Taken

Little SwanQueen fluff. Rated A.

* * * * *

“Ma’am, what can I get you?” the pleasant-faced young man behind the bar asked.

Regina Mills held her fingers three inches apart. “Gin,” she said, then shortened the gap to barely half an inch, “and tonic. Slice of lemon, no ice.”

“Coming right up.” The boy—he couldn’t be more than twenty-three, with an earnest smile and startlingly white teeth, and was smiling at her more flirtatiously than she was used to after three decades in Storybrooke—nodded and tapped his fingers on the counter. She didn’t think she’d seen him before, but hotel staff changed often, she supposed.

As he fixed her drink, she glanced around for an empty booth which was close enough to the bar to ensure prompt service, but secluded enough that no-one would feel inspired to approach her. She didn’t expect that anyone would, though. On her previous visits, the patrons had been the standard high-end hotel weeknight guests of business people, travelling couples, and the occasional working girl. They tended to gravitate towards the stools at the bar, from where there was an excellent view across Bar Harbor marina, and they tended to keep to themselves. In summer, the bar would probably be standing room only. In late January, as it was now, they would be lucky to have more than six or seven people at any one time.

Coming there was one of her very few indulgences, a chance to leave Storybrooke behind and find some peace in being surrounded by true strangers. She only came when her son, Henry, was staying with his other mother during the school week, which was rarely more than one week in four, depending on the Sheriff’s schedule.

She’d tried a few hotels before settling on this one; the others had been too loud or too busy or too bright and open. This one was dark wood and a roaring fire and, best of all, no music of any kind. Although she came to be alone, Regina liked people watching and, frankly, eavesdropping. She formed a back story for the customers as they entered, and she liked to hear if she was right. She also liked to try to guess their drinks from their clothes and their demeanour, and she was getting pretty good at that, too.

The guy at the end of the bar, for example, was a beer man: early forties, jeans with a dress shirt, florid complexion, a bit overweight, wedding ring. He’d perked up when she walked in, and slid his left hand beneath the bar to hide the ring, but she’d been careful to look through and past him to discourage his interest. Sitting at a table by the fire, a younger woman in a business suit tapping away on her laptop was definitely a red wine, and probably just the one large glass while she reviewed whatever she was working on.

The bartender placed her drink in front of her and said, “That’ll be eight bucks.” She handed him a ten, told him to keep the change, and walked towards her preferred searing area. She picked a booth which would allow her to see most of the bar, but would have anyone there with their backs to her. It was also shadowed in half-light, which added to the feeling of hiding herself, escaping entirely.

Normally, she had two drinks followed by a coffee to make sure she was alert for the drive home in the dark, and then headed back to Storybrooke. Tonight, though, she had taken a room, the largest and most expensive available. It was her birthday in a few days and she wanted to treat herself with a proper break, if only for one night. It was infinitely tiring to spend one’s life in a small town where everyone knew everything. Even if most of the townspeople didn’t harbour outright hostility towards her anymore, it was still a trial to see the same faces every day and know that they knew all about her past and her present. So, she’d told Henry that she would be spending the night away on business, and headed out of town.

For the first hour as she nursed her drink, there wasn’t much to see. An older couple—she guessed brandy, but they ordered Irish coffees—came in and talked excitedly of the grandchildren they would be seeing the following morning. Single-Red-Wine ordered a single glass of red and returned to her laptop. Married-but-Looking had two more beers and kept ignoring the buzz of his phone against the bar. He checked the screen occasionally then replaced it, face-down. No doubt his wife was looking for him.

She was about to order another gin and tonic when a youngish businessman entered and sat at the end of the bar nearest her. Sadly, the chatter of the older couple walking by her as they left stopped her from hearing his drink.

He was handsome enough, movie-star handsome, in fact. Eugenia Lucas would’ve known which actor he reminded Regina of, because Eugenia often described people thus—‘like a young Omar Sharif’ or ‘like a taller Tom Cruise, but without the grin’—even though many of the references were lost on Regina. Ray, was it? Taye? Something like that anyway. He was well-tailored pants, shirt and tie, no jacket, expensive watch and shoes. The cufflinks were little anchors, so she was thinking boat salesman, although he could be the owner of one of the expensive yachts in the harbour.

