Whatever her flaws, Regina didn't gloat. When she said she wanted to discuss her pregnancy, she agreed to meet at Granny's for lunch—an arrangement that suited Emma fine. Nice and safe. Regina wore one of her outfits that made her only look like a demi-god deigning to eat with mere mortals, while Emma found a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee to go with her red jacket. The two of them sat across from each other in a booth and actually discussed Lamaze classes, doctors, and baby names. It was nice.
Then Ruby closed the blinds.
Emma looked up instantly from the plate of fries Regina hadn't given her hell over. Her spider-sense was tingling. "What's up?
"Nothing, nothing. Just felt like a change. We have gone, like, twenty-eight years without pulling the blinds down…" Ruby hustled off.
Emma watched her go, suspicious until Regina pulled her attention back. "Now then, what would you name the baby, if you had any choice in the world? If I died giving birth, say, and you were the only parent."
"Mmmm…" Emma chewed a fry. "Is it a boy or a girl?"
"Let's say a girl."
"Gee, that's a tough one. I don't know. Do they give you a while to decide or does it have to be right away?"
Regina's eyes narrowed. "Well, you could name it after me. Seeing as I just died and all."
Emma's head reared back. "I feel like that was a trap."
"No, it's alright, by all means, name her after your favorite Game of Thrones character while I'm being buried in the cold hard Earth…"
"Hey, since you named Henry after your dad, maybe I should name your kid after one of my parents. Little baby Mary-Margaret. How's that sound?"
Regina choked a little. "Let's discuss it being a boy. I am open to naming him after someone from your life. August, Neal, Jefferson—you do get around."
"Let's not name a baby after one of my ex-boyfriends, okay, that's weird. V.C. Andrews weird."
Ruby returned, setting a lit candle on the darkened table. Once more she bustled off.
Emma poked the candle. "I can never tell the difference between these scented candles. They all smell like tree. That tree smell."
"Rustic Roman, I think," Regina said after a sniff.
Ruby returned with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. "Wine?"
Regina gratefully took a glass. "Why, thank you, dear."
Emma's brow was furrowed. "Since when do you serve wine?"
"Oh, I had Granny run out to get some. Told her if she didn't, I'd tell people about her shrine to Tommy Lee Jones." Ruby blinked for a moment. "Enjoy!"
"Ruby, wait, why are you serving us wine? And dimming the light and putting out candles?"
Ruby's customer-service smile was frozen solid. "No reason! I do it for many, many non-platonic couples!" She leaned over to Regina and whispered. "Take off your shoe and rub her foot."
"Ruby!" Regina slapped the table. "I certainly will not!"
"We're not a couple," Emma insisted. "We haven't had sex—except for that one time—and that doesn't make you a couple, does it?"
"Well, Belle and I aren't a couple, so I guess not…"
"It's free wine, Emma," Regina pointed out.
Emma sipped hers. She had to admit, Regina had a point. Still… "I don't want people to think you wore me down into dating you, like I'm some Tamagotchi and you just kept feeding me and cleaning my poop until I…" She turned to Ruby. "What is it Tamagotchis do, anyway?"
"Nothing, I don't think."
"Really? Nothing? Christ, the 90s were dumb. Tickle Me fucking Elmo, too…" Emma shook her head. "Anyway, I want to actually have some say in who my own damn genitals touch. Otherwise, I might as well just ho myself out to the first guy that gives me a boat."
"Do you want a boat?" Regina asked.
"Cleaning her poop?" Ruby repeated absently.
"Scram," Emma told her, and Ruby diligently scrammed, returning only to set the jukebox to its most romantic Tom Jones song.
"I don't know what to tell you, Emma," Regina said. "I've been on my best behavior. You have sex with me while blitzed on non-alcoholic eggnog, which was no one's fault but yours and my dildo's. Then I made courtship arrangements with your parents, which is the custom in our homeland. Then you invited me on a date, only to treat me abominably in an attempt to drive me off, so your intentions are quite clear. I fully intend to move on, Ms. Swan."
"Yeah, right." Emma rolled her eyes. "You've been playing this whole… game just to mess with me. You don't really want to date me, you just know pretending to like me will annoy me way more than being a bitch. You're Bugs Bunny and I'm Elmer Fudd. No, you're Pepe Le Pew… wait, am I Pepe Le Pew? You might be Donald Duck."
"Daffy Duck," Regina corrected. "Donald Duck was Disney."
"About everything. And have you stopped to consider that you're a strong-willed, resilient young woman of great beauty and impressive mystical power?" Regina leaned forward. "And we already share a son. Why wouldn't I want to date you?"
