A/N: A one-shot, but also ended up being the prologue to my fic 'Wet'. Can be read on its own, or as a starter for the longer story. Enjoy and please comment. :)
Regina fumbles her key into the narrow, silver lock; her breathing labored with the strain of trying to keep the blonde at least vaguely upright. She finally succeeds in her endeavour to unlock the front door and thrusts it open, before returning her grip clumsily to the arm draped uselessly around her neck; dragging the taller woman to the nearest possible offloading point.
This turns out to be the low, immaculately dressed sofa in her study, and she lets the deputy's body fall onto the plush upholstery heavily.
Gritting her teeth, she bends down to sweep jean-clad legs up from off the floor and- hesitating momentarily when faced with dark, muddy boots- places them up on the sofa as well. She withdraws her hand from the crook of Emma's knee and frowns when she notices an odd wetness that lingers on her skin; glancing down to inspect its origin. A dirty, red smear colors her thumb and index finger, darkening just a little at the whorls of her finger tips. She crouches down- mindful of her ankle- and searches the blonde's legs for the source. Spying a narrow rip at the seam of Emma's jeans a little below the knee, the Mayor spots a thin glimpse of broken flesh peeking out beneath.
Although mildly surprised by the visible injury, Regina doesn't spare its existence too much concern.
During the heated argument that had taken place while travelling up her garden path not five minutes ago, the deputy had alternated almost every other word with a harsh, chesty cough. The angrier she had become, and the harder she yelled, the worse the coughing had become, and at the time, Regina had put the slight stagger the blonde had been exhibiting down to yet another delayed factor of smoke inhalation. Upon reaching the crescendo of her outrage at the Mayor's blatant disregard of the events that had taken place during the fire, the blonde had doubled up- hacking fitfully- with her long hair hanging in her face as she had tried to steady herself, before- acting with a speed so instinctual that it had almost surprised her into letting go- Regina had grabbed Emma's waist with her arm. The brunette had braced herself against the sudden weight as the younger woman's eyes had fluttered closed, and she had begrudgingly pulled a limp arm around her neck and headed quickly towards the door before this little scene could be witnessed and allow the town not just a glamorized hero, but a victimized one.
Now, Regina stands back with her hands on her hips; a little unsure about how to proceed.
She has no wish to take the younger woman to the hospital, or anywhere else for that matter.
Even unconscious she is proving to be a nuisance.
Watching the soft rise and fall of red leather, the Mayor decides Emma's breathing is what is probably considered normal, and thus concludes that there is no immediate reason to panic.
Hesitating, she makes a small sound of distaste, before wiping the crimson streak from her palm onto the side of her skirt. Inspecting her slightly cleaner hand, she notes that ash and dirt still cling stubbornly around her nails. Sighing, she supposes such substances are most likely a breeding ground for infection, and, while the woman lying on her sofa is certainly one of her least favorite people, getting sick will unlikely get the blonde anything but sympathy.
Studying her ward warily, she pulls down the zipper on the Deputy's ugly, red jacket; manipulating limp arms out from tight sleeves with difficulty, before pulling cheap leather none too gently out from under her. The garish monstrosity is dirty, and she lets it fall discarded upon the floor, rather than placing it over the chair to her side. Turning back to Emma, she inspects slender arms, but aside from a grimy layer of ash at her wrists, the blonde's skin appears unmarked.
Moving down to examine what she now presumes to be the only real damage, she unlaces Emma's boots and lets them fall to the floor with a decidedly heavy thump. Free of chunky black leather, the Deputy's feet are surprisingly small and narrow, and Regina can't fathom why in the world the ridiculous woman would insist on putting them through the ordeal of carrying so much extra weight.
Shrugging aside such meaningless concerns, she tries to peel stiff denim up Emma's calf to get better access to the laceration beneath her knee, but the material is so tight that Regina wonders- not for the first time- how in the hell the blonde manages to get them on in the first place. There is so little give, that after what feels like a great deal of exertion, the black denim has only revealed a little over an inch of pale skin above the ankle. Cursing the almost obscenely figure-hugging material, Regina eyes the tarnished belt buckle that centres the blonde's hips, before huffing loudly in frustration.
