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13 October 2013 @ 12:44 pm
Dangerous is the Vexed God (1/?)  

Title: Dangerous is the Vexed God (1/?)

Author: maggiemerc

Rating: M

Spoilers: Veers from canon after the third episode of season 2.

Disclaimer: Of course I don’t own them. All the lady loving would be hella canon if I did.

Summary: Emma Swan just wants to adjust to life in a post-Curse Storybrooke. She wants to get to know her kid. Get to know her parents. And maybe learn how to use her magic. But the town has an epidemic of flying monkeys, there’s a drunk pirate walking down Main half naked, Regina Mills keeps looking at her like she’s seen her naked,  and, oh yeah, someone’s killing off fairy godmothers.

Author’s Note: I am SO excited for part 3. I’m positively giddy. Hope you’re as stoked. And if you like it remember feedback is food to a writer. It keeps us energized and means faster chapter turnaround.

Chapter One

Thirty years and she still kept her greatest failures hidden in a series of padded rooms underneath Storybrooke’s only hospital.

The only thing that had changed was who occupied the rooms. Unshakable and eternally optimistic young women and lovelorn former magic mirrors had been traded for her.

A mother who’d only recently learned how to love.

There was no magic in the room Cora resided in. A stone constructed by Rumpelstiltskin and the Blue Fairy hung from the ceiling and leeched all the magic from the room.

So her mother looked more drawn than before. Dark smudges beneath her eyes and her skin translucent. She always smiled when Regina came. That translucent skin stretched tight as her lips contorted into something disturbingly genuine.

When she spoke some of the warmth fled. Cora’s was a cool voice, heart or no, and as human as she appeared to be just the timbre of that voice sent shivers through Regina.

She always ignored Regina’s minute spasms. Like her voice there were some parts of Cora that were just herself. She didn’t like blowzy shows of affection—positive or negative.

It was something familiar about her that Regina could still grasp, because the rest of her mother was so very different with  a heart. That word? Genuine? It was the only way to describe the changes.

She’d grown up thinking the artifice of her mother real. How queer it was to see it had been a lie.

All of it had been.

Regina had only visited her twice in her new prison, the first time her mother’s joy had been the most disturbing aspect of the visit. This second time it was her melancholia. A malaise that was no act.

“I didn’t think you’d come,” she said. And Regina was familiar with the attempt at guilt. But the spark of hurt was new and made her shift uncomfortably.

“Gold—Rumpel suggested it.” She kept calling him Gold. It was the town’s influence. They’d all clung to the names she’d given them. She supposed it was habit or defiance but truthfully she was a little touched they all kept something of hers.

“He visits every day,” Cora said. And she sounded…fond of the man that had orchestrated all their lives with such callousness.

She’d never spoken of Regina’s own father that way. Was it the heart beating in her chest? Or was it the man who’d taught her how to pluck it out?

“But I want to know about you.” Her mother leaned forward, the extravagant skirts of her dress spreading out around her. “How are you dear?”

“I’m fine.” The retort was reflex.

Cora’s eyes narrowed as she caught some lie in those two words. “He says you never leave your house.”

Regina had to resist the urge to roll her eyes. “He may think he knows everything, but between his time spent with you and with Belle he’s missed a few things Mother. I’m out. Often.”

“Plotting revenge?”

“Living.”

“So you’ve forgiven Snow?”

She shrugged and peered down at her shoes, “Without her heart its just not as entertaining.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“You would know, wouldn’t you?”

Her mother’s face softened into a very human frown. “I would.”

Cora didn’t fight anymore. Not Regina at least. She bowed and was apologetic and maddening.

Regina started to stand.

“No, please.” Cora reached out, “How’s Henry? Your friends?”

“Why do you care?”

“Because you’re my daughter, and they’re important to you.”

There it was again. The sincerity. As though she really did care and it all wasn’t an act for sympathy.

“Henry is choosing to stay in that awful apartment with Emma and her parents.”

“Isn’t he your son?”

“He is, but…trust was broken.” She could still remember the other Henry. Who’d felt so betrayed by her lies, and abandoned because of her zeal. She twisted the ring on her hand, “If this helps rebuild it then he can stay with them as long as he likes.”

