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In the Most Peculiar Ways

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The Fountain

Tonight was a mistake.

That's the only thought raging through Regina Mills' mind as she treks back to her off-campus apartment.

That, and I'm going to kill Kathryn.

Her best friend and roommate, Kathryn Goldston, had been attending a party, hosted by Kathryn's boyfriend's friend. Whatever. Some guy Kathryn knows was throwing a party, and the blonde had convinced Regina to doll up for the night and go get drunk "like every other college senior."

Regina had rolled her chocolate brown eyes so far into her skull that even she was worried they'd get stuck.

It's not that Regina is a fuddy-duddy, not really. She just enjoys other ways to have fun, too. And a party with a bunch of drunk frat boys that she didn't know (other than Kathryn's boyfriend, John) wasn't how she wanted to spend one of her last weekends in college.

Graduation is next month, and finals are coming up. Regina's not a bookworm by any means, but knowing that what separates her from becoming a child psychologist is just a few measly tests, she knows she needs to do everything she can to pass them.

"I'm going to kill Kathryn," she mutters to herself, slinging her purse across her body.

Her black heels are killing her, but she's almost to the center of campus, can see the large fountain that marks it just up ahead, and right beyond that, across the street, lies her apartment building.

It was convenient, having an off-campus apartment that was so close to campus they could walk. It's easier for nights like this to get to and from each party they visit.

She really wanted to enjoy tonight, had tried her best, but she'd just been dumped by some loser she'd barely gone out with. Graham had been fun, a good fuck at the very least, but he had an eye for blondes rather than brunettes… which became painfully obvious when he would hit on Kathryn any chance he got. After six dates with Regina, he ended up breaking things off to date a mutual acquaintance, Emma, who just so happened to also have blonde hair.

Regina didn't care, not really, it's not as if she could see a future with Graham. But either way, he'd broken things off last night, so tonight Regina had planned to curl up on the couch in her pajamas and watch cheesy rom-coms just for the hell of it.

But Kathryn, bless her, wouldn't hear of it. Wouldn't let Regina get away with that to save her life. She'd come home, taken one look at Regina and hoisted her off the couch with a solid tug. She'd dragged Regina into her closet, picked out a tight red dress that landed just above her knees and the black heels that were currently hurting her feet.

Regina's done her hair in big, loose curls, donned her favorite pair of black earrings and finished off her makeup with a matte red lip.

She looked good. Damn good, if she did say so herself.

But that was hours ago, and despite having fun at the party for the first two hours, four hours in, she was annoyed. Kathryn had abandoned her, got drunk off her ass and left with John.

Regina knew the big, burly guy was going to be there, he was always the life of the party, but she didn't expect her best friend to up and leave her when she was the one that convinced Regina to come in the first place.

Oh well.

Regina readjusted her purse, moving it to the other shoulder and cursing herself for bringing the one with the golden chain as a strap. It always dug into her shoulder, especially having to walk across campus like this.

Thank god it was a nice night out. It's the end of April and the weather was blessedly warm but not that hot, sticky air they get in the summer here in North Carolina.

She'd grown up in Chicago, but when college came, she chose a school far enough away that her overbearing mother would have to strategically plan trips and couldn't show up on a whim.

It has been glorious. And after four years away, Regina can't imagine ever going back to Chicago.

She huffs, not wanting thoughts of her mother to bring her mood even further down, so she shakes her head, flipping her long hair to one side.

Robin Hood and Little John walking through the forest, laughing back and forth…

What the hell? Was someone… singing?

Regina looks around, not seeing anyone on the deserted inner section of campus. There's street lights to illuminate the walk way, so she knows it's next to impossible for someone to be hiding. But curiosity gets the better of her and she follows the sound.

Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day...

It's coming from the fountain.

Confusion colors her features, eye brows knitting together as she walks closer. She doesn't see anyone… oh, well then. There is a guy in the fountain.

He's on his back, kicking his leg to make a splash as the fountain rains down onto his face. It doesn't seem to bother him though as he continues with his song.

"Are you… singing the song from Robin Hood?"

He startles, flipping up onto his knees and turning to face her.

She can't help but to be amused at the stunned expression on his face, his handsome face. Her head tilts to the side, glancing over the stranger.

"Youuu'rea pretty lady," the stranger drawls, obviously intoxicated.

She scoffs, rolling her eyes. Great. Another drunk person to deal with tonight. As if all of John's frat brothers hadn't been enough. She'd made out with two, but the smell of beer on their tongues and the sloppy way their drunkenness made them kiss just completely turned her off when she'd only had two drinks tonight.

He stands up, water rushing off of him as he does. His clothes are soaking wet and sticking to, what she can already tell, is a very impressive body. So, maybe she'll stay a minute. She deserves to ogle a cute guy for a little bit longer before heading home to climb into bed and finish her movie from earlier.

