Actions

Work Header

Good Hands

Work Text:

“Shall I send your next appointment in?” Emma looks up from the sink where she’s been scrubbing oil from her hands to find Ruby standing in the doorway. She’s leaning her weight on one leg and her red mouth twists nervously. It’s a strange look for the normally confident receptionist and a strange sense of foreboding washes over Emma.

 

“Sure,” she says, wiping her hands with a towel and adjusting her ponytail.

 

“She’s pretty intense,” Ruby adds.

 

“That’s why people get massages,” Emma says. “And I’ve got the best hands for the job.” She wiggles her hands at Ruby and, because she’s a total idiot, ends up flipping her the bird.

 

“See this,” Ruby says with a snort, “this is why Granny banned you from front of house.”

 

“Piss off and bring in my client,” Emma says, rolling her eyes. She has her back to the door, tidying the array of oils and perfumes, when someone coughs from behind her. She turns. “Welcome,” she says and, on seeing the woman, fumbles with the bottle of oil she’s holding, the viscous liquid squirting down her tank top, which, God, she hopes that’s not a metaphor or anything. The client is beautiful, all olive skin and short choppy hair, damp at the ends from the shower all their clients take prior to their massage.

 

“I assume you won’t be so clumsy when you massage me,” the woman says in response. She has this low, carefully modulated voice and Emma knows instantly that this is not a woman who has been given a gift certificate as a treat. This is a woman who gets spa treatments on the regular. This is a woman who can afford the best.

 

“Sorry,” Emma says. “Hi, I’m Emma.”

 

“You have a name badge, dear,” the woman says, raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Regina Mills. Ms, please. Not Miss or Mrs. And do we really need the pleasantries?”

 

Emma scowls. “Right, Ms Mills,” she says. “Any areas you want…”

 

“Shoulders and calves,” Mills says. “Vanilla-scented oils only. If I catch even a whiff of lavender I will be most displeased. Also, if you think I’m listening to this new age claptrap, you have another think coming.” She thrusts an iPod at Emma, who fumbles with it, but manages to connect it to the sound system. “Any questions?”

 

So much for Building the Relationship, like Granny’s always insisted on training days. “I’ll be back in a moment,” Emma says. “I assume you know what to do.”

 

Outside, Emma takes several deep, calming breaths, trying to remember all the yoga crap Mary Margaret keeps going on about. This is going to go so horribly wrong. She’s going to snap. Ruby walks past. “All right there?”

 

“Who is this woman?” Emma asks, dragging Ruby around the corner and out of earshot of her room.

 

“Tamara nicknamed her the Evil Queen,” Ruby says. “She’s the one who made Mary Margaret cry last month. It’s your turn to deal with her.” She gives Emma a push. “It’s only an hour of your life.”

 

Emma steels herself and enters the room. Regina Mills is under the sheet, shoulders so tensed they could be carved from marble. “What’s the music?” Emma asks. It sounds like the sort of thing that plays in those hideous Jane Austen period dramas her old roommate used to watch on repeat; it’s making her twitch and is ruining the peaceful atmosphere created by the mood lighting and soft colours.

 

“Strauss,” Mills said, voice muffled. “Do get on with it.”

 

So Emma does. It takes her a moment to find any sort of rhythm, the music throwing her out of whack, but she wasn’t kidding to Ruby about having ‘magic hands’ and she quickly finds a pace that suits. “This pressure working for you, Ms Mills?”

 

“Firmer,” she says and Emma presses down into the coiled tension between her shoulder blades, kind of gratified to hear a groan escape from the woman. Fortunately, Mills doesn’t seem to be much of a talker – Emma’s always struggled the most with clients who want to chat – unless you count the semi-regular corrections as chat, which Emma doesn’t.

 

“I’m not going to break, dear,” she says, managing to sound both condescending and far too angry for someone getting a massage, when Emma lets up for a second from applying pretty intense pressure.

 

Not the soles of my feet,” she snipes when Emma starts to massage her feet.

