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Pastry Chef Recreates Fairy Tale Dishes

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It’s embarrassing that they’re on take forty-five. Forty-five. Regina massages her temples as she tries to focus on what it is that she is supposed to be doing. Reproducing an Andalusian dish from the early 15th century. She tries not to focus on the fact that Mary Margaret had suggested she do Spain because you know, you’re Spanish. Regina had clicked her tongue at her, not bothering to correct her beyond a glare. This dish was a way to one-up her director. “Technically” Spanish Regina calls it in the video. Or she’s supposed to, if she could focus today. 

 

“You know, why don’t we take five?” Marian offers pulling her headphones down to her neck. “Check in on the kids?” 

 

Regina shakes her head and exhales. She wants nothing more than to hear Henry’s voice but it’s better if that is her motivation to get this done. 

 

“I rather just get this over with.” She straightens her apron, puts on that expression Mary Margaret deems intimidating but Marian assures her viewers just eat up. 

 

“Sure.” Her friend smiles. “But I’m calling it quits before we hit take 50. For our own sanity.” 

 

An assistant clicks the clapperboard and Regina places her hands on the counter. 

 

“Now for the spices,” Regina picks up from where she left off. “Which were introduced by North-African Muslims, you’ll want to grind them. Ideally and for accuracy’s sake, you’d want to use a mortar. But since I’m assuming the average home cook doesn’t have one, you can throw them into cheese-cloth and with a rolling pin…”

 

Marian tilts her head and mouths to her that she’s doing that Regina Thing. Asking too much of the viewer. 

 

“Or you can buy them in their powdered form. Even if that might break the illusion and what-not.” 

 

She can only imagine what sort of thing they’ll edit in. It’s become tradition to flash “Queen Regina” in a frozen frame of her expression. Marian knows her threats are empty and has promised to add a crown instead if she keeps it up

 

The take goes on smoothly. Finally. The “buried” fish is cooked and ready to be stuck into dough. It’s twenty minutes in the oven and Regina can practically see herself tying her scarf around her neck and heading for the subway.

 

But then, of course Marian gets an idea. 

 

“Hey, Emma wanna try Regina’s empanadas de pescado?”

 

Emma Swan, who by some unholy coincidence is still in the test kitchen, shrugs in acquiescence. She walks over and leans on Regina’s workspace as she picks up an empanada.

 

“Pescado means fish, right?” She asks Marian looking straight into the camera.

 

“No, it means vegan substitute.” Regina snaps because Emma Swan is inspecting the folds of her empanada. As if she could have made a mistake.

 

“Ha ha, high school Spanish never failed me.” Now she looks at Regina and she smiles that smile. The one that paired with her toned arms that has all the women swooning. Or so she’s heard from Marian.

 

“I bet you failed it.” She mutters.

 

In defiance she takes a big bite of the empanada and Regina hates how much she wants Emma Swan to like it. Even if her flavors aren’t meant to please  everyone. It’s only because she enjoys having her food liked. Simple and clear cut reason, she wouldn’t have become a chef otherwise.

 

“This would go great with a garlic dipping sauce” Flakey crumbs line her lower lip.

 

On instinct, or compulsion, Regina wipes them off with a napkin. Scowl on her face and determined to hold her ground.

 

“They didn’t have garlic dipping sauces in medieval Europe, Swan” 

 

And she laughs.  Emma Swan laughs and takes another bite. 

 

“Kids watching, remember there is no way in hell Snow White ordered extra dipping sauce with her fish pastry at the local tavern.” 

 

“Ugh,” Regina pulls the tray away from her. “Snow White is an insipid 19th century Christian German fairy-tale so not only would there have been no sauce she wouldn’t have had these empanadas at all. This is a medieval Sephardi recipe.”

 

“So…” The mirth hasn’t died out from her eyes and it makes her blood boil. “What would she have eaten? Schnitzel, Frankfurters? Maybe some sauerkraut. Imagine kissing that mouth.” 