The last thing she wants to do is undress her forever vexing antagonist.
Marching over to the ornate desk in the corner, she snatches up a pair of large, golden scissors from their resting place in the stationary pot on the lacquered surface, and returns to proceed to snip her way up the stiff fabric covering Emma's calf.
She stops cutting a little above the knee, and peels rough fabric apart to expose a smooth expanse of pale flesh. The bleeding comes from a small gash at the lower side of Emma's knee, and while not appearing too severe, the graze looks decidedly deep, and is darkened muddily with ash and grit. Stealing a glance back up at the younger woman's uncharacteristically tranquil features, Regina saunters quickly into the kitchen and fills a shallow bowl with warm water and soap, before retrieving a small first aid kit from beneath the sink.
She goes to crouch down next to the sofa, but after receiving a bolt of pain from her ankle, she moves awkwardly in her pencil skirt so that she kneels level with the blonde's legs. Taking a clean, white cloth from the first aid kit, she wets it slightly, before dabbing gently at the thin, grit-soiled scrape. She repeats the action until the cloth becomes stained a watery red, and the water too holds a rosy tinge. Inspecting the now clean laceration, she places the bowl and cloth aside; wrinkling her nose as an unexpected- albeit not unpleasant- scent of coconut slowly creeps into her awareness.
Leaning in a little closer to the Deputy's exposed flesh, it dawns on her that what she must be smelling is the lingering aroma of the Deputy's body wash. Without really paying the act any mind, she sniffs appreciatively, as she idly regards the bare leg before her. The blonde's calf- though slender- is lined with taut muscle, and her knee hosts a light spattering of small, white scars from years of nicks and scrapes.
Regina lets her eyes travel the landscape of the Deputy's body curiously.
They are of a similar height, and roughly the same size, but where she is slim and her build proudly feminine, Emma's limbs are athletically toned, and lean with defined muscle. Her arms are lightly tanned in contrast to the paler skin of her leg, and, whilst Regina's own skin is painstakingly flawless, the blonde's leg exhibits several bruises at various stages of fading, and the odd scars and marks of twenty-eight years of being none too careful.
Without thinking, the Mayor traces a lacquered nail along the pleasing line of definition at Emma's calf.
What the hell!?
She withdraws her hand as if burnt, and looks down at the mutinous appendage in disbelief. Her eyes dart up to Emma's face uncomfortably, and she is is relieved to find that the Deputy still appears out for the count. Shifting her weight from her knees to the balls of her feet, she leans a little closer to the blonde in order to make doubly sure her actions are going unnoticed. Satisfied that she remains safe on this count, she gently sweeps a curl out of the younger woman's face; noting a slight darkness towards the roots. Raising an eyebrow, she runs her hand curiously through long waves of bottle-blonde hair, and smirks upon realising that while the Deputy has taken the trouble to keep on top of her roots, she has missed several sections within the layers underneath. Raking her fingers close to Emma's scalp, Regina's smirk widens as she uncovers an inch or so of soft, honey blonde; duskily clashing with the harsh white-gold that covers the rest of the length. She supposes that she is unsurprised by the knowledge that Emma would seemingly choose to dye her hair herself rather than opting to let someone else do it for her, whilst at the same time finding herself once again a little disconcerted by the realization that she holds any sort of intimate assumptions towards the other woman's actions at all.
"Well, I suppose it's painfully obvious you're not one to take much pride in your appearance, Miss Swan..."
She mutters to herself as she smooths pale curls neatly back into place.
There is something fascinating about being able to candidly study the woman that has caused her so much grief since arriving though, and, while supposing that noting Emma's physical attributes is unlikely to get her any closer to ridding herself of the infuriating young troublemaker, Regina finds herself noticing small details she has previously missed with curious intrigue.
To name a primary contender; the younger's often ridiculous dress sense has given her plenty of satisfaction in the past- a flaw too obvious to be missed, no matter how much of their time together has been spent at each other's throats- but, even this now compels the Mayor as she observes the soft contours of muscle just visible beneath the thin, white fabric of the blonde's five dollar white tank.
