Mills vs. Swan (Part 2 - Laser Tag) - Once Upon A Time - Emma, Regina, Henry
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Pairings/Characters: Emma, Regina, (pre-Swan Queen) Henry
Summary: Regina eyes the vest warily, recalling briefly the discussion she and Henry had had about laser tag after their video game adventure. "Laser tag?"
Spoilers: Contains spoilers for 1x14 but goes AU at the end.
Word Count: 5,191
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Nothing is mine. Please don't sue.
Author's Note: Couldn't resist having them play laser tag. And just in case you missed it and want to read Part 1, it is here.
Richard Castle: Mom, we are totally doing battle on the field of honor.
Martha Rodgers: How old are you?
Richard Castle: Old enough to afford top-of-the-line laser tag.
~ Castle 1.05 'A Chill Goes Through Her Veins
Emma hears the distinctive sound of Regina's heels on the tile floor in the station and feels the headache that has been building all day finally explode behind her eyes. Playing with the highlighter that she's been using while poring over Kathryn's phone records, she looks up to see Regina coming into her office.
"If this is about the blackout, I've got the guys from the power company down there working on it." She says preemptively, trying to get Regina out of the station. She's got enough on her plate right now without Regina adding to it.
"That's not why I'm here." Regina says, staring at Emma. The blonde looks exhausted and Regina knows that she's been working on Kathryn's case all day. She feels a tiny stab of guilt, but she quickly pushes it away. "Do you know what day it is, Miss Swan?"
Emma is in no mood for games. "Madam Mayor, I really don't have time for your games right now, so if you'll just -"
"It's Friday." Regina cuts in to her rant. "Friday evening."
And suddenly Emma's eyes go wide. "Oh, shit! Henry! I forgot."
"Yes. I'm aware." Regina says, annoyance prevalent in her voice. And she's only annoyed because Henry had looked so devastated, sitting on the couch with the video game remote in hand, staring at the door as though he could make Emma walk through it. She's certainly not annoyed that she had spent the last few days searching the internet for cheats and strategies and staying up nearly all night practicing that damn video game so that she could beat Emma, only to have her not show up. That has nothing to do with her feelings.
Emma feels like banging her head on the desk, but she looks up at Regina instead. "How upset is he?"
"He was disappointed when you didn't show up." Regina tells her and she watches as Emma's face falls even more. "But I told him that I was sure you were busy with police business."
Emma stares at Regina. "You what?"
She is shocked. Regina had finally had the opportunity to make Emma the bad guy and instead she had given excuses to Henry about why Emma wasn't there? It doesn't seem possible.
Regina rolls her eyes. "Despite what you and my son think, I am not evil."
Emma looks at her as though she's grown a second head. "I don't think that you are, Madam Mayor. But I do know that you didn't have to give excuses for me."
Regina just shrugs. The truth is that it had certainly crossed her mind. When Emma hadn't shown up and Henry had looked so disappointed, Regina couldn't help but be pleased. For once it was Emma who was failing in his eyes. It would've been so easy to just throw her under the bus. But Emma had gone out of her way to include Regina in her time with Henry and Regina found that she couldn't just write the other woman off after that.
Which is why she is here at the station now. "You're still working on Kathryn's case?"
Emma closes her eyes and nods. It's obvious that she's tired and frustrated and expecting Regina to tear into her for not working harder on it.
"You should take a break. Come back to the house and see Henry." Emma's head snaps up. "You're no good to anyone if you're exhausted and overworked."
"I -" Emma's brow furrows. "The power's out. I can just come by tomorrow once it's back on."
Regina studies her for a few moments. "Tomorrow you'll be back to work on this case. Surely you can think of something to do with Henry that doesn't involve needing power."
Emma considers it for a moment. "Well, there is something else we could do. But I don't think you're going to like it."
Regina smirks. She'd never imagined she'd like playing Super Mario Brothers, but she'd truly enjoyed that. She's ready for whatever Emma has to throw at her. "Try me, Miss Swan."
After a quick stop at Mary Margaret's, where Emma picks up a large black bag that she refuses to show Regina the contents of, they arrive at the mayor's house.
