AN: Sorry this took so long. I got stuck dealing with some life stuff and family issues. But here is the long awaited update.
Chapter 5: Living Arrangements
Emma made her way over to Regina's office, curious as to what the Mayor would want from her. She tried not to let her imagination run wild as she thought about the cold tone in Regina's voice. She'd never really heard that tone in the other woman's voice before. It had chilled her and made her worry that Regina had changed her mind about them, about letting Emma court her properly, maybe even about letting her get to know Henry in the process. She hoped that wasn't the case, but she prepared herself for any possibility.
Emma pulled her car up to town hall, and parked it in the small lot next to it, in a visitor's space. She cut the engine and sat there for a moment, mentally preparing herself for whatever Regina had to say to her.
Emma finally got out of her car and walked into the building. She stopped at a small desk outside of the mayor's office and smiled at the secretary. The woman was a few years older than herself, with rich red hair and clear blue eyes.
Emma turned on the charm, "Hi darlin', is the Mayor available? She called me to come over."
The Mayor's secretary, Melody, looked up at the blonde who was standing there smiling at her. She felt herself blush and mentally cursed her red hair and fair complexion. Then she tilted her head, "and what's your name, miss?" She was trying really hard to maintain her professionalism, knowing if the mayor caught her flirting with someone on duty, there'd be hell to pay.
Emma leaned forward on the desk, her smile still warm, "Emma Swan."
Melody picked up the phone on her desk and hit the button to connect her to the Mayor's office phone. "Mayor Mills, Miss Swan is here to see you...yes ma'am." Melody hung up the phone and turned to smile at the blonde. "Go right in, the mayor will see you now."
Emma couldn't help herself, she leaned closer and asked, "Is she...in a bad mood?"
Melody took a moment to quell the surge of arousal that rose up from the woman's proximity...she just shrugged, "Hard to tell...sorry."
"No worries, I'll just play it by ear. Later darlin'." Emma then swung around and walked towards Regina's door. She turned before opening it and grinned at the redhead, "Do me a favor, hold all her calls and don't come in unless I tell you to, okay beautiful?"
Despite the fact that she worked for a very scary mayor, Melody just nodded.
Emma walked into Regina's office, ready to face whatever the other woman had to dish out, satisfied that they wouldn't be interrupted.
Melody watched as the door closed behind the beautiful blonde and let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. She took a moment to think about what had just happened and realized that it had really been a long time since her last relationship. She sighed, 'I really need to get laid if any random woman who smiles at me can get me this worked up.'
Melody nodded to herself then sent a quick text message to her best friend, Ruby, to see if she wanted to join her at the club tonight. Ruby was the best wingman she'd ever had. Ruby confirmed their plans and Melody was finally able to relax and get her work done. She wondered though, as her gaze fell to the door of her boss' office, what was going on in there that the blonde felt it was necessary to hold all calls. Melody shrugged, she realized that she was probably better off not knowing.
Emma walked into the office and smiled at the sight of Regina sitting at her desk, head bent over some papers with a pen in her hand. Emma's eyes roamed over the mayor's form, taking in the details of her appearance that she'd once spent hours memorizing with her fingers, her lips.
When her presence wasn't acknowledged after a few moments, Emma cleared her throat, eager to know why Regina had been so cold to her on the phone.
Regina smirked at the sound of a throat clearing. It was a game she liked to play, seeing who would break the silence first, who would break under the pressure of silence. She slowly looked up until her eyes met Emma's.
"Miss Swan, so glad you could make it. Please, have a seat." She gestured to the chair in front of her desk.
Emma decided to play along, waiting for Regina to reveal her game plan. She sat down and waited.
Regina stood up and walked around her desk until she was standing in front of Emma, leaning back against her desk. She smiled at the blonde, "So, did you have a good morning so far?"
Emma frowned, confused, "Um...yeah it's been...interesting. Why did you call me here?"
Regina shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. "I wanted to see you."
Emma grinned, "Yeah, I don't buy that. There was something in your voice when you called. So just tell me what's going on please?"
Regina smirked, "Never could get anything by you, could I?" She sighed, "Fine, I wanted to talk to you about your living arrangements."
Emma nodded slowly then tilted her head, "What about them?"
Regina lowered her hands to rest on the desk, "You're staying at Granny's, right?"
Emma frowned, "Not anymore, Granny evicted me, saying there was a 'problem' with my credit card." Emma used her hands to make the fake quotation marks, her tone clearly indicating that she didn't buy that hogwash.
