DISCLAIMER: Characters are not mine.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No curse, no fairy-tale stuff at all. Henry is still adopted, but he is not Emma's biological son.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mysensitiveside[at]yahoo.com
On the Importance of Typing Skills
"Ma'am, you can't go in there!"
Emma ignored the secretary's protests, throwing the wooden doors open with a satisfying bang. It was odd that her quarry had decided to go to work as usual, but Emma certainly wasn't going to complain about it.
Still, as she barged into the office, there were two things that immediately brought Emma to a standstill.
One, there was a young boy sitting beside the opulent desk, apparently doing some homework, and he turned to stare at Emma with wide, innocent eyes. It had to be the woman's son; Emma really hated having to take someone in when family members were around.
And two Shit, she was hot. Emma always got just a little bit flustered with the hot ones.
The woman stood up quickly, looking at Emma with a glare that could cut through steel.
"Excuse me," she said. "How did you get in here? What on earth do you think you're doing?"
Emma cleared her throat, nervous in a way that she usually wasn't. But she was Emma Fucking Swan, badass bail bondsperson, and there was no way she was going to let this hoity-toity criminal push her around. She grit her teeth and tilted her head up.
"Regina Mills?" she asked, her voice strong.
The woman had been holding onto the boy's shoulder quite firmly, protectively, but her grip noticeably loosened when it became clear that Emma was after her, not him.
"Who are you? What do you want?" the woman replied, neither confirming nor denying her identity.
Emma stepped forward, her body ready, in case the-presumed-Ms.-Mills decided to make a sudden run for it. She casually reached her hand towards the handcuffs in her back pocket. "My name is Emma Swan," she said, voice calm but eyes alert, "and I'm here to take you in on the charges of skipping bail."
For just a moment, Ms. Mills' eyes widened in what looked like genuine surprise. Then, of all things, she smiled, as though trying to hold back a laugh. That too was gone in an instant, and the woman's eyes narrowed; that ice-cold glare was back. Still, however, there was not even a hint of an attempted escape, and she maintained her loose hold on the boy, who looked back and forth between the two women, seemingly caught between fear and awe.
"And of what crime, pray tell, am I suspected?" Ms. Mills asked.
Emma frowned. What kind of game was this lady playing at? She looked over at the boy. "You sure you want me to answer that question while he's in the room?" Emma asked, jerking her chin in his direction.
Ms. Mills didn't respond verbally, but she arched a single challenging eyebrow god, had Emma mentioned that she was hot? and calmly sat back down behind her desk, leaning back in a relaxed pose.
Right. Fine then, if that's what this crazy woman wanted
"Regina Mills, you have been charged with reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit murder."
The boy gasped. He murmured something to himself, with Emma just catching a few words that sounded like "evil queen."
Emma continued, "For your failure to show up in court, you have forfeited your bail, and I am authorized to place you under arrest."
The woman's glare was now epic levels of intimidating, but with her spiel said, Emma strode forward, handcuffs out and ready, and reached for Ms. Mills' shoulder.
Releasing her son, the woman sprang upwards and, with a quickness that took Emma by surprise, her hand snagged Emma's wrist, expertly manicured nails digging into the skin. Before Emma could regain control of the situation, the woman leaned right into Emma's personal space, her lips almost-but-not-quite brushing up against Emma's ear, as she whispered harshly, "I don't know what kind of sick joke this is, but if you lay even a single hand on me, I swear, I'll have it chopped off."
Emma stepped back and wrenched her wrist free. Okay, now she was getting seriously pissed off.
"Look, lady, this is no joke. And now we can add personal threats to your list of crimes. I don't know who you think you are, but-"
"Do you even know who I am?" Mills interrupted, equally furious. "If this isn't a joke, then it's actually a truly stunning display of incompetence. Call your supervisor, or whomever," she directed, waving a dismissive hand in Emma's direction. "There's been a mistake, and I'll have your job for this, you can count on that!"
Emma glowered at the other woman, her lips curling back in a snarl of anger. But This whole thing had felt just off enough, right from the beginning, to make her hesitate.
Regardless, she couldn't take any chances.
Without warning, Emma lunged forward, grabbing hold of Ms. Mills' wrist. She snapped one of the cuffs around it and quickly secured the other end around one of the arms of the desk chair, which forced the woman to sit back down.
"Stay there!" Emma ordered, before retreating to just outside the office.
"I've called the sheriff," the secretary proclaimed. "He'll be here at any moment!"
Emma frowned, but ignored her once again. She pulled her cell phone out and called her office, hoping to get this all figured out.
A minute later, Emma slunk back into the office, her shoulders drooping.
Ms. Mills was leaning forward in her chair, her free hand reaching out to hold her son's chin as she murmured softly to him. She stiffened and drew back, her spine straight, as soon as she caught sight of Emma out of the corner of her eye.
"Well?" she demanded.
Emma gulped. In all her years, she didn't think she'd ever felt so embarrassed. She remained silent, but walked forwards and wordlessly unlocked the handcuffs, stuffing them back in her pocket.
As soon as she was released, Mills stood back up. She looked like she might slap Emma, but somehow managed to hold back.
"Um, look Madam Mayor " Emma began haltingly. "I am really, really sorry." She risked a glance at the woman's eyes; if looks could kill, Emma would be lying dead on the floor.
She cleared her throat and went on, explaining, "Believe it or not, turns out that there was, well, a typo, somewhere along the line, and " She attempted a half-hearted smile, though she knew it was probably more of a grimace. "You know, it's really kind of funny, if you think about it, but turns out that we're actually looking for Reginald Mills, also from Maine. I don't suppose he's, like, your cousin or anything, is he?"
Emma bit her lip, looking up again with a sheepish wince. Ms. Mills' expression wasn't nearly so dark, at least, but only because she looked positively dumbfounded. Yeah, Emma supposed that they deserved the 'stunning incompetence' accusation this time. This mistake wasn't really her fault, but still.
The speechlessness was only a temporary reprieve, because Mills appeared to be getting over her shock and working her way back to outrage as she spat out, "You have got to be kidding me."
Emma opened her mouth to reply, but she really had no idea what she should say.
But then, the silence was broken when suddenly, the boy Emma had pretty much forgotten about him, actually burst into laughter.
The sound was infectious, and Emma couldn't help but chuckle in response, even as she remained tense. Ms. Mills did not join in, but her expression did soften into a small smile as she turned to look at her son. She sighed, shaking her head.
Just then, the doors to the office burst open again, and a scruffy but good-looking man in a brown uniform with a star pinned to his chest sprinted into the room, pulling up to a halt as he took in the scene before him. Ah, the afore-mentioned sheriff, Emma assumed.
She and Ms. Mills turned to stare at him; the boy continued laughing, but it was more of a soft giggle now.
"Mayor Mills," the sheriff said, looking around in confusion. "Your secretary called. Is Is everything all right?"
Mills rolled her eyes. "Nice of you to finally show up, Sheriff," she said. "I could have used you ten minutes ago, but everything is fine, now, you may go."
He stepped forward, eyeing Emma suspiciously, his hand inching towards his gun. Emma met his gaze firmly. She was certainly in the wrong, here, but this guy sure couldn't claim any competence of his own. If Emma had actually meant to do the mayor or her son any harm, he would have been a day late and a dollar short.
"Regina, are you su-" he began to ask, but Ms. Mills cut him off.
"Yes, I am quite sure." She turned to the boy, who had managed to control his laughter by now, but his face remained bright with amusement. "Now Henry, dear, why don't you let Graham take you home. I'll see you there later, but for now I need to deal with the illustrious Miss Swan, here."
The way that the woman's lips curled around her name Emma shivered, although she definitely wasn't cold.
Emma eyed her shoes, blushing. Ms. Mills leaned down to kiss her son on the cheek before helping him gather his things and then gently pushing him in the direction of the sheriff.
The boy Henry went without complaint. As he reached the door, however, he turned back and called out, "It was nice to meet you! Good luck finding Reginald!"
Emma laughed. "Thanks, kid," she said with a small wave.
The sheriff looked back and forth between them one more time, but then followed Henry out of the office and closed the door behind him.
Silence fell upon them.
After several tense moments, Emma said, "I really am sorry about all this. We've got this new recruit who's generally really good, but he just moves through things a little too quickly sometimes, and then there's one typo on an early document that gets transferred over onto other documents... Not that I'm making excuses, or anything. There really is no excuse for a screw up like this. But really, what are the odds of there being both a Regina Mills and a Reginald Mills both living in the same state? I mean, if there had been no Regina Mills in Maine, then we would have known there was an issue before now."
Emma knew she was rambling, but she couldn't seem to make herself stop. "And who names their kid Reginald nowadays, anyway? But Henry's a nice name. He seems like a sweet kid. Anyway, yeah, you definitely wouldn't know it from today, but I'm actually really good at my job. And, yeah, very sorry again about the whole mistaken identity thing."
She took a deep breath, but then remembered...
"Oh, and the handcuffs. Sorry about those too."
Finally, Emma closed her mouth and, biting her own inner cheek, managed to keep it closed.
Over the course of Emma's speech, Ms. Mills merely stared at her, one eyebrow arching progressively higher.
"Is that all, Miss Swan?"
She had certainly mastered the art of the intimidating stare.
Emma exhaled, but then forced herself to stand up straight and meet Mills' gaze head-on. She may have screwed this up, but she had only been doing her job, and she sure as hell wasn't that lost, lonely, scared little orphan girl anymore. She wasn't exactly a mayor, either, but she knew that she could hold her own.
She took a business card from her wallet and scribbled out a phone number on the back, using a pen she grabbed from the mayor's desk. "If you'd like to make a formal complaint, you can call this number," she said, holding the card out firmly in front of her, which Ms. Mills gracefully plucked from her fingers.
With that, Emma brusquely nodded her head. "My apologies for the interruption," she said. "Have a good day." Even to her own ears, it sounded pretty moronic, but it was too late now.
"Oh yes, because it's been such a lovely day, thanks to you," Mills replied with a laugh.
Emma clenched her teeth, but really had nothing else to say. She turned and walked towards the office door, ready to bolt out of there with her tail between her legs.
Just as she reached the door, though, a thought jumped in her head. And well, the day was already ruined, work-wise; it wasn't like she was going to head off in search of Reginald Mills immediately. Plus, she'd already made a fool of herself, so she figured that the worst that could happen would be that she'd make an even bigger fool of herself. But then she'd never have to set foot in this town ever again
She turned back towards the other woman, whose eyes remained fixed intensely on Emma.
"Forget something?" Ms. Mills asked, her tone challenging.
Emma didn't answer directly. Instead, she said, "I know I've made a pretty lousy first impression on you. And I also know this wouldn't make up for anything, but while I'm here, I was just wondering if maybe I could take you out for dinner."
Mills burst into laughter.
But Emma didn't let it visibly get to her, keeping her shoulders back and her head held high.
"Oh, you're serious?" the woman asked after a moment.
Emma nodded her head and smiled self-deprecatingly. "Yeah, actually, I am." She shrugged. "So what do you say? If you want, you can spend the whole time telling me how incompetent I am."
Ms. Mills stared into Emma's eyes for a few beats, before her gaze shifted, running noticeably and, Emma thought with a spark of hope, appreciatively up and down Emma's body.
Their eyes met again, and neither woman said anything for a moment. Then, Mills released another brief chuckle. "Well, you've certainly got guts, Miss Swan, I'll give you that much," she said. She looked down at her watch. "I have some more work to get done, since you so kindly interrupted my day, and I'd have to work something out with Henry "
She paused, and Emma found herself holding her breath.
"But you can pick me up at 108 Mifflin Street in two hours," she finished.
"Great!" Emma grinned. Before she could forget, she stepped forward to take the pen from the desk again and wrote the address down on the back of her hand. "That'll give me some time to see a bit of your nice little town, here."
"Indeed." Ms. Mills Regina, Emma thought; now that the woman had agreed to go on a maybe-sort of-date with her, Emma could probably start thinking of her as Regina. Regina turned back to her desk and started shuffling through some papers. "Goodbye, Miss Swan," she said without looking up.
"Right," Emma said. She hadn't yet stopped grinning. "I'll see you in two hours, then. Bye!"
Emma left the mayor's office with a light bounce in her step. Maybe this day wouldn't be a complete waste of time after all.
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