A/N: Just felt a little inspired by this story again.
You know those moments where your life is suddenly changed forever? Where the world stops moving and you just know that one chapter in your story has ended and a new one has begun? Well Roland was having one of those moments right now. Staring down into this little girl's bright green eyes he felt everything in his world go off kilter. In his gut he knew that after this moment nothing would be the same for him. So he did the only reasonable thing he could. He pretended it wasn't happening.
"My daughter?" he chuckled down at her. He crossed his arms with a smirk. "Nice try kid but I don't have a daughter."
Emma narrowed her eyes at him. "Did you have a baby with a girl in high school? That was me."
Her words wiped the smirk right off his face. The ground beneath his feet became unsteady as his knees went weak. No… it couldn't be…
Roland swallowed hard as Emma continued to stare up at him. God standing in her gaze was like sitting under an interrogation light. He raised a finger in her direction and choked out, "Wait here, one second."
He turned to rush away when he heard her call out, "But I'm thirsty!"
He stuttered over his shoulder, "There are water bottles in the fridge under my desk. Just stay there!"
Emma rolled her eyes as she rounded his desk. He gave her one last look before marching back to the interrogation room. He banged on the door like a madman and ten seconds later John opened it with an annoyed expression on his face.
"I am two minutes away from a signed confession. This better be good Hawkins."
Roland ignored his greeting and gripped his shoulder, roughly pulling him out of the interrogation room. "Are you pranking me John?"
John sent him a bewildered look and shoved away his hand. "What?"
"For my birthday?" clarified Roland. "Are you messing with me? If you are you better tell me."
"I hadn't planned on it," growled John. "But I'm certainly feeling the urge right now."
He narrowed his eyes at his partner suspiciously. "What's wrong with you?"
Roland ran his hands over his face with a low groan. "I think I might have a kid," he whispered.
John's eyes widened in shock. "What?"
"There's a girl at my desk, says she's my daughter."
Without a word John rounded the corner and snuck a look over at Roland's desk. He saw Emma rummaging beneath it, her blond ponytail bouncing over her shoulder as she triumphantly pulled up a water bottle.
He turned back to Roland and shook his head. "Okay… this was not me."
John rolled his eyes. "Yes I'm sure I didn't arrange for a little girl to come to the precinct and claim you're her father," he deadpanned.
Roland let out a breath as he began pace the hall like a caged lion. "This cannot be real!" he hissed.
"What are the chances that it is?" asked John. "Girl looks about ten years old. Any old flames come to mind?"
"Just one," whispered Roland, pausing his footsteps. "When I was in high school there was this girl. Things got real serious real fast between us."
"I bet," said John with a smirk.
Roland rolled his eyes before continuing. "She got pregnant when we were together. I wanted to stay with her but I got sent to juvie. One day I got a letter from her telling me she lost the baby. I never heard from her after that."
He felt his throat grow tighter as he ripped the old memories from the back of his mind. He hadn't thought about that time in his life for years. Or at least he'd like to pretend he hadn't.
John nodded his head, the detective gears in his brain already working together a plausible theory. "So…do you think she lied?"
"I don't know. It's not impossible," said Roland shaking his head. He snuck another look at Emma and tilted his head curiously. "She does kind of…look like her. Around the eyes and the nose."
"Well she doesn't exactly take after you," mumbled John. He sighed as he leaned against the wall. "Honestly… seems like there is a 50/50 chance that this could be real."
Roland clenched his jaw as he stared back at his desk. Emma was sipping on a water bottle while lazily spinning around in his swivel chair. God, she could be his daughter.
"Look," sighed John. "You're not gonna get any answers in this hallway. So I suggest you do what you are trained to do and ask some questions."
He clapped Roland on the shoulder before returning to the interrogation room. Roland sighed as watched Emma from the hallway. She'd impressively finished off her water bottle and pulled a large book out of her backpack. She didn't exactly look like him. Her hair was blonde; her eyes were green. A far cry from his own brown eyes and dark hair. Perhaps she wasn't his and this was all just a misunderstanding. He almost would've been able to convince himself of it… if Emma hadn't chosen that particular moment to smile. His heart skipped a beat as she showed her deep, unmistakable dimples. Same as the ones he saw every day in the mirror.
