Emma crashed down to the bed, breathing hard, covered in sweat, and possibly cross-eyed. She stayed supine—that was what you were supposed to do after a trauma, right?, stay put and wait for medical assistance—as Regina crawled up her body and curled up next to her like the cat that'd gotten the cream. So much cream…
"That's it, we have to tell people," Emma gasped, when she realized all the screaming hadn't done permanent damage to her vocal cords.
"I thought you just did. That was the intent behind yelling 'I'm coming' at the top of your lungs, correct?"
Emma reached over to the nightstand for the bottle of water Regina kept there. "Yeah, but your house is so big, you have to pay a shipping fee to get something from the front door to the back door. Someone could be stealing your silverware and they'd just think you had a really hungry cat or something."
Regina tapped her fingers on Emma's stomach. "Alright, so you want to tell people about us. I trust as a recommendation?"
"No, as in, 'I'm dating the Evil Queen and she's actually not that bad.'"
"Oh, Emma…" Regina kissed Emma's shoulder. "I thought all that would convince you that I'm very, very bad."
"Noooo," Emma said, still in the falsetto voice she was using to pretend to talk to the townspeople. "She's actually nice and sweet and has human emotions and is a great cook and raised my kid and has the best taste in movies and can snuggle like a motherfucker…"
"Stop, I'm blushing. No, that's just because I was standing on my head for the last fifteen minutes, go on."
"By the way, loved that bit. Very acrobatic. Much sex." Emma dully bopped her head against Regina's. "Alright, no more banter, I'm serious. I have a rule about relationships. Seven orgasms with someone, then it's official, I have to tell my friends about it. Usually they don't all happen in one night, true, but still—"
"Very well. I'll tell my friends and you tell your friends."
"But—you don't have any friends."
Regina sighed. "Fine. I'll tell Henry, you tell the others."
"Like my parents?"
"Or I could tell them, risking decapitation, while you explain to Henry what two women do in the bedroom."
"Hi Mary-Margaret," Emma said, the very next day.
Mary-Margaret had retained her job at the elementary school, the work now seeming like an oasis from goblins and royalty. All she had to do to keep the children in line was give them crayons. Leroy alone was much harder.
"Emma," Mary-Margaret greeted, a bit smugly. Her daughter looked both nervous and excited—with some of the ineffable happiness that only came from True Love. It was obvious what was going on. Emma had a boyfriend.
And why not? Even in this strange society which required people to be able to drive cars and drink alcohol before they could marry (as if that was necessary), Emma was overdue to find someone. In most of the high school movies Mary-Margaret had seen, lovely young ladies like Emma found their soulmate before the end of senior year. Katniss Everdeen had found hers while trying not to be killed by other children.
But it was alright if Emma was a late bloomer. Emma was Mary-Margaret's daughter and she loved her… if not her taste in leather jackets.
"Something you'd like to tell me about the Christmas party?" Mary-Margaret chimed. "Or perhaps who you'll be bringing?"
Emma looked stricken. "How did you…"
"I'm a mother. We have our ways."
Emma resisted the urge to remind Mary-Margaret that she had been a mother for a sum total of six months, which wasn't that bad unless it was out of twenty-eight years. Mary-Margaret appreciated when Emma didn't say anything about that.
"Well, uh, Mom, this person I'm dating—let's call them Pat. They're not exactly a… conventional choice."
Mary-Margaret knew what she meant. Neal was hardly the most obvious boyfriend, being a supercentenarian who had achieved immorality fleeing his father, the Dark One. But then, she was married to the twin brother of a dead prince. She wouldn't judge. "The most important thing is that you're in love."
"I know, I know, twue wuv," Emma muttered. "But… this person… they've done some pretty bad things. Even to me; you could say I owe some of my crap life to them."
Mary-Margaret patted the bench next to her, ushering Emma over. Emma came, just grateful Mary-Margaret wasn't patting her lap. As soon as she'd sat down, Mary-Margaret had taken her hand.
"Emma, let's be honest. I think I know who it is you're talking about."
"It's pretty obvious how you two feel about each other. And yes, I know things haven't always been smooth sailing between you two, but what's love without forgiveness."
"And Emma, you share a child. You owe it to yourself, and Henry, to try and make this work."
