“This was a juvie record,” Emma snapped as she walked through the door to Regina’s office. The mayor was packing up her belongings for the day, and as soon as she heard Emma’s irritated voice wafting over to her, she automatically rolled her eyes. “I don’t know how you got it, but that’s abuse of power and illegal.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Regina replied coolly. “You didn’t want people to know you cut his cord with a shiv?”
Emma felt her nostrils flare at the self-satisfied expression on her face. “I don’t care what people know, but this hurts Henry.”
“He would have learned eventually,” Regina said, collecting her purse and heading for the door. Emma traipsed along beside her, the rage burning high in her stomach. “We all lose our heroes at some point.”
“He doesn’t need to lose anything else,” Emma replied. Regina was locking up the office and switching off the lights like Emma’s presence was so utterly unimportant to her that it wouldn’t even stop her from getting home at six o’clock on the dot. “He’s… depressed, Madam Mayor. He doesn’t have any hope. Don’t you see that?”
Forcing down the urge to growl with frustration, Emma followed Regina along the dimly lit corridor and towards the elevator. “He’s not fine. I mean, think about it – watching his adoptive mother throw an illegal smear campaign against his birth mother? You don’t think that would be upsetting?”
Regina could be the most infuriating person in existence at the best of times, but right then, as she sauntered along with her chin held high and her purse clutched against her side, Emma really wanted to strangle her.
“All I did was expose him to the truth,” Regina said, stopping at the elevator and hitting the button. Emma came to a halt beside her, the crumpled newspaper still clenched in her fist. “And as for the legality – I did nothing wrong.”
Emma gritted her teeth together, all too ready to snap back – but before she could, Regina cut over the top of her with another frustratingly composed sentence.
“But you and Sidney will have a chance to get into all that at the debate.”
Something clunked inside Emma’s head. “Debate?”
The elevator doors slid open, and before she walked through them, Regina said, “Yes, Miss Swan. There’s a debate.”
Maybe she’d been expecting Emma to take a step back and leave her to make her journey down to the lobby alone, but Emma was in the mood for a confrontation and she wasn’t ready to stop sniping just then. Instead, she rolled her eyes and followed Regina onto the elevator. Regina sighed when she realised that the other woman was still with her, but she pressed the button for the ground floor without telling her to leave again.
“You two can talk about jail time and juvie records, and maybe even your new association with Mr Gold,” she said instead. Her eyes were raised, watching the numbers on the display tick down as the carriage slowly began to descend. She paused before adding, “He’s a snake, Miss Swan. You need to be careful who you get into bed with.”
Something that sounded strangely like concern was plucking at the end of her sentence, and Emma felt her forehead crumple.
“I’m not getting into bed with anyone,” she said slowly. “I’m just fighting fire with—”
A deafening crash cut her off, and they both toppled to the floor. Around them, the walls of the elevator seemed to be shrieking, metal scraping on metal as the carriage plummeted several feet, then came to an abrupt halt.
“Shit,” Emma blurted out, one arm thrown out and clinging onto the safety rail. The lights inside the elevator flickered off, and for a second they were immersed in complete darkness. “Shit.”
Then the emergency lighting blinked into action, filling the tiny metal box with a wash of pale green. Emma looked across at the other side of the elevator and, for a split second, caught the look of sheer panic that was plastered across Regina’s face.
“Hey,” Emma said, reaching out for her arm. “It’s okay. It was just—”
“What the hell happened?” Regina demanded, all semblance of fear suddenly gone from her voice. She snatched her arm away before Emma could touch it.
“I guess the power went out,” Emma said, climbing to her feet and waiting for the movement to send the whole elevator plunging down another 10 feet. When they didn’t move, she breathed a sigh of relief and reached out to try and help Regina up. “Or maybe it’s just... broken.”
“Oh, there’s that impeccable insight that you always manage to impress me with,” Regina retorted, ignoring Emma's outstretched hand and climbing to her feet unaided. As she dusted some lint off of her pantsuit, she added, “Did they teach you that in bail bondsperson school?”
Ignoring her, Emma reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell. “I don’t have any service. Do you?”
Regina checked her own. “No. Is there an emergency call button?”
Emma moved towards the panel of buttons and bent down to take a look. There was a big red button that said ‘press in case of emergency’ beneath it, but when she pushed down, nothing happened.
“Wow,” she sighed. “That’s just great. Way to go on maintaining the city’s infrastructure, Madam Mayor.”
“This is my fault?” Regina asked, pushing Emma out of the way so she could try the button for herself. It still did nothing, but Regina kept on furiously pounding her fist against it like sheer will alone would get the electrics working again.
“Hey, hey,” Emma said, grabbing her arm and pulling it away. “How about we try to not break this tin coffin even more, okay?”
“Don’t be glib with me,” Regina said, yanking herself free. “I have a son to get home to. Just because no one would miss you doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone.”
Emma’s eyebrows lifted. “Wow. That’s a cheap shot, even for you.”
But Regina didn’t seem to care all that much. Her nostrils were flaring, and she had begun to pace around the tiny room.
“Henry will realise something’s wrong when I don’t come home,” she said, talking more to herself than to Emma. “He’ll raise the alarm.”
“And until then?”
“Until then, you need to stop talking and let me think. I can’t concentrate with you wittering on in my ear.”
Rolling her eyes, Emma walked to the other side of the elevator and leaned against the wall. She crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for the sudden brainwave that apparently Regina was expecting to come to her.
She was waiting for a while. Regina’s face looked like it was slowly collapsing in on itself.
Eventually, Emma chimed in, “Can I offer a suggestion, or will my wittering ruin all your great progress?”
Regina glared at her. “You have a suggestion?”
“The walkie-talkies that Henry and I use,” Emma said. “I’m guessing you probably confiscated his again recently?”
Sudden hope lit up Regina’s face like a Christmas tree, and she fell to her knees. Emma watched as she began to rummage around inside her purse.
“I’ve got it,” she declared after a minute. She pulled the enormous device free and held it aloft. “Where’s yours?”
“In my bedroom.”
The brief flicker of victory slipped straight off Regina’s face. “In Mary Margaret’s apartment?”
“How is that helpful?”
“Just give it to me,” Emma said, holding out a hand. “It’s not helpful yet, but if we keep trying, eventually she’s bound to hear it.”
“Look, this is the only shot we’ve got, alright?” Emma snapped. Regina pressed her lips together, and then slowly passed it up to her.
Sliding down to the floor, Emma began to fiddle with the dial until the sound of static crackled through the speaker.
“It’s working, at least,” she said, lifting the device to her mouth. “Hello? Mary Margaret?”
They both waited, holding their breath, for a reply to come. When the radio stayed silent, Regina all but growled at it.
“That woman gets more and more useless every day.”
“This isn’t her fault,” Emma said, dropping the walkie-talkie into her lap.
“Then whose fault is it?” Regina asked, sitting back against the opposite wall with a groan.
“How the hell should I know? I just don’t think we can blame my roommate for the fact that the elevator broke down.”
“This elevator has been in perfect working order for years, Miss Swan. It’s never broken down before. Besides, it was only checked by maintenance this morning – what do you suggest happened to it in that time?”
Emma opened her mouth to argue, because that was her default reaction whenever she was trapped in the same space as Regina, but something made her pause. It came from a conversation she’d had only the day before.
Miss Swan, two people with a common goal can accomplish many things.
She pressed her lips together. Even in the dim light, Regina managed to spot the movement.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s nothing. I just...” Emma’s sentence trailed off. How would you like a benefactor?
“It’s not nothing. What do you know?”
Emma hadn’t liked the way Gold had smiled at her at the time, but she’d been so overcome with rage at the fact that Regina was trying to take her job away from her that she hadn’t stopped to give it much thought. Now, though…
“It’s just… something Gold said to me.”
For a second, Regina simply looked at her. Then the inevitable explosion came.
“For God’s sake, Miss Swan! What did I tell you about him?”
“You only told me to stay away from him five minutes ago! How was I supposed to know that he could have messed with the elevator?”
“If you used even an ounce of the common sense you were born with, you would have realised that he was not to be trusted. What did he say to you?”
Emma scoffed. “I don’t have to tell you that.”
“Yes, you do.”
“I really don’t – not when you’ll just use it against me the second we get out of here. I still want that sheriff’s job, you know.”
“There’s no way you’re getting your hands on that badge now,” Regina snapped. “What even was his plan here? To get us trapped in here so one of us would eventually be forced to eat the other?”
Fighting back a laugh, Emma said, “I have no idea. He didn’t actually say he was going to do anything – I just think you’re right. The timing is suspicious, and I guess there was no way Gold would know I’d end up stuck in here with you. Maybe he was expecting you to get trapped, and then I’d be the one to get you out.”
It sounded ridiculous, but then again, maybe it could have worked: Emma would have looked like a hero, rescuing the woman she hated most in the world, and the town would have begun to see her as a real option for the sheriff’s office at last. Maybe it would have even won her the election.
Except it hadn’t worked, because she was trapped as well and Regina was just rolling her eyes at the sheer stupidity of it all.
“Fantastic,” Regina said, stretching out her legs and crossing them at the ankle. “So I’m stuck in here all night, and it’s all because you want a job that you’re totally unqualified for. That’s perfect.”
It was only when Regina said those words that Emma started to realise the seriousness of the situation. All night. She lifted the radio to her mouth and tried to contact her roommate once more, but she was met with a crackly silence. Then she checked her cell, just in case the AT&T gods had finally heard her pleas, but the unwelcome sight of no bars at all blinked back at her.
She sighed. “Well. This sucks.”
“You can say that again,” Regina hissed from across the room. The way she was glaring made her look like a child, and at any other time Emma would have pointed that out. Now, though, she was trapped in a space of 20 square feet with her, and the likelihood of Regina ripping the safety bar off the wall and using it to bludgeon her to death seemed way too high.
Emma groaned and reached for the newspaper that she’d dropped when the elevator had come screeching to a halt. She opened it without a word, but even when she settled down to try and read it, she could feel Regina’s scowl burning into her.
She tried to invest herself in a story about a recent spate of vandalism down by the docks, hoping that Regina would eventually take the hint and realise that she wasn’t in the mood for another confrontation. Regina and peaceful silences didn’t go hand in hand, though, and barely 30 seconds had passed before she piped up again.
“You look ridiculous.”
Emma lifted her gaze. “Excuse me?”
“In the photo,” Regina said, gesturing to the front of the newspaper. Emma flicked it closed and looked down at the mug shot that Sidney had plastered across the front page, before re-opening it at the article she’d been reading.
“Mug shots usually aren’t that flattering,” she pointed out as she went back to reading.
“But yours is especially unattractive.”
Emma sighed. “Are you seriously trying to pick a fight right now?”
“Is that surprising?”
“No, but it’s not exactly the best time. If we’re going to be stuck here all night then I’d rather do it without both of us getting black eyes.”
“Neither one of us can be civil for that long. Especially not when we’re with each other.”
“Then pretend I’m not here,” Emma said flatly. Her eyes were still on the article, but she hadn’t read a word. “I’m more than happy to sit this entire thing out in silence.”
Regina just scoffed. She was still looking at the front page.
“I can’t believe you actually gave birth to my son behind bars.”
Emma dropped the newspaper into her lap. “Seriously?”
“No wonder he needs therapy.”
“Regina. This isn’t the time.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Regina said, false cheeriness making her words chime. “This is the first time we’ve ever been in the same room together for more than 10 minutes. Maybe we should get acquainted with one another’s tragic backstories.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”
Regina was smirking, because she was trying to get under Emma’s skin and it was already working. “You go first. Tell me about your prison baby.”
“Regina,” Emma warned. “Don’t push it.”
“Was Henry’s father one of the guards? Is this an Orange is the New Black kind of situation?”
“Were the other inmates nice to you when you were lumbering around with child, or did it just make it easier for them to gang up on you when you couldn’t run away?”
“Stop it,” Emma snapped. “It was juvie – half the girls in there were pregnant. And no, I didn’t screw any of the guards, but thanks for your concern about Henry’s parentage.”
“Someone on the jury, then? Did it help your sentence get reduced?”
Emma’s eyes flashed as she bit out, “I had a boyfriend before I got arrested. He stole a bunch of watches and I took the fall. I went to prison pregnant, and I never saw him again.”
Regina finally stopped talking, and Emma raised her eyebrows. “Happy?”
