Author's Note: Written for a prompt on Tumblr: Swan Queen, first "date" (unplanned, but ends up being like a date… you can decide if they kiss at the end or not!); many thanks to the-charmings for the info about when Storybrooke came into existence and fictorium for the beta and encouragement, as always. The full title, which was apparently too long, is Don't Fight The Feeling (If You're Feeling The Force Within) which is taken from Eminem's Old Time's Sake.
Emma glances at her watch and frowns once again. Mary Margaret was supposed to meet her for dinner twenty minutes ago. The teacher is nothing if not punctual and so Emma has to admit to herself that she's been stood up. She knew it was a possibility - parent teacher conferences are this week - but it still makes her frown.
"You okay, Emma?" Ruby asks as she stops at her booth.
"Yeah. Just eating alone, I guess. I'll have my usual."
"Sure thing." Ruby offers her a sympathetic smile before turning back towards the kitchen.
Emma sighs and shakes her head. This isn't a big deal. She has eaten by herself plenty of times. She still does rather frequently at lunch time. But she's fallen into the routine of having dinner with Mary Margaret and now it makes her feel lonely, sitting here by herself. It's another warning flag that she's getting too attached to this place and normally she'd be running for the door by now. Only, when she glances up, she sees Regina walking through the door, so she stays put, intending to stay out of the mayor's way.
But Regina apparently has other plans, as she slides into the seat across from Emma. "Miss Swan, we need to discuss Henry's parent teacher conference." Regina is all business before she's even settled down.
"What about it?" Emma wonders. She's well aware that Regina is scheduled to meet with Mary Margaret the following evening - Mary Margaret's been freaking out about it all week even though Henry's a great student and there are no problems - but she doesn't see why Regina wants to discuss it with her. Regina has, in fact, made it very clear that Emma should in no way think of herself as Henry's parent at all.
"Miss Blanchard," the name falls from Regina's lips with disdain, "thinks it would be beneficial for you to attend as well."
"What?" Emma gapes, suddenly understanding Mary Margaret's fear, even if she'd kept this particular line of thinking to herself.
Regina rolls her eyes. "Are you hard of hearing, Miss Swan?"
"No. I just - Mary Margaret didn't say anything to me."
"Well, she did to me. So -"
Ruby chooses that moment to bring Emma's food over and the sheriff is grateful for the slight reprieve.
"Oh, Madam Mayor," Ruby smirks at the sight of them in the booth together, "can I get you anything to eat?"
Regina opens her mouth to retort, but her stomach lets out a growl and she frowns. "Just my usual," she snaps, fully intending to move to another booth as soon as she finishes this conversation. Ruby scampers off towards the kitchen quickly.
"Look, I know that you don't want me involved, so I'll talk to Mary Margaret tonight and tell her that I'm not coming. If there's something that she thinks both of us should know, she can tell you tomorrow and me at home sometime or something, okay?" Emma tries to appease Regina.
Regina frowns. "Miss Blanchard speaks to you about Henry's academics at home?"
"What?" Emma's brow furrows. "No. I didn't say that. I just said that if she needed to tell me something she could. God, Regina, don't get your panties in a twist."
Regina's eyes widen at that statement and her face flushes red. "Must you be so crude, Miss Swan?"
Emma rolls her eyes. She's saved - because she's sure what was about to come out of her mouth would've earned her a nice slap if not a restraining order - by Ruby sitting Regina's food down in front of her.
"I will be eating at a different booth." Regina hisses, already sliding out of the seat.
"Um, Madam Mayor," Ruby actually sounds slightly frightened, "there aren't any other booths available right now."
And to Regina's dismay, she's correct. The tiny diner that hardly ever has more than a handful of people in it, is suddenly packed full. There isn't a single open table. Regina's eyes flare.
"It's fine, Ruby." Emma holds her hands up. "I'll just go to the counter. We're obviously done here."
Emma quickly scoops her dinner plate and drink up and moves to a stool on the counter. Regina watches her go. It takes all of two minutes before she grabs her own plate and drink and moves into the seat next to Emma at the counter. Ruby watches in fascination, staying near the booth to keep it open in case it's needed.
"What do you want, Regina?" Emma huffs. "I already told you I wouldn't go tomorrow night."