“How can trust be rebuilt if he doesn’t even see you dear?”

“Because he’s my son. Because I too am familiar with rebuilding trust with a parent. He needs space.” She needed space.

Cora seemed to understand that, even if she prickled at the accusation inherent in Regina’s words. “You’ve learned patience.”

Regina had learned nothing of the kind. She just had the luxury of knowing a future. Seeing it. Henry needed space because another Henry had told her as much, and she could give it because she knew, after everything, he was still her son. A few months living with idiots in a tiny apartment with no privacy and he’d be back, and they would heal, and at least one love of her life would be salvaged.

“And your friends?”

It rankled to call them friends. Four Thieves or “those flaming assholes” sounded better in her head. “Friends” was the kind of word Snow would use. “My “friends” have adjusted,” she said.

“I’m glad you have them. Everyone needs someone.”

“They care for me, and I care for them as much as I can, but they’re not someone Mother. That person is lost.”

Cora clearly thought of Daniel. Kind and sweet and killed by her own hand.

But Regina… Regina thought of the woman with the sad smile and the broken glasses. Taken, not by Cora’s hand, but by Regina’s.

She squeezed it into a fist.

Dwelling on the dead was worthless. Regina took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. She put her grief aside and crossed her legs primly. “In my travels, in the time between you stabbing me and me arriving here, I met a woman much like you.” It was her. “She spoke of a brewing war.”

“There are always wars brewing.”

“Hm, but this one frightened her,” she leaned in, “and I assure you she did not frighten easy.”

“That was out there,” her mother waved to some nebulous beyond, “but we’re in Storybrooke. Accessible only by curse.”

“Or shiny shoes. Or a god’s gift. This world is not as walled in as you’d think, and if a war is coming we should be prepared.”

Her mother smiled, one somewhere between the pride of a good mother and the awfulness of an evil witch. “Then it’s a good thing I taught you how to lead.”

“You must have heard something. Before here?”

“You were out amongst those other worlds longer than me dear. Perhaps instead of looking for answers here,” she pointed at herself, “you should look for them there.” Her finger jabbed out and painfully poked Regina’s forehead.

She hissed in pain and sat back. “You’re not going to help me.”

“I wish I could.”

Cora, this Cora, with her heart and no magic and no town to rule, really did want to help, and really did have nothing to offer. Regina sighed and stood.

“You’re leaving?”

“I’m afraid so Mother. Unlike some people in this room I have plans.”

“Plan to stare at my grandson from the street and do nothing to reclaim him?”

“No. I have a dinner party to go to. With friends.”

The word that had rankled her cut through her mother, and the stricken look warmed her all the way to Aurora’s home.

####

She hadn't been asleep exactly, but Emma had managed to tip her desk chair back to the perfect angle. Her legs had been stretched out and resting on her desk and she had her butt in optimum non-butt asleep position. She'd collected her pencil and was trying that rubber pencil thing Mary Margaret kept telling Henry not to do with his fork at the dinner table.

But the stupid station phone rang, spoiling her balance, her pen trick, and her evening. Also her self-esteem. Because the ringer on those stupid phones from the 80s was louder than God and scared her so badly she tipped backwards instead of forwards.

Her legs shot skywards as she slammed into the floor and she had to do a sloppy roll out of the chair that would have lost her the princess pageant she was pretty sure Aurora and Mary Margaret wanted to have. She scrambled across the floor to the phone. "Sheriff's department," she asked a little breathlessly.

The raised eyebrow could be heard over the line, "Did I interrupt something," Regina asked.

"No. Just—what?"

Regina sighed. And yes she sounded very put upon, but there was also a little tremor too. "You need to come to the Basile residence."

"Are you…inviting me to dinner with Sleeping Beauty and her parents?" Mulan had been begging for the night shift all week to get out of the dinner.

"No Em—Miss Swan. I'm not." She didn't fail to notice the aborted “Emma.” Regina did that a lot since the Enchanted Forest. Called her Emma and then rolled it back to a Miss Swan like she was an itinerant and feckless bail bondswoman and she was an all-powerful mayor. She was pretty sure people were going to start thinking that was her name soon.

