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The Hot and Cold of It

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Apparently, seeing as the cold had never bothered her anyway, Elsa was in the habit of sleeping in the nude. And it should be noted that Emma didn't know this because she was looking, you know, not on purpose. It's just that when she got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, the path to the kitchen led her directly past the pull-out sofa-bed the Charmings had offered up to Elsa, and it was…listen, it was impossible not to notice the slumbering naked form of the young queen of Arendelle.  She must have kicked the sheets off herself at some point during the night and now lay on her side with the sheets down to her waist, her arms comfortably outstretched in front of her, sort of like a cat.

She was turned away from the hallway so Emma couldn't see her face, but in the dim light she could make out the curve of her spine and it was…Well. As far as spines went, it was a nice one.

(Her shoulder blades were nothing to scoff at either, not that anyone cared about shoulder blades).

(Except that Emma kind of wanted to bite them).

(Except th...)

Water, Swan, Emma reminded herself sternly, and quickly padded away to the kitchen.

She stayed in the kitchen for a while. Not because she was avoiding going past the sleeping naked Elsa again, she was just really enjoying this glass of water.

She did a good job, for a while, of not thinking about anything, until she absently bit at the rim of the glass. She shouldn't have, because biting immediately induced thinking, which made her think of Elsa, which made her think of Elsa's shoulder blades, which framed Elsa's spine, which led down to Elsa's waist, which was just above Elsa's a…

…Feet...

Which was just above Elsa's feet.

That was all.

Scrubbing at her face with her hand, she reached into her pocket to phone Killian. He didn't answer, either because it was 3 in the morning or because he'd forgotten what button to push again, and Emma was kind of glad because she didn't really want to talk to him, she just wanted to…

She sighed. She didn't really know what she just wanted to do. She wasn't even really sure why she'd tried call him.

So she set the glass down on the counter and crept back up to bed, keeping her gaze fixed firmly to the floor until she'd closed the bedroom door securely behind her.

*

She woke late. The latest she'd woken in a long time. From the slant of the sun coming in through her window she'd pin it at around 10 or so. Maybe later.

Fuck.

Bad form, Sheriff. Bad form.

Pulling on a pair of jeans and grabbing a tank top off the floor, she sprinted down the hallway, nearly making it to the stairs before remembering she'd left her phone in her room.

Back to the room then. Phone. Where the hell was her phone. Under the pillow? Inside the pillowcase, good, that was a good place for it. She checked the time. 10:26. David was going to kill her.

Pocketing the phone, she nearly made it past the threshold of her bedroom before realizing her tank top was still in her hand rather than on her body where it belonged, and quickly pulled it over her head.

Her timing was…less than ideal. She was still pulling the shirt down over her head as she exited her room, so she failed to see the approach of the young queen of Arendelle as she wheeled around the corner until it was too late. The two of them collided spectacularly, Emma rebounding and smacking her back into the wall behind her with a thud as something very hot and and wet soaked through her shirt.

"Emma!" Elsa yelped in surprise.

"Gah…" Emma replied, hands flying to the scalding hot wet spot on her chest. What the fuck…?

"Oh god, Emma, I'm so sorry!"

There were hands on her suddenly, blessedly cold hands, wiping at the scalding spot on her shirt. And that was nice, really, but those hands were awfully close to her boobs, so Emma caught the younger woman's wrists to stop her.

"It's fine-- Elsa, I'm fine," she said, trying to get the queen to look at her.

Elsa still seemed zeroed-in on whatever was on her shirt however, and shook her head vehemently.

"It's not fine," she protested. "Yesterday I almost freeze you to death in an ice cave, today I almost burn you to death in your own house…what's next, I drown you in your own bathtub?"

Emma laughed slightly, mostly to discourage herself from thinking about what scenarios would lead to her and Elsa in a bathtub together, and lifted Elsa's chin to force her to look up at her. She let go of her chin quickly, because she didn't want it to be weird, but was suddenly caught as Elsa locked gazes with her, blue eyes wide with concern.