 

“I am not doing this,” She says, furrowing her brow. “It’s a ridiculous discussion and…”

 

“Actually, that’s a really interesting question.” Mary Margaret’s voice rings behind her.



 The nauseating smell coming from her mug tells her she is drinking that expensive “healing” tea she ordered from some California hippie. But it’s really that too-sugary expression she’s wearing that makes Regina cringe.

 

It means Mary Margaret just thought of a “concept”. 

 

“What is?” 

 

“What would have Snow White eaten?” She smiles at her over her mug. “You have two degrees in history and literature Regina, seems like this would be right up your alley.” 

 

“You want me to make an era-specific poisoned apple?” Regina bares her teeth but knows it isn’t quite a smile. 

 

“No, goodness, no.” Mary Margaret touches her shoulder. “But it’d be worth exploring through a series. ‘Food of the Tales.” 

 

Regina groans and presses a palm to her forehead. It's the stupidest name she has ever heard. To think she was supposed to be going home by now. 

 

“I am not cooking dinner for the whole cast of Disney princesses and their pet raccoons.” 

 

“Don’t be silly.” Mary Margaret chuckles.

 

“Yeah, Regina.” Emma Swan is practically gloating. “There was only one pet raccoon.” 

 

“Then it’s settled...” She says with finality.

 

“Nothing is settled, there is nothing settled.” Regina cuts in because she can already feel this becoming the next Signature Blanchard torture. 

 

“You will make dishes different fairy tale characters would have eaten,” Mary Margaret then turns to Emma Swan and says. “You can be the official tester…”

 

“Mary Margaret, wait…” Her expression shifts into an uncertain one. “What about my fermentation series? Mulan and I are just getting off the ground and…”

 

“Oh, that’s no problem! You can merge it with Regina’s. Anything that needs to be “alive” for the dish you can make!” 

 

“I’ll murder you in your sleep” Regina says to Mary Margaret. To Emma Swan and especially to Marian who is practically doubling over with laughter. 


Tilly doesn’t know what it is about these videos. If she’s had a bad day, then they make suck just a little less. And today hadn’t quite hit the shit at rock-bottom but it’d been awful nevertheless. She’d broken a couple of dishes at work and she hadn’t been able to shake it off. To stop replaying it in her head.The line-cooks shouting each other had made her flinch. Her bus had been late and she’d wondered if something worse might happen today. All the signs had been there. Even as she settled into this corner of the public library she had trouble breathing. But. The video had been at the top of her subscriptions and it’d brought her some relief. Tilly had recognized Emma Swan’s face and clicked it without a second thought.

 

Except this isn’t “It’s Alive! With Emma Swan”. It’s something else. The music sounds like a parody of that HBO show she never got around to watching. “The Food of Tales”. Regina Mills comes on-screen with that vaguely annoyed look and Emma Swan is standing next to her.

 

“Don’t you want to tell the viewers what we’re doing today?” Emma Swan asks her with a nudge to her ribs. 

 

“Quitting.” Regina Mills deadpans and tries to turn around before Emma Swan stops her. She sucks in a breath and puts her hands on her waist. 

 

“19th century German Apple dumplings.” 

 

“The kind Snow White would have eaten, apparently.” Emma Swan says as she pulls the flour closer to them. 

 

“I might add, it’s the perfect vehicle if you’re trying to poison someone…”

 

“Regina, oh my God.” 

 

“What?” She asks, outraged. “Makes a hell of a lot more sense than a poisoned apple.” 

 

Tilly laughs because they’ve drawn a crown on Regina Mill’s head just in time to hear Emma Swan call her Your Majesty. She keeps laughing throughout the twenty minutes, keeps getting shushed by the jerk sharing her table. But she doesn’t care. Because Emma Swan is cooking with Regina Mills. Kneading the dough and researching beer recipes. Side by side. It makes her happy she knows, after several trips down the rabbit hole, that Emma Swan had started out as a dishwasher. Just like her. And Regina Mills had gone to culinary school in France. It makes her happy, almost stupidly happy, to think she could be Emma Swan in a few years. 