"Okay, don't do that."
"Don't do what?"
"Don't charm me. I don't want to be charmed!"
Regina shook her head. "I don't understand modern dating. Do you want to use that phone app? Is that how people do it now?"
"I do," Ruby said, returning to bring them a milkshake with two straws.
"Ruby, I said—" Emma began. "No, this is fine. Chocolate, right?"
"Yes, fine." Emma slurped on the straw.
"You're not going to share that, are you?" Regina asked.
Emma slurped more aggressively. "Alright, if you honestly want a relationship, I want to be won over."
"You just said—"
"There's won over and then there's worn down. Worn down is leaving a million messages on my answering machines until I agree to date you."
"Answering machine? What is this, the Middle Ages?" Regina shook her head. "No, it isn't, I'm from the Middle Ages."
Emma groaned. "I want you to find a golden fleece or slay a dragon or something to be with me. That's fair, right?"
"You've killed the only dragon in town, dear. And she was a rather good friend of mine, besides." Regina looked away thoughtfully. "There is Pete's dragon…"
"Don't kill Pete's dragon, that poor kid's been through enough."
"So I'm simply expected to wait around, being pregnant and single, until some crazy adventure comes along and gives me a chance to prove my undying semi-approval of you? What if I get horny?"
"What, queen of sex can't get herself off?"
"I was always the queen. You were the one who added 'of sex' to my name."
"I don't even remember doing that! I was blitzed on non-alcoholic eggnog!"
"That really isn't how non-alcoholic eggnog works. Are you sure you're not allergic to either egg or nog?"
"You're the one who keeps saying our night together was like a porno version of The Exorcist. How do I know you didn't just… lesbian for a few seconds before rolling over and going to sleep? And don't do some 'only a woman knows what a woman wants' 'lesbians are awesome' kick. I find it sexist. If some guy said that only a man can satisfy a woman—"
"Is that milkshake giving you a sugar rush?" Regina asked.
Emma paused. "I had some M&Ms before I got here."
Regina nodded to herself.
"If I had put them in my pocket, they would've melted." Emma took an angry suck on her milkshake. "You know what? I'm calling your bluff. I'll spend the night at your place, and if you actually manage to get me off like you claim you can, I'll be your girlfriend."
"You're sure you don't want me to kill Pete's dragon?" Regina stole one of Emma's fries and munched it mockingly. "At least that'd be a bit of a challenge."
"Just because someone's cute, doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Ask my dating life: Fred Laymon, Billy Presley, Hayden Christensen…"
"You know what our sex life was like? Sand. Sand."
That very night, Emma went over to Regina's place. She made an effort to look her best, but, looking at the combined efforts of her limited wardrobe and a body that only Michelle Rodriguez could love, she admitted she was no Kate Upton. Still, she shaved her legs, brushed her teeth and even her tongue. Very abruptly, she wanted to do right by Regina.
She showed up at Regina's precisely on time—if they were having sex, that was probably the kind of thing Regina would get off on—and as she rang the doorbell, she thought maybe Regina would be dressed down too. She herself was wearing a little black dress: not too modest, not too provocative, and most importantly, not too expensive. She'd wear it to a PTA meeting if there were any halfway decent-looking teachers there. Maybe Regina would follow suit.
Then Regina opened the door. Damnit, Emma thought. The former mayor was wearing a red latex dress. It wasn't exactly revealing, cutting off just above her knees, but still, it was like being on a date with a superheroine from the kind of comic books she didn't let Henry read.
"Mmm. You're right on time," Regina drawled. So, Emma was right about the punctuality thing.
Regina showed her inside, turning on the stereo with a remote (classical music) and taking a cooling pie (apple) off the windowsill. As they so often did, the two women had ended up in the kitchen.
"A little bite to eat before we get started?" Regina asked, pouring Emma a glass of milk. "I'm sure you came here in the mood for something sweet."
"If we're going to do double entendres, I think you should know I'm not very good at those."
"Oh? You're bad then?"
"Yes. Very bad. At double entendres." Emma blinked. "See what I mean?" She took a plate of warm apple pie and a fork, both gleefully offered by Regina. "By the way, no jokes about pie."
"That'd be too obvious," Regina agreed. "Enjoying the music? A movement from Ralph Vaughan Williams' Pastoral Symphony. I hope it's to your liking."
"I feel like I'm in a Stanley Kubrick movie."
Regina shrugged. "Let's eat."