Feeling the effects of her first drink, she slipped out of her seat and headed to the restrooms, taking extra time to wash her face with cold water and reapply her make-up. When she returned, Boat Guy was no longer alone. In fact, Regina’s heart all but stopped when she saw who was standing next to him, hands pressed onto the bar as she looked left and right.

Emma Swan, her town’s Sheriff, their son’s other mother, one of the main reasons Regina wanted a break from Storybrooke, was standing there in trademarked too-tight jeans and red leather jacket. Regina ducked behind a stone pillar. Carefully, like a child spying on his parents, she inched around until she could look in their direction without being seen.

“I probably shouldn’t,” Emma was saying to Boat Guy, obviously turning down the offer of a drink. She was definitely agitated, judging by her tight shoulders and clenched fists.

“Shouldn’t isn’t can’t,” the man said, indicating to the bartender to approach. Emma’s potential suitor looked like an expensive vodka to Regina; Emma herself was a bourbon or, on those frequent occasions when they shared a friendly drink at Regina’s house, a malt whisky neat.

“I’m not looking for company. I’m trying to find someone.” Emma was in Sheriff mode, using her most official tone, which hardly anyone in Storybrooke got to hear unless she was making an actual arrest, which wasn’t a common occurrence.

“Boyfriend?”

“No. Definitely not.”

“Girlfriend, then?” Boat Guy smirked, but it wasn’t leering or unkind. He seemed curious, if anything.

“No.” Emma turned slightly towards him, giving Regina a chance to see her face in partial profile. Emma was also weighing up the stranger, appraising him and deciding whether he was worth her time or not. Regina knew that look well. She pulled back her jacket, exposing her hip where she kept her badge. “I’m the Sheriff of a small town up the coast and, like I said, I’m looking for someone.” She shook her head. “Although I’m running out of places to look.” She turned her head again, and Regina pressed back against the pillar, staying as still as possible.

“Which town?”

“Storybrooke.”

“Never heard of it. And I thought I knew all the towns along the coast here. I’m a chandler. That’s a—”

“—guy who sells boat stuff. Yeah, I know.”

Regina smiled at the brusque tone. Emma never did take well to being spoken down to. She shifted again and caught a glimpse of Emma throwing her head back what appeared to be in frustration.

“So, who’re you looking for? Maybe I’ve seen him.”

“Her. It’s a her.” She sighed and looked at the bartender. “You know what? Jack over ice. And give him whatever he’s having.” She turned back to Boat Guy. “Yay high,” she held her hand up to her ear, “brunette, thirties, well-dressed, hot as hell, looks like she stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine.” Fishing into her back pocket, she pulled out her phone and showed him the picture on the lock screen. “Her.”

Regina’s heart stuttered again. Emma had to mean her. Why would Emma be looking for her, though? Why was Regina the wallpaper on her phone? Why would she describe her as ‘hot as hell’? And why was Married-but-Looking staring at Emma with open appreciation from his end of the bar, like he had any right to even look at her?

Boat Guy gave a low whistle. “Definitely hot as hell, but she doesn’t look familiar to me. Is that her kid?”

“Our kid.” Emma replaced the phone in her pocket and sat up on the bar stool next to him. It was the very last one at the bar and effectively meant that Regina could not longer return to her previous seat without being seen.

“So, you’re the Sheriff, she’s the mother of your son, you’re out looking for her, but she’s not your girlfriend?”

“Yup.” The bartender returned and placed their drinks in front of them. Emma slipped him a twenty, waving away the change.

“Your ex?”

“Nope.” Emma took her bourbon-rocks and sipped, her eyes fluttering closed for a few seconds as the cold liquid passed her lips. She stared at her glass, swirling the ice cubes around. “It’s complicated.”

“Sounds like it.” He shrugged and loosened his tie. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t set up a story like that and not follow through with details. And I’m a good listener.”

Emma side-glanced him. “Don’t take this personally, but I’m really not interested.”

“Now I’m insulted. I’m not hitting on you.” Emma must have shown her disbelief, because he held his hands up. “Okay, I was, but I’ll stop.”

“Good, because I’m taken.” And with that, Emma half-turned away from him, and Regina could see that her lips were curled up into a small, secret smile. She was intrigued by Emma’s use of language. ‘Taken’ was such an old-fashioned term for a young, modern woman to use. More to the point, Emma wasn’t dating anyone as far as Regina knew.