 

They turn out these golden glazed dumplings. Emma Swan had made sure they captured the steam coming off them. They split with a fork and Tilly can just tell the apples are perfectly cooked. 

 

“I highly doubt Snow White would drink this.” Regina Mills says sipping from the dark brew Emma Swan had made. “But I have to admit, it isn’t terrible.”

 

It’s more than just not terrible. Her eyes might be playing tricks on her but Regina Mills seemed to light up after a second sip. And she is practically gazing at Emma Swan who doesn’t seem to notice. She’s too busy lusting after the dumplings. 

 

“You could definitely poison me with these, though. Holy s***.” Emma Swan says stuffing a dumpling into her mouth. “F***.” 

 

Some day when Spring is near?? The words flash briefly on-screen and Tilly smiles. Because the words definitely have a point. Emma Swan has that big goofy grin and Regina Mills rolls her eyes but can’t hide how pleased she is.

 

Tilly can already feel this growing into the newest fandom thing. Even if the Bon Appetit Youtube Universe barely counts as a fandom.  She switches over to Twitter and types out So is it me or should The Food of Tales be called The Food of Gays????”

 


 

All things considered Emma is having fun in this assignment. Though she feels Mary Margaret hadn’t really believed she could do a series on her own. It’s like a pebble in her shoe. It’d taken Emma a year and a half to get an editor to even watch her first video. And that’s only because Mulan had passed it over to Marian. But this, this is good too. Somehow they’d found a guy with a mule powered mill and a charcoal oven especially for this Beauty and the Beast episode. Emma had laughed  when they’d arrived. Get it? We’re at a mill and you’re Regina Mills. 

Maybe a lot of the good parts of these assignments have to do with irking the hell out of Regina. A vein in her forehead pops and her eyes grow darker and it’d made grinding wheat a hell of a lot better. Especially since they’re supposed to be making two whole meals. One for the peasant side and one for the royal side. Whole wheat for the peasants and refined flour for nobility or so Regina had explained to the camera. 

Today Emma has no baking or kneading to do so she is helping Regina with the coal oven. A big iron thing that looks like it could kill them at any time. She’d been skeptical at first, when she’d seen the kitchen covered in soot and smelling of smoke. But the food. The food Regina had pulled out of it. Mouth watering Chicken with rosemary and thyme, and the damn vegetables. Charred at the bottom. Sure, every chef who went to culinary school should be able to do that. But not in a coal oven, working with fire and iron at every turn. Not that Emma would dare tell her that. Not in words anyway.

 

 Especially not as Regina pulls out the quail from the oven with a deep cutting frown.

 

“Puta, mierda!” Regina practically dropping it on the table.

 

Marian and Mulan keep rolling. She trusts them to cut away when Regina gets too frustrated.

 

“What’s wrong?” Emma says grabbing a prong and sticking into the quail. She can already feel it’s overcooked. 

 

“This stupid, game-y good for nothing bird! One minute over and it completely dries out!” That vein on her forehead is pulsating but it’s different when it’s not directed at Emma. “Want to know why they brought out the guillotine 18th century France?”

 

“Because rich people are monsters?”

 

“Because they ate quail and pheasant and every other bird that was too stupid to fly away!” 

 

Mulan clips to signal they’ve cut. Emma can see how this will play out in the video. A one minute sequence of Regina’s exasperated groans, the lines that would make all of this sound easier than it is. Until finally she pulls out a perfectly cooked bird from the oven. 

 

“It’s time for lunch.” Marian eyes Regina carefully.

 

“I’m not hungry.” She shoots back.

 

If Emma has learned anything about Regina Mills is that she is proud and will sulk when her pride is wounded. If they don’t pull her outside this place she’s likely to keep at it even without the cameras on her.

 

“It was my turn to cook,” Emma reminds her. “And I'm sure there is something missing in my brisket’s dry rub.”