Emma felt a bit like a high-priced call girl as she ate with Regina. They talked pleasantly about Henry, Mary-Margaret, David, sundry events, and the recent spate of lion sightings around town that had people convinced they were being visited by Simba. When they were done, Regina wrapped the pie plate and its last five slices in tin foil, put it in the fridge, then gave their dishes a quick rinse. While she was at the sink, Emma embraced Regina from behind. The latex dress was cool to the touch, but when Emma kissed her neck just above the collar, her skin was very warm.
"Emma…" Regina said gently, her voice tiny, "it's not time for that yet."
Emma blinked. "It's not?" She'd been kinda… enthusiastically resigned to the possibility. And especially getting that red latex off. She knew how that stuff could be if you spent any considerable length of time in it. (Worst summer job ever.)
Regina slipped by her. "Come."
"We kinda have to do the other stuff first, remember?"
Regina nodded her head toward the door. "Come."
Emma went. Into the living room, where Regina sat her down in front of that obscenely over-sized TV of hers. With a gesture, a bowl of popcorn appeared on the coffee table. Regina slipped off her pumps and Emma did the same with her heels. Regina's carpet was like petting a puppy with her feet.
"I've selected a little entertainment for the evening." Regina turned off the stereo with a remote, then turned on the TV.
"If this is one of your sex tapes, I probably don't want to see it. Like, fifty-fifty chance. If it's you and Abigail, that's one thing…"
"Abigail and I are just friends. And it's French…"
"Oh God, does Gold know about you and Belle?"
Regina gave Emma a nostalgia-inducing glare. "It's Les Loups de mon Coeur, an underrated French sex comedy from the early seventies. You'll like it. And I do not have sex tapes. I teach Henry, by example, that whatever deeds he finds necessary which may be misunderstood by the general public, he should not record himself. I don't take selfies while I'm spray-painting 'tramp' on Mary-Margaret's car…"
Regina started the movie.
It wasn't that bad, for an arty-fartsy French New Wave movie in French (Emma did not know what French New Wave was, besides an unacceptable Scrabble play). There were a lot of pratfalls and the like, but they were halfway plausible, not a bunch of Jerry Lewis stuff. And, even put into subtitles, a lot of the dialogue was funny. Ofttimes, Regina leaned over to whisper in her ear, explaining some subtlety that might've been lost on her. It wasn't a put-on. Usually, Emma was a bit confused about why this or that was a big deal, although sometimes she did actually understand why eating spaghetti bolognaise was a big deal.
The bigger deal was how they migrated over the course of two hours. After keeping the popcorn bowl between them for a while, Emma unthinkingly put it in her lap and Regina took the center seat to eat it from there. Every time Regina's clever little hand dipped down to Emma's legs, Emma felt a bolt of adrenaline hit her before she remembered that she wasn't the snack Regina was reaching for.
Then they ran out of popcorn. Emma retreated to the kitchen. There were a few loose long-necks of Gulpener Dortmunder in the fridge. Emma took two with her back into the living room. Regina was still on the center seat of the couch, long legs innocently crossed. Emma could've taken one of the love seats; it felt too much like running away. She resumed her old seat, offered Regina one of the beers, and was a little surprised when Regina accepted it. Though the ex-mayor needed a little help getting the cap off without a bottle opener.
After a while, and most of the bottle, Emma didn't really need the subtitles or Regina's whispers to decipher the plot. It was a pretty stylized movie, but she got it. There was a boy and a girl, living in a small fishing village. The girl was from the richest family in town, maybe the mayor's daughter, while the boy had to work hard, even as a child, to help his father stay in business. They both liked each other a lot, but the boy thought that there was no way such a rich, beautiful girl would have any interest in him.
At some point, Regina put her hand on Emma's thigh, bare except for the silk stocking that covered it. Her fingers explored the material as if they'd never felt anything like it before.
The boy and girl grew older. The boy's friends, a band of hooligans who were pretty funny (for hooligans), got him into all sorts of trouble, trying to pair him up with a girl. Meanwhile, the girl started dating another guy, but he was gay and in love with one of the hooligans. Also, Emma thought the boy's horse was psychic? Or something? She was afraid to ask Regina. Maybe it would make her take her hand away.
The movie ended, though Emma was a bit too tired to catch much of the third act. She'd have to watch it again. Regina stood, and the view of her skintight dress from behind was enough to wake Emma right up. Regina extended her hand to Emma. "Come," she said with a smile, and helped Emma to her feet.
Then she was pulling Emma to the bedroom. Emma recognized the way from last time. Regina pulled back the sheets of her bed and stood there. If Emma could take a picture of that and turn it into a Wish You Were Here card, she would've been a millionaire. Or a thousandaire. How many people still bought greeting cards these days?