Without thinking, she inches the flimsy top up gently to expose the flat expanse of Emma's stomach.
The flesh here is pale; slightly concave, before being pulled taut over the ridge of her hip bones. The Mayor bites at the inside of her cheek pensively as she examines thin, silver stretch marks marring either side of the peaks created by the blonde's pelvis. The significance of those marks hurts her much more deeply than she would have thought; the visual reminder that her son will now never truly belong to her- just her- again not something she'd been prepared for.
Hesitating for only a moment, she tentatively touches one of the damning silver marks; scolding herself as jealousy prickles in her eyes and threatens to spill out onto her cheeks.
A darker scar runs down from beneath the folds of the white top Regina holds bunched up in her fingers, and she pushes the thin cotton higher to reveal the full expanse of the purple-tinged mark. The scar runs jaggedly from just below the blonde's delicately stacked ribcage- slightly raised- to stop an inch or so above her navel. The darker woman analyzes the long-healed injury with interest, and she recalls making a snide comment as to how Henry would be mortified to know his jail-bird mother had cut his umbilical chord with a shiv. The remark had been designed to be nasty, and Emma had responded with her regular dose of bad attitude and rolling of eyes. Now though, observing the crude scarring to the blonde's torso, Regina wonders if that particular comment had perhaps been a little too close to home. Frowning, she takes in Emma's soft blonde hair, dusky lashes and pretty complexion, and contemplates for the first time how tough incarceration for the Deputy must have been.
She traces a thoughtful finger over the cruel scar, and bites back a scream as the blonde's fingers twitch on the sofa.
Hastily attempting to lower the Deputy's top, Regina backs up as much as her kneeling position will allow her to, and busies herself with the first aid kit; selecting a plaster for the gash to the younger woman's leg, which- she becomes sardonically aware- has started bleeding again unnoticed. Emma jerks into a coughing fit; her body shaking with the intensity of her lungs trying to rid her system of any lingering smoke. The Mayor's cheeks tinge a delicate pink as she realises that a large portion of Emma's stomach remains on display, but she casts her eyes back down to the plaster in her hand as she waits for the younger woman's hacking to cease. Finally, Emma blinks at her blearily, before raising herself up onto her elbows to contemplate her surroundings with confusion and mild alarm.
"Why, Miss Swan, how lovely of you to join us."
"What... What happened?"
The blonde's voice is hoarse and broken and she hates the weakness behind it. Pulling distractedly at the material of her top so that it covers her stomach, she musses up her hair habitually. Regina smirks at her, neatly ripping open a disinfectant wipe.
"It appears you got a little over-excited after your brief show of heroics earlier, causing you to elect to follow me home uninvited with your mouth running faster than your head, dear"
"Oh right, that. Well, as for my 'brief show of heroics', Madame Mayor, you're welcome!"
Emma glowers at the darker woman, hissing through gritted teeth as the latter swabs a strong-smelling wipe over her knee with deliberate roughness. Bending her leg to see the damage better, the blonde causes a fresh rivet of blood to trickle down her shin. Rolling her eyes, Regina forcefully pushes the younger woman's knee back down towards the sofa and clears up the dribble descending towards Emma's sock.
"Hold still, Miss Swan! I'd rather you didn't get any of yourself on my sofa!"
Emma sniffs moodily but complies, doing her best not to flinch as Regina presses soft gauze firmly over the wound.
"I'm afraid it'll most likely leave a scar."
Regina sighs, and Emma shrugs and raises her leg slightly to allow the brunette to wrap a thin bandage around her knee to hold the gauze in place.
"That's ok, it's not like I get my legs out much anyway."
The Mayor's cheeks pinken slightly at this as she pins the bandage in place. Pulling the tatters of Emma's jeans down, she is met with a sharp cry.
"What the hell did you do to my pants?!"
Regina raises an eyebrow and points coquettishly at the scissors lying next to her.
"Cut them, Miss Swan. I could of course have just left the injury to bleed and get infected, but, as saving you the hassle of a tetanus shot seemed like the perfect chance to repay you for your valiant efforts this morning, I was forced to remove them. And, given that you insist on wearing garments that fit you like a second skin, I was really left with only one option..."
