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Dark as Knight: Undaunted

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Captain Swan was exhausted as she walked through the hangar that housed her units Apaches on a massive Navy aircraft carrier. Being on the coast of Pakistan for nearly eight months tended to wear down even the best of them, especially with the heat that rivaled Texas' by two times. Sandstorms that threw off flight schedules and MRE's (Meals ready-to-eat) that destroyed your stomach and the chow hall didn’t help matters, either. It gave the term 'homesick' a whole new meaning. The only thing that kept the blonde going was her five year old daughter Madeline, or Maddi, as she preferred to be addressed. Captain Swan was luckier than most, her only family was her daughter—normally carrier ships barely had enough room for pilots and personnel, but since it was just one Emma was given permission—her impressive service record helped with that as well. She was grateful even though raising her daughter on a carrier ship was not easy, especially for an Apache pilot...and it wasn't cheap. 

For the first 2 or 3 years, at every port stop, Emma spent more money on diapers and food for her child than for herself, and put the rest of the money in savings. Her daughter only had her, and she only had her daughter. However; being stuck on a aircraft carrier, in private quarters no less, with a toddler was no walk in the park—Emma learned to pick her battles.

“ Captain Swan! Captain Swan!” a male's voice broke her from her thoughts that were always on her daughter or work.

Captain Emma Swan stopped and did a halfhearted about-face quickly, startling the private that was chasing after her; causing him to crash into her. Emma managed to keep her footing, despite the nearly six-foot-tall man stumbling into her.

When he finally got himself together and off his high ranking Commander, he immediately went to the position of attention and saluted her.

Emma returned the salute then told him to relax, because saluting inside of the hangar was unnecessary, but she could tell he was nervous, and probably new. “What do you need soldier, I have things to do.”

“ I-I understand ma’am but the flight schedule’s changed for tonight.”

Emma raised a brow with the scar, and crossed her arms. Waiting impatiently... “Do you wanna tell me what's going on or are we going to start playing twenty-questions?”

The tall private shook his head, he wasn't the first to get lost in Captain Swan’s beauty and she was used to it...annoyed still, but used to it. “Oh right, uh you and Lt. Ryder are providing air support with the Apaches for Special Forces tonight.”

Emma slowly nodded, she was already aware that she and her gunner were going out for support against a very large and impressive group of Taliban. Thanking the private for confirming her plans for the night, and reminding her to inform PFC Bell she'd be babysitting tonight. Again. Captain Swan continued on her way to her office to take a much needed nap, she was going to take advantage of it while she could.


Emma slowly opened her eyes, staring tiredly at the wall next to her giant window that looked over Boston. It was always the dreams that woke her, sighing quietly, Emma rolled over onto her back and looked at her alarm clock. It wasn't a surprise that she woke up five minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off at 7am. It's been something that has been happening for years and she wasn't even sure when it started—as far as she knew, it's been happening all her life. The groggy woman pushed the covers away from her tired body and placed her bare feet on the cold, hardwood floor of her master bedroom. The two bedroom condo was located in the heart of Boston, and had a magnificent view of the city. It was pricey, but Emma had the money to blow, as it's only ever been herself and Madeline for as long as she could remember. 

The same feelings plagued Emma’s mind, it was as if there were some kind of missing piece in their life, like they weren’t complete, but she never thought too hard on it—it always resulted with a nagging headache. Emma pulled on her gray sweatpants and pulled on a purple t-shirt before shuffling out of her room, going down the hall to the kitchen. She didn’t bother to wake her nine year old daughter; the rhythmic thumping from her radio could wake the dead. Emma put the coffee on then went back to her room to get ready for the day. 

She had just finished preparing and had her Desert Eagle sitting on her lap when there was a loud knock on her door before Maddi poked her head in, brunette hair falling past her shoulders. She knew better than to come in unannounced. “Hey Mama, are you ready yet? I'm going to be late if we don't leave in the next twenty minutes.”

Emma rolled her eyes, putting her .50 cal Desert Eagle in its single-holster, shoulder-holster. “Are you rushing me?”

Madeline pushed the door open all the way and walked into the room, sitting on the bed next to her blonde mother and dropping her backpack on the floor between her feet. Of course she is wearing flats today, Emma sighed, shaking her head. She swore this girl wasn't hers sometimes, sure she looked a lot like her, without the brown hair...but as far as dressing and the crap that comes out of the young Swan's mouth—that was beyond Emma's gene pool.

“Not at all, I was simply preparing you for Mrs. Carlson's wrath. You know she stands on the sidewalk to greet students.”

Emma narrowed her eyes, slipping on her calve high fitted black boots. “That really creepy lady with the bifocals?”

Madeline nodded, smirking. “Yes, her. If you don’t mind, please hurry. If I'm late, she'll start breathing down my neck...I'd rather not throw up my Lucky Charms.” With that, the nine-year-old picked up her backpack and left her blonde mother to finish getting ready. It never ceased to amaze Emma how canny her daughter was. 

“Fix my coffee!” Emma called after a moment. She heard a loud sigh, but the sound of the cabinets opening and closing made her smile. “Kid really loves me.”


The orange, SRT Hellcat Dodge Challenger, with the all black rims pulled out into traffic and Emma stepped on the gas as she set her coffee mug in the cup holder. The engine growled as it warmed up and Madeline turned on the radio, switching it to her favorite pop station that was currently playing Rihanna, but she didn’t turn it up too loud because she was all too aware how sensitive her mother’s ears were. “Are you working tonight?”

Emma glanced at her daughter, “I hope not, why? Are you having another sleepover?” Emma hated those damned sleepovers her daughter insisted on having. Emma understood that the girl was raised on an aircraft carrier on the coast of Pakistan since birth up until she was six years old, but having a house full of gossiping girls who did nothing but watch the Disney channel and hog up the living room TV all day and night, was surely nothing to look forward to. Emma often had to lock her door because those girls had no sense of personal space or boundaries, and Emma definitely did not need to be scarring nine-year-old girls and having angry parents knocking on her door.

Madeline looked at Emma as if she were slow, “Today is your birthday. Remember?”

Emma's nose crinkled, grumbling under her breath. “No it's not.”