"Emma!" Henry calls when he sees her coming through the door, rushing over to hug her.
"Hey, kid." She hugs him back tightly. "Sorry I wasn't here earlier. I got caught up in a case. But your mom came and got me and dragged me away so we could spend some time together."
Regina is again taken aback by the way Emma is making her look so good to Henry. She's not used to having someone making her out to be the good guy.
"Cool." Henry smiles. "Thanks, Mom."
Regina's heart swells yet again. "Of course, Henry. You and Miss Swan have fun."
"And where do you think you're going, Madam Mayor?" Emma's voice is teasing, but there's an undercurrent of seriousness to it.
"I just thought that you and Henry would want some time alone," she says, looking between Emma and Henry, seeing how similar their features are in the candlelight.
"How are we supposed to play laser tag with only two people?" Emma asks, reaching into the black bag and pulling out what appears to be a vest of some kind.
"Seriously? Awesome!" Henry's practically jumping up and down with excitement.
Regina eyes the vest warily, recalling briefly the discussion she and Henry had had about laser tag after their video game adventure. "Laser tag?"
Emma smiles. "It's kind of a perfect night for it, because you need to be in the dark. And your house is definitely a perfect battleground. So what do you say, Madam Mayor? You gonna play with us?"
"Oh, come on, Mom, please?" Henry implores from beside her and once again Regina is nearly overwhelmed by his desire to do anything at all with her.
"You know that you've been dying to shoot me, ever since I got into town." Emma teases. "Now's your chance." She holds up a laser gun and wiggles it enticingly. "Besides, what else are you going to do when the whole town is without power? Even you need a break sometimes too, Regina."
"Okay." She finally relents and Henry's face lights up. That look alone makes anything else that may happen the rest of the night worth it.
"Great." And Emma's voice is nothing but sincere. Regina still can't understand how this woman can even stand to be in the same room as her after the things that she's done to try to drive her away, but Emma just keeps coming back. "Now, you just need to get out of those clothes."
Regina's brain skitters to a stop. "Wh-what?"
Emma offers up a smirk that is most definitely wicked, despite the rest of her face remaining the picture of innocence. "Well, you can't exactly play laser tag in a skirt and heels, Madam Mayor. Not if you want to win, anyway."
Regina feels her heart begin to beat again and tries to take in as deep a breath as she can without being obvious about it. "Right. Of course."
Emma turns her attention to Henry. "You too, kid." She ruffles his hair and looks back up at Regina. "I'd suggest all black if you have it. Oh who am I kidding, of course you have all black." She winks at the mayor to show the words are just in jest. "Comfortable is key. Think pajama bottoms or sweats or… yoga pants?"
Regina rolls her eyes. "I do have other things in my closet besides skirts and power suits, Miss Swan."
"Great, then you Mills can go get dressed upstairs, while this Swan gets changed and set up down here. We'll reconvene in fifteen minutes."
Henry is bounding up the stairs before she even finishes her sentence and both women yell out at the same time, "Henry, be careful, it's dark!"
They glance at each other and then Regina heads for the stairs herself. Emma watches her go in the candlelight and can't help but think that she looks lighter somehow tonight - more relaxed and like a mother, instead of her usual uptight, in control manner. Emma definitely likes her better this way.
She makes quick work of changing into her own black yoga pants and tank top. Then she goes around, blowing out candles to toss the house into even more darkness. Once everything is set up, she pulls out the equipment and begins to get it prepped.
Henry is the first Mills to come bounding the stairs, wearing a black t-shirt and pajama bottoms that Emma kind of can't believe Regina would've bought him. He's even got on black sneakers and black socks, which makes her smile.
"Alright kid, let's get you suited up while we wait for your mom." She says, already pulling out a smaller vest and helping him into it.
"This is so cool, Emma. Where did you get all this stuff?" He asks, his eyes going eagerly over the black bag where the laser guns and extra targets are still stashed.
Emma just shrugs as she activates his vest and then turns to the tiny laptop that she's set up on one of the tables in the foyer. "There was a guy in Boston who hooked me up."
"Whoa, is that a computer program to keep score?"