"Why?" Regina questions, staring at her.
Emma spins and stares at her, fire in her own eyes now. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you don't want me there, Regina. And I really have no place there, as I'm not Henry's parent, so -"
Regina doesn't acknowledge Emma's admission, although her brain instantly latches onto the words. "Miss Blanchard thinks it would be best if we were both there and if that is what she thinks is best for Henry, then it doesn't matter what I want."
Emma blinks at that and tilts her head. "Okay. Fine. I'll be there."
"Our meeting with her is scheduled for 4:30."
Emma frowns again at that information. "Don't you have a meeting with the historical society tomorrow at 4:30?"
Regina doesn't show her surprise at Emma's knowledge of her schedule. Instead, she answers the question. "I moved it."
Emma offers her a small smile. "I bet you hated having to do that."
Regina smirks a little too. "I would never do something like that, unless it was for Henry. But my son's education comes first and they just had to understand that."
Emma laughs and eats some of her fries. "Nice."
"I can't help it if that was the only time Miss Blanchard had available to meet with me."
"Really? The only time?" Emma raises an eyebrow teasingly, "Because I would bet that you were the first parent to return your conference form."
"You have no evidence of that, Sheriff Swan." Regina smirks, taking a dainty bite of her sandwich.
"You're right. So I guess I'll have to let you off this time."
"Thank you for that. So, how are things at the sheriff's department?"
"Oh, it's a regular Law and Order episode every day." Emma rolls her eyes. "I mean, just today, I had to perform a daring rescue mission that was really touch and go there for a while."
"Mrs. Hubbard's cat got stuck in a tree again?" Regina guesses.
"Fluffy could've died, Regina. It isn't a joking matter."
Regina actually laughs at that, surprising herself and Emma in the process. "But all is safe and sound in Storybrooke once again, thanks to you."
Emma looks down, trying to hide her smile. She knows Regina is just teasing, but it's nice to know that maybe the mayor doesn't think she's totally incompetent. Catching sight of the time on her watch, she pulled out her wallet. "And on that note, I need to go."
"Hot date?" Regina asks and it almost sounds like there's a hint of something in her words, but Emma shakes it off.
"Kind of." Emma admits as she tosses some bills on the counter. "I'll see you tomorrow, Regina."
"Goodbye, Miss Swan." Regina watches her go, wondering where it is that Emma has to be and who it is she is going to meet. Not that it matters one way or the other to her. She doesn't care what Emma Swan does in her free time.
Emma walks up to tiny, run down looking movie theatre, her eyes scanning the faded marquee advertising Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as the only feature playing. From the looks of it, it's been the only movie showing here since it came out 28 years ago.
Emma would love it if something newer was playing - she feels like Regina might enjoy The Hunger Games, but worries about her getting any ideas - but she's also pretty excited about seeing Return of the Jedi on the big screen.
She pays for her ticket and buys a giant tub of popcorn, a large soda, and a box of Reese's Pieces, not feeling the slightest bit guilty, especially when her total is under ten bucks. The auditorium - the only one the theatre has - is unsurprisingly empty and Emma wanders around, trying to decide where she wants to sit.
Part of her wants to sit in the front row, while another part extols the virtues of the back - although without someone to make out with that loses some of the allure - and finally, she settles on the seat that is dead center in the auditorium.
Just as the lights are dimming, Emma hears the clicking of high heels on the floor and she turns in surprise to see Regina walking into the theatre. "Regina?" She gasps, because there's a pretty big part of her that's sure she's hallucinating.
"Your hot date was with Darth Vader?" Regina seems unconcerned with finding Emma in the theatre.
"Han Solo, actually," Emma quickly shoots back, "but I can see why you'd go straight to Vader."
Regina rolls her eyes and sits down a few rows behind Emma. The previews begin and Emma is sure that this is the only movie that's been playing here all these years, because the previews are all for movies that came out in the 80s. It's things like this that make her wonder, in her more fanciful moments, if maybe Henry is on to something with the whole curse idea, at least as far as Storybrooke being frozen in time goes. But she shakes the thought off and turns back to look at Regina.
"Are you following me?"
Regina sighs. "No, Miss Swan. I am merely trying to enjoy a night out at the movies."
"Where's Henry tonight?"
