Emma Swan opens her cold beer, grabs some leftover pizza that still looks mostly okay, and gracelessly flops onto her sofa, proud she only spills a little beer onto her ratty tank. It’s the hottest day of the year so far, and Emma is exhausted. A rare night off — she can’t even say when the last one was — sounds like just the thing. After all, she already saved a few lives earlier that day and finished an assignment for her day job.
Time to relax, let some of the other supers in this town take care of things tonight — it’s not like she’s the only one in New York City. She leans back against the arm of the couch with a content smile, her thoughts drifting off in the same direction all her thoughts seem to go these days, no matter what she’s doing or where she is.
She can’t help it, and maybe she doesn’t really want to.
It doesn’t matter that her mega-crush on her boss has turned into so much more over the months she’s worked for the woman. It also doesn’t matter that it’s pathetic or that she doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell with Regina Mills. Not to mention that it’s utterly unfeasible to have a relationship with someone while you’re a secret superhero on the side. That’s just asking for disaster … so, yes, it’s a little pathetic and stupid but all Emma can do right now is pine for her boss from afar and keep watch over her.
The ball game is in its third inning, her pizza devoured, and her bottle half empty when she hears the distinct sound of a woman screaming — and it’s a voice she’s entirely too attuned to for the well-being of her heart and mind. In a second, all her senses are awake, and Emma is suited up, hair hidden under her tight dark hood, and halfway out of her window by the end of the first scream, night off be damned. She listens for another sound, anything, even as she’s already following her gut feeling, eyes scanning the city below her.
There. Again. Emma corrects her course a little and dives down, accelerating as much as she can until she can see her target.
“Get off me!” Regina Mills snarls at the man who is pressing her against the brick wall of the alley as he tries to kiss her. Her knee kicks out, aiming for his groin but her pencil skirt is hindering her movement, rendering the defense ineffective. The man squeezes her chin with one hand while the other one feels her up.
Emma drops to the ground behind the guy with a soft sound he doesn’t hear over his own grunts. Her eyes meet Regina’s over his shoulders and she can see the relief in the beautiful brown eyes, and maybe even something more, something she wishes were directed at her actual person, not her black super costume. But in real life, they are Regina Mills, beautiful and powerful CEO of Mills Corp, and Emma White, one of her three assistants (and probably the most expendable one of them all).
Emma shakes off the depressing thought and grabs the guy by the collar of his expensive suit jacket to tear him away from Regina and toss him away. She flings him a few yards down the alley, too angry at his audacity to touch a woman that way, especially this woman, to mind where he ends up. He lands hard, groaning on impact, before rolling to a stop against a chainlink fence and falling blessedly silent.
“Thank you,” Regina breathes, surprisingly calm. “He was getting … uncomfortably close.”
“Are you okay?” Emma wants to know, then immediately wishes she could take back the stupid question.
“I’m fine,” comes Regina’s calm but slightly snarky reply after a moment.
"How many times does make now? How many times did I get you out of trouble in the past two months? Five? Six? Are you keeping the other supers just as busy or is it just me?” Emma grins winningly, or at least she hopes she does.
Regina Mills’ eyebrow lets her know she isn’t all that successful but Emma is too busy keeping her voice low and unrecognizable, and not let her eyes meet Regina's again, not this close up, for fear of revealing her true identity. Then again, who is she kidding? As if Regina knows what her assistant’s eyes look like …
“Thank you. Again. I have no idea why I keep getting into these situations ..."
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you're doing it on purpose just to see me," Emma smirks, only half joking.
Regina gives her a look but doesn't say anything, making Emma's senses tingle. Her mind runs through all their meetings as Regina and Black Swan, and she realizes that a) the incidents have indeed increased in frequency, and b) that none of them were all that serious. Almost … almost as if they were planned. Except for the first one, Emma corrects in her mind. That almost got her boss killed, and it was heart-stoppingly real.
"What happens to him now?” Regina casually points at the still man on the ground at the end of the alley, pulling Emma from her thoughts.
