Chapter 1: The Return
It was a regular day in Storybrooke, Maine. For once nothing was out of the ordinary. There were no dragons to slay, no giants to fight.
Though the townsfolk had their memories back of their lives before, for once it felt like the Storybrooke Emma Swan knew: just regular people in a regular town with nothing special about it.
It was nice. Normal.
The change felt good.
For a while since her and Snow's return three weeks ago, along with Aurora and Mulan, there had been a few issues to take care of.
David…Charming, had removed himself as sheriff and given the position back to his daughter. Emma in turn grateful for what he had done while she was away, let David remain on as her deputy. Charming didn't seem to mind working under his daughter but the way she saw it, despite the labels and technicalities, Charming wasn't working under her, he was working beside her and knowing that pleased him.
There was still no sign or word that Hook and Cora had somehow made their way to Storybrooke. Emma knew as did most everyone in her small group of trusted allies that it was only a matter of time.
For now though those concerns could be put on hold.
Emma walked with her family as they made their way to Granny's diner. It was early enough and it had been Henry's idea that they go out for breakfast as a family. Emma couldn't say no this time.
She and David had been working early hours and late night shifts at the office and even when she wasn't working she always found some kind of excuse to skip out on family oriented activities despite all four of them living in the same apartment.
They had gotten a new apartment in the same building. It was bigger with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a slightly larger living space and kitchen. Emma had been hesitant on the idea.
Though she had enjoyed her time living with Mary Margaret it was completely different now that Mary Margaret was her mother. Henry quickly jumped at the idea of a new apartment. He and David had grown close much the same way she had with Snow.
And though she was hesitant at first, once their big move happened even she had to admit that she enjoyed it. Emma finally had the family she had always dreamed of. It didn't matter if she was a 28 year old woman with a nearly eleven year old son living with her parents, she was happy, something she hadn't been in a long while.
Emma wasn't used to family activities and though she had gotten closer to her parents and rarely refused for Henry to be out of her sight family moments that didn't include some form of chaos were still new to her. On some level they made her uncomfortable but all morning and all day yesterday Henry had insisted and begged. He gave her those wide puppy dog eyes that she had first seen on him when he begged her to go to Storybrooke with him nearly a year ago. Emma couldn't say no.
"Emma," she heard Henry say breaking her from her memory. "You okay?"
Emma smiled down at her son. "I'm fine why wouldn't I be?"
Henry shrugged. "I don't know you've just been quiet this morning that's all."
"I'm fine kid, promise. I was just thinking that's all."
Emma smiled. "The day we met."
Henry smiled at his mom.
After a short while Henry turned around to look behind him. He wasn't sure why maybe for the sake of being cautious. As he turned he caught a glimpse of a man watching them. Henry had never seen the man before. He saw as the man's eyes diverted toward the back of his mom.
"Hey Emma," Henry said slowly turning back around.
"Yeah Henry," she replied.
"Do you know that man?"
"The one watching us from behind?"
Emma turned around to see which man it was Henry was referring too. Snow and Charming did the same. She froze as she met the man's eyes and he met hers. She could see the small form of a smile begin on his face and she only tensed more, her arm tightening on Henry's shoulder and her right arm coming in front of him as if to shield him.
"What is it," Henry asked.
Snow reached over from Henry's right side and placed an arm on Emma's.
"Emma," she began. "What's wrong?"
It took Emma a moment to get her thoughts straight. Ten years. Ten years and he had the nerve to show up now.
"Emma?" Snow asked.
She swallowed. "Take Henry inside please."
"Emma," Charming said speaking up for the first time. "What is it, what's wrong?"
She swallowed again. "Please just go."
Snow squeezed Emma's arm before placing a hand on Henry's shoulder. "Come on Henry, let's get you something to eat hu?" she asked making her way toward the door.
David looked at his daughter who continued to look at the man before following his wife and grandson.
Once she heard the door close, Emma looked over her shoulder to make sure they were inside. She could see the table they occupied. She turned her attention back and began making her walk toward him.
"What the hell are you doing here," Emma asked when she closed in a short distance between them.
"I came looking for you," Neal replied.
"After ten years, that's bull."
"I did Emma, I swear."
"I spent ten years just trying to find you. I mean god Neal I even went to…," Emma crossed her arms. "You know what it doesn't matter. You don't belong here, just leave."
"I'm not going to do that. Please Emma, let me explain. Please."
"Explain," Emma said raising her voice. "You want to explain how you could…"
Emma looked around and noticed a few people stop before quickly making their way as if they weren't witness to anything.
"Can we go somewhere and talk?"
Emma took a deep breath and lowered her voice. "What makes you think I'd want to go anywhere with you or listen to anything you have to say?"
Neal smiled. "Because if you didn't you wouldn't be wearing my swan," he said motioning down toward Emma's neckline where the swan pendant remained.
Emma's mouth hung open. For years she had never had to be cautious about who saw her necklace but now she was feeling exposed and she hated that feeling.
She looked away from Neal. "Fine," she said between her teeth.