starting over


She doesn't believe in love, not really. Ever since the beginning- since she was abandoned, left all to herself- she has believed that love could not exist. If it did, her parents would still have her, and they would be a family. She wouldn't be on her own all of the time.

Love can't exist, she tells herself, and if you believe it does, if you believe in the silly fairytales, then you're only setting yourself up to get hurt.

She doesn't want to hurt.

The night is black. The shadows threaten to cave in around her, encasing her in darkness, but she keeps walking anyway.

A figure emerges from the shadows, and she knows who it is before she can even blink. "Why the heck are you stalking me?" she hisses, tensing despite herself.

He gives an easy laugh, as easygoing as ever. "I just... I was curious about what you were up to," he admits at last, shrugging as if it's not a big deal. "I mean, you got to see what I do at night. Maybe it's my turn."

"Yeah, I got to see what you do, all right," she hisses, unsure of why this angers her so much. Maybe it's just the fact that he's doing this around her son, her son, and if he doesn't stop, maybe Henry's views on love will correspond with hers. She doesn't want him to turn out like she did.

"Bitter as ever, Deputy," he teases. "Why are you walking around in the dark?"

"Why do you care?" she retorts, rolling her eyes. "Go back to Regina, Sheriff. You're missing the night's activities."

"You know," he says conversationally, "I've considered ending things with her many times. I just haven't thought of how."

"You'd best hurry up and figure it out, then," she says at last. "And for the record, I couldn't care less."

Lies. It's all lies, but she doesn't want to think about why she cares. She prefers to avoid it, to avoid anything that could possibly hurt her, and this thing- whatever she has with Graham (his name disgusts her, really)- this thing will definitely end up hurting her.

"I've got to go," Emma says at last, turning around to glare at him. "You see, I actually have duties that I do at night. Unlike certain people."

He chuckles, obviously catching the icy meaning to her words. "See you later!"

No, you won't, she wants to say, but the truth is that she can't avoid him, and really, she doesn't want to.

She stumbles down the road, the taste of his lips still on hers. She can't deny that she felt something, but the problem is that she doesn't want to.

Love hurts, she tells herself. She can't love him, because he's with Regina-

Yet she knows that he doesn't feel anything for Regina, because he basically told her that. She knows that he's looking for something with her, whether it be love or just a casual relationship, but she also knows that she can't give him that. Emma Swan is not the type of girl to fall head over heels for a hot guy with a sexy accent.

"I hate everything,"

she mumbles under her breath, and she thinks that she might mean it. Everything is so screwed up and she has no idea what to feel.

"I hate Graham," she mutters, twisting his name until it's utterly unrecognizable, but it feels wrong against her lips. "I hate Graham," she repeats- but she can't make herself believe it, as many times as she says it.

More than anything, she hates what she's feeling.

The worst thing is that when she sees the flowers, a part of her hopes they're from Graham. The worst thing is that when Mary Margaret says that she has feelings for Graham, her heart can't deny it, even if her mouth can. The worst thing is that everyone knows that she has feelings for Graham, perhaps even Graham himself.

She wishes that the girl she used to be hadn't vanished. Often, she thinks that it would be a lot better if she could go back to the girl that she used to be, back when she could move from guy to guy and not get hung up on some idiot like Graham.

She looks it up that night on Mary Margaret's computer, the simple phrase 'how to get over a guy'. Of course, Google has no good advice for her, and she shuts down the computer in anger.

The problem is that she cannot simply 'shut him out of her life', because he is there and he is everywhere. She sees him every day at work, not to mention around the town. She sees him and she thinks about him and she doesn't know how to stop.

When Regina confronts her, she has no idea how to respond other than to simply blink. Who is this woman to dictate who she can and cannot feel for? Though she has seemingly known him for longer, Emma is sure that she knows him better.

And if anyone is bringing him down, it's Regina, not Emma.

The worst part is admitting that there is nothing between her and Graham. There was a kiss, sure, but it was short and she'd broken it off quickly, not wanting to hurt herself even more.

There is nothing between her and Graham, nothing, and she hates it.

When he chooses her over Regina, she can't help but feel a little bit of pride. Of course he prefers her, of course he likes her better, because she's better than Regina and that has to count for something, right?

She doesn't really believe him about the whole heart thing, because he has to have a heart. He kissed her, right? She can't be the only one that is feeling things. He has to be feeling something, because he is the one that has initiated the whole relationship.

And she tells Regina that, because Regina needs to know that it's not Emma doing all of this, not really. Her downfall has been caused by her own bad choices, not anything that Emma has done.