“Yes. Yes it is. How can you forget your own birthday? Are you sure you didn’t hit your head too hard last week? It's never too late to make sure you didn’t damage the rest of your brain cells.”

Emma scoffed, “The rest of my brain cells?”

“ are a blonde.” Madeline supplied with a giant smile. “I found that joke on Google.”

Definitely my kid. “Keep trying.”Emma shook her head, yet she couldn't help but laugh. She quickly pulled into the school parking lot, noting the low number of parent cars and that they had barely made it on time. “Sometimes I wonder who raised you, the internet or me.”

Madeline unbuckled her seat belt once Emma put the car in park and turned off the radio. Maddi reached over and hugged Emma tightly around the neck. Emma was used to it—Madeline has been hugging Emma like it was their last hug since she was three years old. “I love you mama, and happy birthday.”

Emma smiled and kissed the top of her daughters head. “I love you too Maddi. Now get inside Mrs. Carlson is creeping me the hell out right now.”

Madeline pulled away and wiped at her eyes quickly, but Emma's sharp green eyes caught the tears. “What's wrong baby girl?”

Madeline sniffed softly, and shook her head. “I'm just glad you're getting older...” And not dead in Pakistan. She didn’t need to say it, but they were both thinking it. 

Emma smiled, sitting back in her seat forcing back her own tears. “I'll be here to pick you up at 3. Maybe we can go for pizza and a movie okay kid?”

“Or, we can just order in and watch Netflix?”

“Nah, I wanna go out tonight I think...”

“But mom, you know--”

“Hey. You want me to remember it so bad. So my birthday my rules kid, live with it.”

Madeline rolled her hazel eyes, “Whatever, bye birthday girl.”

“Woman!” Emma shouted just before the door slammed shut. The ex-military pilot waited until her daughter was safely inside the building before driving off.


Emma was halfway home when her work phone rang, she fished it out of her back pocket and flipped it open. “Swan.”

“Swan, I got a job for you. A skip worth five hundred grand.” It was one of the bail bondsmen she occasionally did business with, Sherman. He was a squirmy, hairy, little man, although he seemed to be afraid of Emma when they were together in person, he did get testy over the phone sometimes.

Emma bit her bottom lip, she did sort of promise her kid that she wouldn't be working tonight and that she would actually be there to pick her up, and it wasn't like Madeline had money for the bus fare today. “No thanks, I don't need the money.” and that was the honest truth. Emma took to bounty hunting because it was too late for her to go through the police academy but she just needed something to do with her time...and the money was just an added bonus to the thrill.

“Swan, you're my best bounty's just one--”

“I'm not your bounty hunter, I just do business with you. You know I'm freelance. I'm not interested in the job.”

“Five hundred grand! Five hundred! This is too good to pass up and I'm the only one who has wind of this skip!”

“And that worries me even more” Emma drawled sarcastically as she pulled into the long line at Jack in the box...her rumbling stomach growling in protest, as if it could see how long the line was.

Sherman sighed in frustration, and Emma could almost see him pinching the bridge of his stubby nose. “I'll give you half. Please. I need this, my business needs this! Those contract bounty hunters I hired are sucking me dry and they don't bring in the heavy money like you do.”

Half of five hundred grand? Well, Emma glanced at her watch. She had eight hours. “Okay, I'll see what I can do. If I can't get him in before three, deals off. Got it?”

“Thank you! Thank you! I can kiss you right now!”

Emma winced, trying to push away that mental image. She flipped her phone shut and tossed it in the passenger’s seat. She didn’t have to wait long for the email thankfully, it was usually hours before Sherman sent her a profile...maybe he wasn't being so dramatic after all. Emma opened the email on her screen that she had installed just beneath the navigation/radio screen. It was just below the gear shift. She opened the attachment and raised a brow at the smiling mug shot, “Neal Cassidy. Nice to meet you.”


It had been three hours and still no sign of this Neal guy, Emma parked her car behind a bar, blocking in an old yellow Volkswagon. It was in the neighborhood that Neal was supposedly occupying, but unfortunately he wasn't home. Of course finding her target at home would be way too easy. Before she went in, she decided to leave her gun and holster in the car—it'd been a while since she'd gotten her hands dirty.

The bar was nice, nicer than it appeared on the outside. It wasn't well-lit, but Emma never really had trouble seeing in the dark—she had better vision than most, and it had saved her life more than once while she was overseas. The blonde took a seat at the bar and ordered a Coke, and drank it leisurely, completely unaware that there were dark brown eyes glued to her back the moment she sat down.


Madeline had just shut her locker door when her best friend Lily came over with a giant smile on her face, looking way too happy, seeing as they were at school. Madeline despised school, she'd rather look everything up on Google and hang out with her mom all day—but life didn’t work out that way, well not anymore. “Hey Lily.”

“Hey Maddi, did Mrs. Carlson say anything to you this morning?”

Madeline shook her head, rolling her eyes in annoyance at the mention of the old woman’s name. “No, thank god...I know she wanted to though.”

Both girls began walking to their homeroom, though at the pace they were walking they were definitely going to be late. Not that either girl cared, it was Friday after all. “Do you want to hang out tonight?”

Madeline winced, “I can't, my mom and I made plans...”

“Oh cool, can I come along? Your mom is way cooler than both of my parents.”

Madeline chewed on her bottom lip, looking at her best friend apologetically. “Sorry Lily, tonight is my mama's birthday and--”

Lily's eyes widened in understanding.“Oh right! You’ve been talking about it for like two weeks, no don't worry. We can hang out this weekend or something.”

Madeline smiled; relieved. She was worried that Lily wouldn't understand. “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”


“No one will judge you if you have a beer so early in the morning.” 

Emma turned towards the chuckling voice, blood running cold when she came face to face with her skipper; Neal Cassidy. He was even more of a tragedy in person...and he had this smell, this certain odor...this particular smell that didn’t have a name, one just knew it when they smelled it, and it wasn't pleasant. Emma smiled, “I don't drink.” She was lying through her pearly white teeth. She had a 24 pack of Heineken bottles in her fridge at home, just calling out her name.