"I…you know, it's…it really is fine," Emma managed to get out, attempting to recover her wits. She offered a lopsided smile. "All great friendships start out with a little violence. Did I tell you Killian and I beat each other up at least a few dozen times before we started dating? The fact that you've jumped straight into trying to kill me…I take that as a very good sign."

The younger woman finally returned the smile, though her brow was still creased a little with worry. "I really am sorry," she offered again, biting her lip.

Emma made sure not to stare. "Don't even worry about it," she said, shaking her head. "I should probably change my shirt though...What was that?"

"I…" Elsa suddenly flushed bright red, and stepped back a little ways, bending down to pick up a coffee mug from the floor. She held it up for Emma to see. "I heard you were awake so I…well, earlier I'd made some hot chocolate…Mary-Margaret showed me how to use that…device? The…heating? Device?"

"The microwave?"

"Such a ridiculous name," Elsa said, "but yes, that. And I just…I feel so bad about yesterday I wanted to do something nice for you, so when I heard you were up, I thought I'd…well I remembered Henry made you some last night, and my sister Anna used to drink it all the time when she was sick, or really whenever it was a day of the week, so I just thought I'd bring you…"

She exhaled irritably, as if suddenly realizing that she was rambling, and abruptly straightened, immediately regaining the same regal composure she'd displayed yesterday when Emma had first stumbled into her at the ice wall.

"I can make you more if you like," she offered shortly, tone suddenly more clipped, colder.

Emma was momentarily thrown off guard by the sudden change in Elsa's demeanor, then remembered to answer with a shake of her head. "I should probably head to the sheriff's station or my dad's going to have a fit," she said.

"David said he didn't need you to come in until later this afternoon," Elsa told her with a careful tilt of her head. "After yesterday, he thought you should take it easy this morning. He said he turned off your…phone…alarm…so you'd sleep in…I don't really know what he was talking about, but I don't think he expects you until later."

Emma couldn't help but smile a little bit. Elsa had fallen back into shyness at the words phone alarm, and that shyness seemed more her. Like the ice queen persona she'd met Emma with the day before and had used again just moments ago was just that…a persona.

"In that case," Emma said, "I will definitely take you up on that second cup of hot cocoa. I'm just gonna…" she jerked her thumb back at her room, "pop back in there and change my shirt first. But I'll be down in a sec."

Elsa looked at her closely. "You're sure you're alright?" she asked. "That had to have hurt, I…" She dipped her gaze down to the exposed skin above Emma's shirt where some of the scalding hot chocolate had burned the skin red and started to reach her hand forward. She stopped herself at the last second, gaze shooting up to Emma nervously. "Sorry…May I?" she asked.

Emma nodded silently, not actually sure what she was agreeing to, but too busy trying to keep her breathing even to say anything.

Elsa reached her hand forward slowly again. "I forget to ask sometimes," she said with a guilty smile. "I…back in Arendelle I went for thirteen years without touching anybody…Anna always says that in the last couple years I've been making up for lost time by getting a little too tactile sometimes."

"Why were you…" Emma interrupted herself with a loud gasp as icy cold fingers brushed against her collar bone, instantly flooding her burned skin with relief. She grabbed Elsa's wrist without thinking and held it as the freezing sensation slowly faded to comfortable normalcy.

"That was amazing," she breathed in surprise.

Elsa's blue eyes lit up and she smiled shyly again. "Least I could do," she murmured. She looked down and Emma realized she was still holding the younger woman's wrist in a vice grip.

She released her quickly. "Sorry, I…it was just really cold," she mumbled.

Elsa smiled again, stepping back a little. "Well I'll…let you get changed then," she said.

Emma nodded, giving her a small, tight-lipped smile, and watched her turn to go back down to the kitchen.

She swayed her hips amazingly when she walked.

Emma rolled her eyes at herself and retreated to her room to find maybe an actual shirt this time.

*

Elsa, much to Emma's disappointment, didn't stick around to have hot chocolate with her.

