That was all it took for Regina's new show, Bounty Hunter: Boston to be cancelled.
Regina Mills – famed television writer-turned-producer; creator of SBTV's highest rated show ever, Snow Falls; she had writing credits on over thirty separate programs from New York's highest rating-puller station. And here she was, with a cancellation notice politely labelled Ms. Mills in the station's personalized font sitting crookedly on her desk, out of place amongst the obsessively straightened possessions covering the heavy maple frame.
Sidney, her secretary, had tried to reassure her. "Everyone's got to have a few flops, Regina. Not every program can make it to air." She had bared her teeth at him and unceremoniously ordered him to leave, nearly dragging him out herself when he protested. How dare he suggest that her show was a- a flop? Regina Mills did not have flops. No, the reason for this show's cancellation was much simpler.
She had known it would be a mistake to hire the blond 'up-and-coming' star. Regina had wanted – well, she didn't know who she had wanted to fill the role of Sarah Ryder, but it sure as hell wasn't that bimbo. She had waltzed into the open casting and apparently easily impressed her head of casting, Graham – who, Regina could admit, was not usually easily impressed.
"You'll love her, Regina. Perfect for the role. Tough, emotional – her looks don't hurt either." Regina had just snorted and told him to think with the head that housed his brain. She had agreed to cast his choice in the pilot, to see how it ran with the test viewers. They had loved her.
Regina, on the other hand, did not.
Emma Swan was vulgar, rude, and did not seem to respect that Regina could fire her with a flick of her wrist, just like magic. She had constantly turned up late or disarrayed for work – "Sorry! Had a bit of an accident," being her usual greeting to the cast and crew. She never seemed to memorize – or even read – the scripts Regina had delivered to the blonde's apartment. The crew was endlessly scrambling to write cue cards should Emma forget her lines, which was apparently every scene. The funding department had spent more on markers and cardboard than they had on costumes.
And still, the viewers had loved her. No, it was the plot, the writing, that had brought the show down. That was what the reviewers had said. It was impossible. Regina Mills did not write bad shows. She wasn't the only writer on the team, of course – there was a roster of seven different writers swapped out from the other programs to write for the new show – but she was head writer, and that meant she signed off on every script. Which brought the responsibility of this cancellation directly back to her.
Groaning, Regina pinched the skin of her forehead and rubbed it in small circles, trying to ease the building headache that was threatening to flare. She was just about to call out for Sidney to cancel her meetings for the rest of the day and head home when a loud, ungraceful knock penetrated the walls of her office.
"Regina? You in there? Helloooo- oh." Emma stopped suddenly when the door had been flung open, revealing the flustered brunette.
"Ms Swan." Regina asked through gritted teeth. She was going to skin Sidney for letting the blonde into her office. Anyone who wanted an appointment with Regina Mills usually had a three week wait before them. "May I ask why my secretary didn't stop you? Not that the pleasure of your company is unwelcome, of course." Her tone suggested otherwise.
"You have a secretary? Oh, that guy at the desk out there? He let me in. Said you didn't have any meetings for half an hour." Emma slunk past Regina, who was still holding the open door, and threw herself onto the black leather couch. Regina made a mental note to flay Sidney alive later.
"Can I help you with something, Ms Swan, or are you just here to pester me? I can assure you, I have many other things to be doing besides mollycoddling you."
"Geez, relax, your majesty. Too high and mighty for a lowly actress like me? Might want to take that stick out."
"A failed actress, you mean," Regina retorted, ignoring the blonde's tasteless remark.
"Hey, the show wouldn't have flopped if your team had taken my input."
"You don't get to offer input, Ms Swan. Your input would have turned my show into a B-grade soft pornography."
"Hey! What was wrong with my suggestions?" Emma protested.
Regina smirked at the other woman before striding across her office to one of many labelled filing cabinets. It took her less than ten seconds to select the correct drawer and rummage through it, withdrawing a torn, wrinkled piece of paper.
"You kept that-" Regina quickly cut the blonde off.
"Item one. The heroine should always carry a gun, which she fires at least twice an episode."
"What's wrong with that?"
"You played a bounty hunter, Ms Swan, not a gun-toting lunatic. And I'm fairly sure that's illegal in most states."
"You would know."
Regina rolled her eyes. "Item number two, Ms Swan. The heroine should have a talking animal sidekick."
"Heaps of heroes having talking pets!"
"Not bounty hunters in Massachusetts." Emma's indignant frown grew deeper. "Item three. The heroine should always wear leather. What on earth were you thinking with this one, Ms Swan?"
"Leather is sexy."
"It's impractical to run around and catch miscreants in. It's tight, it's hot, and it's also highly expensive," she added, looking down her nose at Emma.
"Y'know, you sure know a lot about leather, Regina." Regina turned to smile widely at Emma, who couldn't help but feel unsettled.