“Look, I had a long and very unprofitable day, and I’d like some company. Plus, this definitely sounds like a story worth hearing. So, how about this?” he said. “You and me share this drink and we talk. No strings, no expectations.” He lifted his drink in toast and it was clear and sparkling, vodka-tonic, possibly.

Emma grunted. It wasn’t quite a laugh, but she was amused. “If it makes you feel any better, five years ago, you’d have been just my type.”

“But not now because you’re taken?”

“Yup.” Emma sipped her drink again, offering no further information.

He shifted in his stool, letting his forearms rest on the bar. “How about we start over? Hi, I’m Earvin.”

“As in Magic?”

Regina frowned. The name Earvin had no connection to magic in her mind. She wasn’t even sure she’d heard the name before. How would Emma know magic users of whom Regina was unaware?

“The very same.”

“Cool. I’m Emma.” She held out her hand, and he shook it formally.

“Pleased to meet you.” He gave her a broad grin. “And what brings you to Bar Harbor on a cold and dark winter’s night, Emma?”

“I’m looking for my son’s mother.”

“Oh, you have a son?” There was laughter in Earvin’s voice, trying to tease anything other than a short answer from her.

“Henry. He’s fourteen.”

“Really? You look far too young to have a boy that age.” That earned him another side-glance from Emma. “Hey, a guy can give a lady a compliment without it being a come-on.”

“He—” Emma turned the glass in her hands and stared at it. “Long story short, I was just a kid myself when I had him. I gave him up for adoption. She adopted him. I didn’t see him again or meet her until he was ten, when he came looking for me. I moved up here to be near him, and now we’re bringing him up between us. Hence, we have a kid together but without ever being together-together. He lives with her most of the time, because she’s his real Mom. In fact, she’s pretty much everything I wanted for him when I gave him up.”

Regina shook her head. That certainly wasn’t the impression that Emma usually gave her, although she had been much more solicitous to Regina’s role as main parent since returning from New York.

“Ah.” He took a sip of his own drink. “Can I see the picture again?” He gestured with his hand, and Emma gave him her phone. He studied the picture more carefully. “He looks a lot like her, though.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s weird, right? Mostly it’s their mannerisms and their speech patterns, but sometimes he’s a total mini-me.” Regina was surprised to hear the real warmth in Emma’s voice as she said that, but, then, she no longer resented the similarities between Emma and Henry either. In fact, she relished them. “They both get this look,” Emma said, “like a scrunchy thing right between their eyes. It’s their ‘you’re an idiot’ look. I see that one a lot. Then there’s the Eyebrow Lift of Disbelief, and the Furrowed Brow of Confusion, not to mention the Evil Smirk of Getting Their Own Way.”

She shook her head at Emma’s ridiculous descriptions and took the momentary distraction of both of them looking at Emma’s phone to slip into the nearest booth. She slid across the leather until she was seated with her back to them as well. Much as she would like to be able to see their interaction, she didn’t want to be caught. In fact, she would have chosen to leave, even without hearing the rest of Emma’s conversation, had she not left her coat, her car keys tucked into the pocket, in her previous booth.

“Is there a husband?”

Emma laughed outright at that. “No, no husband. It’s always just been her and Henry. She was seeing this guy a while back and I think she thought maybe he could be—” Emma sounded forlorn, and Regina wished desperately that she could see her. “But, no. It’s just them. Or, us, I guess. Henry and his two moms.”

“How about you?”

“I’ve never been married, either.”

“Not what I was asking, but I get you.” And that was a strange statement which made Regina wonder what it was that he was getting that she didn’t. “So, what does she do, this mom?”

“She’s the mayor.”

“My mom’s an alderman down in Farmerville. Pretty busy job, city government, especially for a single mom.”

“Yeah, and she’s good at it, too, but she always has time for us.”

“Us?”

“Henry, I mean. I’m there a lot, though, because she makes sure I see him every day.”

Regina hadn’t thought Emma had noticed that she went out of her way to ensure that Emma was integrated into their daily lives. Having spent a full year without seeing Henry at all, and months before that with little access to him, Regina knew the pain of being separated from her son. They might be one of the world’s least conventional family units, but Henry deserved as normal a life as possible, and that meant seeing both of his mothers every day. He needed them and they needed him. So, even if it was just picking up Henry from school or attending soccer practice together, Emma was there. And Emma being there allowed Regina to see her, too. And that was as important to Regina’s emotional equilibrium as it was to Henry’s, because Regina was in love with Emma Swan, and had been for some time.

