Regina tries to woo HG with apples.
Shipping like FedEx.
“Did you know the Honeycrisp tree is the most vigorous and hardy of all apple trees? It can survive temperatures as low as forty below and keep growing. It can weather any storm. I have one that I’ve tended to since I was a little girl. And to this day, I have yet to taste anything more delicious than the fruit it offers.”
HG Wells stared at the shining red fruit that Regina held out to her, a quizzical smile playing around the corners of her mouth.
“That’s very kind of you,” she said slowly, reaching for the apple and turning it around slightly in front of her eyes. ”But I’ve always found the Honeycrisp a little…well, tart.”
The smirk that spread over her lips was positively sinful. And she could tell from the way that Regina’s features froze for a second that her inference was clear. Message not only received, but wholly understood.
Good, Helena thought. It would possibly behoove Regina Mills to know that she wasn’t the only one who could play games. Except that, when it came to adhering to the rules, Helena was certain that Regina wasn’t expecting them to be changed. Nobody ever did.
Nobody except HG Well, anyway.
“I can assure you,” Regina answered rather haughtily, “that my apples are deliciously, magically sweet.” Her voice lingered over the word, drawing it out like a seduction. Her gaze met Helena’s and held for longer than it should have. Longer than either of them were really expecting it to.
A prescient danger crackled in the air between them before Helena let out a faint laugh and shrugged with assumed nonchalance.
“Oh, I’m sure they are,” she murmured. It was gratifying, she thought, to see how Regina shifted slightly, somewhat rattled. Even more so to know that she hadn’t lost her touch, so to speak. Because in a charm offensive, played out in the battles of will and power, HG was confident in her own abilities; she always had been. And the greater the enemy, the greater her will to divert, displace and disarm them.
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy them on your drive home,” Regina said, proffering the basket in her arms.
“Actually, I think I’m going to stay for a while,” Helena said in an offhand manner that drew a glimmer of a scowl from the Mayor.
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Regina stated blankly, meeting Helena’s gaze again, this time with dark intent in her eyes.
“All due respect, Madam Mayor,” Helena drew herself up a little, standing tall in front of Regina’s undisguised irritation, “the fact that you’ve now threatened me twice in the last twelve hours makes me want to stay more.”
“Since when were apples a threat?” Regina’s smile returned, brighter and more false than before.
Helena tilted her head onto one side and looked at the woman in front of her: impossibly beautiful, incredibly dangerous. Her instincts told her to run. Something far more pervasive told her to stay, intrigued by the possibilities that someone like Regina represented. Someone whose past might even be as dark as her own.
“Did you know that in ancient Greece offering an apple to a girl was seen as a proposal of marriage?” she asked, rather enjoying the expression of alarm that colored Regina’s features.
“Miss Wells, I really don’t think that - “
“Accepting it meant that she also accepted the proposal.” Helena leaned forwards, inclining her head and nodding towards the apple in her hand, as though she and Regina were sharing a secret as of yet unbeknown to them both. But HG was, if nothing else, rather adept at uncovering secrets - the things that people hid away and hoped nobody would ever unveil. It was, after all, her talent. One of the reasons that the Regents had initially approached her to work for the Warehouse.
Regina wasn’t smiling anymore. In fact, she was positively fuming, her eyes flinty and hard.
“Don’t underestimate me, Miss Wells,” she growled, taking a step closer to Helena. ”You have no idea what I’m capable of.” There was a certain pride to the lift of her chin, a challenge in the depths of her eyes. And Regina smiled again. When it came to dispatching unwelcome intruders, there was nobody more skilled than a queen who had once ruled with fire and magic.
But Helena Wells was never one to be threatened. Nor was she someone who took them lightly. So as she took a step closer to Regina, she was only too aware of the omens that such a threat might wind around her. But even as their gazes locked in silent attrition, HG was also aware of how intimate this had become; how Regina’s nearness wound itself around her, serpentine and hissing quietly at the back of her brain.
If she was honest with herself, it was a little exciting.
“Oh, my dear Madam Mayor,” she said in a low tone. ”Believe me, I’ve had many ideas about your…capabilities.”
Regina didn’t flinch. And HG found herself becoming impressed. This had the potential to become one of her most fascinating missions yet, if her early suspicions about Regina Mills were correct. And, judging from the flush that rose on the other woman’s neck, it seemed that Helena was just that.
She stepped back, satisfied with her assumptions, fingers closing around the edge of the door. And she remembered Kataranga and those endless games of chess, how he’d taught her that the way one played a game wasn’t always the most direct route to winning.
But it was definitely the most interesting, she reminded herself with a smile.
“But I’m not going anywhere,” she said, lifting the apple in front of Regina’s furious face. ”Your move, Madam Mayor.”
Then she turned, closing the door behind her.