 

“More oil,” she says just as Emma’s ready to apply a touch more.

 

Finally, at long last, she finishes and Regina Mills has the soft, towelling robe back over her, quite frankly, miraculous body. “How do you feel?” she asks.

 

“That was … adequate,” Mills says, though the cloud of tension that appeared in the room at the beginning of the session appears to have dissipated. “Don’t bother trying to sell me any products.”

 

“I wasn’t planning to,” Emma says. “Wouldn’t want you to make me cry.”

 

“That girl was a veritable waterworks,” Mills says. “I simply mentioned that her technique was subpar and suggested she find a profession more suitable to her talents. Elementary School teacher perhaps?”

 

“Seriously?” Emma says. “Just because people provide a service doesn’t mean you can treat them like…”

 

There’s a dangerous glint in Regina Mills’ eyes. “I suggest you don’t finish that sentence.”

 

“I suggest you leave before I say something I regret,” Emma says.          

 

Mills eyes her for a moment, and Emma’s pretty sure she’s getting fired for this, before she turns on her heel and strides from the room, hips swaying.

 

*

 

Mills doesn’t get her fired. In fact, Mills books in with her the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. “Why, Ruby?” Emma whines. They’re sitting in the break room, Ruby with a cup of green tea and Emma trying to finish an entire meatball sub before her next client in ten minutes.

 

“She requested you,” Ruby says, shrugging. “She was quite emphatic.”

 

“Curse my magic hands,” Emma says, staring dolefully at her palms. “I’m going to have to listen to that awful Strauss music every week.”

 

“I like her,” Mulan says.

 

Both Ruby and Emma turn to her in surprise, both for the fact that the laconic Mulan has actually spoken and for the fact that she actually likes the Evil Queen. “You’ve got to be kidding,” Ruby says, eyebrows rising with incredulity.

 

Mulan shrugs. “I do her nails sometimes,” she says. “She’s super critical but one day I was with this awful white woman and she was talking to me like I don’t speak English, like I wasn’t born in Boston, really patronising, and Mills totally schooled her. It was impressive.”

 

Emma’s lip curls. “So she’s not racist? Still a bitch.”

 

“I don’t know,” Mulan says. “I like her.”

 

Emma tries to take some of Mulan’s positive opinions about Regina Mills into her next appointment with the Evil Queen. “Hi,” she says, as cheerfully as she can manage, even though the smile is something of a grimace. “How’s your day been?”

 

“Hideous,” Mills says, once again clad in the towelling robe. “But you don’t want an honest answer, do you?”

 

“Let’s see if we can make your day better?”

 

“Don’t patronise me, dear,” Mills says and hands over the iPod. “Beethoven this week, please.”

 

There is nothing restful about Beethoven.

 

*

 

At their third appointment, Emma decides she’s not going to speak at all. This lasts five minutes. “You’re carrying a lot of tension in your calves,” Emma says. “Do you wear heels?”

 

“You lollop along like a chimpanzee,” she says. “I don’t make comments.”

 

“You literally just did,” Emma says.

 

Mills has the audacity to scoff. It’s Rachmaninoff this week and, while it’s slightly more restful than Beethoven’s fifth, it’s also making Emma want to slit her wrists. “Could you possibly massage me without the snippy comments? I’m not getting any less tense.”

 

“Stop thinking,” Emma says and Regina actually rolls over and stares at her and Emma tries really hard to stare at her face and not her boobs beneath the too-thin sheet because sexual harassment is not a thing she wants on her permanent record. “It’s just,” she adds, “you never actually relax.”

 

Some people don’t find it so easy to turn their brains off,” Mills responds and Emma’s fingers clench into fists.

 

*

 

“She’s got some kid with her today,” Ruby says. Emma’s cleaning up after her last client, changing the fitted sheet over the massage table and airing out the room in a desperate attempt to rid it of the lavender scent from her last client.