“So, why are you looking for her?”

“She told the kid that she had to go somewhere for the night on business, but she doesn’t have any business here that I know of. Plus, she told him not to tell me about it, which is weird in itself, because she makes this really huge deal about sharing schedules in case of emergencies or whatever. And I know she’s been sneaking off every few weeks for a while now, but she’s never spent a night away before, so I got worried that maybe she was in some kind of trouble or something.”

So Emma was aware that she had been sneaking away? Regina didn’t know whether to be more impressed that Emma knew this, or that she had never brought it up. The Charmings weren’t exactly well-known for their ability to keep a secret, although Emma was, she supposed, not like the rest of her family.

“Maybe she got back together with the boyfriend?”

“No, it’s not him. He’s remarried now, and she wouldn’t cheat with another woman’s husband. She’s not like that.” If Regina didn’t know any better, she might have thought that Emma was defending her honour.

“A new boyfriend?”

“Yeah, maybe. It’s my best guess. But, then, why would she hide him from us? I mean, we’d try to be happy for her.”

“Just try, huh?”

“What?” Emma sounded defensive.

“She’s the one, right? She’s why you’re taken.”

Regina scoffed at the ridiculous notion. As if Emma Swan had any romantic feelings for her. Just because Regina had been stupid enough to fall in love with the idiot offspring of her former nemeses didn’t mean that those feelings could or would ever be returned. Her hopeless, unrequited feelings for Emma were the main reason she had to run from Storybrooke so often. Living amongst a town full of people who wanted their fairytale princess to find love with a handsome prince or a reprobate pirate or just about anyone who wasn’t the Evil Queen merely underscored the futility of having such yearnings. Seeing Emma every day was both a blessing and a curse: it soothed her soul, but it also reminded that they would never be more than they were.

“Yeah, she is,” Emma finally answered, and Regina’s whole body went rigid with shock.

“But you’re not together?”

“You can belong to someone without them claiming you.” And she sounded so sad that Regina’s heart constricted. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” Emma asked.

“No.” Earvin laughed at the ridiculousness of the notion.

Emma chuckled. “Yeah, me either. Lust on first sight, though—that totally happens. She was something else, like this fierce, protective goddess. I mean, angry as all hell, but sex on legs, you know? And I got it, because Henry had stolen a credit card to run away to Boston to find me and she was worried sick, like anyone would be when their ten-year-old takes a bus across state lines to a huge city to hunt down the woman who abandoned him. But, she was just so,” Emma exhaled heavily, “so everything. And we fought like hell at first because she thought I was trying to take him away from her. You should see her when she gets angry, though.” Emma’s tone softened.

“Hot?”

“Oh, you have no idea. And she used to get right up into my face and I had to concentrate really hard not to just—” She broke off and laughed again. “Whatever.”

No, Regina did not know, and she wanted to know. And, more infuriatingly, Emma must have made some kind of gesture because that man was laughing along with her, and therefore he knew whatever it was that Emma was not verbalising.

“Anyway,” Emma said, “we worked it out. The kid, he’s the best part of both of us, the most important thing in the world. So, we fixed it. We agreed to put him before everything else, and I think we were getting to a good place. And then she had to go away for a while, family stuff in Europe, and I, uh, got a job in New York, and we agreed that I should take Henry with me.”

Regina almost laughed out loud, because that had to be the most asinine description of a curse ripping their family apart that she had ever heard. Of course, Emma had no choice put to put it that way, because she could hardly tell the truth. But, seriously, that was how Emma glossed over the worst experience of Regina’s life—family stuff in Europe and a new job?

“So, then, flash-forward a year, and she came home, so we headed back up here. And, the second I saw her again, I knew. I might not believe in love at first sight, but love at second sight? Yeah, that definitely happens, too. All this confusing shit I’d been feeling and trying to ignore, it made sense. She was it for me. And the way she lit up when she saw us. Man, I wanted to come home to that smile every day. Her and the kid, they were Tallahassee.” There was a pause, and Earvin must have been as confused as Regina as to the obscure reference because Emma explained, “Sorry, that was an in-joke between me and Henry’s dad, a lifetime ago. Before I got pregnant with Henry, we used to talk about running away to Tallahassee to find our happy ending.”

