I was in the mood to write something fluffy today:
Title: Captain Jimbo's Bodacious Beef Buffet
Disclaimer: These characters are not my creative property
Summary: Regina, Emma and Henry decide to eat out somewhere new.
"I've never had to stand in line for my dinner before like a pathetic plebeian," Regina rolled her eyes and stood in the buffet line with her hand on her hip and a sour expression of disdain on her face.
"Come on, this just means it's amazing because so many people are here for it," Emma reasoned, ruffling Henry's hair, while they slowly crept forward in the line. He looked at her in awe, hanging on to her every word. He was just excited to be doing something new and something with Emma. As they passed through the wood paneled hallway they noticed the walls adorned with stupid fish themed knick knacks and a replica of Poseidon's trident. Why it was a fisherman themed beef buffet was a mystery to Regina, but Emma just insisted that was part of the appeal.
The interruption in their usual Friday night dinner at Granny's came at Emma's suggestion. She said she was tired of it, so in exasperation Regina let Emma pick a new restaurant to try. Storybrooke had limited options, but Emma immediately wanted to eat at 'Captain Jimbo's' when she noticed it while on patrol to the outskirts of Storybrooke. Regina had only even heard of the place due to the multiple health inspection violation reports that had crossed her desk. Of course Emma would want to eat here.
"Kids eat for $5.99, $15.99 each for adults," The hostess explained with a bored expression as Regina reluctantly pulled her purse off of her shoulder and opened her wallet, shelling out for Henry, and both Emma and herself. Emma seemed to be intently studying the various sized fishing poles on the wall when it had come time to pay.
As the hostess led them to their table, Regina almost hit her head on a low hanging boat wheel used as a makeshift chandelier. The hostess threw their silverware in a pile along with bibs.
"Bibs!" Regina exclaimed in horror, clutching her own collar instinctively, her mouth agape.
"They have Bar-be-Que, it could get messy. You don't want to ruin your pristine white blouse, do you?" Emma chided, taking their red, filmy plastic drink cups to the self-serve pop fountain.
"I don't plan on eating any of the meat here, Ms. Swan." Regina said pulling her own sanitizing wipes from her purse and roughly scrubbing at the table, noticing with disgust the crumbs and ketchup stains from the previous occupants.
"Oh, you gotta at least try it. If you don't like it then you don't have to eat it. That's the beauty of a buffet. Do you want diet, regular or iced tea? They don't appear to have water sorry," Emma asked, realizing she had never seen Regina drink anything but wine, juice, cider or water.
Regina frowned, she hated soda, but wasn't about to ask the waitress for water she knew would come straight from the tap, or probably the ocean, "Diet, I suppose…no ice."
Emma returned with their drinks, Henry was thrilled that she had filled his with chocolate milk. He took a hearty swallow and came away with a dark milk mustache.
"Put on your bib," Regina told him coldly. While Henry fussed with his plastic bib, Emma took in the sight of the buffet. It seemed to stretch on forever, steam rising beneath the brightly lit sneeze guard.
"Let's eat. You're going to love it!" Emma rubbed her hands together in anticipation. Pulling Regina up, and this time she did hit her head on the 'chandelier' while Henry followed dutifully.
"Salad first, Henry," Regina reminded, handing him a plate that was still hot and dripping from the automatic dishwasher.
"But they have spaghetti," he whined.
"Regina, let him get whatever he wants," Emma countered, causing Regina's face to flush in anger and her grip on her plate to tighten. She refrained from lashing out simply from public decency. She didn't want to draw any attention to herself in this establishment. She made a mental note that Emma would be receiving yet another lesson in not undermining Regina's authority where Henry is concerned. Just because she and Emma had a lust-fused and mutual-love-for-Henry alliance didn't mean she got to call the shots. After all, Regina was compromising greatly tonight. That much was obvious from the sheer fact that she was stalking up and down a buffet line.
She used tongs to turn the lettuce leaves over and over, inspecting them for pests and lizard tails before plopping some on her plate, followed by some cottage cheese and a drizzle of oil and vinegar. Everything else looked unappetizing. She returned to the table first, unaccustomed to sitting down separately for dinner.
Emma returned, plopping down next to her and squeezing Regina's thigh in gratitude as she scooted onto the hard bench of the booth. Regina took in the appearance of her over-laden plate: she had various salads, a wonton, a slab of undercooked beef, mashed potatoes, and what appeared to be lasagna all smashed and mushed together. Henry, who had been left to his own devices, came back, slowly carrying his plate with worry and concentration, afraid he'd drop it. Regina took one look and realized she should have fixed it for him. He had spaghetti, a bit of lettuce and a spread out pile of rapidly melting vanilla ice cream which was so covered in sprinkles and chocolate sauce the ice cream was barely visible.
Regina looked from the plates back up to him and then to Emma. Emma shrugged off the look and defended Henry's choice, with her mouth full, "What? He got salad."