 

Of course, Emma thinks. Of course Regina Mills is the sort of woman to bring a kid to her spa appointment. She knows the type. The poor, spoiled kid spends their whole time in the waiting room, terrorising Ruby or whoever’s at reception while the mother relaxes. She’s seen it before.

 

But when Mills enters for her appointment, she’s not alone. A boy, about ten years old, is with her. He’s round-faced and has a sharp nose and too-long hair that falls into her eyes and he grins when he sees Emma. “Hey,” he says, his voice high and squeaky. “I’m Henry!”

 

Emma grins. “Emma,” she says.

 

“The babysitter has the flu,” Mills says, and Emma thinks she detects the tiniest note of apology in her voice.

 

“How about you get settled and me and Henry’ll go and get a drink?”

 

“Henry and I,” Mills says and Henry rolls his eyes at Emma as though they’re comrades in arms, which is kind of delightful.

 

“She does that to me all the time,” he confides.

 

“Poor kid,” Emma says loudly, as they leave the room.

 

“Nah,” Henry says when they’re in the corridor. “Mom’s pretty cool. Just a grammar pedant.”

 

“She’s taught you well if you know the word ‘pedant’,” Emma says. “Coke?”

 

“Do you have juice?” he asks.

 

“Apple okay?” Henry nods and she grabs him a bottle from the fridge.

 

On their return, Mills is lying on the massage table covered in the sheet. Her iPod sits next to the speakers. “Mozart this week? Or Vivaldi? ‘Winter’ seems like it’d suit your personality.”

 

“Henry, pick the music,” Regina says, ignoring her, and Henry, with the ease with technology of a child, plugs the iPod into the speakers and scrolls through his mother’s music. Next thing Emma knows Otis Redding is playing softly through the speakers. It is actually genuinely calming in here for the first time ever.

 

“Good choice, kid,” Emma says, drizzling oil onto her hands.

 

“She’s carrying a lot of tension in her neck,” Henry tells her, unscrewing the lid of the apple juice. Mills turns her head to the side and glares at him. “What?” he asks. “You’ve been clutching your neck all week. I notice things, Mom. She works too hard,” he says to Emma.

 

Emma grins at him again. “Is Henry correct, Ms Mills?” 

 

She sighs. “Unfortunately.”

 

As Emma makes a start, securing Mills’ hair with a towel and trying not to notice how soft the feathery strands are. She’s applying careful pressure with one hand to the nape of her neck when Henry starts talking again. “So Grace and I wrote more of our story,” he says.

 

“Yes?” Regina asks.

 

“We really want there to be a twist with the Little Red Riding Hood character,” he says. Emma’s fingers drift to Mills’ shoulders, her skin velvety under the pads of Emma’s fingers.

 

“Could Little Red Riding Hood be the wolf?”

 

“I like it,” Henry says and he grabs a notebook from the chair beside him and starts scribbling.

 

Emma makes her way down to Regina’s lower back and, pressing into a knot, Regina lets out a really orgasmic groan. Henry looks up. “Gross,” he says, before returning to his writing. Emma smiles over at him as ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ plays through the speakers.

 

“Hey,” he says, when Emma’s focusing on Mills’ calves. He’s starting to fidget, his juice finished and several pages of his notebook filled with stories. “Can I get a manicure?”

 

Emma expects Mills to refuse but she simply looks over at Emma. “Is there anyone available?”

 

“Probably not,” Emma says. “I’m decent at manicures though. I could do it when I’m done with your mom.”

 

“You do have good hands,” Mills says, body relaxing further into the bed, and it’s the first time she’s ever said anything to Emma that’s a straight-up compliment. The surprise of it must be why Emma’s stomach is all twisty even after Henry leaves with red nail polish and freshly trimmed cuticles and Regina Mills actually looks totally relaxed for the first time since Emma’s started massaging her.

 

She doesn’t charge for Henry’s manicure and Mills doesn’t say anything but she leaves a 30% tip.

 

*

 

It’s been a terrible day. October the seventh always is.