 

Regina huffs and doesn’t budge an inch.

 

“Come on. You know you want to criticize it.” Taunting her might back-fire but Emma is willing to take that chance.

 

“You’re so immature sometimes.” She says but stalks past her all the same

 

“It worked didn’t it?” 

 

It’s a nice yard outside the kitchen. Oddly fitting for whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing. Emma tosses Mulan and Marian each a sandwich. Regina glares at her, don’t you dare, Emma Swan. So she passes it along, napkin and all. The eat in silence that is verging on the uncomfortable. Regina is still stewing and Mulan and Marian have retreated to a nearby tree.

Sometimes she feels this whole thing is a giant set-up but she can’t prove it, besides the graphics on their videos. 

 

“What’s the point of cooking a royal dish, anyway?” Emma blurts out 

 

“What?” Regina says after swallowing. 

 

“Like the only royal is the Beast, right?” It’s going to come out stupid, especially to Miss-Ivy-League-Mills but she’s already opened her mouth. “No one’s cooking for him and no way cursed furniture don’t fuck up the quail for Belle.” 

 

Regina looks at her for a second and Emma really and truly expects to see that vein again. And she does except that it’s because Regina is laughing. A nearly hysterical laugh that comes from having worked eight hours by two in the afternoon. 

 

“You’re an idiot, Swan.” She sounds almost fond of her as she wipes at her eyes. “Cumin.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“That’s what’s missing in your dry rub.” 

 

If Emma smiles then she’s at least glad it hadn’t been caught on camera. 


Lucy stretches in her bed and readjusts her earbuds. Mom had said she needed to cut back on her screens but never begrudges Lucy watching the Bon Appetit videos. She knows that when Victoria had custody of her it’s all she had of mama. Lucy just knows her (evil) stepgrandma had probably checked her mama’s schedule at the office and planned Lucy’s visits so that she’d never get to see her. So the “Sabine Recreates” recipes videos were all she had of her. Her mama knew and that’s why she’d wink at the very end of each video. But it’s all good now, after mom and mama got her back because they asked to switch judges. And also Victoria left the country (tax evasion or something like that). 

 

Now Lucy’s favorite videos are of Henry’s mom and Emma Swan. These are much better than her other videos, she’d never say that to Henry. Obviously. They’re doing dishes from fairy tales now (not Disney. Henry had insisted on that point because his mom is a historian ). This week is called “A Beast of a Dinner.” 

 

They cook nothing Lucy would like but it’s cool to imagine what the characters would eat. She can picture it all on a big table but maybe no singing candlestick. Henry’s mom says something about an ass and Emma Swan that gets her a funny look from her. But it doesn’t compare to how Henry’s mom looks at her when she’s cutting into a quail.

 

“So, like does this make me a princess?”

 

“I believe it marks you as a beast, dear.” Her eyebrow is raised. “That is the whole point of this exercise.” 

 

“And what are you? The talking stove?”

 

Lucy snickers and covers her mouth when  the video cuts to Earlier that day... and a shot of them having lunch on the grass. New and a bit alarming??

 

“A comer!” Her mom calls from the kitchen.

 

“In a minute!” 

 

“Anyway, now I’m gonna let Regina do the voice-over thing with the recipe.” Emma Swan says with an eye roll.

 

“Lucy!” 

 

“Ya voy, ya voy!” She doesn’t bother pausing the video as she gets to her feet,

 

She’s pretty sure the last frame of Henry’s mom doing a face but she’ll have to check back.


If someone had told her ten years ago that she would be working late Regina wouldn’t have been surprised in the slightest. But if someone would have told her “working late” would have implied trying to convince Mary Margaret Blanchard that, no, they can’t base an episode around the Little Mermaid she would have called that someone delusional. 

 

“Did I miss something?” Regina hisses under her breath as she glances at Henry reading at her workstation. “Was Conde Nast bought by Disney?” 

 

“Regina...I’m just asking you to be a little more flexible.” 

