Emma Swan was staring out into the water beneath the toll bridge, thinking. Just existing, hurting. She didn't know how in the hell and she didn't know when, but she had developed feelings for none other than the infamous pawn broker of the town, Mr. Gold. She thinks to herself that it's maybe because he's just got that air about him. He's not what you would call gorgeous, yet he's still handsome, although unconventionally. And if you get him to talk about things other than evil schemes, he's sweet. Maybe it's because she has some twisted daddy complex and he certainly is older than her. How much, she's never asked. But with the shiny, silver streaks throughout his sleek, brown hair and that notorious limp, he's definitely 15 or more years her senior. Maybe it's because she somehow strangely feels protected whenever he's near, despite all of the nasty and dishonorable things he's done to the inhabitants of the town- and even her. She has done well not to forget the fire incident he created, even if it did catapult her to victory in the sheriff race. Despite any and everything, she feels something deep within her entire being for him. Maybe it's not truly, entirely love, but maybe it is. She never knows.
One thing she does know, however, is that he feels the same. He told her, albeit through a drunken haze one night at Granny's, but still. They say alcohol serves as truth serum. Emma huffs a laugh at this. Why? She has absolutely not a clue, but the words came out of his mouth and she knows he means them, meant them in that moment, however completely and irrevocably insane that notion is. She doesn't know when it could have happened for him but the fact is, it did. They had spent several moments together during her whim of a stay in Storybrooke-making deals and the like. Sometimes just talking, being with each other. She guesses that's all it takes for some. And maybe they could have been something. Maybe they could have actually fallen in love and she would finally get the chance to know what it felt like. But, no. Not this time.
A woman from Gold's past, with whom he was infatuated, came back to his present. And there was simply no denying that he wanted to be with her, and no one else. Emma seemed to fade away into nothingness when this woman returned. There was no Emma to Gold, it seemed.
She had to leave.
It was selfish of her, no doubt. Leaving Henry behind because some foolish, unrealistic romance didn't happen for her. So damn selfish. But she just can't bear to see another man that she almost wanted want someone else. Not again, not ever. She could come back for Henry one day, but she had to get away from Gold.
Emma was so immersed in her brooding, that she didn't hear someone approach. She looked around and much to her dismay, there was Gold limping toward her in all his charcoal suit, purple pinstriped shirt, and sunglasses wearing glory.
"You walked all the way here?," Emma asked incredulously, her voice dripping with derision not really looking at him.
"I had to find you somehow, dearie." She scoffed at this, but turned towards him.
"And why is that?" she said, an edge to her voice. Gold noticed this immediately. He stared at her for a minute, looked to his feet while scratching at his brow and began.
"Because a little birdie told me you were leaving Storybrooke? Is this true, Miss Swan? If it is, I have to say, I have absolutely no idea why you would do such a thing..," Gold said, anger and something else Emma couldn't quite pinpoint lacing his voice.
"Why in God's name do you care what I do, Gold? You have your own life. And I have my own reasons for leaving."
Gold stepped towards her. His voice rose.
"Why do I care? Maybe because all we've worked for will go to the dogs if you walk away now. Maybe because Regina will finally get all she wants if you just give up on it all. Maybe because I don't think you should leave Henry or m- he stopped, voice growing quieter- or Mary Margaret, after all she's done for you." She looked wildly at him, not believing all he was throwing at her, then turned back to the water.
His voice was barely above a whisper as he came to stand beside her to look out over the water. He leaned his arms up against the railing and rubbed at his chin.
"Maybe because there's still that favor you owe me." She whipped around to look at him and her voice rose.
"I think I've more than paid you back that favor, Gold," acidity saturating her voice. He stared at her.
"And besides, you have other people to give you favors now."
Gold pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed quietly. He knew what this was all about now, and how could he not after all they had been through. He was such an ass. How could he have not seen this happening? He never in a hundred centuries or in a thousand other dimensions meant to hurt Emma Swan. But he had. And now she wanted to leave. Even though his Belle had come back, and he was happy for that, so so happy. There was still this terrible void in his heart that even she could not fill after all these years. Sometimes love just didn't last the test of time. He had always expected this to happen. And that's when he knew. That somewhere along the way, Emma was the only one who could fill that void. But he had not let her know. He was such a fool.
"Miss Swan I-," Gold began but Emma quickly and fiercely cut him off.
"No, you know what, Gold, don't Miss Swan me," she said, heatedly. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. Her eyes softened a bit, as did her voice.
"Look, Gold. I'm sorry, but this is just something I have to do. Not just for myself. For everyone here. Regina's not going to stop, no matter what I do. And it's taking its toll on everyone, especially Henry. I need to leave…so that everyone can finally have their happy ending, or what's left of it anyway. Because it always ends like this for me, and I'm used to it by now." He turned sharply to look at her. He wrenched his sunglasses off of his face and sat them on the ledge.
"Emma..when are you going to realize..that you are our happy ending." He rarely ever used her first name. Emma choked back a sob.
"Oh, don't say that. That's clearly not true..look, I-I can't do this right now." Gold grabbed her wrists and gently pulled her closer to him. He reached up and wiped away a tear that had fallen down her face with his thumb. Even after all they'd been through and done together (they had fallen into bed together after the drunken night at Granny's) she was slightly embarrassed to be so close to him in this moment.
"Emma..love, listen to me. Henry is right, you are the one who is going to bring back the happy endings to Storybrooke. I-he huffed and pursed his lips for a brief moment then spoke again- I am right when I say that you are all of our happy ending…you're my happy ending." Emma tried, unsuccessfully, to wrench free of his grasp. He kept his hold on her.
"You don't mean that, you have Belle back now, you don't know what you are saying..." She wouldn't look him in the eye.
Gold gently grasped her chin in his hand. "Listen to me, that night, after we had drinks at Granny's, what I told you..I-I meant that, Emma. I mean that. I think I got sidetracked when Belle came back into my life, yes. I was happy to see her, you must understand that. But I know now, that I don't love her, that way, anymore. It's you, you fill this void I have in my heart-you-,"
She kissed him.
He brought one hand up to tangle in her hair and the other settled on her waist. One of hers went around his neck and the other caressed the front of the bottom of his jaw. He kissed her back softly, pulling her top lip in between both of his, then kissing her bottom one sweetly and resting his forehead against hers.
He cradled her face in his hands.
"Don't leave," he whispered softly.
It always ends like this.