ruby beet

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.

—  Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
Donuts ~ RedQueen Cop!AU

Title: Donuts

Fandom: Once Upon A Time

Pairing: Red Queen

Rating: It won’t kill you

Summary: Regina and Ruby talk over some baked goods.

~~~

Ruby shut the door and grabbed the box off the roof of the car. Regina was waiting on a stoop, sitting with one fishnetted leg mindlessly bending back and forth and back and forth in boredom. As she got closer Ruby tried to get a read on the situation; the cop side of her said nothing was wrong, but instinct said something wasn’t right either. Regina was usually on the corner - her corner - trading her wares, or had to peel away from the other girls who still were wary of Ruby and her wares before being able to speak. Tonight she was… just by herself, and a couple streets off the main drag. Ruby glanced back down the street, sure nothing was gonna jump her but still unsure of things nonetheless.

“Heyya pup, what’cha you got there?” Regina greeted, her bored look perking up when Ruby was within speaking distance. She looked the same, her clothes just straddling the border of tacky and sexy. No bruises. No worried spark in her eye warning her to be on guard. Still…

“Donuts,” Ruby said, opening the box to show them off. “Figured you and the girls might be snackish.” Regina snickered, nabbing a pink frosted treat. “What?”

“Oh, just glad to see you do fill some of the cop stereotypes. What, no coffee,” Regina said, grinning at her earned Ruby glare before biting in. “Oohmmm, you went to the place on Drury Lane, good choice.” Ruby smiled, taking up a cinnamon swirl and sitting a space away and step up from Regina. They sat like that for a while, just enjoying the closeness without words, one of the few times Ruby could think of Regina not heavily lacing every sentence with innuendo.

“You may have to help me polish these off you know,” Regina quipped, reaching for a second. “It’s just me tonight.”

“I noticed. Pretty off usual beat too.” She just put it out there, hoping she wouldn’t need to prod too much.

Regina sucked in air through her teeth, looking out over nothing. “Yeah, well, I’m not great company right now, according to some.”

“What and who,” Ruby instinctively felt for her service piece, a rush of righteous anger coming to her; a move not unnoticed by Regina.

“Hold your horses there officer, nothing you could do anything about,” she said, putting a hand over Ruby’s to hold her off. Ruby’s breath caught until the well maintained manicured fingers finally glided off her own.

“And why not?” Regina said nothing, seeming to mull things in her head. It was then Ruby noticed the tired look around her eyes that even heavy makeup couldn’t hide, the slightly dinged fade to her clothes like she’d slept in them a couple times. Instincts were right; they were always right.

It was another moment before Regina spoke. “You hit the Pyg Brothers’ place last week, yeah?”

Ruby blinked, remembering the raid. “Yeah, The House of Straw. Big illegal gambling house takedown, plus 20 pure kilos and a small armory of unregistereds hidden in the warehouse. Why?”

“Was it true you were the one to blow him away?”

“Blow away, do people still say that?” Ruby couldn’t tell if she was avoiding the question or not, but figured it was leading to something. “Yeah, unfortunately, it was me. Fat bastard holed up in a back office, and drew on me when we finally busted through. The place was appropriately named, the walls in that place were thin as hell. Had to deal with stupid amounts of paper work and his two stupider brothers threatening to sue the force for ‘wrongful death’.” Regina stayed quiet, rocking back on her heels a bit. “Why, what’s that to do with you?”

“Word on the street is you got the scoop to move on 'em from me, since I was there just a few hours before.” She glanced over at the officer. “Nothing like that, they were celebrating some stupid haul or something and wanted to ‘party’, so me and some girls were called over. We did our thing, got paid in cash and not coke,” Regina spat the words, she hated ‘other forms of currency’, “and were gone. Then you hit. So, apparently, now I’m the narc of Library Town.” She met Ruby’s startled but pissed look with one of bemusement, sadness and acceptance of her own. “Didn’t you know pup? I’m your girl.”

Ruby glared at the - former? – Queen of the streets, not angry (well, yes, very angry) but definitely not happy. On one hand, her pickpocket CI wasn’t known, so Abu held up his end of things and wasn’t going to end up in some rolled up rug. On the other, a frie- an associ- an aquient- a friend was being blamed for something she didn’t have a hand in and it was apparently affecting her work.

“So you being here is…”

“Punishment. I got bigger dues to pay this week, and next week, and the next week. Prove I’m not just on the take and waiting to turn everyone in.” Regina snorted, standing to pace a few steps. She’d laugh if she didn’t trust herself not to cry.

Ruby pulled her knees to her chest, studying her denim knees. “So why still be here? With me, ain’t that more trouble?”

“Bah,” Regina waved that off, “I’ll make it, I’m still leagues above Cora no matter what she says. ‘Sides,” she sat down, right next to a suddenly very aware of proximity Ruby, “I like ya. You bring me cop food.” She stroked Ruby’s chin, soft fingers tracing a strong jaw.

Ruby stood quickly, to get breathing air between her and Regina or because she needed to go soon she wasn’t sure, but the second was the excuse she was gonna use. “Well, they’re wrong. And I’m glad you were gone by then, it got ugly. I wouldn’t want you hurt.”

Regina placed a hand over her heart, pouting her lips out. “Aw, is my little pup going all mama wolf over little ole me?” Her joking smile slides just a bit when she notices Ruby pulling out her wallet and leafing through the bills.

“Damn right,” Ruby remarks, pulling money out and returning the wallet to its back pocket.

“Com’on Red,” Regina stood, sauntering closer, “You know I’d never charge you.” She leans in closer so only Ruby would hear. “I didn’t last time.”

Ruby instantly turned beet red, nearly dropping the folded bills to the ground. “We don’t talk about that,“ she said under her breath. Her moment of weakness. Of passion. Of want, for her, for contact and for endless repeats.

You don’t,” the Queen said, having regained her flirty pull over the officer. She stepped back anyway. “I however, enjoy it quite well.” An equilibrium had been found apparently, and the cloud that Ruby felt over Regina was lightened. Not gone, but she knew that it’d pass quicker than if she hadn’t shown up. She put up a game face; time to return to duty.

“For you,” Officer Lucas said, presenting the money to Regina, her tone stating she was back on the clock and off to work as she walked back towards her car. “You can keep the donuts.”

Regina quickly counted through what she’d been gifted, then recounted, stared at the amount, then recounted again; Ruby had finally done something to stun the street Queen, turning to look at the retreating officer. “There’s like five bills here?”

“Well yeah,” Ruby called back, not stopping or turning around fully, but enough that Regina could see the profile of smile on her face. “I gotta watch out for my girl after all.”