Emma grins. "Sure is."
"What's awesome?" Regina asks, coming down the stairs. Emma takes in her outfit - a long sleeved black t-shirt that has to be fitted with the way it hugs her and black yoga pants that show off all her curves. There are black ballet flats on her feet, and Emma thinks that they're appropriate because Regina has the grace of a ballerina to be sure.
"Emma's laser tag gear! She's got a computer system and everything."
"And how much did this cost you, Miss Swan?" Regina asks as she peeks over Emma's shoulder to see her typing Regina's name into the program and adding her to the Mills team with Henry.
Emma laughs. "It wasn't cheap, but I made some pretty good money in my work so it all works out. Now, let's get your vest on."
She pulls out a vest and holds it up for Regina, moving in close to help the older woman into it and tugging on the straps to tighten it. Once the vest is on, she taps a few buttons and smiles as the vest lights up.
"Alright, we're ready to play." She pulls out laser guns and hands them off to Henry and Regina. "Basically, you're trying to hit as many targets as you can - I've spread them throughout the downstairs here - and of course you want to hit me to get me out. Got it?"
Her opponents nod. "Good. Now, Regina, is there anywhere in the house that's off limits? The West Wing perhaps?" Emma teases.
Henry holds his breath for a moment, but exhales when Regina actually laughs at Emma. "Wrong fairy tale, dear. And between the two of us, I think it's obvious that I'd be the beauty and you'd be the beast."
"Oh, you better run, Mills, because you're going down for that one." Emma laughs. "Alright, I'll start the program. It'll give us one minute to get into position and then we'll start. You and Henry are on a team - Mills vs. Swan. Ready?"
"Ready." Mother and son confirm.
Emma taps some computer buttons and then they hear the timer begin to tap down. Emma heads quickly for the living room, planning to hide out behind the furniture for a while. She's at the disadvantage because she doesn't know the layout of the house as well as Regina and Henry do.
Regina starts to head toward her study, but she feels a small hand grab hers. She looks down at Henry in surprise as he motions with his head for the stairs and pulls her with him.
"Henry, what are you doing?"
"We're a team, remember? Come on. I have a plan."
Regina smiles and follows Henry up to the first landing, laying down flat on her stomach as he does. Henry watches her with a big smile on his own face. His mother hasn't done anything like this since he was a very little boy and they would play hide and seek. He misses this side of her, although he'd never admit it.
"So what's the plan?" She whispers to him as she hears the timer go off, signaling that the game is beginning.
"I'm going to go down and try to draw her out. You stay up here and when I get her into the open, shoot her." Henry whispers back, already aiming his gun towards one of the targets Emma had placed. He hits it and Regina looks impressed.
Regina nods and watches as Henry moves down the stairs. "Emma, where are you?" She hears him call. The sheriff doesn't answer.
Regina squints through the darkness, trying to catch sight of the lights on Emma's vest, but she doesn't see any sign of her. Then, suddenly, there's a streak of light as the blonde comes running into the room, ducking and rolling behind a chair while shooting.
Regina watches as Henry's vest lights up, signaling that he's been hit. "Oh, man." He sighs.
"Sorry kid," she hears Emma say from her hiding place, "but I take no prisoners when it comes to laser tag."
"We're gonna play another round right?" Henry is practically pouting as he flops down on the chair that Emma is hiding behind, blocking Regina's shot.
"Of course we are. Just as soon as I shoot your mother."
"You should pretty confident, Miss Swan." Regina calls down the stairs.
"What can I say?" And even though she can't see it, she knows Emma is shrugging. "I'm just that good."
Regina pushes herself up, moving further up the stairs. "Prove it. Come out and play."
"I will if you will." Emma calls out, beginning to inch out of her hiding spot, seeing the lights of Regina's vest as she moves.
"I'm already more exposed than you are." Regina reminds her as she tries to stay close to the wall. She's hoping that the banisters will block Emma's shots until she can get to the relative safety of the upstairs.
Just as she's about to make it to the top of the stairs, she hears her vest beep and sees it flash, signaling she's been shot. She spins around to find Emma at the bottom of the stairs, smiling up at her through the darkness - her face lit by her vest. "Guess you were right. You were more exposed."
