Regina wasn't usually one for knocking, so Emma was surprised to see her lingering by the door rather than striding into the sheriff's office with her usual boldness. The blonde looked back down at the police report she was writing. "What?"
Regina crossed the room and sat in the chair on the other side of Emma's desk. "I need your help," she said after a long silence.
"With Henry." Emma looked up to see Regina looking down at her lap, where she was picking at the edge of a red-painted fingernail nervously.
Emma put down her pen, studying Regina's sudden shyness. "Why?" she asked. "What's wrong?"
Regina looked up, her eyes meeting Emma's. "Nothing's wrong. I just need you to have a talk with him."
"Is this some sort of good cop/bad cop thing? What did he do?"
"I said nothing's wrong," Regina snapped.
"How does this work exactly? Do I get to be the good cop? I'm good at bad cop but you've got that whole evil queen thing going on."
For the first time that day, Regina looked like herself again. She stood up and slammed her hands down on the desk, glaring down at Emma. "Stop," she said loudly, and then looked around to make sure they were alone. The office and cell were empty, but she still lowered her voice. "He starts health class next week." She sat down again and pulled a folder from her briefcase. Emma flipped through the pamphlets on puberty and STDs before responding.
"You want me to have the sex talk with him?" she asked.
Regina closed the folder almost before Emma could get her hands out of the way, but left it on the desk. "Parents are supposed to go over some of this stuff with their children before class starts."
Emma nodded. "Yeah, sure."
Regina half smiled, sitting back in her chair and crossing her legs. "But please, use some sort of discretion. I don't want you teaching my son to be…" She glanced down to the V of Emma's shirt, which was unbuttoned low across her chest. "Promiscuous."
Emma stared at Regina for a moment while she fumbled to button her shirt higher. "What the hell is this? You think I'm better equipped to talk to Henry because I'm a slut?" Regina sat there in stunned silence until Emma resumed yelling. "You know nothing about me, Regina. Just because you're some sort of frigid prude doesn't mean that I am a bad person. Or a bad mother."
Regina did not retaliate the way Emma expected. She looked down at her lap again, and said nothing until Emma was quiet. "I didn't mean that."
"The hell you didn't."
Regina took a deep breath and raised her eyes to Emma's again. "I'm on edge because I don't like talking about this. Which is why I'm asking you for help." She reached up to tuck her hair back behind her ear. "I'm hoping that your experience will be helpful to Henry."
"My experience?" Emma stared Regina down. "And what about yours?"
"You had Henry."
"So I'm some cautionary tale?"
Regina was quiet for a moment. She lowered her voice to almost a whisper when she finally spoke, tears rising to her eyes. "So you've had sex."
Emma was ready to begin fighting again, but the words and the look on Regina's face stopped her. "You haven't."
Regina stood up abruptly and, after looking at Emma for one long moment, hurried out of the police station, leaving her briefcase and folder behind.
Regina was alone when the doorbell rang that night. She had arranged for Henry to have dinner with his grandparents, too emotional to face him or anyone else. She very reluctantly opened the door to see Emma on the porch, holding her briefcase.
"Hi," the blonde said gently. "You left this. And I thought I'd get that chat with Henry out of the way."
Regina stepped back to let Emma come in and set the briefcase down. "Henry's not here." Emma nodded and turned for the door, but Regina found herself blurting out, "Please don't tell anyone."
Emma looked at Regina with her eyes reddened from crying and her nail polish almost entirely peeled off. She'd never seen her emotional like this. She shut the door instead of leaving, and, not daring to attempt to hug the mayor, took her hand and led her towards the living room couch. "Should I practice my sex talk on you?" she joked, not letting go.
Regina shook her head. "It's not that I don't know about it."
Emma smiled gently and released Regina's hand. "You just walk around town like you're so powerful. I don't know how it's possible. You make everyone want you."
"Not using my sexuality lets me stay in control," Regina replied. "If I give myself away I'm just any other woman."
"I find that hard to believe."
"It's true." Regina began to pick at her nails again, nerves nearly getting the better of her. "With Graham, I made him want me. I made him mine. I'd touch him but he knew he could never reciprocate. And then he fell in love with you."
"Because I put out?" Emma said with a laugh.
Regina allowed herself to smile. "Because you could be his just like he was yours. I've only felt like that about one person."
The mayor nodded. "We were waiting until we were married, but that never happened. I thought I could bring him back to life somehow, so I kept waiting. Now I know I'll never get him back."
Emma moved closer, tentatively embracing Regina. "Losing Daniel doesn't mean you'll always be alone."
Regina sank into the embrace. "But everyone hates me."
Emma pulled Regina closer now that the mayor seemed comfortable with her. "You piss me off like no person ever has, but I don't hate you."
Regina looked up, and their eyes met for a long moment before Regina kissed Emma. When she'd gone to the police station that morning, she'd expected Emma to laugh at her secret. Now she'd come to realize that the blonde was the only person in Storybrooke she trusted, despite their conflicts. "I love you," she whispered, not realizing that she'd said the words aloud until Emma echoed them.
"I love you."
"I was always so afraid you'd take Henry from me," she said. "But it's been two years and you've only protected him. And me. I trust you."
"I imagine that was harder to say than 'I love you,'" Emma laughed. Regina smiled and, intertwining her fingers with Emma's, stood up. The blonde didn't budge. "We're not doing this right now."
Regina tried not to look disappointed at the rejection, and Emma quickly stood up beside her, taking her other hand as well.
"It'll happen," she reassured her. "Just not tonight." She kissed Regina when the brunette didn't look convinced. "When you're ready."
Regina slipped her arms around Emma's waist and dropped her head to the blonde's shoulder. "Do you have to leave?"
"It's supposed to be your night with Henry. I have nowhere to be."
They returned to the couch, nestling together. Regina put on the TV, but neither woman paid attention. Regina just closed her eyes, enjoying having someone to hold her again.
"Now I know why you're always such an uptight bitch," Emma said. Now that the tension was gone, now that they were relaxed, Regina allowed herself to laugh. "Did you ever think maybe it was a, you know, not being attracted to guys thing?" she added seriously.
"Never." Regina stared at the screen without really seeing what was going on. "Until the day you turned up."
They could hear the front door open and then slam shut. Regina sat up, distancing herself from Emma by the time Henry came into the room. He glanced back and forth between the two women on the couch. "What's Emma doing here?"
"I wanted to have a chat with you." Emma stood up, giving Henry an awkward smile. "Let's go upstairs."
"What are we talking about?"
Emma shrugged. "Operation… Penguin."
Regina couldn't help laughing. "Penguin?"
"Well, they do mate for life." Emma flashed Regina a smile before following Henry to his room.
It was past midnight when an exhausted Emma finally told Henry that he had to stop asking questions and go to sleep. She headed downstairs to find Regina asleep on the couch, and tucked a throw around her before leaving the house. She checked her phone to find only one alert, a text from Regina sent shortly after Emma and Henry went upstairs.
You know, swans also mate for life.
Emma got into the car, smiling at her phone. She responded, hoping Regina's phone wouldn't wake her.
Operation Penguin complete. Operation Swan commencing.