Emma really couldn't care less. “Do you know him?” she asked with a shrug.
Regina sighs. "Unfortunately, yes," she admits. "I was just on a date with him. His name is Robin Locksley, a lawyer from one of our companies in Europe."
“Well, looks like the date wasn’t all that great," Emma states more than asks, and Regina's sardonic smirk is all the answer she needs. She knows she shouldn't be this relieved at the information, but she can't help herself. It's all she can do not to blurt out that the date had not been in Regina's calendar. "He's an idiot for not treating you like a queen," she mumbles instead.
"Well, Ms. … Swan," Regina huffs, although Emma doesn’t miss the slight hesitation. Then she adds, so quietly that even Emma with her super-hearing has to strain to hear it, "At least he had the guts to ask ..."
With that she stalks out of the alley and into the street, all poise and grace, leaving Emma to follow her with bewildered eyes before sighing and taking care of the trash in the corner.
When she returns home, the game is in the second extra inning. Emma changes back into her tank and shorts, and flops back onto the sofa, her mind still busy trying to puzzle out what Regina was trying to tell her — or even if she was trying to tell her anything at all. And which one of her two personalities?
The next day at work starts out strange and only gets progressively weirder over the course of a few hours.
Unlike any other day in the year that she’s worked for the woman, Regina calls Emma into her office several times an hour giving her looks like she's waiting for Emma to do something. Unfortunately, Emma has no idea what, which means that her boss gets more and more irritated with each passing hour.
In a free moment just before lunch, when Regina is in a meeting, Emma skips out and runs to the deli on the corner to pick up her lunch and, on a whim, also grabs a salad and some root beer for her boss. She's sure she's the only one who knows about this secret favorite of Regina’s — having discovered it when she was watching over her, floating in the air outside her penthouse apartment after the first time she saved her — and Emma is just confused enough to try and score some points in any way she can.
When she takes the lunch to her boss, Regina's face lights up for a moment — before it turns into s small smirk when she notices the drink — but when Emma turns right around to leave, she groans in frustration. "Ms. S—White," she sighs, and Emma can hear the same hesitation in her voice she could hear last night. "Why are you bringing me this?"
Emma shrugs. "I was at the deli ... and I thought ... maybe you'd enjoy a little ... you know ..." She stammers and blushes and hates herself for both. In reflex, she pushes the black-framed glasses up her nose. What is it about this woman that turns her back into her insecure teenage self?
She almost misses the way Regina’s shoulders sag the tiniest amount, and only her super hearing picks up the sigh. She’s still feeling like she’s supposed to do something, say something but she still doesn’t know what. She knows what she would love to do but that would be highly inappropriate given that her boss is straight, and out of her league, and obviously none too happy with her right now.
“I’ll be going then,” she mutters.
The door is almost closed when she hears Regina’s voice calling out to her. “Clear my schedule for the afternoon and meet me on the roof in twenty minutes,” she orders.
“You have a meeting wi—“
“Do I look like I care?”
Emma steps out onto the roof of the Mills Corp building, 156 floors above the streets of Manhattan. She’s early but apparently not early enough; Regina is already waiting for her, looking out over the city, too close to the edge of the roof for Emma’s liking.
“Ms. Mills!” Emma yells out, rushing forward. “Regina! What are you doing?”
Regina looks up with an enigmatic smile at the sound of her assistant’s frantic voice and her first name falling from her lips. “I’m waiting for you.”
“On the fu-freaking ledge?!”
“I’ve been waiting for months now,” Regina continues with a shrug, stepping away from the edge and slowly stalking towards Emma. “Waiting for you to trust me, to reveal yourself to me. Waiting for you to act on what you so obviously want.”
Emma swallows. How fucking obvious have I been? “Reveal myself?" she asks defensively. Regina can’t mean what Emma thinks she might mean. "What I want?” She wants Regina with every fiber of her being but she hopes to the high heavens right now that she hasn't been as obvious about it as she fears.
"Yes, Emma," Regina drawls, still stalking closer like a predator circling its prey. "What is it exactly that you want?"