“Ecstatic,” Regina said. She paused, because there was a scrap of guilt tugging at her heart and she didn’t like it at all. “Both of my son’s birth parents are criminals. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Emma just rolled her eyes again and went back to the newspaper. “Henry turned out fine. You don’t need to worry.”
Regina looked back at the mug shot on the front page, then glanced up at the woman sitting behind it. She really did look ridiculous in the photograph, but the reality was annoyingly different: Emma had a confident jut to her jaw that always got on Regina’s nerves, and the princess curls in her hair never seemed to drop out. She’d gone back to reading, and Regina pursed her lips.
“If you say so, Miss Swan.”
They managed a full 20 minutes of silence before Regina got bored. As Emma continued reading about all the mundane things that had occurred in Storybrooke that week, Regina’s foot began to tap against the floor. At first, it was just a faint sound that Emma barely noticed, but as the minutes went on, the entire elevator started to feel like it was rocking.
Emma glanced up. Regina’s head was leaning back against the wall and her legs were outstretched, but there was a hard line to her jaw that screamed tension. Emma reluctantly put the newspaper down. “Are you okay?”
Regina didn’t look at her. “Fine.”
“Shall I try Mary Margaret again?”
An enormous sigh that had the power to tip over a warship escaped from Regina’s mouth. “If you really must.”
Emma picked up the radio and spoke into it again, calling out her roommate’s name. She got no response, and Regina sighed again.
“Excellent. Well done.”
Dreading the coming hours more than ever, Emma asked, “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
She expected Regina to snap back at her in response, but to her surprise, she received an actual answer. “I’m worried about Henry.”
“Oh.” Emma blinked. “I’m sure he’s okay. He’s a smart kid.”
“I should have been home a half hour ago. He won’t know where I am or what he’s supposed to do for dinner. He has no way of contacting me because my goddamn cell isn’t working, and the only other person he might go to for help is stuck right here with me.”
“He’ll probably call Mary Margaret,” Emma said.
“And she’s where, exactly?” Regina threw back at her. “She’s not answering the radio, which means she’s not at home. She’s probably off with Kathryn’s husband again, which means she’s no help to Henry either.”
Emma flinched. “Oh. So you… You know about…?”
“Of course I do. Do I look like an idiot?”
“No. But they’ve been trying to keep it a secret.”
“Mary Margaret Blanchard is notoriously bad at keeping secrets,” Regina ground out. “I’ve known for a while. But that’s not important right now – what’s important is the fact that there’s no one around to look after my son, all because you decided to get yourself into business with Mr Gold.”
“This isn’t my fault, Regina," Emma sighed. "And Henry will be fine – he’ll be worried, sure, but then he’ll—”
“I don’t need you to tell me what my son will do or feel,” Regina cut her off. “You don’t know anything about him.”
Emma pressed her lips together. “I get that you’re anxious, but you don’t need to take it out on me.”
“Wrong again – that’s exactly what I need to do.”
“Fine,” Emma replied. “Knock yourself out, I guess. I’ll just go back to what I was doing.”
Regina glared at her as she re-opened the newspaper and dove back in. Her foot kept tapping, but the elevator otherwise fell silent once more.
The radio was cradled in Regina’s lap. She’d snatched it from Emma an hour earlier, claiming that she didn’t trust her to use it properly, and now she was trying to call Mary Margaret every five minutes, using the second hand on her watch to make sure she didn’t miss an opening.
At first, Emma had just let her get on with it: they’d been stuck there for more than two hours and she couldn’t blame Regina for being so panicked about her son or about their situation. But eventually the incessant crackling of static started to make her hair stand on end. She got four and a half minutes of peace, and then the torture would start all over again.
“Miss Blanchard? Hello? Hello?”
Emma gritted her teeth and tried to focus on the bone-dry story about a local pensioner whose barking dog had alerted her to a burglar in her yard. It took her four minutes to settle back into it, the rigidity of her spine finally relaxing a little, and then the crackling started again. “Hello? Is anybody there?”
For fuck’s sake. Emma suddenly tossed the newspaper to one side and shifted across the elevator. Regina blinked at her as she lay down on her back, propping her feet up against the metal doors.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to relax,” Emma said. “If I listen to any more of that then I’ll start to lose my mind.”
Emma glared at her from her position on the floor. “Yes. Start.”
“Well. We wouldn’t want that,” Regina said before putting the radio down with a sigh. “It’s gone eight. Where the hell is everybody?”
“But surely someone must have noticed that we’re missing. Why hasn’t Henry raised the alarm?”
Emma let her head roll to the side so she could look at Regina properly. “I don’t know. Maybe he has and it’s just taking them a while to find us.”
“Or maybe he’s so happy to not have me around for once that he hasn’t bothered telling anyone.” Regina said this with an outraged sigh, but something about her expression told Emma that she was worried she might be right.
“Don’t be so stupid,” Emma said, pushing herself up onto her elbows. “He’s not a monster.”
Regina bristled at her tone, but she didn’t respond. She just crossed her legs and set the walkie-talkie down in her lap, staring down at it like it was personally responsible for this situation.
Emma sighed, turning her gaze to where her feet were pressed up against the door. She tapped one foot against it, then frowned.
“Do you think there’s any chance that we’re near one of the floors?”
Regina looked up. “What do you mean?”
“The elevator shut down between the first and second levels,” Emma said, getting to her feet and stepping up to the door. “But maybe we just about made it down to the first floor before the power cut out.”
Regina stared at her for a moment, and then she was leaping to her feet too. “Well, get the doors open!”
“Sure. I’ll get right on that,” Emma replied. She tried to wedge her fingertips between the metal doors but failed to get a good grip. “You need to help me – my nails are too short.”
Regina snorted with some unspoken comment, and Emma expected her to flat-out refuse to ruin her manicure. But she surprised her by stepping closer at once, digging her nails into the tiny gap and starting to pull.
“A little help, Miss Swan,” she snapped, and Emma jumped to it. She put her hands between Regina’s, flinching when she accidentally brushed against her fingers, and helped her tug the doors a few inches apart.
They found themselves faced with dark grey bricks, and they both sighed.
“Great,” Regina said flatly.
“Wait, look,” Emma said, dropping to her stomach. Right at the bottom of the gap they’d created was a dark space. When she switched on the flashlight on her phone, she saw it was because there was an inch or two of space at the very bottom where they met the tops of the next set of doors.
She reached her hand into that tiny gap and tried to prise the first-floor doors apart. A sudden presence to her left made her jump, and she looked round to find Regina lying flat on the ground next to her.
“What are you doing?” she asked slowly.
“Helping,” Regina said, slapping her arm out of the way. Emma pulled her hand free, and Regina’s took its place. She rummaged around in the gap for a minute, trying desperately to pull the doors apart one-handed, before pulling herself free with a grumble.
“No luck,” she muttered. Emma was expecting her to get up again immediately, but she stayed where she was, the full right side of her body pressed up against Emma’s left.
Emma’s chin thudded to the ground. “Awesome.”
For a minute they both just lay there, their arms still touching and their foreheads crumpled. Then, with a shout that made Emma’s entire body jerk in the air, Regina bellowed, “Help!”
“Jesus,” Emma gasped, pulling away from her. “Can you warn me next time you’re about to yell in my ear?”
“Someone might hear us through the doors, idiot,” Regina snapped back at her, and then called out again. Emma slithered back down beside her and joined in, even then noticing how weird it was for their two voices to be joined together for once.
They called out for help for the next 10 minutes, but the doors remained closed. The corridor, which was just beyond their reach, stayed silent.
In spite of the cooling temperature outside, the elevator started to get uncomfortably warm. They both removed their jackets and Emma went back to sitting against the wall. Regina, however, stayed on the floor, looking up at the ceiling with her head near the barely open doors. She cradled the silent radio against her chest.
“You okay down there?” Emma asked. Regina didn’t look at her.
“You sure? You’re not—” Emma paused, something suddenly dawning on her. “Oh. You’re not claustrophobic, are you?”
Regina lifted her heard and stared levelly back at her. “Why would you ask that?”
“Because you’re staying really close to the doors,” Emma pointed out weakly. Regina scoffed and dropped back down to the floor.
“We’re trapped in a metal coffin. We’re always going to be close to the doors.”
Emma sighed. “I’m just trying to be nice. If you’re claustrophobic then we can talk – it might help to distract you. Or—”
“I am not claustrophobic, Miss Swan,” Regina interrupted her. “I’m over here because I want to be able to hear if anyone moves around outside. Also I needed to get away from the smell of cheap leather and men’s cologne.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Why do you always do that?”
“Start insulting me whenever things are getting real.”
“Nothing’s getting real. I’m not claustrophobic.”
“Fine, I believe you – but you still automatically switch to being mean to me whenever you run out of other ideas, and I don’t understand why.”
Pushing herself up onto her elbows, Regina asked incredulously, “You seriously don’t know why?”
“No,” Emma said, sounding offended. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“You haven’t done anything wrong?”
“Well. Not recently.”
“Miss Swan,” Regina snapped. “You’re trying to steal my son. I have no reason to want to be nice to you – you’ve done nothing to deserve my kindness.”
Emma pouted back at her. “I gave birth to your son in the first place. That was pretty nice of me.”
“Stop making stupid jokes about it – I don’t like you, and you don’t like me. Why should we pretend otherwise just to make the next few hours go by easier?”
“Well, that sounds like a pretty good reason to me,” Emma mumbled. Then she added, “Also, that’s not entirely true.”
“The part where I don’t like you. I’ve never said that.”
“I really don’t think—”
“Clearly we don’t see eye to eye,” Emma interrupted. “And I still think you might be a bit unhinged. But our intentions are the same and, as a person, there’s nothing technically wrong with you. You just need to tone down the rage and learn to be nicer to people – you know, by not threatening to kill them the second you meet them, or whatever.”
Regina rolled her eyes. “That pleasure was reserved for you alone.”
“Because you hate me that much?”
“Because Henry went looking for you when he was unhappy with me,” Regina snapped. Emma’s eyebrows shot up at the admission. “How else was I supposed to react? My son hates me and he loves you, so of course I don’t like you. Of course I want you gone. Anyone else would feel exactly the same way.”
Emma’s mouth had gone dry, and she swallowed hard to try and stir some life back into it.
“Henry came to find me because he was unhappy, sure,” she said slowly. “But he also did it because he was curious, and because he could. He doesn’t actually hate you – he’s just a bit afraid of you. And if you keep running around threatening to destroy people then maybe that’s understandable.”
“What? How dare you tell me—”
“Stop it, Regina,” Emma said, sounding tired. “I don’t want this to turn into another fight. I’m just saying that you don’t need to attack me at every turn – we’re trapped in here together, so we may as well try and sort out our issues while we’re here. I promise I won’t break out of here telling everyone that you’re actually a real softie at heart.”
Regina was still glaring. “If you think I want to fix anything with you, then you must assume our relationship is a lot more significant than it is.”
“Come on. We both know it is significant.”
“How do you figure that?”
“We’re both parents of the same child, whether you like it or not. We’re also kind of similar, and as much as you like to pretend that you hate everything about me, I know that you secretly love fighting with me. There’s a reason why you always end up seeking me out just so you can yell at me.”
“Or maybe that’s because you’re always doing things to deserve it.”
“Sure, maybe,” Emma sighed. Seeing Regina in that position – stretched out on the floor, her hair not perfect for once in its life, her cleavage dipping down beneath her shirt – was only reaffirming her idea that they probably wouldn’t hate one another if it weren’t for Henry. Regina looked human right at that moment, and it made Emma feel strangely fond of her.
But that fondness vanished when Regina said, “I don’t like you, Miss Swan. I never will. I think you’re rude and lazy and irresponsible, and the fact that we’re trapped in here together isn’t going to change that. Now, I’m done talking about it.”
Emma sighed. “Regina...”
“I said, enough.”
Regina rolled onto her side, pulling as far away from Emma as possible within that enclosed space. Emma watched her go, feeling weirdly frustrated considering how much she shouldn’t care about the mayor's feelings in the first place.
After a long pause, she quietly said, “I’m not trying to take him away from you, Regina.”
Regina didn’t respond. She stayed on her side, the radio clutched to her chest, which meant Emma couldn’t see the expression on her face as she resolutely ignored what Emma was saying.
It took longer than expected for Regina to get really angry about being stuck there. Emma had been waiting for her to lose her cool since the moment the lights had gone out, but it was actually around the five-hour mark that she finally lost her temper.
