The New Storybrooke

Chapter 1: Tick Tock

Tick

Emma shuffled papers about her office in an effort to drown out shrill noise coming from the corner. Leroy was yelling in the corner with complaints about his accommodations.

"Then next time you should remember to bring a pillow," she mocked. Of course he was the only one who frequented the cell. He was the only one that ever entered that cell.

"I pay taxes, sister," he argued, "they should go to something besides lining your pockets."

Emma rolled her eyes. "Right, because I'm rolling in the dough," she replied. Granted, the office wasn't bad. After all, the paint wasn't peeling off the walls like her a few of her old foster homes, but it was hardly luxurious.

"Oh, please," he said, "you live in a mansion."

Emma bristled. The topic still was a sore spot in her personal life. "Not mine." She'd been there for what felt like years and still couldn't quite get settled.

"Doesn't matter," he stated. "The fact is that you live there now, so you can afford better pillows."

"Shut up."

"Can't change the truth, sister," he said with a mocking sneer.

A clipboard flew across the room. "Can it, dwarf!"

"Whoa," Leroy called out, "and they say I have anger issues."

Emma groaned with frustration. His smirk was just so irritating.

Fuck this.

She left without looking back. The man could stew alone in the fish tank for a while as she went out for patrol. It was the perfect way to clear her head.

Tock

The smell of bacon hit her before the door opened. Ruby was waiting sitting on stool looking absolutely bored. The waitress immediately perked up at her entrance. The only other customer was Killian Jones.

"Sheriff," he cheerily called out, "Fancy meeting you here."

"Killian," she acknowledged the town's resident pirate. It was a label that naturally evolved from the fact that he had a hook instead of a hand, and he lived on a boat. Emma had seen prosthetics on some of her former bounties. None of them were hooks like that, and all of them were far more practical. It was almost as if he came straight out of a fairytale.

"What," he asked incredulously. "Not even a hello?"

"Coffee," Emma ordered before turning towards Killian. "Hellos are for people I like."

"C'mon, you like me." He shot her a smug smirk.

"I like people who don't cause trouble."

"Me, trouble? Never," Killian replied with a charming smile, as if that could substitute for innocence.

"Claims the man, I found in a bar brawl with Leroy last week."

"He insulted my mother." To be honest, it may have been a comment on how bright the lights were. He was quite drunk at the time.

"You tried to stab him with a bottle." She recalled walking in on the scene, which had thankfully not escalated to a blood bath quite yet.

"It was a fair fight between men. Besides, at least I didn't gut him with my hook." It was certainly an optimistic point of view.

"Weren't you only staying in town for a week? Why are you still here?" she accused.

"Gets lonely on my boat," he said with a shrug. "I'm hoping a certain beauty would join me for the rest of my journey, the town sheriff perhaps or even a lovely waitress." He winked at Ruby, who smirked in return.

She rolled her eyes, obviously tired of this exchange. "What do you want, Killian?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "As a matter of fact, I do have a small problem."

"Of course," she said.

"You make it seem like I only speak to you when I want something."

"You do only speak to me when you want something. Now, what's your problem?"

His demeanor immediately changed. "Mr. Gold has my pocket watch. I'd like you to get it back."

"Why would Gold take your watch?" The man was a bastard, but not a thief, at least, not in the view of the law.

Killian laughed awkwardly. "I took out a loan and used it as collateral."

Emma casually took a sip of her coffee. Good, there was clearly a simple solution. "Pay back your loan then."

"I did!" he shouted. "The bastard's keeping it as interest. Please, Sheriff," he begged. "The watch is the last keepsake from my brother. At least speak to him."

She debated whether or not to help. Gold was a pain-in-the-ass when he was friendly and much worse when he wasn't. Still, her inner conscience screamed louder than her selfishness. Damn her better nature. "Fine," she conceded, "but you'll owe me for this.

Tick

The pawn shop was always filled with useless knickknacks. Emma seriously wondered if anyone bothered to buy this stuff. Then again, the shop seemed more like front for a money laundering scheme, though there wasn't anything illegal enough in Storybrooke to warrant such an operation.

Mr. Gold looked up as she entered the little shop. "Sheriff," he greeted.

"Gold," she returned.

"What brings you into my establishment?"

