A Deputy's Duty
Disclaimer: I wish, but no, I don't own the characters/show.
Author's Note: So this one's inspired by a Tumblr post I made recently. Bit of a wink and nod to my longer fic too, "Down the Rabbit Hole" if you've read it. Enjoy!
"Why do they always run?!" Emma pants next to him, and he has to hide his smile.
As annoying as it'd been dealing with break-in after break-in and never catching the thief only to discover the culprit fleeing the scene of the crime, Charming has to admit he hasn't minded the time he's got to spend with Emma.
In attempt to get back to "normal" life she had quickly taken back the sheriff's badge and resumed her duties, but had both surprised and delighted him when she'd asked if he would accompany her and take up the Deputy badge. In fact, it was all he could do not to sweep her up in a bear hug the second her question had registered.
In many ways it'd been a win-win. He'd been able to catch her up on Storybrooke's comings and goings, and more importantly got to spend some much longed for time with his daughter.
It hadn't taken him long to realize they shared the same sense of humor. "You're both smart-asses," Snow had succinctly confirmed when they were getting ready for bed one night, to which he'd answered, "I think the proper term is 'sarcastic wit'" and she'd promptly whacked his face with her pillow.
Discovering that wit along with an intelligence he definitely credits Snow for has made their partnership priceless to him. Every day he watches and learns something new about Emma, and in turn is able to subtly remind her that he's a changed man himself. It's true they haven't touched on any topics of a familial theme yet, but she did thank him for taking care of Henry and he's caught her staring at him a few times like she's trying to figure him out. Something that she definitely had never done with David. And every time he caught her and she'd quickly avert her gaze it was motivation to keep going on his part. He was a patient man, and he would take as much time as needed to prove to his daughter that he was someone she could trust, could lean on whenever she needed him. And maybe, someday, he could earn her love and respect as well.
But in the meantime he is her deputy, and sometime in their pursuit she's pulled away from him, determined to gain ground on their thief.
"Emma, wait!" He calls, but too late as she rounds the corner of a building.
And then he hears her scream, and the blood freezes in his veins, a hand automatically reaching for his gun as he all out sprints. But when he makes it around the corner, gun drawn, all the worst case scenarios that have been playing through his head screech to a halt as he finds Emma swearing a blue streak on the ground of a back alley and their thief long gone.
"Emma!" he breathes, holstering the weapon and wasting no time reaching her side, "What happened?"
"Son of a bitch got the jump on me, caught my legs with his crowbar as I came around the corner and sent me head over heels. If you hurry you can still catch him, he went down there and-"
"Emma! I'm no leaving you like this!"
"David! I'm not joking-"
"And neither am I!" he shouts back, not recognizing the change in his tone until he sees her staring at him incredulously.
You're not her father yet, Charming, just her partner. Take a breath and step back, he begrudgingly reminds himself, inhaling and exhaling slowly before continuing.
"A deputy's job is to cover the sheriff right? Well, that's what I'm going to do. I just got- I mean, we all just got you back. Can't afford to have the sheriff of Storybrooke already out of the action now can we?"
Emma sighs, her face fixed in that frustrated scowl she gets when she doesn't get her way, but finally nods and holds up her hand.
He takes it quickly, but is glad he keeps a hold a second too long when one of her feet gives way.
His arms hold her to him in an instant, saving her another nasty fall, but it's the way her face has paled considerably that worries him most.
"Emma, what's hurt?" he asks, trying to keep the rising panic from his voice when she doesn't try to pull away but leans heavily into him instead.
"My ankle," she gasps, "Busted the stupid thing back in the forest, thought it was fully healed but I guess not enough to go up against a crowbar."
"You what?! Why did neither you or Snow mention this?!"
"Probably because you'd overreact like you're doing now," Emma smirks; causing him to open his mouth then shut it just as quickly.
"Be that as it may, you need to get it looked at."
"Okay," she replies, obviously ignoring him as she loosens her grip to walk on her own. Oh no, not happening. His grip tightens and her head snaps back to face him, eyes narrowing.
"You and I both know you're in no shape to walk right now. Let me carry you."
"No way in hell."
"Emma, please-" he begs, but one look at her face tells him he needs to pull out the big guns.
"Look, I know you promised Henry you'd practice sword-fighting with him tonight. What if you make things worse by walking and can't play with him?"
Her mouth pops open.
"Oh, that is so not fair."
"Well?" he insists, and she sighs.
"Fine, but you better not drop me."
Wasting no time he bends down to hook his arm under her knees and tighten his grip around her waist to lift her with ease.
"Crap, not so fast, Tarzan," she protests, but latches an arm around his neck all the same, and insuring his grip is secure, he makes his way back to their police cruiser.
"Don't worry, sheriff, this isn't the first time I've carried precious cargo."
He means it as a joke, but feels her tense, and immediately bites his tongue. Damn it Charming, you just had to go there didn't you? Think of something, quick!
"But I've got to admit, you're a lot heavier than last time."
"Hey!" she smacks him with her free hand, but he feels her relax and simply laughs.
Nice save, shepherd, he sighs inwardly with relief, moving to get them out of that alley and back to the car. The sooner he gets there the sooner he can take her to hospital to get that ankle checked out. Emma might not have been taking him seriously when he said it, but he will follow through.
For now, however, he does his best not to jostle her unnecessarily and to try and enjoy holding his daughter. It's true the circumstances aren't ideal, but he'll take what he can get. And if she calls him out on the stutter step he makes when she rests her head on his chest so be it.