He shut his eyes trying to block everything out. "Damn…"
Taking a moment to gather his courage he finally made his way back to the desk. He cleared his throat awkwardly as he lowered himself into the plastic chair across from where she sat. "So… you're my daughter?"
"Yep," said Emma, popping the last letter. She barely looked up from her book as she spoke to him.
Unsure how to continue Roland just asked the next question that was on his mind. "Where's your mother?"
Emma finally tore her eyes away from the book, looked up to him and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I was adopted when I was a baby."
Her answer hit him like a ton of bricks and he leaned forward in his seat. "She gave you up?" Without telling me? How could she do that?
Ten different emotions swirled up in his gut and he couldn't even settle on one. Instead he turned to Emma. "How did you find me?"
She shut her book and shrugged her shoulders once more. "It's not important."
Roland scoffed at her.
"What is important is that I found you," continued Emma. "And now that I need you to do something for me."
Roland felt his heart clench at her words. What could she want from him? "What do you need?"
"I need for you to take me home," she stated.
"And where is home?"
Roland narrowed his eyes at her. "Storybrooke? Really?"
Emma nodded her head.
Roland sighed. "Okay kid because I am currently working a late night shift and won't be done for hours why don't you just give me your parent's number so they can come and pick you up themselves."
"No I want you to take me," Emma demanded.
"Well… I can't," argued Roland. "So give me the number."
"No," Emma replied flatly.
Roland took a deep breath and narrowed his eyes at her. She was stubborn. Great.
He leaned forward in his seat. "Alright kid. You might think you're playing a good game but I'm guessing I've been playing it a lot longer than you have. Because I know when a kid refuses to let me call their parents it's because their parents probably have no idea where they are."
He saw Emma press her lips together nervously and he knew he had her. "I'm guessing you made this little trip without their permission and by now they've probably noticed that you've gone missing. Meaning I don't need you to give me the number. I can just look up the amber alert that I'm so sure they've issued and report your whereabouts myself."
He reached for his phone and Emma stood to her feet. "You dial one number and I will run out of here into the street!" she threatened. "I'll get lost and no one will ever find me again."
Panic rose up in Roland's chest and it took everything he had to make sure it didn't show up on his face. It was a worthy threat. She was good but he was better. "If you run out of here I will chase you."
"But you won't catch me," sang Emma shaking her head. "I'm the fastest kid in my class. You'll never keep up with me."
She sat back down with a smug smile on her face. Her dimples flashed once more and Roland felt his chest go tight once again. He leaned over and placed both hands on the edge of his desk. "Okay… say you do run out of here and disappear? What makes you think I'd care?"
Emma narrowed her eyes at him daringly. "Because police officers are good people. And good people care what happens to little kids."
Roland closed his eyes with an annoyed sigh. Damn. "Get your coat."
Roland had experienced a lot of horrible birthdays. Ones where no one remembered. Ones where he didn't have enough to eat or a place to sleep at night. So he had to admit taking a three-hour drive with the daughter he never knew to the small town where she lived with her adoptive parents didn't even break the top ten. However, that didn't mean that it wasn't awkward.
Roland had managed to convince his captain to give him the rest of the night off, not hard considering it was his birthday. What was difficult was the dead silence that filled the car during the trip. Despite how adamant she was that he drive her home Emma had hardly spoken two words to him since they'd left Boston. Instead she'd kept her eyes lock her down on that old book of fairytales in her lap.
"What's with the book?" he asked curiously.
Emma eyes flickered up to him. "I'm not sure you're ready to know."
He arched an eyebrow in her direction. "About fairytales?"
"They're not just fairytales," replied Emma firmly. "They actually happened."
"You think your fairytales are real?" he asked incredulously. He shook his head with a sigh. "Oh kid… you've got problems."
"All the stories in this book are true," said Emma heatedly. "And you should start believing in them."
"Oh yeah?" drawled Roland. "Why?"
"Because… you're in the book too."
It was half past nine by the time they rolled into town. Roland had to admit he was a bit surprised when he drove past the green sign with STORYBROOKE painted in white block letters on the side. He was half expecting for the town to be something Emma made up to gain more of his time and attention but the town was real. Nestled a few miles north of some old forest campgrounds, the lights of the town practically popped up like magic. It was a small place. According to the town sign the population was barely more than a couple thousand citizens.
Roland supposed in most circles it would be considered charming. As he drove through town in his forest green El Camino he could see old shops and houses. A few outdated businesses as well. Seriously, who needs a candlestick maker in this day and age?