"I'm here about a pocket watch."

"Ah," he said. "I take it that our resident pirate has enlisted your help. Well, I'll have you know I did nothing illegal in obtaining it."

"You never do," she admitted.

"Then what are you here for?" he asked, "To negotiate on his behalf?" Then he smirked, amused by sudden thought. "Don't tell me you'll pay for his debt. You can certainly afford it."

"What? No," Emma replied. "I just want to ask if you can take anything else. The watch is a keepsake from his dead brother."

"My dear," said Neil with a patronizing voice. "The only other thing of value he possesses is that boat. Unless you prefer him homeless, this watch is staying with me."

Emma sighed. Of course that was the only other option. "No," she replied. "How about you don't sell it while he tries to muster up the cash?"

"I can't guarantee that. At the rate he's earning money, I'll be stuck with this watch for eternity. This is a business. I have to make a profit." Something in him felt extremely guilty about disappointing her. It was as if he wronged her in another life. So he decided to at least give her something. "Look, I'll hold onto it for a month. If he can't pay me back by then, it will go on sale. Does that work for you?"

She was somewhat confused. The pawn shop owner had never been that cooperative before, or was she thinking of someone else? "Umm…" she replied, "yeah. Thanks."

Tock

Jesus has a penis carved into his chest.

Emma gaped at it for a moment when she arrived at the dais. She had expected something more serious given the way the nun was panicking over the phone. Well, at least no one was hurt, not physically anyway.

"This is blasphemy!" screamed Mother Superior.

It was also hilarious. Not that Emma would ever tell her. She was desperately fighting the urge to laugh as she stared at the crude drawing.

"You must do something about this," demanded the nun.

Emma shrugged. "I'll try," she said. There was little she could do without knowing the culprit's exact location.

"Sheriff, this is serious!"

"I know, but it's not like I can go searching every crevice in town for that boy." Of course she knew who did it. This was a small town after all.

"But I expect you to try."

Emma was about to retort when her cell phone rang.

This time Emma was not laughing.

The tip of the clock tower now peaked past what was best described as a woman's privates made of Christmas lights. Leave it to teenagers to be preoccupied by phallic symbols and sex.

It was fun an all, except now the local businesses expected Emma to take it down. The normal workers refused to come after hours, a luxury the Sheriff didn't have.

Well, being the good natured citizens that they were, everyone helped out to disassemble the offensive display. Unfortunately for them, tearing down the thing was much harder than it looked. Emma couldn't figure out how some parts were even put up in the first place. She was pretty sure accessing those locations required defying the laws of nature.

She was hanging on a ledge when her fingers slipped causing her body to swing outwards. "Fuck!" she cursed while her left hand desperately clung on for life. Peter Pan was definitely paying for this.

Five hours and ten near death incidents later, Emma finally finished ripping out the lights and wires that supported them. She climbed down the ladder a final time. The others had already gone home and left with a quick wave before leaving.

Thank God no one else tried to call–

Fuck

She was supposed to call home if she was going to be late, and she was definitely late.

Tick

Emma stood at the door dreading what would greet her. Those damn kids caused more issues in her personal life than in the town. She contemplated for a moment on entering the home at all. But all her thinking was wasted when the porch light lit and the door opened.

Regina glared at her. "You're late."

"Didn't have a choice," replied Emma as she stomped into the house, boots and all.

Regina's mouth twitched as she watched the faint traces of dirt tracked into the house. "You should have called."

"Forgot," was the mumbled reply.

"That's hardly an excuse."

"Look," said Emma as she held her hands up in surrender, "can we get into this later. I'm tired, and just want to eat and go to bed." She maneuvered around the brunette and headed for the kitchen.

Regina stubbornly followed. "When would that be?" She hissed in frustration. They never properly talked. It was always later. "You're always doing this. Henry even asked where you were tonight."

Emma stopped in her tracks. Henry, of course she would bring him up. As if she didn't already feel like an ass. "I'm sorry, alright?" She shouted. "I don't like it any more than you do, but I'm the sheriff, and I have a job to do."

"Really?" asked the brunette. "It seems like you enjoy your job more than you do your family."