"Do you…have somewhere to be?" Emma asked as the younger woman headed for the door after handing her the scalding hot mug. She tried to contain a wince. Mary-Margaret may have taught the young queen what buttons to press on the microwave, but she feared Elsa might still not have the hang of it when it came down to timing; the mug felt hot enough to burn a hole through her hand.

"David said I should meet him at the station once you were up," Elsa answered over her shoulder. "He's going to help me look through the town records to see if we can find Anna."

Oh, right. Anna.

"Do you know how to get there?" Emma asked.

Elsa gave her a confused smile. "It's just down the street, we drove past it in your driving machine yesterday."

"Right, that's…Good. I guess your sense of direction's a bit better when you're not used to relying on GPS."

The confused smile became even more confused. Still a smile though.

Emma waved her hand apologetically in the air. "Anyway. Go. I'll be there soon."

There was really no reason why she shouldn't just go with Elsa now, but she was trying not to come off as clingy. Not that she should come off that way, the sheriff's station was where she worked after all. But she…was having trouble not making an ass out of herself right now and she needed a minute to pull herself together. A minute, maybe a couple of hours.

She exhaled with relief when the door clicked shut behind Elsa as the younger woman left to meet up with David. She also quickly put the mug of hot chocolate down on the counter because she was pretty sure it actually was going to burn a hole through her hand.

So.

Of all things…Emma huffed irritably. She wasn't so stupid that she didn't recognize a crush when she had one, it had just been so long since she'd had a crush on a woman that she'd pretty much forgotten what that felt like.

(It made her fucking stupid, was what it felt like).

She'd been with girls a couple times when she was younger, once even with the birth daughter of one of her foster families when she was 17. There had even been an embarrassing couple of moments when she first came to Storybrooke where she couldn't help but wonder slightly about Regina…just a little bit…before quickly reasoning that if she ever tried anything like that Regina would probably kill her with a fireball to the face. Or a ripped-out heart.

But since then, Emma hadn't…she just hadn't. Not with women. And maybe it was partially intentional…these days, now that it was inevitable that whoever she dated would be a fairytale character, that extra dose of not normal was just a little too much, especially with a kid to think about.

Better for her to date a fairytale pirate who had tried to murder several of her closest friends, rather than a fairytale character who was also a woman.

She sighed, prodding gingerly at the side of the hot cocoa mug. Still hot, but not singe-your-flesh-off hot. She took a sip.

It tasted like hot chocolate, because it was hot chocolate, but Emma couldn't help but feel like there was a little bit of Elsa in there too. That was her imagination talking, she knew that, but that didn't stop her from thinking it.

And it was still a little too hot if she was honest.

She wondered if she'd be in a constant state of either too hot or too cold for as long as Elsa was here, and found she didn't mind the idea.

Pressing her palm into her forehead, she took her phone out and called Killian. She had the house to herself until this afternoon after all.

Killian must have been reading her thoughts; he picked up on the first ring.

*

"So," Emma announced herself as she entered the sheriff's station, tossing her leather jacket over the back of her chair and looking over the ocean of files David and Elsa were pouring through. "How's it going over here?"

"It's…" Elsa paused as she looked up at Emma then bit down on a smile, motioning to her own lips in the universal (and apparently cross-universal) signal for your lipstick's smudged.

Emma's eyes widened in a silent thank you and she managed to wipe the smudge clean before David looked up to see. Much as she loved her father, he still seemed to be operating under the delusion that she was an infant, rather than more or less his same age. That she was also running around with a pirate of all things, did not sit well with him either.

David sighed, offering a smile in greeting as he missed the entire interaction. "Nothing so far," he said. "There's nothing to indicate whether Anna was ever even here to begin with. Except of course the necklace Elsa found at Gold's, but now that's gone too."

Emma chanced a glance at Elsa who stood tight-lipped but otherwise did not react. Emma knew that look, she made it herself all the time. It was the look of someone who was completely distraught but didn't want anyone else to know about it. It made her suddenly and irrationally angry at this Anna girl for being missing.

"What about you?" she heard David ask.