"Your dress," Regina said, her voice as warm as a vodka kick. "It's very becoming, Emma. But I'm still going to have to ask you to remove it."
Emma felt like her hands weren't quite her own. A little numbly, they went down to the bottom of her dress, pulled-pulled-pulled until it was over her head and she was left in bra, panties, garters.
Regina walked up to her. Emma remembered enough of that night to think it had been like this. As scary as going up a roller-coaster, in some ways, but also safe. A weird feeling of safety you didn't get in a fast car or a turbulent airliner. It was supposed to feel dangerous, that was its job, and you gave into the feeling—Emma wasn't drunk enough for her thoughts to be this tangled. She was excited, in the chemical sense. Her brain was in too much motion to think.
Still in motion, Regina reached out to Emma. Touched her collarbone, with its little scar where a car accident had given her a compound fracture. Circled her, finger tracing her arm, its ungainly bicep, then to her back and the clasp of her bra. "Shall I?" she purred in Emma's ear, her voice dripping honey. Warm, sweet honey.
"If you want," Emma replied, her voice catching and ebbing. Regina took her bra off for her. Set it aside without comment on its lack of frills, its tiny price tag.
"Lie on the bed," Regina said. Emma recognized her voice now; the voice of a queen. So used to having her words obeyed that didn't really give orders. She just said what was going to happen. "Face down… please."
Emma felt her body clench. Jesus, Regina didn't mean she was going to—God, it was their second date! Not that they'd said that was off-limits, but c'mon, Regina was polite society. What did she do for date number three, golden showers?
The worst part was, Emma wondered if she'd truly enjoy—Regina doing it.
She probably just wanted doggy-style. Trust Regina to go in for that. "Okay," Emma said, putting a little dubiousness in her words to let Regina know she was not domming her, just making a number of good suggestions. And she laid face down on the bed.
Then Emma heard Regina go to her dresser. She heard a drawer open. She heard a bottle being opened. She heard the rubbery sound of liquid leaving a container.
"Tell me, Emma." Regina's hands were rubbing together. "Have you ever had an oil massage?"
Regina's hands were so soft and so caring and they were firm at the same time, finding knots of tension that had been with Emma since the orphanage and deftly untying them. Emma felt herself relaxing into Regina's pillow so hard that she drifted into it, and it was all she could do to stay awake while Regina neatly disassembled all her muscles to clean out every little speck of discomfort she could find.
"Thought you wanted to have sex with me," she said, a little more grumpily than she perhaps intended.
"I do," Regina conceded. "But, whatever your standards are, I hope to do a little better than plying you with bumper stick witticisms and fingering you for the thirty seconds it'll take to find your spot. No, I'm making love to your mind, Emma."
"What, like with a Q-tip?"
"It's a campaign of seduction with only one purpose. To turn you into a pliant object of pleasure. When I'm done, you will know nothing but the heights of ecstasy you can ascend to, and the beauty of the one who has brought you there. You will say my name in quiet worship, and as much as you shout and curse in the future, I will always remember how your tongue sounded curled around my name, begging for the release that only I could—"
Regina blinked and stopped what she was doing with Emma's spine. "Am I boring you, Ms. Swan?"
"I haven't been getting much sleep lately… Big Bad Wolf case… please keep going? My back feels like it's made of kitten."
Regina reluctantly resumed rubbing Emma's musculature into compliance. "As I was saying, I'm quite fond of my lovers squirting like my old royal fountains, so please expect to be deprived of a little fluid as you learn exactly what your body is truly capable—"
Regina blinked calmly. "Very well, Emma, if that's the way you feel, you can sleep on the couch. I'd wager it's still a step-up from whatever moldy collection of goose down you call a bed."
Emma continued to snore.
"Get up, Emma. You're in my bed. This is my bed, Emma." Regina took Emma's arm and pulled on it. She might as well have tried to remove Excalibur from its stone. "Emma, this isn't funny. That is my bed, it is specifically made for my sleep number, I cannot get a full ten hours of sleep unless I am in my bed, with my covers, my pillow, and my ocean sounds!"
Emma's lips moved in her sleep. "Why can't Hiccup come to Storybrooke? Everyone else comes to Storybrooke…"
It occurred to Regina, not for the first time, that sometimes she was so clever that she was, in fact, too clever for her own good. It came from living in a town of simpletons.
With a barely suppressed groan, Regina wiggled out of her dress—something Emma would've greatly enjoyed seeing were she not currently looking at Teletubbies with her parents' faces. She set her CD player to calming ocean sounds; she also turned it up to drown out Emma's snoring. Then she climbed into the other side of the bed—the sacrifices she made for the Charmings—and began marshaling her arguments that this did not count as sleeping together as per their arrangement.