“Why Tallahassee?”

“Hey, I was, like, seventeen and I’d bounced around the system, bounced around the country, and Florida seemed like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But, I’ve been there, and it’s just a place. Regina and Henry, they’re where I belong.”

“And you haven’t told her how you feel?” Earvin said.

There was the clinking of glass and then Emma raised her voice. “Hey, there.” She was obviously calling the bartender over. “Same again for him, and a coffee for me.”

“Let me get it this time.”

“Nah, you’re okay. The mayor pays me pretty well. So, yeah, anyway, she doesn’t see me like that. We’re best friends now, I guess. And that’s more than I ever thought we’d be. I tried to move on once with this guy, but that was just a total disaster. He got jealous of how much time I spent with her, and I ended up resenting him for expecting me to prioritise him over her. I’m never going to be able to put anyone else before her. It’s not just because of the kid, even though they’re a package deal in my head. It’s her. She’s always gonna be the one. So, it’s better like this. At least I get to see them every day. And when she finds someone else, if she’s already seeing someone who lives around here, then I just want to see for myself. I need to know that they’re good enough for her, because she deserves the best, and I want to make sure she’s not settling for less than that.”

Regina could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. She tried to push them back and gather herself. She was not the sort of woman who cried alone in hotel bars.

“Why do you think she’s seeing someone here, and not back in wherever?”

“Storybrooke. I, uh, put a GPS tracker on her car. It’s parked about a quarter-mile from here.”

Earvin gave a startled bark of laughter. “Okay, that’s just messed up.”

“I know, I know, but I gotta look out for her. She loves so hard that it leaves her open to a world of hurt, and I’ll do anything to protect her. I always will. Kind of a life’s mission thing.”

The relative quiet of the bar was interrupted by the noise of a cellphone ringing, some modern song which Regina didn’t recognise, but she knew it wasn’t any of Emma’s many, varied and infuriating ringtones.

“Shit. I gotta take this. Gimme a few?” Earvin said, and then Regina saw him moving past her, out into the hotel lobby where she knew the signal was stronger. She wondered how much longer she could lurk where she was or whether it was better to slip away and hope that her coat and car keys would be fine until she could retrieve them later.

“You can come out now.”

No. Emma did not just say that. Regina reflexively ducked her head and slunk further down into her seat.

“Even if that wasn’t obviously your coat in the booth next to me, and I couldn’t smell your perfume in the air, you should probably know that there’s a fuck-off huge mirror above the bar.”

Shutting her eyes, Regina took a number of calming breaths and then hesitantly stood. As she turned, she saw Emma watching her in what was, indeed, a fuck-off huge mirror above the bar. It was hard to believe she’d never noticed it, but there it was. Emma was sipping her coffee and her shoulders were slumped again, but she met Regina’s gaze anyway, a wry smile on her face. As Regina took a step towards her, Emma put down the cup and swivelled around on the bar stool, her hands resting in her lap, her head bowed.

“So, you heard.”

“Yes.” Regina took another step forward.

“Well, you were going to find out how I felt at some point because I just can’t seem to get past it, although I don’t really want to. You’re kind of all I think about these days, and I figured it’s better that you hear it from me. That way, we can, you know, work through it like adults and move on.” Emma reached her hand up to scratch her cheek, and looked at her sheepishly. “Still friends?”

“No.” Regina took another few steps, stopping a foot in front of Emma. The other woman’s eyes flashed with sorrow and pain for just a second, before she nodded.

“Figures.”

Regina inclined her head towards Earvin, whose attention was split between his telephone conversation and the two of them.

“That used to be your type?” she asked.

Emma chuckled mirthlessly. “Before you? Yeah.”

“Handsome.”

“I suppose.” Emma looked defeated, and she was so close, close enough to touch. Regina’s balled her hands into fists to stop her from reaching out and doing so just yet.

“There’s no other man.”

“What?”

“The reason I came here. There isn’t someone else. There never has been.” There was only ever Emma, even when she hadn’t wanted to admit it, even to herself. Even when she had been with Robin there had only ever really been Emma, but she hadn’t believed that Emma could ever be hers.

“Oh, right. Then, why?” Emma’s scowl was so utterly Henry.