 

“This whole thing is me being flexible.” She breathes in and tries to remember that the woman in front of her is her boss. “The Little Mermaid is not a folk-tale. It wasn’t passed on from generation to generation, and don’t pretend this isn’t about…”

 

“The food would suck.” Emma Swan chimes in. Regina didn’t think she’d been listening at all. “Scandinavian, right?”

 

“Danish, to be exact.” Impressed, despite herself. That’s what Emma Swan does to her most days. 

 

“Boiled fish, salted fish. Crappy bread.” She lists with a grimace on her face. “And if we’re not into portraying cannibalism, the little mermaid wouldn’t be able to eat any of that anyway. So we’re just stuck….with salted pork, potatoes and like I said, crappy bread.” 

 

Regina gives Emma Swan a questioning look, how do you…?

 

“Ex was a Swedish chef,” She mumbles while looking away. “I cannot tell you how much boiled fish she made me eat.”

 

There is only one possible chef she can mean. Theirs is a small circle, once it’s reduced to the women who would date Emma Swan. And it bothers her to think of silky almost white blonde hair and bug eyes. Especially around Emma’s Swan’s blonde curls and stupid, stupid bright smile.

 

“Serves you right for dating Elsa Nilsson.” Regina narrows her eyes. “Bad taste all around.” 

 

“Wait, how did you…”

 

“OK, OK.” Mary Margaret raises her hand. “I get your point. No Little Mermaid.”

 

“Thank you.” With that Regina turns on her heel. Relieved the meeting is over. 

 

“Cinderella for the next episode!” Mary Margaret says once Regina has reached Henry and cannot possibly argue against it. At least Regina can work with that. 

 

Her son closes his book and smiles up at her. He is too patient sometimes, too accepting of strange hours and even stranger smells. 

 

“Hi, mi vida.” She says running her fingers through Henry’s hair. “I’m sorry that took so long.”

 

“I don’t mind,” Henry lifts up the cover of his book. Part 3 of 5 of a series she bought him for his birthday. “Plus, Emma just lost a bet.” 

 

“Oh? And what would that be?” Regina does her best to downplay her curiosity.

 

“I bet her she wouldn’t be able to take MM’s side on this, she said you’re on, kid.” He smiles a little too knowingly for an eleven year old. “And lost. Like a loser!”

 

“I heard that!” Emma Swan replies marching towards a stove. 

 

“No need to be a sore about it, Swan” She says, feeling her lips twitch upward. 

 

“Well, now you gotta eat my world famous gourmet grilled mac and cheese sandwich.” She winks at Henry, like this is all part of one big scheme. “So I’d call this a win.” 

 

“Henry…”

 

“It’s not a school night!” He arches a brow at her. “And that sandwich looks awesome!” 

 

Regina taps her fingers on the counter. And takes in the puppy eyes her son is throwing her way. The expectant look on Emma Swan’s face as she reaches for a jar of pasta and pulls out a cast iron skillet. 

 

“I suppose having food from this century wouldn’t kill me.” 

 

“You hear that excitement, kid?” She laughs and turns on a burner. “She’s about the break into song..” 

 

If Regina only vaguely threatens her with dismemberment while feeling her pulse picking up that is no one’s business but her own.


Oh. This requires a good bottle of wine. Zelena is going to savor this. She has a Google Alert for her sister, mostly because she enjoys teasing her relentlessly. And tonight, tonight she hit the jackpot. She uncorks the bottle and pours herself a glass. Readying herself for what is likely the best gift an unsuspecting millennial could have given her.  

 

Why The Food of Tales is the Voice of the Gayest of Food Nerds 

 

This is already the best description of Regina ever written. She takes a sip of her wine and settles against her couch. 

 

If you’re alive in 2020 odds are you’re gay, depressed and obsessed with bread. This would have let you down at least twenty Google searches all titled “what the hell is a starter?” and eight buzzfeed quizzes to figure out if you’re more of foccacia gay or a sourdough lesbian. Then your prayers would have been answered when you found “It’s Alive!” with Emma Swan. You would have entered an existential crisis at realizing that only six episodes had been uploaded. 

