She's doing it on purpose.
She's sitting in the cafe with Neal and she's doing it on purpose. She's smiling at him on purpose. She's ordering her favourite drink and she's wearing her favourite scarf and her eyes are bluer today than usual. Maybe because of the weather.
Maybe because she's happy.
She has to know what she's doing, right? She's a smart woman. She's intelligent (though admittedly impulsive) and she's capable (under most circumstances), so she must realize that even being this close to me, even reminding me of her existence (though the thought never quite disappears to begin with) is coming close to killing me.
I remind myself that she's enchanting. And why shouldn't she be? She was born a savior, our savior, and power like that naturally attracts people to it.
So then where are my people? Where is my attention?
Why isn't she ordering something to eat? Why does she adopt the strangest eating habits? Why do I notice these things?
I don't. I can't. I won't.
But still...she must know what she's doing.
Yes...yes. She's doing it on purpose.
I bet she thinks I did this on purpose.
She's got her body cocked to the side just so while reading the newspaper. Why does the mayor need to read the newspaper? Surely she knows better than anyone what's going on in the land she practically created. Maybe it's for show. That's my most likely guess. Especially when her eyes rove over to me when she thinks I'm not looking. Peripheral vision. Got to love it.
Have you ever...god, this is going to sound ridiculous.
Have you ever locked eyes with someone and had a jolt throughout your body...immediately followed by some sort of gravitational pull in their direction? Like your soul sees something that the rest of the world cannot in this other person, and you absolutely have to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible, or the world you've created for yourself will begin to crumble piece by pathetically misshapen piece?
Leave it to me to make attraction sound like an investigation.
Neal is here because he saw me walking in and decided to join me. Granny asks me what I want and I say the usual, as usual, because I am the only usual thing in this unusual place. But I suppose that's not entirely true.
My parents are Prince Charming and Snow White.
That's another reason there's a target painted in my mother's blood on my back. Regi-er, the Mayor, she hates my mom. I've been told one side of the story before, once, I think? Maybe...I can't remember. I try not to linger too long on the politics of everyone's enemies. It seems like there's new alliances and defiances popping up each time I turn around.
Reg-damn, the Mayor, she's getting up to leave now. It's only then that I see her designer shoes completely. Those boots. I remember those...
"What are you doing here, Miss Swan?"
"I have to talk to you."
"Well, if you must. Here, take yours shoes off and rest them next to mine, I don't want you tracking mud in."
"Emma?" Neal's concern snaps me out of it. I'm grimacing, I can feel the features of my face have contorted. My right hand is tangled in the hair close to my brow, rubbing at my temple.
"Sorry..." I hear myself apologizing. I clear my throat to remove the scratchiness; take a long gulp of the coffee Granny must have laid out for me sometime during my reverie.
"Do you space out a lot now or is it just your company boring you?" he asks playfully. I roll my eyes a bit. I don't want to be here. I do want this coffee, though. Maybe even dessert. I avert my half-lidded gaze over to the counter and realize the mayor has frozen in place, her eyes locked on me, her jaw unhinged just far enough to leave a surprised gap between her lips. Her lips. That shade of red...
"-so that's all I wanted to say on the subject. I hope you understand."
I look back at Neal. He looks at me. His expression is expectant and a little too vulnerable for my liking. Shitfuck, what was he saying? How can I make it sound...? Oh, got it.
"I do. Completely." Nice save, Swan.
He grins, a little side smile that I remember used to melt me. But now, for some reason, as a breeze brushes my hair to the side, I subconsciously turn for the source of the air and inhale, watching a womanly figure in all black escape out the front door and smelling nothing but the faintest hint of apples...and it is all I seem to hold on to.
Regina sat behind her desk listening to the clock ticking beside her. Time was such a funny thing; so tricky. It required patience. And if there was anything Regina had, it was patience.
But both of these things seemed to be running out.
Why had Emma brought Neal to the cafe with her? Didn't she know she was to be meeting her? Didn't she remember?
She racked her brain for reasons Emma could have chosen not to sit with her. She had moved on? No. Technically speaking, there was nothing to move on from. She had been wanting to hurt Regina? Emma didn't seem the type. She ran into Neal and he asked her for a bite upon walking in, and to avoid appearing suspicious she had to say yes?...Hmm, maybe.
The silence was far too loud for the mayor of Storybrooke, and the ticking clock seemed to get more and more insistent. She allowed herself to slump low in her seat, kicking off her heels and wiggling her toes for a moment of relief.
"Your little bird stood you up today, didn't she?" an accented voice from her left resonated through the room. She gave a startled gasp and leapt a bit in her seat before catching herself. She frowned, sitting back up and slipping her boots back on.
"What do you want, Mr. Gold?" she asked through closed eyes. She didn't even bother looking at the man at this point. He already knew she was fed up with him.
"I think the better question, dear, is what do you want?"
She slowly opened her eyes, glaring at the man that chose to take a seat in the elegant chair in front of her desk. His brass cane tapped at the marble floor and threatened to knick the claw foot of his furniture of choice. They both waited in the deafening silence. She was not going to be the first to speak.
