Chapter 1.

Emma Swan sipped her drink and watched Regina Mills order another drink of her own. Regina wore a tight, red dress. It was uncharacteristically tacky but still sexy.

The fictitious Mayor of the fictitious town of Storybrooke was nursing a gin martini—dry, shaken very, very well and lightly dirty. The tight leather dress she wore, revealed nothing of the 28 years she had just spent pretending to be a conservative political leader. Instead, Regina looked like a woman who was out for a good time and didn't mind showing off her intentions.

Emma Swan watched from a short distance away, as Regina Mills flirted shamelessly with a woman whose bleached blonde hair and red lipstick nearly obscured her natural beauty. Emma tucked herself into the small table and sipped her Jameson. Regina was far enough away, the club was dark, and the music was loud. Emma assumed herself to be safe from detection.

Regina was in Philadelphia because she was too scared to venture further, and because Boston would have been too obvious.

Emma watched Regina mouth the words, "my place" and lean her head to the side. Emma gaped. A woman. Regina was taking home a woman.

"Well then." Emma muttered to herself. The wave of disappointment that overtook her was shocking. What did she expect? Had Regina ever actually discussed sexual orientation with anybody in Storybrooke, much less with Emma? Emma tried to remember why the hell she was there in the first place—to keep tabs on Regina while Snow White decided what to do about the Evil Queen's continued presence in the world.

For her part, Regina was bored with not being caught by the idiot 'bounty hunter' who was supposed to be following her. Regina tried not to look at the corner of the club, where Emma Swan did a poor job of hiding herself from view.

Regina Mills told the woman who wanted to take her home that night, that she was actually a former representative in Congress. When the lawyer named Enid, or Elizabeth or something along those lines, scoffed and said that she didn't recognize Regina, Regina shrugged and feigned continued interest in the most boring conversation she had ever had.

"My place." Regina finally said. She wanted to take this woman home and fuck her quickly, before boredom destroyed whatever was left of her strangely overactive libido. The woman reminded her of Maleficent.

Regina just wanted to go home; she almost reconsidered the whole sex thing.

'Enid' and Regina went to Regina's loft. Regina's home was all whitewashed brick and white painted wooden floors. The place nearly empty, with new appliances that Regina seldom utilized and, of course, a bed on the upper level.

The sex wasn't bad. Regina undressed only partially, and then spent much of the following hour avoiding being touched while taking pleasure through giving it. The woman insisted on exchanging numbers before she left, so Regina gave over her old cell phone number. In return, Regina received a number written on a scrap of paper. Regina used the paper for kindling and made a fire with magic.

Regina wrapped herself in a sheet and stared at the flames. She wondered how far magic had gone and who had realized its arrival in this land. Her interest in the subject was not great enough to warrant further enquiry. Not yet, anyway.

Across town, Emma returned to her hotel room in a terrible state. She was drunk and stupidly grumpy. Her own attempts at picking someone up in the same club where Regina had obviously scored, ended in an awkward make-out session with a long haired, lanky musician named Chuck. Emma found herself pushing his face away from hers.

The next morning began as all mornings began for Emma. She stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling for half an hour, and planned her day.

Regina was utterly anonymous and utterly alone in her self-imposed prison. It was fitting. More than fitting, it was ironic. Having run away from Storybrooke and from the anticipated collective fury of the people there, Regina had run right into her own entrapment. Now, all Emma had to do, was to wait.

While she showered, Emma wondered—not for the first time—if Regina was relieved to be finished with the whole Curse business. It sounded like an exhausting venture. Keeping tabs on every single person in Storybrooke; forging documents to maintain the office of Mayor; organizing food shipments. Come to think of it, Emma had no idea how Storybrooke had ever actually operated.

So far, Emma knew very little about Regina or her plans. Emma did know that Regina had siphoned the $3million she was currently living off of, from various town funding sources over a 28 year period. Emma was less angry about any of that than she would have been before finding out that the Curse was actually real.

Just as Emma found her way to the first coffee shop of the day, Regina woke up alone, as always, in her self-imposed prison. Her sheets were cool and white. Her floor and sparse furniture were all white. It was an uncomplicated world she lived in now. She cleaned and cooked and organized things just in case…

…just in case she ever had somebody to make a world for.

This home of sorts now held all of Regina's loneliness and guilt and kept it all from tumbling away from her.

The woman from the night before had reminded Regina of Maleficent, but not enough to ask her to stay.


Regina's oldest and perhaps only friend, who had suffered for Regina's ambitions until her dying breath, lingered in Regina's dreams.

Though it was Maleficent who haunted Regina the most, Regina's footsteps on the Philadelphia sidewalks were shadowed by the names and faces of all of her dead. They were her dead, because she had sacrificed for the Curse and for her own happy ending.

Regina remembered her first time with a woman. Regina had been distraught over her husband's continued advancements. She had not wanted to marry this man and certainly did not want to warm his bed. On this night, her body had hummed with the injustice of it all. She had wanted to take control of her life again and so when her only friend arrived to converse at the wood's edge, Regina had pounced.

Never one to miss an opportunity for such debauchery, Maleficent had allowed Regina to do whatever she wanted.

The event had not repeated itself and Regina had filed it away, obscured behind her feelings (remembered or otherwise, she was no long sure) for Daniel and her ambitions for power.

It didn't matter anyway, or so Regina thought at the time.

Somehow though, Maleficent's death brought the memory to the surface. Regina's loneliness began to mix with unfamiliar guilt, until quite suddenly, Regina wanted nothing more than the company of another warm body.

After that, there were a string of women who reminded Regina of Maleficent. Regina usually invited them home, only to urge them out of her bed shortly after.

Then, Regina scared herself by taking home some graduate student who looked just like Emma Swan. After that, Regina had taken a break from the debauchery of nightlife. She stayed in and read books for weeks until her equilibrium returned.