Gaining her sea legs is a bit of a challenge, but after ten minutes on the water – the Jolly Roger isn't even out of the sound yet – Emma begins to steady. It's all in the knees, she finds, along the lines of ice skating: bent knees are better for absorbing the shocks. She'll probably have a bump on her knee from knocking into the walls of the ship – the hard way of learning that lesson – but it's a surface injury.
"You're a natural, love," Jones shouts from the captain's hut as they finally hit open water. She turns with the camera to catch his brilliant smile. "I'll be able to add you to my roster in no time."
Behind the viewfinder, she scoffs. "Please, Captain, don't you have a boat to steer?" she responds, focusing back on Scarlet and Robin preparing some ropes for the first throw of the season.
Even from her spot on the deck, she can hear his groan. "Ship," Jones says, "it's a ship, Swan, not a little dingy boat."
She believes herself to be doing well: she's only fallen on her ass once so far and that's because she missed a step going down to interview Whale in the galley. She's been on the boat – ship, one of these days she'll remember – for half an hour, so she'll be fine.
Nope, not at all.
The true test comes once they get out of the sound. Jeff and the Jolly Roger's crew had explained the basic layout of the general harbor: the docks lead out to a sound where boats pass one another in their comings and goings at a slow speed, sort of like a merging zone on a highway. Once they float past the end of a certain jetty, the captains are allowed to proceed full speed in whatever direction they desired to go that day.
It's when Robin and Whale shout at her to take a hold of something that Emma notices the wind picking up. It seems that Jones is going to nail the gas pedal until they get to their first destination, something that his seasoned crew is prepared for, but she – being the new guy and the one without any background in boats – is not. She finds herself on the ground in a hot second, her back sliding and bumping into the aft of the ship the next, and her grip on the camera dangerously loose.
Unwilling to test her chance at standing, Emma sits, curled in the fetal position at the back of the boat, for probably 15 minutes, until her hair begins to settle into a mess at her shoulders and the crew comes toward her.
"Are you alright there, Emma?" Robin asks, offering her a hand up.
She gratefully takes it, hoisting herself back to standing, and just steadies herself for a second. "Yeah," she assures him, "I should be fine for now."
"We'll be sure to give ya a bit more warning next time," Scarlet assures her, standing in the doorway heading below deck. And then, yelling into a walkie-talkie, he says, "Isn't that right, cap'n?"
Jones' voice crackles back, "I don't rightfully care unless you lot are throwing the cages into the ocean."
"Well, you heard the captain," Whale shouts. Clapping his hands, he jogs to the pile of cages on the side of the ship. "To work, boys!"
Not getting in the way of their work, being a fly on the wall like she's supposed to be, proves a lot more difficult than Emma originally thought. She's got no sense of what the guys are going to do yet, except that she's usually in the middle of the way. When they come to a new trawling grounds, Robin kindly tells her to move this way or that so they can throw the cages into the ocean as fast as possible. She throws Scarlet many a glare after he uses some colorful language to give her the same message. And Whale – she'd rather not think about it.
(Honestly, it's a miracle that she doesn't give him a black eye for the things he did to get her to move.)
She bumps into people and objects so many times that she'll be surprised if she gets one second of good footage today. Luckily, nothing major happened – no broken bones or men overboard. It's something that she, David, and Jeff accounted for, some time at the beginning of the endeavor to get the lay of the land, or the deck in this case.
In total, Emma comes home from her first day – about nine hours total, from leaving the last step of her front porch to the moment her toes touch the same stair – with that knee bump, two toes that feel broken, a slew of bruises up her right arm, some scratches on her back, and shoulders tense from unused camera-holding muscles. She feels used and raw and beaten. She's never felt so productive in her life.
Walking in the front door shortly after dark, she leans against the wood and sighs happily. She leverages herself just enough to kick off her sneakers and sink into the entrance rug.
"Mom?" Henry's voice echoes through the halls of mostly-built furniture and empty cardboard boxes. His face peeks around the corner of the living room. "How was your first day?"
"Pretty good," she answers as she follows her son into the living room. Mary Margaret is sitting on the couch and cranes her neck over the back to smile at Emma. "David should be already home."
"He is," her friend says casually. "He texted me about an hour ago."
"Then why are you still here?" Emma asks, shuffling into the kitchen. Despite being around it all day, she's dying for a glass of water and then, maybe once Henry's in bed, something a little stronger. To, you know, ease her wounds and unwind or whatever.
Mary Margaret's voice is closer, coming from the other side of the counter when she says, "I wanted to make sure Henry was okay." Turning around, Emma tilts her head, a sign of comfort and appreciation. "And I wanted to hear about your first day."
"Well, I'm sure it's similar to your husband's first day." She downs the entire glass in one go, pouring and starting to drink a second one before continuing. "Different names, but same general idea."
"And he'll tell me all about his day when I get home." Skirting the island, Mary Margaret comes and rests her hand on Emma's arm. "You've been around practical strangers all day, Emma. I just want to offer you someone you know to share any grievances or stories from your day."