“Where is everyone?” she demanded, pacing around the small space with her hands on her hips.
“In bed,” Emma said flatly, leaning her head back against the wall.
“We got stuck in here at 5:30,” Regina snapped. “Plenty of people should have been left in the building. How the hell did no one notice that the elevator was broken?”
Emma shrugged. “Maybe they did, but they just took the stairs instead.”
“Will you stop being so flippant?”
“I’m not being flippant. I’m just done with the freaking out part of this experience, and I’ve moved onto being bored.”
Regina scoffed, throwing her hands in the air. “Of all the people in the world to be trapped with, I have to get stuck with the woman who still has the brain of an adolescent.”
Emma didn’t respond to that, so Regina pulled her cell phone out of her pocket so that she could check for service for the 50th time. When she had no luck, she growled to herself and turned towards the doors.
Pushing herself up from her slump against the wall, Emma asked, “What are you doing?”
Because Regina was lowering herself down to the floor, her phone still clamped in her hand.
“Being proactive,” she bit out as she crawled forward. When she reached out with her phone and pushed it through the tiny gap, Emma groaned.
“Regina. What exactly are you trying to achieve?”
“The closer I am to the hallway, the more chance I have of getting service,” Regina said. She was holding her phone flat against the second set of doors and the glow of the screen was bouncing off her determined face.
“You’re going to drop it.”
“I am not,” Regina snapped.
“Okay, except you totally are. Bring it back inside.”
“Stop distracting me. If I could just—”
She suddenly stopped talking, and for a second Emma wondered why. Then she heard the distant clatter of something landing at the bottom of the elevator shaft, and she rolled her eyes.
Regina stayed on her stomach for a while, her arm still outstretched. Then she pulled back, getting up onto her knees and turning to face Emma once more.
“What?” Emma asked. “I did warn you.”
“Give me yours.”
“Your phone,” Regina said, holding out her hand. “Give it to me.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so,” Emma said, crossing her arms. She could feel the weight of her cell in her back pocket and, with it sitting safely beneath her ass, there was no way Regina was getting her hands on it.
“I mean it, Miss Swan,” Regina said. Whatever intimidation she was trying to summon up was ruined by the fact that she was inelegantly shuffling forward on her knees.
“I don’t care if you mean it,” Emma replied. “I’m not letting you drop my phone down an elevator shaft.”
“I won’t drop it!”
“Just like you didn’t drop yours, you mean?”
“You distracted me,” Regina glared at her. “And that would have worked, I just need to try again. Now hand it over.”
Emma raised her eyebrows as high as they would go. “There is zero chance of that happening – you’re not going to suddenly get service just because you’re two inches closer to the door. Just sit down and— what the hell?”
Out of nowhere, Regina had launched herself at her. Grabbing hold of Emma’s wrists with both hands, she gathered her arms up between their bodies and pushed her face dangerously close to Emma’s.
“Where is it?” she hissed.
Emma wrenched one hand free and shoved her backwards. “Get off me!”
Regina swayed for half a second before throwing herself forward again, straddling Emma’s outstretched legs and reaching out to pat her down.
“Regina, I’m serious—”
“Where is it?” Regina repeated, reaching Emma’s front pockets and starting to dig around inside. Emma pushed her harder, but apparently determination only made Regina stronger – she didn’t even seem to register the touch as she forced her hand into the other side of Emma’s jeans.
“Regina,” Emma spluttered, grabbing her wrist and tugging it free. Regina had already given up on the front though, and she was eyeing Emma with a new kind of resolve.
“Get up,” she commanded, reaching around Emma’s body and trying to slip her hands beneath her ass. Emma shrieked, wriggling further back against the wall.
“I’m not going to stop until you hand it over, Miss Swan,” Regina snapped, and her cheek was suddenly wedged against Emma’s as she wrestled with her. Even as she writhed about beneath her, trying to wrench her hips as far away from Regina’s prying fingers as possible, Emma couldn’t help but notice that she smelled really, really good.
“Will you stop acting like a crazy person?” Emma spluttered. She was sliding down the wall now and Regina was encouraging it, yanking her further forward so she would be stuck on the floor with nowhere to go. Emma reached up to snatch at Regina’s wrists, gripping them hard. “Regina. Your plan is stupid and I’m not letting you throw away my cell phone. What if we need it later?”
“If we’ve got no service then we’re not going to need it, are we?”
“The answer’s no,” Emma said. She was crumpled half against the wall and half on the floor, her head caught at an awkward angle, and the full weight of Regina’s body was pinning her down. She still had hold of her wrists though, and beneath her fingertips she could feel that Regina’s pulse was pounding feverishly. “When we eventually get out of here, you’re going to want to be able to call your son.”
It was a cheap shot, but it worked. Regina’s face contorted with rage, and then she was snatching her wrists free of Emma’s grip.
“Fine,” she said, climbing off her and shuffling over to the other side of the elevator. “But I hope you know that it’s all your fault when we’re stuck in here until morning.”
She sat down in the furthest corner of the elevator and brought her knees up to her chest. She began to fiddle with one of her rings, rolling it between her fingers, and Emma felt a jolt of regret.
“I’m just trying to—”
“I don’t care,” Regina replied. She sounded impossibly grouchy and Emma so wanted to laugh at her. She couldn’t, though. Not when her heart was pounding and her body still felt hot all over from where Regina had been touching her.
Regina eventually settled down to read the newspaper on her designated side of the elevator. She crossed her legs and spread it out over her lap, purposefully ignoring the story about Emma and instead trawling through all of the other nonsense that Sidney deemed to be newsworthy.
Emma stayed in her corner, her arms resting on the tops of her knees. Boredom was pounding away at her temples. She wanted to play a game on her cell, but the battery was already running low and she knew there was still a chance of Regina snatching the phone out of her hand the second she brought it out. Instead, she leaned her head back and watched Regina as she read. She had nothing better to do, after all – she may as well busy herself by examining the only other person in the room with her.
Regina was squinting as she read, and Emma assumed it was because of the dim lighting. The emergency bulb was barely bright enough to lure a moth towards it, so maybe Regina simply couldn’t see the tiny print.
“Stop staring at me.”
Emma jumped. Regina hadn’t even looked up.
“Sorry,” Emma said, adjusting her position before asking, “Do you wear glasses?”
“Do you need them for reading?”
Regina’s gaze flicked up to take her in. “Why?”
She sounded so suspicious, and Emma couldn’t help but laugh.
“Because you’re squinting, and I just wondered.”
Regina rolled those chestnut eyes like this was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard.
“Yes, I need them for reading. But I left them in my desk.”
“How come I never see you in them?”
“Because I deliberately take them off any time I hear you stomping towards my office.”
Ignoring the insult there, Emma asked, “Why?”
“Does it matter?” Regina suddenly closed the newspaper and flipped it over to the back page. “Why are you so interested?”
“Just making conversation,” Emma shrugged. Regina was rummaging around in her purse, and her interest piqued yet again. “What are you doing?”
After a beat, Regina produced a pen. “The crossword.”
“Oh,” Emma said, watching as Regina stretched out her legs and then flattened the newspaper against her thighs. She knew she was pushing her luck, and yet she still heard herself asking, “Can I help?”
Regina sighed loudly. Her pen hovered over the page.
Then she shuffled along the wall slightly, making room to her right. Emma immediately got to her feet and joined her, stretching her legs out to mimic Regina’s pose.
“Don’t mess it up,” was Regina’s response. She settled her gaze on one across. “What the hell is a ‘norton or concept’?”
Emma frowned, peering over her shoulder. “It says ‘notion’.”
“Does it?” Regina asked, finally caving and bringing the paper closer to her face. Even in the shadowy light, Emma saw her cheeks turn pink. “Oh.”
Trying not to grin, Emma said, “Four letters. It could be ‘idea’?”
“Maybe,” Regina replied, then promptly scribbled the letters into the boxes. When Emma looked at her questioningly, she said, “Sidney isn’t smart enough to pick something more complicated.”
“Shut up, Miss Swan. Focus on one down.”
“How about you read out the clues with your impeccable eyesight and I do my best to decipher them?”
“We’re not doing that. What a waste of time.”
“Oh, sorry. I forgot that you’ve got somewhere better to be.”
A low growl came from Regina’s throat before she said, “One down: 'to maim'. How appropriate."
Emma grinned. "I guess that's 'injure'. Unless it actually says 'to blame', in which case you may as well just write my name in there."
Regina reached out with the newspaper and slapped Emma’s leg with it. “Your name would work for either option. Also, my eyesight isn’t that bad.”
“Okay, except the evidence kind of suggests otherwise,” Emma pointed out. Regina ignored her, writing ‘injure’ in the boxes.
As they carried on, Emma was surprised by how well Regina responded to her teasing. Sure, she kept hitting her and telling her to be quiet, but Emma could see that she was smirking. She was also pretty certain she was deliberately misreading things just to give Emma something to laugh at.
Emma shifted her position just slightly, pressing their arms together. Regina didn’t pull away.
They finished the crossword way too easily. Regina was right – Sidney really wasn’t that smart. When they were done, Regina pushed the newspaper away from her and spent the next few minutes trying to call Mary Margaret on the radio again. As she failed to make contact, Emma took the pen and began sifting through the paper, looking for some photos to doodle on.
Regina watched with a mixture of bemusement and despair as Emma drew glasses and buckteeth on the poor old woman whose dog had caught a burglar for her, before she moved on to basically any other person who’d had the misfortune of being featured in Storybrooke’s news that week. She deliberately ignored the front cover, though.
“You have quite a talent, Miss Swan,” Regina said after a while.
“I know,” Emma replied, busy drawing a twirly moustache on a photograph of Mr Gold. “If the sheriff thing doesn’t work out then maybe I can go into modern art.”
“That does sound like a sensible career move.” Regina held out her hand. “But I notice that you’ve missed something quite important.”
Emma handed her the paper and pen, expecting her to gleefully join in defacing Mr Gold’s photo. Instead, she flipped back to the front cover and settled herself down with the pen in her hand.
“Seriously?” Emma asked as Regina began to blacken out some of her teeth.
“You can’t ignore the best photo in the whole paper,” Regina replied. She was grinning to herself like this was the most hilarious prank anyone had ever thought of, and Emma couldn’t help but laugh along with her.
“An eye patch?” she asked, watching her work. “I’ve never really been a fan of pirates, to be honest.”
“I can see why,” Regina said, continuing to colour it in. “It’s not a great look on you.”
She continued scribbling on the photograph, the radio left abandoned by her foot, and when she was done she held up the finished product to compare it with Emma’s own face.
“How do I look?” Emma asked.
“Well,” Regina said, pretending to compare the two. “Like I said – the eye patch doesn’t work for you. I do love this expression, though.”
She was pointing to Emma’s gormless face in the mug shot, and Emma rolled her eyes.
“He took the photo while I was talking.”
“I can see that. It’s possibly your best look, though. Can you recreate it?”
Emma grinned. “Let me see it.”
She took the newspaper and examined her own face for a moment, then held it back up again so Regina could see it alongside her own attempt at reproducing the embarrassing grimace.
For the very first time since Emma had known her, Regina laughed. Not a fake, condescending snigger to try and make Emma feel bad about herself – it was a proper chuckle that came from deep in her throat. She even clapped her hands together as she sat back on her heels. “You’ve captured it perfectly.”
Emma grinned back at her. She’d never expected Regina laughing to sound so much like her new favourite song.
When defacing photos got boring, Regina went back to fiddling with the radio. She increased her call frequency to every two minutes, and to distract herself from the incessant static, Emma shifted across to the opposite wall and pulled the newspaper back towards her.
Sitting cross-legged, she put the newspaper on the floor and began to doodle in the margins. The pen was starting to run out, because apparently they hadn’t had quite enough bad luck for one night, but she carried on drawing swirls and flowers and a collection of dumb farm animals as the white noise washed over her.
Opposite her, Regina was leaning back against the wall, the walkie-talkie hanging lazily in front of her. Emma was leaning forwards, her body hunched over the newspaper, and from that angle Regina had a perfect view down the front of her shirt. She could have averted her gaze if she really wanted to, but for some reason it just felt easier to stay where she was. She didn’t have anything better to do, after all, and it’s not like Emma knew she was looking.
Except Emma could feel a heavy gaze on her, and she was deliberately choosing not to glance up. She didn’t want to scare Regina away again.