Of course, Emma's words of truth infuriate the so-called 'Evil Queen' and they end up in a fight. But when Graham stops them, he chooses to take Emma home and not Regina, and she counts this as another victory.

On the way back, she looks at him, the question obvious in her eyes. "Why?"

"Why what?" Graham asks carefully, as if he honestly doesn't know.

"Why me? Why have you taken such a liking to me?" she questions, staring at him with a curious look in her eyes.

For a moment, he pauses. It looks like he is debating whether to tell her or not. At last, he speaks, his eyes looking far away. "I spared your mother's life, Emma."

"My mother- you don't even know my mother!" Emma sputters. "I don't even know my mother!"

"And that is why I didn't want to tell you," he laughs again, as if it's not a big deal. "You're always so cynical. But yeah, Henry reckons there's a connection between the two of us because if it weren't for me, you wouldn't exist."

She considers that for a moment in silence, but she doesn't believe him. Somehow, it seems like more than that.

Her hand finds his in a weird sort of way and he intertwines her fingers with his, giving her hand a careful squeeze. Glancing up at him, she smiles softly.

His careful hands trail across her injuries, cleansing them. She doesn't like the feelings that run through her or the way that she can only think about him, only him.

The only think she can think to say is the thing that summarizes all of her emotions. "Not feeling anything is an attractive option when what you feel sucks."

They end up kissing, lips on lips, and all she can think of is the heat that runs between her body and his. She wants him, wants him closer, but all she can do for now is kiss him. For the first time, she is letting someone in and she had no idea it could feel so good-

He pulls away, stares at her with that far away look in his eyes. She stares at him for a moment, wonders what is going through his mind. "Graham?"

"I remember," he says, as if it is the best thing in the world.

"You remember what?" she questions, because she doesn't remember anything except how badly she wants to kiss him once again.

All he does is repeat "I remember" and lean in to kiss her again, and she can't exactly push him away, not after how good it felt last time. So she leans in again, feeling herself smile like never before, because this is what happiness feels like, and if it feels like this to let someone in, then maybe she was wrong after all.

Then he tenses beneath her fingertips. She tries to hold on to him as he keels over, as he falls to the ground, and she screams his name as if it will prevent the inevitable. "GRAHAM!"

But it is too late, and she knows it. She falls to the ground, her hands tangling in his damp hair, and she feels tears starting to slide down her face. All that rings in her head is the inevitable "I told you so", because she knew it would happen, really. Of course, if she let someone in, she would end up getting hurt.

Life always seems to work that way.

"Graham," she sobs, feeling her head immediately fall onto his chest, and she hates the way it fits there. She wraps her arms around his chilled body, as if by transferring some of her warmth to him she will somehow bring him back. Her head nuzzles deeper into his chest, and she finds herself suddenly weary.

She falls asleep there, hoping that she will somehow wake up to find that it had all been a bad dream.

In the morning, she wakes up with an aching cheek and a dead body splayed under her. She doesn't know what else to do but to pick up the phone and dial Mary Margaret's number with shaking hands.

"Mary Margaret," she splutters, "I- I'm at the sheriff- Graham- dead-"

"Emma," she says, her tone soothing yet harsh, "Emma, things are going to be all right. Calm down and listen to me. I'm coming to get you. I'll be there soon."

But as she hangs up the phone, her gaze travels back to Graham's body and all she can think is that things might as well never be okay again.

By the time Mary Margaret gets there, she is a mess of tears and hurt and emotions. She falls into Mary's arms, motioning to Graham's body on the ground.

"You didn't..." Mary trails off, her implications clear.

"Of course not," Emma sniffles, more tears running down her cheeks. "He just... he was going to kiss me and then he kind of just fell to the ground and now..." He's gone. The two horrid words echo in her head, hurting her with their sharpness and piercing right through her walls that used to be so very strong.

"Maybe he's not dead, Emma," Mary reassures her. "Maybe he's just... we'll take him to the doctor's, see; it'll all be okay."

"It won't," Emma whispers softly, and as she crouches down to the ground and intertwines her fingers with Graham's cold ones, she knows that it can't- it won't- be okay for a while.

A/N: Well I wanted to write Emma/Graham after the last horrid for feelings episode and um this is what spilled out so uh yeah.

I'm going to have to do a multiple dedication on this one as well, since I don't have a laptop and therefore don't have any way to write as much as I'd like, so this is for Amy and Pearl for letting me fangirl with them and cry with them over Graham and just agdljklj;

And all of us ship Emma/Graham as well so.

Sorry this is so bad; I haven't really got a muse.

Please read and review and don't favorite without reviewing!