Chapter 7: Coming Under Fire

Takes place during the events of "Desperate Souls"

While a number of things bothered Emma about her "enemies with benefits" arrangement with Regina Mills–notably the antagonism the mayor showed publicly about almost anything to do with town business–being able to see Henry whenever she wanted, which had started as her sole goal, remained the top perk. To that end, she was hanging out with Henry at his castle on the beach before walking him the rest of the way to school.

But the boy was sullen this morning, depressed in the aftermath of Graham's death. Truthfully, Emma was too. What surprised her was Regina's depression. The brunette had grasped her tightly that morning before Emma rolled toward the edge of the bed determined to be out of the house and appearing to simply be jogging by when Henry emerged for school.

Henry picked at a wildflower he'd found along the road. "I think we should stop Cobra stuff for a while. You don't play with the curse. Look what happened to Graham."

Emma shook her head. "Henry, I told you they did an autopsy. It was totally natural causes."

"Okay, whatever! You don't believe? Good. That should keep you from messing with it. And getting killed."

She was surprised. "You're worried about me?"

"You're Sheriff now. She killed Graham because he was figuring it out. And now you're sheriff, she'll need you out of the way, too."

"Henr–" She reached for his shoulder.

Henry jumped off the castle and ran toward the road. "Good loses. Good always loses. Because good has to play fair. Evil doesn't. She's evil!"

Emma sat, staying behind because he obviously didn't want her with him right now, but she kept an eye on him as she walked more slowly to the road and kept an eye on him until he ran into the school grounds. With a sigh, she continued into town.

She entered Graham's inner office, mind in turmoil as she turned over and over again all the evidence in her mind. A great deal of it centered on Henry and Regina. Henry's delusion that Regina was the Evil Queen, out to do everyone harm battled with what Emma's eyes, ears, and gut, told her was a woman wounded. Regina was afraid of being alone. That much was obvious. But she was also equally afraid of losing control but of what? Emma had no idea.

"Ah, Deputy Swan, just the woman I wanted to see."

"What is it, Gold?" Emma turned, putting down a pretty fancy envelope opener fashioned like a dagger that didn't quite match Graham's non-violent personality, she thought.

"The Sheriff was one of my tenants, so I have several boxes of his things which I need to clear away before I can rent the space to someone else." He shuffled forward and placed the box in his hands on the desk. Once that was done, he leaned back and shifted his weight to his cane.

"Property moves that quickly in this sleepy town?" Emma found the sarcasm easily even as she reached out and tried to look with only idle interest at the contents. "Take it to the Salvation Army or whatever passes for charity around here."

"I thought, as the new Sheriff some of it might interest you." He held up several multipurpose tools Emma knew could be useful in B&E. She was surprised Graham had such things. "What about these?" He lifted out a pair of walkie-talkies.

"Yeah. No. I might be Sheriff, but there's not exactly a deputy to talk to."

"I thought perhaps you might want it to play with your boy?"

"Henry?" Emma shrugged. "I get to see him plenty." She wrinkled her nose as Gold's hands passed by her face. "What is that smell?"

"So you and his mother are on… good terms?" Gold drew his hands back quickly. "My apologies. I've been working with lanolin to soften some wool I'm working with."

"As good as it can get, I guess. Regina's still pretty prickly about his snacks and being out late. But I've worked something out."

"I'm surprised Mayor Mills is willing to share power so easily."

Emma put the walkie-talkie back in the box. "It's not 'power sharing,' Gold. We're both his mothers."

"You truly are a savior then, Miss Swan. For making a deal with such an ingrained politician. You will make a wonderful sheriff."

"It's just temporary."

"Official as of today, I've read."

Emma frowned at Gold's back as the man walked out the door. She set aside the mail she'd been planning to read and instead went through the box.

Regina entered the Sheriff's station as Gold was leaving.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded of the imp.

"As leader of the business community, I was congratulating our new sheriff," Gold said.

"Emma does not want to be sheriff," Regina said.

"Unless you appoint a new one, the town charter says the two weeks are up today. A temporary situation has become permanent, Madam Mayor. She's got one more thing to keep her here." He seemed gleeful. "There's only the matter of the investiture. Will you do the swearing-in?"

"Why are you happy she's sheriff, Gold? She's all about digging out corruption. Surely you fear she'll discover your many shady deals?"

"I have nothing to fear from a Sheriff Swan, my dear. But why, I wonder, don't you?"