Eventually Regina gave up on the radio and tossed it to the floor. Emma used the opportunity to straighten up and grumble the one thing that had been bothering her for hours.
Regina rolled her eyes, just like Emma knew she would. “Why am I not surprised?”
“I haven’t eaten in… 10 hours,” Emma said, looking at the time on her phone.
“Neither have I, yet I’m not complaining.”
Emma slumped back against the wall, twirling the pen between her fingers and watching as it spun. As she did so, Regina felt herself staring at the downturned corners of her mouth.
She sighed and reached out for her purse.
“Here,” she said, grabbing something and tossing it in Emma’s direction. Emma caught it and, after a beat, grinned down at the Apollo chocolate bar that was now cradled in her hands.
“You keep a secret supply of candy in your purse?”
“It’s in case Henry wants something," Regina said.
“You and I both know that Henry isn’t allowed chocolate when he just feels a little snacky,” Emma replied, because Regina had already yelled at her more than enough times for giving him exactly that. “This is totally yours.”
“I just gave it to you out of the goodness of my heart, Miss Swan. Do you want me to take it back again?”
Emma quickly brought it up against her chest. “No.”
“Then stop being obnoxious and eat it.”
Scrabbling to unwrap it, Emma asked, “You don’t want any?”
“You’re the one who’s hungry.”
“You just said you are too.”
“I’m fine,” Regina said, leaning back against the wall. Emma hesitated.
Regina nearly leapt out of her seat when she realised that Emma was shuffling towards her. “What are you doing?”
“We should at least share it,” Emma said, settling herself directly in front of Regina and placing the chocolate bar between them. Without waiting for Regina to call her an idiot or tell her again that she didn’t want any, she peeled away the wrapper and began to split the bar up into chunks. “I don’t want you to start bitching at me later when your blood sugar gets too low.”
Regina rolled her eyes, but she didn’t respond. She watched as Emma continued to snap the bar into small pieces with a smile on her face that was oddly endearing.
“I could have done that myself, you know,” Regina said after a moment.
“I know,” Emma replied. “I didn’t want you to complain about having melted chocolate all over your hands either.”
Regina pursed her lips. That was considerate, but it was also insulting. She wasn’t sure which side to focus on.
But then Emma was sliding the foil toward her, her work complete, and they were digging into the chocolate bar together. All thoughts of sniping disappeared from Regina’s head as the sticky candy melted on her fingertips.
“What was Henry like as a baby?”
Regina glanced suspiciously to her right. Emma was sitting beside her again, her head pressed against the wall and her eyes staring up on the ceiling, and she’d asked the question like it was a totally fine and normal thing for her to do.
Emma shrugged. “I’m just curious.”
“You don’t have any right to be curious. You gave him up.”
“I’m aware of that. You could just say you don’t want to talk about it – you don’t have to get all snippy.”
Regina glared at her. “I’m not being snippy.”
“You’re always being snippy,” Emma said. Much to Regina’s annoyance, she was smiling. “Come on, I’m just interested. And I know how much you love talking about him.”
It was difficult to push away the distrust that was sitting on Regina’s chest like an anvil, but unfortunately, Emma was right.
“As a newborn, he was terrible."
Emma raised her eyebrows. “Seriously?”
“Yes,” Regina sighed. “He screamed and screamed all day long. It was exhausting.”
“Wow,” Emma said. That had been the exact opposite answer to what she’d been expecting – judging by how much Regina doted on her son, she’d assumed he must have been a delight since day one. “That must have been rough.”
Regina eyed her with suspicion yet again, but Emma was looking steadily back at her. There didn’t seem to be any kind of hidden agenda in her gaze, so she nodded. “It was a difficult six months. But he eventually got better.”
“Was he a good toddler?”
Then came the tentative smile that Emma had been expecting all along. “He was perfect. He used to come to work with me when I couldn’t find a sitter, and he never once made a fuss about it. He’d sit at my desk beside me and pretend to be working too.”
Emma heard the crack in her voice, and it was nearly impossible not to reach out and touch her arm.
“That sounds really nice.”
“It was,” Regina sighed wistfully. “He grew out of that, though.”
“All kids have to grow out of being well-behaved and adorable at some point,” Emma said. “And he’s still an angel compared to some of the other kids that are running around tearing up the town.”
“True,” Regina laughed softly. Then she tensed up. “Anyway. I’m sure there are plenty more hideous years ahead of me to make up for it.”
Sadness gripped hold of Emma’s throat, and this time she actually did reach out to touch her. “Regina. It’s going to be okay.”
“Is it? You don’t know that.”
“Sure I do. You two are going through a rough patch, but those always come to an end.”
Regina rolled her eyes. Emma’s hand was surprisingly cool against her arm, and even though she knew she could shake it off if she wanted to, she chose not to. “Stop talking like you know anything about it. This is just as foreign to you as it is to me. More so, even.”
“Yeah, I know,” Emma admitted. Her thumb stroked Regina’s arm, almost of its own choice. “I’m just trying to make you feel better.”
She was expecting Regina to scoff and pull away then, maybe while throwing out a casual “You really are a naive idiot” to really round things off. But instead she just looked back at Emma with a frown on her face.
“Why?” Emma repeated the question with a wrinkle in her nose. “I don’t know. Because I’m being nice?”
“I’ve never given you any reason to be nice to me.”
“I know you haven’t. But like I said before – I don’t actually hate you. I’m allowed to try and… comfort you. Right?”
The touching finally got too much, and Regina slowly removed her arm from beneath Emma’s hand.
Emma didn’t react to being pushed away. She just went back to staring up at the ceiling in silence.
After a few minutes, Regina asked, “What does it feel like? Having Henry back in your life?”
Emma turned to look at her again.
“Sure. I mean, I did give him up, as you’re always so eager to point out. I put this wall up on purpose. Then he came chipping through it because he didn't realise what a terrible idea that was, and now all I can do is try not to hurt him again. And I’ve never been very good at not hurting the people I care about.”
It hurt Regina’s chest to hear Emma admit that she cared about Henry, although not quite in the bitterly jealous way she’d gotten used to.
Emma waited for a scathing retort about how she probably should have left Storybrooke when she had the chance, in that case, but she was met with silence.
“You’re not going to say anything?” Emma asked.
“I don’t know what to say,” Regina admitted. “You’re… right. He was the one who brought you back here – you didn’t choose this yourself.”
Emma’s eyebrows shot up. “Wait – seriously?”
“Yes, seriously,” Regina snapped. “This doesn’t mean I hate you any less. It just means that this whole thing wasn’t technically your fault in the first place.”
Emma was looking back at her with genuine shock on her face. “Oh. Okay.”
“That isn’t the answer you were expecting?”
“Duh, Madam Mayor,” Emma said, and Regina couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Hey, do you think that being trapped in here could be the thing to finally make us friends?”
Regina scoffed. “No.”
“Come on. You’re secretly warming up to me, aren’t you?”
“Definitely not. I’m just on a sugar high from all the chocolate. In about 20 minutes, I’ll go right back to hating you again.”
Emma was grinning at her, which was annoying, but not quite as teeth-grindingly infuriating as it usually was. “Cool. I can’t wait.”
As soon as Emma shuffled across to the other side of the elevator again, Regina began to doze off with her head pressed into the corner. This meant radio duty was handed over to Emma, who sat in the opposite corner with her feet bouncing against the floor.
She was strangely wired, considering it was one in the morning and she’d spent the past seven hours bickering with the mayor. She should have been exhausted, but something was fizzing through her veins. She blamed the chocolate.
She tried to radio Mary Margaret a few more times, but got no response. Now that Regina was asleep, however, she decided she was safe to pull her phone out of her pocket and try that once more, just in case there was a sudden crack in the wall that some service could sneak through.
She held the phone in front of her, frantically hitting the home button to keep the screen lit up, and for a solid 10 minutes, nothing happened. She groaned and let her skull fall back against the wall.
Then she felt a buzz against her palm. Her head shot forward again with enough speed to snap her neck in two, and she found one tiny bar of service blinking at her from the top of her phone.
“Shit!” she blurted out, immediately dialling 911 and pressing her phone to her ear. Across the room, Regina shifted position but didn’t stir.
The call went nowhere. It didn’t even ring before cutting out, and when Emma pulled the phone away from her ear again, her service had gone.
She groaned, then noticed that the buzzing had come from a single text message sneaking into her inbox. It was from an unknown number at 9:30pm, and she opened it quickly.
Emma, it’s Michael Tillman here. I wanted you to know that Henry is staying with me, Ava and Nicholas tonight – no one could get in touch with you or Mayor Mills and we weren’t sure what else to do. Give me a call when you get this.
Something that was either relief or fury bubbled up inside Emma’s windpipe, and for a second she just stared down at the message. She hit the phone number at the top of the screen and pleaded with the universe to let the call go through, but it had stopped listening to her again. The line was dead.
With a growl that sounded like an animal caught in a bear trap, Emma tossed her phone away from her, watching as it skidded across the floor and crashed into the opposite wall.
The clattering sound woke Regina up with a jolt. She blinked for a second, trying to get her bearings. From the disappointment that spread over her face, it was obvious she’d been hoping that this had just been a dream.
“What happened?” she mumbled, rubbing at her face. Emma just gestured to the phone that was lying two feet away from her, and Regina reached over to grab it. She squinted down at the message that was still on the screen. “Michael Tillman?”
“The dad of those two kids who got caught shoplifting.”
Emma was expecting Regina to blow up at this news – both at the fact that Henry had ended up in someone else’s house instead of helping to track his mothers down, and the fact that he’d ended up in that house in particular. But in actuality, she just sighed. “Good.”
“He’s safe. That’s all I care about.”
“Oh,” Emma said, pausing. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Although,” Regina suddenly changed tack, sitting up straighter. “It still begs the question why, when the mayor and the deputy sheriff go missing, no one seems to be interested in trying to find them.”
“They’re probably off searching the woods,” Emma said. “That’s everyone’s go-to spot when someone wanders off.”
“What the hell would we be doing in the woods together?”
“Emma,” Regina snapped. “I’m serious. At this rate, I’m going to be firing the entire police force when we get out of here.”
“Does that still include me?”
Regina glared at her, but there wasn’t much venom behind it. “Don’t push it.”
“I’m just saying,” Emma said. “If you went missing, I would have found you by now.”
“And what makes you so sure of that?”
“I can normally sense your burning rage a mile off,” Emma smirked. “But also, if Henry couldn’t find you at home and you weren’t in your office, I would have noticed pretty quickly that you’d locked your office door and turned the lights off, which would mean you’d left to go home. Except your car is still in the parking lot, which means you must still be in the building somewhere.”
“Or I felt like a walk,” Regina interjected.
“Sure, or that,” Emma said with a roll of her eyes. “I’m just saying - I would have checked the elevator.”
Annoyingly, Regina suspected she was probably right. But she wasn’t about to admit that.
“If you say so, Miss Swan,” she said, crossing her arms. She suddenly realised that she’d been asleep when Emma had thrown her phone across the floor, and she reached up to self-consciously pat at her hair.
“You look fine,” Emma said at once, not even thinking about it.
“Oh. Thank you.” Regina sounded uncertain. “Did you sleep?”
“I’m not tired.”
She looked it, though. Even in the dim lighting Regina could see the shadows under her eyes.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Pretty sure. I feel too tense to sleep.”
That surprised Regina, because throughout all of this Emma had been the one acting vaguely calm. She’d been reassuring Regina every step of the way, telling her that they’d be okay and so would Henry, and that everything would be absolutely fine. Her and tension didn’t really go together.
“You should take a break,” Regina heard herself say. “Give me the radio and try to get some sleep.”
Emma looked back at her with suspicion. “Are you going to try and hang my cell phone out the doors as soon as I close my eyes?”
“No, although the fact that you just received a text implies that that plan could still work,” Regina pointed out. “Seriously. Sleep.”
Emma was torn between wanting to argue back just for the sake of it and actually wanting to lie down. She also wasn’t entirely certain that Regina wouldn’t use the pen to draw on her face – the real one, this time – while she was unconscious. But then she felt herself reach out, passing the radio across the room. Regina took it and Emma slid down onto the floor, using her balled-up jacket as a pillow.
She was lying there for a while, her eyes open and staring up at the ceiling. There was something familiar about all of this – the enclosed space, the lack of windows, the uncomfortable bed. The sitting so close to someone who you barely knew, but still feeling a strange sort of kinship with them because you were stuck in such a shitty situation together. She furrowed her brow and tried to work out what it was.
