“Just pretend I’m not even here,” Henry says as he crouches down behind his camera. “You won’t notice me.”
Emma rolls her eyes. “I still can’t believe you roped me into this, kid.”
“Believe me,” Regina calls from the garden shed, “I tried to get the assignment called off.”
“I’m sure you did.” Emma leans back against the wall and huffs impatiently, staring out at Regina’s immaculately maintained garden. “Why should I even be involved in this?” she groans.
“Because this video project is about my family, and you’re my family now—”
“No, no,” Emma interrupts, “I mean getting this stupid ball off the roof. You’re a big kid now, Henry. If you kick the ball, you get it back.”
Henry frowns, and shrugs. “Mom says it’s not safe.”
“And it most certainly is not,” Regina says as she hobbles over, clearly struggling under the weight of the steel ladder. “Two people are required for this task; two adults.”
Emma pushes herself off the wall with a sigh. “Here, let me,” she says, and takes the ladder from Regina with ease. She marches over to the site of the accident, causing Henry to scurry backwards and adjust his zoom.
“Right.” Emma positions the ladder and checks it is secure. “I’m gonna climb up and get it, while you hold this steady,” she instructs Regina, who nods complicity and grasps the ladder.
A few months back, Emma would not have trusted Regina in the slightest, but here she is putting her safety in the woman’s hands. Things have changed, lately. Things have been… nice. It’s Henry, she reminds herself, It’s all for Henry.
“Got it,” Regina reassures her, noticing Emma’s momentary drift. “You can go up now.”
“‘Kay.” Emma grips the rails tightly and steps up the ladder carefully but energetically. Perhaps she should have worn jeans that weren’t so tight, she muses, but changes her mind when she glances down and sees Regina staring up at her with a glint in her eye.
So Emma wiggles her butt playfully, just a little. She can’t help herself. “Like what you see?” she adds with a cheeky grin.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Regina chuckles. “And don’t be foolish. Just get the ball down.”
Emma reaches out and grasps the offending object. “Can I toss it?” she asks.
“I’ll have to let go,” Regina warns. “Just for a moment.” Emma nods, and throws the ball down gently. Regina catches it with surprising ease and places it at her feet before taking hold of the steel again.
Emma climbs back down nimbly, but her foot catches on the final rung and she trips slightly, resulting in an awkward dismount. She stumbles into Regina, catching herself on the woman’s shoulder.
“Well done,” Regina drawls as she shrugs away from Emma and picks up the ball from her feet. “I knew you wouldn’t get through it without a clumsy mistake.”
Emma would normally be offended, but she’s getting better at understand Regina’s darker sense of humour and decides to play along.
“Oh yeah? And who’s the one who had to call me around to get something on the roof? You’re so domestic,” Emma retorts, grinning.
“Be quiet,” Regina chuckles, then faux-gasps as Emma snatches the ball from her hands, poking out her tongue childishly, and chest-passes it against the wall.
The scuffing of footsteps on concrete causes both women to remember where they are, and who exactly has been watching them.
“Great footage. That was really cute,” Henry says as he snaps the camera shut. “See, I knew you guys would be naturals!”
Emma gapes as he dashes back into the house, no doubt to load the files onto his computer. “Did…” she stammers, “did—did he just say we were cute?”
Regina sighs and shakes her head. “I do not see this ending well.”
Regina turns to follow Henry back into the house, and calls out to Emma: “Be a dear and put the ladder away, will you?”
When she reaches the doorway, she notices Emma standing her ground and frowning - just the way Henry does, Regina notes (not for the first time). “Please?” she adds with a pout.
“Only because you asked so nicely,” Emma says, rolling her eyes, and she lifts the ladder with a barely disguised grimace.
“So domestic,” Regina calls after the retreating figure, smiling to herself.
Meanwhile, Henry watches from the upstairs window, all too pleased with himself. This is turning out so much better than expected, he thinks, bouncing up on his toes with glee.