A/N: I am soooo in love with this 'ship now, and I've just been attacked by the plot bunnies here. This is Part 1 of 22 (for the 22 Major Arcana cards in the Tarot, which is where the whole idea for this fic came from), and I hope you all enjoy it.
"We were strangers, starting out on a journey … "
Storybrooke was pretty much exactly like Emma remembered it … aside from the addition of a few new residents, of course. Mulan and Aurora were well-received by the townsfolk, as Emma knew they would be. Emma knew that Aurora worried for her prince, left behind in the nearly ruined Enchanted Forest, but she hid it well.
The other newcomer, however …
God, she really wished she hadn't climbed that beanstalk with him. Fucking giant. It was all his fault.
No. No, that wasn't fair. The giant was just protecting his turf, after all. Anyone would do the same.
No. This was all Killian's fault. Fucking Killian.
Okay, maybe those two words together weren't the best combination. She really didn't need to let her brain wander down that road.
Mary-Margaret — Mom — she seemed to sense that something was up the second Emma and Killian had returned with the compass, but Emma wasn't exactly in a sharing mood at that point. Mostly she was just …
Even though the circumstances had been kinda dire, she still wished she could have a little bit of that famous Storybrooke memory loss right about now. She didn't need to remember …
She shook her head, pulling open the door to the sheriff's office and smiling when she saw David — Dad — sitting at her desk, glad for the distraction. "Are you planning on letting me have my job back, or am I unemployed?" she asked jokingly, moving to sit on the edge of the desk.
David looked up at the sound of her voice and smiled softly. Of course they'd already talked since she and Mary-Margaret had returned, but he still seemed happy to see her, every time since then, as if he was glad she hadn't gotten sucked off into another portal somewhere.
"Of course you can have your job back," he said, shaking his head. "I gladly resign. It's not as easy as you make it look."
Emma smiled, a little nervously. Every once in awhile, it would suddenly hit her that she'd found her parents … and the truth surrounding it was all so surreal that it sorta floored her for a bit. "Well, that's good," she said. "I'd hate to have to go beg Ruby for work at the diner. I can't cook for shit."
David laughed. "I'm sure it's not that bad," he said kindly.
Emma fixed him with a look. "You want me to cook for you sometime, then?" she asked dryly.
He made a big show of checking his watch and gathering up his coat then. "Oh, look at that, I've got to go," he said, a smile playing at the corner of his lips.
Emma rolled her eyes. "Thought so," she said, shaking her head a bit. "But seriously, get out of here, go home and see your wife."
He nodded. "I will. But if you need anything … "
"I'll let you know, I promise," she said, waving him off. Before he could get much farther though, she reached out and touched his shoulder, almost tentatively. He turned and she smiled again. "Thank you," she said. "For everything you did … for Henry and … "
He smiled back, his hand resting over hers. "How could I have done anything else?" he said. He nodded at her desk. "Don't work too hard."
"Who, me?" Emma quipped. "Never." He just gave her a look, and she waved him off again.
Once he was gone, she moved back over to her desk, wondering what sort of mess she'd come back to. Surprisingly … not much of one. David had done a pretty good job keeping things organized in her absence. Which was a good thing, except …
It gave her far too much time to think. And thinking was not something she wanted to be doing, in light of all the recent events. Not to mention …
"You know you can't keep me locked up in here."
It was like he'd just waited for David to leave to start being a nuisance. Well, yeah, of course that's what he did. She did her best to ignore him, poring over some of the files on her desk as though they were the most interesting things she'd ever seen.
"What crime have I committed, exactly, that warrants me being locked up like a common crook?"
She rolled her eyes. "Shut up," she hissed through gritted teeth.
"You didn't seem to mind me talking back in the Enchanted Forest. Or, wait, is that it? Is that why you kissed me, then?"
Emma whirled in her chair then, eyes snapping fire at him. "I said, shut up!" she snarled.
"Oooh, that one struck a nerve," he said, an infuriating smirk on his too-handsome face. "But I really think we ought to talk about it … and you ought to let me out when we do."
