Bird. Yell. Siren. Honk. Yell. Chatter. Clank. Screech. Laugh. Siren. Steps. Gush. Honk.
Emma tried in vain to place all of the sounds outside of the window in front of her, but eventually all the noises blended together, creating a whirlpool of hecticness and unsettlement. There was constant chaos in the big city, a mess that she used to find comfort in, used to hide in when the pain of feeling was too much, but now it made her anxious, made her ivory skin inch just below the surface. It was like she hadn't stood still since she entered the city despite her motionless body sitting on the corner of a bed she felt disgusted even looking at.
She wanted the gentle hum of only a few cars coasting down the one main street, wanted the occasion called greeting between well known neighbors or the barks of Pongo during his scheduled walk. She craved the distant noise of the ocean coming from the docks and sounds of wildlife hiding in the woods. She could hear the tinkling of the bell at the diner, the mingling of her good friends laughing and going about their day. Mary Margaret, David, Leroy, Ruby, Archie, Dr Whale, Granny, Hook, all the countless people Emma had left behind in her attempt at a new start. She idly wondered how many new starts a person was allotted before the universe stepped in.
"Hey babe," Neal called, exiting the tiny kitchen, Henry trailing after him as he put on his coat. "I'm gonna go grab some things for dinner. Want anything?" he asked although he probably already knew the answer. Emma shook her head with a small smile. She never wanted anything, at least nothing he could give her. He nodded, looking over at his son. "You wanna come with or do you wanna stay here with your mom?" The boy squinted his eyes, his face an open book as he mulled it over before replying.
"I'll stay here," Henry answered cheerily, smiling up at Neal. The older man nodded his head again, messing Henry's hair with an affectionate smile before leaving the apartment. Emma continued to sit in the sunshine leaking in passed the glass, watching father and son interact before losing herself again in thoughts of the only home she'd ever truly known.
She heard Henry give a heavy sigh before settling down next to her, calmly sitting at her side just like he used to at their wooden castle.
"Mom, you don't need to keep doing this," Henry told her after a moment. His voice was quiet but filled with understanding.
"Doing what?" Emma asked, moving her gaze from the wide window to her son. He looked up at her with loving, trusting eyes, a look that never failed to make her heart skip a beat. After her time in Phoenix, feeling the crushing weight of being rejected for what felt like the millionth time, giving away her only child, not even getting to hold him as her arms ached to grasp at something real, something to love, Emma never believed she would have this. Someone that believed in her, someone who gave her endless faith even when she failed. Maybe she didn't think she deserved it, maybe it was a matter of fate being against her, but she had resigned herself to being alone. But then Henry burst in, demanding to be recognized and loved and she never had a chance. He saved her that day and he saved her all over again every time he gave her that look.
"Pretend to be happy." Emma's face faltered as he saw through her.
"Kid, of course I'm happy," she tried to assure him, gripping his tiny, soft hand in her larger one.
"No, you're not. I know what true love looks like, remember?" he said, talking to her as if she was the child now. "Back in Storybrooke, Grandma would sometimes get distracted from cooking by just staring at Gramps, she loved him that much." Emma smiled, recalling the few times her mother actually burnt dinner after getting caught up in her thoughts. Charming would grin at her knowingly, kissing her forehead before grabbing his cell phone to order take out from Granny's. She never even bothered to apologize, refusing to be ashamed of loving so deeply. Henry's voice continued, dragging her out of her memories of the parents she missed more than when she was an orphan. "You barely even look at Dad when he's in the same room," he whispered, sadness in his voice but he sounded resigned to the fact.
"Henry..." she began, trying to push passed the pressure in her throat, searching her head for something to tell him. An explanation, an apology, anything to make him understand and still be proud of her but nothing appeared.
"It's ok," he cut her off, giving a small smile. "I know you're trying for me. You want us to be a family, the one that neither of us ever had." Emma gave a watery laugh, realizing some tears had fought their way through and were rolling down her face. "But it's time to go home, Mom."
"When did you get so smart, kid?" she joked, fixing his already neat hair just to have the feel of it through her fingers as a distraction.
"I got it from my mom," he told her winningly, looking up at her with his semi-cocky grin fit for a confident eleven year old. It seemed someone had been taking tips from his agreeable grandfather. She let out a more joy filled laugh, pulling him into her arms to hug him fiercely, tears streaking into his dark hair.
"I don't know about that," she somewhat teased, before becoming serious again. "I love you, Henry," she breathed out but her unwavering strength in that knowledge contradicted the airy tone.
"I love you, too, Mom," he replied, squeezing her and in that moment she knew, Neal or no Neal, Storybrooke or Manhattan, as long as she had her son here then she could always make it. He was her strength through and through and she would never regret the events leading up to him entering her life. They were meant to be, true love, and she wasn't ever going to take that for granted.
They pulled out of the embrace but Emma kept a secure arm wrapped around his shoulders as he burrowed into her side, both gazing out of the window into the bustling city.
"Can we go home now?" Henry whispered after what felt like hours. Emma felt a surprising burst of excitement at the thought of returning to the crazy little town that part of her heart was left in.
"Yeah, kid," she murmured, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "We can go home."
Hey guys! So, this was originally suppose to be a Captain Swan one-shot but the story ran away from me. Now I'm not sure if I should make it into a two-shot, the second part being the consquences of returning home or if it'll turn into an actual multichapter story. Any thoughts? Let me know because I think I could do a lot with this one.
Thanks for reading and maybe review? If you want? Maybe? Please?