A/N: I do not own or make anything from Once Upon a Time nor its characters etc.
14 Months Later
The Jolly Roger came into port just as the final rays of daylight were disappearing below the horizon. The crew were exhausted but they moved quickly before the temperatures dropped too low. Once the gangplank was down, everyone made their way to somewhere warm.
Emma walked beside Killian until he disappeared up the pathway which led to Milah's lodgings. She could still hear him singing about the babe Milah had been carrying the last time they'd docked. The likelihood that it was his child wasn't promising but it kept him happy.
She entered the bustling tavern just as the wind picked up. She took a seat at a lone table in the back corner. A barmaid promptly served her ale before sauntering off to the next table to flirt with a drunk wearing an eye patch.
Emma was three ales in when an older, petite, dark haired woman engulfed her in an embrace.
"Jack. When did you get here?"
Emma smiled politely. "Dusk. Been well, Snow?"
"Yes, yes, oh," Snow took Emma's face into her hands, "It's good to see you, Jack."
Green eyes surveyed every grubby mark and scar that littered Emma's face. Snow had always acted like her mother but she hadn't let herself become attached. Snow still believed Emma was a boy. She'd never been told differently which wasn't her fault and Emma knew that. However, eight years of being with her father, Emma thought the truth would have been told.
"Are you hungry?" Emma was surprised she hadn't already started her rant about how Emma needed to eat more.
She could only nod in response before closing her eyes when Snow leant in to kiss the top of her head.
The meal consisted of some sort of meat in gravy with bread on the side. It was warm and the best thing she'd eaten since the last time she'd been in the tavern, six moons ago. She hadn't seen Regina then or Astrid. She'd kept to herself, mainly staying on the ship whilst she tried to not think about the woman who'd stolen her heart at the young age of fourteen summers. Of course it hadn't worked but before too much self-loathing had occurred, the crew were out at sea again.
Lost in her thoughts, Emma jumped slightly when a mug was placed heavily in front of her. She looked up to see her father wearing an unusually sombre expression. She pointed to the vacant seat opposite her.
David looked older than she remembered but that could have been due to not seeing him very often. He'd left the crew when she was eleven, to work in the tavern with Snow. Surprisingly, Blackbeard hadn't been fazed however, Emma had been forbidden to leave.
"It's good to see you, Jack. How's the crew?"
Every time her father called her Jack, it seemed to twist a knife in her gut. She knew why things were the way they were but it didn't stop the pain. He knew who she was yet he acted as though 'Jack' was the only one who'd ever existed.
"Lost Blackbeard to a siren near Arendelle. Crew didn't reach 'im in time."
"You've a new captain then?"
David nodded, staring at the table.
After a few silent minutes, Emma turned to remove herself from the increasingly awkward situation. Before she stood, David's hand covered her wrist.
"Jack, I," he released an audible sigh, "I've been thinking lately about what's happened over the years. Behind that tavern…"
"Don't." Emma cut him off.
"Listen to me. I want to apologise. You were so young and I didn't think things through. What I gave you."
"Gave me? Ye gave me nothin' but a lie I've had to live by."
He hung his head in shame before glancing up into her eyes again. "I was wrong."
"Aye, ye were."
The pair sat in silence. Two more ales had been consumed, rather quickly, before David questioned Emma about something he'd noticed.
"You used to come in here happy, Jack."
"Happy?" Emma scoffed. "How can I be happy as this?" She pointed to herself. "I'm not a man and I can't be myself. I'm … I'm an abomination. It should have been me in that raid." She voiced in a heated whisper.
"Jack, stop! That's not true."
"Aye, it is. Ye know it is."
"You have Astrid, I know she knows."
"Astrid? Is she the only one I'll ever have in life?"
"Of course not. There has to be someone else." His eyes pleaded with her even though he knew the life he had condemned her to.
She could have always disappeared and started again but something had kept her. He needed to know.
"You could have left us. Why do you keep coming back?"
Emma bristled in her seat. How dare he.
Her voice rose, "I'll tell ye why. I …"She almost confessed that she'd fallen in love.
With a long exhale, she quietened. "It doesn't matter."
She got to her feet and turned to find Snow at her side. Snow's hand cupped her cheek, her thumb wiping away a tear Emma hadn't even noticed. The older woman's eyes appeared moist as well which didn't make sense to the blonde.
"There's a bath drawn in the back. Why don't you go clean up, hmm?"
Emma nodded slowly before glancing down at her father.