Neal chuckled as he sat on the bar stool next to hers, uninvited. “That's a shame, and here I thought you were the perfect package.”

“Not everyone is perfect...?” she trailed off, fishing for a name.

He held out his hand, “Neal.”

Emma thanked her lucky stars she kept hand sanitizer in her car as she shook his rough hand, “Nice to meet you.”

“Do I get a name?”

“Oh...” Emma set her glass down with a smirk, “You're gonna have to work for that buddy.”

Neal laughed slightly, “A challenge. I like a good chase.”

Emma turned to him, eyes shining with laughter. “So do I.” Emma shrugged off her black leather jacket and set it on the stool next to her, revealing a low cut v-neck shirt. Neal took in the new view just as she knew he would, but she didn’t expect him to tense up when he saw the quarter-sleeve tattoo that wrapped around her upper-right arm down to her elbow.

Neal recognized the Coat of Arms insignia anywhere, with the burning apple in the center. Emma's tattoo was bold and black with hints of purple shading around the corners, and the apple was so red it looked like it was her blood that was coloring it, and the purple and black flame mixed together was a nice touch. Neal swallowed and chuckled nervously, “That looks painful.”

Emma glanced down at her arm, then back to Neal. “It was worth the blood loss.”

“What does it mean?”

Emma frowned, shrugging. She had no idea what the hell it was, she thought about the ring she kept in her car and its unique design on the ink black metal. It just seemed so right to get it tattooed on her right arm, but she still had no idea what it meant. “I saw it on the internet one night and thought it was cool.” Emma lied easily enough.

Neal realized that this blonde woman had no idea, no idea at all...but he knew. He was going to wasn't every day that the son of a coward could fuck a former princess and the Evil Queen's pet. He signaled the bar tender to bring him another beer. The light glimmered from his watch and it caught Emma's eye. “Nice watch.” The watch did not match the person wearing it; however, and Emma knew it was time to bring this to a close. “Wouldn't happen to be an Avianne and Co. watch would it?”

Neal's smirk faltered slightly, “Oh, uh know watches?”

Emma's grin turned predatory, and Neal suddenly looked nervous. “I know everything.” 

The dark haired man slipped off the bar stool, throwing a twenty on the counter; his blood running ice cold. “Ah, you know what...I just remembered that I have to be somewhere. Maybe we will see each other soon beautiful.”

Emma held up glass ,as a silent cheers and let him leave. As soon as he was out the door, she grabbed her leather jacket and ran through the bar to the exit sign between the ratty restrooms. She pushed open the door. She wasn't surprised to see Neal standing next to the Bug in frustration. She shrugged on her jacket and let the steel door slam shut, alerting him of her presence. “Neal Cassidy, I believe you skipped court this morning. No need to worry buddy, I'm here to help you out.”

“Fuck you.” he spat and ran. He jumped on top of Emma's orange Challenger in attempt to escape. Emma watched amused and simply popped her trunk via remote and Neal's foot got caught on the spoiler in surprise, and he went hurtling down onto the pavement face first. Emma pulled her cuffs from her jacket pocket and went to detain him, roughly. “Ow!”

She dug her knee into his lower back and tightened the cuffs just a bit more than necessary as she eyed the boot print on her rear windshield. She pulled him to his feet as she stood herself, and opened her trunk a little more. Neal realized what she was about to do and began to struggle in vain. “I have my rights, bitch!”

Emma smirked, pushing him in the trunk effortlessly. “Best part about being a bounty hunter? I don't have to memorize your rights. don't fucking have any!” she slammed the trunk shut, and went back inside to finish her Coke.


Emma walked into Sherman's Bail Bonds shop with a firm grip on Neal's upper arm. She put him in a cell in the back and signed him in. Sherman smirked from his desk, “I knew I made the right decision calling you. The best on the East coast!”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Yeah whatever. Just don't forget our deal this time Sherman. I'm not only good at just finding people.”

Sherman swallowed his smile, and nodded. He knew she wasn't kidding, everyone knew she wasn't kidding. Just ask Lou's bail bonds...well if you can find him that is, it was a rumor that he threatened Emma's daughter if she didn’t sign a contract with him...that same night, Lou was gone and his business quickly hit rock bottom. “Y-Yeah, I'm not gonna cross you Blondie.”

Emma nodded and left the office, and Sherman relaxed back in his seat then looked over at Neal. “That is one scary woman.”

Neal shook his head, “You have no idea.”

Sherman shivered, and began filing the paper work.


Emma caught another skipper and turned the last one in around two. Now she was at her daughter’s school around three, a little late...but she had caught every red light on the way over.

“You're late.” was the first thing out of Madeline's mouth when she slid into the passenger’s seat and threw her backpack into the backseat.

Emma blinked, “What? No 'Hey Ma, how was your day?' ?”

Madeline glared at her blonde mother, “I don't sound like that, and you're ten minutes late. I was worried.”

“Traffic kid, traffic. How was school?”

“It was school, absolutely boring!”

Emma scoffed, pulling out into traffic. “Well did you learn anything?”

“Yeah” Maddi pulled out her phone and tossed it in the cup holder, “Google is too advanced at math, and now my teacher keeps calling on me, I had to stop her from signing me up for the math club! Do you know how stupid I'd look if they asked me a question and expect me to answer just like that?!”

Emma laughed so loud that she startled her daughter, but she couldn't help it, considering her daughter was clueless when it came to numbers and she was being picked on by her math teacher—for the wrong reasons. 

“Oh sure, laugh at me. It's so funny.” Madeline mocked, eyes rolling dramatically. “Anyway... don't want to stay in anymore.”

Emma glanced at her daughter with a raised brow, of course it was established they were going out tonight, but Madeline was the type of person who needed the idea to be hers. Emma knew her daughter would eventually grow up to be a control freak. “Well, what would you like to do?”

“Dinner and a movie sounds okay.”

“Here I thought it was my birthday.” Emma commented sarcastically. She turned her orange muscle car around and headed to a section of downtown that had all the best restaurants and the awesome, but very expensive, movie theater that gave away free stuff.