That news made Regina think this would be easier than she'd first thought, so she took a breath, "Well, in that case, I was wondering if you would consider moving into the mansion with me and Henry. It would give you a free place to stay and you could see Henry as often as you like. You would have your own room, of course, I am not trying to suggest anything, unseemly." Regina ran out of words, nervous for probably the first time in her life, as she waited for Emma's reaction.
Emma smiled, truly touched at the offer and Regina's nerves. She knew that eventually, one day soon hopefully, she would move in with Regina and Henry. But when she did, she wasn't going to be sleeping anywhere but in Regina's bed every night. It would also be only after Henry knew about them and was okay with it.
Emma sighed, "Regina, I am...honored by your offer, but I can't do it, not yet."
"Because," Emma stood up then and stepped closer to Regina. She placed her hands on the other woman's waist and leaned closer to her as she said in a low voice, "when I move in with you, it's going to be into your bedroom, not a guest room. I want us to be together, but I want to do this right, and moving in right now, would be too soon." She closed the distance between them and kissed her lips, briefly but firmly. When she pulled away, she smiled, "We clear?"
Regina took a moment to recover from the kiss then she nodded as Emma's words sank into her brain. "Okay, I get that, but where will you stay in the meantime?"
Emma smiled, "Well, I've already gotten an offer to be Mary Margaret's roommate. So I'll be moving into her spare bedroom."
Regina thought about that and she felt an irrational sense of jealousy bubble up inside of her. "So, you'd move in with a total stranger but not with me? What's the difference between living in her spare bedroom and mine?" She knew she was being irrational but she couldn't help it. There was something about the sweet schoolteacher that grated on Regina's nerves.
Emma frowned, "The difference is I'm not trying to date Mary Margaret." Emma leaned in closer to Regina, hoping the proximity would help her convince Regina. "Regina, if I move in to the mansion, the lines would blur and we could end up ruining what we have before it gets started. Besides, there's also Henry to consider, how would he react to seeing us together before we've told him about us? If he caught us in...a compromising position before we came clean to him, he'd feel betrayed and lied to...again. I know you don't want that for him right?"
Regina forced herself to think about what Emma was saying and she had to agree the blonde had a point. Still, "Okay, you're right about the Henry thing. But does it have to be Mary Margaret?"
Emma leaned back and looked into Regina's eyes, "What is it about her that you don't like? She's sweet, and kind and she seems to care about Henry."
Regina shrugged her shoulders, "I don't know exactly what it is about that woman but there's something about her that just...gets on my nerves. I think, no I know that she hates me and I just...it's bad enough she has access to my son all day to feed him lies about me but now she's going to be with you for several hours a day and I guess I'm just worried that she'll try to poison you against me as well." Regina hadn't intended to reveal that much but she couldn't help it. She needed Emma to know why she was so against her moving in with Mary Margaret.
Emma thought about that for a moment then realized how ridiculous it sounded. She knew better, though, than to say that to Regina. Instead she opted for a truth of her own, "Regina, I can promise you this much, nothing and no one could ever turn me against you." Emma took a breath before, "I love you and nothing is going to change that, ever. So all these thoughts about Mary Margaret or anyone else turning me against you or taking me away from you, just get them out of your head because it's never going to happen, got it?"
Regina stared into Emma's eyes and saw the truth in them and she smiled, a little relieved but still cautious. "I'll try. It's not easy, especially in this town where everyone either hates me or fears me...or both. And there are those who would stop at nothing to ruin any happiness I managed to have." Regina lifted her hand to Emma's face and cupped her cheek, She brushed her thumb over the cheekbone as she said in a low voice, "I don't want to lose you again Emma. I barely survived it the last time, when my fear made me run from you and your love. I won't run again, but I wouldn't survive it if you ran from me." Regina felt the tears gather in her eyes and silently cursed herself for showing so much emotion, but she knew it was inevitable. This woman held her heart, even if she didn't know it yet, and she didn't want to hold back anymore.
Emma saw the tears but decided not to say anything about them, sensing Regina wouldn't want them pointed out. Instead, she leaned closer and kissed her, letting her lips and her tongue express the words that she couldn't. She was overwhelmed by Regina's admission and it made her hopeful for their future.
Regina gave herself over to the kiss, not even trying to fight for dominance, simply allowing Emma to control it, finally admitting that love wasn't a weakness, but a power. The power to be able to give someone else control over you without losing you own identity.
Several long minutes later, Emma pulled away and rested her head against Regina's. She pulled in deep lungfuls of air and tried to catch her breath, a small smile creeping onto her face as she noticed Regina doing the same.
After a few moments, Emma spoke, "So, now that that's settled. Would you like to have dinner with me, tonight?"
