A/N: It's finally here! My first multichapter Swan Queen story! For anyone who STILL doesn't know, this story is my own 3B, and it draws on many of the earlier (and maybe some later) spoilers about the second half of the season, all with my own Swan Queen twist. This chapter is quite short, the rest are a bit longer. Updates will be every Monday. I really hope you guys like it! Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts. Even a full sentence or two means a lot to us writers :)
It took a moment to place the foreign voice that chanted her name with unfounded familiarity. Emma's jaw clenched when she recognized it, her fist diving urgently into her purse. The creep who'd shown up at her door that morning was following her now. Just what she needed, Emma thought. Some lunatic chasing her down the street when she's already late for work.
"I have pepper spray!" she announced. Emma whirled around, holding the canister up to the man's eye level with intent. He narrowed the distance between them, hands held up in surrender. Emma noted that while one hand was bare, the other was encased in black and appeared oddly rigid.
"I apologize for the kiss, milady," he offered demurely. "It was bad form. I promise it won't happen again. I shan't lay a finger on you without your explicit consent."
"You're damn right you won't!" Emma shouted, taking little comfort in his sentiment post factum. "Just who the hell are you? And why are are you stalking me?"
"The name's Killian Jones. You generally seemed to prefer my more colorful moniker, 'Hook'. However," he held up the stiff, gloved hand as if that should mean something to Emma, but didn't elaborate.
"And you're harassing me because?"
"I told you," he replied calmly, as though talking her off a ledge, "your family needs you."
"And I already told you," Emma countered, doing her best to appear disimpassioned by his persistence, "my son is the only family I've ever had. You've got the wrong girl."
"Emma Swan," Killian recited, as if reading her name off a file folder. "Found on the roadside in Maine as an infant. Grew up an orphan, to become a thief. Claims to have been in love only once, by the same man who fathered her son and sent her to prison for his own crimes."
Instantly unnerved by his intimate knowledge of her life, Emma pressed the pepper spray closer to his face. She cherished her privacy, and more importantly her son's. Emma didn't like the idea of anyone rifling through her semi sordid past, let alone a perfect stranger with a shady agenda.
"You could have learned all that from the news papers," she hissed angrily. "Public records."
"I thought the love bit was quite the personal touch," Killian shrugged.
Emma narrowed her eyes, refusing to take the bait. "Lucky guess."
"Very well," Killian sighed. "I'll make you a deal. I'll assert something no one else could possibly know about you. If I'm wrong, I'll leave you in peace – for good. However, if I'm correct, you must return home with me."
Emma chortled humorlessly. This guy couldn't be serious.
"That's a pretty steep bargain from a total stranger," she bit sarcastically.
"I promise to make my claim worthy of the wager."
Emma was curious despite herself. Her arm relaxed a little, though remained poised. She had a knack for detecting lies. Whether it was the truth or not, this man clearly believed Emma was a vital element in a mission of great importance. Far from sold on the notion, she figured she might get a better idea of what she was dealing with if she humored him a little.
"Where is 'home' exactly?" she inquired noncommittally, and she could swear his face lit up with her apparent interest.
"Storybrooke, Maine," he declared, almost proudly.
"Storybrooke? Really?" Emma tried not to roll her eyes at the name. It sounded so very quaint. Quaint was definitely not her cup of tea, and Emma imagined she wouldn't be much a town like 'Storybrooke's brand of choice either.
"Do we have a bargain?" Killian pressed eagerly.
Emma frowned, giving a sharp nod. "Lets hear it," she ordered, having no intention of going anywhere with this mad man, no matter what he said.
"You've had a happy life since the birth of your son."
"Try three months later when I was released from prison and got him back from social services," Emma scoffed. "Not impressed so far."
"Let me finish," Killian continued with certitude. "With him, you have the life you always wanted. Yet, for the past year alone, you've felt that something isn't right. Like there's a piece missing, or you've forgotten something of great importance. You know that if you could just ignore this feeling, your future with the boy would be a happy one. However," he paused, pinning her with a frighteningly penetrating stare, "you can never seem to shake the pervasive thought that everything you know has been a lie."
The man's conjecture had visibly shaken Emma. He was right, on every count. The words he had spoken echoed in perfect succession with the thoughts that haunted her every single day and night. Thoughts that she had never shared with anyone, not even her son.
"How could you possibly know that?" Emma snapped.
"Regina," he replied simply.
The name struck something inside of Emma. It was like a jolt of excitement, or maybe anticipation. Something somehow familiar, in a way that nothing else had been in almost a year. Then, like a crack of lightening that illuminates the blackened sky, the feeling flickered and disappeared.
"Who the hell is Regina?" she asked sharply, still rattled but more curious than before. The moment had been brief, but Emma wanted that feeling back. She needed it.
"Keep your end of the deal," Killian replied, as if knowing she'd never really intended to, "and I swear to you, you shall receive your answers. Not only to that question, but to all the others that you've dared not even speak."
Slowly, Emma lowered the pepper spray. This was crazy, she told herself. To even consider listening to this man, it was insane. She needed answers though, for her and her son, and there wasn't exactly a line of people offering them. Just this one man. It was ludicrous, but Emma was desperate.
She felt guilty being dissatisfied by her charmed life. She had a model son, a beautiful home, a steady job. She had eleven years of happy memories, until this emptiness had appeared out of nowhere one year ago. It burned in her chest, spreading and leaving a yawning chasm in its wake. She couldn't keep living pretending nothing was wrong.
Emma grit her teeth, hoping she wasn't making the worst mistake of her life as she ground out her answer. "When do we leave?"