"You couldn't have just taken them off?!"
"Miss Swan, I hardly think that would have been appropriate..."
"I was unaware the whole damn town would be alerted as to your actions in a medical crisis!"
Regina scoffs and quickly gets to her feet; suddenly aware that with Emma awake, she doesn't like being lower than the blonde. Hands on hips, she surveys the younger woman critically, the corners of her mouth twitching slightly as Emma makes a futile attempt to join the ruined flaps of her jeans back together.
"Would you like me to fetch a stapler?"
The blonde spares her a murderous glower, before swinging herself off the sofa and testing her weight tentatively on her leg. Finding she can walk on it with minimal discomfort, she promptly searches for her jacket. Upon locating it and throwing it on, she walks cautiously over to stand before Regina.
"Look... Thanks for, um, cleaning me up."
She extends a hand out awkwardly; not entirely sure if the Mayor will shake it or bite it. When Regina simply proceeds to choke back a bout of laughter unsuccessfully, Emma growls and retracts her hand swiftly; eyeing the darker woman furiously, but also with a little hurt. Regina quickly pulls herself back under control and steps in front of the blonde as the latter attempts to storm angrily past her.
The slight limp the younger woman exhibits as she does so only adds to the previous reason for the Mayor's mirth and she chuckles again, placing a hand on the Deputy's arm to stop her.
"I apologize, Miss Swan, but with your pants flapping around your leg like that, you really do look even more ridiculous than usual."
"No thanks to you!"
Ignoring the younger woman's grumbling, Regina flicks her hair back irritably.
"Wait here, you will just have to borrow something to make your way home in."
She saunters upstairs and returns a few minutes later with a pair of dark slacks and hands them to Emma, who holds them up against herself uncertainly; slim fingers barely gripping the fabric as if afraid it might turn on her. Regina watches on with mild amusement.
"You really couldn't have just taken my pants off?"
The Mayor rolls her eyes and taps a heeled foot on the ground impatiently.
"I'm afraid knowing the color and style of the town Deputy's underpants is not a notion I'm particularly taken with..."
Emma surprises her by laughing at this and rolling her own eyes in return. She places the slacks on the armrest of the sofa, before pointedly working loose the belt of her jeans. Regina sighs and makes a show of averting her eyes while the blonde steps out of the tattered denim and crumples what's left up to be thrown away. Giving the slacks one more doubtful shake, she steps into them gingerly.
She struggles to pull the crisp fabric up over her thighs and almost loses her balance, causing Regina to glance up at the odd movement. The brunette's eyes widen as she catches a glimpse of pale flesh before Emma manages to pull the slacks on fully, and she blushes slightly as she now knows exactly what color and style the Deputy prefers when it comes to her underpants.
"If I had known said Deputy's salacious tastes went only so far as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cotton shorties, I would have been more willing to take her jeans off."
"Yeah? Well, sorry to disappoint; all my crotchless leathers are in the wash. Perhaps next time?"
Regina snorts lightly and watches the blonde struggle to find a comfortable place for the slacks to sit on her hips. They fit her awkwardly; stretched tight over her thighs, and falling a little short at her ankles. She regards Regina sullenly, shifting her weight from side to side slightly to try and create some give in the uncomfortably tight material. The open smirk on the Mayor's face is therefore infuriating, and she tosses her hair back irritably; stormy eyes daring the older woman to make a remark.
The effect is somewhat lost as, with her red jacket, biker boots and murderous expression, the ill-fitting pants just look all the more ridiculous.
"I suggest, Miss Swan, that you refrain from sitting down in those, unless you wish to display those cute little shorties to anyone unfortunate enough to be present."
"Ah, fat-jokes, my cue to leave."
"Fat, no, but you do look ridiculous..."
"I am acutely aware of this..."
"Perhaps you would rather I fetched you a skirt?"
Emma raises an eyebrow, offering the darker woman a burlesque shudder before turning for the door.
"Good day, Madame Mayor".