 

It’s two o’clock and she’s a foul mood and she’s almost looking forward to Regina Mills coming by because it means she’ll have someone to snipe at.

 

Ruby stick her head in the door. “Em?”

 

“What?” she snaps.

 

“Phone for you,” she says.

 

Emma pulls a face. Who’d call her? On the work phone no less. The few friends she has outside of work have her cell phone number. She stomps into the reception area, ignoring the scandalised look an older woman with set hair gives her. “Yes?”

 

“Hi, is that Emma? It’s Henry Mills.”

 

Emma’s cranky mood fades at the sound of his voice. “Hey kid. Your mom’s not here yet.”

 

“No,” Henry says. “That’s the thing. Mom’s really sick.”

 

Distantly, she can here Regina Mills saying, “I’m under the weather, Henry, and very busy, not sick.” Then she coughs.

 

“She sounds fit as a fiddle,” Emma says and Henry giggles. “Tell her I’ll see her when she’s better.” She hangs up the phone.

 

“I take it the Evil Queen cancelled,” Ruby says. “You’re free the rest of the afternoon.”

 

“Do you mind if I take off?” Emma asks.

 

“Please,” Ruby says. “You’re in such a pissy mood you’ll end up swearing at a client if you stay here and then Granny’ll kill the both of us.”

 

Before she leaves, Emma does something highly against company protocol and looks up Regina Mills’ street address. Scribbling it down on the back of a business card, she leaves, jumping in her little yellow beetle, and driving to the nearest grocery store, where she buys freshly squeezed orange juice, a quart of chicken soup and a packet of herbal tea laced with Echinacea. Then she drives to 108 Mifflin Street, taking three wrong turns thanks to the useless GPS on her cell phone.

 

It’s a mansion. She should’ve expected it. Mills comes to Granny’s, the most ridiculously over-priced spa in town, every single week. She wears incredibly luxurious underwear. Her haircuts are clearly pricey. But when she sees the giant wooden structure, the filigree gates, the beautiful grounds, she kind of freaks out, regretting coming here. It’s not like they’re friends, or even friendly really.

 

It’s too late now though. She summons up the tiny bit of courage left in her and marches up to the front door, knocks. There’s a thumping noise and then Henry’s at the door. “Emma?”

 

“Hey kid,” Emma says, waving with her free hand, the other clutching the plastic bag. “I brought some stuff around for your mom.”

 

“Who is it, Henry?” Mills yells, voice hoarse.

 

“Follow me, please,” Henry says and he’s acting like this miniature butler, which is super adorable.

 

Regina Mills is lying on the couch in a pair of the most ridiculously expensive-looking pyjamas Emma has ever seen, all silk and lace, with a blanket over her knees. The coffee table is covered with manila folders and scrunched up tissues and she has a laptop on her lap, typing furiously. “Ms Swan?”

 

“How do you even know my surname?” Emma asks.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“Henry said you were sick,” Emma says and thrusts the plastic bag in Mills’ direction. “I got you some stuff. Orange juice and soup.”

 

“My, Granny’s does go above and beyond,” Mills says, though the sarcasm is lost when she has a coughing fit at the end, the hacking making her whole body spasm.

 

“I’m making tea,” Emma says.

 

“The kitchen’s through there,” Henry says, pointing at a door and Emma finds her way through the hall and into the kitchen that must be a chef’s dream. Unfortunately, Regina Mills is no chef. Emma opens the fridge, hoping to find space for the soup and orange juice, and finds leftover Chinese food and a gallon of milk. It’s a depressing picture.

 

“Mom doesn’t have time to cook,” Henry says from behind her. “Only on special occasions.”

 

The kettle whistles. “Can you grab me a mug, kid?” Henry grabs a mug from the cupboards and she pours boiled water over a tea bag, letting it steep for a few minutes before removing the bag and taking the tea into the living room.

 

She hands it over to Mills and stands, hands in the pockets of her jacket, unsure what to do with herself. “Oh, sit down,” Mills says, irritably. “I’m due a break anyway.”

