Here. Have a super short ficlet thing that I couldn’t get out of my head because I love Pongo and I love Regina and Pongo and I couldn’t help myself.
She feeds him when she thinks no one is looking. Sneaks him food from her plate as he sits under their table, silent save for the soft whining he makes when she takes too long. And she knows, she absolutely knows, that she shouldn’t be indulging him — but she can’t help it. Sometimes, he’ll move until his head rests in her lap, and if she bows her head, she can see his nose peaking out from under the table. It’s their little secret, something that’s meant just for her and just for him and it’s been that way for years.
Archie knows, of course. Pongo disappears as soon as he walks through the door and his doctorate may be forged but that doesn’t make him an idiot. His dog leaves him only in favour of one other person, and he doesn’t reappear until she’s gone.
The first time it happened, he’d watched in amazement as the cold and otherwise aloof Mayor stiffened at the Dalmatian’s presence before a tentative hand fell on to his head and nails scratched behind his ear. It was the first time Archie had ever seen Regina look content, and he was the last person who wanted to ruin that. So he’d turned his head, and pretended not to notice, even when Regina had left and his dog had returned to his side with syrup sticking to his fur.
Not many people notice, but Granny does. And it’s the two of them who share a smile when Regina walks through the door and suddenly the diner is dog free, or so it appears. Granny adds an extra pancake to Regina’s plate every morning, an extra strip of chicken to her salad during lunch and brings a bowl of fries that Regina would never ordinarily touch that is mysteriously empty come clean up.
He sits by her feet during their meetings, sometimes even by her side half in her lap and she never seems to mind. He calms her down, something Archie is quick to notice and so whilst Pongo usually isn’t allowed on the furniture, he makes an exception for the Queen. She’s an animal lover, which Archie already knew but it was one thing knowing something and another thing seeing it.
It’s not until after Robin and Marion and that whole mess that people start to notice. And they only notice because Pongo snaps his teeth at the thief when he gets too close, crawls out from beneath the table and on to the seat beside Regina, stands over her like he’s her personal guard and it has Archie hiding a smile behind a cough. Granny has no such decorum. Her laugh is full blown, from the gut, and she’s leaning on the counter with a red face as the otherwise docile Dalmatian bares it’s teeth and growls. Regina’s eyebrows are raised significantly and she does her best to ignore both Robin and his newly resurrected wife by focusing on the dog in her lap. Her hand falls on to his neck and she scratches at a spot only she seems capable of finding ( Archie’s tried. Believe him, he’s tried. But no matter how long he spends patting and scratching and rubbing at the dogs head, he can’t seem to find it. ) and Pongo relaxes, but barely.
They’re good friends. And it makes sense. That’s how Pongo’s name became Henry’s first word, and that’s how a tennis ball found it’s home in the bottom draw of Regina’s desk. Archie falls ill one weekend, and he needs someone to care for his dog. The first name he brings up in his contacts is Regina’s, and though she says something about babysitting and didn’t the Charming’s pass that message around, he knows she’ll take him anyway and he thanks her quietly, to which she falls silent before muttering ‘you’re welcome’ and hanging up.
He’s not sure what happened during that weekend, but when he’s better and healthier and he can finally breathe without sounding like he’s about to hack up his own lung, he appears on Regina’s doorstep and finds a very smug looking dog, a very bitter Robin and a smirking Regina. He doesn’t ask, but he does watch as Pongo nudges Regina’s knee with his head and barks at Robin, who glares in return, before trotting off and pulling Archie with him.
"We’re not getting a dog," is all he hears before the door is closed behind him and Archie rushes off to the diner with Pongo in toe, and Granny’s laughter could be heard from the kitchen not five minutes later.