He blew out a tired breath. "Alright kid, where's your house?"
"It's 2100 not-telling-you street," Emma replied smoothly.
Roland growled under his breath as her pulled the car up to the nearest curb. He turned to Emma with a scowl. "You don't me very well kid but I should tell you I don't have a lot of patience. Now you've used up most of it with this road trip so I don't have much left for any more nonsense."
He climbed out of the car and slammed the door shut. "Emma I need to take you home and I need to do it fast seeing as how it's already…" – his eyes scrunched up at the town clock tower – "… eight-fifteen?"
Emma climbed out of the car and stood beside him. "That clock hasn't moved in years. Time is frozen in Storybrooke."
Roland tiredly shook his head at her. "I'm sure it just feels that way because you're bored."
"No it doesn't," claimed Emma. "Nothing ever changes in this town except me. Everyone's cursed but that's all gonna change now that you're here."
He tilted his head at her curiously, unsure how to respond. Luckily he didn't have to.
They both turned to see a tall brunette woman in a waitress's uniform rushing toward them. Her green eyes were filled with worry leaned down to speak with Emma. "Where have you been? The whole town's been looking for you!" She suddenly noticed Roland and narrowed her eyes at him. "Who are you?"
Roland's jaw drop as he struggled to answer her. "I…"
"He's my dad," Emma swiftly answered.
Roland felt his heart skip a beat at the new title she'd just attached to him. Dad? He wasn't quite sure he fit the bill on that.
"I'm Officer Hawkins with the Boston PD," he said, flashing his badge to the woman. "I'm just trying to make sure Emma gets home safe."
"Oh! Well I'm Ruby Lucas," she said sending him an awkward wave. "Um… Emma's parents, her adoptive ones, live on Mifflin Street. The big white house. You can't miss it."
"Ruby!" Emma's eyes went wide with shock as Ruby revealed the location of her home.
"Don't look at me like that!" she responded briskly. "Your little disappearance has put the whole town in a panic. Everyone hears about it when the Mayor's kid goes missing."
"You're the mayor's kid?" said Roland, raising an eyebrow in Emma's direction. She only crossed her arms and pouted in response. He sighed. This was just what he needed.
He gratefully nodded his head at Ruby. "Thank you. We should be going."
"No problem," said Ruby. "Thank you for making sure got back okay." She turned to Emma with a frown. "And no more running away."
Emma just nodded her head with a frown. Ruby left them then and Roland watched her go with a tilted head. "She doesn't look so cursed to me."
"That's because she doesn't know it," claimed Emma exasperatedly. "No one knows. We're the only ones."
"Okay," drawled Roland, gripping her shoulders and guiding her back toward the car. "That's enough curse talk for one night. C'mon I'm taking you home."
Emma complained the whole ride to Mifflin Street.
"Please don't take me back in there," she begged.
"I have to," argued Roland, pushing open the iron gate in her yard. Emma and her parents lived in one of the nicest houses Roland had ever seen. White with four columns surrounding the porch it was certainly fancier than any of the places he'd lived growing up. Despite all of this he'd practically had to drag Emma out of the car when they'd pulled up. "C'mon kid. I'm sure your parents are worried sick about you."
"No they're not!" she said sullenly looking at the ground. "They don't love me. They only pretend to."
For the fifth time that day Roland felt his heart clench at Emma's words. He leaned down to look her in the eyes. "Listen… Emma…"
He wasn't quite sure what he was going to say next but he'd hoped it would've been something to make her feel better. In the end he didn't say anything all because he was cut off by the sound of front door swinging open. "Emma!"
Her turned to see a petite woman in a black business dress standing in the doorway. Her short pixie cut hair fluttered in the wind as she ran down the walkway in her sharp heels and threw her arms around Emma. Relief colored her face as she held her tight completely oblivious to Roland's presence. After taking a deep breath she pulled back and looked her in the eyes. "Where have you been? Your father and I have been so worried!"
"I found my real dad!" spat Emma shaking off her touch and running past her into the house.
The woman remained rooted in place as Emma footsteps faded behind her. Slowly she brought her gaze up to Roland, confusion and worry still present in her eyes as she took him in. "You're Emma's biological father?" she whispered.
Roland awkwardly shrugged his shoulders at her. "Hi."
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