A/n: Well….umm…okay, to old readers: Please don't kill me. I'm having a little trouble at the moment and, well, the "death" scene of Graham in Once Upon a Time has inspired me.

To new readers: Hi. So, I have this really bad habit of starting a story and then not finishing it – either for lack of inspiration, or just plain boredom (since I already know what's going to happen). However, as is my usual plan, should I decide to abandon this story, the last thing I post will be my outline for the story – detailing how everything was supposed to go and end. Obviously, it won't be quite the same thing as reading it, but at least you'll have some closure, right? Hypothetically, of course, because I just might finish this one. We'll see.

The summary of this story is a little...odd, to be honest - by odd, I mean I haven't quite figured out how to describe it yet. Regardless, the story will encompass fairytale aspects as well as real-world aspects, though perhaps less so on the fairytale end (at least for now). The fairytale battle will come later, but for now... first comes the matters of the heart.


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.


Chapter, the First: Kiss Me Now, or Catch Your Death

Emma knew that this was wrong. Well, that's not quite right – she knew it should be wrong. She shouldn't be sitting in the waiting room of the Storybrooke town hospital, waiting to catch half of a word from a Doctor who was refusing to tell her anything. She shouldn't be sitting in this waiting room, praying to hear some good news about a man who shouldn't mean anything to her. For God's sake, she had only known the man two and a half months. But despite this fact, which should have much more weight than it really does, Emma continues to sit in the hospital waiting room. She sits, and sits, and sits. At some point, the receptionist – who had been here during every argument Emma had with Dr. Whale, who refused to tell her anything – shows an unexpected gesture of kindness, and brings Emma a cup of coffee from the staff break room. Emma accepts gratefully, and continues to wait – stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the few truths that were staring her in the face.

She cared about this man who was lying in a hospital bed being kept alive by machines and nothing else. She cared about him in a way she knew she shouldn't; he was her boss, Regina's lover, and above all else – he was a danger to her. The last time she had let herself get emotionally involved with someone, she wound up pregnant and left to fend for herself. She wouldn't be making that mistake again. As Sheriff Graham's only deputy and current successor, she had a right to be concerned. She had a right to be here. Nothing else. Kissing Graham, letting him kiss her, had been a mistake – pleasant, lovely mistake that could not be repeated.

Emma had more to think about now that she had come to a very important decision: She wanted Henry back. In the two and a half months since he had blown into her life with a breath used to extinguish a candle, she had come to realize many things. One, Regina was not Henry's mother – certainly not the mother that Emma had envisioned for her son when she gave him up. Two, Emma was now emotionally invested in this child, her son, and couldn't just let him go. Three, for all that she may not own a home, have a career, have a stable relationship, Emma knew that her son would be better off with her than with the woman who pretended to know what the word 'love' actually meant. Four, she had closed herself off from humanity for too long, and the wall had been ready to crumble – begging to crumble. Five, Graham went after that wall with a sledgehammer – and she let him. Six, even if, when, Graham woke up, there would be no relationship or rendezvous.

For the first time in her entire life, Emma knew what she wanted and how she was going to get it. Perhaps more importantly, she wasn't going to let anything, or anyone, jeopardize her chances of getting Henry back – including the handsome Sheriff. Regina had taken things too far this time, had proven to Emma that she was incapable of providing Henry with what he needed. Thus, a fire had been lit in Emma, one that Regina was going to regret starting. After two hours, what seemed like days to Emma, Dr. Whale finally approached her.

"Ms. Swan,"

"Dr. Whale," She replied, giving him a hard look that said 'Don't you dare tell me I'm not allowed to know what's going on,'

"Sheriff Graham appears to have suffered a massive heart attack, which we can't comprehend at all given his age and lack of family history. The monitor's…well, there's no scientific explanation except perhaps a glitch in the system, but the monitor's showed that, for a few moments, it was as if he didn't have a heart. Despite the malfunction, everything appears to be normal now – well, as normal as it should be. His heart his weak, to put it delicately, and won't be able to handle any stress or excitement for the next few weeks. I'm sorry to inform you of your promotion, Ms. Swan," Dr. Whale finished with a small smile before walking away, leaving Emma standing in the middle of the hallway.

Emma didn't trust Dr. Whale or, to be frank, like him very much – there was something very off about him, something that didn't sit right with her. And there was the fact that Emma had the sneaking suspicion he was in the Mayor's pocket, like everybody else. His interest and meddling in Mary Margaret's affairs only succeeded to push her suspicion further. Whatever his motivation may have been, at least he told her what was going on. What he didn't tell her, was whether or not she was allowed to see Graham. By the time she turned to ask him, he had disappeared. Salvation came in the form of the receptionist who, as always, had been watching from behind the desk.