Raising her eyebrow, Emma qualifies: "So you want to pretend to be my boyfriend? I don't know how your husband will feel about that."
Mary Margaret shrugs. "I want to make sure you know that whatever's happened in the past is in the past." Dragging her hand down to meet Emma's, Mary Margaret gives her a hopeful squeeze. "David and I are always here for you and Henry. Even if that means babysitting or picking Henry up when you're running late or whatever."
Emma shifts forward to hug her. "I know, Mary Margaret. I know." And she does. Or she's learning to rely on others after years of relying on herself. "Thanks, but it's been a long day. I just want to hang out with Henry before he goes to sleep and then end the night with a drink and maybe some Supergirl."
"Well, I won't be in the way much longer," Mary Margaret says, grabbing some stuff from kitchen table. She turns to both of them. "You guys are coming over for dinner Friday night."
Chuckling, Emma takes another sip of water. "That sounds like a statement and not a question."
"It's not. You're coming." Mary Margaret leans down and presses a sweet kiss to the top of Henry's head before turning back to Emma. "Enjoy your night."
"You too, Mary Margaret. Have a nice evening with your husband."
Mary Margaret winks as she leaves and Emma shudders at the mental image that pops to mind. She hears the front door close as she's facing to Henry.
"Alright, kid, shouldn't we be getting ready for bed?"
"But Mooom," her son whines. He's hunched over his game controller, staring intently at the TV screen. "I'm so close to completing this mission."
Emma sighs and picks up the extra controller. "Can I be any help?"
"Yeah." Pausing the game quickly, Henry turns on her and fixes her with a pointed glare. "But then we both finish this mission and the next one."
Groaning, she resignedly relents. "Ugh, fine. Then bed. No questions."
Goofy smile on his face, Henry puts his attention back to the screen and plugs her into the game. "Deal."
By the end of her first week of work, Emma's gotten the hang of things. Sort of. Jones gives her a heads up as to what his plan the next day is so she can plan what sort of shots she's going to try and get. He gives her a time of departure every day and she mostly makes it on time. She mostly stays out of everybody's way, but since it's the beginning of the season, the stakes aren't as high. Everyone – captain included – is dusting off their trawling instincts.
Robin is definitely the most helpful of the crew, the most compassionate. Something about having kids creates the ultimate bond between even the most unlikely of compatriots. Emma realizes that on her second day when, before leaving port, Robin gives her a run through of where she should stand or go when certain things happen. While Whale and Scarlet load the galley with snacks and games in what little off time they'll have, Robin's trying to teach her trawling 101 on the fly.
Their conversation fades into small talk, Emma revealing small, unimportant bits of her story to further cement her and Robin's friendship. She succeeds in her mission if him telling her that he and Regina recently found out they're expecting a baby is any indication. Even for people she barely knows, she's ecstatic for them.
"You can't tell anyone, though," Robin makes her promise as he's coiling rope. "I've been sworn to secrecy until told otherwise. Even the lads don't know."
Miming zipping her mouth closed, Emma grins. "Your secret's safe with me."
Robin returns the smile tenfold. Leaning closer to her, he whispers conspiratorially, "I just really wanted to tell someone. It's quite exciting."
Scarlet, it seems, has adopted her as his little sister. He teases her at the most inappropriate moments and makes her laugh during the best shots of the day, therefore rendering them almost unusable. The few times he's seen her about town, Scarlet stops what he's doing, no matter how important, and takes a few minutes to walk with her.
Whale, on the other hand, is still a sleaze. Her first impression wasn't wrong about that. But he seems to soften when Emma approaches the topic of the diner or, more specifically, Ruby. Maybe there's a chance he is partially human after all. She's made several mental notes to set those two up, give them a slight nudge in each other's directions.
The only person who she still doesn't know where she stands with is Jones himself. He'd made attempts to befriend her at the Fourth of July shindig, and a few times in the days since, but there's just something about him that doesn't click with her.
(She knows what it is, in the deep recesses of her mind. Emma doesn't want to connect with him because she fears she'll connect with him. It's much safer for her and Henry if she doesn't, if she just keeps things cordial and professional.)
It's an unspoken agreement between the two of them that things stay work-related unless Liam is around. He acts as a buffer, an older brother to both of them, with teasing and scolding and such. Things don't seem as awkward with Liam around, and for that, Emma is grateful.
Before she knows it, Emma is flipping her calendar – homemade, a birthday gift from Henry last year with pictures of them on their various adventures – to August. A month until school starts and a month since she started this gig. A little over a month since they moved to Storybrooke.
"It's been a good month," she mutters to herself before going to empty the dishwasher and start on dinner. "Hopefully that's a good sign."
And here we are: another week, another update. Four million and six thank yous to sotheylived , shipsxahoy , queen-icicle-fandom , and everyone over at captainswanbigbang , for this would be absolutely nothing without any of you :)