"Not gonna happen," she muttered, turning back to her files. She just couldn't look at him, not right now. Not when she could distinctly remember the way his lips had tasted …
Nope. Stop that now.
"I'm fairly certain there are laws about locking a person up wrongfully."
God, did he ever shut up? "You're not locked up because of something you did," she said, still not looking back at him.
"Well, that just makes it all better then," he said dryly. "Emma. Emma."
She gritted her teeth. God, this was a bad idea. They should've just left him back there after they had the compass, but nooooo, Emma had to go and be all noble and insist that they keep their end of the bargain.
What the hell had she been thinking?
She stood up abruptly, so abruptly that her chair toppled over to the ground. She glared at it, then sighed, reaching for her leather jacket.
"Oh, you are not actually leaving me alone in here, are you?"
"Yes, I actually am," she retorted, making for the door.
"At least tell me why."
She stopped halfway to the door and sighed heavily. She did at least owe him that much. She turned around and walked back over to stand in front of his cell, keeping herself back a safe distance. "Because if what you told me before was true, then you aren't going to exactly be a most welcome person in this town, and I'm not about to let something happen to you."
That didn't come out right. He had an eyebrow cocked at her now.
"I just meant, as sheriff, I wouldn't really be doing my job if I let harm befall one of my citizens and … " She trailed off. He was smirking at her again. Probably not even listening to a word she said. "Forget it," she muttered, turning to go.
"So why can't I just stay with you?" he asked with a grin.
"Not on the likely, buddy," she said. She could just see that one now. Snow and Charming and Henry and Hook with his inappropriate smirks and comments … God, no. Bad bad bad idea.
"You can't keep me locked in here indefinitely," he said.
"Look, you said you wanted to come here for revenge on Rumpelstiltskin," she said. "And I get it, I do, that guy's not exactly on the level. But he also pretty much owns this town. If he wanted something to happen to you … it would. And no one would even question it." She looked back over her shoulder at him. "It's better if you stay off his radar for as long as possible."
"You won't keep me from my revenge," he told her, a light in his eyes she hadn't seen before. This bad blood between him and Mr. Gold — Rumpelstiltskin, whatever — it had to go beyond the loss of his hand, but she wasn't about to press him about it, not right now. She wasn't even sure she cared.
"I'm not planning on it," she said honestly. "But you better have a good damn plan before you go for it." She shook her head. "Look, I'm going to talk to a friend of mine, see if you can stay at her family's inn. She's pretty good at keeping secrets. Trust me, I don't want you locked in here, annoying me while I'm trying to work for any longer than necessary."
"Sure, that's the reason," he said with a wink.
She rolled her eyes. "We're not talking about … that, either," she said warningly.
"We don't have to talk about it," he said leadingly.
"Yeah, I'm gonna go now," she said, heading for the door again.
"But you thought about it! Admit it!" was the last thing she heard before she exited the sheriff's office. She pulled on her jacket against the brisk fall wind and headed toward Granny's Diner. She could really use a drink right about now.
The little bell chimed as she pushed open the door to the diner, and Ruby looked up, smiling at her from behind the bar. Her smile vanished though, when she saw the look on Emma's face. "Well, someone isn't happy to be back," she said, eyes wide. "What's up?"
"You got any room at the inn?" Emma asked her, sitting down on one of the barstools.
"Things that bad, living with the folks?" Ruby asked with a laugh. She set down Emma's usual drink in front of the blonde.
"Oh, it's not for me," she said, taking the drink with a grateful smile. She looked over her shoulder, making sure no one was around to hear her next words. "Aurora and Mulan weren't the only ones who came over with us, when we came back," she said, lowering her voice and leaning across the bar a bit.
"Ooh, I'm sensing scandal," Ruby said, eyes twinkling michievously.
Emma rolled her eyes. "Nothing like that. Just that … he … needs to be protected," she said, not sure how else to word it. "There are certain people here who wouldn't be happy to know it. Could he stay at the inn, without you or Granny saying anything?"
