A/n: This was yet from another prompt on tumblr. I might turn it into a multi-chapter but I've also ended so it could be a oneshot if I don't. Review and let me know what you think!
The first thing Emma did upon getting out of prison was try to find Neal. For eleven months she held onto the hope that maybe it was all a big misunderstanding, that something had happened to Neal because he couldn't...he wouldn't just abandon her like that. That maybe somehow he was forced into turning her in. And the only reason he hadn't visited her in prison was because he'd get caught himself. Maybe he'd be waiting for her when she got out to explain what had happened.
She stayed in Phoenix for about a month, visiting and waiting in every street of that city to see if he'd turn up.
He never did.
Once her parole officer cleared her to leave the state on the promise she'd fulfill her check in with parole on her assigned dates, Emma left Arizona and headed back to Portland. That had been their home since the day they met. And he had given her the keys to the bug, perhaps that was a sign to meet him there.
She visited all their favorite spots, the alleyway where she had first broken into his stolen car, some of the convenience stores they robbed, the park where they had spent most days just sitting around and talking, and finally the motel room they had conceived a life in.
With the little money she did have, Emma actually rented that room and just stood in it, echoes of memories, promises and laughter filling the empty silence.
She placed a hand over her still slightly enlarged abdomen. It'd been just over three months since she'd given birth and had to take one look at her beautiful baby boy before giving him up.
Tears sprung to her eyes and she shut them quickly to try and stop them before they fell. She finally collapsed onto the bed, stifling her sobs by burying her head in the blankets.
She inhaled deeply, knowing that hundreds of people must have been on this bed since she and Neal were, but still trying to reach for his scent.
She cursed at him and cried until no more tears would fall and then curled her knees up to her chest and stared out the window, getting lost in memories.
Suddenly, Emma shot up, her eyes widening as she remembered a specific part of conversation between her and Neal not too long before she was taken in.
"I gotta go to Canada."
"That's fine. I like maple syrup."
"I gotta go to Canada alone..."
"Canada..." She whispered, her heart leaping as she finally realized where he was.
It only took several days for Emma to realize how big Canada actually was and how she had no idea what city he wanted to go to or what city he might be in. She stayed in motels, visiting all the major cities and realized she had no idea what she was doing.
Emma was this close to giving up hope of ever seeing Neal again when she remembered the last place they had talked about going and Emma nearly slapped herself not believing she hadn't thought of it before.
It took another few days to drive down to Florida and Emma once again found herself in a motel.
It was only a couple of weeks and Emma hadn't seen any sign of Neal but she didn't know where else to look and if he was going to be anywhere it had to be in Tallahassee. So she decided to stay and she got a job waitressing at a local diner and after a month or two she was able to save up for a cheap little apartment, nowhere near a beach.
It wasn't her dream place but then again, going to jail for almost a year, giving up her baby, and searching for the man who had both impregnated her and sent her to jail was not her dream either.
And, after spending all that time in jail she vowed never to go back there again so her days of thieving were over.
She made a couple of friends at the diner, she started to get a real life, but she never stopped looking for Neal. Every time she'd see a man that could have passed for him she would almost chase him down the street until she got a look at his face and saw it wasn't.
It had been almost four months since she got out of prison that it finally happened.
It was around 5:30 on a friday evening and some of her co-workers who had had the same early shift as her invited her out. Normally she would have said yes but that day she felt tired and just wanted to go home and rest.
The diner was just blocks from her apartment so she usually walked to and from every day and on that day, when she decided to take a bit of a longer route home, she finally saw him.
She froze instantly on the spot, her eyes widening as she caught him walking on the other side of the street. He was dressed in a suit and tie but it was most definitely him. It was the face right out of her dreams and occasionally, nightmares.
She had been searching for him for so long, now that she had finally found him, she didn't know what to do. Her legs felt like rubber that were glued to the pavement in the hot Florida sun. She could do nothing but watch him walk away, getting further and further, slowly disappearing into the crowd.
Once she could almost no longer see him, her legs finally began to work and she ran across the street, ignoring the angry honking of the cars. She ran as fast as she could, weaving in and out of the crowds of people.
He was finally in her sights again and it seemed no matter how fast she ran he was always too far away. "Neal." She tried to call out but her voice came out in a whisper.
He was just about to turn the corner when finally her voice rang out in a shrill cry over the 20 or so feet between them. "Neal!"
She stopped as he stopped, his whole body going rigid and slowly his head turned to look around him and when his eyes finally landed on her, when he made eye contact with her for the first time in over a year, she swore her heart was going to beat right out of her chest.
His eyes widened as he stared at her but he made no move to run. Emma swallowed thickly and moved slowly toward him, her body feeling like it was a thousand pounds heavier.
He turned to face her as she approached and finally she stopped about a foot away from him. She almost couldn't believe that he was actually there standing in front of her.
She managed to tear her eyes away from his to really get a good look at him, his suit wasn't top quality but it was a whole lot better than the old sweats he always dressed in, his facial hair was neatly trimmed and his slightly shorter hair was neatly combed back. It was like she was staring at a completely different person who wore Neal's face.