 

“You look like death,” Emma says. “You shouldn’t be working.”

 

“I have often heard that spas try to downplay their clients’ looks to sell more product but this seems entirely too blatant,” Mills says, sipping at the tea.

 

“I don’t do that,” Emma says. “If I say you look terrible, it’s the truth.”

 

“Delightful.”

 

“What do you do for a living that means you have to work on your death bed?” Emma asks.

 

At this point, Mills’ phone rings. “Regina Mills speaking,” she says, pressing ‘answer’ and speaking into the Bluetooth headset. “No, that is not what you’re supposed to be doing at all.” She pauses. “Oh for goodness sake. Can nothing function without me?”

 

Emma slips out, waving a farewell to Henry, who’s sitting at the kitchen table, doing his homework.

 

October the seventh is still a hideously awful day but, for some reason, a cross and ill Regina Mills has kind of made her day okay.

 

*

 

Perhaps that’s why she’s back at Mifflin Street the next day, this time with a paper bag of groceries, all the ingredients for quesadillas, though why she thought it was a good idea to make quesadillas for someone who’s at least part-Latina she’ll never know.

 

Henry answers the door again. “Hi,” he says. “Mom’s still sick.”

 

“And she’ll stay sick,” Emma says, “until she lets herself take a break.”

 

“She says that nothing can function without her,” Henry says. “I’m helping out.” Sure enough, there are stacks of envelopes addressed in childish print on the kitchen table. Regina, still in pyjamas, is stalking through the house, talking in most animated terms on her phone.

 

“Can you help out a bit more?” Emma asks. “We’re going to make dinner. You could grate cheese.”

 

Henry grins. “This is totally a special occasion.”

 

And so it is that Regina enters the kitchen half an hour later to find Emma watching over Henry as he stirs chicken over a low heat. “What on earth is going on?” she says.

 

“Hi Mom,” Henry says, grinning. “We’re making quesadillas!”

 

“How easily you have commandeered my kitchen, Ms Swan,” Regina says. And Emma just realises that she’s become Regina in her mind, not Mills or Ms Mills or Regina Mills or the Evil Queen. Just Regina.

 

“Sit down before you collapse,” Emma says and Regina settles in at the kitchen table.

 

“You did a very good job addressing these, mijo,” she says, picking up an envelope from the box, and Henry beams, letting his mother give him a quick hug when he hands her a glass of orange juice.

 

“What are they for?” Emma asks.

 

“There’s a ball in a fortnight,” Regina says. “Fundraising for one of the charities for which I work.”

 

“You do charity work?” Emma asks, incredulity seeping into her voice.

 

“You sound surprised,” Regina says. “My husband was extremely wealthy. I inherited everything on his death.” She sneezes and Henry throws a box of tissues at her, which she catches with her free hand, impressing Emma. “I wanted to do something good with the money.” Based on Regina’s tone, Emma suspects the marriage was not a happy one.

 

“Hey, kid,” Emma says. “Get your mom another drink of orange juice and set the table. I’ll make a salad.”

 

Regina sighs when she takes her first bite of quesadilla. “Real food,” she says. “It’s been so long.”

 

“Maybe we could cook together this weekend,” Henry says. “This was fun.”

 

“I’ll teach you to make your own tortillas,” Regina suggests and Henry beams.

 

After dinner, Henry commandeers the lounge and Regina insists on cleaning up. Emma, nursing a glass of wine, sits and watches her, still in pyjamas and a robe, as she stacks the dishwasher. Regina looks up and notices Emma watching. She blushes and, desperate for something to do, she finds a spare invite floating around on the sideboard and takes a look. The ball is raising money for an organisation that supports children in the system and Emma’s heart pounds. “You work for ‘Helping Hands’?” she asks.

 

“I’m the chair of the board,” Regina says, wiping her hands on a tea towel and putting the kettle on. “I have been since I adopted Henry. You know of them?”

