THE FUN BET
By Red Charcoal
Just some pre-curse pre-SQ fluff and nonsense. Prompt from Smiley12345 who wrote the 1000th review for The Staircase: Could you maybe write something about swan queen going to an amusement park with Henry and his friends and when the kids go off alone on rides there is lots of Swan Queen goodness.
"So this is new," Emma said, leaning against a carnival stall, clutching what could only be described as hideous pink swirl of sugar on a stick. Regina almost recoiled at the sight of it. Well that and the sudden appearance of her occasional nemesis/snark rival at the town's annual family carnival day.
"Hardly new, Miss Swan. You regularly abuse your body with diabolical food choices. Why should this be any different?"
Emma gave a low chuckle. "You sound positively jealous of my fairy floss, Madame Mayor." She waggled it in front of the mayor's nose and watched horror cross her features. "Want some?"
Regina's nostrils flared. "That depends. Is it made from real fairies?"
"Ooh, an actual attempt at humor, I am impressed." Emma snorted and took a luxurious lick of the pink fluff, amused to see Regina follow her tongue with burning brown eyes. "Someone got up on the right side of bed today."
Regina glared at the obscene display and looked away. Her eyes unerringly darted across the grassy paths scribbling past the stalls and rides that made up Storybrooke's Fair. "So what IS new Miss Swan, because we have established it is certainly not your revolting dietary habits?"
She dropped one hand to her hip, thrumming her fingers and flicked a withering glance back to the blonde, eyeing her swipes of the sugary treat which were punctuated by enthusiastic groans. Groans that could sound like something else.
"Shit this is great. Corn dogs next I think."
Regina looked physically ill and not entirely sure whether she was joking.
"OK," Emma said, biting back a laugh. Honestly it was too easy to bait the mayor at times. "What is new is Henry. It's good to see he has some friends his own age for once. I don't think his teacher or birth mother should count."
As she spoke both women's eyes were drawn to three small boys lining up and taking turns trying to hurl balls at a triangle of bottles, howling with laughter at their failed attempts. Emma only vaguely knew them as Nick and Thomas. Or was it Tommy? The kid was older than the other two and had a good head on his shoulders.
"My son's friendships are not your concern, Miss Swan. In fact come to think of it, why are YOU here? Shouldn't you be standing over the carnival employees attempting to force them to run an honest game or something?"
Emma laughed. "No one in history has ever succeeded at that. Well, if you really want to know, I got invited to keep you entertained in case you got a sudden urge to do some stalking."
"What?!'' Regina looked thoroughly aghast. She opened and shut her mouth as though unsure which outrage to address first. Emma found herself thoroughly entertained by the smear of crimson lipstick contorting into various shapes as her lips moved.
Emma focused and gave a shrug.
"Henry was worried you'd be trailing behind him and his new friends all day and scare them off. So I am here to distract you - just in case."
She offered her best shit-eating grin, somewhat impressed at the cavalcade of emotions now galloping across the mayor's face. The brunette's outrage was back, coupled with a hint of hurt and dismay.
Emma dropped the stick from the candy floss into a nearby steel trash drum and grinned. "Oh come on, Regina, he's almost a teenager. You know - at that age where all parents are 'totally embarrassing'. And you are the scary mayor on top of that. Besides it's not like he thinks you are definitely going to humiliate him, it's just in case you get carried away and can't resist spying on them all from two feet away. And I actually think you've been holding back rather well so far."
"Just how long have you been following me for?" Regina's eyebrows shot upwards, her voice threatening.
"Long enough to work my way through a box of fries and one of those donut stick things. Oh and the fairy floss of course."
"I don't know how your stomach copes," Regina snapped, clearly still hurt about her son's tactics.
"It's a special occasion, Regina. Gotta live a little. You've really got to tap into your inner child once in awhile, right? Though I am really starting to think you don't even remember what it was like to be a girl and just have fun for the sake of it."
Regina scowled and crossed her arms, glaring furiously. For a moment all they could hear was the tinny pounding of fairground music. "And you, of course, know so much about happy, happy childhoods."
The silence that fell between them was punctuated by a delighted shriek from a nearby gravity-defying ride and the laughter from the trio of boys who were now trying to use a mallet to ring a bell. They weren't even close.
"Well that was nasty," Emma said flatly and frowned. "I mean hell. Really? Has it occurred to you that the reason I love a carnival so much is I never got to go to one as a kid? And if I have to be here anyway to help out our kid, the least I can do is enjoy myself. A motto you might try follwing once in a while. Seriously, you are the most uptight person I have ever met."
Her eyes flicked over the mayor's navy outfit - a suit of pants, cream shirt and blazer and flat dress shoes - and stared back at her pointedly. "I am only surprised you left the Jimmy Choos at home."
"Says the most uncouth person I have ever met. You think I don't know how to have fun?" Regina queried with a slight lip curl. "This from the enlightened woman who thinks pink is a food group and that sound mothering involves preventing my son from being closely monitored by his parent?"
"Essentially yes, to all of the above." Emma grinned unrepentantly.
Regina cocked her head. "I suspect, dear, that your juvenile idea of 'fun' involves mass alcohol consumption and a lot of silly frat-boy-like behaviour."
"Actually no," Emma said, watching as the boys raced for the queue for a ferris wheel. "Although there is much to recommend involving alcohol consumption. I'll tell you what: Give me an hour right now and if I can't show you a time that you consider actually fun, without any booze or frat-boy antics, I will do a week's menial tasks of your choosing. Tasks that you will no doubt get to mock me over for several months."
Regina's eyes lit up at several possibilities. "And if you win, and I deem this exercise in futility is actually 'fun'?"
"I will tell you if and when that happens. Don't worry, what I have in mind will be fairly painless. Absolutely no humiliation involved. All I ask right now is you keep an open mind, follow my instructions and go with the flow."
"What about Henry?"
"I have his friend Thomas's iPhone tracked." She held up her own phone, tapped a few buttons and zoomed in on the spot on the map they were all standing. "See? They'll be fine. And they promised me they'd stick together. We can check in on them every quarter of an hour between, um, fun events."
Regina looked doubtful. Emma smirked.
"It's just an hour. Live a little?"
The mayor humphed. "Fine. I must be crazy to agree to this. And note that I will have some fairly dire tasks lined up for you when you fail."
Emma snickered. "I would be shocked if you didn't. Just keep an open mind. And you can't lie if you're having fun."
"All right," the mayor agreed, unable to resist rolling her eyes. "Let me just speak to Henry."
"We won't be too far from him. Trust me. I know what I am doing."
"That, my dear, is what I am afraid of."