“I just needed to get away.”

“From what?”

“Storybrooke. Life. Things.”

“But I was worried.”

“I know.” And that was the thing: Emma always worried about her. And she always worried about Emma. They were undoubtedly a partnership, stronger together, inexorably linked by their precious boy and maybe by other things which Regina had never allowed herself to consider, had assumed were never meant to be.

“So, why did you hide it from me?”

Regina shook her head. Later, she could tell her later. Emma would understand the need to run, even for a short time, from the feelings of having everything she ever wanted so close and yet not quite in the exact way she wanted them.

“How does this claiming thing work?” she asked, apparently changing the subject, but not really because Emma was everything and everything was connected to Emma.

“What claiming thing?” Emma looked even more confused, and leaned back, arms spreading along the bar.

“If someone wanted to move past friends and claim you,” she let her mouth curl up in a sly smile, “to show the world that you were taken, how might they do that?” She watched with delight as Emma’s confusion turned to shock and then to the slightest touch of arrogance, her back straightening as she sat upright again, her eyes growing mirthful.

“I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it.” That was a lie. The way she was licking her lips and staring at Regina’s mouth gave a very strong indication of what she had in mind.

Regina grabbed a handful of the front of Emma’s sweater, some ridiculous fisherman’s thing which Snow must have made for her if the misshapen form and irregular knit was anything to go by, and pulled her forward, feeling Emma’s hands instinctively reach out to settle on her hips. Emma was now perched on the edge of the stool, and Regina moved right up against her.

“You do know that it is wrong on many levels to imply that people belong to other people?” Regina said, her mouth so close to Emma’s that she could feel the other woman’s erratic panting against her lips. “And, moreover, it’s so old me.”

“Yeah, but it’s different if it’s me giving myself. And I kinda need to be claimed and taken.” She rubbed her nose against Regina’s, grinning. “A firm hand, you might say.”

It couldn’t be this easy. It shouldn’t be this easy. But it was. Regina laughed with sheer delight and lifted her hand to Emma’s cheek, her touch anything but firm.

“I have a room upstairs, you know.” And she loved the way Emma’s eyes widened and then darkened.

“Aren’t you at least going to kiss me first?” Their lips were almost touching.

“I haven’t decided yet, but I’m seriously considering it.”

Emma’s cheeks coloured. “It never occurred to me that you felt—” She just shrugged. It was too soon to say those words to each other’s face, but it wouldn’t be long until they did.

“Oh, I do.” She stroked her thumb just below Emma’s eye. “I have for the longest time.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Emma’s hands tightened on her hips, pulling her closer, closer still.

“Because it hadn’t occurred to me that you felt also.” Yes, much too soon to say those words—that word—even though the feelings were there and they were true. They could talk about it at some point much later when they didn’t have more pressing matters to address.

“Yeah, for the longest time.” Emma breathed a little sigh of laughter. “We should talk more.”

“On the contrary,” she ran her tongue over her own lips, not quite ready to close the gap between them, “I can think of many things I would much rather be doing with you than talking.”

“Oh, hey,” Earvin’s voice interrupted them, “you found each other, then.”

Regina looked at Emma and they stared at each other for a few moments before they both dissolved into giggles at his choice of words. He sat back down on the stool next to them, obviously confused by their reaction, and Regina could not stop laughing. Every time she thought she might be able to compose herself, a glance at Emma set her off again. She laughed until she couldn’t even make a sound and the only thing holding her upright was Emma’s arm around her waist. Earvin was staring as if they were both mad and Emma’s head had dropped to her shoulder, her body still shaking with giggles herself, and Regina couldn’t remember a time in her life when her heart had felt quite so free as it was in that moment. She wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes and nodded at the man to her left, as she felt Emma bury her face in her neck and rub her mouth against her skin. It wasn’t even a real kiss, but it made Regina shiver regardless.

“Hello, I’m Regina Mills,” she said.

“Earvin Reynolds,” he replied. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

She tugged gently at Emma’s hair until she looked up at her. She smiled down at the love she saw in those green, green eyes. “And obviously you’ve met my girlfriend, Sheriff Emma Swan.”

“Girlfriend, huh?”

Regina shrugged. “I thought I should claim her before anyone else got ideas.”

Earvin looked at Emma. “Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s ever gonna think she’s available.”