Emma woke up thinking for a good twenty seconds that she was lying on a pillow. When she realized it was Regina's bosom, it took her another forty seconds to decide if that meant she had to move her head. Reluctantly, she went with 'yes', even if it meant that her face had gotten to second base without her.
"Dressing gowns are in the closet," Regina said. "Don't pick red or black."
Emma almost did a swan dive out of the bed. "Were you watching me sleep!?"
"No, I was meditating on how long one should wait before they call in the Jaws of Life to get a sleep-deprived blonde off."
"Hey, look, I'm really not that into sex toys, I know I give off a vibe…"
"It's a paramedic tool…!" Regina began angrily, before deciding it wasn't worth it. "Please just kindly remove your carcass from my body."
"Not what you were saying last night," Emma said, rolling off her.
"Let me put this in pop culture references you'll understand: Are you a Terminator? Medal endoskeleton wrapped in organic tissue? That would explain the weight—and the social graces."
"You just don't work out enough." Emma hurried to the closet, not wanting Regina to get a good look at her humps or her lovely lady lumps.
"I tanned just this weekend!" Regina countered.
Emma picked a turquoise dressing gown—the fact that Regina had enough colors in her closet to fill one of those brick-sized boxes of crayons made Emma wonder how many orgies she had to cloth on short notice. She left, and a few moments later Regina emerged from her bedroom in a red gown that did look stunning on her. Gesturing for Emma to follow, Regina went down to the breakfast nook to prepare a helping of waffles for the two of them. Emma started the coffee; seconds later, she was a bit nonplussed at how well they were working together. She sat resolutely down at the table rather than be anymore simpatico.
"You finally get me alone and what do I get? Dinner and a movie. Admit it, Regina—this whole thing was just some damn power play."
Regina's eyes moved to her slowly—like a boss fight in a video game, giving her time to move to cover. "I was being considerate."
"Considerate? What, you think I'm so frigid I need four hours of foreplay before we play 'find the circus peanut'?"
"No, Emma. I was giving you time to back out—reconsider. True, that's not your forte, but if you were going to branch out, I'd rather you do it before than after."
Emma leaned back in her chair. "Okay. You gave me time to hit eject. Very sweet of you. But I'm still here, horny as hell, you didn't do shit, and I am not watching anymore French movies."
Regina went to the coffee machine, poured her share of the first pot into a World's Greatest Mom (No, Really, I Checked) mug, and tinkered with it as a mad scientist plays with a chemistry set. "Oh, I don't need the works of Jacques Demy to ensnare you. I can do it in one look."
"Okay, I get it, I'm not a virgin, but I'm not that easy."
Taking a silver spoon from a cabinet, Regina stirred her coffee into its proper formation. "Oh, it has nothing to do with your… ease. A proper look and a nun would find herself beguiled by me; don't tell Astrid I said that."
Emma smirked mockingly. "Alright, your worship. Hit me. It's only six in the AM—you can seduce me and it'll still technically be 'last night.'"
Regina took a deep breath. Then a magic spell hit Emma, because one second she was looking at Regina Mills, occasional reluctant ally and full-time pain in her ass—the next, Regina was sucking a very, very lucky spoon dry and her gown was a little open and she was looking at Emma like… like…
"The deuce you say!" Emma exclaimed, her life being a Medieval Times dinner theater rubbing off on her.
Regina drank from her mug, her eyes boring into Emma all the while. Then she set the mug down. Licked her lips, actually licked them with her tongue, goddamnit. And she was moving toward Emma like a shark, a really sexy shark, like a shark that could make Emma rethink her strict 'humans and the occasional flying monkey' dating parameter.
"Ms. Swan." Regina said it like she knew exactly what she would find, pulling Emma's gown open. "How many fingers do you think I should use? Normally, I'd go with two, so you can get used to moaning before you need to scream, but I'd just bet that you're so wet, I could use three." She leaned in, and for a breathless moment Emma thought of all the places those parted lips could go before they ended up at the worst-best place of all; her ear. "Maybe you could reach down… and show me… just what you want." She took Emma's hand. Raised it to her lips. Sucked a few fingers inside, which somehow made Emma's knees very weak. Like how you couldn't sneeze and open your eyes at the same time, Emma supposed.
"Oh my God," Emma said as she began to touch herself, Regina still giving her that look, but now directed at her fucking pussy. "How are you doing this? I used to be straight, for Christ's sake."
Regina laughed darkly. "Oh, Emma. By the time I'm done, you won't be able to find straight with a ruler."