It wasn't until later that night when Madeline and Emma got home. Madeline couldn't stop talking about the movie they had just seen; Maleficent. Maleficent was actually a pretty decent show. Both mother and daughter stepped off the elevator, in sync, on the top floor of their condo, yet neither really noticed a small figure sitting at their door, until they came right up on him. Upon closer inspection Emma saw that he was a young boy, probably a year or two younger than her daughter’s age. He had auburn hair that was shaggy, but tidy and he was also asleep.

Emma kicked his converse-covered feet gingerly until he responded. It took half a second for him to jump up nervously. He had dark brown eyes and he was shorter than Maddi and he dressed as if he came straight out of a private school.

“Uh, h-hi.”

Emma raised a brow, while Madeline crossed her arms; eying the boy like he had some sort of disease. “Uh, Hi?”

“Are you uh Emma? Emma Swan?”

Emma nodded warily, eyes darting around the hallway. For all she knew this kid could be bait for an ambush, suddenly the weight of her gun was comforting. “Who's asking kid?”

The young boy nodded, feeling a little more confident and straightened out his hoodie. “My name is Adam Whale, and I need your help.”


Emma paced in front of her large plasma TV with her arms crossed, and tried to wrap her mind around what this kid was telling her. She stopped and held out both her hands, “Wait wait...stop.” Emma ran her hands through her blonde hair, “So what you're telling me came all the way to Boston to find me just to tell me I'm a...what?”

“Savior.” Maddi supplied, amused; thumbs moving across her phone screen flawlessly.

Adam sighed, exasperated at both of them. “Yes!” Emma smirked, seven-year-old kids sound so cute when they’re annoyed. 

“And the Mayor of your little town is the Evil Queen and she cursed some fairytale land to this world? And no one can leave right? And your dad is the evil Dr. Frankenstein?”

Adam nodded, smiling. “Yeah!” the he frowned, “But Frankenstein isn’t my dad!”

“Ugh.” Maddi rolled her eyes, crossing her arms as well as giving Adam the 'are you kidding me?' face—the face Emma received more than twice a day. “Okay, but how did you get here then genius?”

Adam returned Madeline's look but it wasn't as strong, he shrugged off his backpack and pulled out a book with brown leather covering. “The book. It keeps me safe and lets me leave town.” Then Adam checked his digital Pokemon watch. “We should get going.”

Madeline looked at her mom, then back to Adam. “Going...where?”

Adam smiled like it was obvious, “I want you to come home with me.”

“Okay kid” Emma pulled out her work phone, flipping it open and dialing 9-1-1. “I'm calling the cops.”

“Then I'll tell them you kidnapped me.”

Maddi snorted, getting up to go to the kitchen to get herself some juice. “Yeah, good luck with that. Google is our witness.”

Emma's thumb hovered over the call button, eye brow raised. “Google?”

Madeline pulled out a carton of orange juice and a bowl of grapes, “Yeah, Google tracks our location until I turn it off. Cops won't believe some mop-head kid when we have Google.”

Emma laughed, “Never thought I'd be saying this...but thank you Google.”

Adam got up, stopping a few feet from Emma looking up at her pleadingly as he offered her the book, “Please, you have to come home with me. Please. You're the savior, you have to believe's in the book.”

“Oh brother.”

The blonde sighed, rubbing her face with both her hands. “Okay, okay. Where is home?”

“Storybrooke, Maine.”

“Storybrooke?” Adam nodded, looking a little too hopeful for Emma's liking. She sighed, pulling out her car keys. “Alrighty then...let's get you back to Storybrooke.”


Emma had just topped off her tank and they were on the highway leaving Boston. Adam was in the backseat and he wouldn't stop gushing about how cool his 'The Saviors’ car was while simultaneously coming up with ludicrous ideas about how Emma was going to break the curse and destroy the Evil Queen. 

Emma scoffed, she was pretty sure the 'Evil Queen' was some harmless old lady who was stuck in the office thinking about the 'good ole' days'. Madeline; however, had no qualms telling Adam where to put his operation ideas and turned on the radio to some music that seemed to slow down Adam's talking.

Emma noticed that the closer they got to Storybrooke the thinner traffic became, until it was just them on the road and Emma was going well over ninety miles an hour. She also noticed the lack of street lights, and the heavy fog. She turned her fog lights just in case—the road that was not showing up on the GPS anymore and there was nothing but darkness and woods around them. The powerful engine and lights of her challenger were the only thing that could be heard and seen. 

Madeline, who had finally put down her phone, was starting to get worried. Really worried.

“Uh, Mama?”

Emma held up her hand, keeping her eyes focused on the road in front of her. Her eyes were darting everywhere, as if expecting a masked man in robes to jump out from behind a tree with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade). Madeline knew her mother well enough to know when she was starting to freak out. She stayed quiet, but kept an eye on Emma...ready to turn the music up loud enough to bring her back.

Finally...Emma took a deep breath, spotting the 'Welcome to Storybrooke' sign. She loosened her grip on the steering wheel when town lights appeared over the horizon. The town was much bigger than she had expected, especially for not being on any map. Emma settled back into her seat, lowering her window to get some much needed fresh air. “I'm here, I'm okay.”

“What happened?” Adam asked, startling the two in the front seat, who forgot he was there...and why they just drove three hours to a town that was literally not on the map.

“Nothing kid” Emma waved him off as she downshifted, slowing down as she entered the town. “Where do you live?”

Adam shook his head, “Will you stay if I told you?”

Tired of his games, Emma pulled over across the street from a place called Granny's Diner and put her car in park, she turned in her seat, but just as she was about to get on Adam about his games, she spotted something in the diner. Someone with a badge. “Let's go kid. Game's over.” Emma shut down her engine and opened her door, ignoring Adam's attempts to get the blonde to listen to him. 

Once everyone was out of her car, Madeline walked behind them as Emma gently hauled Adam to the diner. As soon as she opened the door and the bell jingled, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked towards the door. A man with dark brown hair wearing scrubs was the first to recover to the fact that there was a stranger in town and saw his son. “Oh my god Adam!” he pulled the boy into a tight hug, kissing the top of his head. “Where the hell did you run off to boy?!”

Adam pushed himself away from the man, frowning. “I went to find help, to get away from you!” all eyes went back to Emma, and Madeline hid behind her mother.