Regina tightened her hands around Emma's waist, "Are you asking me out on a date, Miss Swan?"
Emma grinned, "Yeah, I am."
Regina pulled back and smiled, "then I would love to. What time?"
"I'll pick you up at seven. Right now though, I have to go. Gotta see where there is in this town to take a gorgeous woman to on a date." Emma smiled, then leaned in and stole a quick kiss. "I'll see you tonight Regina."
Regina nodded, "Yes you will."
Emma turned then and left the office. Regina watched her leave and she smiled to herself. It seemed as though for once, her life might actually be going good. She knew it wouldn't last, it never did, but she was determined to enjoy it for as long as she could.
Emma left Regina's office and stopped at the secretary's desk. She read the name plate on the front of the desk, Melody Little, and then smiled at the redhead, "Hey Melody. The Mayor is taking calls again. I think she's in a better mood now. Have a good day."
Melody just nodded as she watched the blonde walk out the building. She wondered again what had gone on in that office but she knew she was better off not knowing. Besides, if the blonde really had put Mayor Mills in a good mood, Melody knew that however she'd done that, was fine with her. She preferred it when the mayor was in a good mood, it always made her day a little bit easier. She turned back to her work, smiling, as she thought about what lay in store for her tonight. She was certain that she could find someone to entertain her this evening while she was out with Ruby.
Since it was still too early to meet up with Mary Margaret and move her things into the spare bedroom, Emma decided to drive around a bit, to see if she could see what the town had to offer in terms of restaurants for her date with Regina.
She drove around for about an hour when she came across a small restaurant that was down a street she hadn't noticed before. She looked at the place and it looked nice enough. Her eyes strayed to the main window where the name of place was painted on the glass. Starlight Enchantment was the name of the place and it made Emma smile. It sounded romantic enough for a date. She got out of her car and walked to the front door. She stepped inside and smiled at the decor.
The walls were a midnight blue and the floor was covered in a carpet of the same color. She looked up at the ceiling and was surprised to see the sky. The ceiling was made of glass and Emma saw the few clouds in the sky as they lazily drifted by. She could tell that at night, with the stars shining brightly, the ceiling would be the main feature.
She was brought out of her musings by the sound of a throat clearing. She turned to the sound and saw a pretty blond woman standing there, smiling. "May I help you dear?"
Emma smiled politely, "Um, yes I was wondering if it was possible to make a reservation for tonight?"
The blond woman frowned, "Tonight? That's awfully short notice, but let me check the book."
The blonde woman walked to a podium that was off to the side and pulled out a dark blue leather bound book. She opened it and found the page for the reservations for that evening. She scanned the page and smiled, "Well, you're in luck. It seems we have an opening for tonight. How many in your party?"
Emma smiled at her good fortune, "Two. For tonight at 7:30 if that's okay?"
The blonde smiled, "7:30 is perfect. What's the name?"
The blonde wrote in the reservation for 2 for 7:30 under the name Swan then smiled up at the blonde. "That's such a pretty name. So much nicer than my own boring name, Mandy."
Emma smiled, "I don't think Mandy is so bad, after all there is a song named Mandy, right?"
Mandy frowned, "Yes, I never liked that song. You have no idea how many suitors have tried to win me over with that song."
Emma nodded, sympathetically, "I can imagine. They probably all thought it was the best way to win you over. I, however, would've gone a different route, but that's just me."
Mandy's eyes lit up, "Really? What would you have done differently? Just for argument's sake?"
Emma shrugged, willing to play along because she knew it wasn't going to go anywhere, she was committed to Regina but that didn't mean she didn't flirt a little when she had the chance. She leaned a bit closer to the blonde and said, "Well, for starters, I would've probably tried appealing to your vanity by remarking how beautiful you are, or how the green of your eyes shines like the emerald fields of Ireland. If that didn't work, I'd appeal to your intelligence and ask you about the last book you read, listening to your response and reacting accordingly. Granted, it's not the sweep you off your feet gesture that most people think of, but you'd be surprised how often that works for me." Emma smiled then before she pulled back a bit.
Mandy let out a shaky breath then said, "Well...I can see how that would work for you...it certainly got me thinking." She cleared her throat, "But, seeing as how you made the reservation for two, I am going to assume that you are, sadly, already spoken for so I will have to just hope that you will offer the men in this town a few pointers on how to pick up women." Mandy smiled, hoping that this woman would refute the spoken for assumption, maybe even tell her the reservation was for a business dinner or something like that and not a romantic date. She wasn't going to hold her breath though.