 

“I was a foster kid,” Emma says. “Wish they’d been around when I was in the system.” They provide advocacy, as well as funds for children that go beyond what the government offers. Perhaps she’d have been able to stay with one of her nicer families if they’d had extra money to support her. Perhaps she’d have been able to get out of one of the worse families more quickly if she’d had an advocate.

 

“Oh,” Regina says. “I didn’t know.”

 

“Why would you?” Emma says. “I don’t really talk about it much.”

 

“I just…”

 

“You wouldn’t have treated me any differently,” Emma says, smirking as though daring Regina to disagree.

 

“True. I might not have made that jab about your family teaching you manners though,” she replies.

 

Emma just smiles and she suspects it’s a totally goofy smile but Regina’s smiling back and it’s warm and vulnerable and her eyes crinkle at the corners. “Yesterday was my worst day,” Emma says. “Always is. You made it better.” She doesn’t regret the abortion even if she feels like shit every year on the anniversary – she was in prison and she knew what the system could be like – but she wonders if maybe she wouldn’t have had it if she’d known the kid would end up with someone like Regina Mills.

 

“How?” Regina asks. “I cancelled a lucrative appointment and probably gave you the flu.”

 

“Just, seeing you,” Emma says. “I’ve grown accustomed to you.”

 

Regina smiles again, though her eyelids droop. “I think I need to get some sleep,” she says. “Thank you for dinner, Ms Swan.”

 

“Emma,” Emma says. “It’s weird that you know my surname in the first place…”

 

“Very well, Emma,” she replies and Emma feels a visceral thrill at the sound of her name on Regina’s tongue. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

 

*

 

Next week, Regina’s back to her usual self. It’s Strauss again and Emma wants to cry. “More pressure, Ms Swan,” she says. “I don’t pay you to caress my shoulders.”

 

Emma’s grateful that Regina has her head down and so can’t see her pull a face. “Very well, Ms Mills,” she says. “I suggest you stop going over the numbers for the fundraiser in your head, though, if you truly want to relax.”

 

“Oh shut up,” Regina says but amusement laces her voice and Emma can’t help but grin.

 

“How’s Henry?”

 

“Perfect,” Regina says. “We cooked together this past weekend. Pollo agridulce. I haven’t cooked it since I was a teenager, helping my father in the kitchen. My husband enjoyed blander cuisine.”

 

“Henry’s a great sous chef,” Emma says and Regina’s head bobs in agreement. In discussion of her son, her whole body has relaxed, and Emma can actually work at the knots in her back without resistance. She has a beautiful back, skin smooth and brown and dotted with a tiny constellation of moles that Emma thinks she’d like to kiss.

 

And as that thought materialises she takes a sudden step back, clattering into the table carrying the oils because she cannot possibly be thinking that way about a client, about Regina Mills no less. “Ms Swan?” Regina’s voice is groggy, almost sensual, and Emma’s hands shake.

 

“Need more oil,” she says, rubbing vanilla-scented lotion into her hands and moving to Regina’s calves, always coiled with tension from her ridiculous shoes.

 

At the end of the session, Regina pulls a piece of card from a pocket in the robes. “For you,” she says. “A thank you.”

 

“So not necessary,” Emma says.

 

“Just take the damn invitation,” Regina says, almost growling.

 

“Invitation?” And looking at it, she sees it’s the same invitation as the one she picked up at Regina’s home the previous week.

 

“I thought if you had nothing on, you might like to come along,” Regina says.

 

“Yeah, no, I’d like that,” Emma says and she’s stuttering and, God, it’s so embarrassing how inept she is.

 

“I will look forward to seeing you there then,” Regina says and leaves Emma, staring dumbfounded at the invitation.

 

*

 

Standing in line at the entrance of the ballroom, she adjusts her dress, a tight red number that she hasn’t worn for a couple of years and hopes is sophisticated enough for a ball, and sends up a silent prayer that Regina hasn’t given her a fake invite for a laugh. But when she reaches the doorman and states her name, he waves her through with a smile.