“Uh,” Emma's eyes widened, and she held up her hands. “Look, he showed up at my house and I brought him back. No harm no foul. I'll just be on my way now.”

Madeline quickly backpedaled out of the diner as her mother did, though the sheriff was on her heels. “Hey now wait a minute!” he ran in front of the two stopping their escape. He was a rough-looking man, at least 6 foot 3, with dirty-brown hair, and it seemed as if he was sporting a mountain-man beard. Emma wouldn't be surprised if he lived in a cabin without electricity. He seemed athletic in his brown sheriff’s uniform, but he wasn't impressive by any means...and he didn’t believe in oral hygiene. 

“You can't just show up with a kid, and leave. You have some questions to answer, stranger.”

Emma frowned, shoving her hands in her front pockets. Aware of her daughter hiding behind her once again, and she had to force herself not to get too invested with the idea of forcing this guy to tone down his approach. “We brought him home alright? I understand it looks suspicious. But that's what happened. No need to make a big deal out of this...” Emma glanced at his name plate, “Sheriff Lochlyn.”

“He is a 7 year old boy, I'm sorry but you're going to have to come down to the sheriff's station to answer a few questions.”

Emma dropped her head back, sighing. “Of course.” she pulled out her keys and handed them to her daughter, “Go wait in the car.”

Maddi eyed the sheriff warily before taking the keys and leaving the two adults alone. Before Emma or the sheriff could speak, the diner door opened behind them and Emma heard heels coming up behind her. “Is everything alright, sheriff?”

Emma turned and stopped, as did the brunette. Both women just simply stood there and stared at each other. Emma has been around plenty of beautiful woman, but she's never felt the urge to pursue them for anything aside from friendship, but here she stood about five feet away from a woman slightly shorter than herself, wearing a tight black dress that was nothing short of professional but enticing at the same time. Emma took in the short, dark hair, the high heels, the perfect hour-glass figure and completely forgot where she was and why. The brunette’s brown eyes were so familiar that they just swept Emma out of reality.

Sheriff Lochlyn cleared his throat, unaware of the ogling he just interrupted...or rather, the visual reuniting Regina was enjoying. It seemed that the older Emma got, the more beautiful she became. Regina resisted the urge to pull out her wedding ring that was currently nestled between her breasts beneath the fabric of her dress on a simple silver chain. She didn’t notice any sort of jewelry on Emma's person and was simultaneously relieved, and almost disappointed.

“Madam Mayor” Emma noticed his change of tone, it was a little deeper and she could hear the hankering undertone; it was disgusting. This woman was not his to yearn after, she was hers and hers only. Frowning Emma wondered where that possessive thought came from, she hardly knew this woman...for all she knew these two were fucking married. That thought alone almost made her throw up in her own mouth, but she managed not to dry-heave. Barely. “I was just telling this stranger that she's gonna have to stay and answer some questions.”

Emma turned on him, “Look my kid is tired, and so am I. I'll stay and answer your petty questions, but at least let me get some sleep.”

The sheriff shook his head, “How will I know you won't skip town?”

Emma rolled her eyes, but it was the brunette who spoke this time. “Sheriff, it's alright I can take it from here.”


“Sheriff.” Regina settled her intense glare on him, and Emma raised her eyes brows impressed when the sheriff inclined his head and went back inside the diner, but not before glaring at Emma one last time.

Once they were alone, the two women stared at each other. Emma felt as she knew this woman, but she was so sure that she hasn’t seen her in her life...but she wished she had; because there was just no way in hell this woman wasn't single. Emma didn’t just want to look, she wanted to touch—so badly.

Shuffling nervously, Emma brought her hands out of her pockets and held out her right hand. “Emma Swan.”

Regina glanced down at the calloused hand before taking it in her own, she felt the familiar scar on Emma's palm and she felt at home, she felt as if her heart had finally come home. “Mayor Regina Mills.”

“Nice to meet you.” Emma smiled,reluctantly releasing the brunette's soft hand. “Ah, does Storybrooke have any hotels? Within five miles?”

“Granny's Bed and Breakfast is the best we have to offer, dear, its right behind the diner.”

Emma took notice of the triangular roof that was hovering over the trees and the diner and blushed slightly for not noticing it earlier. “Right, thank you Madam Mayor.”

Regina nodded and watched the blonde awkwardly wave goodbye before turning on her heel and crossing the street to the orange car that was rumbling across the street. She watched as the headlights flickered on—those obnoxious xenon lights—and drive away. Regina sighed, desperately wishing to go home and form a plan to get the blonde…to just drop everything and pull her family together after all these years. She knew she had to stay to be the Mayor for a few more hours.


Emma and Madeline weren’t waiting long for Granny to show up to give them a room, she came from the backroom a few moments after they entered the lobby. Emma signed her name in the log book, noticing that no one has visited in years...or at all. That set off an alarm in her head and she was thankful she decided to bring her .50 cal Desert Eagle. It was currently tucked safely in her single shoulder-holster that was concealed by her black leather jacket. Being in her line of work, and being good at it—the protection was necessary.

“You're the one who brought Adam back, hmm?”

Emma nodded, setting the pen down. “Yeah.”

The white-haired, older woman shook her head, but she was smiling. “That boy is a sweetheart, but I think he's just going through some things and seeking attention.”

Emma frowned, ignoring Maddi's sigh—she knew that look...the look when Emma wanted to be nosy. “What do you mean? Going through something? He's only 7.”

Eugenia shrugged slightly, “He recently found out he was adopted, and has lost his little mind since. How many nights are you staying?”

“Uh, one.” Emma answered absentmindedly, feeling a little guilty for treating the kid so poorly. She had met plenty of orphaned children during her tours overseas and she'd seen many of them die—all because they wanted to belong. To feel needed because they were abandoned at an early age. Emma cleared her throat, trying not to think too much about it. “How much do I owe you?”

“On the house.” Emma raised a brow, not quite believing it. “You did a good thing tonight, the least I can do.”

Emma smiled warily, taking the offered room key. “Well, um, thank you.”

Eugenia nodded, waving towards the stairs. “Second floor, last room to the left. You two enjoy your stay.”