Emma is confused, and more than a little aroused at Regina's display. "I have no idea what—”
"Stop," comes the surprisingly soft order, and for the first time Emma can see something like vulnerability in Regina's eyes, hidden beneath the outward bravado. "What else do I have to do? I’ve been trying to figure you out for months now and I finally have … I’ve always known you were more than just an assistant. And you always knew when I was in trouble, and you always saved me. But that’s not all I … It’s not who … what I … Dammit, Emma what does it take for you to ask for what you want?"
"We're not talking about a raise, are we?" If in doubt, deflect with humor is Emma's go-to solution for most situations.
Regina growls low in her throat as she throws up her hands in a gesture of defeated frustration. It's unusual enough for Emma to pause and consider the situation Regina has put herself in. She knows even if Regina returned her feelings she wouldn't, couldn't ask her out, couldn't put herself in a position where she could be seen as potentially sexually harassing a subordinate.
What she can do, however, is to open the door wide enough for Emma to just step through without fearing rejection ... or being laughed right out the door. And then something Regina said catches up to her brain. “What do you mean you figured me out?”
Regina gives her a steady look. "Do I really need to spell it out for you, Ms. Swan? I know—“
All the alarm bells in Emma's head start ringing all at once. "Swan?" she blurts out. "That's not my name."
Regina gives her a look. "Yes, it is." She smiles. "I know about your real identity, Black Swan ... I know who you really are deep down inside. And I'm trying to tell you that you can trust me." Her voice is as serious as Emma has ever heard it. "I know what it's like to pretend, to let people think you're one person when you're really somebody else."
"I ... I'm ... not ..." Emma can only stutter and stammer. She feels as if she's missing something but she can't grasp it yet.
“I’m not sure if the Black Swan cares about me,” Regina says slowly, "but I am quite certain that Emma does. So once again, Emma, please: tell me what you want."
Emma lets out the breath she's been holding and takes the leap. "I want to go out with you," she declares so softly that it's almost lost on the wind up here on the roof. "I ... I really like you ..."
Regina's shoulders lose their tension. "Finally," she breathes. "I like you too, Emma White or Swan or whatever your actual name is. I've been waiting for what feels like a lifetime for you to talk to me."
"White," Emma insists. "My name is Emma White. I am not the Black Swan or whoever you think I am."
Regina chuckles. "If you say so, dear." She walks into Emma's personal space and raises her hand to the thick-rimmed glasses. She slowly pulls them off and studies them. With a small smile she puts them on, pushing them up her nose in a perfect copy of Emma’s nervous move. “Hmm, just as I thought.”
“I can explain,” Emma blurts. “It’s not what you think … they just make me look more intelligent.” It sounds stupid even to her own ears.
Regina’s mocking eyebrow is even more impressive over the rim of Emma’s glasses, which make her look sexier than Emma thought possible. She can’t help herself, she pulls her boss close to her, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.
“You have no idea what you’re doing to me,” Emma breathes against Regina’s lips, between the first kiss and the next. Their lips move against each other, and it’s everything Emma has ever wanted.
“Looks like you were worth waiting for, Ms. Swan,” Regina whispers, pulling back a little. Emma wants to tear her glasses off that smug face and kiss her senseless. But she can’t, not yet.
“Regina,” she warns. “I’m not —“
Regina interrupts her by kissing her again, and Emma moans even as she smiles against the softest lips she's ever felt, pressing herself tighter against her boss. But just as she tries to deepen the kiss, tries to feel more of Regina, the other woman steps back and strolls away from Emma and towards the edge of the roof.
"Regina?" Emma's mind has a hard time shifting gears, and it shows in her reaction. “Where are you … What are you doing?"
Regina throws Emma a look over her shoulder, a wide smile on her face as she takes off the glasses and tosses them towards Emma. "Proving a theory," she states casually, confidently, then breaks into a run — impressive, Emma thinks, considering she's wearing 4-inch heels on her black leather boots — and launches herself off the roof.
Leaving Emma with a split-second to make a choice.