She had never thought of herself as a Daddy's girl. It was because she never had a dad. She had foster fathers, and sometimes they could be nice, other times, not so nice. There were foster parents who gave her everything she wanted, and then there were foster parents who gave her nothing but bruises and bad memories. It was usually the dad who beat her, never the mom. The mom sat back and watched, too afraid to do anything, or just too fucked up. So, no, she never thought she would be a Daddy's girl. Why would she, when most of her foster fathers were the ones to hurt her?
When she was younger, and still hopeful, she would dream of her parents. Her mother would have blonde hair and her nose, while her father would have her chin and her blue eyes. They would dote on her and love her. Sometimes, when she was really wistful, she would be wearing pink, because little girls wore pink. But then she grew up and realized her parents were probably heroin addicts and couldn't afford her and their addiction. She often wondered if she was a crack baby, but she never showed any of the signs.
Then her life really went to hell. She got involved with a married man, who immediately wanted nothing to do with her as soon as he found out she was pregnant. She had thought him so nice, too...But she was underage at the time, and he was in his thirties. He had made a name of himself, and statutory rape would only ruin everything he had built.
She was eighteen when she went in labor, in a jail cell. She wanted to keep the baby so bad, but she couldn't. She realized she was acting in the same way her parents had probably acted. She wanted to give this kid it's best shot, and to do that, it couldn't have an eighteen year old mother who was only scraping by. So she had given him up for adoption, and yes it was a him. She had no name for him. There were no male names that had any sentimental value to her. And then he was gone, and at first, she thought about him every day, but then he slowly slipped from her mind.
And then that boy, this beautiful, handsome boy who looking nothing like his father (thank God!), found her. He was so smart, she could tell already, but at the same time, oh so very stupid. He stole his teacher's credit card so he could get out of town to find her. He had a knack for finding people, just like his mother, she guessed. But how bad was his home life that he had to run away from it to find her? How bad was it that he assigned his adoptive mother the role of the Evil Queen in a storybook?
Ironically, she ended up being the roommate of the same person Henry had stolen the credit card from, and the same person who had gotten Henry in this mess in the first place. Storybrooke was an impossibly small town that she was sure wasn't even on the map. She had started something with the town sheriff, what? She wasn't sure. Just a lot of flirting back and forth. She had also started something with the town mayor. Not like that, though. Their relationship was much less flirty and a lot more vindictive. Her roommate soon became her best friend.
Her best friend, Mary Margaret Blanchard, was so impossibly naïve. She was the sweetest, most beautiful—both on the inside and out—woman she had ever met. But so goddamn naïve. She had fallen in love with a married man. A married man, who was supposedly, Snow White's true love. You see, Snow White was Mary Margaret's assigned character. Prince Charming was the married man. And where did Emma fit into all of this? Well, they were her parents of course. They had put her in a wardrobe when she was a baby to give her her best chance, so she could become the savior and, well, save the town from the curse the Evil Queen put on all of the unsuspecting people. Ridiculous, she knew, but she went along with it. She didn't want to ruin Henry's fantasy. Apparently, it was how he coped.
David Nolan was his name. She hated David Nolan with a passion. The man who stole Mary Margaret's heart only to crush it in a million itty bitty pieces. But at the same time, she idolized him. She had no clue why, to be honest. But if she weren't stronger, she would be worshiping the ground he walked on. He, too, was so goddamn sweet. One of the kindest people she had ever met, but also a complete asshole, for breaking her best friend's very fragile heart. He always managed to shove his foot in his mouth when it came to Mary Margaret. Whether it be him being a blubbering idiot, or just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It was obvious he was in love with her, so obvious. He had gotten his memories back, though, and he sacrificed his happiness to try and make things work with his wife.
So, yes, he was selfless, and sweet, and, kind of cute too—not that she would ever go for him, she had her sights set on a certain sheriff—but she hated him. And she idolized him. It was irrational, it made no sense, but whenever she was around this man, she wanted to make him proud. Maybe Henry was finally getting to her after all. She did kind of look like him...
"Hey, Emma," David greeted. His eyes were wary, as well they should be, because she could kick his ass six ways to Sunday, and she had every right to, too. His voice was cheery, though. He did seem genuinely happy to see her. Damn him for being a good guy! He smiled at her son, too. "Hi, Henry," he greeted as well. Damn him!
They were at Granny's, for once, Mary wasn't with them, she had to stay behind to grade papers. Regina was off doing something mayorly, but Henry thought she was off plotting. So it was just Emma and Henry for dinner, eating grilled cheese and drinking hot cocoa because it was an unspoken rule to have cocoa with everything.