Emma adjusted their small emergency travel bag that she always kept in the trunk and followed her daughter to the second floor.


The room wasn't as bad as Emma expected it to be, seeing as Storybrooke wasn't even on the map—on any kind of map. Since it was apparent they didn’t have many visitors, Emma thought the room would smell bad and would be dusty and cold. It was the opposite. There were two twin beds with a nightstand between them with a lamp and rotary phone by it sitting on Storybrooke's phone book. There was a bathroom, and a dresser. It wasn't that big, but it was enough.

Madeline huffed, finally closing the door. “No TV? This room sucks. I bet they don't even have wi-fi.”

Emma tossed their back on the edge of the first bed and sat down with a tired sigh.

“Ma? You okay?” 

“Yeah I'm just tired, long drive.” Emma rubbed her eyes before shrugging off her jacket and tossing it at end of the bed before kicking off her boots and laying down; yawning loudly. “Going to sleep.”

“Okay, I'm gonna take a shower.” Madeline grabbed the bag and walked to the bathroom, closing the door behind her. A few minutes later Emma heard the shower turn on and she rolled over, sleep coming easily. 


The next morning, Emma and Madeline found themselves back in Granny's Diner munching quietly on pancakes. Neither of them were really morning people. Thankfully, the diner wasn't that crowded like it was the night before. Just an old man in a jumpsuit covered in oil was sitting at the bar drinking coffee, eating eggs and reading the morning paper, a couple sitting in the corner behind them, the overly-friendly waitress, Ruby, and Eugenia in the back making a lot of noise with the pans. 

“Any plans for the weekend?” Emma pushed her plate away. Those were probably the best pancakes she has had in years.

Maddi shook her head, still scrolling through her messages. “Movie-thon with Lily. You?”

Emma scoffed, she had no plans. She never had plans. “Work probably.”

Madeline turned her phone off, sighing in annoyance. “Of course you do. Sometimes your job really sucks.”

Emma's eyebrows furrowed, “What happened to me being a badass?"

Maddi shrugged nonchalantly, but Emma could tell there was something weighing down on the young girls mind, she may be nine years old but she had a brain like a machine and her being raised around officers and tough men and women-- Maddi was mature beyond her age. “That little boy; mop-head. He's an orphan.”

“Yeah. He is.”

“Like those kids in the Middle East and Africa right?”

Emma groaned inwardly she did not want to have this conversation at—she glanced at her outdoors wrist watch—7:58 in the morning. “Well yeah, but he wasn't recruited to...” the blonde was gesturing with her hands, struggling to find the right words without scaring her kid more than she already was. “He wasn't recruited to hate the entire world and lay down his life for something he will never understand. Adam has a home, and he has someone that loves him honey...he's just going through a tough time.”

Maddi twisted her lips to the side like most kids do when they’re trying not to cry. “I would've been an orphan too huh?”

Emma scratched her eyebrow, she really did not want to have this conversation—ever. Thankfully Ruby chose that moment to interrupt with that beautiful bright smile of hers. Just seeing Ruby smiling tickled something at the back of Emma's mind, but she just summed it to her being tired. Working all week and doing an impromptu road trip on her birthday night, Emma was ready to crash in her own bed.

“Hello ladies, did you enjoy your pancakes?”

Emma smiled at Ruby, though whether it was real or not she couldn't be too sure. “The pancakes were delicious Ruby” she actually meant that, “I think I might miss them when we leave.”

Ruby smiled and collected their plates and finished cups. “You're always welcome to stay in Storybrooke, I could use a friend my age.” Ruby winked salaciously and Emma fought against her blush, watching her walk away to the back of the diner behind the door.

Maddi rolled her eyes, “Keep it in your pants, Ma. She might have something.”

Emma rolled her eyes at her daughter, and set two twenties on the table and slid out of the booth. “Let's go, I don't want to be here longer than I have to.”

Maddi pulled on her pink hoodie and fixed her hair as she followed her mother out the door, the morning air was a little on the cold side, but it felt nice. “I don't know Ma, I kinda like it here. It's quiet, and homey. It's nothing like Boston.”

“Oh yeah? Google tell you that?” Emma unlocked the door and slid into the driver’s seat, shivering when the coolness from the leather seats seeped through her tight jeans. She quickly started the car and shut the door.

Maddi clicked her tongue, shaking her head as she put her seatbelt on. “No I did. I hate living in Boston.”

“Since when?” Emma cried in disbelief, slowly pulling out into light traffic. “When have you hated living in Boston and why haven’t you said anything?”

“Because you like it so much cause of your stupid job.”

“Oh it's stupid now.” 

Maddi ignored her mother and continued to rant, “Seriously Mom. I have to ride the bus a lot! I hate riding that bus! Everyone is so stupid and I'm by myself. Lily is my only friend--”

“What about Jocelyn, Ashley and--”

Maddi waved her hands frantically, “They're associates Ma! They don't matter.”

Emma's eyes were dancing between her daughter and the road wildly, what the hell? “ what matters then?”

“I don't know!”

Emma sighed, never in her life has she been so thankful to see the sheriff’s station. She parked between the sheriff’s patrol car and a sleek black Mercedes Benz with black tinted windows. It was actually a sexy car and Emma had an idea who it belonged to, but she had a distraught child to deal with—unfortunately. She shut down the car and turned to Madeline, gently tapping the young girl’s temple. “Okay kid, breathe...and tell me what is going on up here?”

“I like it here...and I don't want to leave.”

Why? Emma blinked, why couldn't she just have one weekend. One weekend of peace. It seemed that every damned weekend her daughter had something. It was always something. But nine years of juggling parenting and a full time career on an aircraft carrier taught Emma extreme patience...well when it came to her family. “Because you hate Boston right?”

Maddi nodded, eyebrows pulled so far in and pouting so hard Emma thought she looked like a mad troll. “Yeah, I hate riding the bus. But what I really hate is worrying about if you're coming home or not. I hate the loud noises at night. I hate when you leave for work in the middle of the night, because then I stay up all night thinking and worrying and then go to school looking a mess!” 

