"You're late."

Emma sighs. She hasn't worn a watch since she was seventeen and so has no way of knowing whether the Mayor's accusation rings true.

"And you don't look sick."

Regina admonishes with a raised eyebrow, but she is already moving aside to let the Sheriff enter the grand hall to her mansion. Her critical stare softens a little as she watches the blonde check her boots- black, sleek, not a pair the brunette has seen before- for mud, before deeming them to be clean enough to wear inside. With a slow smile, she beckons the younger woman into the drawing room where she has already built up a fire to roaring.

"I guess I'm feeling better..."

"I see... Well, they do say that you can never be too careful, Miss Swan."

"Umm, I guess they do..."

Emma follows Regina over to the twin sofas that sit by the hearth with a mixed sense of anticipation and apprehension. She feels oddly shy at the arranged formality of their evening, and runs her finger over the seam of the couch thoughtfully as the brunette goes about searching the narrow drawer of her liquor cabinet for a bottle opener. The heavy silence which accompanies the older woman's search has the Sheriff clearing her throat while she struggles with her own stubborn nature to try and hold a regular conversation.

"You look very nice."

The Mayor turns round to regard her guest with surprise- casual compliments free of innuendo not something she'd thought the blonde had in her- and glances down at her attire thoughtfully.

"Thank you, Miss Swan... As do you."

Regina watches with interest as the Sheriff blushes slightly and stares awkwardly down at her knees. She had actually been being entirely sincere; Emma's attire refreshingly flattering despite still falling in line with her general 'not to be fucked with' uniform way of dressing. She settles her gaze for just a moment longer on tight black jeans, a deep scarlet shirt and the cropped black leather jacket she recognizes to be the one the Sheriff had lent her to make her way home in, before going back to searching the contents of the drawer. She wonders what the blonde sees when she looks in the mirror; her tendency to blush and look uncomfortable when complimented in a way devoid of any sexual connotation most perplexing. She supposes she could ask her, but she knows she won't.

Locating the corkscrew and opening a darkened glass bottle of vintage wine with an audible pop, the brunette pours the intensely red liquid into a delicate crystal glass. Turning to Emma, she offers her a polite smile- the perfect hostess- before making her way over to the door.

"Excuse me a moment."

The Sheriff nods, unsure what to expect. She eyes the singular glass of wine that rests atop the liquor cabinet curiously; subconsciously wetting her lips with her tongue.

Oh hell, but she could use a drink.

Deciding to simply wait and find out why Regina has poured just the one glass, she shrugs off her jacket and shimmies a few inches closer to the enticing warmth of the fire which dances about the hearth. So many aspects of this evening are disarmingly reminiscent of their previous escapades in this room, but she muses upon the tangible fact that something is also encouragingly different. Things seem more relaxed somehow. Nerve-wrackingly 'date-like'... But relaxed just the same.

"Sorry, I thought I had everything ready..."

Regina sashays gracefully back into view, a small bucket with what sounds like ice in her hand as she makes her way back over to the liquor cabinet. Emma marvels at how this lack of organization seems to have the brunette peculiarly flustered; dark eyes shining tantalizingly as the Mayor fusses with a few segments of lime before opening the cabinet doors and withdrawing a narrow highball glass and a bottle of what the blonde recognizes instantly as Jack Daniels.

Regina marvels at the fact that the pretty red shirt the blonde wears turns out to be sleeveless and slightly sheer.

Filling the highball with ice, the brunette splashes over a healthy dose of bourbon; the amber liquid hissing and crackling as it hits the frozen cubes. She places a wedge of lime on the side of the glass, almost certain the blonde is grinning at the action, but supposes there's no way she can know for sure as Emma sits behind her. Taking the whisky and wine over to the table, she hands Emma the highball and takes a seat opposite her, indulging herself in a deep sip of wine before cleaning its delicious residue delicately from her lips.

"I wasn't sure what brand you preferred..."

"Oh, I'm not particularly loyal; I'll drink just about anything..."

The blonde winks jokingly, but her tone carries a touch of seriousness and her eyes convey in them an understanding that the Mayor has gone to the effort of trying to please her. She is a little surprised the brunette seems to have remembered what she had told her about preferring whisky to wine, and grins accordingly. Regina smirks back at her, but humor twinkles in her dark, hooded eyes.

"That hardly comes as a surprise, Miss Swan..."

Emma scowls momentarily, but her lips remain tellingly raised at the corners. Shaking out her long hair, she regards the brunette seriously as she takes a sip of the pleasantly potent liquid in her hand.

"I never did thank you, did I?"

"What for?"

"Earlier...You..."

"...I did nothing for which you need to thank me, dear..."

Regina stares into the dark liquid that pools in her glass thoughtfully; avoiding the Sheriff's blazing green stare for fear that the younger woman will be able to see right past her eyes and into her soul. For fear that she would find out...Well... Everything.

