What if The Stranger rolled through Storybrooke, say, five minutes later? What if Henry got the opportunity to ask Emma a very important question?
Once Upon a Time
Our Little Secret
Watching Michael approach Ava and Nicolas, the scene brought tears to Emma's eyes. Reuniting a father with his children struck a cord with her. She hoped for this outcome when she called Michael, telling him a made up story about her car breaking down. Emma knew it was a leap of faith, one of that paid off with flying colors when Michael embraced Ava and Nicolas. Seeing the kids' smiles over their dad's shoulder warmed Emma's heart.
After going home and talking with Mary Margaret about the ordeal, Emma couldn't help but wonder about her own parents. And Mary Margaret's encouragement didn't hinder Emma's thinking. It made Emma wonder if maybe, just maybe her parents had some crazy reason for giving her up. For leaving her on the side of the road. For disappearing to a place where she couldn't find them.
Sitting in her car, Emma's hard stare was locked on the file in her hands, the words, "Baby on side of road," jumping out at her when she heard a tap at the window. Looking to the passenger side, a smile took Emma's face when she saw Henry and quickly, she flipped the folder closed.
"What's that?" Henry asked, having spotted the folder.
"Just an old file," Emma brushed off while looking to the carton in Henry's hands. "What's up?"
"Pumpkin pie," Henry explained. "I… I thought you'd like some," he stuttered shyly.
Emma smiled further.
"It was pumpkin, right?"
"Right," Emma assured him while opening her door and stepping out of the car.
As Henry walked around the front of the car to join her, Emma took a quiet breath, then met the boy's eyes and said, "Henry, about your father-"
"Yeah?" Henry asked with a smile and bright eyes.
At the hopeful look on his face, Emma couldn't do it. She couldn't shatter the illusion she had painted for him.
"I'm glad I told you," Emma finished with a small smile.
"Me too," Henry returned, his smile having grown as he wrapped his arms around Emma's middle.
Emma released a tiny sigh while putting one arm around Henry's back and patting his head with her other hand.
As they parted, Emma had her eye on the carton in Henry's grip. Giving Henry a little nudge, Emma snatched the pie with a smile while leaning against the car. Henry took off his backpack, slipping it to street so he could lean against the car as well.
After asking the question in his mind a few dozen times, Henry took his gaze from the street and looked to Emma who was taking a bite of pie.
"I was thinking about Operation Cobra," Henry started.
"We've been working on it for a while and I really think we need those nicknames. I don't want anyone to catch on to our plans."
"Anyone meaning the Mayor?" Emma asked with a smirk.
"Especially her," Henry agreed firmly.
"Okay," Emma started with a smile while forking another bite, "so we need nicknames."
"Yes," Henry confirmed. "And I think I have one for you. But I think I should only use it when it's just you and me."
Frowning, Emma said, "what's the point of a nickname if you can't say it around other people?"
"Oh, yeah, good point," Henry realized. "Well, then maybe you could have two nicknames. One for when it's just us and one for when we're with other people."
"Two nicknames, huh?" Emma asked wearily.
"So you got an idea for one?"
Again, Henry nodded.
"Okay, lay it on me," Emma said while taking another bite of pie.
"Mom," Henry blurted.
At the word, Emma coughed, choking on the food in her mouth.
"Are you okay?" Henry asked worriedly.
Hunched over, Emma nodded while holding up her index finger.
"I guess you're still not ready," Henry murmured, his voice disappointed.
Quickly, Emma forced the food down her throat and stood up straight.
"I'm sorry I brought it up. I'll just go home now."
"No, Henry, wait!" Emma called while dropped the pie to the hood of the car and grabbing his arm to stop him. "You… I just… I don't… You want to call me Mom?" she asked in bewilderment.
Henry nodded shyly.
"I'm guessing that's the nickname for when it's just you and me?"
"Well, um," Emma started with uncertainty.
"It's okay. You're not ready. I shouldn't have asked."
"It's just… no one's ever called me Mom before," Emma tried to explain.
"I understand," Henry said. "It's late. I should go home."
"But, then again… no one's ever asked."
At Emma's smile, Henry sprouted his own and said, "does that mean it can be your nickname?"
Nodding, Emma warned, "when it's just you and me. It'll be our little secret. Got it?"
"Good. And you're right. It is late. You should go home. You've got school tomorrow."
"Okay," Henry started while turning away. "Good night, Mom!" He called while taking off down the street.
Smiling, Emma said, "Good night, Henry."
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