Emma almost misses the way Regina's lips turn down in a frown, but the screen lightens at just the right moment to cast her face in the light. "Henry has decided that he would rather spend his evening pulling weeds for Granny than going to the movies with me."
Emma blinks at that, her heart sinking just a bit. Regina's been stood up too. And, if Emma has to guess, she's pretty sure that it wasn't Regina who was gung ho to come watch Return of the Jedi in the first place. And yet, here she is, sitting in a theatre alone because she has nothing else to do tonight after Henry abandoned her once again. Emma is quite content to go to the movies without Mary Margaret, especially because this was her idea in the first place, but she's pretty sure the same cannot be said for Regina.
Emma finds that she doesn't know how to reply to Regina, so she turns back to the screen and tries to focus. The movie is just starting and Emma wills her mind to go blank, to forget about Regina, sitting alone in the dark, but for some reason, she cannot. She glances back over her shoulder to see Regina staring at the screen, but it is obvious that she isn't really seeing anything.
"Really, Regina?" She asks finally. "No popcorn?"
Regina rolls her eyes slightly, but says nothing. Emma frowns and looks down at her giant tub. She picks up one of the pieces of popcorn and rolls it between her thumb and forefinger, contemplating something. After a few moments, she looks back again and, with all the precision of a sharp shooter, flicks the piece of popcorn, cheering internally when it hits its mark - Regina's left shoulder. "You can't go to the movies without popcorn."
"Miss Swan," Regina snaps, "do turn around and leave me to watch the movie in peace."
Emma does as Regina asks, but she continues to be distracted by the thought of Regina not only sitting and watching the movie alone, but doing so without popcorn or anything.
Finally, with a sigh she rises, lugging the popcorn, candy, and soda with her. She flops down into the seat next to Regina, who huffs out a rather disgusted little breath. But Emma also sees the tiny flash across her eyes that she chooses to believe is gratitude.
"What do you think you're doing?" Regina hisses.
"I am saving you from a fate worse than death." Emma whispers as she moves the tub of popcorn over towards the mayor.
Regina pointedly ignores it, her eyes on the screen. "I am fine, Miss Swan. I certainly do not need you to share your disgusting, butter slathered cardboard with me."
Emma just smiles and leaves the tub where it is.
They watch in silence, until Emma sees Regina's hand slowly inching towards the popcorn. She bites down hard on her cheek to keep herself from smiling and makes sure to keep her eyes trained on the screen.
"I have Reese's Pieces too." She offers up only once Regina has placed a few kernels in her mouth. She wiggles the box enticingly and Regina's eyes widen at being caught.
Regina says nothing, just turns her attention to the movie, angry at Emma's smugness at catching her eating the popcorn and angry at herself for giving in and eating any in the first place.
"You're not allergic to peanut butter, are you?" Emma whispers a few minutes later.
"No." Regina grinds out.
"Good." Emma opens the box of Reese's Pieces and pours them into the tub of popcorn, shaking to mix them in.
"What are you doing?"
Emma glances over at her. "Don't tell me you've never done this before? Oh, Regina, you've gotta try this. Seriously."
She pushes the tub towards Regina's face. Regina's nose wrinkles. "Oh come on. Just one little bite."
"Miss Swan," Regina's eyes narrow. "Some of us would like to actually watch the movie."
"Just try some and I'll stop. But if you don't…"
Regina shoves her hand into the tub, pulling out a handful of popcorn and candy just to shut Emma up. She begins to eat it and then, before she can stop herself, lets out a pleased little moan at the taste.
"See," Emma grins. "Told you."
"Shut up, Miss Swan." Regina repeats, although she sounds more amused than anything, which makes Emma smile. Her smile grows wider as Regina takes another handful from the tub.
"Damn," Emma mutters when Leia appears on the screen in her iconic metal bikini.
Regina glances over at her. "Did you say something, Miss Swan?"
"No. I uh - it's just -" Emma stutters as she looks at Regina, who looks amused by the whole thing. Finally, with a groan, Emma continues. "Oh come on, Regina, even you have to admit that Carrie Fisher is rocking that bikini."
Regina raises an eyebrow. "I hadn't really noticed."
"Oh please," Emma scoffs, "you'd have to be blind not to notice! And do not give me that raging heterosexual crap either, because everyone can agree that Leia looks smoking in this scene."