"Wow. Yeah, that." Emma looked awestruck and Mary-Margaret was a bit offended. She wasn't such a prude, after all. So what if Neal seemed vaguely Hispanic? It wasn't like he was a goblin or anything. "It's cool you're being so understanding. I mean, after everything that's happened—"
Mary-Margaret shook her head. "Anyone that makes my little girl happy is fine with me. You two just take good care of Henry, like I know you can. And, you know, maybe give him a little brother or sister…?"
Emma snickered. "Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen." She assumed a thoughtful expression. "Although, maybe with magic…"
"Magic? You need magic?" Emma shrugged. "You're having problems—down there?"
Why did she only call her Mom when she was embarrassed? "It's okay, but I may know more about that kind of thing than you'd think. Red Riding Hood and I used to—"
"Goodbye Mom!" Emma was up and out the door in three long steps that seemed to cover the width of the room.
"—have long talks about sex," Mary-Margaret told the swinging door.
Meanwhile, back at the manor… Regina sat down next to Henry as he played one of those video games that seemed to involve varying shades of brown and a lot of shooting.
"Henry, you know that talk we had about how two women can love each other the same way a man and a woman can?"
Henry got hit, causing the screen to turn partially red. This didn't help Regina figure out what exactly he was playing. "Yeah?"
"Well, that's what's happened with Emma and I. We're in love now and you should get used to seeing us together more often."
Henry paused the game and looked over at her with big, questioning eyes. "Does this mean you don't love me anymore?"
There was a long silence.
"You nearly got me…" Regina smiled.
"I nearly got you!" Henry cheered.
"Good hustle, though. Up top." Henry obligingly gave her high-five. "And remember, from now on, when you get home from school, be sure to knock before you go into the bedroom. Or the bathroom. Or the… just knock."
David enjoyed working at the sheriff's department, even if it was just as a deputy. Personally, he thought Emma made a great sheriff and he was glad to have some extra daddy-daughter time with her. And if he had to take orders from her, well, it was probably for the best that someone knew duels weren't a legally recognized law enforcement method.
"Howdy Emma," he called as she came through the station. "Ready for a patrol?"
"We're not riding horseback," she informed him for the millionth time, even though it was so energy-efficient. "And no. First, there's something I've been meaning to tell you. It's about someone I'm seeing—socially—we will call them Pat—"
"I know exactly who you're talking about." After all, if there was one thing David could say for Hook, it was that he hadn't exactly kept his feelings for Emma a secret.
And, well, why should he? David had been weary at first, but Hook had proved himself a dozen times over, easily making up for the violence against women and the handicapped, his participation in torture, the one time he'd nearly destroyed the town, shooting Belle, the drinking, and some coordination issues that David really thought he should see a doctor about.
Emma winced. "Is it that obvious?"
"When you two look at each other? Yes."
She groaned. "I can't help it. I just look into those eyes and—"
"I know what you mean. They definitely do seem to sparkle."
Emma sagged into her chair—the only one in the station that rolled. A little spin seemed to cheer her up. "It's like, I could assign blame for all these terrible things that've happened, but then I think about what… Pat's been through. Losing a loved one, thinking all there is to live for is revenge—but does that matter when someone finally comes to their senses and sees 'hey! I can fall in love again! That'll make me more happy than murder!'" Emma grinned to herself some. "And it feels really good that I can do that for someone."
David patted her on the shoulder. "That's the thing about true love. The only thing better than having someone love you is loving them. But, you know, you don't have to call your true love 'Pat'."
"I know… it just seems so weird to go 'look who I'm dating!' after all the crap we've put each other through. But you know, how can you ignore all the changes that've so clearly been going on? It's not the same person I used to fight with, at all."
"Yeah. We owe Henry's rescue almost entirely to, ah, Pat." David winked at her. "And honestly, I know how people gossip about the two of us, but I promise you, nothing happened."
"Happened? With you and—"
David held his hand up to calm her. "There was maybe a little good-natured flirting, but nothing came of it except us sharing a little of the ol' sauce."
"Ewww!" Emma shot up and headed for the door. "I… think I'll patrol on my own today."
"Emma, it wasn't even good rum!" he called after her, but didn't think she'd heard.
By lunchtime, Emma had about gotten over the fact that Regina and David had once done something "saucy" (mostly because she would hate herself if she ever made that pun again). She'd texted Regina about it and gotten back a reply stating that he'd only "eaten her lasagna." Emma had looked that up on Urban Dictionary, read the entry's first two lines, and promptly decided to forget the whole thing.