Then she proceeded to point her sauce covered fork at the singular piece of lettuce floating in the melted ice cream on his plate.
Regina took a deep breath and focused her attention on her own food. She hesitantly ate her salad, trying not to imagine the way it had been manhandled in its preparation. Emma tsked her disapprovingly, "Henry, did good with his plate. You however, need some potatoes, ribs, fried chicken…oh; I saw a bucket of crab legs on the floor by the nacho cheese dispenser."
"Yes, well, you know I do enjoy seafood," Regina prickled, her bitter sarcasm bringing a smile to Emma's lips. She nodded in Henry's direction as he twirled spaghetti around his fork and sucked the long strands into his mouth, splattering sauce on his cheeks as he went. By the time Regina had finished her modest salad, Emma had ripped through her plate of heavy food. Before Regina had time to protest Emma told her to sit still, and offered to go 'get her something good' and was gone off to the buffet, leaving her crumpled napkin on top of the sauce streaked and bone covered plate for Regina to stare at.
"I'm going for nachos!" Henry announced bounding off, leaving his first plate not even half eaten. Just as Regina suspected, all of his table manners flew out the window like magic the second they sat foot in this low-class establishment.
Emma returned with a huge plate, that made Regina's stomach heave at the sight, "Sorry, I didn't get you any pizza. The 600lb guy in front of me took the whole thing right out from under me."
Emma pushed the plate across the table to Regina who just stared at it, her appetite gone.
"Okay, please just humor me and try the potatoes?"
"Why is it so important to you that I eat this? You already won this round, I agreed to dine here tonight, and here we are. I never said I'd enjoy it," Regina said in defiance, poking her fork into the lumpy off color mound of instant potatoes.
"Because….on the rare occasion my foster parents took us out to eat, they'd bring me and my 5 foster siblings to a buffet like this where kids ate cheap. I got to eat as much as I wanted and this was as close as I ever got to home cooking. So I just like it- I like the atmosphere, I like the food, and everything about it. That's why," Emma recalled, mumbling and looking down for most of the story, but Regina understood perfectly.
"This brings back your only happy childhood memory?" Regina swallowed the lump of guilt that had formed in her throat.
"Honestly, I love when you cook for me the most though…that feels like a real family dinner, but this kind of place is just…special to me," Emma looked away, embarrassment clouding her eyes.
Regina readied her idle fork and plunged into the mashed potatoes, delicately dipping them into the nearby BBQ sauce and took a dainty bite, exaggerating her motions for Emma's benefit. She chewed and swallowed with purpose and even managed a smile.
Emma's eyes widened, "It's good? See! Nobody was touching the gravy because it was all congealed, but I just gave it a stir and it's perfectly fine."
"Not bad," Regina nodded decisively, ignoring the alarm whistles going off in her head, and digging her fork in for more mashed potatoes. This time, dipping it in the puddle of ranch dressing that her fried chicken leg was also wading in.
Henry returned to the table with a pile of brownies, "I managed to get these before that huge guy got over to the dessert table and took the whole rest of the pan!"
"Good job, Henry," Emma praised him with pride. He really was her child in so many ways.
When they finally arrived home to the large dark, cool house, they were all ready for bed. Weakened by the huge amount of food, that none of them were accustomed to eating, Henry, Regina and Emma all headed upstairs slowly. Henry went off to bed after thanking both his moms for taking him out to eat, and Emma and Regina retired to Regina's bedroom.
"Don't even think about touching me tonight, I feel disgusting," Regina groaned, as she undressed.
Emma pulled off her shirt, noticing, but not caring about the multiple food stains she had managed to get on it, "Hmm, should have worn the bib, I guess."
Regina glared at her, "I have never felt so full in my life. I have never overeaten like that. I blame you, I hope you know."
"I'd expect nothing less….and you look pregnant," Emma pointed to Regina's adorably swollen belly, feeling forever grateful that Regina felt comfortable and free enough to wander the room naked in front of her.
"Unless there was some astounding breakthrough in human biology that I am unaware of, I highly doubt that's the case," she chided, slipping into bed, feeling too fat to even bother with her nightgown.
"Aww, it's just a little food baby, I have one too…feel," Emma took Regina's hand and placed it on her bare, gurgling stomach, slightly plumped from its normal flat and toned state.
"Well, I did it for you," Regina maintained. Emma had seen the look of delight in Regina's eyes when she started eating that big piece of fried chicken dripping in ranch, and knew when it came down to it; Regina had enjoyed "Captain Jimbo's Bodacious Beef Buffet."
Emma stretched herself closer to Regina, careful not to press against her delicate stomach. She lay her head in the crook of Regina's neck and closed her eyes, enjoying the comfort of Regina's dull nails scratching absent circles along her side as they both fell asleep: full and content.