 

She drops her coat at coat check and moves through until she’s standing at the top of a grand staircase, looking down at the polished wooden floors of the ballroom, beginning to mill with people. She can’t see Regina anywhere but it’s not like she’s there as her date. She was invited out of gratitude, right?

 

And then she sees her, clad in a floor-length black gown that glides across her body and conceals far more than it reveals, though Emma’s evil, traitorous brain is filling in the gaps that have been left to her imagination. She wants nothing more but to run her fingers through Regina’s hair, rumpling the curls, and kiss the lipstick off her lips. Regina sees Emma, who must be gawping like an idiot, and raises a hand and so she descends the staircase.

 

For a moment, she thinks she sees lust flicker across Regina’s eyes, scanning the form-fitting dress, the loose curls falling down her back, the designer heels she borrowed from Ruby. “You clean up nicely, Ms Swan,” she says.

 

“As do you,” she replies. “Thank you for the invite. I’ve never been to anything like this.”

 

“They’re awfully dull after a while,” Regina says. “More interesting now that I’m not arm candy of a much older man.”

 

“Your husband?”

 

“He didn’t marry me for my intellect,” she says.

 

“I’m…”

 

“Care to dance?” Regina asks, cutting in before Emma can do anything absolutely inane like apologise for something that has nothing to do with her, and all Emma can do is take Regina’s arm and allow herself to be led onto the dance floor.

 

“I should warn you, I don’t exactly know what I’m doing,” Emma says. “Not a lot of ballroom dancing lessons in group homes or juvie.” She’d missed her high school prom because she dropped out and by the time she’d got out of juvie and made it to beauty school, the only dancing she did was when she’d had a few too many shots and coiled her body around someone else’s at a club.

 

“Juvie?”

 

“Long story,” Emma says. “I’ll tell you later – if you still want me around.”

 

“Of course I do,” Regina says and she actually smiles, white teeth flashing. “I’ll lead. All you need to do is do as you’re told.”

 

There’s something so wonderfully perfect about being held in Regina Mills’ arms, feeling the press of her palm against Emma’s back, fingers splayed and, unless Emma’s imagining it, wandering ever so slightly until they skirt into dangerous territory. “Ms Mills, are you trying to seduce me?” Emma asks.

 

“I should have thought that would have been obvious,” Regina says, sarcastic as always and so Emma does the only thing she can think of to ruffle her cool and kisses her, feeling the press of Regina’s lips against hers and  tasting champagne on her tongue.

 

“Come with me,” Regina says when they break apart. Her voice has lowered and they’re not dancing any longer, but standing in the middle of the dance floor, holding each other. She grabs Emma’s hand and drags her off the dance floor.

 

“Where are we going?” Emma asks.

 

“I’m going to find a quiet corner,” Regina says, “because I deserve to be kissed much more thoroughly than that after all the hard work I’ve had to put into getting you to this point.”

 

“All your hard work?” Emma asks as she allows herself to be dragged onto a balcony. “I cooked you dinner. I massaged you. You literally just lay there.”

 

“Oh, shut up,” Regina says and, pressing her up to the railing of the balcony, kisses her fiercely, body pressing against Emma’s own and hands finding her ass. So what can Emma do but respond in kind, hands ghosting Regina’s breasts and teeth nipping at Regina’s bottom lip?

 

Regina groans into Emma’s mouth and Emma pulls back for a moment to whisper breathlessly, “I’ve got magic fingers, you know.”

 

“I suggest you use them,” Regina says, voice husky, so Emma complies.

 

*

 

The bad news is that Emma can no longer give Regina massages at work anymore.

 

In Mary Margaret’s view, the real bad news is that Regina insists on returning to the spa and being serviced by Mary Margaret. Mary Margaret cries twice in the space of a one hour appointment and Emma has to talk her down from quitting.

 

The good news is that Regina caves and buys a massage table for her home.