"Did you hear me Emma?"

Ha! She said her name that time. No Miss Swan. No—wait what? "What'd you say?"

"I said there's been a murder."

####

The victim was one Sister Merryweather. No last name. Fairies didn’t have last names. These nuns didn’t either. Which probably explained why the Curse had shoved them all into the convent.

The poor woman was deader than dead when Emma arrived. All she could see was the bright blue of her habit and two tiny feet clad in heeled boots that looked straight out of the 1800s sticking out of a pond. The boots weren’t that bad. It was the spats that made were bad. Made those two feet look like they belonged to some wicked witch shoved under a house. But she probably hadn’t been that wicked, and instead of under a house she’d been plopped into the pond at the center of the Basile estate.

She was face down. The voluminous cloth of her habit floating around her body and her arms stretched out like she’d been asking Jesus himself to come take her soul. The flashing lights on top of Emma’s cruiser flashed on the scene, making all the huge topiaries surrounding the pond appear a little nightmarish.

Regina stood next to the body. She was back in her “Mayor Mills” clothes after her time in the hospital. Grey slacks and white silk shirt and a tailored coat the went to her knees. Only the white bandage wrapped around her hand hinted at where she’d spent almost a month and a half. It stood out with her arms were wrapped around herself to fight off the oncoming chill of fall.

She looked irritated. Which… Okay Regina always looked irritated. It was her default state. She’d probably shot out of Cora looking that way.

Emma hit the brights on her cruiser to better illuminate the scene and Regina had to shade her eyes with her bandaged hand so she could know who she was frowning out.

“Is blinding me really necessary,” she called when Emma got out of the car.

“I was trying to get some light on things. Do the Basiles not own outdoor lighting?”

“I’m sure I could ask,” but Regina didn’t make any move to do so. She stood there, one hand now in her pocket while the other kept shading her eyes.

“Where’s the coroner?”

Regina raised any eyebrow. “Until you came along this town hadn’t had a death in twenty-eight years.”

“So no coroner?”

“None.”

“Fine. How about call the hospital and have them send over an ambulance then.”

“While you…?“ Regina was entirely too skeptical. It couldn’t be healthy for her.

Emma held up her phone. “While I document the scene. And try not to go far though I need—“

“A statement. Yes. The others are all inside sobbing or drinking and waiting for you to play at detective.”

Then, doing exactly as asked, Regina took a few steps away and drew out her phone. She tucked an errant lock of hair behind her ear as she spoke and when she noticed Emma was staring at her like an idiot she motioned back towards the body with irritation.

So Emma knelt down, pulled on some rubber gloves, and did the whole murder thing.

It was, technically, her first murder investigation. Being a bail bondswoman didn’t really lend itself to solving crimes. But she’d read plenty of mysteries, watched the dumb instructional videos Graham had insisted she watch when he first gave her the job and she liked to think she was a pretty good problem solver.

And how difficult could it be to solve a murderer who had to have left some big ass clues compared to finding a runner with nothing but a vague description of their face and their preference for cheap beer? Investigating was investigating, didn’t matter what the crime was.

So she did what she would have done when tracking a perp. She took a lot of photographs with her phone. Photos of the body, and the water, and the first few leaves falling to spell the end of summer and beginning of fall.

“That going on your Instagram,” Regina asked over her shoulder.

Emma looked back in alarm. “You know what Instagram is?”

“I have a passing familiarity.”

From Aurora no doubt. Since moving to Storybrooke she’d absorbed the new world’s culture like a sponge. Emma found her hunched over a computer at the station every damn day. She’d had to go buy her reading glasses when her eyes got too tired, and then Aurora had balked at the style, learned what an optometrist was, and now had a very stylish custom pair. And it was almost exclusively so she could browse Instagram and Pinterest.

That was a whole other addiction. She kept getting ideas for clothing from Pinterest, making them, and then bring them in and insisting Sheriff Swan and her fellow deputy, Hua, try them on so they could be both functional and fashionable.