 

Then. Sappho herself replied with ‘The Food of Tales’. 

 

Where certified by the goddesses of Lesbos, Historian and writer Regina Mills (seriously. Look it up. She has a freaking degree from La Sorbonne. That’s in Paris) pairs up with the craft-girlfriend of your dreams, Emma Swan. 

 

“Fucking hell.” Zelena chokes on her wine. She’d known about her sister’s cult following but this is a whole new level. 

 

The theme of the show is simple. Recreate dishes that fairy tale characters would have eaten. Emma acts as the official tester (and brewer? Is that a word?)  and a foil to Regina’s immaculate (and I mean, IMMACULATE) everything. I cannot tell you the last time I saw something this gay on my screen. From the obvious blonde and brunette contrast, to the perfectly timed banter (is it scripted?) it’s all one big heaven-sent Youtube series.

 

“Alright, keep it in your pants.” She says finding the piece a little too fannish for her taste. But this is about having something to tease Regina with. Zelena has to see this until its end.

 

And I haven’t even talked about the reason why you clicked on this piece to begin with. The very obvious gayzing going between Regina Mills and Emma Swan. Whether it be Emma Swan loading her mouth with charred vegetables or Regina Mills failing not to smile around her co-star (is that the word we’d use here?).

 

But. If you’re like me.

 

“This is just embarrassing for everyone involved.” She mumbles without being able to help herself.

 

You went to Valhalla during the Cinderella episode. The Mediterranean theme, the black olives. The oil. Talks of an Egyptian king and.

 

The.

 

Kneading.

 

Of.

 

Bread.

 

They kneaded bread. Together. Strands of hair came undone, the New York afternoon Sun crept through a window. At one point, Emma Swan took over, olive oil up to her forearms and showed Chef Mills how to really pull and fold that dough. And the LOOK on Regina Mill’s face. Is this how straight women feel about the pottery scene in Ghost?

 

It takes all her self control not to spill wine on her couch and roll over wheezing. Zelena manages to copy the link and diligently send it to her sister.


Mostly, Emma thinks this is unfair. She doesn’t know who made the decision, she doesn’t want to think it was Mary Margaret but it’s worse if she thinks it was Regina. One fangirl-ish article that most people outside the community would even read it and then it’d been suggested that maybe Emma should have a new “It’s Alive!” episode.

 

With Killian Jones. 

 

It’s unfair because she and Regina were having fun. Even if she won’t admit it. It was the Russian princess episode last week. They’d fallen into a rhythm where Emma goaded her with questions of caviar and potatoes. Regina casually explained the ins and outs of Imperial Russia. And Emma had called her fancy pants after she’d told her to measure her vinegar. It’d been a good week, no field trips involved. But then Mary Margaret had come to try the pickled cabbage and say that maybe next week Emma could mix it up a bit.

 

And Emma hadn’t been able to say no. Because maybe that meant Mary Margaret had always believed in her. And Emma hates it how much she craves that sometimes. Not doing this was out of the question. And Jones, apparently, had volunteered.

 

Now she’s here, pretending she has that easy chemistry with Jones. Working on some stupid cocktails that are only vaguely related to fermentation. 

 

“Ideally speaking, you’d pour in some of Swan’s fine ginger beer,” He smirks into the camera. She doesn’t get why. Mulan rolls her eyes at him. “And it adds a nice spicy component to our drink.” 

 

Regina is working some antique hand mill behind them and Emma is more relieved than annoyed. 

 

“Hey Mills, we’re filming here!” Jones yells in her general direction.

 

Then Emma thinks of it. Not because she misses Regina.  But because Regina's opinion matters and she’d absolutely destroy Jones. Ensuring he never thinks of sharing a workspace with her ever again. 

 

“Feel like trying a cocktail, Your Majesty?” She raises her voice over the grinding of the mill.

 

Maybe it is because she misses her. 

