This is my first Once Upon a Time fanfic ever, so be gentle. :) This is unbetaed, so any grammar and other mistakes are on me. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
He should have never left her. He should have never taken that bus away from the foster home. But he was a little boy – a gullible, naïve, little boy – and he didn't know any better. He should have been there for her while she grew up into the beautiful woman she is now.
He should have stayed behind and teach her all about their home – their real home –, how magnificent it was and that one day they would save it from the curse and go back there. She would become skeptical eventually, he knows, but maybe with the right push at the right moment, she would still believe him in the end.
He'll never know, of course; it's too late, now. It's the biggest regret of his life, to leave her there at the foster home, alone in this land without magic. He tried to contact her, later, but he lost her tracks and the last thing he heard about her was that she was in jail. Back then, he cried like a baby for hours; he was supposed to protect her.
A shooting pain in his leg, the same wooden leg she can't see because she doesn't want to, takes him away from his thoughts and he reminds himself that it's been over a half hour since she fled from the forest and she has yet to come back. He never expected her to, but it's nighttime and his motorbike is their only transportation back to Storybrooke.
When he gets to the side of the road, there's no sight of her and for a moment he panics. But the Emma he knows is probably already on her way to Storybrooke, on foot.
He sees her after a mile and approaches her. She wipes something off her face and he knows she's crying. He mentally adds another failed attempt at protecting her.
"You're a slow walker," he teases, trying to clear up the air between them and maybe salvage what's left of their broken friendship.
When she doesn't reply, he smirks to himself. That's exactly the reaction he's expected. "C'mon Emma, you're not walking all the way to Storybrooke. Hop on."
"No, thanks. It's not that far."
"At your pace, you'll take the entire night to get there. Don't be so stubborn," he counters. She only keeps walking and says nothing, and he sighs. "Please, just let me take you home and I promise I won't talk to you again, unless you want me to."
She nods once and hops on the motorbike. He knows she's mad at him, but she still clings onto his leather jacket and he says nothing, because his stomach churns in a good way and this won't be another promise he'll break. Then, when they get to Storybrooke, she disappears as soon as her feet touch the ground, muttering a "thanks."
He decides to see Gepetto that same night.
The poor man – his father – seems so lonely it breaks his heart. So, he starts a conversation and somehow his father ends up giving him the answers he's been craving for, albeit unknowingly, and he knows that not everything is lost. He can still try to get Emma to believe. And try he will.
The next morning, after trying to reach Emma in her apartment, he pays a visit to Rumplestiltskin – or Mr. Gold, as he prefers to be addressed, nowadays – and informs him that his plan has completely backfired.
"And what do you want from me," the older man asks, with that devious smirk on his face.
"I was hoping you could help me. Is there anything I can do?"
Rumplestiltskin's smile stretches a little more and there's a glint in his eye that August can't decipher. "Haven't you heard, Puppet? She took Henry and fled the town. Regina has everyone looking for her, but, as you know, no one can leave Storybrooke, except those who aren't from here."
He's speechless at the information. He knows Emma can be a lot of things, but she isn't one to run away from a fight and that's exactly what she's done by taking Henry.
He leaves the pawnshop in a hurry, his worries settled at the pit of his stomach, hoping he can still find her before Regina does.
He searches for the yellow Volkswagen Beetle the entire morning and it's when he runs out of gas that he re-evaluates the situation and knows how ridiculous he is for thinking he could find her outside Storybrooke. There are a million places where she can be right now and he hasn't the slightest clue in which direction she could have possibly gone.
After refueling, he decides to take a different path and ends up in the forest where he and Emma were the night before. