In my Once Upon A Time fanfic “These Dreams,” Emma becomes the victim of a magical object that sends her into the dreamscape, running in and out of the dreams of everyone in Storybrooke. The very first dream she falls into is Regina’s, and I couldn’t resist riffing on one of my favorite movies….
The first thing Emma was conscious of after the initial wave of vertigo, was the feel of the carpet beneath her fingers.
Wait – carpet? There was no carpet on the Jolly. She lifted her head to look around and didn’t have time to duck before the man walked right into her, shouting a rather colorful curse word. Emma scrambled up to her feet in total confusion.
What the hell? Where was she? She looked slowly around at what appeared to be an office. Rows of cubicles were on either side of her, and a Starbuck’s cup lay overturned on the floor at her feet.
“I don’t understand,” she said under her breath, her eyes wide. She looked over at the man and realized with a start who it was.
“Robin!” She reached out, grabbing his arm and he gave her a dirty look as he pulled his arm away.
“Stop!” he snarled. “You’ve already made me spill one, and now look at my shirt!”
Emma glanced down at his white shirt, now partially covered in coffee.
“What were you doing just laying on the floor like that?” he demanded. She started to sputter an answer. “Nevermind,” he snapped, holding up a hand. “I have to go.” He took off down the aisle, stopping to speak with David, who sat two cubicles away before the two of them walked into an office at the end and shut the door. Emma stood helplessly in the aisle, not entirely sure what to do. A few moments later, David emerged from the office, wearing Robin’s stained shirt.
Ruby – with her hair up and a pair of glasses perched on her nose – stood partially up to look over her cubicle wall at her. “You’d better get to your desk before Ms. Mills gets here,” she cautioned. “She’s due any second.”
The coworker gave her an alarmed look at the mention of Regina’s first name.
“Oh – okay…” Emma glanced around, totally at a loss, until her eyes landed on the nameplate outside the next cubicle.
A frown creased her brow. “Where the hell am I?” she mumbled, walking slowly toward the cube and cautiously taking a seat. A few seconds later, all conversation in the office stopped so abruptly, she thought she’d gone deaf for a second. The door opened and in walked Regina, striding down the aisle in a determined way, a no-nonsense look upon her face. Everyone seemed absurdly busy all around her but no one seemed to get a second of attention from her. She opened the door to the office at the end of the hallway and stepped inside.
Emma turned back to look at her desk, still not even close to sure what was happening to her. She’d been on the Jolly with Killian, then she grabbed that weird ball and now she was here.
Was the ball like a magic bean? A portal of some kind?
No. She shook her head. A portal would take her away from everyone. Regina was here, and so were other people from Storybrooke. No Killian, though – at least not that she could see.
She put her head in her hand. What in the hell was happening? She didn’t go back in time – Robin had certainly never worked in an office. Speaking of the bandit, he emerged, a bit breathless and somewhat frantic-eyed (but wearing a clean shirt), from Regina’s office and raced over to his cubicle, typing furiously in the computer.
An instant message bubble popped up on Emma’s screen, and she read its contents with incredulous eyes.
THE WITCH IS ON HER BROOM!
A split-second later, Regina emerged from her office, walking brusquely into an office at the opposite end of the floor, with Robin trailing after her. They closed the door, and before Emma could get out of her cube to try to get over and get a word with David, Regina and Robin emerged, talking in hushed tones as the door to the office behind them flew open with such force, it hit the wall and ricocheted off.
“You poisonous bitch!” Leroy stood in the aisle way, gripping a sheaf of papers. He looked more than a little bizarre in a business suit. “You can’t fire me! Do you think I don’t see what you’re doing here?”
“Leroy, don’t do it…” Regina warned in a sing-song tone.
“Just because you have no semblance of a life outside of this office, you think that you can treat all of us like your own personal slaves,” he fumed.
“You know what? I feel sorry for you. Because you know what you’re gonna have on your deathbed? Nothing and no one!”
“Uh, excuse me – ” Emma stood up at her cubicle, ignoring the stares of all her Storybrooke coworkers. “Sorry to interrupt, but can someone tell me what’s going on here?”
Regina’s head swung toward her and her voice was heavy with incredulity. “You dare to interrupt? Can you not see I’m in the middle of something, here?”
“Regina – ”
Regina’s eyebrows popped up nearly into her hairline. “That’s a bit informal, don’t you think? It’s Miss Mills. And you’re fired.”
“You can’t fire her!” Leroy shouted.
“Not another word!” Regina cautioned. “If you say one more word, Leroy, I’ll have security escort you out and Robin will video it all and post it on that website.”
“Youtube,” Robin added helpfully.
“Listen, I don’t really care about the job – ” Emma said.
Regina gave her a slow, scathing look. “You don’t care about the job?”
“No. I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on here.”
“Nolan!” Regina called out.
“Yes, Ms. Mills?” David stood up in his cubicle.
“Please help Miss Swan pack her desk and then escort her outside.”
David nodded. “Will do.”
The phone rang at Robin’s desk, interrupting Regina’s tirade. He picked it up, said a few words, and replaced it in the cradle. “You’re wanted upstairs,” he said to Regina.
She gave him a brusque nod. “Come and get me in ten minutes.” She looked over at Leroy. “And take out the garbage in the meantime.” She walked back to her office with Robin in tow, and closed the door.