Henry beamed at the older man, and she realized he looked at him like any grandson would. "Hi, Mr. Nolan!"
David grinned at this enthusiasm. "How are you guys?"
"Ms. Blanchard's fine," Henry said knowingly and David blushed. That kid was so smart.
"It's okay." Henry grinned cheekily.
Emma was very tempted to say it was certainly not okay, but she just kept quiet. She finally asked, begrudgingly, "How are you, David?"
Maybe it was something about them, Emma had mused. Maybe they seemed trustworthy, because his cheery facade disappeared and his shoulders slumped. He shrugged, halfheartedly.
"Wanna talk about it?" Henry questioned, his voice quiet and sympathetic. David started to protest but Henry would have none of it. He slid over in the booth and tugged David down with surprising force. "It helps to talk about it," Henry said wisely.
It all came tumbling out and Emma couldn't help but hope he would stick his foot in his mouth at some moment, because damn he was talking a lot. Apparently, things with him and Kathryn weren't going too well. While he had his memories back, he felt nothing for her and it was putting a strain on their relationship. She wanted to be with him, and this is where he coughed awkwardly and looked away from the both of them, before continuing. He didn't want to be with her, ahem, like that. Henry started giggling immaturely behind his hand. David blushed. Not to mention that it made matters ten times worse when all he could think of was Mary Margaret, who hated him. And then he rushed on to say that this whole situation sucked because Kathryn was disappointed at him for not wanting to be with her. Mary hated him for leading her, unintentionally, on. Emma hated him for hurting Mary. God, the only person who didn't hate him was Henry!...Who he looked at nervously and second guessed, Right?
"I don't hate you." But it wasn't Henry who said it, it was Emma. He stared at her in shock and she conceded, "Okay, I kind of hate you, but for some reason, I can't completely hate you."
"Why not?" David asked.
Emma shrugged, having no rational answer. She really wanted to give him a hug right now. One of those hugs where she would burrow into him. She would duck her head into his chest and he would wrap his arms around her shoulders and it would be just absolutely safe. Because if anywhere was safe, it was in David's arms and she really had to shut up now, because she was blushing for no apparent reason, well, that they knew of anyway.
She made some lame excuse about leaving, because she wanted to have no part in this conversation anymore. She paid for the food, and David got awkwardly out of the booth. Henry followed his mother, not questioning anything.
When Graham died, he was the only person to ask her up front if she was okay. Henry didn't want to talk about it, upset that the Evil Queen won another battle. Mary Margaret never brought it up, but made sure to be accommodating. She didn't want to drive Emma away, knowing she wasn't ready to talk about it. David had ran into her on the street, took one look at her, and convinced her to sit on a nearby bench with him.
"Are you okay?" he asked once they sat down. She burst into tears. He didn't touch her, having a feeling she wouldn't like that, but sat by her while she cried. It was his presence that helped her, knowing he was there. She was embarrassed, crying in front of a man she didn't even like, crying in public. She made her tears subside and they sat together in silence.
"I got a job at the animal shelter," he informed. She was so grateful at the change of subject that she laughed.
Their stable friendship broke when she punched him in the face. Mary Margaret had told her everything. They met up with each other at seven-fifteen in the morning every day. That he had saved her life, and they almost kissed in a cabin, that Kathryn might have been pregnant, but wasn't. The fact that she even thought she was pregnant pissed her off, because David had said he didn't want to have sex with her. They had kissed. Mary Margaret had been overjoyed.
"You asshole," she hissed. He rubbed his face gingerly. Everybody in Granny's diner was looking at him. "How dare you lead her on like that! I trusted you! I can't believe I trusted you!"
"Emma—" He started. His face was already bruising. For some unknown reason, he was proud of the fact that she could defend herself.
She held up her hand, immediately silencing him. "This is all going to blow up in your face, you do realize that, right?" He nodded silently. She huffed, giving him a disgusted look, before spinning around and walking out of the diner.
It blew up in his face. Tramp was written across Mary Margaret's car in big, bold, red letters. Emma had found it first, scrubbing it off as quickly as she could. David helped, with the two combined, they managed to get it off before Mary could find it. It didn't stop the two from breaking up.