Emma wiped away the hot tears that were starting to spill over and run down her daughter’s rosy cheeks. “Madeline...I'm so sorry. I had no idea, why didn’t you say anything sooner? I would have quit months ago! We don't need the money honey, I was just bored.”

Madeline sniffed and wiped her face with her sleeves, “I know, that's why I never said anything.”

Emma frowned; confused. “So why now?”

Teary hazel eyes sought out viridescent eyes. “Because I feel like we finally found home.”

Emma sat back in her seat, this was a lot to take in, but she heard her daughter loud and clear. For the umpteenth time Emma sighed, and ran a hand through her blonde hair. “We can talk more later, alright? Let me just…” she gestured towards the sheriff's station loosely, “get this over with, okay?”

Madeline sniffed again, but she was no longer crying but her cute little nose was red along with her eyes and she still had the long face going on. Emma hated feeling guilty and she wished she would’ve picked up on her daughter’s feelings earlier on. “Promise, Ma?”

“I promise.”


Emma sat across from Sheriff Lochlyn, she wasn't going to be the first to break the tense silence between them and it was clear he was trying to intimidate her. Emma didn’t even know why, for bringing back a runaway kid that found out he was adopted and was talking crazy with absolutely no proof except a damn book?...and she was the one being questioned? The bounty hunter couldn't believe it, who gave this man a fucking badge?

Jake Lochlyn tapped his pen against the table a few times, “What do you do for a living Emma Swan?”

Emma smirked, “I find missing people...or sometimes I make sure missing people stay missing.” she saw the alarmed look on the sheriff's face, and she laughed. “It was a joke. Lighten up Sheriff. I'm a bounty hunter.”

Sheriff Lochlyn had a feeling though, deep down, that she wasn't joking at all. Those green eyes held so much and they were so cold. He cleared his throat, straightening up in his chair. “Oh so pretending to be a cop huh? Should have figured that.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Are you here to make yourself feel better or actually do your job and ask me questions that don't involve my personal life? I'm here voluntarily, asshole.”

Outside the interrogation room on the other side of the mirror, Mayor Mills observed her wife carefully. She may not remember who she was before, but she was the same Emma Regina knew and loved. In a way. Regina had been waiting for this moment for nearly ten years, to see her wife and baby girl again.

It's been almost ten years since Snow White broke apart her family in the Enchanted Forest, ten years she has missed watching her daughter grow up and to take care of her like she's been doing for their son; Maximilian or Max as he prefers to be called now. He was so much like his mother and stubborn. Regina had to bribe him with forty dollars and junk food just to keep him at home. He wanted to come to the station to see his mother and sister for the first time in person—away from the pictures but Regina wasn't ready, she had to see them first. She was being selfish, she was aware.

For ten years Regina paid big money for a private investigator to find Emma and Madeline and it took him two years. It wasn't an easy feat but it was worth the raised taxes and the heat she received for doing it. She didn’t really care, she was the Evil Queen; it's what she does...and enjoys. When Regina discovered that the curse put Emma in the armed forces she flipped her shit and it was not Storybrooke's happiest times...Then when Emma and Madeline disappeared from the grid, records and all...even Mr. Gold had enough self preservation to stay away from the Mayor during those wicked three weeks. 

Regina turned her attention to the nine year old sitting in the chair next to the sheriff’s desk. Regina would never admit it, but she was afraid to go and talk to the girl. Yes she was her daughter, but they were strangers to each other. Well, Regina was hoping to change that.

Taking a deep breath, Regina pulled her hands from her coat pockets and made her way over the sheriffs desk, placing one of her hands on the back of the plush chair. “Hello, dear.”

Madeline barely looked up from her phone, “Hey.”

Regina glared at the device as if trying to make it disappear with her eyes alone. “I'm Regina Mills. What is your name?” It tore at Regina's heart to ask her own daughter for her name.

“I'm Madeline.”

Madeline. The name they had agreed on. At least Emma remembered that much.  Regina swallowed nervously but she refused to show fear, and continued to smile down at her daughter. “May I sit down?”

Maddi sighed and looked up at Regina with a bored look, “You're the Mayor, right?”

“Yes. I am.”

“Well since you run this town. Technically this is your office, and so that's your chair. You don't need my permission to sit down.” Maddi went back to her phone and Regina's eye twitched and her smile faltered. Now she knows where most of her genes went, because Max definitely had all of Emma's.

Regina took a seat and crossed her legs at the knee carefully, “How old are you?” 

“I'm almost ten.” Maddi mumbled, swiping furiously across her screen her little body tilting this way and that.

“'re nine.” Regina smirked then mentally smacked herself, this was her daughter and here she was trying to get back at her for making her seem like an imbecile earlier. Regina cleared her throat, “Are you and your mother staying for the weekend?”

Maddi shrugged, biting her bottom lip as she looked up from her phone. Regina saw so much of herself in the little girl it almost hurt to look at her, knowing she missed so much of her life already. “I don't know...I hope we do, I kind of like it here.”

Regina perked up slightly at hearing this bit of information, Max hated Storybrooke and the fact that Madeline, her daughter, liked it made Regina's heart swell with excitement. “Really? In such short time dear?”

Madeline set her phone on the desk, something Regina was grateful for—it was incredibly rude to play on a phone when someone is trying to engage a conversation with you. “Well it's quiet, and it's safe...and I'll know where my mom is and that she's okay.”

Regina's head tilted to the right slightly, studying her twin daughter lightly. “What do you mean sweetheart?” Regina winced at the endearment but the girl hardly seemed to notice.

“Well, my mom...she well...she used to be a soldier.”

The brunette pretended to be surprised, “Really now? Wow, I guess you two traveled a lot didn’t you?”

Madeline smiled and nodded, and Regina saw Max for the briefest of moments. The eyes and the smile were about the only things they had in common as far as looks went. “Yeah we did! But we mostly stayed on the coast...I stayed on the aircraft carrier.”

“What is an aircraft carrier?”

“A humongous war ship that carries helicopters and jets and stuff. Mama flew a war helicopter called an Apache. She would always leave at night and to help guard the rescue helicopters from the bad guys.”