"That's none of your concern, dear." The blank look the blonde's face produced was almost worth the disruption in her office. Almost. "And finally, item four. The heroine should only be attracted to members of the female gender."
"There's nothing wrong with that!"
"Of course there's not, dear, except that we had already hired Mr Booth to play your love interest, and you insisted on eyeing every female character on set like they were a piece of meat. There was no chemistry between you two! You barely even looked at him during your scenes together."
"Ugh. Don't get me wrong, Regina, August is a great guy, but he acts like he's made of wood. You couldn't pay me to hook up with him."
"That is what we were paying you for, Ms Swan."
"You can't buy chemistry, 'Gina. It's… well… it's chemical," Emma declared.
Regina rolled her eyes. "Thank you for that wisdom, Ms Swan. Truly enlightening. Now, was there anything you actually wanted before I kick you out of my office?"
"What? Oh, yeah! Gold sent me here."
"That's Mr Gold."
"Right, whatever. Mr Gold. He wanted me to tell you there's a staff meeting for the cancellation tomorrow at ten, Meeting Room 3."
"Did he say why he couldn't just send a memo to Sidney, instead of sending you to invade my office?" Mr Gold was SBTV's CEO, and despite spending much of his time trying to infuriate Regina with his petty favours, he knew how to run a station – which left Regina wondering why he had turned her latest starlet into a messenger girl.
"Yeah, he said you would have probably already left if I didn't get here in time, and that you'd be ignoring all calls. Can't stand to lose for once, Regina?" Emma smirked. Eyes flashing dangerously, Regina slowly advanced to the woman on the black leather couch. "Lost? You think I lost, Ms Swan? I'm not the reason the show got cancelled. Maybe if you had focused on reading your scripts rather than sleeping off one night stands, we might have made it past three episodes." She stopped advancing when she was less than an arm's length from the blonde, glaring down at her ominously.
"Oh, so now my sex life is what got us cancelled? Y'know, considering you look like you haven't been laid since the dinosaurs became extinct, I'd say you were jealous."
"Oh, you should be so lucky, Ms Swan." This time it was Regina's turn to smirk. Emma shifted in her seat uncomfortably. "Now, if you're quite done with this childish intrusion, I'd like you to leave my office." And preferably never come back, she thought.
"Whatever, Regina. I'll see you at the meeting tomorrow anyway." Emma stood up, peeling her skin away from Regina's leather couch. The bitch was right, she mused.
"I thought the meeting was for staff only?" Regina asked sharply.
Emma shrugged. "Gold asked me to come too. Something about 'future plans', I think? See you tomorrow, 'Gina." Emma left the office to the sound of Regina grinding her teeth. The one good thing to come out of this cancellation was the fact that she wouldn't have to see the actress again, and now Gold was cooking up one scheme or another. Regina resolved to make sure that Ms Swan was reassigned to a different department – she might make a barely decent weathergirl, maybe – if she couldn't get rid of her altogether. Usually a cancellation would move a budding actress to the bottom of the proverbial heap, but Mr Gold seemed to have a fixation with the blonde.
Rolling her temples between her fingertips again, Regina grasped her purse and strode from the office, ignoring Sidney's attempts to get her attention. She decided that a glass or two of red wine would not be entirely undeserved.
"I'm telling you, Ruby, she's the biggest bitch I've ever met. She, like… feeds off the misery of others. She's some sort of… emotion succubus!" Emma dropped her head onto the dirty bar counter, much to her friend Ruby's distaste.
"She's not that bad. I've worked with her way longer than you have, babe. You get used to her after a while." Ruby was one of SBTV's biggest successes, having risen to fame as a minor character in Snow Falls. She mostly did minor appearances and promotions for the station nowadays, proclaiming she 'needed a break' from the life of an actress. Emma had snorted when she heard that, knowing that all Ruby really wanted was more time with her girlfriend Belle.
"I know, but she must have liked you for some ungodly reason. She treats me like an unwanted piece of gum under her shoe or something." Emma signalled the bartender for another shot.
"Wouldn't anyone not want a piece of gum on their shoe?"
"You know what I mean, Rubes. She's driving me mad." Emma downed the shot that had just appeared in front of her and called for another. Ruby glanced at her, frowning. "Don't you think you've had enough? I thought you said you had a meeting tomorrow."
"I'm fine, Ruby. Just a few more shots, okay?" Ruby shrugged noncommittally. Emma went back to mulling over her empty glass. A few minutes, and substantially more shots, passed before Emma spoke again.
"How the fuck does she get into those tight-ass pencil skirts anyway? Does she paint them on?"
"Who?" asked Ruby, confused.
"Regina. Have you seen those things? They're practically safety hazards. I don't think she should be allowed to wear those to work."