She wrenched herself back to attention to find him looking critically at her. "Sorry?"

David glanced quickly at Elsa, and then back. "Are you feeling alright?" he asked. "You were freezing in that cave for several hours yesterday. I just wanted to make sure everything's good with you."

She flashed him her most convincing comforting smile. "Never better," she assured him. She put her hands to her hips, stepping up to the table. "Now. Tell me what I can do to help."

"Actually," David said, beginning to stand, "you can take over from here for me. I haven't eaten since this morning and I was going to run over to Granny's for a bite. You want anything?"

She shook her head, and David left, and suddenly she found herself alone with Elsa. For lack of knowing what else to do, she offered her a small awkward smile.

"Thanks for the uh…" she gestured at her lips and Elsa smiled back at her.

"It's alright," the younger woman said. "I had to do it all the time with Anna when she and Kristoff started seeing each other and she and I had to oversee a merger or settle some dispute or another. Our people were already having to tolerate having a queen who had ice powers, I figured they didn't also need to tolerate a lovesick princess as well."

Emma felt herself make a face at the world tolerate.

Elsa must have noticed the look because she quickly added, "Not that they tolerate Anna, they love her. Just…you know. One of us has to be…appropriate, and since it can never be me..."

That was much worse than her statement about being tolerated. And coupled with that earlier mysterious mention of having gone for thirteen years without human contact…Emma really frowned this time, couldn't help it.

"Well you make a very appropriate cup of hot cocoa," she informed the young queen, "that I've been able to tolerate just fine so far. So if your people ever give you a hard time, you're always more than welcome to come back to Storybrooke and stay with me."

Too much. That was too much, reel it in, Swan.

But Elsa was smiling at her again. She ducked her head shyly. "You don't have to do that," she murmured.

Emma tilted her head. "Do what?"

"Be nice to me," Elsa said. "I mean, I know you want to help me because you're the sheriff of your town, but you don't have to also b…And letting me stay with you, that's too much, you really don't…"

Emma circled around the table to stand in front of her, shaking her head. "I'm not being nice," she said. "I mean I'm…I'm being nice, but it's because I want to. Because, you know, you're…I like you. As a person."

Reel. It in. Swan.

Elsa just looked confused. "But you don't have to," she insisted. "You could have died yesterday because of me. You almost did."

Emma shrugged.  "That's…kind of a typical Tuesday night for me though," she said honestly. She smiled, hoping it would encourage Elsa to, too. "Listen, I mean, if you'd just stood there cackling and watching me freeze to death, we'd probably be having a really different conversation right now, but you held my hand the whole time, and you talked to me, and you listened to me say stupid things and you smiled at me…and sure, then you threw hot chocolate at me, but then you made that better too so…I don't know, Elsa, I guess you're just a likeable person. I have no choice but to like you."

Elsa's lips twitched into a small smile, and God, her eyes were so blue. And her lips were so...

"And we're going to find Anna," Emma went on, interrupting her own thoughts because speaking was the only thing that was going to keep her from leaning in and kissing Elsa right now. "And we're going to find out who's keeping that ice wall up. I promise."

Elsa looked down, like she was overwhelmed, but slid her hand over the top of Emma's and squeezed.

Right. Tactile. Emma had forgotten about that. The queen's hands were cold, not icy like they had been when she had soothed Emma's burn, but still colder than Emma was used to. Certainly colder than Killian's. And soft. So. Fucking. Soft. Emma squeezed back, letting her thumb brush up over the sharp ridge of Elsa's knuckles.

She saw Elsa bite her lip against a smile at the movement and Emma's heart broke a little bit. Thirteen years without touching a single other person. What the hell was that about?

She was just mustering up the courage to ask when suddenly the front door to the station burst open and David marched in carrying two paper bags from Granny's Diner.

"Who wants hot dogs?" he asked cheerfully.

And Emma, who had made a firm decision to eliminate the word "adorable" from her vocabulary long ago, nearly melted from the adorably confused expression that took hold of Elsa's features at his words.