She hadn't even known David liked dijon mustard on his sandwiches.
Now, onto phase 3. She didn't want to sit every Storybrooke resident down and explain to them that she and Regina were involved; it'd take too long. So she would just tell the town gossip and get a cheeseburger at the same time.
God bless whoever had invented Ruby Lucas. Emma got out of her car, wincing a little as her legs stretched. Regina had convinced her to let her use the strap-on last night, and as always, Emma found it a little hard to walk the morning after. Luckily, no one seemed to notice how often she sat with her legs apart.
Ruby was always happy to talk to Emma. No one livened up a shift like her. She had no filter and great taste in leather clothes—they were practically twinsies. Ruby could talk to her about anything, even that sex dream she had about Mr. Gold and Belle where Mr. Gold had gone off to answer his phone in the middle of it and never came back.
And now that Emma was soooo obviously dating Hook, maybe they could be threesome friends.
"Hey Emma!" Ruby called, frying up Emma's usual. "What's cooking?"
"Need a favor," Emma said tersely, taking her usual seat. "You know I've been seeing someone, right?"
"No, when you come in here for a milkshake at 2 PM with your hair a mess, it's because you've been drag-racing in a convertible."
"I like a good shake after sex."
"I like one during sex."
"Anyway, I was hoping you could—"
"Say no more, thanks to the Curse, I pretty much have the entire Kama Sutra encoded in my head. Ask away!"
"That's not what I…" Emma paused. "Although, there is this one…" Emma noticed Granny nearby, basting a turkey for Christmas dinner. Not who she wanted overhearing her sex life (she didn't want anyone eavesdropping on her sex life—except maybe Lucy Lawless, like in that dream she'd had). "Well, you know how in Australia, they have tools for down under?"
"Some people do have those 'tools'," Ruby replied sagely, for some reason thinking of that time with the chimera when she'd seen Leroy's. It made up for in girth what it lacked in length. If he was Grumpy, she could only imagine what Howard was packing to be nicknamed Happy.
"'Some people'? Pretty sure you have one, Red."
"I most certainly do not!" Not even when she was a wolf (and who kept spreading that rumor, anyway? She was tired of schoolkids calling her Red Rocket).
Emma winced under the weight of Granny's sudden curious look. "Okay, okay, you don't. I'm sure you don't need one, the tail you pull. But anyway, the person I'm dating has one and it is—big."
Ruby planted her chin on her hands. "Tell me more."
"Use the metric system, girl."
"I'm not going to use the metric system. Anyway—"
"Okay. Stop me when I'm there." Ruby held her hands together, then moved them an inch apart. "I'm gonna do this slow, so be precise. I'm sure there's big for you and then there's big for me…"
"Yeah, that's the problem. It's a little too big."
"Oh?" Ruby now held her hands six inches apart. "Because this is literally Prince Charming's size—" Ruby looked up from her hands to notice that Emma was staring at her like she'd turned into a dog again. Not even a real dog. A Chihuahua or something. "Which I only know from that time a chimera burned off all our clothes. And we were drunk."
"Christ, that guy gets around. Anyway, it's not, like, a horse's or anything—"
"You're sure?" Ruby held her hands eight inches apart. "Because I dated a centaur once and he wasn't nearly this well-hung."
Emma ignored her, as people usually did when she mentioned Seymour. "It's not like I can't take it—I had a kid, after all—but there has to be all this massage oil and rubbing and candles and usually that's great, but sometimes I'd just like it right in there, getting to work."
Ruby chopped her hands onto the countertop, ten inches apart. "You can't be dating a black guy, there aren't any in town!"
Emma grabbed her hands and held them still. "It's not like I have a ruler. All I know for sure is that it's about twice as big as mine."
Ruby had the same look on her face she got as a wolf when she heard a vacuum cleaner. "Oh—you… have one."
"Yeah, no big deal, a lot of people have them. I stumbled across Mary-Margaret's once."
Ruby felt faint.
"My point is, how do I look at my lover and say 'Could you please swap that out for something smaller?'"
…Emma had never seen a werewolf faint before.
"Oh, you're talking about dildos!" Ruby said upon waking up.