She opened her mouth to speak but found no words could come and she cursed herself for staring at him like an idiot.
"Emma..." He finally said and his voice was like water to her dry and parched throat. He looked confused, happy and just that little bit scared to see her. "What are you doing here?"
"What am I..." She started in a whisper and then she clenched her jaw tightly, slowly gaining back her nerve. "I'm looking for you."
A small smile twitched at his lips and she almost smiled back before she remembered why exactly she had been looking for him. "You are?"
"Yes." Her voice grew colder and her eyes grew darker and that smile instantly dropped from his face.
"What the hell, Neal?" She growled, trying to keep the emotion out of her voice but it wasn't really working. "You let me go to prison. You sent me to jail for the watches you stole, so you could, what? Come here by yourself, get a fancy job, with a fancy suit..." She smacked his chest over his tie and he only flinched slightly. She glared up at him, tears sprinkling her eyes. "We were supposed to do this together, Neal. Or was that never a plan of yours?"
Neal's face contorted with regret and pain and he shook his head. "No, Emma, that was always my plan. Being with you, I mean."
The look on his face caused doubt in her mind and an uncomfortable twisting in the pit of her stomach. "Then why did you turn me in?" She asked weakly.
Neal pressed his lips together and looked down silently. Emma scoffed, shaking her head slowly. "Wow you can't even answer me..."
He lifted his head back up to meet her eyes and she tried to ignore the pain in his. "It's very complicated, Emma."
"Complicated?" She shot back at him. "It's not complicated! All I see is that you stole 20,000 dollars worth of watches, put one on me and set me up to take the fall so you can run off with the money."
"What?" He furrowed his brow. "No, Emma, look, that's not what happened. I didn't even take the money."
"Right." She rolled her eyes. "With your fancy suit and you've probably got some gorgeous beach house..."
"Woah, woah, woah..." He held out his hands to stop her and then lifted the lapels on his suit. "First of all, this I got from a thrift store. My apartment..." He pointed over his shoulder to a small apartment building down the street. "Is right over there and that's only because the landlord is the brother of my boss. Emma...I didn't take that money, I gave it to you."
Emma narrowed her eyes skeptically. "Neal, do you think I'd be working in a diner if I had 20 grand."
"Wait," He tilted his head, "You never got the money?"
"No." She shook her head with a shrug. "I never did. I got the keys..." She rifled through her bag, pulling out the keys to the bug with the swan keychain still dangling off them. "The package they came in was some far off place...Phuket or something...though you should know where exactly."
Neal was gaping at her, his brow furrowed in shock and then he scoffed. "That son of a bitch."
Emma raised her brow. "What are you talking about? Who?"
He pressed his lips together tightly and dug his fists into his sides. "When you got out did a man name August find you?"
Emma scrunched her face up in confusion. "No, I've never even met someone named August."
Neal swore under his breath and turned to face away from her, running his hands through his hair.
"Neal, can you please explain what the hell is going on?" Emma asked frantically.
Neal let out a heavy sigh and turned back to her. "August said he knew you, that you were in the same foster home as kids, and that he was going to take care of you..."
"So you gave him the money..." Emma shook her head in disbelief. "How stupid are you, Neal? Some random guy came off the street claiming to know me and you just give him 20,000 dollars! You send me to jail because some stranger told you to?"
"No!" He countered. "Like I said, its complicated."
Emma crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him fiercely. "I'm listening."
He let out a sigh and glanced down for a moment, his eyes widening as he caught sight of his watch. "Look," He looked back up at her, "I really have to get home but you are welcome to follow me and I promise I will answer any questions you have."
Emma narrowed her eyes as he gave her a small but sure smile and nodded his head. "It's right over there, come on."
He motioned his head and started to walk towards his apartment building and Emma let out a soft groan, flinging her hands to her sides and marching after him.
They walked in an awkward silence into the apartment building and up the stairs to the third floor. They came to room 302 and Neal stole a hesitant look over his shoulder, his face scrunching up for a moment before he opened the door.
Emma narrowed her eyes in suspicion at Neal's odd look and followed him into the apartment. She froze, her heart dropping into her stomach as she took a look around. It was a small apartment, not that much bigger than hers, but strewn around the apartment floor were quite a few baby toys.
She let out a low, shuddering breath and only when the lack of oxygen began clouding her brain. She lifted her head to see a woman, probably in her 30's come out of a room and interact with Neal. Neal thanked her and gave her a stack of bills and she smiled politely to Emma as she left the apartment.
Emma looked over to Neal with wide eyes and he smiled sheepishly at her. "Come here." He said softly and started walking to a door where the lady had exited.
Emma followed him quietly, her heart racing as he led her into a bedroom, his twin sized bed shoved to the far wall and on the other wall, closest to the door was a crib. Neal walked over to the crib and smiled warmly as he reached down for a moment and then looked over to Emma.
Taking a few deep breaths Emma slowly walked over to the crib and peered down into it. A soft sob escaped her lips and she slapped her hand over her mouth, her eyes filling with tears as she stared down at the little baby boy she had given up just six months ago.
"His name is Henry." Neal's voice said quietly from beside her and she gasped, whipping her head up to him.
