Hey everyone! This is an AU Captain Swan story that I've been thinking of for a while. There's no magic, but plenty of CS feels on the way. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: Killian & Emma

"I love you, Killian, but I love going experiencing the world. That's why you need to come with me!"

"But Milah, love… We have the chance to settle down. We can start a family, isn't that what you want?" said Killian desperately.

"Of course…" she said without conviction. "Of course I want you, my love, but I want us to live our lives! We haven't even begun to see what the world has to offer, but I want us to—every last bit of it. Together."

"Milah, come now, don't you think it's time that we start thinking about the future? We can't live this way forever." The truth was that there was a part of Killian that feared he would have to live this way just to be with her.

He had met Milah in a bar one night. She had told him how she left whatever shred of home she had one day to travel, and he? Well, he was just the lucky guy that happened to accompany her thereafter. The first time she pulled him to dance with her was the moment he swore that he would give her the world and more. She was mesmerizing—dark curls swinging as she twirled around and around, her eyes reflecting the golden glow of the campfire, and her skirts fluttering around her.

Yes, it was a magical night with this magical creature—filled with music, drinks, and tall tales of her travels. It was a night that Killian would never forget, and yet here he was, practically scaring his little bird by suggesting they leave their merry band of nomads and take to a cage they could call home.

"Here's what we'll do," he tried to compromise, "Pick a place—any place. Brazil, Spain, America, Australia, bloody Antarctica for all I care—just pick any place you want and we can make a proper home together."

"I've always wanted to travel to America…"

"Think about it, the sleepless city life. So many cities to choose from! Just take your pick."

"New York is definitely exciting…" she conceded.

"Okay!" He gripped her shoulders, a wide spread grin full of false hope on his face. "We'll go to New York. It'll be great, Milah, trust me. You won't regret it." He kissed her forehead, too enthralled by the thought of them finally starting their future together.

Not that Killian didn't enjoy their travels, he had seen far more than many men at his age, but his love for Milah was the most intense feeling he'd ever let consume him. He wanted a family, a little boy or girl with their mother's beautiful eyes running around the kitchen while they cooked breakfast in an actual house—their house.

He wanted to live by the sea like in his hometown, work a proper job at the docks, and come home to Milah painting with the children. Her paintings were truly wonderful. She was so talented; she could capture the smells, atmosphere, and life around her in just colors and brush strokes. Killian wanted more for her, to show her a life that had been taken from him when he was far too young, when his mother had passed and his father let himself waste away in a pool of whiskey. He wanted to build her a studio, give her a home.

'Everyone should experience it once and I'll show her just how wonderful it can be,' he thought, but that's just not what Milah wanted.

Or maybe she did.

Maybe she was scared of not running—of staying in one place for too long, and that's why the next morning when Killian stretched his arm over her empty place in their motel bed, he found a note on the pillow; a note reading that she had gone, that she loved him, and that one day she would return to him.

- 4 Years Later -

Emma Swan grew up a foster child. She moved from place to place—some of them definitely nicer than others—until she was eighteen, and then moved to a small studio that was hardly livable. But for Emma, it was home.

It was her space and a chance for the life she'd always wanted, but she found it empty and most of all—lonely. It'd been just her against the world for most of her life and years after her eighteenth birthday, nothing much had changed.

That is, until a strange man approached her in a diner one early morning after a horrible shift at the local club.

"Security, right?" said the man, dressed nicely in a grey suit and trench coat.

"I'm sorry?" she said. This was the last thing she needed after a night full of drunken fights and high heels being poorly aimed at her head.

"You're security detail, they'll be interested to hear that. She might be a little horrified—being the protective type and all."

"Excuse me? Who is they?" Confusion set in her face as she gripped her coffee mug tightly, it was sturdy enough to do some damage, but she was doubtful that this man would make a scene in the tiny diner. A woman, however, in the city that never sleeps could never be too careful though.

The man slid into the booth and ordered a coffee when the pretty young waitress approached. Emma continued to stare him down as the man shifted the contents of his briefcase around and pulled out a file reading "Emma Swan" and slid it to her.

"Have you been following me?" she said in a lethal voice, feeling violated.

"I have. For my clients." He thanked the waitress who gave him a lingering smile while he added some packets of sugar and took a sip; all the while, Emma waited for him to elaborate.

"And who would be these clients?" Emma gritted through her teeth. This guy was clearly looking to have his face bashed in with her mug.

"Your mother and father."

Emma felt her whole body tense up. Her mother and father? That was impossible, why would they look for her now? "Well that's bizarre considering I'm a full grown adult." The man stared at her with a bored expression that said he had done this many times before. "I mean… Why would they look for me?! I'm twenty-eight, for Christ's sake."

"I've been looking for you, Emma Swan, for quite awhile. They've been looking for you for quite a while—Mary Margaret and David Nolan, your birth parents—and they want to meet you."

Still stunned, her first instinct was to run away back to her studio apartment, but this man obviously knew where that was, too, and it was safe to assume that her parents did as well. She flipped through the file, scrutinizing the papers she laid across the table—a birth certificate, photos of her working, leaving her apartment, and through the diner window.

"I don't—I—" she stuttered.

"Look, kid," the man finally looked her in the eye. "I've been playing this game for a long time—dead beat parents looking to strike gold, jealous housewives, paranoid assholes wondering if their wives are really going to where they say there are, and these people," he flipped through the portfolio, revealing a picture of a beautiful couple that possessed the very features that made up her own face. "These folks of yours are good people. Honest and hardworking, and truly filled with regret for giving you up to the system."

She felt tears starting to sting her eyes. 'No, no, no. This isn't real,' she told herself over and over again. "Oh my god. I can't believe this is happening to me," she said, blinking her eyes trying to will away the tears forming in the corners of her eyes. She was tired, angry, hurt, nervous, and overwhelmed all at once.

"Look, I found you. I told you about your parents and I'm going to give you their contact information. I've got a letter here from your mother that you can choose to read or not. It's your decision and that's the extent of my services to them, but I've seen the way you are, kid. Being alone isn't the way to live and who knows? You might end up one big happy family."

"One big happy family," she snorted.

"They live in a small town in Maine called Storybrooke. And it's as quaint as a story, too. Different pace from this city, but it's nice. Anyway, they have a room at the local Inn and a plane ticket booked for you in case you decide to give them a chance."

"They're good people?" Emma's voice cracked with a vulnerability that let on her hope. He was reluctant to admit it, but the pretty blonde woman in front of him, tough as nails from what he's gathered, looked like a scared child who'd seen some horrors in her time.

"They're very good people." He pushed a pale yellow envelope towards her, addressed, 'To Our Daughter,' and gave her an encouraging smile before walking away. Emma sat tear-stained, eyes raw, and lip trembling. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and took in a deep breathe before the man stopped. "Go meet your parents, Emma Swan. Trust me. Take that flight. What do you have to lose?"

Nothing. She had nothing to lose.

- 2 Weeks Later -

Emma made her way down the steps of her apartment and shoved her luggage into the trunk. This was it.

She was going to Storybrooke.