Then Regina made her jump by chuckling. “You look extremely relaxed.”
Emma looked back at her. “I’m trying to fall asleep, just like you told me.”
“Closing your eyes would be a good start.”
Emma groaned, shifting against her makeshift pillow. She suddenly realised what this place reminded her of.
“Oh. This feels like prison.”
Regina didn’t respond to that right away. Emma could hear the uncertainty buzzing off of her.
“Just the general vibe,” Emma shrugged. “Don’t worry, it’s not because I think you’re going to shiv me.”
She was intending to make her laugh, but Regina stayed quiet. Emma wondered if maybe this was too uncomfortable of an admission for someone who probably still wanted her dead.
But then she said, “Is there anything I can do?”
Emma lifted her head. “What do you mean?”
“To make you more…” Regina started, stumbling over her own uncertainty. “…comfortable.”
It was, quite weirdly, the sweetest thing anyone had ever asked her. Emma smiled.
She lay back down on her pillow and rolled over onto her side. She thought she could feel Regina’s eyes on her back as she willed herself to fall asleep.
Regina assumed from the quietness on the other side of the elevator that Emma must have finally dozed off. She sighed, stretching out her legs. Sitting on the floor was uncomfortable, but there was no way she was going to lie down next to Emma. She’d rather get scoliosis.
She glanced at the radio, which she hadn’t used for the past half hour. She’d told herself that it was because it was clearly not working, but maybe a tiny part of her was worried about disturbing Emma’s sleep.
She didn’t feel tired anymore, strangely. She hadn’t slept for very long, but as she stared at the faint nodules of Emma’s spine, she felt wide awake.
Shifting position again, hoping to ease some of the discomfort in her lower back, Regina let her gaze settle on the puddle of blonde hair that was spilling out across Emma’s jacket. It had somehow maintained its perfect curls even in the muggy heat of the elevator, and she felt a pang in her chest – jealousy, or something else.
She stayed there watching Emma sleep for some time. Her eyes had gotten lazy in the dim light and it was easier to focus on the two dents at the small of her back than it was to try and find something else worth staring at. But eventually Regina got uncomfortable sitting where she was, and she found herself eyeing the empty space next to Emma's curled up body.
Keeping a careful distance from the other woman, Regina shuffled across the floor and lay herself down. The twinge in her coccyx immediately lessened, but the floor still wasn’t particularly comfortable even in comparison to her seat against the wall. She groaned and wriggled around, folding up her own jacket and putting it under her head.
She heard a noise to her right, and she turned to find Emma rolling over to face her.
“Did I wake you up?” Regina asked.
“I wasn’t asleep.”
“Oh,” Regina said, inexplicably worried in case Emma had felt her staring at her. "You were awake the whole time?”
“I told you I was too wired to sleep,” Emma said. She lifted up the curls that had gotten caught beneath her head and tossed them behind her. Regina’s stomach went tight.
“It’s two o’clock in the morning," Regina said.
“I know that, but this isn’t exactly the most relaxing environment.”
“Maybe you could—”
“Why hasn’t anyone found us yet?”
Regina blinked. It was a question that she herself been asking all night, but every time Emma had just responded with a shrug. It didn’t feel right for her to suddenly care about it.
“No, really,” Emma said. “I’ve been thinking about what you said – the mayor and the deputy sheriff go missing, and no one even thinks to check City Hall? That doesn’t sound right. Are we so unlikeable that no one even cares?”
Regina hesiated. Emma was frowning at her with deep lines marking her forehead, but she didn’t look like she was being self-pitying. She just looked pissed.
“You’re not…” Regina said, then paused. “You’re not unlikeable.”
Emma raised her eyebrows. “You’ve changed your tune.”
“No, I mean it. I don’t like you, of course, but everyone else seems to find you tolerable.”
Emma laughed through her nose. “Thanks - except you’re obviously wrong. The only people in this town who even know me are a 10-year-old with a way too vivid imagination and my roommate – or my mother, depending on who you ask – who either hasn’t noticed that I haven’t come home yet or just doesn’t care enough to find out why.”
“I thought you and Mary Margaret were close?”
“We are. Sort of. But she’s not here, is she?”
Emma still didn’t sound particularly sad, and yet some part of Regina suspected she was just that good at covering up what she was really feeling. Speaking so matter-of-factly might be her way of stopping people from looking too closely at what was really going on.
“No,” Regina admitted. “Maybe it’s only me that everyone’s deliberately not looking for.”
With a short laugh, Emma said, “Being self-deprecating doesn’t suit you.”
“I was just trying to lighten the mood.”
“That doesn’t suit you either,” Emma said. She was smiling, and Regina had to force herself not to smile back.
“You’re impossible to please.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Emma said playfully. “Anyway, this is all your fault. You put the idea in my head.”
Regina was partly preoccupied thinking about what sort of things would please Emma, so when she asked, “What do you mean?” her voice sounded slightly shaky.
“You keep asking where everyone is. I just finally stopped to think about it.”
“This is what you look like when you’re thinking?” Regina asked, and Emma reached out to smack her arm.
“You shut up.”
Emma snorted and rolled onto her back, suddenly feeling even more restless than before.
Neither of them fell asleep again. Regina went back to her corner, giving up on even attempting to close her eyes, while Emma stayed where she was on the floor. She was desperately bored though, and so she grabbed a sheet of recently defaced newspaper and screwed it up into a ball.
Still lying on her back, she tossed the ball up into the air and began catching it with one hand. Whenever she missed, it would either hit her in the face or go rolling towards Regina. Regina would chuckle happily during the former occasions, but with the latter she would groan and throw it back towards her like this was the hardest possible task anyone had ever given her.
“Hey,” Emma said as the ball was launched at her and smacked her in the temple. “There’s no need to assault me.”
“Get a grip,” Regina scoffed. “It’s just paper. Learn how to catch properly or stop throwing it altogether.”
“It’s hard from this angle,” Emma protested. “Have you ever done it?”
“Come here, give it a try.”
“No, thank you.”
“Stop being so difficult,” Emma said, tossing it back into the air and just barely catching it with the tips of her fingers. “It’ll kill some time.”
“I could just kill you instead.”
Emma didn’t even flinch. “Whatever you say, Madam Mayor.”
She threw it again and misjudged her catch, sending the ball flying across to where Regina was sitting. Emma lifted her head and held out one hand, waiting for Regina to toss it back to her. Instead, Regina calmly picked it up and placed it on the other side of her legs, where Emma couldn’t reach it.
“What’s that for?” Emma asked.
“You clearly can’t be trusted with it.”
“Regina,” Emma whined, sitting upright. “Come on. Give it back.”
“You don’t need to be such a dictator. I was only playing.”
“I was democratically elected to office, Miss Swan. I’m no dictator,” Regina said smoothly. Emma ignored her, climbing to her knees and shuffling forwards.
“Give it back.”
It didn’t matter to either of them that there was a whole newspaper lying right beside them, or that Emma could easily grab another sheet and make herself a new toy. She wanted that one, the one that Regina had taken from her, and she was bored and restless enough to be willing to fight for it.
She crawled forward and tried to reach across Regina’s body, but Regina was faster. She snatched the ball away and moved it behind her back, holding it in place between her body and the wall.
“I said no,” Regina said. To anybody else's ears she would have sounded both irritated and tired, but Emma could see the excited glimmer in her eye that always came from a challenge. “Sit back down.”
Emma snorted. “No way. Give it back.”
“Will you stop being such a child and leave it alone?”
“Definitely not,” Emma said, and before Regina could stop her, she was climbing on top of her outstretched legs, reaching round to try and grab the ball that was hidden behind her.
“Emma!” Regina squawked, too surprised to remember to call her by her preferred nickname. “Get off me now.”
“Nuh uh,” Emma said, snaking her arms around Regina’s waist. The tips of her fingers made contact with the ball of paper for a split second, and then Regina had snatched it up again, pulling it out of her reach. “Just give it to me.”
Emma settled herself down more firmly just to make a point, crossing her arms over her chest. Regina’s hands were behind her back, one of them clutching hold of the ball, and she stared resolutely back up at her.
“I’m not going to cave,” Emma said.
“Neither am I.”
“We'll see about that. Give it back.”
“Miss Swan, for God’s sake. This is so unprofessional.”
“Oh, but it was totally fine when you mounted me to try and steal my cell phone?”
“That was different.”
“Sure it was,” Emma rolled her eyes, then lunged forward again. She caught Regina off guard and heard her squeak of surprise, and then they were struggling once more, Emma’s body pressed hard up against Regina’s as she grappled around behind her back. “Just give in.”
Regina sounded breathless, which was a whole new experience for Emma. She had to admit that she kind of liked it. Grinning, she shuffled further forward on Regina’s lap, ignoring her wriggling legs and settling herself directly on top of her hips. She leaned forward again, using her upper body to pin Regina’s shoulders to the wall, and then reached behind the mayor's back.
Her hands made it around Regina’s wrists, and she began to pull.
“Come on,” she cooed, because Regina might be weirdly strong but she was definitely stronger. “Just give up.”
“I hate you,” Regina snapped, still resisting. Emma pulled away from her body and looked down with a twist of a smile on her lips. Regina, for all her protesting, was flushed with excitement.
“Sure you do,” Emma said. She pulled harder, and then Regina’s clenched fists were caught between their bodies.
Regina finally stopped struggling. Breathing heavily, she glared up at the woman who was straddling her thighs.
Emma smirked. “Hm. Right.”
Regina felt her mouth dry out. She swallowed hard, and then asked, “...right, what?”
The cocky smile that was glimmering down at her made her go hot all over. She wriggled her hips once more, loving the pressure that was pushing down against them, and waited for Emma’s response.
But then Emma just said, “Right hand.” Regina felt her cheeks burn red.
With a sigh, she opened her fist and let the ball of paper drop out. Emma scooped it up and finally let go of her, watching with some satisfaction as Regina’s head thudded back against the wall.
Tossing the ball of paper into the air and catching it easily, Emma said, “Don’t play with me unless you’re sure you can win, Madam Mayor.” Then, just as Regina was trying to summon a comeback, Emma climbed off her and went back to her position on the floor.
Maybe Emma finally took pity on Regina, or maybe she was just even more bored than either of them had realised, but she eventually gave up on her one-handed throwing-and-catching game and instead settled into something that was more of a two-player experience. Sitting against the opposite walls with their legs crossed, Emma and Regina took it in turns to flick the ball into the other person’s lap, using their cupped hands as a goalie whenever the paper came sailing towards them. Regina was infuriatingly good at it, which meant she perked up again as soon as they started playing. Emma, meanwhile, was floundering against a score of 9-2, because she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from one very specific spot on Regina’s body.
Blaming the warmth of their makeshift prison, Regina had undone the top four buttons on her dark purple blouse, and now the lace of her black bra was entirely visible from across the elevator. Emma fought to ignore it, just like she’d been fighting to ignore stuff like this for months – sure, Regina was attractive, but she was also a sociopath and she would almost certainly try and kill her if she was given half the chance. Maybe they were getting along okay right at that second, but it wouldn’t last forever: the instant those doors opened and they were set free, Regina would go right back to being her usual bitchy self, and the only time they’d seek one another out again would be when one of them had something particularly snarky they wanted to say.
That was the only reason they kept going looking for one other. There was nothing else binding them together, even if it did sometimes feel like a very fine gold thread was linking the pulse in Emma's wrist to Regina's.
Emma swallowed hard.
She was hot and tired and maybe going a little bit crazy from being trapped there for so long, but it was getting increasingly difficult not to stare. Regina seemed to know this, because she kept smirking and leaning further forwards whenever she went to line up her next shot. Even in the dim light of the elevator, Emma could see the shadow of her cleavage disappearing beneath the glossy fabric of her shirt.
Emma placed her hands vaguely in front of her, like there was any chance at all that they would block the ball that was about to come flying her way, and pressed her lips together. Regina flicked the ball with one finger, and Emma didn’t even look down. She felt it land with a soft tap against her shin.
“That’s 10-2,” Regina said happily, finally straightening up and taking Emma’s new favourite sight away from her. “Shall we just accept that I won?”
Emma was blinking herself back into consciousness. “Hm?”
“The game, Miss Swan. You do realise we were playing, don’t you?”
Emma’s eyes snapped back down to Regina’s chest for another second. “Yeah. Of course.”