“” Regina blinked, wondering just what the hell Emma has been doing with their child until she remembered that Emma wasn't the same Emma from the Enchanted Forest, her memories were suppressed by her insipid mother and that damned Blue Fairy. “That sounds terrifying. Weren’t you scared when you were left alone?”

Madeline shook her head, “I had a babysitter. But mama promised that she'd always come back to me...” a dark shadow fell over Madeline's face for a moment before it cleared but Regina had caught it, it was the same look Emma had when a particularly bad thought or memory came to her, but Regina didn’t comment on it. 

“ What does my small town have to do with your mother being a soldier, dear?”

“She has PTSD. She gets these flashbacks and freaks out sometimes...she's really jumpy sometimes and--” Madeline stopped, feeling as if she were telling this strange woman too much about her mother and her problems—betraying her trust, but this short-haired woman sitting behind the desk she...She made Madeline feel as if she could say anything and she could trust her with whatever she said. This woman felt like home and that scared her because no one felt like home except for Emma. “I want my mom.”

“I'm—of course, dear.” Regina quickly covered and stood, she watched the emotions play across Madeline's face before fear took over and it took every fiber of Regina's being not to reach out and comfort her own daughter. “They should be done by now. It was nice meeting you. I hope this will not be the last time we see each other.” Regina turned on her heel and went back to the interrogation room. Just as she was about to open the door, it was swung open and she was face-to-face with Emma.

“Madam Mayor” Emma smirked, “Nice to see such a lovely face so early in the morning.”

Regina smirked, stepping aside to allow the blonde out of the room followed by the sheriff who smiled in Regina's direction, but it wasn't returned. “I do hope you and your lovely daughter enjoyed your stay last night.” Regina hated that Sheriff Lochlyn was lingering around them, she wanted nothing more than to kiss Emma and tell the blonde how much she has missed her—even if she had no idea what Regina would be talking about.

Emma nodded, looking down as she felt a smaller hand slip into her own. “Yeah we did actually. It's funny, one night staying here and she wants to move here.”

“We could always use the extra hands around the station.” Regina suggested casually, winking at Madeline slyly. 

Emma's smile faltered slightly as she looked at Regina then back to her daughter, while Sheriff Lochlyn nearly lost his cool. “What? Madam Mayor we have plenty of good men who will be just fine taking up the deputy position.”

“They're mostly drunks Mr. Lochlyn.”

“They are still plenty of men Madam Mayor, locals too.”

“Um, while I appreciate the offer...I'm going to have to decline. I'm not interested in becoming his deputy.”

Regina nodded dejectedly, “Of course, please. Allow me to walk you out, I'm sure Sheriff Lochlyn has plenty of paperwork he should be finishing for me by Monday morning.”

Sheriff Lochlyn nodded and went back into his office while Regina followed Emma and Madeline outside. The brunette found that Emma's ass in those jeans were enticing, but part of her wished they were made of leather and not denim. Just as Emma unlocked her car, Madeline turned and hugged her blonde mother around the waist not caring that they had fact, that's exactly why she was going to do what she's been planning all along. “Mom please, please can was stay for the rest of the weekend? Or forever? Please? I promise I'll stop making blonde jokes--” Regina snorted unladylike, “--and I'll take over kitchen duty forever, and I'll stop asking--”


“And I promise to never ask for a dog again!”


“Or a cat or--”

“Madeline!” Emma placed a hand over her daughter’s mouth. She didn’t raise her voice nor did she seem all that angry, she was calm and she was patient, and if Regina wasn't mistaken—Emma was amused. Regina approved of how Emma was with their daughter. Regina tucked her hands in her pockets, smiling fondly as she watched her wife kneel before their nine-year-old daughter. Perhaps taking care of a child changed Emma in ways Regina didn’t think possible.

“Kid. Okay, I made a promise...and I'm going to keep it, but there are things I need to sort through in Boston before I make any quick decisions okay? We can't stay the weekend.” both Regina and Madeline were thoroughly disappointed hearing this, but Emma didn’t notice Regina's disappointment—mostly because her back was to her. “We are going back to Boston today...”

Maddi nodded sadly, looking down. “Okay.”

“Because we need to pack and I need to break my lease sooner than later.” Emma finished, and Regina couldn't keep the grin off her face as she stood directly behind them, she looked like a woman winning the lottery. Madeline had a slower reaction, and when her mind processed what Emma just said, she laughed and threw her arms around her mother’s neck and hugged her tightly; thanking her profusely. Emma let it go on for a few moments before extracting herself from the girl’s death hug and gave her the keys as she stood.

Much to Emma and Regina's surprise, Madeline gave Regina a one-armed hug and a smile before running off to get in the car and away from the cold. Emma summed it up to the kid being too happy for her own good, but Regina's heart was too warm to even care why—she suddenly had the urge to just send little Adam a gift for running away. Perhaps a box of comics and candy. 

Emma cleared her throat, shrugging awkwardly. “Sorry about that. She's just happy.”

Regina shook her head, still smiling. “I understand.”

“Uh, Storybrooke wouldn't happen to have a real estate office would it?”

Regina saw a prime opportunity and took a step forward, pleased when Emma didn’t move away. Neither were aware that they were being watched by two sets of eyes from different angles. “We do not, but I would be happy to be of service dear.”

Emma reached inside her jacket pocket and hesitated briefly when she saw Regina’s eyes widen and zero in on her holstered weapon—Emma pulled out one of her cards, and handed it to Regina. “If you find something worth looking at, give me a call Madam Mayor. Okay?”

Regina stared down at the black card, there was a number in silver letters and when she flipped it over, she gasped quietly. Beneath the bounty hunter title was Emma's name, but that isn’t what caught her attention. It was the coat of arms insignia that was engraved on the card, it reflected off the gloomy light from the sky. It was something so simple, yet so beautiful and significant. Regina tucked the card away carefully, and gave Emma her best genuine smile. “Of course, Miss Swan.”

Emma hesitated a moment before leaning in and giving Regina her own, but loose, one-armed hug and whispering her gratitude. Regina stood there on the sidewalk just outside of the sheriff's station and watched the blonde get in her car and drive away, back to Boston. Regina wished them a safe farewell and went home herself to tell Max the good news.