Hook, who was somehow still their friend, tagged along for most of the fashion shows. Him and his fucking parrot. Between the two of them and Aurora the station had become a mess of inappropriate and cutting comments.

The only upside was that Mary Margaret stopped stopping by to “check up” on Emma while she worked. The last time she’d come she’d been dragged into doing a walk down the makeshift runway and having her outfit disparaged by a bird.

She’d been…upset.

“You know I don’t believe there’s actually an app for that,” Regina said. She was still standing behind Emma and still being a nosy—whatever.

“What?”

She motioned at Emma’s phone, still clutched in her hand with the screen on. “I don’t think they make an app that just solves the crime for you.”

“I know that,” she snapped.

“Are you sure?”

Not another rude comment. Just the question. Emma stood up and shoved her phone into her back pocket. “Yes, I’m sure. And I know how to investigate without an ‘app’ or whatever.”

“A murder isn’t looking for Pongo when he runs off.”

“No, it’s more like looking for this sleazy guy who ran a little meth empire and skipped his bail. It’s hunting for bad guys and I’m really good at that.”

Her boast was met with Regina’s frank appraisal. “Yes,” she sniffed, “I suppose you are.” The up down look and haughty approval weren’t supposed to sear quite like they did. Every damn time Regina looked at Emma it was sort of like Regina was thinking about fun things they could do naked. And it wasn’t even sketchy like when Hook did it. It was more like she already…knew what naked Emma was like in bed. Like she knew and she missed it.

Emma shuddered. “Any idea on the ETA for the ambulance?”

“They’re on their way and—“

“Emma!”

Both women turned to see David nearly forget to put his truck in park in his race to get to them. “Are you okay,” he shouted.

“Yeah,” she glanced at Regina, who watched the two of them with barely contained mirth, “I’m fine. What are you doing here?”

“I heard what happened and came to help.”

“Heard from—“ She glanced at Regina again.

The other woman held her hands up, “Wasn’t me dear.”

“Then?”

“Merryweather’s sisters called the Mother Superior and she called Mary Margaret and I. Your mother has Ruby watching Henry and is talking to the nuns at the convent.”

God damn—Emma had to take a deep breath to keep from railing against the guy. Because she knew he meant well. He and Mary Margaret both did. But between living with them and dealing with their overprotective and overbearing parent act she was getting close to strangling them.

Probably Mary Margaret before David. The guy could get a lot of mileage out of his one-eyed wounded puppy look. The spot where his eye had been had finally healed enough for him to switch from big white bandages to an eyepatch. It was black and very tasteful and when Hook had seen it he’d waved his hook and said “welcome to the pirate life matey” and his awful should be roasted and served with carrots and potatoes bird had squawked something about how it was an improvement.

So really the strangle list went Mary Margaret, that fucking bird, then David. She suspected that telling him he was number three and not number two on the list wouldn’t be taken as the compliment it definitely was.

“I got this,” she told an expectant David. “And the nuns too. All of it really. You guys can, like, go do wedded reunited bliss or something.”

Regina snorted.

“We want to help.” God that stupid one-eyed puppy look.

“Right. I get that, but—“

“But you and your wife have a tendency to take over every project you attempt to ‘help’ with,” Regina interjected. “You seem to keep forgetting you’ve moved from a feudalistic society to a democratic one.”

David scowled, “And who’s fault is that?”

“If you two start fighting about the curse again I’m putting both of you in a holding cell and leaving Hook’s bird to stand guard.”

The mere idea of that was enough to get them both to shut up.

“David,” the puppy dog look got worse when she said his proper name and she gave in. A little. It wasn’t like she was an unfeeling monster. “If you really want to help you can get my voice recorder out of the cruiser and try and take statements in the house.”

“Are you su—“

“Yes.”

“And Regina?”

The other woman stepped closer, her eyebrow raised, “You can maybe tell me why the hell someone drowned a nun.”

####

Being in the hospital recuperating from a cursed knife wound that should have killed her got Regina out of two different “meet my friends” dinners with Aurora’s mothers.

She got out of the third and fourth one by conveniently having “Henry” time.