 

Emma’s heart races when Regina’s shoulders drop and she seems to not hate the idea. She’ll look like a moron in the final edit and maybe they’ll write three more articles on how she’s not-so-secretly in love with Regina Mills but she doesn’t care. 

 

“What is it?’ She asks as she walks up to them.

 

“Caribbean spice.” Jones replies, practically leering at her.

 

“Ugh. Of course you would name it that.” Regina says with a sigh. “I meant what’s in it, Jones.” 

 

“You tell us, with that refined palette of yours.” 

 

“And this fits your theme how, Swan?” Now she looks at her. And Emma can tell none of this was her doing. If anything, Regina seems pissed that this is happening at all.

 

Not most viewers would be able to tell the difference between Regina and Pissed Regina. Emma shrugs and pours her a glass of Jone’s shitty cocktail. And waits, waits for Regina to deliver. 

 

The first sip has her scrunching up her nose. The second has her exaggerating a cough and she doesn’t get to a third when she is setting it down.

 

“That’s just rum, egg whites and ginger beer,” Regina throws a pointed look at Emma. “Which is the only decent flavor in this. Maybe try adding some fresh herbs?”

 

“Alright, alright.” Jones over accentuates his words so not that one forgets he’s supposed to be interesting. “Swan and I will figure it out, won’t we love?”

 

“Kill me.” She replies burying her face in her hands. 

 

And she means it. They’re meant to work on recipes for a whole week.

 

“Now that would be a waste, Miss Swan.” Regina actually smiles at her. Like a true, non-mocking, genuine smile.

 

And it’s all Emma will be able to think about for days, 


Coffee burns her throat but Mulan has to stay awake. And review the hours of footage she got this week. And hopefully cut them into something that resembles an “It’s Alive!” episode. It’d been long days and all she could think about taking some time off. Between this and freelancing, it’s taking a toll on her. Marian had said as much. She guesses she’d gotten used to working as a team with her on the “Food of the Tales” series. The footage was easier to cut because everything about it was effortless.

 

But this week. This week has to make it seem that Killian Jones is likable. Even make it look like he and Emma have some sort of rapport. Mulan isn’t even sure why they keep him around. All his recipes, without fail, are terrible. Like an uncle’s hangover cure but pre-hangover. Maybe it has something to do with Milah and the lustful look-overs she gives him. Ew. Mulan has always hated gossip and she isn’t about to procrastinate thinking about the lives of two straight people. 

 

She speeds up the footage of Jones speaking. Adds a few flags as to where to add the appropriate sound effects and the usual graphics she uses to paraphrase Emma. Viewers are going to hate this. Maybe not Jones’s middle aged and teen viewers but Emma’s. Mulan cannot not let this thing flop. They’ve worked too hard. She swallows more of her coffee and decides to make any good parts of this shitshow shine. 

 

And of course she knows just what to do. Compile all the clips of Regina dropping by Emma’s workstation and sampling their cocktails. All her nose pinches, all her huffs. Until she tries the one good drink. Which turned out to be the one Jones had no part in. Make it all seem deliberate, as if they had always meant to include Regina.

 

That’ll teach them to try and mess with her work schedule. And try and weasel in Jones into it.

 

You’re still up Hua?

 

Marian’s text bubble pops up on her screen. And she pushes herself away from her desk to reply.

 

What do you think, Alvarez?

 

Yikes. Was your day as shitty as mine?

 

Worse. But it’s better now :)

 

Was that a pick up line?

 

Mulan laughs and shakes her head. Pretty sure she’s blushing and relieved no one can see her. 


 

It’s mortifying, she realizes, to suddenly lock her screen because her ten year old son had snuck up on her. Like an average tween girl caught watching she shouldn’t be. But it’s been weeks since she caught Emma Swan more than a few times in the kitchen. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She’ll have a few choice words for Mary Margaret on Monday. 

Regina presses her phone to her chest and tries to look as put together as possible. 

