Author's Note: And maybe it won't take two years for an update after this? Just a reminder that this diverged from canon after 1.13, so nothing from after that is taken into account.
Three weeks passed.
Emma didn't get the job at the Body and Wash Shoppe. Somehow, she thought it was probably all for the best, considering her stress level would have been at all-time high levels if she had gotten the job and had to work side by side with Terri Terri, who was like a neutered version of Sue, except with a personal reason for her vicious barbs. She'd called her parents back home—"Mom, dad, can I borrow a couple thousand? I'll pay you back when I get on my feet again"—but somehow, the explanation of quitting a steady job just because she wanted to avoid seeing the man she was hopelessly in love with was insufficient. Even if she was their little Emma-bear. She'd resigned herself to the fact that she'd have to move out of Lima over the summer, or at least, move to a cheaper place that she could actually afford. Or something like that, even though she'd kept up the job search, blanketing Lima and the surrounding areas with letters and applications for any job she was even marginally qualified for. And then she got a phone call that changed everything.
Will, on the other hand, was nearly a free man, free to do what he wanted with his life, away from Terri and everything that reminded him of their marriage together. He was elated at the thought of being able to pursue the woman he wanted, but confused—the few times he had parked further from the grocery store and purposely walked past the Body and Wash Shoppe, he had seen Terri, but not Emma. And it wasn't as though Terri was entirely too forthcoming about anything regarding Emma, although she did have a mysterious smirk she would direct his way whenever the lawyers turned to their paperwork. Then, he got a phone call that changed everything. But his came after Emma's, although he didn't know that at the time.
One day in mid-May, he received a phone call from her.
"Will?" she asked, holding the phone to her ear; her voice seemed shaky and almost scared. "Is—is Terri there?"
"Em—?" he started to say, before she asked about Terri when she did, he felt his heart sink a little. "No. No, Terri's not here." He had no idea where she was. Probably at work, or maybe at home, or out running errands it didn't matter. "Do you want something?"
"Can can I see you?"
His heart leapt at the thought, but he could not be too eager, or he would more than likely scare her off completely. "Yeah," he said, in what he hoped was a cooly confident tone. "Where? Somewhere in Lima?"
"No." Her answer was crisp and clear, with not an ounce of her previous shakiness. "I don't want to see her"—and with that, he couldn't blame her. "There's a small cafe in Westerville, off the highway. The Soup Pot."
"You want to meet there?"
"Is—is today okay?" And the shakiness was back.
"I can be there in half an hour."
"Okay. I'll be there." The phone call was disconnected and he heard only the buzzing on the other end of the line, and he was thoroughly confused but elated at the same time. Confused, because he didn't know what to think of the call and Emma's urgency, but elated, because he'd get to see her and talk to her, especially without Terri hovering in the near vicinity.
Half an hour later, he pulled into the diner parking lot, and saw Emma sitting inside her car, leaning over the steering wheel. He tapped on the window and smiled as she looked up to acknowledge him. "Hey," he said. "Told you, half an hour."
"You were right," she said, returning his smile and stepping out of the car. "Not that I thought you would have lied to me."
"No, I wouldn't have," he said, and he's being completely honest with her, because if there's one thing that Emma deserves, it's honesty.
After they sat down at a small table inside the cafe, overlooking the parking lot, she turned to the menu and thought for a moment. "I'll have the cranberry chicken salad sandwich," she said, handing the menu to the waitress.
"And I'll have the grilled turkey sandwich," Will said, handing over his menu as well and then turning to Emma. "So, you—you wanted to talk? Without Terri?"
"Yeah," she said, resting her head on her folded hands and frowning. "I—I got a phone call yesterday. A job offer."
"It's in Shelbyville."
"Do you want to take it?"
"It's not great. Just an administrative assistant job at a small company there, but—it's more than I've had since I left McKinley." She frowned. "Three hours and five minutes."
"That's not an impossible distance," he said, and even as he said it, he knew how ridiculous it sounded. If they had been living two completely separate lives since December, with only a handful of interactions, and were only living ten minutes apart in the same town during that time—those three hours and five minutes between Lima and Shelbyville would kill any chance they would have ever had at a romance.
"Yeah. It is." She frowned as she said it. With her reply, he was pretty sure that Emma was just a little bit psychic, or just had an insanely good ability to read him. "Unless I had a reason to stay"
"I can't force you to stay," he said. "I want you. I don't think that's a big secret. And it'd obviously be easier to be together if you were in Lima."
"But there's your divorce, and Terri, and—"
"I'm not going to force you to stay. If you want to stay, stay, but, if you ask me?"
"Take the job. If we're—if we're meant to be together, Emma, we'll find a way."
"Okay. I will." She smiled at him as their sandwiches came. She thoughtfully took a bite before continuing with her question. "Will? Can you do me a favor?"
"Call me when your divorce is final."
It was a warm day just over a week later when she loaded the last of her boxes into the small trailer she had rented for her move and pulled away from the place she had come to know as home over the past few years. Emma wouldn't admit it to anyone, but she secretly hoped that Will would have come over and tried to talk her out of it, or at least to say goodbye. But maybe their impromptu lunch at The Soup Pot was their goodbye. Maybe even their final goodbye.
She drove through the streets of Lima, winding her way from her former home to the highway that would eventually take her to Shelbyville.
"Goodbye, Lima," she whispered.
It would be one month and two days before she found herself in Lima again, but it would be less than that before she saw Will. She just didn't know it yet.
-to be continued-