“What do I get for winning?”
That finally caught Emma’s full attention. “What do you mean?”
“Come on. A game isn’t a game without a prize.”
“Sure, but don’t you think we should have settled on that before we started playing?”
Regina arched an eyebrow, knowng full well that Emma wouldn't be able to resist that look.
“Fine,” Emma groaned. “Although there aren’t many prizes to hand out in here, unless you want to lick the chocolate wrapper.”
Laughing, Regina tilted her head to one side. “No. That’s not what I had in mind.”
It was a bit concerning that she already had something in mind at all.
“You’re not going to ask me to drop out of the sheriff’s race, are you?” Emma asked, wrinkling her nose. She was surprised by how offended Regina looked at that.
“Of course not,” she said indignantly. “I want Sidney to beat you fair and square.”
Emma snorted. “Fine. Then what?”
With something altogether too scheming glinting in her eye, Regina said, “My back hurts from sitting on the floor.”
“Okay,” Emma said blankly. “Lie down, then?”
“You’re going to give me a back rub.”
Emma’s mouth dried out entirely. “Oh.”
“Assuming you’re capable of giving one with those gnarly bail bondsperson hands of yours.”
“I can give a back rub, Regina,” Emma snapped, because God damn it, Regina knew how to play her all too well. “Come here.”
She sat back against the wall and uncrossed her legs. After a beat, Regina crawled towards her, giving her another glimpse down the front of her unbuttoned shirt. Once she was sure that Emma was definitely staring at her, she pivoted with a smirk and settled down between her spread thighs.
The sudden close proximity to the mayor made Emma’s entire body feel like it was on fire, and she wasn’t sure she could actually trust herself to reach out and touch her. Regina’s hair was so shiny and perfect even without any real light to bounce off of it, and her silky shirt was just inches away from Emma’s chest. Regina waited patiently, her legs crossed and her hands resting in her lap, as Emma just stared at the back of her head, willing herself to get started.
“Miss Swan?” Regina asked eventually, and it was enough to snap Emma out of her trance. She lifted her hands and placed them on Regina’s shoulders.
A happy moan from the woman in front of her startled her enough to make her whole body twitch, but she kept going, digging her thumbs into the dips beneath her shoulder blades. She ground them downwards, following the line of Regina’s spine and pushing harder whenever she sighed, before retracing her steps. Emma’s own back was aching as well, so it was easy enough to work out which spots to focus on. When her hands slid higher and began to gently probe at the base of Regina’s neck, she genuinely thought the mayor might cry with relief.
“Oh,” she moaned, and the sound went straight to Emma’s groin. “This is actually very nice.”
Emma rolled her eyes. Actually.
“Good. I’m glad.”
There was a pause, and then Regina asked, “Have you done this much before?”
She was probing - Emma recognised it at once. She was trying to find out more about who she had dated before she’d come to Storybrooke.
Emma might be slightly flustered right then, but she wasn’t stupid. “No, not really.”
“I see,” Regina said, then sighed again. “If we make it out of here without killing one another, I may accept more of these as bribes.”
Emma laughed, and Regina shivered when she felt the jolt of hot breath against the back of her neck. “I’ll bear that in mind the next time I need a favour.”
“It might come in handy if you win the sheriff’s election.”
Smiling to herself, Emma asked, “I thought I was destined to lose?”
She felt Regina tense up momentarily beneath her fingertips. Emma twisted her hands and began to roll her palms over her shoulders until she felt the muscles soften again.
“You are,” Regina said eventually. “But then again, the people in this town are morons. You never know who they might vote for.”
“They voted for you,” Emma pointed out, and Regina immediately reached down to slap Emma’s outstretched leg. She didn’t pull her hand away again afterwards, though, and as Emma continued to run her fingers over her back, Regina’s spare hand eventually reached down to rest on her other shin.
It was physically painful for Emma to not fidget under her touch. Regina’s hands were warm, so warm that she could feel them through her jeans, although maybe she was just hypersensitive to every tiny touch right then because the smell of Regina’s fancy conditioner had lodged itself in her nostrils and was messing with her brain function. She tried to focus on the task in hand and pressed her palms flat against Regina’s back, guiding them downwards. As they crested over the bump of Regina’s bra strap, she felt her stomach muscles tighten.
Regina, meanwhile, was smirking to herself. She could feel the uncertainty radiating from the woman behind her, and it was so enjoyable to sit there and soak it up. She had placed her hands on Emma’s legs specifically to disarm her, and it had worked perfectly. Why she hadn’t pulled them away again, though, she couldn’t be sure.
After a pause, she extended her thumb and grazed it along the inseam of Emma’s right leg. She felt her calf twitch under her touch.
Behind her, two hands were slowly working over her lower back, the pressure never lessening. Emma’s thumbs rolled hard against the aching nodules of Regina’s spine, and in spite of the fact that Regina had just been trying to play a game, she suddenly wasn’t entirely sure that she was winning.
One game turned into another, and when the back rub was over and Emma was officially a confused mess, Regina returned to her position against the opposite wall.
“What did you do before you were mayor?” Emma asked as she tossed the ball to Regina. Regina caught it between her cupped hands.
“Just curious,” Emma said.
Regina hesitated. “I worked for my mother.”
“One question at a time,” Regina said, tossing the ball back. “My turn. What was it like being a bail bondsperson?”
“Kind of soul destroying,” Emma admitted as she caught it. “You only meet the scum of the earth, and most of them try to kill you as soon as you catch them.”
She tossed the ball back and repeated her earlier question. “What did you do for your mother?”
“Everything,” Regina said blandly.
“That’s not a proper answer.”
Rolling her eyes, Regina tried to elaborate. “It’s... difficult to explain. But she was in politics too, in a way, and I worked alongside her.”
Emma nodded, opening her hands to signal that she was ready for Regina’s next question.
“What was your life like before you came to Storybrooke?”
“Shouldn’t you already know that?” Emma quipped. “I’m pretty sure all the answers are written on the page we’re throwing.”
“I didn’t actually read what Sidney wrote,” Regina admitted. “Besides, the real story is always more interesting when it comes from the horse’s mouth.”
“I assume I’m the horse in this scenario,” Emma said dryly. “Fine, I’ll give you the cliff notes version: I jumped from foster home to foster home, and then bailed I when I was 16. I was on my own for a while after that, and then I met Henry’s father when I was 17.”
Regina paused. “What was he like?”
“One question at a time,” Emma repeated Regina's earlier line, but she was smirking. “He was fine, until he wasn’t.”
She didn’t elaborate, and before Regina could prompt her, the ball was flying back towards her. “Why did you decide to adopt a baby?”
“Because I wanted to be a mother, and going down the natural route wasn’t exactly working out for me.”
“Come on,” Emma said. “You’re still young, and you’re not… you know, unattractive.”
“Thank you so much,” Regina drawled. “But that’s not what I meant.”
“I can’t have children.” Regina said it so easily that Emma thought she must be kidding.
“Oh,” Emma swallowed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“Why would you?” Regina shrugged, tossing the ball up in the air and catching it with one hand. “Besides, there’s nothing to be sorry about. I have a son. Just because I couldn’t conceive him myself doesn’t change that fact.”
Emma nodded then, more earnestly than Regina had ever seen her do anything before. “Right.”
After a beat, Regina threw the ball back to her. “Tell me about his father.”
Smiling, Emma said, “That’s not a question.”
“For God's sake - could you please tell me more about Henry’s father?”
She thought Emma looked slightly nervous at that, but she must have been imagining it.
“Okay,” Emma said slowly. “He was older than me, and we dated for nearly a year. We… didn’t exactly have the most adult relationship. We shoplifted together and moved around a lot, but it was the first time in my life that I’d ever had something that was kind of like a family.”
She paused there, expecting Regina to cut in with a comment about how she was going to kill her if Henry also turned towards a life of crime, but silence met her from the other side of the elevator.
Emma sighed. “What else do you want to know about him?”
“You said earlier that he was the reason you ended up in prison,” Regina said. “Was he… I don’t know. Was he at least kind to you up until that point?”
Emma’s face softened slightly. “Yeah. He was - he was actually a good guy before that happened. It’s part of the reason why I was so blindsided.”
Hot, probing anger filled Regina’s stomach, and it was completely unexpected. Before she could stop herself, she gritted out, “I hope he’s rotting somewhere.”
Emma’s expression was one of surprise and gratitude. “Careful, Madam Mayor. You almost sound like you care.”
“Definitely not,” Regina snorted, pushing past the insistent thrumming in her chest.
Emma grinned, choosing not to push it.
“How did you and Graham end up dating?” she asked, throwing the ball.
She saw Regina deflate at once. “Don’t you think talking about him is a bit dangerous?”
“Not as long as you don’t hit me again.”
Regina chuckled, and she was surprised by how easy it was for Emma to make her do that. Her blonde head was leaning back against the wall and there was a casual smile on her face, like this whole situation wasn’t even fazing her. So she was trapped inside a metal box with a woman she hated – it was no big deal. She was making the best of it, and she was determined to make it as easy as possible for Regina too.
Regina envied that attitude.
She sighed, thinking back to the day when the curse had taken hold. Graham had just been there – he hadn’t had a say in the matter. There had been no build up, no courtship, no flirtatious laughter or longing looks across Granny’s. There had just been a relationship, and then there hadn’t been anymore.
Both of those things had been Regina’s doing.
“To be honest, Miss Swan, I don’t really know,” she said reluctantly. “It just sort of... happened.”
“Who kissed who first?” Emma asked, and it was such an innocent question that Regina couldn’t even refuse her an answer.
“I kissed him,” she said. That day in the castle was still burned in her mind. “He was rather surprised, if I remember correctly.”
Emma smiled at that. “I bet.”
She opened her hands then, gesturing for Regina to take her turn.
Regina thought for a moment and then threw the ball. “Did you date much before Storybrooke?”
Emma tensed up at that. “Not really.”
Raising her eyebrows, Regina said, “Now that’s not a proper answer.”
“I know, but there’s not much to tell.”
“There must have been someone.”
“There were plenty of someones. We just never went on any dates.”
It took Regina a few seconds to catch on to her meaning. “Ah. I see.”
“I was more careful about using protection by then, at least,” Emma said, smiling again. “I wasn’t keen on having any baby brothers or sisters for Henry.”
“That was very sensible, since I don't have any plans to adopt any more children off of you.”
Emma laughed before throwing the ball. “Who else have you dated?”
“Recently,” Emma clarified. “Say, the past 10 years.”
Regina hesitated. “No one.”
“Right,” Emma snorted. “Come on.”
“I’m serious. Aside from Graham, there hasn’t been anyone.”
For a second, Emma looked like she was going to laugh again. Then her eyes narrowed. “Seriously?”
“How is that possible?” Emma demanded. “I mean, you’re a psychopath, sure, but you’re hot.”
The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could rein them back in, but luckily they just made Regina smirk.
“That’s quite the compliment, coming from you.”
“I mean it. No one asked you out on a date?”
“Not a single person.”
Emma’s head thumped back against the wall. “Wow. This town is even more messed up than I thought.”
Regina chuckled. “It can’t come as that much of a surprise. I’m not exactly the best-liked person in town.”
“So what? People are shallow, and you’ve got that scary, sexy vibe going on.”
There was an amused expression on Regina’s face that Emma had never seen before. Normally when she smiled, her entire face glimmered with malice. She usually smirked like she was only doing it because she knew she was winning.
Right then, she just looked happy.
“I think you might be overtired," she said.
Emma finally had the common sense to blush. “Maybe a little. But I still mean it - the guys in this town must be crazy.”
“Just the guys?”
“Well,” Emma conceded. “The girls too. But this town gives off the most heterosexual vibe ever, so I guess you’d be barking up the wrong tree if you expected anything there.”
Regina smirked again, her eyes flicking down to Emma’s lips for a split second. “Yes. That's very true.”
She rolled the ball between her palms for a moment, thinking of her next question, before a mischievous smile darkened her face. Emma hesitated before holding out her hands.
“Who in this town would you consider dating?”
Emma rolled her eyes. “What are you, 12?”
“Give me your top three.”
“Three? I'm going to be seriously scraping the barrel there,” Emma muttered, leaning back and looking up at the ceiling as she considered it. “Ruby.”
“And then… I don’t know, I guess both David and Mary Margaret are cute but something about that feels super weird. Maybe it’s because Henry keeps insisting that they’re actually my parents.”