"How did you -" Regina might not have spent her time living in the woods like Snow had, but she'd always been a good huntress, and necessity had kept her guard up at all times. Now though, without practice, she'd gotten comfortable and Emma Swan had somehow slipped the defenses.
Emma just smiles. "It was your first round. Now you know how it works. Come down and I'll reset everything."
Regina does, begrudgingly so, but Henry's waiting at the bottom of the steps with a smile for her. "You did really well, Mom." He assures.
Emma taps away at the computer and Regina feels her vest vibrate as it resets itself. Unable to resist, she finds herself raising her gun and shooting at the target on Emma's back.
The blonde turns to look at her with an amused smirk on her face when the vest signals it has been shot - not at all what Regina was expecting. "Feel better now?" Emma asks, turning back and hitting a few more keys.
Regina shoots her again - just for good measure - and then offers up a smile of her own. "Yes, actually."
"Good. I've decided to make the countdown time longer this time. It'll give us more of a chance to hide and actually use the house in the game. So we'll have three minutes. No shooting in that three minutes, even if you see someone. Got it?"
"Got it." Regina and Henry both confirm, although the mayor is aware that Emma was speaking to her.
"Alright. Let the game begin." She hits a key and the countdown begins.
This time all three players scatter in different directions. Regina knows that she and Henry are still a team, but she wants to try this time on her own. She watches as Emma heads off in the direction of her study and Henry scampers back towards the kitchen before she heads upstairs towards her bedroom. She considers the fact that Emma is going towards the study and could be intending to snoop, but finds that she's not all that worried. The blonde truly does seem to be invested in playing the game, and even if she does look, she won't find anything.
Regina hears the timer go off just as she reaches the doorway of her bedroom. She slips inside and crouches down beside the bed, waiting and listening. She can just make out the sound of Henry's sneakers as he moves through the bottom half of the house.
She thinks that perhaps it was not the best idea to come up here, as there are no targets planted up here and so she won't be helping with adding any points to their team. But she's got a plan and she's going to stick to it.
She waits for a few more minutes, straining to hear what's going on downstairs, before she finally decides that it's safe to move. Quietly she stands up and after checking for any signs of light or life, she begins to make her way to the back of her walk-in closet, heading for the back stairs that lead down to her study. The back stairs that Emma most assuredly does not know about.
She's traveled the stairs enough times to know exactly which ones creak and she's careful to step over them, staying as light on her feet as possible, her finger poised on the trigger. She hasn't gotten to use a weapon in ten years - not since Henry came into her life. Even though it's only a toy, she still feels her body hum with the power that comes from holding a weapon.
Carefully, she twists the doorknob, pushing the door open just enough to see through the crack. The light from Emma's vest is the only thing visible in the room. She's got her back to Regina, looking out the study door. She's a perfect target. Regina flexes her hand around the gun and carefully pushes the door open, moving quietly into the room.
She gets in position behind Emma, raises her gun, and then everything happens in a blur. She decides to alert Emma to her presence, saying "hello, Sheriff Swan," as she aims her gun. But Emma apparently doesn't do well with being snuck up on, because the blonde whirls around, her feet kicking out, hitting Regina's and knocking her off balance.
Just as they hit the floor with a rather loud bang, the lights come back on. The brightness combined with their fall has them both in a daze, until Henry bursts into the room.
"What happened?" He asks, looking down to find Regina on top of Emma, their faces inches away. Both woman are staring, unmoving, as though in shock. "Are you guys okay?"
Finally Emma blinks and glances up at Henry. "Yeah, kid, we're fine. Your mom just startled me and I kinda overreacted. Then the lights came back on." Emma focuses back on Regina, who still looks dazed. "You are okay, right, Regina?"
"I - yes. Yes, I'm fine." Regina assures as she quickly pushes herself off Emma and stands up.
"Well," Emma smiles as she gets up herself, "I guess this means the game is over."
Regina glances over to where Henry is standing. "Oh, I don't know about that, Miss Swan."