Her eyebrow raises, giving the strange man a once over.

"You like what you sssee?" he asks, leaning closer, but not too close or else he'd tumble from the fountain.

"You wish," she replies in that haughty tone of hers that her friends always joked made her sound like a queen speaking to the peasants.

That must hold true, because the drunk man before her takes a step back, places his hand over his heart and does the most dramatic bow she's ever seen. His other hand lifts into the air behind him, and his (adorable) British accent thickens as he declares, "Beggin' your pardon, Your Majesty." He rights himself, one side of his mouth turning into a grin. "'Tis I, a lowly peasant, simply cooling off in the fountain." He dramatically gestures to the water fixture behind him, and when his eyes are not on hers, she grins.

"I can see that. And this was your best option for cooling off? You don't have a cold shower at home?"

He hiccups, then balls a fist over his mouth to cover a small burp, before saying, "Ah, I do… but where's the fun in that?"

He winks at her and she can't help the little laugh that bubbles out from her.

"Ahh, so Her Majesty has a sense of humor after all." He winks, adding, "Who knew a Queen hada soft spot for drunks?"

"Who knew a drunk had the lyrics to an old cartoon movie in his repertoire of music?"

"Touché."

He spins around, hands brushing through the cascading water, making it change course to splash him and mist onto her.

She wipes at her now damp cheek, and sighs, watching the odd stranger.

"I'll ask again, Milady," he jests, "do you like what you see?"

Rolling her eyes, she shifts from one foot to the other. "What? A baboon in a fountain?" She taps her chin, pretending to think. "You know, you're right. I've never seen such a sight."

He laughs at her then, mimicking a baboon by scratching at his armpits and making a monkey noise.

She chuckles, can't seem to help herself, before catching his gaze. He's got the most gorgeous, crystal blue eyes she's ever seen, and she thinks she could probably get lost in them if he'd let her.

Regina can't help it, would normally never be attracted to a man acting like this, so silly, but there's something about him. Something in his eyes, in the way he's looking back at her as if she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

"Care to join?" he asks, breaking their eye contact. "The water is nice. Feels good on this warm night."

She looks at him in apprehension, eyes trailing down to the hand he has extended for her.

Biting her lip, Regina glances around to make sure no one is looking. She shouldn't, she really shouldn't. But when else is she going to sit in a giant water fountain with a handsome stranger? Never, would be her best guess. So she slips her shoes off, setting them against the concrete of the fountain and places her purse on top of them before taking his hand.

His gorgeous blue eyes light up when she does, and he gives her a little tug, just enough to help her get over the ledge of the fountain.

She sits on the lip, tilting her head back and letting the mist from the fountain spray her face as the water below cools her feet off. It's just up to the middle of her calf, but she has to admit with a sigh, "This does feel nice."

"See?" he asks smugly, a smirk playing at his lips. "Not so bad after all."

She rolls her eyes, watching from the corner of her eye as he slinks up from being on his belly in the water to sit beside her, water rushing off of his clothes.

"Why are you in here, anyway? Besides cooling off," she says, imitating his accent.

The stranger shrugs, chuckling. "Bit too much to drink at my mate's party," he confesses, leaning closer to her, the stench of beer filling her senses, although not as unpleasantly as the guys at the party earlier. "But John went home with his girl and left me there all alone, bloody prick, he is, knowing I was already bladdered."

"John Little?" she asks, eyebrow quirking. "Is that what led to your singing Oo-de-lally?"

"You know John!?" he shouts, ducking his head when Regina looks around and shushes him.

Straightening her shoulders, she tells him that John's girlfriend, Kathryn, is her roommate and best friend. "I'm surprised we haven't met before."

"Hmph," he grunts, shrugging. "I doubt I'd ever forget meeting you. Guess the universe wanted us to meet this way instead."

"Why would you think that?" she asks, fighting back a smirk.

"Don't know," he shrugs again, an adorable smile blossoming on his face. She notes the dimples peeking out, and she has to admit he is rather good-looking. Much better up close than her first assessment of him. "Just seems like we were meant to meet tonight. To gaze at the stars together!" he exclaims, motioning widely to the open sky above them. "Look how beautiful it all is."

"You're an idiot," she chuckles, shaking her head.

She leans back, though, looking up at the sky and takes it all in. It's a gorgeous night, and it is kind of nice sitting out here like this. There's a nice little breeze to help cool the night off. There's no one around, she can hear the music's bass coming from the frat house across the street, can hear the faint echoes of people cheering chug, chug, chug, to one another, but right here, in the center of the campus, it's just them and the crickets. It's nice, romantic even, if the circumstances were different.

"Though, I guess we technically haven't met yet," she concedes, grinning as she tilts her head back down to look at him.

His eyes are already on her, and she takes a deep, shuddering breath, willing her stomach to unknot itself. There's something about him, she can't put her finger on it, but he makes her feel like a giddy schoolgirl just from a few long glances.

