A/N: Wow. I wanna thank each and everyone one of you is reviewing and all of the follows and favorites :) It's amazing. I'm a fellow Swanthief/Swanfire fanfic reader myself and I haven't been able to find anyone write a what if story. So that's why I did this. I'm writing it for anyone who was ever curious about what might've happened. I've got quite a bit planned. I hope you like this chapter :) Please review.
Neal watched over Emma as she slept.
A part of him still couldn't believe she was really here, that she'd really forgiven him and still wanted to be with him. Now that she was asleep, he could really give his thoughts full reign. He wondered if August had known she was pregnant. He didn't really see how he could've known if Emma herself hadn't found out til she took a test in jail, but all of this just seemed way too much of a coincidence. And if his father had taught him anything that he believed to be true, it was that there were no coincidences.
"Did August want that curse to be broken so badly that he would sacrifice our baby to do it?" He wondered softly aloud. Could he be that cruel? He settled his gaze on her face and he smiled a bit. It brought him great relief that at least she seemed to be sleeping peacefully.
He gently reached a hand out to brush a strand of hair out of her face. "So beautiful," He murmured softly. She was still as beautiful as the day he'd first laid eyes on her a year ago, even more so. "Love, I'm so sorry. I promise you I will do everything I can to make things right for you, and for our baby." He let his hand drift down to her stumach and he gently pulled her shirt up a couple inches.
He frowned as he saw what looked to be a faded incision mark. And for the second time since she'd come back into his life, he wondered what exactly had happened to her in there. He knew for now that all he would do is wonder, because there was no way he could ask her. She wasn't ready, she'd said so herself.
His train of thought was cut off as he heard her start to mumble in her sleep.
"No," She softly murmured. "please, don't."
"Emma?" He gently grabbed her hand in concern.
Her breathing began to speed up as she began to get agitated. "No, no, no, no!" She cried out, a couple tears rolling down her face. "Not the iron! Anything but that, please!"
Neal thought he was gonna be physically ill. What the fuck had they done to her in there? "Emma," He forced his voice to come across as soothing, even though he felt rage bubbling inside of him at the thought of anyone in there laying a violent hand on her. "babe, you gotta wake up, ok? You're just having a nightmare. It's not real." He gently lifted her body in his arms. "Shh, it's ok."
"No!" She screamed as she gasped and bolted awake, breathing heavily.
"Hey," Neal said gently, pushing her hair that had stuck to the side of her face away. "are you alright?" He knew that was a stupid question but he couldn't for the life of him think of anything else to say. Well, he could but he knew she wouldn't want to talk about it. He'd never wanted to talk about his nightmares either. He had a feeling that his father letting him go through a vortex all alone didn't compare to whatever hell she had endured in that jail cell.
Emma was breathing heavily. "I'm fine," She whispered, blinking back tears.
"Please," He wished she wouldn't shut down on him. He knew she was as far from fine as a person could get. "you don't have to lie to me, babe."
"You mean the way you lied to me?" Emma threw back, and didn't miss his features recoil as if he'd been slapped. "For two years I was basically with a stranger. You didn't even tell me your real name. I basically gave myself to a john doe, so if I don't feel like sharing my crap with you, I think I'm entitled."
"Hey, that's not fair." Neal defended hurt. "It was just formalities, babe. I never lied to you about the person I am or my feelings for you. That was all true. Why are you doing this?"
"Doing what?" She asked as she pulled away from him and stood up.
"You're pushing me away. You're trying to pick a fight with me. Why?" Neal knew that things weren't going to go back to the way they had been in Portland but he didn't understand where her sudden anger at him was coming from. It was almost like she was deliberately… "What was your dream about?"
Emma's eyes became stricken. "I don't want to talk about it. I told you that. Please, don't make me."
"I would never try to make you do something that you didn't want to do." Neal softly told her. "I just hate the idea of you being in so much pain that you would wake up screaming. I just want to help you, the way you helped me."
Emma roughly wiped away her tears. "You never wanted to talk to me after you had nightmares of your father either."
"That's true," Neal agreed. "but you can't compare the two. My nightmares of my father had to do with him abandoning me, it didn't involve an iron." His warm, caring eyes met her broken ones.
Emma let out a sob. "Please, Bae. I can't talk about it. I'm sorry for snapping at you, but please…I'm not ready."
Neal walked to her and gently pulled her into his embrace. "Shh, it's alright." He gently stroked her hair. "You don't have to tell me. I have an idea…but…when you are ready, you can talk to me. You can tell me anything."
Emma nodded against him. "I'll tell you one day, I promise. I'm just not ready to talk about it now. It's too…."
"Raw." He finished for her. He knew all about raw painful memories. It was several months before he'd let her in on what his nightmares had been about.
"Yes." Emma finally answered. Her head laid against his chest. "Bae?"
He heard the uncertainty in her voice. "Yeah?" He softly responded.
"Do you…do you still love me?"
A sob choked up his throat at the timid question. A question that he didn't ever want her to feel the need to ask. "Babe," He choked out. "I've loved you ever since the first day in that stolen car. I've never stopped and I never will. I love you so much."
Despite all of the pain that she was still in, she found herself smiling a little through her tears. "I love you," she finally said an felt warmth spread through her as she felt his arms tighten around her and felt his lips kiss her hair. "Even when I tried to convince myself that I hated you, I still loved you. I never stopped either and I know I never could."
Neal smiled, even as tears rolled down his face. He loved her more than anything in the world. He realized they were finally taking a step in the right direction together. He didn't need her to tell him all the bad shit she'd been through, he just needed her to not shut him out and to let him into her heart. She was doing that. He couldn't have been prouder of her for her strength.
"Emma," He murmured quietly. "why would you ever feel the need to ask me that? I thought you knew how much I love you. I told you…"
"I'm not the same." Emma whispered, her face buried in the crook of his neck. "You know I was damaged when we met, but I'm so much more so now. There are things that happened to me in prison…things that changed me. You don't even know the extent of them and I…"
"Nothing that could've ever been done to you, or that you could ever do could ever change the way I feel about you." Neal told her firmly. "And you're not damaged. Ok? Remember what I told you when we were first dating?"
"You said…" Emma breathed heavily. "you said that I may not be perfect but that I was perfect to you and that…"
"I love all of your imperfections." Neal finished softly. "It's still true."
Emma sniffled. "I know that you don't want to believe it, but I am damaged."
"Emma," He softly said. He wished she would see herself the way he saw her. He hated that because of what he had let August have him set into motion that all of the confidence he had helped her build in herself had been shattered.
Neal breathed heavily as he pulled back to look into her uncertain eyes. Eyes that were full of so much pain. He gave her a small smile full of all the love he had inside for her, as he gently wiped away her tears. "Then we'll just have to fix you."