She knew she was taking too long but she could not just leave him alone; something about him waking up alone in a place he did not fully understand bothered her. She would feel better if she knew someone was watching over him, or at least there for him when he woke. But she would have to hurry, if she tarried any longer Neal or Henry might come looking for her.
She spotted the perfect person in an old man, carrying his wash towards the wash room. By the looks of it he was the landlord. He was at least in his seventies, messy white hair, rumpled clothes that looked in a good need of washing, skin that reflected a hard life of difficult labor, and eyes that portrayed deep sadness and loneliness but also curiosity and awareness. He was leaning heavily on a cane but he looked fit nonetheless.
"Excuse me, sir?" She called out to him.
He visibly jumped, nearly dumping the contents of his basket in the process. He cast a wary gaze around before his eyes settled on hers. "Me, miss?" he called back suspiciously.
"Yes, you," she answered impatiently, waving him over.
His back stiffened, eyes gleaming distrustfully but he approached her nonetheless. He stopped short when he caught sight of what was behind Emma's back. "Is that a pirate?" He asked in disbelief.
"Costume," she answered shortly. She gestured for him to open the janitor's closet as she made to drag the unconscious pirate inside.
"Is that…blood…on his…hook," he had dropped his laundry and was watching Emma with horrified eyes as he backed away.
"Look," she stated with an exasperated sigh, the old man stopped moving at stared at her like a deer caught in the headlights. "It's fake, he's…he really thinks himself to be a pirate. He lost someone very dear to him and suffered a psychotic break and as a result he believed himself to be a pirate; Captain Hook in fact. He was on the mend when I met him and when he thought I left him for good he reverted back to his pirate state of mind. I can't stand to send him anywhere because they would just let him be but he really does get better he just needs to be taken care of. Right now I really need to help a friend of mine get to the hospital and I would feel better having someone watch over him and tell him what happened when he wakes up. Will you please? I'll pay you, if that helps."
The old man was peering at her shock, wonder, and a little pity. He heaved a deep sigh before gazing at her again but this time his eyes were sad and determined. "For how long and where?"
Relief flooded her face as she broke out into an easy smile and looked down at the pirate slumped unconsciously against the wall. There was a loving, caring look in her eyes; the old man suspected she did not know was there. He gave a little cough to remind her of his presence.
"Oh right," she blushed. "Just here in the broom closet and only a few hours, at the most six. At that point just leave the door open. If that wouldn't be too much of a bother, that is." She was staring him down and he decided not to press her on it.
The old man held the door open as she dragged the unconscious man into the closet, placing him with the utmost care, making sure that neither his head nor hook would hit anything dangerous or precarious when he awoke. She slipped a few hundreds into the breast pocket of his garb and with a whispered sorry exited the room. The old man closed the door behind her and locked it.
He then held out his hand to her, looking expectant. With a resigned sigh she placed several twenties in his out stretched hand. He looked defeated as he pocketed the money before reaching out his hand once more and saying, "Your hand, dear."
She looked utterly bewildered as she placed her hand in his.
"What is your name, dear?"
"Emma Swan," she answered more confused than ever. It wasn't a second later that she was cursing herself for using her real name, 'damn that pirate,' she thought. She always dropped her guard around him. Pulling herself back to the present she realized the old man was shaking her hand and speaking to her, "Nathaniel Williams, landlord of the building, at your service." She simply stared at him in shock.
"You must really love him, don't you?" Nathaniel questioned, gazing at her inquisitively, only to be met with stunned silence. He looked piercingly into her eyes, nodded as if satisfied and released her hand. "Off you go dear; I suspect your friend will be waiting to go to the hospital." With that he waddled in the direction of his flat, intent on getting his rocking chair. After all he might as well be comfortable while he waits for his charge to wake.
"He might be angry," Emma suddenly called a bit too loudly, "When he wakes, I mean. In fact he will be angry. Just…be careful."
She did not elaborate who or what should be careful or with what but Nathaniel thought he understood. He stopped and turned, giving her an assessing gaze before replying, "I will dear." He then continued back to his apartment.
"Could you also tell him where the nearest harbor is? I'd…he'd…I'd appreciate that," she requested haltingly, looking desperate.
He stopped once again, turned and replied, "Of course, dear. Anything else?" He gave her another assessing gaze that has quelled lesser men but under which she did not waver. This Emma was one tough cookie. Guarding her heart against every possible assailant but guarding those she loved most fiercely of all. He only hoped someday there was someone to guard her. His gaze slid back to the closed door, perhaps a pirate? He looked back at Emma to find her struggling with her words.
"I-well-no-Thank you," she blurted, her voice too loud in the quiet afternoon. She cleared her throat. "Thank you," she repeated, sounding sincere and heartfelt, Nathaniel could not help but smile.
"Anything for true love," was all he replied before once again making his way towards his apartment and waving goodbye and effectively dismissing her.
Emma stayed in thought for a moment longer before she shook her head. She must not keep Henry, Neal, and Gold waiting any longer. There were things to do, people to save, and quirky old men and devilishly handsome and endearing pirates to forget.
Later, as they hurriedly escorted Gold out of the building, everyone in her party effectively ignored the lone old man sitting in a rocking chair knitting outside the janitor's closet. When their eyes met, Emma nodded her thanks and Nathaniel simply smiled. He was in for quite a day.