"Visiting hours are over but I think the Doctor would understand if you wanted a few minutes with him,"

"Thank you," Emma said emphatically, giving the woman a genuine smile. The receptionist pointed to a room down the hall and gave her a wink, which Emma chose to ignore; people already thought there was something between her and Graham, and furthering that belief would hardly serve her purposes.

She didn't bother knocking, but opened the door gently and ducked her head inside, checking to see if he was asleep. When she was sure he was asleep, she entered the room before letting the door shut gently behind her. He hardly looked as though he had suffered a massive heart attack; his hair was still curly and slightly unruly, his face tan if a little flushed. His lips parted to let out a silent exhale, and remained so to withdraw an equally silent inhale. He was no less handsome in her eyes than he had ever been, perhaps even more so given the current circumstances. It was at this moment that Emma wished having a relationship with him was in the stars, was a part of her destined path, but knew it could not be.

She pulled a chair over next to his bedside and sat down, feeling a little awkward. "Hey, Graham," What exactly does one say to an unconscious man? Probably something different than what you would say to a dead man.

-Onceuponatime-

"No! Graham?" Emma shouted as Graham fell to the floor. She pulled him into her lap and shook him trying to wake him. When Emma finally came to grips with the fact that he wasn't waking, or breathing, her hands slipped into her pocket to pull out her cellphone. She dialed 911, heard it connect to the local town hospital. "Hello? It's Deputy Swan," Emma began without waiting for a response on the other line. "Sheriff Graham…Something's wrong with him! We were talking and then his eyes rolled back into his head. I don't think he's breathing! We're at the police station,"

"Ma'am, help is on the way. The important thing is to remain–" Emma hung up on the woman, choosing instead to smooth back Graham's brow. All of this was, in a word, insane. How could so much happen in one day? She struggled to hold back her tears, desperately searching for some sign of life left in the man.

"Hey, Graham," She choked the words out, hoping for some kind of response. When there was none, she felt her shoulders begin to shake violently at the held back emotion. After a few seconds, she pressed on, having found her voice again. "Hey, huntsman," She addressed him again, this time as his fairytale persona – the one he had believed in, in his last twenty four hours of life. "You're not allowed to die, alright? That's – that's not how the story ends."

The paramedics burst through the door, lifting him off of her and onto a stretcher that seemed to have been conjured from thin air. They made their way to the ambulance, an EMT inside waiting with the defibrillator already charged. One of the paramedics gestured for her to get in the back, and she obeyed, making herself as small as possible so they would have room to work. She could hear the paramedics speaking to each other, medical mumbo-jumbo she didn't understand, but didn't look up, didn't try to listen to what they were saying. Instead, she began speaking softly, her commentary directed at Graham though he was likely dead.

"Graham, I need you to hear me now, okay? I need you to listen to me. The Evil Queen…" She paused for a moment, debating on whether or not to continue. "You told me you didn't feel anything because the Evil Queen took your heart, but she couldn't have taken all of it because you felt something for me. So, don't let her win, okay? Don't let what's left of your heart give up on you now that you're feeling something again – you're strong enough. You can take it," The words, though spoken in a hushed whisper too soft for the paramedics to hear, seemed to work their magic (or perhaps the defibrillator did its job) because his heart began to beat once again.

-Onceuponatime-

"It's Emma. I'm…I'm here to check up on you after the scare you gave me, you jerk, but I suppose you can't hear me – the Doc has you pretty heavily medicated, if I understood any of this medical mumbo jumbo on the chart on your door. Anyway, visiting hours are over, and I'm probably going to get kicked out of here pretty soon so… Get well soon, because the last thing this town needs is me for its sheriff." Emma said, chuckling slightly. She stood and put the chair back in its original spot and was half way to the door, ready to escape the situation which was quickly turning awkward (even though there was no reasonable explanation for it).

"And just between you and me, if you needed a heart, all you had to do was ask – you can share mine." She turned back and walked to his bedside, making a split second decision. For the last time, just once more would be okay. She kissed him sweetly, briefly, on the lips before quickly exiting first his room, and then the hospital itself. She had some explaining to do to Mary Margaret.

Perhaps, if Emma had not been in such a rush to flee the room, she would have noticed the corners of his mouth twitch upward into a smile. But as it happens, she did not.


A/n: So, that was just the first chapter - more of a prologue, really, to tease your brains. Did it work? Things to come: Emma asks Archie for advice, Henry has a chat with Graham, Mary Margaret has a slightly uncomfortable meeting with David Nolan, Regina and Mr. Gold find themselves at odds. There may or may not be a marriage proposal thrown in there somewhere (and by 'may or may not', I mean will). Please review and tell me what you think so far - even though there's not much to go off of, maybe something about Emma's voice? Thanks!

P.s. - the chapter title is song lyrics taken from Natalie Merchant's 'My Skin', which helped me set the tone for the chapter.