She inclines her head toward Henry and he flips the light switch, throwing the room back into darkness. Regina raises her gun, but Emma is already reacting - taking off running down the hall, heading for the light of the living room.
Regina feels the thrill of the chase rush through her blood as she takes off at a run too. She can hear Henry's shoes pounding behind her and she thinks of all the thousands of times she has yelled at him for running in the house, but quickly dismisses the thought. The rules are different tonight.
Emma's hair nearly glows in the light of the living room and Regina watches as she jumps over the couch and tucks into a roll, even as Henry flicks the light switch behind her. She can just make out the light of Emma's vest behind the couch as Henry makes his way to one side and she moves to flank the other side.
"Give it up, Miss Swan. We have you surrounded." She taunts, trying not to sound out of breath. All these years sitting behind a desk have weakened her - just as Emma suggested at the mine - but she'll never admit it.
Emma laughs, springing up suddenly, the movement startling Henry enough that she can get passed him. "Never give up! Never surrender!" She calls out as she runs.
Henry shoots at her, but the shots are wild and don't hit anything. Regina lets out a laugh as she follows in pursuit of her prey. Henry is laughing delightedly behind her as well and it's such a welcome sound that she considers allowing Emma to continue to escape just so that she can keep hearing it.
She follows Emma to the darkened kitchen, grinning because she knows she's got her trapped. The sheriff is hunkered down in the tiny space between the refrigerator and the pantry, sitting sideways so that her targets are mostly blocked.
Regina moves closer, lifting her gun and aiming. She just needs Emma to turn a little bit and she has no doubt she'll be able to hit her mark. The years behind the desk may have worn her down, but there are some things that are innate, and hunting is one of them for Regina.
Henry bounds into the room and his entrance causes Emma to shift, ready to run again just like she's good at. The shift is just enough to open up one of the targets and Regina pulls the trigger, laughing triumphantly as Emma's vest blinks out her virtual death.
"Awesome, Mom!" Henry holds up his hand for a high five, a smile stretched across his face.
Emma pushes herself up and moves out of the small space, bowing her head toward Regina. "Nice shot."
"Thank you." Regina smiles genuinely.
"Can we play again?" Henry begs.
Before Regina can answer, Emma is already shaking her head. "Sorry, kid, but it's already past your bedtime."
Regina feels some of the adrenaline coursing through her body deflate just a bit at Emma's words. She won't go as far as whining like Henry is currently doing, but she does feel disappointed that the fun is over.
"Besides, I've gotta get back to the station."
Henry frowns a bit, but hands his laser gun over to Emma and starts to take off his vest. "Will you tuck me in, Emma?" He asks as he hands her the vest.
Regina blinks hard. They've had such a good night and she tries not to let the darkness back in, but it feels like a knife in her back, hearing Henry ask for Emma and not her.
"Yeah, kid." Emma nods, her eyes cutting over to Regina.
"Great!" Henry hugs her tightly and this time it's a knife to Regina's heart, so painful she has to turn away.
But suddenly she feels Henry's arms wrap around her and hold tight. "You'll come up too, right Mom?"
Tears gather in her eyes then for an entirely different reason and her throat constricts with emotion. "Of course, Henry," she manages.
Henry takes off at a run then, racing up the stairs. He flips the lights on as he goes, causing both women to blink in surprise. Emma offers Regina a smile as she pulls off her vest. Regina pulls her own vest off, handing it over to Emma, but continuing to hold onto the gun.
"You gonna keep the gun?" Emma asks teasingly.
"Maybe." Regina replies.
Emma shrugs and heads for the living room and the bag of supplies. Regina follows and finally hands over the gun after Emma has everything else put away. She watches the blonde, trying to think of something to say, but the words just won't come.
"Emma! Mom! I'm ready!" Henry's voice floats down the stairs.
They move almost in unison as they go up the stairs and into Henry's room. He's settled into his bed, the black clothes from earlier still on. Emma waits for Regina to reprimand him for sleeping in his clothes, but the words never come.
Emma settles awkwardly on the edge of the bed, totally unsure of what to do in this situation. It's not like she's ever tucked a kid in before or ever really been tucked in herself. She has vague memories of her first foster mother tucking her in - the feel of the blankets as they wrapped around her, the press of a kiss to her forehead - but after those first few years, tucking in was a luxury reserved for kids who actually had families and weren't in the system.