Regina shuddered with relief. “Let’s steer clear of them, then. Just in case he's right.”
Emma smiled briefly. “Okay, so Ruby… I guess I would say Whale, but he’s screwed my roommate, so… maybe not.”
The next pause was much longer. “Damn, this town really doesn’t have much eye candy, does it?”
Regina chuckled. “I’m sorry. I should have thought of that when I created it.”
“What do you mean?” Emma asked, frowning. Regina felt her heart clunk.
“I’m kidding,” she said quickly. “You know – the curse.”
“Ah, of course,” Emma grinned. “Sorry – for some reason it takes me a while to register when you’re telling a joke.”
“Understandable. Now, continue.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “God, you’re really pushing this. Okay, fine – Ruby, and I guess Ashley. She’s cute too.”
They both waited for who her third choice would be. Regina’s eyes flicked down to watch the way her teeth were digging into her lower lip.
“Is it weird for me to choose that nun who Leroy’s chasing after?”
Regina let out a bark of laughter. “You cannot be serious.”
“Well, I’m not saying I actually like her. But she’s pretty and she has that innocent thing going on, so she’s not a terrible third pick.”
Regina shook her head, still laughing, even though disappointment had crept into her chest like a dark patch of ink and she couldn’t explain why.
“Did you intentionally only pick women?” she heard herself ask. She was hoping for Emma to blush and look away, but instead she just shrugged.
“The men in this town are seriously lacking.”
Regina nodded. “That is true.”
Emma was already poised with the ball, and she tossed it while asking, “Fuck, marry, kill – Mr Gold, Sydney and Leroy.”
Regina nearly choked. “Excuse me?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never played this game.”
“Of course I haven’t,” Regina spluttered. “Who would I have been playing that with?”
“I don’t know what you get up to one the weekends, Madam Mayor. Now answer the question.”
Regina visibly winced as she sought through the options. “Kill Mr Gold.”
“Then, I guess...” Regina hefted out a huge sigh. “This is disgusting.”
“That’s the point.”
“Fine,” Regina snapped. “Marry Sidney. And screw the alcoholic.”
“I think I agree with you on all of those,” Emma said. “Come on, then. I think I can guess what your next question is going to be.”
Regina’s eyes were already flashing. She threw the ball. “Mr Gold, Dr Hopper and the allergy-ridden guy who runs the drug store.”
“Nuh uh,” Emma said. “You have to ask the question too.”
Regina huffed out, “Fuck, marry, kill.”
That earned her a beaming grin. “I can’t believe I just got Mayor Mills to say the F word. Okay, so – I’d screw the allergy guy, because I feel like at least it would be over quickly. Marry Archie, and kill Mr Gold.”
“We’re going to have to stop using Mr Gold for these,” Regina pointed out. “Because, given our current circumstances, we’re just going to kill him for everything.”
“True,” Emma said, tossing the ball back to her. “Fuck, marry, kill – Mother Superior, Sidney and Mary Margaret.”
Regina grimaced. “Kill Mary Margaret, obviously, although I’d quite like to wring the nun’s neck too. Then I’d still marry Sidney.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Emma asked. “Maybe you two should go on a date - that would end your 10-year dry spell.”
“Shut up,” Regina said. She had a glint in her eye as she threw the ball. “Alright, then. Fuck, marry, kill – Mother Superior, Sidney, and me.”
Emma blinked. “You?”
Regina's chin was raised, because she was all too ready to call Emma a coward if she refused to play along. “Yes.”
“Um,” Emma forced out. She was so delightfully flustered that Regina wanted to clap her hands. “I guess I’d kill the nun.”
“And… marry Sidney, I guess? I think you and I would murder one another if we were forced to live under the same roof.”
Regina smirked. “True. So that leaves…?”
Emma’s cheeks had gone pink. Regina could see it even in the dim light. “That leaves... me fucking you.”
They both went quiet, and though it wasn’t uncomfortable, the silence was definitely charged with something that neither one of them was brave enough to explore.
“Yes,” Regina said slowly. “It does.”
Emma just watched her for a moment before she threw the ball back again. “Would you ever date a woman?”
Regina’s mouth twitched. “Would I, or have I?”
Emma felt her eyebrows shoot up - that was a whole other question. “Well – would you? But I think you know what my next question is going to be.”
Regina chuckled. “Yes, I would. And no,” she interrupted before Emma could get there first. “I haven’t.”
There was a pause, and then Regina asked, “Have you?”
“Never officially,” Emma said, trying and failing to sound casual. “But in all other senses, I guess so.”
Something hot and sticky crept up Regina’s spine. “I see.”
She was holding the ball tightly, her dark eyes suddenly fixed on it, and Emma waited for her to throw it. But instead she surprised her by saying, “I’ve never actually done anything beyond kissing with a woman.”
“Really,” Regina said, briefly wondering why she was admitting this and then deciding that she could blame it on stir-craziness as soon as they got out of there. “Besides – like you said, we live in the straightest town in America. It’s not exactly an option anymore.”
“Well, I don’t know about that, Madam Mayor,” Emma said. “I’m pretty sure you could turn a few chicks if you tried.”
Regina finally looked up from the ball of paper in her hand, her heart letting out a nervous thump. “I think you underestimate how much everyone in this town hates me.”
“Oh, I definitely don’t,” Emma said. She was smirking again. “I just don’t underestimate how attractive you are either.”
Regina didn’t manage to reply to that either. She just swallowed, her eyes on Emma’s face.
After a few moments, Emma prompted, “Regina. It’s your turn.”
She watched as Regina visibly shook herself to attention. “Right. Of course.”
She paused to think of a new question, and in that minute her usual confidence washed back over her. She considered Emma carefully, tilting her head to one side, and eventually threw the ball. “What’s the best sex you ever had?”
Emma blinked, her cockiness leaving her at once. “Wow. You’re just jumping right in there, aren’t you?’
“Fine,” Emma sighed, looking up to the ceiling. “There was this one girl. I met her in a bar in Boston, and I was feeling a bit drunk and self-destructive that night, so I took her back to my place without even asking her name. We had sex for about six hours straight.”
Regina’s mouth had dried out. “Oh?”
“I never saw her again after that, which was a shame,” Emma said. “I probably should have kept in touch.”
“Probably,” Regina choked.
“My turn,” Emma said, throwing the ball back again. “What’s the kinkiest sex thing you’ve ever done?”
“Oh, for God’s sake.”
“Fair’s fair,” Emma repeated with a grin. Regina huffed.
“Well,” she started. Her Storybrooke memories wouldn’t get her very far in this discussion, so she stretched back a little further. “A long time ago, I was with a man who let me be… quite forceful with him.”
Emma’s eyebrows shot up. “Really? Who was he?”
The man had been a total stranger who she’d picked up during her time as queen, and so Regina just waved a hand. “A one-night stand, like yours.”
“Right,” Emma said, and she actually leaned forward with interest. “What did you do with him?”
Carefully avoiding all mentions of magical torture, Regina said, “He spent a lot of time tied to the wall. I brought him to the edge many, many times, and then I made him worship me for a solid hour.”
Emma’s mouth popped open. “Wow. Okay. And is that… something you like?”
She had been expecting Regina to smirk with a wordless what do you think? at that, but in actuality, she paused. “Sometimes. Sometimes it’s nice for things to be the other way round.”
“Yeah,” Emma nodded, swallowing hard. “I guess it depends on the person.”
A smile flickered over Regina’s face. “Exactly.”
She suddenly threw the ball back across the elevator, leaving Emma scrabbling to catch it. “Favourite position?”
“In bed, I’m assuming.”
“Doggy,” Emma said awkwardly, like she was expecting a laugh. When it didn't come, she threw the ball back. “Yours?”
“I like to be on top,” Regina said, and her voice was suddenly darker, more mischievous. She threw the ball back. “Favourite sex toy?”
“My bullet. I can’t go more than two days without it,” Emma grinned. “Favourite name for someone to call you in bed?”
“Not that it’s ever happened, but I think Madam Mayor has a nice ring to it. Favourite song to have sex to?”
They were firing the questions faster and faster, the ball hurtling between them, barely landing in a palm before it was being thrown back across the elevator again. Emma felt slightly drunk – the determined flush in Regina’s cheeks was mesmerising, and the dark shadow down the front of her partially open shirt felt more inviting than ever.
“Closer, by Kings of Leon,” she answered, already tossing the ball back again. “The craziest place you’ve ever had sex?”
“Bent over a balcony railing,” Regina smirked. “Yours?”
“Hood of a car. It was freezing.”
Regina expression was dark, and her eyes trailing down to the front of Emma’s tank top. “Mm. I bet that was uncomfortable.”
“It was,” Emma breathed. There was something hard and heavy in her throat. She threw the ball once more.
She launched it too far and, before she could even ask her question, the ball had hit the wall and was rolling towards the gap in the elevator doors. The darkness swallowed it up.
They both fell silent, staring after it. Somehow, that one movement had drawn a line through their game, marking the end of it.
There was a whole newspaper lying in the corner, and one of them could easily have grabbed another sheet and started it up again. But the momentum was gone, and their breath was coming back to them. Emma looked back across the elevator and saw an uncertain smile on Regina’s face.
They settled back into silence. Regina reached for the walkie-talkie again.
They ended up sitting side by side, facing the doors. Regina’s legs were stretched out in front of her, long and folded at the ankle, whereas Emma’s were crossed beneath her. Her knees had been bouncing up and down for the best part of the last 10 minutes, beating like a bird about to take off, and in the silence of them no longer talking, the only sound they could hear was the gentle pat pat pat of her thighs hitting her shoes.
Regina was cradling the radio between her hands, and her eyes were staring straight ahead. They only had to wait a few more hours before the workday started and people would begin milling into City Hall. Only a few more hours to endure. They could do this.
The incessant bouncing of Emma’s legs was making it difficult, though. Regina gritted her teeth and waited for her to tire herself out.
She never did, and so after a few more minutes, Regina reached out and placed a hand firmly on Emma’s leg. She stopped moving at once.
Regina could feel the tension in Emma’s thigh muscle, and she didn’t pull her hand away. She told herself it was because if she did, Emma would probably start fidgeting all over again. But her thumb was already curiously following the dip of Emma’s muscle, enjoy the way it quivered beneath her touch. She waited for Emma to ask her what she was doing, or to tell her to stop, but the words never came. They both kept staring straight ahead.
After a beat, Regina began stroking her hand up Emma’s leg. She stuck to the area closest to her knee, keeping her movements slow and small, not wanting to push things too far. Beside her, she heard Emma’s breathing quicken. Emma still didn’t say anything, nor did she avert her gaze from the slightly open doors, but her fingers were starting to twitch in her lap. Regina glanced down at them and felt a renewed sense of confidence.
She slid her hand slightly higher. It was now undeniably on Emma’s thigh, resting midway between her knee and her hip, and Emma still didn’t pull away. She was breathing hard through her nose and her head had tilted slightly as it rested back against the wall. The rustling sound that came from her curls shifting over her shoulders sounded like thunder crackling.
Regina was twitching from exhaustion and anticipation and from the strain of their night trapped there together, but she also felt a surprising lack of inhibition in her chest. Instead, she just felt curiosity. And longing - longing that she'd been suppressing for a hell of a long time.
She pushed her hand higher, just inches away from the crease of Emma’s hipbone, and began moving it in a small circle. Emma inhaled sharply, her leg trembling just enough for Regina to notice.
Regina turned her head then. Emma was leaning back against the wall, her gaze fixed on the very top of the open doors. There was a faint wobble in her jaw and a glassiness to her eyes, and Regina could see from the way that the muscles in her throat were shifting that she was swallowing hard.
Glancing down, Regina noted that Emma’s chest was rising and falling quickly beneath her tank top. The sight of it made something twist deep in her stomach. She exhaled, and when Emma felt the puff of air against her check, her eyes fluttered shut.
Emma knew Regina was looking at her: she could feel the hot pressure on the side of her face. But she could also feel a weight between her legs – an urgent throbbing that she hadn’t felt in a long time – and closing her eyes was the only way to get through this. Any minute now, Regina would get bored and she would stop playing her little game. She would go back to fiddling with the walkie-talkie, and Emma would go back to pretending that her heart hadn’t been pounding since the moment she’d locked eyes with her across the newly broken elevator.
But then she felt a gentle pressure on her chin, and her eyes snapped back open. Regina’s thumb and forefinger had closed over her jaw, and before she could do anything to stop it happening, her face was being eased round to look at the woman sitting next to her.