As Emma shucked her boots and began to pull the shirt from her trousers, she heard the door open and close behind her. She turned to see Snow walking towards her.
The woman stopped when she had Emma within her arms. They stayed like that for a moment. Emma wondered what was going on, the ales causing her thoughts to process slower.
Snow's chin rested on the blonde's shoulder. "I have loved you since the day I met you."
"Snow?" Emma tried to move but Snow held her closer.
"Over the years, your father has spoken about his family, of his children. How he lost his daughter whose eyes changed from green to blue. Much like your eyes."
"Don't." Emma pleaded.
"You didn't die in the raid, Emma. Your brother, Jack did." Snow whispered.
Emma moved back to look into green eyes immersed in tears.
"Snow, I," Emma swallowed a sob.
"I needed you to know. Perhaps I should have told you earlier."
"I'm so sorry, Emma." Tears began to trail down the woman's cheeks.
"No." Emma pulled Snow to her as she choked on a, "Thank you."
Snow only tightened her hold.
The second night in town, Emma enjoyed another warm meal. She was glad that her father had kept his distance. Snow had offered another bath after her dinner which she had gladly accepted. The one she'd taken the night before had only removed the first few layers of salt and grime.
After the bath, she made her way out into the night. Her coat didn't provide much warmth but she was used to the cold. She travelled a path she hadn't taken in over a year. She had every intent of paying for a night with Astrid however, once hers coins hit Blue's palm, her feet took her past Astrid's door.
Without a knock or any indication of her presence, she swung Regina's door open.
Green eyes latched onto the back of a man, clumsily rutting the still clothed whore.
"Time's up." She spoke loudly.
Her interruption caused the rotund man to falter and stumble backwards due to his trousers around his ankles.
"I say, young fellow. Who do…" The man ceased talking when Emma pointed a pistol towards his face.
"I say, time's up."
The man shook, trying and failing to pull his trousers up. Once they were half way he took his chances and darted out of the room.
"Who do you think you are?" Regina snapped, as she got off the bed and straightened her skirts.
"Are they all like that?"
"You can't just come in here, waving a pistol around like you…"
"I wasn't waving anything, unlike him. Was he actually pleasing ye?"
"Jack!" Regina cried out in frustration as she slumped against a set of drawers. "What are you doing here?"
Emma gave a weary look at the bed before shrugging and plonking down onto it. "I'm askin' if they're all like that."
"They pay for it. No one enters a competition for my hand. There are no knights, no princes, no romance; not for a whore."
"There should be." Bluish-green eyes looked sincerely into chocolate brown.
Regina sighed. "Why are you here? You left in a hurry the last time."
The pair remained on opposite sides of the room.
"I remember ye wanted to talk."
"Talk? Talk! I wanted to talk before you disappeared. I know you've been back since then."
"I couldn't see ye then."
"I…Can we talk now?"
"Well, you must have paid something to be allowed up here. What choice do I have?"
"Regina. I'm not paying ye."
Emma hated how wrong this was turning out. It was a lot different in her head but she couldn't blame the brunette for being angry with her.
She placed her hat beside her before she removed the bandana she was wearing. Her black boots were the next things to go. Regina stared at her in confusion.
"What are you doing?"
"Ye know I'm not good wi' words. 'm better because of ye but…" Emma smiled sadly before trailing off.
Deft fingers loosened the ties of her shirt before pulling it out of her trousers. Smooth, toned flesh, speckled with scars was revealed as she lifted her shirt over her head. Her eyes remained downcast the entire time. When her hands went to remove the wrappings, Regina's voice halted her movement.
"Why are you doing this?" Regina whispered.
"Because I've always wanted ye to know."
Emma slowly undid the bindings, letting the material fall to the floor. Her hands trembled when they reached the top button of her trousers.
"Stop." Gentle hands covered her own, causing the tremors to lessen.
Her eyes locked onto the brunette's. She had never felt so vulnerable.
"I've known since the day I met you."
Emma gave her a questioning look.
"I went to the wash room, hoping to clean up." She licked her top lip subconsciously. "I saw you step out of the tub."
The blonde gave a brief nod before Regina spoke again.
"Now please tell me, what is your name?"
Emma swallowed thickly. "Emma."
The blonde had never heard her name sound the way it did coming from Regina. Her heart thudded loudly. She couldn't contain the dopey grin which spread across her face.
"Emma." Regina whispered. Her hands had fallen to the blonde's hips. Her thumbs began to stroke the bare flesh of Emma's waist.
Both of their eyes closed when their heads came to rest against one another.
"It is lovely to meet you."