She fiddles with the blankets under her hands until Henry breaks the silence. "Tonight was really awesome, Emma." He smiles at her.
"It was pretty fun, huh?" Emma smiles back. "It was nice to have people to play with again." She glances up at Regina and offers her a smile too.
Henry opens his mouth, but Emma already knows the question that is going to come out of it. "Listen, kid," she starts, resting her hand on his knee and giving it a slight squeeze, "there's a pretty important case that's come up at the station and I really need to focus on it for a while. So I'm not sure how much I'll be able to see you for a while, okay?"
Henry frowns just a bit and again, Regina feels a stab of guilt. "It's Mrs. Nolan, isn't it?" The little boy asks.
"Yeah." Emma nods. "She's missing and I really need to find her, because she matters to a lot of people in this town. She matters to her husband and she matters to her friends," Emma's eyes meet Regina's for a moment, "and I want to get her back safe and sound to them. Do you understand?"
Henry looks between Emma and Regina before he nods. "Yeah. And if anyone can find her, it's you, Emma."
Emma's throat closes at the conviction in his voice. He's so sure and she's so unsure. It's weird having someone believe in you when you don't even believe in yourself.
"Thanks, kid." She whispers, leaning forward and kissing his forehead. "Sweet dreams."
Then she stands and slides the covers up a bit, so that they're covering him more.
"Night, Emma." He calls. She offers a small smile and wave to both him and Regina before she slips out of the room.
Henry looks up at Regina, who's watching Emma go. "It'll be alright, Mom." He says and Regina turns to look at him with a question on her face. "Emma will find Mrs. Nolan. Don't worry."
Regina can't answer him, can't speak about those things, not without the guilt strangling her words, so she moves over and readjusts his covers, kissing his forehead too. "Good night, Henry."
She's almost out the door when Henry calls out to her, his voice already fading with sleep. "Night, Mom. Thanks for tonight. Love you."
She manages to make it downstairs before the tears overtake her. It's been so long since Henry has spoken those words to her - and even longer since he meant them - that she can't stop the flood of emotion they bring up.
Her son finally loves her again and she knows that it's because of Emma. The woman that she's been trying to drive out of town, the woman that she's been hell bent on destroying, is the reason that Henry can look at her and not see a monster or a villain anymore. Because Emma doesn't see her that way - even if Regina has given her nothing but reasons to.
She glances at the television to see the video game console still set up and then at the floor where the bag of laser tag equipment has been left behind. And she thinks of Emma who she would bet is on her way back to the station now, determined more than ever to find Kathryn. To find Kathryn for her, because she knows that the woman is Regina's friend.
Her father's words echo in her head as she thinks of all the things she's done. "I believe, given the chance, we can find happiness - together." She'd had her chance then and she'd destroyed it, killed the thing she loved most to enact a curse that hadn't lived up to its promises.
Ever since that day when everything had fallen apart she had allowed the darkness to take over and had sabotaged every possible chance she ever had at happiness. She'd never thought about the price she was paying, until now. Now when she'd been given a second chance at happiness with her son.
It was more than just video games and laser tag. It was a chance for a real, true loving relationship, just like she'd always wanted. With Henry and Emma's help, she could push the darkness away and become just Regina. She could be happy.
Swallowing hard she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number. "Is she still unconscious? Good. Take her to the woods and leave her there. Do not question my orders, just do as I say."
She snapped her phone shut. In the morning - if not before - Emma would go looking for Kathryn and she would find her, injured but alive in the woods. When she woke up, Kathryn would only remember the car accident. Everyone would assume she was trying to get help and had passed out in the woods. Emma would be the hero and the case would be solved, freeing her up to spend more time with Henry and - if the past was anything to go on - her.
Mills vs. Swan would continue, until perhaps one day it would morph into Mills and Swan. And at the moment, with her son asleep upstairs, and memories of the time she had spent with Emma and Henry together floating through her head, that didn't sound like such a bad prospect at all.