Regina actually chuckles at that and shakes her head at Emma.
"I'm telling you. You ever wanna get laid, just put on that costume. You'll have to fight 'em off with a stick - men and women."
"And you know this how?" Regina asks, dryly.
"Slave Leia was my go to Halloween costume for years." Emma tells her with a wicked smirk and a wink.
Regina swallows hard and turns back to the screen, doing her best to avoid looking at Emma and letting her mind wander. But the thought of Emma in that bikini, well, it's not an easy mental image to get rid of, especially when Regina isn't trying all that hard.
"You want some soda?" Emma leans close, whispering into Regina's ear.
Emma's hot breath against the shell of her ear causes Regina to jump slightly. "N-no." She manages to get out, trying to seem unaffected.
"I'm perfectly happy to share, Madam Mayor." Emma smiles. "I promise I don't have cooties. Besides, it's a good way to… cool down."
"I. Am. Fine." Regina grits, wishing that she had never decided to come to this movie in the first place. She should've just stayed home, drinking cider and watching something on TV. She has 300 channels at her disposal, not to mention a huge collection of movies - this one included in them - but instead of the comfort of her home, she'd come to this rundown little theatre where Emma Swan just had to be too.
And that was another thing. Why hadn't she just left when she'd realized Emma was there? It wasn't like she couldn't come see the movie another time - it was the only thing that ever played here - and besides, she had the damn DVD at home. So why then had she sat down behind the sheriff and allowed herself to be engaged in whatever this was?
"It's always more fun to watch a movie with someone than it is to watch it alone." Emma says and Regina's eyes widen, wondering if she's been thinking aloud. "Don't you think so, Madam Mayor?"
Regina says nothing, unable to find her voice. Emma sighs and leans back against the chair, tossing some popcorn up to catch in her mouth. Regina watches her out of the corner of her eye, finding Emma to be far more entertaining than the movie - although she'll never admit that.
The movie continues on with only the occasional comment from Emma, which Regina continues to leave unacknowledged, although she finds herself interested in the other woman's point of view.
When Regina hears sniffling after Vader's death, she looks over to find tears slipping down Emma's cheeks.
"What is wrong?" She whispers, although they are the only two in the theatre, so there's no need to keep her voice quiet.
Emma quickly scrubs at the tears on her cheeks. "It just always makes me sad. Every thing Darth Vader did took him farther and farther into the Dark Side, but in the end, his love for his son redeemed him and allowed him to save Luke, only to die. It's tragic."
"He's the villain, Miss Swan. He has to die." Regina says, trying not to think about Emma's understanding of Vader.
Emma looks at Regina. "I would think that you of all people wouldn't buy into the 'villain has to die' theory. If anything, I'd think that you'd understand what Vader did and why."
Emma's words hit close to home and Regina snaps at her. "And why is that? Because my son seems to think that I am the villain in his fairy tales? That I'm evil? Just because he paints me to be a villain and you believe me to be one, doesn't mean that I am."
"I never said you were." Emma mumbles, shrugging and turning away at Regina's tone, watching Han and Leia have their moment. She isn't sure why she tries reaching out to the other woman. It only ever ends up in her being burned by Regina's fiery temper.
Regina hears Emma's mumbled words and glances over at her, feeling suddenly bad for snapping the way she did. Which makes her angrier, because Regina never feels bad about anything she says or does.
When the credits finally begin to roll, Emma stands without a word. The popcorn tub is almost empty - still balanced precariously on the arm rest between their seats where it's been for the last half of the movie - and Emma makes no move to claim it. Instead, she shuffles out of the row and back up to the one where she'd originally been sitting to grab her jacket off the back of the chair, the large soda cup in her hand.
"You don't want the rest of your… concoction?" Regina asks as Emma starts to pass her row, heading for the exit.
Emma just shakes her head. "You keep it."
Regina watches her go and can't help thinking that somehow she's ruined something. It certainly wouldn't be the first time, but this time it feels different somehow. It's a fragile thing and she's somehow managed to shatter it. She wonders, as she stands and heads after Emma, if it can be repaired and if she even wants it to be.
