the door, eager to be in your mere orbit of fabulousness."

"Yeah, well, the thing about being evil is I have no experience at it." She shrugged. "Hence the ad."

"Well then, you're speaking to the right person."

"What? You're applying to be my hench-uh-lady?" the Dark One eyed her. "You. Want to work for me? Yeah sure. Quit mocking me." Her eyes flashed with anger. Literally.

Regina smirked. "I do so prefer you this way, dear. Emma Swan, minus the strike-a-pose, Charmings hero baggage. Impressive light display, too. There's hope for you yet."

"Hope?" The Dark One peered at her in confusion. "Huh?"

"Look, dear, there's more to being evil than just cleavage," Regina lowered her voice conspiratorially. Her eyes, however, slid to Emma's anatomy in question. Contemplating.

"Although," she continued huskily, "cleavage is important. I can help you navigate your little walk on the wild side. I am amply qualified. So, what do you say?"

"Um – I was more looking for someone to do my every bidding. A guide to cleavage and shit like that is not really what I wanted."

"And yet I am what you need. We have much to cover: catch cries, scathing quotable insults, catching assassins, loneliness, boredom, relatives who want to kill you, relatives you wish to kill, and sex. Where shall we start?"

"S-sex?" The Dark One blinked. "How is that any different?"

Regina offered a wicked smile, and leaned back in the booth, her already tight silk shirt stretching to breaking point. Her straining third button looked ready to give up its day job.

The Dark One caught a glimpse of alluring black bra lace as those amused brown eyes tracked her.

"Just trust me," Regina said in her low, dirty tone that was like dark alleys and scented cigars.

"OK," she choked out. The Dark One licked her lips, feeling her skin heat up. "You're hired."