Kathryn left town and Mary Margaret was suspected of killing her. They found a jewelery box buried in the woods, Kathryn's heart inside of it. And it was all so fucked up and confusing, because Mary Margaret could never kill anybody, but her fingerprints were on the box. She made sure Mary knew she didn't believe that she killed Kathryn, but Emma couldn't help but think she might have overestimated David's kindness. He didn't believe that Mary didn't kill Kathryn. The thought of Mary hurting anyone intentionally was ludicrous. She was tempted to punch him a second time. But everything had worked out, somehow. Both her and Mary Margaret had gotten kidnapped by a crazy man who thought he was the Mad Hatter, but they managed to get away, unfortunately, so did he. Ruby had found Kathryn in an alley, with no memory of what happened to her.
The only reason she stayed in this town was for Henry and Mary Margaret, and well, August. August who was this mysterious stranger who traveled all over the world to exotic places on a motorcycle. August who, if she wasn't mistaken, she might have feelings for. It hadn't been long since Graham died, and she felt so guilty for having feelings for this guy, but had she really started anything with Graham in the first place? Almost...and then he died. And with her luck, August would die, too. It seemed like everybody in her life left her.
But then August wasn't as sane as she thought he was. He took her out of town to tell her his story. He honestly though he was Pinocchio, and that they had traveled together in a magical tree. That she was this destined savior, but she wasn't dammit! She didn't want to be a savior because she could barely take care of herself and Henry let alone save a whole town of people. Then he tried to show her his wooden leg and he seemed surprised and disappointed that all she saw was human flesh. He was a crazy bastard. Graham had gone insane around her and then August did too. Was she cursed?
"Hey, Emma," David greeted tentatively a day later.
She looked at him distastefully, but inwardly she was happy he was talking to her. She slammed back a shot, as if it would wash away these stupid feelings. This man was not her father. He was barely a year older than her!
He sat in the bar stool next to her. "Everything okay?"
"Nope," she grumbled.
"You want to share?"
"Okay," he said. He was quiet. Damn him! Damn him for being so nice and fatherly and—and—and ugh!
She tipped back another shot. "I'm trying to get custody of Henry but Archie thinks he's better off with Regina." She scoffed and gave him a look that made him nod in understanding. "Regina who's so horrible to him that Henry thinks he's the Evil Queen in his storybook. And who does he think I am? The savior!" She looked at him. "He obviously trusts me more than her, yet Archie thinks he would be better off with Regina."
"I think he would be much better with you," he said honestly. "Henry loves you and you're a great mother."
"Do you think so?" Emma asked, a sense of pride in her voice.
He nodded. "Absolutely!" He paused. "But, I think, in order for you to be with Henry, you need to work things out with Regina. Try talking to her."
She did. It wasn't exactly how she expected things to work, but Regina did give her an apple turnover. Henry freaked out over it. He refused to let her eat it, saying it was poisoned. So he ate it, to prove it to her, and promptly passed out.
Everything was a blur after that, but she realized what Henry had been trying to tell her for months was true. She had to kill a dragon. She did it with her father's sword. When Mr. Gold first showed it to her, all she did was stare. In disbelief, at first, because a dragon, seriously? But then in awe. This was her father's. Her father saved her life with this sword. There were barely concealed tears in her eyes as she picked it up. This was David's. No, it was Prince Charming's.
She wasn't a good swordsman to be honest. She didn't know what she was doing. She would have rather used her gun, which didn't do jack shit against the dragon. So she threw the sword and it spun in the air before hitting the underbelly and killing the beast.
There was nothing to do for Henry. Rumpelstiltskin had ditched them and ductaped Regina to a chair. She was tempted to leave her there, but she didn't. They both went to the hospital where they were informed there was nothing to do for him. She had tearfully kissed his forehead and a wave of energy hit all of them.
All she could think of was her family, yes her family, as her and Henry saw the purple wave. It was all consuming. It drifted through the windows and doors and was the creepiest thing she had ever seen in her life. She hugged Henry to her as it overcame them. Magic was back.
No, she never considered herself a Daddy's girl, but when David and Mary Margaret ran into Henry's hospital room, it was like time stopped. Mary Margaret was her best friend, and now her mother, and was also the first person she hugged. Completely overwhelmed, she stood there as Snow White gripped her so hard it hurt.
And then there was David, this man she loved to hate. This man who had been there at a time where other people weren't. A man who confided in her and she had confided in. He was there when she cried and he gave her advice. They stood in front of each other, neither daring to move. She was aware of everyone around her. The people bowing respectfully to their majesties. Henry hugging Mary Margaret, so happy to have grandparents.
She took the first step, ducking her head in Charming's chest. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and it was true. In her Daddy's arms, she forgot about everything, because he would do anything to protect her. With his arms around her, she was completely and utterly safe from the world.