Number five she’d skipped by getting Killian drunk and then calling to say she needed to sober him up.

She’d nearly managed avoiding a sixth dinner but Aurora had shown up at her house and threatened to tell everyone about the thing with her and the bevy of blond sirens.

Having a reputation to maintain, Regina had finally acquiesced. She prepared a lovely apple cobbler and arrived at the Basile residence at exactly six o’clock. Mulan had opened the door and welcomed her with the wide eyed look of an exhausted and out of her element woman.

Back on the boat Mulan had insisted that she wanted to meet Aurora’s family, but actually living with Aurora’s mothers in the giant mansion the curse had given Briar Rose Basile had proven…trying. They cooed a lot more than Mulan was used to. And hugged. They were really big on hugging.

That was where the perk of being the evil queen who cast a curse paid off for Regina. Between her overly polite smile, well known former friendship with Maleficent and the apple pie Aurora’s mothers had both met her with a great deal of disdain.

“They dislike you more than me,” Killian had mumbled when he arrived.

“They only dislike you because you ask keep bringing Sinbad and he keeps asking for a threesome,” Mulan had said out the side of her mouth in a low enough voice for Aurora and her mothers not to hear.

Killian had downed half his snifter of brandy. “Which is why I left him back on the boat this time.”

Killian was the only one of them still living on the Jolly Roger. Regina wouldn’t have said it aloud, but she was worried about how much time he spent out on his boat just…polishing the mast.

It couldn’t be healthy.

Neither she or Killian, or even Mulan, had been prepared when at seven o’clock Aurora’s fairy godmothers had arrived. All three of them. And they’d brought mirth. The cloying kind of joy that put Regina’s teeth on edge.

They’d even smiled at Regina and hugged her like they cared.

It was repulsive.

“Isn’t it wonderful to have us all together,” Aurora had asked.

And maybe for her it was wonderful. She had her parents, her girlfriend, her best friends, and the three godmothers she hadn’t seen in decades. It was her happy ending.

Which was the only reason Regina didn’t snipe the whole dinner. As much as she disliked fairies and unfettered princess joy she wasn’t about to ruin the happy ending of someone who actually…

Aurora cared. Genuinely. And what’s more, unlike some princesses who would remain nameless, she backed up her professions of caring with action.

Which was why Regina had felt a little miserable when, around nine o’clock that night, Aurora had gone looking for her shortest godmother and found her dead in the pond. Seeing a happy ending marred wasn’t quite so pleasant when one liked the person.

She didn’t tell Emma that when she’d asked her what happened. This Emma would have balked at her empathy and then lowered her voice and asked Regina how she really felt.

Instead Regina told her about the dinner and how Merryweather had bustled herself outside because she found the enormous garden at the back of the Basile estate so “gorgeous” and needed be alone to commune when nature. And how when she’d been gone a good long while Aurora had told everyone she was off to see what was keeping her .

Aurora’s screams had brought the rest of them out, and they’d gathered around the body while Regina reached out and tried to see if there was some flicker of life she could use to bring the woman back.

There’d been none. So they’d all gone inside to drink stiff drinks and wait for Emma and Regina had stood outside staring at a dead body and wondering why, if her curse was broken, were all the happy endings such shit?

####

“You guys were just enjoying dinner?” Emma was skeptic.

“You seem skeptic.”

She ignored the way Regina’s lips quirked up into a half smile when she spoke.

“Well, I mean, it’s you and Hook.”

“Yes,” she looked away like she was too cool to be bothered, “and Mulan and Aurora. They wanted us there for dinner.”

“With a bunch of fairies you cursed.”

She shrugged, “They’re forgiving. Must be all that nun in them now.”

Regina made it sound incredibly dirty. The wolfish smile didn’t help.

“Classy.” Emma knelt beside the body again and looked back towards the house, “So you hear screams, all run out and she’s dead.”

“As my ex-husband.”

Emma would ignore that. “And no one was away from the group?”

“No one but Aurora, who probably didn’t kill her beloved fairy godmother.”

“Maybe.” There was no sign of an actual weapon, just water everywhere and a face down nun.