 

“Mom.” He says squinting at her as Regina turns to face him.

 

“Yes, carino?”

 

“Were you watching old ‘It’s Alive!’ episodes?”

 

“No,” Regina figures a white lie to protect her honor won’t do any harm. “I was watching a video on mid-20th century British cuisine.” 

 

“And that’s not cheating?” Henry is so much her son that he has cornered her and knows it.

 

“Did the timer go off, sweetheart?” Is her the ace up of her sleeve. It’s a cop-out but he seems to want to allow it. 

 

“Uh huh.” He bobs his head but doesn’t stop eyeing her suspiciously. 

 

“Good, then it’s time to get that cake.” Regina says sticking her phone into her sweater’s side pocket. “Lavese las manos!” 

 

Her son shakes his head at her and pads to the kitchen all the same. She relishes Saturdays when she gets to experiment in the kitchen with him. Lately he’s taken to imagining what type of food his favorite characters would eat. Regina supposes it’s all a natural consequence of her job and she is relieved to know Henry is developing the recipes based on what he thinks is right. Today it’s Miss Peregrine and he’d wanted toasted pumpkin seeds because Miss Peregrine is a bird and it’s what she would like. Pumpkin seeds on top of a Blackout chocolate cake. Even if Miss Peregrine all the way up in Wales would have never had it. But she’ll never tell him that. 

 

He watches her pull out the cake molds from the oven and carefully pop them out. Until he springs the most important question of that night.

 

“What’s for dinner tonight?” 

 

“Well, there is dairy in this.” Regina smiles knowing he is anticipating her answer. “So, I suppose eggplant burgers and sweet potato fries.’ 

 

“Nice. It’s all going as planned.” His eyes widen as he catches himself.

 

“What is this ‘all’ you’re talking about, young man?” She carefully carves the cake to make room for the pudding while throwing a glance his way. 

 

“Dinner.” 

 

“Enrique Daniel…”

 

The doorbell rings and he fails to suppress his smile. Regina puts down her piping bag and quirks a brow at him. When he only rocks himself on the balls of his feet, she crosses her arms for good measure.

 

“Lucy and I might have done something,” He admits with his smile turning sheepish.”Nothing bad, I swear!” 

 

“You stay put,” She tells him as she walks towards the front door. “And no trying the pudding!” 

 

Regina readies herself for whatever is waiting at the other side. She expects a delivery man with a box with holes under his arm. Worst case scenario, she ends up with a puppy.

 

But there is no delivery man. Just Emma Swan standing on her stoop with a book under her arm. 

 

“Hey.” She beams up at her.

 

“Emma, hey.”  Regina returns no less confused.

 

“Hope I’m not interrupting or anything.” Her fingers rake through her hair and all she can do is watch her. “I was in the neighborhood and I thought I’d come say hi.”

 

“You were in the neighborhood?” Her body goes down a step so she can see her eye to eye. “I’m just supposed to fall for that?”

 

Emma bites her lip and then smiles. In that way Regina now admits is swoon worthy. Not aloud, never aloud.

 

“Sabine texted me your address along with something about getting our act together?”

 

Regina laughs because she has connected all the dots. Her son and Sabine’s daughter are playing match-maker. And she can’t fault them for that, especially since they’d been able to read her so completely.

 

“Of course she did.” Regina brushes her fingers on the book under her arm. “What is this?” 

 

“Oh, I got it a while ago.” Emma breathes in like she’s bracing herself. “It’s A Thousand and One Nights because I know how much the big mouse versions of the stories get to you and how much you want to move away from Europe. Not that I’m saying that we should work on a concept for a new episode or anything but I saw it on a shelf and thought of you..”

 

And that’s it. It’s the nervous rambling that gets her. Makes Regina pull her by the sleeve of her jacket and kiss her. Kiss the surprise off her lips. 

 

“I, uh...I, ha.” It’s what Emma says as she settles on a grin. “Wow.” 

 

“Come help us with dinner.” Regina kisses her again and tugs her inside.