“No,” Regina brushed her lips against Emma’s eyebrow, “she’s taken. Mine.” It wasn’t that she had been jealous of Earvin’s mild flirting—Emma had made it abundantly clear from the start that she wasn’t interested—more that she just wanted to try the word out loud, to hear it for herself. It sounded better than good.

“So I heard.”

“You know I’m sitting right here,” Emma said in an adorable mumble which sounded equal parts embarrassed and happy.

“It had not escaped my notice,” Regina said. She let herself lean into Emma’s body, feeling Emma’s face buried against her neck again. Emma was strength and softness, safety and danger. Emma felt a lot like home and happiness and things Regina had never believed would be hers. And the almost imperceptible feel of Emma’s lips against her skin was spiking her arousal in ways Regina could never have imagined. She shook her head, clearing her thoughts. “Well, it was very nice to meet you, Mr Reynolds, but I have urgent business with the Sheriff here.”

She gave Earvin a tight smile and a nod, as she moved just far enough from Emma to hook her index finger into one of the other woman’s belt loops and tug her off the bar stool. She stepped back and retrieved her coat from the booth at which she had first sat down, while Emma shifted from foot to foot, her gaze never drifting from Regina.

“So, yeah, good to meet you,” she said to Earvin.

“Thanks for the drinks,” he replied, outright laughing at her behaviour. “And good luck with everything.”

Regina pulled her coat on, smoothing its lapels and adjusting her purse on her shoulder as she checked her make-up in the mirror above the bar, before nodding to herself.

“She doesn’t need luck, Mr Reynolds,” Regina said, patting him on the shoulder as she strode towards the hotel’s elevators in the lobby, not waiting to see his reaction and knowing that Emma would follow immediately behind her. She had only just pressed the call button when she felt a warmth at her side and a possessive hand sneak around her waist, fingers straying over hip and digging in.

“Hi,” Emma said.

“Hi,” she replied, feeling more like a blushing teenager than she ever had as a blushing teenager. Emma Swan did that to her, though. She made her feel all of her emotions at once, which was exhilarating but also confusing, and she wasn’t good at showing or explaining her emotions, but she suddenly wanted to be, for Emma, for whatever they were about to start between them.

“So—” Emma was smiling bashfully, but Regina felt it important to say what she wanted to say before they went any further.

“You understand that this works both way, yes?” She searched Emma’s face for understanding, but saw only confusion and mild panic. “That I am not just claiming you, but I am expecting you to claim me too, I mean? That I expect the world to know that I am taken, too, as you put it?”

The elevator doors dinged and opened, and Emma used the arm around Regina’s waist to usher her to the side as a large family group spilled from the car, all trying to talk over each other at once. Emma then guided her inside and paused with her hand over the buttons.

“What floor?”

“Four,” Regina said, trying not to worry that Emma still hadn’t replied to her questions.

Emma nodded and pushed the button, and then took two steps forward, pressing herself against Regina and pressing Regina against the back wall of the elevator. Her hands found Regina’s hips and her fingers flexed, as her mouth pulled into a lazy grin and her gaze fell to Regina’s lips.

“I’m thinking,” she said, leaning in until their mouths were almost touching, “that if you let me do all the things I strongly suspect you’re about to, all the things I’ve been wanting to do to you for so fucking long it’s just not funny, that the entire fourth floor is about to hear you get taken repeatedly. The rest of the world, we can deal with tomorrow.”

Regina’s heart was pounding, and the blood was rushing through her head. That suggestion, in Emma’s low, confident tone, was possibly the most arousing thing she’d ever heard.

“Are you going to kiss me now?” she asked, rubbing her lower lip against Emma’s.

Emma grinned back. “I haven’t decided yet, but I’m seriously considering it.”

2 Comments

  1. Nephro god
    Posted 15 October 2014 at 6.46am | Permalink

    Hot damn.

  2. Posted 24 October 2014 at 3.51am | Permalink

    “So, you’re the Sheriff, she’s the mother of your son, you’re out looking for her, but she’s not your girlfriend?” Great line. Great story thank you for all your stories. People binge watch shows and I’ve been binge reading all your great fics, frankly my TV is really angry at you cuz I’ve been neglecting it. I can’t stop reading att home and work seriously I’m obsessed. You and Clom are an amazing writers.

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