Emma just smiled, "Yes I am spoken for, as for the pointers, well...I'll see what I can do." She winked at Mandy then made her excuses and soon she was back in her car, driving off towards the center of town and the school to meet up with Henry and Mary Margaret. It was almost time for school to let out and she wanted to be settled into her new place before her date tonight.
Regina made it home that afternoon with a smile on her face as she anticipated her date with Emma. She walked into her house and hurried up to her bedroom. Before she got there, she noticed that Henry was already home and in his room. She moved to his room and knocked on the door.
Henry looked up at the knock and he smiled when he saw his mom. In the last few days, ever since Emma's promise to make Regina lighten up, Henry had noticed the changes in his mom and he responded to them. It was almost like it was before he found out he was adopted. "Hi mom."
Regina smiled at her son, "Hi Henry. I wanted to talk to you for a moment if that's okay?"
Henry nodded, "Okay." He put aside the PSP he was playing with and turned his attention to his mother. "What's up?"
Regina walked over to the bed and sat down on it, facing her son. "Henry, I have a...um, I'm going out tonight. I already called Katherine to come and watch you while I'm out." Regina was going to tell him it was a date but she stopped herself. She didn't know why but she was reluctant to tell him about her relationship, and her past, with Emma until she was certain it wasn't going to fall apart again.
Henry nodded, "Okay...but why can't Emma watch me?"
Regina grinned then shook her head ruefully, now she was going to have to tell Henry the truth...well part of it at least, "Because Emma is the one I am going out with tonight. We're um...having dinner to talk about some things and to maybe try to find a better way for her to be a part of your life without disrupting things too much." Regina was actually proud of herself for her quick thinking, though she wasn't comfortable having to lie to her son. She knew she would end up paying for this later, when he found out the truth about her and Emma.
Henry took a moment to think about what his mom was telling him and he smiled, happy at the idea that she was at least trying to let Emma be in his life more. On impulse, he moved closer and wrapped his arm around his mom's neck and hugged her tight. "Thanks mom." He whispered in her ear.
Regina felt tears spring to her eyes as she held Henry close, the love in his voice reminding her of the time before his accident, and overwhelming her. She held him tight, reveling in the moment of pure affection.
After a few moments, Regina pulled back and looked at her son. "So, I take it you're okay with this?"
Henry just nodded.
Regina smiled, "Okay then. Well I need to start getting ready. I told Katherine to order a pizza for dinner, a special treat just for tonight, sound good?"
Henry grinned, "Sounds great. Thanks."
"No problem. Just don't eat too much and in bed by nine, okay?"
Henry sighed, "Yes ma'am."
"Good." She kissed the top of his head, "I'm going to go get ready. Did you get all your homework done?"
"Yup. All done."
"Okay, well I'll let you get back to your game."
Regina stood up and left the room to go get ready for her date with Emma.
Henry watched her leave and smiled to himself. Emma had kept her word so far, she'd gotten his mom to lighten up and now she was talking about letting him spend time with her. It was everything he wanted, the chance to get to know his birth mom. He loved his mom, but he also wanted to know Emma better. He needed to know more about her. She'd told him why she'd given him up but he still had a lot of questions and he knew the only way to get the answers he needed was to spend more time with her. So far, it seemed as if he was about to get everything he'd ever wanted. Henry's smile remained intact as he turned back to his PSP and resume his video game.
Emma pulled up in front of Regina's house and took a moment to take a breath. She couldn't believe she was actually nervous.
She had spent the afternoon getting settled into the spare room at Mary Margaret's then explaining to the teacher that she had a "business dinner" with Regina to discuss Henry. She hadn't liked lying to the sweet woman but she also wasn't about to risk telling the truth. She knew there was some...bad blood between the teacher and Regina and she didn't want to stir anything up by telling her that she was dating the mayor.
Now, Emma sat outside Regina's house and she found she was nervous. She took a few moments to calm herself before she stepped out of her car and walked up to the door.
She rang the bell and waited for someone to open it. When the door swung open, the sight that met Emma's eyes left the blonde surprised to say the least. This was...unexpected and she wasn't sure how to react to the person who had opened Regina's door.
AN2: So there it is. Any guesses on who Melody and Mandy are? I promise they are fairytale characters that have been at least mentioned on the show. I couldn't resist using them. For the record, Emma did drive the streets in an earlier chapter, but she didn't see this street before. It was like it materialized just for the purpose of hosting their first official date in Storybrooke. Side note about the latest episodes...I honestly didn't see that twist with August actually being Pinocchio, that was a nice twist. Though I personally would've liked it if the older kid who convinced him to leave Emma back then had actually been Baelfire but that's just me I guess. Anyway, any and all comments and guesses about Melody & Mandy are welcome.