“The woman was technically her aunt, and instrumental in raising her,” Regina said quietly, “She wouldn’t go sitting on her head while she drowned in a pond.”

“Someone could have taken her heart, forced her to.”

“Her heart’s intact.”

“You sure?”

Regina’s eyes were dark with some kind of story Emma really didn’t want to know about. “I assure you, I’m now quite sensitive to heart magic. If she didn’t have her’s I’d know.”

It was that “now” that raised Emma’s curiosity—No. She shook her head. No, she was definitely not going to ask Regina to elaborate.

“Okay, so either Aurora murdered her for reasons unknown, or someone was waiting for Merryweather’s little walk.”

“Or someone used a disappearing bolas to knock her in and keep her trapped until she died.”

As serious as Regina sounded Emma could only side eye her, “Yeah, I’m gonna stick with my theories.”

“What’s wrong with mine?”

“It sounds ridiculous?”

“The dead woman is known to a few generations of children as a huffy little blue fairy.”

Point. But Regina didn’t have to look so smug about making her point.

“All right, your majesty, any other ideas? Maybe some CSI super zoom or some spell that reenacts the crime.”

“You’re trying to be sarcastic but to most people in town you’d just sound like an idiot Emma.” She refused to believe anyone would find the disappearing bolas theory viable.

“Is that a yes or a no?”

“It’s a no,” Regina said with a sour look. “I can, however, help, if you’d allow it.”

She waved to the body as an invitation.

“That’s it. I ask and you just let me?”

“Gotta trust someone right?”

She immediately regretted her choice of words. Regina’s face softened like she was genuinely touched and the locket Emma hadn’t taken off since the Enchanted Forest flared against her chest with an unfamiliar heat. It had always been cold when Regina had looked her.

“Emma…” Regina started—her eyes vulnerable.

“Either someone did a helluva job coaching them or they’re telling the truth,” David announced loudly. He came lumbering through the leaves and Emma was kind of surprised she hadn’t heard him earlier.

Regina coughed and seemed to hide a blush by kneeling down to peer at the body.

Giving her space to do whatever it was she was gonna do Emma turned back to David. “Stories all check out?”

He wagged the dictaphone at her, “They’re all basically the same. Dinner, she left, Aurora eventually went after her, body.”

“They give any clue as to who would want to kill her?”

“She was a fairy,” Regina said, “list would be sizeable.”

David actually agreed, “Fairies tend to make enemies, especially with the unsavory kind of people. She piss you off recently Regina?”

“Well, she hugged me, but that hasn’t been a murderable offense in at least ten years.”

He rolled his eye.

“A joke,” Regina said.

“We noticed. What about the other evil in town?”

“How should I know? It’s not like I keep in touch with them.”

“Could you get in touch,” Emma asked.

Regina didn’t seem crazy about the idea. She hugged herself tightly and looked away for a moment. Like she was trying to pull herself together and prepare.

“I mean, if you can’t, David and I can do it.”

“No,” she tried to smile, “No, I can do it.”

“Shouldn’t we get the Mother Superior to do it,” David asked. “Because, no offense Regina, but you could have killed this lady.”

“So could the Mother Superior,” Emma said, surprised at how sharp she sounded, “Regina has a solid alibi and she’s agreed to help, so she’s who we’re using. Okay?”

The ambulance had arrived by that point and the two EMTs were in the back gathering the body bag and gurney.

Emma went and knelt next to Regina, “Times about up. Any clues?”

Regina waved her hand and the body glowed purple. “She was casting magic when she died.”

“And you can tell…?”

“It’d be white if she hadn’t,” she said simply.

“So she was defending herself.”

“Perhaps.” Regina’s eyes scanned the pond. “She, or the person that killed her, did something.” She held her hand out and red hot sparks burst against her fingers. Emma thought she smelled something burning but Regina didn’t even flinch. “I can’t see what spells were cast.”

“So either she was protecting the killer—“

“Or the killer is a magic user as well.” She dropped her hand and the glow around the body disappeared. “Either way, I’d be careful who you trust. Any fairy, witch or wizard could have done this.”