She finds Emma outside, leaning against the wall of the theatre. "I didn't mean to imply that you were a villain." Emma says, her eyes staring straight ahead. "I only said it because I honestly thought that you could understand how someone who is perceived as evil isn't always that way - or doesn't have to stay that way."
Regina moves to stand next to Emma. "I may have jumped to conclusions a little."
It's as much of an apology as either of them are going to give and their silence is as much as an acceptance as either of them are going to receive. But it's enough for both of them, somehow.
They stand in silence for a while, until Regina finally moves away from the building and starts down the sidewalk. She didn't bring her car and from what she can tell, Emma didn't bring that eye sore of hers either, so they may as well get walking.
"You know," Emma says as she pushes away from the wall, falling into step with Regina, "I would never have taken you for a Star Wars girl, Regina."
"I'm hardly a girl, Miss Swan." Regina retorts, but her words are tempered by that hint of teasing again.
Emma's eyes rake quickly over Regina's body. "Woman, then."
"I am full of all sorts of surprises." Regina flashes her teeth.
Emma smirks. "You're full of something all right."
Regina chuckles and Emma looks over, enjoying the sight that the mayor presents. She also notices that Regina is shivering just a bit in the cool night air. Without thinking, she drapes her jacket over Regina's shoulders. Regina looks horrified for a moment and Emma waits to once again be burned, but then something changes on her face and she slips her arms through the sleeves.
"As hideous as this jacket is," she says, glancing over at Emma, "I can see why you wear it."
"Nice and toasty." Emma smiles. She's got a nice supply of the jackets, because for a while when she'd been between jobs, sleeping in her car had been common place and anything that kept her warm during the Boston winters was a life saver. All her extra money had gone into buying the jackets, until she'd felt like she had enough to make sure she was always warm.
Regina nods her head. It's as close as Emma will get to a thank you and she's okay with that. "I must say, I wouldn't have pictured you as a Star Wars fan either."
Emma shrugs. "I had a foster brother for a couple months who was a big fan. Kinda rubbed off, I guess. Plus, like I said, the Leia costume…"
"Yes, I remember what you said." It's then that she notices that Emma is still walking with her, even though they've passed the street that leads to Mary Margaret's apartment. "I am perfectly capable of walking myself home, Miss Swan."
"I am well aware of that, Madam Mayor." Emma smirks. "But it's getting late and what kind of sheriff would I be if I didn't make sure you got home safely?"
"This is hardly a Law and Order episode."
"You never know." Emma glances around them. "Assassins could be hiding behind any corner. Maybe you've witnessed something you're not supposed to and the mob is after you. I gotta protect you, so that we can get you into WITSEC after they try to take the hit out on you."
Regina rolls her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure that's about to happen."
"Don't worry," Emma whispers, leaning in closer so that no one could overhear, even though there's no one around anyway. "I'd make sure that Henry was with you."
Regina's step falters at that, but if Emma notices, she doesn't mention it. They walk the rest of the way to the mayoral mansion in silence. When the reach the front gate, Regina shrugs out of the jacket and hands it back to Emma.
"This was…" she searches for the right words, "not an altogether unpleasant evening."
Emma laughs. "I had fun too."
"I never said -"
"Oh, come on, just admit that it was fun. Hell, this was better than some first dates I've been on."
Regina's eyes widen just a bit at that and it takes her a few seconds too long to get the retort unstuck from her throat. "Why does that not surprise me?"
Emma just rolls her eyes and grins. "Watch it, or I'll really act like it's a first date and kiss you."
"I - you -" Regina stutters.
"Goodnight, Regina." Emma leans in close, invading Regina's personal space like the mayor is so often wont to do. Regina's breathing speeds up just a fraction. Emma smiles, her breath tickling Regina's cheek. "And may the Force be with you."
Then she very gently ghosts her lips over the softness of Regina's cheek - the touch is so light Regina could write it off as her imagination if she wanted to - and turns to walk back to her apartment.
"Do not forget the parent teacher conference, Miss Swan. And do not be late." Regina calls out to Emma's retreating back when she regains control of her thoughts and voice.
Emma glances over her shoulder at Regina, still standing frozen in front of the gate. She offers a smile that seems to shine in the moonlight. "Oh, don't worry. I wouldn't miss it."
Regina's fingers come up to stroke her cheek as she watches Emma until she disappears. She certainly won't miss it either.