Regina schooled her features as quickly as possible, but his arched brow suggested he had seen her alarm. She tried to wave it off. "She and I have come to an understanding...about Henry. She has no desire to take him away from me, or Storybrooke."

"Is that truly the only threat she is to you?"

Again Regina felt caught off guard. "Of course," she replied quickly, perhaps too defensively.

"Hmm," he mused. "Perhaps I have been too hasty in assuming our new sheriff's impartiality." He dipped his head, tipping an imaginary hat, and left quickly.

Regina fretted in the lobby of the building for a long minute. What on earth? Gold wanted Emma to be Sheriff? What advantage did he hope to gain? Since Graham's death, Emma had been sticking close to both Henry and Regina, and the sense of security and care, while unfamiliar, was...nice.

When she entered the station offices, she saw Emma standing over a box and looking at Graham's star. Her perception colored by Gold's intimations, she wondered if Emma was playing her. "Is that what you want?"

"It has been two weeks."

"I could appoint someone."

"Who?" Emma asked. "Your overweight security guard at city hall? Drunk Leroy would kick his ass."

"You came with only bail bonds experience, Miss Swan."

"But Graham chose me. He trained me."

"And he was imperfect. Perhaps I need to begin a search for someone more skilled."

"Henry thinks you killed him, you know." Regina winced. "I should tell him how broken up you've been about it."

"You will not!" Regina couldn't bear to have her weakness shown. "As we have discussed," she hissed. "He warmed my bed. Nothing more."

"And is that what I am to you, Regina?" Emma asked. She stepped closer. Regina lifted her chin in an attempt to keep her jaw tight and her stance strong. "Just a bed-warmer?"

Regina inhaled sharply. "What you are is maddening!"

Emma nodded. "Okay. I get that." Her smile made Regina's stomach flip. "Why is it you didn't want me to get out of bed this morning?"

Regina's wrist was gripped lightly and then her jaw stroked. "I thought I heard Henry," she said quickly. "I didn't want him to see you."

Emma shook her head. "I can tell when you're lying, Regina. Tell me the truth."

Shaking her head and then shaking her wrist loose, Regina took a step backward, only to back into a desk. Her gaze darted up to green eyes as her hands shot behind her to steady herself. "You know I can't have anyone find out."

"Thought all we have is a business arrangement," Emma said. "Right?"

"Do we?" Regina could have cut out her own tongue. Fuck. Why on earth would she suggest that she wanted something different?

"Why don't I come over to city hall after I finish up here and we have a...chat about that," Emma said. She leaned forward and Regina closed her eyes when she felt Emma's breath on her cheek. "Too many cameras here," the blonde whispered.

Regina spun on her heel, escaped the space between Emma and the desk, and practically ran from the sheriff's office. Emma's chuckles followed her all the way out of the building.

She ran full speed into David, which recalled to her mind that her curse had already cracked regarding keeping him and Snow – Mary Margaret – apart.

"Madam Mayor?" He politely smiled at her. "I want to thank you again for helping Kathryn and me as I recover from the hospital."

"You're welcome." She scowled at herself and rubbed her face, rushing past him. She was flustered; it was the only reason that polite words must have escaped her mouth before anything cutting. A glance back over her shoulder found him studying her with a puzzled look on his face. Oh, my god. She groaned. The dichotomy of her former enemy looking at her with such adoration tore something in her chest. She rushed on to start her day at city hall.

As she crossed the threshold into the building she accepted a nod from the security guard and frowned as she took in his overweight girth. After that she found herself looking up at the corners of doors and hallways. No cameras. She shook her head, trying to dislodge the voice of Emma Swan in her ear.

"Good morning, Mayor Mills," Sidney greeted her as he rose from a seat in her outer office. "I was hoping to get a few words from you about our new Sheriff?"

How is it everyone knew about the two week waiting period except her? Had Emma's perspective on their arrangement shifted to keeping Regina distracted? Was the woman planning with people like Gold to break the curse and overthrow Regina?

"Get me a copy of the town charter," she ordered her secretary. "Sidney, inside."

"There have been some issues raised about the qualifications of Deputy Swan," Regina stated. "As mayor, I cannot condone someone protecting Storybrooke who is not eminently qualified to serve her."

She stood at a podium in city hall in front of the television cameras and newspaper reporters for the hastily arranged news conference.

"So what's going to happen?" Sidney spoke up helpfully, a gleeful smile on his face as he already knew what was coming.

"There will be an election. Deputy Swan will be allowed to stand, if she can convince the people she has the experience to keep us safe."

"Who else will run?" asked another reporter with a radio station mic in his hand.

She waved it off. "All candidates wishing to be considered should file with the city elections office by the end of the day tomorrow."

"Are you suggesting the mayor's office has no confidence in Sheriff Swan?"

"She's a stranger to our town. Barely here a month," George said. Regina glanced at him and the other council members who had come together for a quick meeting when she decided what she would do. These former nobles who wouldn't have given her anything she asked in the old world were falling over themselves to agree with her now. Her delight at the irony made her smile.

"There you have it," Regina said. "Thank you, everyone. In one week, the citizens of Storybrooke will decide who is best to protect us all."

Cheers and clapping erupted and camera bulbs flashed. The room cleared relatively quickly after that and Regina started to head into her office.

"Madam Mayor, may I have a moment of your time." Regina turned to see Emma leaning on a wall in her red jacket and tight jeans. "Surprised to see me here?" she asked. "Mayor calls a press conference, most important figures in town all in attendance? Of course the Sheriff will be present to keep the order."

"So you've heard," Regina said. "It is important to me that the people choose their leadership."

"When was the last time you stood for election, Madam Mayor?"

"I've earned my place, Deputy," Regina replied sharply.

"And I've earned mine," Emma replied.

"We'll see."

"I won't leave even if I don't have a job, Regina," Emma said quietly.

"Won't you?" Regina hated that the doubt crept into her tone.

"Nope. Henry's my son. You and I obviously still have some things to work out, but...it is working. I've gotten Henry to back off about you being the Evil Queen. And I think…" Emma stepped closer until she was sharing the doorway space with Regina, her green eyes pinning the brunette in place. "You enjoy our deal."

"Did you make another deal with Gold to get the business community behind you?" Regina groused.

"Gold's a bit off, but I've never made a deal with him."

"That's not what I heard, Miss Swan. You got him to allow Ashley to keep her baby, despite the fact she agreed to give him the child. Now she's even back with the girl's father...Sean something or other?" Emma was surprised. "Henry told me. Gleefully, I might add. Something about you being the savior and reuniting all the true loves."

Emma frowned. "Damn, kid," she muttered. "Look," she raised her voice to resume speaking with Regina. "It's just about right and wrong here, Regina. I'll always stand up against something wrong."

"But you don't always do what's right, do you?"

Emma shrugged. "I try."

"Well, let's see if trying is enough for the people of this town to entrust you with their lives, shall we?"

Emma sighed and put her hands into her back pockets, taking a step away from Regina so the woman was no longer cornered. "Fine. Look, I didn't actually come over here to fight with you."

"Then what did you come for?" Regina asked.

"You." Emma smiled as she recalled the morning teasing in the sheriff's office. She had been certain she'd gotten into Regina's head – and the woman would be eagerly looking forward to getting into–or rather, out of–their pants together later. She glanced up at the corners of the corridor. "I think we're alone enough now for you to call me 'Emma,' hmm?"

She felt no resistance in Regina's body as she nudged them forward into the mayor's inner office and closed the door. "I'd like to present something new in support of my position," she teased. She grasped Regina's hips and, while kissing her and delving her tongue into the woman's welcoming mouth, she ground her pelvis into Regina's center so the woman could feel the strap-on she was packing.

"What is that?" Regina demanded.

"A little toy I've had some success with pleasuring the ladies before," Emma said.

"You will not treat me like one of your previous conquests," Regina said.

Emma frowned. "I would've thought you enjoyed it rough. We–"

"Do not ever touch me with that," Regina started to struggle against Emma's grip. Surprised, she let the woman go.

"I thought you liked sex with guys?" Emma asked. "Graham? God, was I wrong about him? Was he just some sort of cuddle toy? Is that why you're so broken up about him?"

"I controlled every aspect of my relationship with Sheriff Graham. He submitted to me."

"So you don't like penetration like that." Emma nodded, piecing things together slowly. "Okay. So we forget the strap-on. I'm okay with that." Regina looked startled. "What we've got...like I said, it's working. Just thought to change things up a little. But if it isn't...I can skip it."

Emma guided Regina to the couch and sat down next to her. The strap-on irritated a bit and she wriggled herself to ease the awkward pressure. She refocused on Regina only to notice the brunette was staring at her crotch as if it was going to explode.

"Hold on." Emma brushed Regina's hands until they were crossed on the cushion. "I'll be right back."

She escaped into the washroom, wriggled down her pants and boy shorts, and quickly unbuckled the straps holding the dildo in place. She removed her pants and jacket and rolled up the dildo inside them. A moment later she emerged from the bathroom only in her boy shorts and light blue button-up shirt.

"Better?" she asked, holding her hands out as she stepped close to Regina, inviting the brunette to inspect her.

Regina reached out, a look of consternation on her face, and touched Emma's waist. "You did that for me?"

"Like I said, I'm not looking to mess this…" She gestured between them. "It may have started as a...dare, Regina, but can you say you don't want it to continue?"

Daringly, she leaned forward and pressed her lips to Regina's. They might get their signals crossed–a lot–but this? Emma craved the connection she had with Regina. She had spent her entire day thinking about her promise to join Regina in this office, and she'd imagined taking her on this couch. Her mental image had only been sidetracked when she encountered the sea of people and the subject of the press conference.

Regina's moan was a physical tremor that started in her chest, under Emma's hand, and vibrated up her throat and out through her parted lips. "Em-ma."

Emma smiled as her name hit her ears. "Hey," she said, breathing across Regina's lips before pressing upon her another kiss, softer and more chaste. "So…" She lowered herself and then leaned back against the couch cushions. "You can take over, if you prefer."

She leaned back and was gratified when Regina slid over her body. While Emma tucked her arms around Regina's shoulders, massaging and stroking through her hair, Regina covered her throat with kisses and bites. Under Regina's deft fingers, Emma's shirt was soon unbuttoned and cast aside. The cup of her bra was pulled down. When the woman chewed one nipple, Emma cried out, cupping Regina's dark head against her breast.

"There! Yes!" Regina grasped Emma's head between her thighs as the woman's skilled tongue probed her deeply. She felt a finger curl inside and arched as it stroked the top of her channel and she felt her entire lower body soften and a warm flow suffuse her center. "God! Em-ma!"

Lips closed around her clit and she jolted as another orgasm swept through her belly. Two fingers stretched her channel and curled up inside her. She heard and felt Emma lapping up her juices. "You may have a sour mood from time to time, Regina, but your pussy is sweet," Emma murmured between licking and sucking.

The sensations from Emma's fingers and tongue gathered within Regina's belly, finally releasing in one final orgasm. Regina became too sensitive for more contact and nudged Emma's head away. Fingertips softly massaged her mound, occasionally manipulating her clit indirectly, and the throbbing in her belly slowed.

Mercifully, Emma was silent as Regina pieced her mental state back together. She let her fingers drift across Emma's shoulder and stared up at the ceiling.

"Do you really think I shouldn't be Sheriff?" Emma asked.

"It's dangerous," Regina said.

"In Storybrooke?" Emma scoffed. "C'mon, Regina."

"What if something should happen to you? What would I tell Henry?" Regina asked.

"You wouldn't be responsible, Regina. I can do some good here, I know it."

"That's what he wants," Regina sighed. "You are supposed to defeat the Evil Qu–"

Emma's hand slid over Regina's mouth stopping her words. "Well, he's going to be sorely disappointed when all I do is keep putting Leroy in the drunk tank, finding Pongo, rescuing cats from trees, and recover the occasional missing person." She sat up and picked up her shirt from the floor, pulling it over her shoulders and starting to button it up.

"Won't you be bored?" Regina sat up and fished her pants from the floor. Standing she stepped into them, feeling Emma's hand lightly on her hip as if to steady her. She glanced down to see Emma smiling up at her.

"Nah, I'm pretty sure the mayor will keep busting my chops over something or another. But in the end, we've got the same mission. To keep things in Storybrooke good." Emma leaned over and lifted up Regina's bra, holding it out. "Here."

"Thank you." As she redressed, Regina inhaled as she considered how much things were different. She followed a strange scent. "Wait, is that smoke?"

Emma lifted her head and inhaled. "Maybe?" She stood and went to the window, looking down. A moment later she lifted her head and pinned Regina with worried eyes. "You wait here. I need to check the door."

"Something is burning?"

"Yeah, I think downstairs."

"We're on the second floor. How will we get out?" Regina went to the window to see smoke and a slight orange glow originating from somewhere on the first floor.

"There's a fire extinguisher just in the corridor. I'll get it and we'll lay down foam and walk out."

Regina didn't have a chance to answer before Emma had pressed her hands on the door, then flung it open and rushed out, shutting it with a hard slam behind her. Smoke seeped in under the door.

"Emma!" Regina rushed out and into a wall of smoke. She ducked her head to avoid the worst of it. Coughing she headed for the staircase only to feel the heat and see flames. She peered into the smoke. "Em-ma!" Her legs were warm and she realized the space under the stairs must be aflame if it was already this hot. She started to back up, only to feel a step collapse under her feet. Heat licked up her leg but she crawled back, away from the hole. "Emma!"

Emma appeared suddenly in front of her, spraying a fire extinguisher at the staircase. "C'mon!" She reached out for Regina.

Regina's ankle twinged as her fingers interlaced with Emma's. "Ah!" she yelled as the woman's strength lurched her forward and she put weight on the ankle. "My leg!" she gasped. She could hear sirens approaching the building.

"All right." Emma leaned forward more and wrapped her arm around Regina's waist, lifting her so that most of her weight was against Emma's chest and not on her ankle. "Hold on."

Regina wrapped her arms around Emma's neck. Emma lay down more flame retardant to open their path toward the first floor. Once there, Regina could see the entire first level had been engulfed in flame and smoke. What the hell had happened here?

Emma lurched forward, pounding her shoulder against the city hall front doors, which burst open and they stumbled out into the night air, mercifully clear of smoke.

A pair of firefighters rushed past them carrying a hose already gushing water. Somewhere a flash went off and Regina threw up a hand to cover her eyes, losing her grip on Emma's shoulder. Someone in a blue jumpsuit ran up to them and then stopped, crouching on the ground as Regina hunched over the renewed pain in her ankle.

"Ma'am, are you all right?" Regina started to lose her balance at the loss of focus.

"Gotcha." Emma's arms went around her waist and gently lowered her to the ground. "Easy. Let him wrap that up. I'm going to go talk to the Fire Marshal."

"Mom! Emma!"

Henry ran up. Before Regina could say anything, Emma caught him around the arms and pulled him back. "Your mom's gonna be okay, kid. What are you doing out here?"

"Emma! You're all covered in soot. What happened?"

"We got caught in the fire, kid. But everyone's fine."

"She was caught in the fire too? But she set it! I told you she'd try to kill you now you're the sheriff."

"Henry." Emma shook him. "Your mother was with me in the fire. We were talking about the sheriff election. Nothing was plotted. She was caught in it same as I was."

"But only the Evil Queen wants anyone dead," Henry protested.

"Must be someone else in your storybook who did this, kid." Emma stood up and her son wrapped himself around her legs, burying his face in her hip. Stroking his shoulder, she scanned the faces of the citizens who had come out to stare at the fire, knowing the typical profile of an arsonist was to see the results of their efforts. No one looked particularly interesting, most whispering behind their hands to one another. Off to the side, though, she spotted Gold, cane in hand, studying the scene intently. He wasn't with anyone. After a moment she was certain he realized she'd caught him staring. He took a step back and slowly hobbled away down Main Street toward his shop.

"You go see your mom, kid. I've got to talk to the Fire Marshal."

Henry ran over to Regina who accepted a hug with a look of surprise as she sat on the bumper of an ambulance wearing an oxygen mask.

"Sheriff Swan?"

"Yes, sir?" She turned and looked the man up and down. "Fire marshal?"

"Yes, ma'am. My men think they've found the source of the fire."

"That was quick."

"A pile of trash up against the building."

"Show me." She followed him around the side of the building where she could see a hole burned through the first floor from a now smoldering pile of rags and trash.

She smelled a strangely familiar oil. "Some sort of accelerant?"

"We'll have to get it tested, but it looks like someone was cleaning upholstery or furniture and the chemicals caught a spark."

"An accident?" she asked skeptically.

"Cigarette, maybe, or a tossed away match."

"You'll let me know when you have more evidence?"

"Of course."

"Thanks."

Emma walked back around to the front of the building to see Henry under Regina's left arm, trying to help her limp on her ankle.

"Madam Mayor," she called.

The brunette turned slowly and replied, "Yes, M-Deputy Swan?"

She reported what she knew. "Oil fire."

"I see. You will get a fuller report?"

"Yeah."

"Good. I will see you in my office tomorrow."

"All right." Regina started to limp away again. Henry once again under her shoulder. "Hey, kid, let me do that. You're a little too short to act as your mom's crutch."

Henry's eyes went wide when Emma tucked herself under Regina's arm to the other woman's loud protest. "I'm parked just over here, closer than your car. Let me drive you two home."

"I will not ride in that rattle trap you call transportation."

"Good thing it's the department cruiser then." She tossed her keys at Henry. "Go open the door for your mom."

Henry rushed ahead and opened the passenger door.