She found Regina staring curiously back at her. She was inches away, close enough to be able to count her eyelashes, and Emma realised with a twist in her stomach that she wanted to do exactly that. She wanted to feel how soft Regina’s hair was against her fingertips, and she wanted to lean forward and run her tongue along the scar on Regina’s lip. She let out a shaky breath, tearing her gaze away from the harsh line that she’d always wanted to ask for the story behind, and met Regina’s eyes once more.
For a second, they were both still. Then, at the exact same moment, they both tipped forward, their mouths crushing together and their hands reaching up to grab at whatever body part they could find. Emma slid her hands around Regina’s neck and into the soft border of her hair, and she whined when she realised that it felt like spun silk against her hands.
Regina was too busy kissing her to notice. Exhilaration was flooding out of her, and it was transforming their kisses into something that was hard and a little bit messy and just what they both needed. Regina groaned, her fist tangling in the front of Emma’s shirt, and let her tongue sweep through her mouth. She could feel Emma trembling already, and when she bit down on her lower lip, she genuinely thought she might cry.
The angle quickly got uncomfortable, and suddenly Regina’s tugging became something more insistent. When Emma realised what she wanted, she struggled to her knees and pivoted round to climb onto Regina’s outstretched legs. It was the second time that evening that she’d sat there, but this time there was no playful smile on her face; no cocky jut to her jaw. She looked down at Regina with awe in her eyes for a split second before diving forwards again, grabbing hold of her collar with both hands so she could yank her into a kiss that left her breathless.
Regina slid her hands round to the back of Emma’s jeans and eased them into the waistband, shivering when her fingertips met the fabric of her underwear. She didn’t pry any further, but instead used the position to tug Emma harder against her lap. Their chests crushed together and Emma automatically rolled her hips forward against Regina’s, whining slightly at the friction that started to build up between her thighs.
Regina could listen to that noise all night long.
Her head was swimming with something that was either desire or determination, and when she grabbed at the bottom of Emma’s shirt and began to tug it upwards, Emma didn’t resist. She pulled back for a moment, letting the fabric go sailing over her head, before pressing herself back against Regina’s body. She held her tightly by the nape of her neck as Regina’s nails began to scrape down her spine.
Emma was wriggling harder now, her hips furiously grinding against Regina’s, and Regina could feel the throbbing between her own legs intensifying with every second. She pulled herself away from Emma’s mouth and ducked down to her chest, peppering kisses over every inch of exposed skin. She used her tongue to follow the edge of her bra, stopping every few inches to bite and suck and leave a trail of dark purple bruises that would just about be hidden when Emma put her shirt back on. Emma groaned, tilting her head back, and they both shivered when they felt her curls tumbling down the full length of her spine.
The ache between Emma’s legs was growing, and every time she felt the seam of her jeans rub against it, she wanted to scream. Regina was gasping beneath her, her kisses getting harder and the hickeys she was leaving getting bigger, and through a blur of exhaustion and desire, Emma realised that if something wasn’t done to relieve the sopping pressure in her pussy, she would fucking die.
She reached down between them and sought out the fastening on Regina’s pants, waiting momentarily in case Regina was about to tell her to stop. As soon as she paused she heard a growl from between her breasts, and she popped the button open with a grin.
As she dragged the zipper down, Regina shifted position to give her more space. Emma sucked in a breath, crawling her hand down Regina’s abdomen and towards the flash of lacy underwear that was just about visible through the V of open fabric, right before a set of unfamiliar fingers reached for the top of her jeans. Emma moaned and sucked in a breath, feeling Regina's greedy fingers gripping hold of the tab on her zipper. She leaned back, waiting for the rasp of metal, and then—
A sudden crackle interrupted them and Emma nearly leapt out of her skin. She glanced down at Regina, who was panting hard and looked equally confused.
Then, “Hello? Henry?”
Emma looked wildly around her before spotting the walkie-talkie wedged underneath her boot. With a noise that was half a squeak and half a groan, she grappled for it.
“Hello?” she yelped into the speaker. “Mary Margaret?”
“Emma?” her roommate replied. “Where are you? I could hear the radio crackling from your bedroom as soon as I got in.”
Emma narrowed her eyes. Beneath her, Regina was rolling hers.
“You just got home?” Emma asked. There was a long pause.
“Yes,” Mary Margaret said. “I’ve just been… out. Walking.”
Regina snorted as she leaned forward, pressing her forehead against Emma’s chest. Emma felt the puff of warm air against her breasts and sighed, lifting one hand automatically and weaving it through Regina’s glossy brown hair.
“Right,” she replied. “Well, we’ve been trying to contact you for hours.”
“Regina and I,” Emma explained. It was weird to say her name out loud when Regina was just starting to trail her lips over Emma’s chest again. “We’re... ah. We're trapped in the elevator in City Hall – we’ve been here all night.”
“Oh!” Mary Margaret gasped, and Emma heard her immediately leap into action. “Why didn’t you call?”
Emma knew without a doubt that if Regina hadn’t been gently mouthing the swell of her breasts right then, she would have snapped something cruel enough to make Mary Margaret reel back from the radio.
“We don’t have any service in here,” Emma said. “Can you call the cops or something, please? We’re starting to go crazy, and also I’m going to need to pee really soon.”
Regina chuckled at that. The sound vibrated through Emma’s ribcage and made her feel faint.
“Of course, of course,” Mary Margaret gabbled. “Leave it with me. We’ll have you out in an hour.”
“Thank you,” Emma sighed. Her breathless tone came half from relief and half from the fact that Regina’s mouth was still on her right breast. She’d pulled her bra cup down and was softly lapping her tongue over her nipple, and it took everything Emma possessed not to hurl the radio at the wall and just tug her closer instead. “And can you let Henry know? He’s at Nick and Ava’s house.”
“Of course, I’ll get right on it. See you soon.”
“See you,” Emma said, trying not to whimper as Regina sucked harder on her skin. Emma dropped the radio with a clatter as soon as Mary Margaret was gone and moaned out loud. “God. Fuck knows how long my foot was pressing down on that button - I hope she didn’t hear anything else.”
“I don’t care,” Regina murmured from between her breasts. Emma could feel her teeth grazing against her skin, and she wound her fingers more tightly through her hair.
Emma had been prepared to feel embarrassed the second that radio had crackled. She’d been ready for Regina to push her away and threaten her on pain of death to never, ever mention a word of this to anyone. What she hadn’t been expecting was for her to carry on as if no one had interrupted them, her fingers already fiddling with the hook on Emma’s bra. Emma whimpered as she felt it come apart, and then suddenly her bare breasts were in Regina’s hands and there was a dark, very satisfied smile glinting up at her.
“So,” Emma panted, wriggling against Regina’s lap. “What do we do now?”
Regina smirked. Wrapping one arm around Emma's body, she lifted herself up onto her knees and gently lowered Emma down onto the floor.
“Well,” she said, dipping her head and teasing Emma’s other nipple into her mouth. Emma arched her back at once, a grateful whimper escaping from her parted lips. “We do still have an hour to kill.”
That was all the incentive Emma needed to throw her head back, slip her fingers through Regina's hair and release a moan that reverberated throughout the elevator.
The doors were pulled open with a screech. The fire department had managed to lower the elevator carriage far enough that Emma and Regina could slide out through the gap and onto the floor several feet below, and the second Emma landed with a thump, she felt a pair of arms being thrown around her. “Emma!”
She recognised Mary Margaret’s voice, although she couldn’t see her in the painfully bright light. She squinted, vaguely making out the shapes of a dozen or so firemen and police officers around her, before she remembered that she was supposed to be hugging her roommate back. “Hey, Mary Margaret.”
“I’m so sorry. I feel awful.”
“It’s okay,” Emma replied, although the adrenaline was just beginning to leave her and she felt like she might collapse onto the dingy grey carpet. “I’m just glad you found us eventually.”
There was a conversation going on to her right, and she turned her head to find Regina wrapping her arms fiercely around Henry. He was letting her, and his eyes were scrunched shut with relief. Emma smiled at the sight of them.
She waited, not wanting to interrupt the moment before it was her time to. Then Henry's eyes opened again and he spotted her.
“Emma!” he chirped. Regina let go of him, and when he barrelled towards his other mother, she didn’t tell him to stop. “I’m so glad you’re both okay!”
“All good here, kid,” she said, stooping to give him a hug. She was all too aware of the fact that she had hickeys all over her breasts, but all she could do was hope that her shirt was doing a good enough job at covering them up that the 10 or 12 people surrounding them wouldn't notice.
She glanced up to find Regina watching her. She was smiling slightly, and it was an expression that Emma barely recognised outside the darkness of the elevator.
Then she turned away, flashing her eyes at the first cop she found, and barked, “Why in the hell did no one think to check City Hall for us? Did you seriously not notice that the mayor was missing?”
“Of course we did,” the cop replied. Michael Tillman and his kids were standing nearby, and the three of them took a collective step back.
“Then what exactly is your excuse?” Regina demanded. There was still a faint throbbing between Emma’s legs, and it only intensified at Regina's fury. Her voice had sounded so delicious when she'd been whining and pleading with Emma to suck on her clit slightly harder, but like this - when she was berating grown men and turning them back into little boys - it was almost even better.
“Someone called in a tip,” one of the cops offered. “They said you’d been spotted near the toll bridge.”
“Told you,” Emma called out. “It’s always the woods.”
“So you sent the entire police force out on a manhunt in the exact same location?” Regina asked, ignoring Emma entirely. “And when you found nothing – what? You just went back home again?”
The insistent pulsing between Emma’s thighs wasn’t being helped by the fact that her phone was finally getting reacquainted with the AT&T network. It was buzzing non-stop from her pocket as a whole flurry of messages and missed calls came through. She pulled it out and unlocked the screen.
“We’ve been searching all night,” the man said helplessly. “We don’t have a sheriff at the moment, so—”
“You think I don’t know that?” Regina spat, suddenly turning to the clump of firemen. “You. Go down to the bottom of the elevator shaft.”
“Because my phone is down there, you blithering idiot.”
Emma snorted to herself, her thumb still scrolling through all the messages on her own cell phone. Most of them had come from Henry or Michael Tillman, but at the very bottom of the list was one was from an unknown number. She tapped on it with a frown.
Miss Swan, it read. The word about town is that the mayor has mysteriously vanished.
While the police are aimlessly searching the woods, you should try checking the elevator in City Hall. Make sure the photographer from the Storybrooke Mirror sees you do it.
Emma groaned and tried not to shatter the phone in her clenched hand. She’d already known Gold was behind all of this, but to have proof didn’t exactly make her feel any better.
Regina continued berating and shouting while a fireman was lowered down to the bottom of the elevator shaft. He retrieved her phone, which was, unsurprisingly, broken into a handful of jagged pieces. When Regina was finally reunited with it, she turned back to Henry and looped an arm around his shoulders.
“I’m taking my son home,” she said crisply. “Mr Tillman – thank you for taking care of him in my absence. As for the rest of you, you’re lucky I’m not placing every last one of you on official probation.”
She began to guide Henry towards the door. He was beaming up at her, his tired eyes full of relief, and Emma watched them go with her arms crossed over her chest. It was so nice to see them like that - it might even be the first time she’d witnessed such an interaction since she’d showed up in that godforsaken town.
Emma continued watching them, enjoying the way the light shone off Regina’s hair as she walked. She could remember all too distinctly what it had felt like to fist a hand in the back of it, pushing her face down between her legs. Regina's tongue had spent the next 10 minutes torturing Emma’s clit with long, leisurely licks that had made her entire body tremor.
She sighed wistfully and rubbed a hand over her tender throat.
As if she'd heard her, Regina hesitated before she reached the door. She turned her head.
“Oh - and, Miss Swan?”
There was an expression on her face that Emma wouldn’t have recognised a day ago. Regina looked exhausted and flustered, but more importantly, she looked satisfied. She was smiling wickedly and, seemingly not caring that there were plenty of other people who could see her, she let her gaze crawl down Emma’s body to where a whole series of bite marks and bruises were only just hidden beneath a stretch of white fabric.
She paused, her smile flickering, before she met Emma’s eyes again. She found her smirking back at her.
Regina lifted her eyebrows and said, “I’ll see you at the debate.” Then she guided her son out the door, a cocky swagger melting down the curve of her hips as she disappeared.