"You didn't give her the potion this morning," Mr. Gold said as he polished the head of his cane with the sleeve of his well-ironed shirt.
Regina's jaw clenched. Her eyes were unmoving. How the hell did this man know that?
"I have nothing to explain to you, Mr. Gold, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't come in so completely unannounced next time."
Regina thumbed through her paper work, shoving the glasses on hastily that she kept on a silver chain around her neck. They slipped a bit on the bridge of her nose as she pointedly looked up at the man still sitting in her chair with a smug smirk on his face. She felt the desire to roll her eyes overwhelm her. She hated that god damn look.
"Amissio caput is not a concoction I create lightly, Mayor Mills, and for good reason. I suspect you knew when I was giving it to you that it was something that required quite a bit of sacrifice."
"Yes," groaned Regina, "I am aware of that. What do you want, hmm? What else could you possibly take from me? I have nothing left to give."
"Ah," the old man crooned, his teeth shining in the bright light of the room, "precisely."
Regina inhaled deeply, willing herself to have enough patience, the characteristic she swears by, to deal with the riddles of an old man for just a little bit longer.
"Okay, I'll bite. What are you talking about?" she asked, cocking her head to the side while doing her best to appear intrigued. She had to admit, a small part of her was. But the majority of her loathed that this man knew her dirtiest secret. And that secret was currently wearing her scarf in the local restaurant downtown.
"This potion does not work the way you seem to think it does, Regina," Mr. Gold stated knowingly. "I told you when I gave it to you that-"
"Yes, I know, all magic comes with a price. Believe me, I am completely aware of that fact." Impatience was a disease. Regina knew that. Keep your cool. Exude perfection. Everything in time.
Mr. Gold gave a thin smirk, as if he was considering whether or not to tell Regina what he had traveled there to say in the first place. The brunette tossed her hair to the side and eyed him expectantly. Her legs were crossed at the heel and her hands were folded politely in her lap. She was a queen no matter what anyone said, and she held herself to those standards at all times.
"Once you started slipping that red potion into Miss Swan's wine, it became connected to her. It memorized her mind. It is not science, Regina. It is magic. It finds every little piece of you floating around in that pretty head of hers and poof!," he bumped his cane against the mahogany desk, startling Regina enough for a look of anger to fleetingly cross her features, "everything the two of you shared within those numbered hours are gone."
"I know this," Regina replied through gritted teeth. "Honestly, Mr. Gold, if you wanted to have a pow wow about our love lives we could have met over dinner."
"Do you have much of one, then, dear?" he asked seriously. Regina's throat tightened. Her smirk faded. Keep your cool. Exude perfection.
"Is it love when the woman who comes to you doesn't remember a thing the two of you share? Is it love if she crawls into your bed to keep you warm at night, only to leave in the morning with no recollection of why she was in front of your house the moment her feet hit the pavement off of your property?"
Regina leapt up and leaned forward menacingly, scooting the chair so far back it clattered to the ground with a crash.
"How DARE you insinuate that what we share is...is..." her voice faded, her composure insisted on being well-kept. This is what she did to her. This is what loving Emma made her. Irrational. Emotional. Reactive.
She cleared her throat lightly, tugging her button up shirt back into place and smoothing out imaginary wrinkles in her pinstripe skirt. She looked up at the man who had gotten under her skin with only a few well placed words.
"...that what we share is any of your business, Mr. Gold."
The older man nodded with a sort of satisfied air about him. Still, Regina could tell he wasn't done. But God, she was.
"If there's nothing else, Mr. Gold, you know where the door is. I'm assuming you can see yourself out just fine, seeing as how you had no problems letting yourself in."
The man gave a terse laugh, nodding his understanding. "I suppose I shall, then."
The click-clack of his cane and foot falls made their way further and further away. He reached out, his hand on the iron door handle when he stopped at Regina's interruption.
"Oh, and Mr. Gold?"
He turned to her then, expecting something, anything other than what he was about to hear.
"Yes, Mayor Mills?"
The woman quirked her head to the side, something she was known to do when she was thinking. Her brows furrowed together behind the black rims of her glasses.
"You had said 'the red potion', but the amissio caput I give to Emma isn't red."
Mr. Gold paused, his back straightening with the new information as he stared back at the younger woman before him, puzzled.
"Well if it isn't red," he said, rather unkindly, "then what colour is it?"
Regina eyed him curiously, unsure why he didn't seem to believe her. "Well it started out red, at first, but it hasn't been for weeks. It's...purple now. A deep, deep purple."
Mr. Gold's face hardened for a moment as realization dawned on him. He snapped himself out of it immediately, though, and forced a wide smile at her.
"Right, of course. Well have a good day, Mayor. I'll be seeing you around, I'm sure."
And then the door was quietly shut.
Regina waited a moment before slumping back down and slipping out of her shoes again. She closed her eyes and rubbed at a sore spot at the back of her neck. Not for the first time she wondered what had the man acting so oddly.
"I wonder what the hell that was all about?..."