Granny stopped mopping her head with a wet cloth. "I'm going to watch Passions. You manage this… sex shop on your own!"
Emma was across the store, in a booth, eating her lunch. "Sorry, my fries were ready. And warm. And Granny said you were fine."
Ruby scowled at her, the bell dinging in the background as Granny left. "I want your pickles."
Emma took the top bun off her burger.
Once Ruby had scarfed those down—Emma having resisted the urge to toss them to her like she did to Pongo—she sat down across from Emma. "So, your sweet thang uses a dildo. I figured you for the type who'd just want the real thing."
"Well, my sweet thang doesn't have the real thing."
Ruby blinked. Hook didn't have a… "Oh. I see. Well, no big deal." No deal at all, either. "Just, y'know, buy a new one that you think is a better… fit… and ask if you can try that. Once you do, just say how much better it was and that you don't want to go back."
Emma grinned. "That just might work. Thanks, Ruby." She got up to go, grabbing her burger as she went. "Oh, and by the way, could you let the town in on the more SFW stuff for me? You are our unofficial newsletter."
"Yeah, yeah, sure…" Ruby was lost in thought. "Hey, Emma, could I ask a personal question?"
"Do you ever, y'know… use the dildo yourself?"
Emma looked at her. "Actually? When it comes to the Satisfyher, I think I use it best."
Ruby felt faint again. She had to tell Belle about this. And if she hurried, she could make it while Belle was still sunbathing.
The town Christmas party would be taking place in the Clocktower, which Regina had graciously enchanted to be bigger on the inside. She didn't know why, after this, several people had presented her with fezzes and assured her of how cool they were. She would not be swayed by peer pressure.
The only problem was, there was a line to ascend the narrow staircase to the ballroom-sized summit Regina had created, and that was where Hook and Neal found themselves at the beginning of the evening.
"So, Neal," Hook replied. Sometimes, people in this town made it so easy to be suave.
"I've noticed a lot of people in town have been talking about your… impairment."
"Well, wave it around often enough, people are bound to pay attention."
Neal's brow furrowed, as was its wont. "How'd you, ah, lose it? If you don't mind my asking?"
"The Crocodile cut it off. Don't know what became of it after that. Apparently, there are stories of him eating it—"
Neal blanched. "I'm sure Papa wouldn't—I mean, sorry to hear that, man."
"Well, no matter. I have a new appendage now. Hard steel, a few mystical enhancements—I even like the curve of it."
"Really? Because mine curves a little to the left and I always—"
"Come on in, boys," the doorman called. "The party's just getting started."
Upstairs, Mary-Margaret was in ecstasy, and not just because she'd spotted no less than seven people wearing the Christmas sweaters she'd knitted them. She clung to David's arm in excitement. "Can you believe it? Any minute now, our daughter is going to show up with the love of her life! Imagine, her and Neal, dancing the night away!"
David nodded. "Yeah, it sounds—wait, Emma and Neal? What about her and Hook?"
"Hook! That scruffy pirate? Don't be absurd."
David shook her off his arm to stare at her. "Absurd is expecting our daughter to just forgive Neal for leaving her to rot in jail. Hook has been changing for her every step of the way."
"But what kind of parent will he make? Emma isn't on her own anymore. She has a son to take care of, a son who needs a father. That's why she's clearly chosen to get back together with Neal."
"Hook's a changed man!"
"Neal is still Henry's father!"
David gritted his teeth. "If only there was someone who'd redeemed themselves for Emma, and was also a parent to her child."
"Don't be ridiculous. There's Emma," Mary-Margaret pointed. "I think we can settle this question once and for all. Emma!" she called. "Where's your new beau? We can't wait for you two to have the first dance."
Emma was distractedly thinking much the same thing, looking around the crowded party for Regina. "I don't think she's here yet. Hold on, I'll go find her."
"'She'?" Mary-Margaret muttered as Emma went off.
"Emma's dating a woman?"
"What woman could Emma possibly be—"
They stopped and looked at each other. "Ruby."
Ruby was at the punch bowl, making sure no one spiked it—more than she already had. "That's exactly my point," she said to Belle. "Four fingers would be sex, but anything less than that is just friends being—"
"Ruby!" David called, the vanguard of Hurricane Mary-Margaret right behind him.