“Except you?”

“Oh I could have done it.”

Emma sighed.

“But I didn’t. And I rather like to know who did.”

“Looking for murder tips?”

Regina’s lips quirked up into a half smile of amusement, “Something like that.”

Which meant nothing like that.

The two of them stood in companionable silence and watched the EMTs’ careful removal of the body. David stepped away to make phone calls to his wife and Regina, in a surprising show of maturity, didn’t make a snide comment about it.

“You seem a little…”

Regina raised an eyebrow.

Nicer than usual,” Emma finally said.

“You’re suggesting I’ve changed,” she asked in wry amusement.

“No.” She said quickly.

Regina shrugged. “I can be nice, you know.”

Emma wasn’t sure of that. Regina claimed to be different but Emma still saw that woman that made her first year in Storybrooke hell and killed Bluebeard. Just because she’d saved them all from Cora and now had a couple of friends didn’t mean she was different.

“How has Henry’s first week at school been?”

Emma went with the change in topic smoothly, “Good. Better than most of the kids. Thirty years of the same curriculum and I think they were kind of set in their ways. Henry’s taking on a real leadership role.”

Regina looked pretty shrewd for a minute. “Just be careful. The town may see him as your son now, but they remember him as mine.”

“You think someone would try to hurt you through him?”

“I think this town isn’t all the lollipops and hugs Snow and David like to claim it to be. People will surprise you Emma, even the best of them.”

“The worst too.”

####

Regina found herself smiling at what was clearly a complement.

Which made Emma blush.

Emma wasn’t very good at giving compliments if they weren’t to an eleven year old. She rubbed at her neck and looked back towards the house. “Guess I should go talk to them, let Mulan and Aurora know they don’t have to come in tomorrow and junk.”

“Really,” Regina raised her eyebrow, “you’re giving them the day off after a murder?”

“Of someone they knew!”

“As someone who had to share uncomfortably close quarters with both women I can safely say they don’t need the time.”

“Isn’t Aurora, like, crying?”

“Yes, one of her beloved aunts has just been drowned in her pond. But that’s tonight. Tomorrow she’ll want justice, or at least a lot of filing to keep her busy.”

One of the EMTs, noting how close Regina was to Emma, glared pointedly before going to David instead. The glares happened almost as much as the quick avoidance of eye contact in post-Curse Storybrooke.

Regina didn’t mind too often. The latter was amusing, and the former was condescending, but harmless. It was only when either ended with things not happening that she needed to happen. Like she needed to know the body was being transported and to where and, maybe more importantly, the sheriff needed to know that too. Not some deputized princeling.

Charming shook the EMT’s hand like a real nice guy and then made his way over to them, his head ducked so his one eye could watch the ground.

“They’re taking the body back to the hospital and putting it in the cafeteria freezer.”

Emma wrinkled her nose. “Why not the morgue?”

“Because we don’t even have a funeral home,” Regina said. “Is someone doing an autopsy?”

David shrugged, “That’s up to Emma. If we need someone I’m sure Whale will do it.”

The mention of his name sent a vile feeling through Regina and she had to swallow back a bit of bile. “There’s no one else?”

“You’re the one that said he was Frankenstein.”

That had been one of her first tasks when she’d come back, outing the “good” doctor and threatening him within an inch of his life. Emma had dragged her off of him and asked her what the hell it was about.

Regina had decided not to tell her that maudlin little story.

“He likes dead bodies, doesn’t mean we should have him carving them up,” she countered.

David and Emma shared an identical look. “Whale’s doing the autopsy Regina, but if you want you can come tomorrow and watch.”

Regina was surprised, “You’re not doing it tonight?”

David looked down at his phone and Emma shrugged, “Not like the killer is going anywhere. Unless you or one of the three in there did it.”

That was the one part of the whole murder Regina was sure of. “We didn’t.”

“So it can hold until tomorrow.”

“Uh,” David looked a little pale. “The Mother Superior and Mary Margaret are already headed to the hospital to watch.”

“Well they can un…head or whatever. And they’re not watching anyways! Sheriffs and deputies only.”