She lowered her hands, tears now blurring her vision. "You knew?" Her voice trembled. "You knew I was pregnant and you left me there?"
Neal shook his head slowly. "I didn't know until the end. I...I couldn't stay away...I had to check up on you, make sure you were okay. I saw that you were pregnant and when he was born I..." He looked down at the sleeping child. "They said that it was a closed adoption but that no one had adopted him yet. I claimed paternity and after a paternity test...they let me take him." He looked up at her and tears were freely streaming down her cheeks and he wanted so bad to reach out and hold her.
"I swear Emma, I had no idea you were pregnant when I left and if I did..."
"You have no idea." She cut him off roughly. "What it was like for me to find out I was pregnant and to think that you had left me. To carry him for nine months and then know I had to give him up to give him his best chance because he can't be raised while I'm still in jail. To go through hours and hours of pain to bring him into this world and then to only see his face for a minute before they take him away from me." She let out a few sobs and tears sparkled in his as he could do nothing but watch her break down.
"And you...you were going to keep him from me." She shook her head slowly. "You were going to raise him without me when we could have raised him together, in a nice little beach house with twenty grand."
Neal didn't know what to say as he watched the woman he loved, the mother of his child, collapse into heart wrenching sobs in front of him. "I'm sorry." He whispered, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
She glared at him through tear soaked eyes and letting out a whimper reached out and started to hit his chest. "How could you do that to me? I thought you loved me. I thought we were a family. How could you...how could you..." She hit him a couple more times and he just stood there and took it, knowing full well he deserved it, and then she finally just collapsed against him, sobbing into his chest and his arms instantly came around her to support her weight.
He buried his head against her hair, whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" over and over again as they both surrendered to tears.
They stayed that way, wrapped around and clinging to each other, both releasing pent up emotion from the last year and a half. He ran his fingers through her hair comfortingly, whispering soothing words, every once in a while punctuated with another apology. She gripped onto his shirt, her nails digging into his back as she let out everything that she was too afraid to let go of before.
Eventually she calmed down, her tears subsiding and her whimpers fading and there was silence for a good few minutes before another small cry filled the room.
Emma lifted her head off his chest and gazed over to the crib, sniffling quietly. Neal dropped a small kiss to the top of her head, reluctantly releasing her to move over to the crib and lifting the baby into his arms.
"Hey buddy." He smiled past the tear stains on his cheeks and little sleepy Henry blinked at his father curiously. "Did you have a nice nap?"
Henry sucked his little bottom pink lip in and then smiled as he squeaked happily. Neal let out a little laugh and looked over to Emma who was staring at Henry in silent awe.
"Do you want to hold him?" He asked, bringing back Emma's attention and Emma swallowed thickly before nodding silently.
Carefully, Neal placed Henry in Emma's arms and Henry stared at the new face in silent wonder. Emma's eyes sparkled once again with unshed tears as she stared at her son. Henry curiously reached out his little chubby hand to place it on Emma's face and Emma held back a sob.
Then Henry let out a happy squeal and smiled, kicking his little legs happily.
Neal took a step closer and smiled at the both of them. "Henry...this is your Mommy."
Emma sniffled and she managed a single tear as a smile crossed her face. "Hi Henry." She whispered, not trusting her normal voice.
Henry patted her cheek, gurgling happily with a grin on his little face and Emma felt her heart might actually burst looking at him.
She never imagined she'd ever get to see her little baby boy again, yet here he was, six months older and significantly bigger than that little bundle she'd delivered but still a baby.
She managed to tear her gaze away from the baby who was now tugging lightly at her hair to look at Neal.
"Thank you." She whispered and his brow furrowed.
"For taking him." She sniffled and smiled as she looked back to Henry. "I was worried that he may not get a good home and honestly, I wouldn't want him anywhere else."
Neal let a small smile cross his features. "He's the best."
Emma shifted Henry on her hip and started to bounce him gently as Henry smiled past the fist he stuck in his mouth.
"How did you choose the name Henry?" She asked.
"Honestly," He shrugged sheepishly, "I sat down with a baby book and read it until a name popped out at me."
"There were no names with sentimental value?" She asked looking over at him.
Neal scrunched his face up. "Not really."
Emma nodded, a small smirk tugging at her lips. "No Neal jr.?"
He scoffed. "Neal jr. was not an option."
Emma laughed softly, looking at Henry again. "Well he is practically your clone."
"Really? You think so?" Neal shrugged lightly, smiling softly as he turned his head, looking at Henry. "Because every time I look at him I see you."
Emma's smile dropped as she looked over to him slowly and he gave her a sad smile.
"I thought of you everyday." He said quietly. "And there wasn't a day I didn't think about going back to get you."
"Then why didn't you?" She whispered.
He swallowed. "It's-"
"Yeah, its complicated, I know." Emma sighed. "Can you tell me the truth now?"
Neal hesitated a moment but then nodded. "Of course. I'll tell you everything."
Emma smiled slightly, nodding once and then looked back to Henry. He took his hand out of his mouth and put it back against Emma's cheek and for the first time in almost 18 months, a true laugh escaped Emma's lips.