"Ah, right you are," he agrees, wiping his hands on his (still wet) pants. "Robin, Robin Locksley," he announces, sticking his hand out for her to shake.

"You're joking," she says, looking side long at him. "Robin and John just happen to be best friends, and I find you singing a song from Robin Hood?"

Robin chortles, shrugging. "It's always been a running joke, actually." He tells her how he and John grew up together just a few hours from here. John moved to town when they were in third grade, and they'd been best friends ever since. "Every year, we'd have at least one teacher reference the movie," he laughs, "It kind of became what we were known for."

"Were you bandits like they were?" she jokes with a sparkle in her eye.

"We did try to steal candy from a store once, but I felt so guilty that I couldn't even make it out to his mum's car before I made him turn around and return it."

She grins at the mental image and shakes her head.

"We did steal a few hearts along the way, though."

"Oh my god," she laughs, rolling her eyes. "You're ridiculous."

Robin grins back at her, then sticks out his hand again. "I never got your name, besides 'Your Majesty'."

She watches the water drip from his hand, but takes it anyway, shaking back. "I prefer Regina… Mills."

He smiles brightly, saying he's heard her name here and there from Kathryn. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Regina."

Fuck. Just the sound of her name on his lips makes her stomach do a somersault. What is wrong with her tonight? Is she somehow second-hand drunk from his nearness?

She scoots over a hair, needing room to breathe. But the bastard scoots with her, grinning before looking up at the sky again.

"Well," he sighs, shoulder slumping, "I guess if our best mates are dating, it's only fair that we give it a shot."

"I beg your pardon?" she asks, head whipping around to look at him incredulously.

Robin chuckles, holding up his hands in surrender. "'Tis only a joke, Milady, calm down."

She ruffles a bit, situating herself again and staring at the fountain, letting the mist cool her face.

It's only been a week since Graham took her out, she doesn't think she's ready to date again, but... it would be nice to at least go to dinner… maybe.

Biting her lips, she musters up all the courage she can before asking, "What exactly would we do on this date?"

His eyes brighten in excitement as he turns to look at her, water misting onto his cheeks. "We could go to dinner, a movie, th-that carnival is in town, we could do that, a simple walk in the moonlight, or, or… Top Golf is always fun. Hell, I'd imagine with you, anything would be a good time."

He's rambling now, and she finds it adorable, his drunkenness slowly starting to wear off, and his nervousness is flattering.

She raises a brow, trying to play it cool. "Sounds tempting," she teases, smirking at the way his shoulders fall. "I suppose the carnival this weekend does sound like it could be fun."

She twists and leans back, reaching behind her to where she'd left her purse on the ground and grabs her phone from inside. "Here," she states, handing him the device. "Put your number in here, and if by the morning I'm still thinking of the drunk fountain guy, I'll give you a call."

Grinning sheepishly, Robin types in his name (with a water fountain emoji next to it) and number, handing it back to her. He stands then and reaches out his hand. "Shall we?" he asks, tilting his head behind them to where dry land awaits.

Smiling, she slips her hand into his and steps over the ledge.

Her feet are too wet to put her heels back on, she'd be safer walking barefoot than risk slipping. Her apartment isn't far anyway, just across the street from where they are, so she'll be fine.

She turns to Robin, watching as he collects his items from the ground—a wallet and phone she hadn't noticed earlier.

His jeans are tight from being wet, and she can't help but notice the way they cling to his ass when he bends over.

It's a good ass, she decides with a sinister grin.

"Well then," she says as he stands up, clearing her throat. "It was nice meeting you tonight, Robin. Strange, but… nice."

He huffs out a laugh, his cheeks growing pink, and she tries to hide her own grin at just how damn cute he is. "The same to you, Milady," he drawls in his British accent, taking her hand and kissing the back of it. "I hope to hear from you soon." He winks, and her stomach flutters once again.

Robin offers to walk her home since it's so late, but she waves him off, pointing over his shoulder. "Our place is just across the street, it'll be fine."

He turns to look at the apartment building and nods, pointing over her shoulder now. "I'm that way so…"

"So…"

They both chuckle, and she's not sure why this is so awkward but wonderful. She finds she doesn't want him to leave, but looking at the time on her phone, and the string of missed texts from Kathryn, she knows it's time to head home. "It was nice meeting you, too, Robin. Goodnight."

Before he can say anything else that will keep her there any longer, she slips past him into the dark.

When she wakes the next morning, Robin's stupid song he was singing in the fountain is stuck in her head and she chuckles, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

She sits up, checking her phone for anything she missed on social media while sleeping, and before she gets up to start her day, she opens up her text messages.

With a nervous flutter in her stomach and her teeth sunken into her bottom lip, she types out three simple words. Carnival on Saturday?

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