Lately, it felt like they fought every night. Emma couldn't seem to remember a time when they didn't. "You think I enjoy staying out chasing after teenage boys and rounding up drunks instead of eating dinner with my wife and son?"

"I expect you to at least to call to let us know that you'd be late, so we don't have to sit and worry."

"And I'm really sorry about that." Emma hung her head in dejection. She didn't know if she could ever get used to this, a family. She was a runner, always was, but this – this idea of having someone worry, of relying on someone else – was overwhelming.

Something in her voice set Regina off. Whether it was an undertone of fear or the lingering air of sincere regret, it made her think that perhaps Emma was not as invested in their relationship as she believed. "You can be sorry from the couch." She hissed.

It made Emma frown. That over-luxurious back breaker made a shitty bed. "C'mon, Regina," she begged, "that's not fair. I said I was sorry."

"And your apology is why you're not sleeping in the car." Her shoulders slumped imperceptibly. "This isn't the first time, Emma." It was almost a whisper.

The blonde moved to grab Regina's hand, but missed as she got distracted by a glimpse of cropped brown hair in patterned navy blue pajamas.

Was Henry smiling?

It couldn't be. Children don't smile when their parents fight.

Before she knew it, her normally tidy wife returned with a set of blankets and haphazardly threw it on the couch. Well, at least Regina didn't want her to freeze to death.

Emma could only sigh as she watched the brunette walk up the stairs as the microwave finished its beeping.

Tock

The night was uncomfortably cold, though not for any physical reason. The bed felt too empty. She had yet to fall asleep, though the clock read three minutes past midnight. Their argument was hours ago, and Regina immediately retired to bed straight after. It didn't help. No matter how much she avoided thinking about their fight, or the fact that Emma was not beside her, her mind always wandered back to the dreaded subject.

When had she become so needy?

Part of her hated it. Henry was supposed to be enough. His biological mother was never even a concern. Now here she was, unable to sleep without that warm body by her side.

Regina groaned in misery as she got up from the bed.

The living room was quiet except for Emma's even breathing. The brunette watched her for a little before the blonde spoke.

"What do you want?"

Regina blinked with surprise. "How did you –"

"I heard you come down," Emma interrupted.

"So you weren't asleep," said Regina. A part of her was happy. Perhaps she had the same effect on Emma as the blonde on her.

Emma sat up. "It's not like this thing was meant to double as a bed." She gestured towards the couch, and then stretched her neck to emphasize her discomfort.

Oh, well that's disappointing. Regina awkwardly stood there. Now she felt offended. To think, she was prepared to offer an olive branch moments ago.

The blonde sighed. "Why did you come down, Regina?"

Regina was effectively snapped from her thoughts. "I was going to invite you back to bed, but seeing as how you're fine. I think I'll just leave you here."

Emma immediately jumped to action. "Wait!" She was immediately hushed. Henry was still sleeping after all. "C'mon, Regina, I want to sleep in a real bed." Well, they did have a guest room, but a bed wasn't the point. "Besides, you can't fall asleep without me," she sagely finished.

This made Regina grit her teeth. Rather than respond, her hurt pride made her turn around to head back up the stairs.

"Wait, Regina," Emma begged, "Don't be unreasonable. I already said I was sorry. What else do you want?"

This made the brunette pause mid step before the stairs. Yes, there was a reason she came downstairs in the first place. "I want to know that you want this family." She focused her eyes on the step in front of her.

Emma stood up and wrapped her arms around Regina. "You know I do. I love you both."

"You certainly do not act like it."

"I know I should've called, but it doesn't mean I don't care about you."

Regina gripped Emma's arm. "I know being the sheriff isn't easy. I just…" She sighed, "I'm sorry. I overreacted." She leaned into the hug. "I just wish you could show it more often."

Emma hummed in agreement. She never thought about it, but holding Regina like this was really nice. She felt disappointed when the brunette broke away.

"What are you waiting for?" demanded Regina.

Emma's eyes snapped to the hand in front of her. She smiled when she reached out to have Regina intertwined their fingers. Right, this was how things were supposed to be. A family wasn't so bad.

As they fell asleep, somewhere in the distance the clock tower struck.

Author's Notes: I originally wanted to finish this story before the mid-season premiere, but only got the first chapter. Review! I'd like to know if this project is worth investing my time in.