"How could you corrupt our daughter?!" "We trusted you!" "Going behind our backs—" "What else have you been hiding from us?" "Thank God I already have a grandson!"
Ruby held up her hands in her surrender. "Guys, come on, when she came to me, she was the one talking about dildos!"
Hook didn't know why he'd gone to the Christmas party.
Wait, yes he did. Free food. And given the taste of the punch, free booze as well.
"Well hello there, Hook," the old one was talking to him. What was her name? Granny? No, that could be right—"So, hear you've finally gotten a place in town."
"Yes." He swilled some 'punch'. "After seeing that Captain Philips movie, I can see my brand of piracy isn't welcome in the world. So I've decided to put down roots."
"Yeah, moved into one of the empty apartments on Florence Street. It have a backdoor?"
"I should say it does."
"Yeah, been hearing a lot of talk lately. People coming in your backdoor—"
"Well, that's what it's there for."
"Some would say that's what the front door is for."
Hook waved his hook around in agitation. "Yes, well, my backdoor is just as easy to get through as my front door."
"Ah, so you have a front door?"
"What of it? I'm sure you have one too."
"Yeah, not that it sees much use."
"I was planning on going through it tomorrow, getting some pie."
Granny blushed. "You rogue! How do you know I don't prefer my men with no front door?"
"You know, a lot of 'apartments' have just a backdoor. In front, there's just a… flagpole."
"I assure you, ma'am, my front door is there and quite adequate to your needs."
"Yeah, I'll just bet it is. See you tomorrow, stud." And, with a wink, Granny went on her way.
"What was that all about?" Tinkerbell asked, bringing Hook a plate of cookies.
"No idea. You don't think 'backdoor' has some sort of double meaning here, do you?"
Tinkerbell shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, look, there's your girlfriend."
Hook looked over to see Emma. And close to the mistletoe, as well. "There she is indeed. I should give her my regards—"
"I don't think so," came a voice behind Hook. Turning around, he saw Neal. "I know what you're up to, spreading these rumors about you and Emma because of some elaborate plot…"
"Like knocking her up, sticking her in prison, and getting engaged to another woman 'for her own good'? That elaborate?"
"I had Mary-Margaret herself tell me 'welcome to the family,' so clearly the fix is in. She's going to choose me tonight, and you just want to throw a wrench in the works at the last minute."
"Please, I wouldn't even know how to get Emma arrested."
"Would you stop bringing that up? I'm not the one who has more rape jokes than a Dane Cook CD."
"You know you like it, shit. That came out wrong. If you don't like my sense of humor, just keep quiet and don't fight it, damn."
Neal grinned, pushing past Hook. "Yeah, I think we know who Emma will end up with."
"Think she'll be with you for twenty-five to life?"
"Yes, I told everyone about us," Emma was saying into her phone. "David, Mary-Margaret, even Ruby. They're all fine with it, so why are you hiding in the bathroom? Yes, I'm sure you made the porcelain very nice, but is that more important than Christmas? Oh, well if you're catching up with Kathryn, by all means, ignore me and my family. Wait, she said Hook had no what?"
Suddenly, Neal was there, leaning suavely under the mistletoe. Emma hung up her phone. "Hey, Emma, I know you're focused on Henry right now, but I'll be here for the next five minutes, so if you want to kiss me, just walk under this arch. Otherwise, you'll never see me again."
Hook leaned on the other side of the arch. "Keen sensitivity we're extending to her abandonment issues, aren't we Neal?"
"I don't have abandonment issues!" Emma growled. "Wait, where's my phone? Where the hell is my phone? Where'd it go? WHERE IS—oh, jacket pocket."
"Emma, I don't want to force your hand," Hook said passionately. "I'll just be under this mistletoe, waiting for you, if you'll have me. And the exit is through here, so…"
"If you're both under the mistletoe, why don't you just kiss each other?" Emma asked.
"C'mon, Hook doesn't even have a penis."
"I do too!"
"He does!" David added, part of the crowd that was gathering.
"Guys, c'mon, I'm a modern woman. If I want to kiss someone, I hardly need a plant for an excuse."
"Good," Regina said behind her, then twisted Emma around, dipped her nearly to the ground, and kissed her full on the lips.
There was silence, except for the distant sound of Belle and Ruby moaning in a closet.
Then Mary-Margaret cried "POOOOOOOOOOOOOOORN!"