"You were kind to me... Not for the first time either..."

"Your surprise at this is truly flattering."

"You know what I mean... You didn't have to stay and make sure I was okay like that..."

"Well, dear, it's not as if I wasn't rewarded for doing so..."

She quickly camouflages the slight bitterness from her tone.

"I guess... I'm sorry about that..."

"Sorry about what?"

Shaped eyebrows arch curiously as the brunette glances up to find the younger woman's gaze. Emma drops her eyes to her knees once more, cheeks pinkening as her brow furrows slightly.

"For being so... Persistent... I didn't really know how to deal with you being so nice to me, and I was worried I'd made things weird by asking questions and I... I wanted to thank you I guess, and I'm not too good at doing that with words..."

"Remind me to hold you in my debt more often!"

Regina laughs huskily; studying the younger woman as she stumbles over her words and her blush deepens. The Sheriff's eyes flash with irritation, but the brunette is sure such feelings are self-directed, and she watches as the blonde quickly knocks back the remaining bourbon in her glass. Staring into the empty void pensively, Emma carries on in a tone so low the Mayor has to struggle to make out her words.

"I shouldn't have done it... And I shouldn't have made it sound like I wanted you gone afterwards... Sometimes I'm just not-"

"-Stop it."

Regina gets up swiftly and takes a seat beside the blonde; her insides aching a little at the anguish in deep green eyes.

"You did nothing wrong, Emma."

"But you... Did you even want to?"

"Are you seriously even bothering to ask me that? Of course I did... Why, do you think I would have let you if I didn't?!"

"No, but I..."

"I just didn't want things to go as fast as they were."

"...Sorry..."

"I didn't want them to go that fast, you stupid girl, because I didn't want them to be finished so soon!... You did nothing wrong."

The brunette studies the blonde's reaction awkwardly, inwardly a little shocked at the ease of her admission. Clearly she isn't alone, as the Sheriff looks up at her slowly; bright eyes wary as though she is readying herself for the punchline of some ill-meaning joke.

Not this time.

Regina leans forwards slowly, her intent crucially clear but her actions slow and controlled. Dark eyes forbid the younger woman from dropping her gaze, as she brings a gentle hand to a pale cheek and closes the gap between the blonde's lips and her own. For a long time she offers just the gentlest of brushes over the Sheriff's waiting mouth, humming appreciatively as the younger woman kisses back but makes no further move to speed things along.

With her hand still cupped to the blonde's face, the brunette buries the other within thick, honey-scented hair, moving so that she sits a little closer and letting out a small noise of approval when slim fingers find her sides and play maddening patterns across her ribs. She deepens their kiss, absently musing on just how fully in favor she is of Emma's poison of choice now that the tang of the whisky touches her own tongue; the blonde's still oddly cool from the ice.

Poison of choice...Interesting choice of phrase there, don't you think?

She groans inwardly, begging her internal monologue to just stop and let her have this. To let her enjoy the vital warmth that thrums from the body beneath her fingertips.

She loses her train of thought when the blonde very tentatively offers up her bottom lip; allowing sharp teeth to scrape over the sensitive flesh. Regina moves her hand from the Sheriff's cheek to her chin, holding her carefully in place as she gently takes her lip between her teeth and applies just the slightest amount of pressure.

Strong fingers find her waist.

"Wait."

Emma pulls back instantly, taking her lip between her own teeth now in a strikingly different fashion and chewing nervously. The brunette watches this curiously, regarding the Sheriff reflectively and feeling as though her entire being is engulfed with fire. When she continues, her voice is low and steady, but she inwardly suffers with her own bitter nerves.

What if she says no?

"Take your drink. You can take the bottle if you like... I'd like to go upstairs... To my room."

She doesn't think the blonde will protest, but she knows Emma well enough to be aware that intimacy is not something she is particularly comfortable with. There is a small chance- a very small chance, but a hateful one- that the Sheriff will simply refuse, or, more likely, stammer her way through another excuse so that she can escape such a vulnerable situation.

"Lead the way."

Emma pushes herself up and grabs the Jack Daniel's bottle between slim fingers. She reaches for the wine the brunette has been drinking as well, but Regina shakes her head and taps her fingers gently away. After experiencing the bitter-sweet taste of the bourbon on the blonde's tongue, she sees no way that taste can be beaten. Giving the younger woman one last lingering kiss as the Sheriff holds the whisky bottle carefully out to the side, the Mayor hesitates for only a moment, before she laces her fingers between Emma's and leads her silently out into the hall and to the stairs.

She waits tensely for the blonde to pull her hand away.

She can almost taste the discomfort emanating from the other woman.

She almost lets go herself, deciding not to push the younger woman too far too fast.

As she loosens her fingers, they are grasped more firmly within their pale cousins.

Smiling secretively into the darkness that paints the hall, she renews her hold and pulls the Sheriff slowly to her room.