“And the mayor,” Regina said helpfully.

“And the mayor—Are you still mayor?”

She jerked her chin in David’s direction, “Not like his wife is doing it.”

“Because you made her a 4th grade teacher instead of a civil servant!”

“We’ll hold emergency “the mayor is an evil queen” elections later David. Right now she’s helping us hunt for a killer and I need her there for magic…”

Regina and David both raised an eyebrow in anticipation.

“Stuff.”

Locquacious as always. Regina would have smiled fondly but the two of them would have seen it and been idiots about it.

David, much less argumentative then before the eye patch waved his hand. “Fine. I’ll go cut your mother off at the pass.” He pegged Regina was a cool gaze, “See you bright and early.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” she said as cooly.

Emma shuddered when her dad turned away and when he was out of earshot she asked, “Can you two be any more frigid?”

“We’re just being polite.”

“At subzero temperatures. I think I got goosebumps.” She held her arm, still covered by her jacket, out as evidence.

Regina refused to look. “That’s the onset of fall. I shouldn’t have to remind you that it’s brisk here in Maine.”

It was the rueful shake of the head and little smile Regina caught out of the corner of her eye that told her it was safe to turn and face Emma directly.

The Sheriff, once more at ease, hitched her thumb in the direction of the house. “I’m gonna go have a chat with you little gang. Care to join us?”

“I’m afraid I can’t. You asked me to help remember.”

“And that’s—“

Regina shoved her hands back into her coat pockets and stalked closer, “This town is just filled with all sorts of vile and malicious witches and wizards Emma,” she leaned in closer than was appropriate and smiled, “and you asked me to help stop one. Shouldn’t I get started?”

####

Regina was entirely too close. Close enough that Emma could see the outline of the chain she wore around her neck, and the fine hairs on her cheeks and even the little wrinkles in her lips—Eye to eye Swan!

She tried to stare Regina down. Just looked her in the eye like they always did. Regina didn’t stare back with the hunger for a challenge or that incredibly fiery kind of rage of hers.

If anything she looked…nervous.

Like she was putting on a show for Emma to cover up the fear. Which…it made sense. Emma was asking her to help hunt a killer and to dredge up relationships she hadn’t touched in thirty years or more. In her shoes Emma would have been scared too.

She knew Regina well enough not to call her out. It was fun to piss her off, but she needed Regina focused and preferably not wounded in the pride department.

“Yeah,” she said, “you probably should.”

Regina’s mouth set in a firm line and she nodded. “Good.” Turning away she paused to call over her shoulder, “And see that Killian gets home would you? I suspect he’s had far too much to drink.”

That suspicion proved to be accurate, and after chatting with Aurora, her parents, two distraught nuns and a mildly irritated Mulan, she slung Hook’s arm over her shoulder and dragged him to her cruiser.

The pirate laid out across the backseat and she had to role the window down so he could stick his feet out after he spent a good fifteen seconds smacking the glass with his heel.

She looked back at him when she stopped at a stop sign. His permanent scruff had grown into a full grown beard and he had the ruddy cheeks and nose and sallow skin of a drunk.

“Think you should maybe start laying off the rum Captain Jack.”

“It’s Kill-i-an,” he enunciated.

“It’s drunk.”

“That too,” he scowled and one of his heels clanged against the door’s frame. “I’d be much more sober if you lot just let me murder the imp.”

“I’m not stopping you.”

You’ll arrest me. As will the lovely sapphic sisters serving as your deputies. And Regina…” He smashed his boot against the outside of the door again in frustration.

“Hey! You don’t pay taxes so how about you lay off city property.”

“She says I can’t kill him. Says it isn’t time.”

Which made it sound like there would eventually be a time. “You think she’s got his murder all plotted out and is just waiting huh?”

“No, I think her mother’s in love with the bastard and she can’t bear to break the bitch’s heart.”

 
 
 
50/50zenparadox on October 13th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love it already!! I can't believe you murdered Merryweather, though.

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You killed a fairy... that's like... awesome.
maggiemercmaggiemerc on October 13th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
50/50zenparadox on October 13th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
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