"As a favor to you?" Ruby said, grinning. "Of course, Emma. Bring him by tonight. I'll talk to Granny before then."
Emma finished the rest of her drink, feeling marginally better for it. She knew she had to go back to the office, but knowing she'd be getting rid of him soon sort of helped. "Thanks, Ruby," she said, standing to go.
"No problem!" the dark-haired girl said cheerfully. "Ooh, wait, one question." Emma turned around, looking expectantly at her. "This mystery man of yours … hot?" Ruby quirked her eyebrow with a grin.
Emma just shook her head. Hot didn't even begin to describe him. "You'll see for yourself soon enough." She felt a funny pang in her stomach when she thought about Ruby and Killian spending time together. But that was stupid. She wanted him to leave her alone, after all.
"Oh, he is hot," Ruby deduced with no little amount of glee in her voice.
"Ruby, he's … " Emma began, then frowned. What exactly was she going to say? Hands off, wolf-girl? What right did she have to say that? Why would she even want to? She just shook her head. "Nothing. I'll bring him by the inn later. Thanks again."
She made her way back to the office, bracing herself for a new barrage of annoyances as she pulled open the door.
She knew something was wrong the second she walked inside, but it wasn't til she reached the holding area that she figured out what. "Son of a bitch!" she cursed, slamming her hand down on the top of her desk when she saw that the door to his cell was open.
Well, now he could be anywhere, hell, Rumpelstiltskin could have already found him at this point …
Good riddance, a small part of her was saying, though the rest of her was in full-on panic mode. "Shit, shit, shit … "
"Such language, Miss Swan. Did you lose something?"
She jumped about thirty feet into the air as she whirled to face him. "How the hell did you get out?" she demanded and he fixed her with a bored look.
"Emma, please, I'm a pirate. Give me some credit." He grinned and sat on the corner of her desk, looking at her as though he expected her to do something about it.
She sighed. "You're such a bastard," she muttered, which only made him grin more. "That's not actually a compliment," she told him wryly.
"If you're that worried about what sort of … mischief," he said the word almost lasciviously, running his tongue over his teeth in a way that bordered on obscene, "then take me with you. Keep a close eye on me."
Emma fixed him with a steely glare, refusing to let herself be swayed by this man, not again, not ever again. "I am not taking you back to Mary-Margaret and David's," she said emphatically.
"Why not?" he asked. "Afraid I'll let it slip what you did back on top of that beanstalk?" He quirked a brow at her.
"Do you ever shut up?"
"One way to find out," he said, hopping off the desk and moving to stand way too close to her, leaning in. She could feel his breath on her face, and for a fraction of a second, she considered closing the gap between them, like she had back on top of that beanstalk, after they'd escaped from the giant.
That had been all it had been about, she told herself. Things had been pretty hairy up there, and they very nearly hadn't escaped. It had been a mixture of sheer terror, and relief about escaping, that had caused Emma to throw her arms around him and kiss him like there was no tomorrow.
She had regretted it almost immediately, and now, back in Storybrooke, back in the harsh light of day, it was even more apparent that it had been a foolish, idiotic thing to do, even as the memories of his lips, his tongue, his hand roaming to places that it had no business roaming flooded her mind and made her blush. He was a good kisser … he was probably good at everything. That was the problem.
The last thing Emma needed right now was the complications that this pirate could bring into her life. She placed a hand on his chest then, and, summoning all her willpower, gave him a shove backward.
"Not. Gonna. Happen," she told him, her voice low with her resolve.
Instead of pushing, like she'd assumed he would, all he did was shrug. "As you say, Miss Swan," he said with an exaggerated bow. She caught the glint in his eye though, and knew this wasn't over. "I'll just be taking my leave of you. For now."
It wasn't til he was out the door that it dawned on Emma that he was just out and about in Storybrooke, on his own. God knew what kind of trouble he could get into. "Oh, like hell … " she cursed, following him out into the night.