Ruby just shook her head. "You've definitely had too much, babe. I'm going to the bathroom. When I get back, we're going, okay?" Emma didn't respond, staring blankly at her glass with glazed eyes. Ruby didn't want to know what she was picturing. "Wait right here, okay?" she repeated, hoping Emma would show some sign of having heard. Nothing. Ruby walked away with a sigh, hoping that Emma could just stay in one place for a few minutes.
Emma barely noticed Ruby leaving, distracted by her own thoughts. It was Regina that had distracted her from learning her lines in the first place, with her black stilettos and her tight skirts and her unbuttoned blouses and her stupid sexy smirk. Regina had wanted her to fail. That bitch. Emma stood up, sending a quick text to Ruby as she made to leave.
Need to talk to Regina about the show. See you later. Emma
Emma still remembered Regina's penthouse apartment from a Snow Falls premiere party a few years ago, where she'd gone as Ruby's plus-one. She hadn't even noticed the host back then, preferring to spend the night flirting with Ruby's particularly attractive co-host Belle, who had in turn spent the night flirting with Emma's date herself. Emma figured that Regina's apartment couldn't be more than twenty blocks from the bar. How big could New York be, anyway?
Regina had just finished her second glass of wine when a knock interrupted her bedtime preparations. She glanced across to her intercom, but it hadn't been paged. How did anyone get up here? Another loud, uncoordinated knock followed, accompanied by a brash yell.
"Regina, let me in! So help me, I will knock this door down." Regina narrowed her eyes instantly, recognizing Emma's voice. She strode angrily to the door and flung it open. "Ms Swan, you better have a good reason to be at my apartment at one in the morning, or I am going to personally murder you. How did you even get up here?"
"Some man let me in. Recognized me from the show. And I have a goddamn reason, Regina. I…" Emma trailed off as she noticed Regina's outfit, consisting of a black silk robe, and god-knew-what underneath it.
"Yes? You what?" A response from the blonde was not forthcoming. Regina snarled at her, sniffing distastefully. "You stink of liquor."
"I'm not the only one who's been drinking," Emma retorted, gesturing to the half full bottle of Merlot on Regina's coffee table. Regina rolled her eyes. "Yes, Ms Swan, but I'm the only one who can apparently control herself."
"I'm not drunk," Emma protested. "Maybe I'm a little tipsy, that's it."
Regina barely resisted the urge to physically haul the blonde from her apartment herself. "Since you appear to have no actual reason for being here, I'm asking you to leave. Right now. And rest assured, this incident is going to be reported to Human Resources for harassment."
"Harassment? Fuck off, 'Gina. This isn't harassment."
"Ms Swan, your language is entirely-" Regina's latest insult was cut off as Emma pushed her against the wall, bringing their lips together passionately. Regina tried to struggle away from the kiss, but Emma held her tightly, one arm around Regina's waist and the other tangled in her short black hair. Pressing their bodies together, Emma trailed her mouth down Regina's neck. "Now this is harassment, 'Gina." Breathing roughly, Regina tried again. "Ms Swan, you need to-" Her demands were met with Emma sucking harshly on her neck, leaving a mark that was sure to last days, before reclaiming the brunette's lips. And suddenly, Regina pushed back, deepening the kiss herself. Some part of Regina's mind was screaming at her to stop, but she ignored it, pushing at Emma's mouth with her tongue, seeking entrance. Emma acquired almost instantly, allowing the intrusion as she lowered her hand to grasp Regina's ass and pull her even closer, grinding her jean-clad legs against Regina's silk robe. Pulling away from the kiss, Emma nipped at Regina's neck, tracing her jawline up to her ear before gently biting on it. "Fuck, I want you, Regina," she breathed into her ear.
Regina growled in agreement. The blonde wouldn't have been her first choice for something like this, but it had been too long since her last time and she was sure that the other woman's mouth would be useful for more than just half-rate arguments. Regina was already deciding just where she'd like it first when a blaring noise made the pair jump apart.
"Straddle the line in discord and rhyme, I'm on the hunt I'm after you, mouth is alive with juices like wine and I'm hungry like the wolf…"
"Fuck," Emma muttered, reaching into her back pocket for her phone. Flicking it open, she snarled into the device. "What do you want, Ruby?" Regina pushed the blonde away as she regained her senses, tightening her robe around herself. "Yes, I know what time it is. No, I'm fine. Yeah, tomorrow. See you then. Say goodnight to Belle for me." She flipped the phone shut with a snap. "Regina-"
"You need to leave, Ms Swan. This was a mistake. I'll see you at the meeting, and you are not to mention this again under any circumstances. Ever." She gestured to the door. "You can let yourself out." She spun around, marching to her own room and locking the door with a soft click, and hoping the blonde would actually leave. Moments later, she heard the door slam, and breathed a sigh of relief over the beats of her wildly pacing heart.
What the hell was that? She thought.
AN: Thanks for reading! This is my first real fanfiction, so let me know what you think by leaving a review. New chapter should be up soon if you guys want it, with a bit of an M rating. Cheers! - chromoplasted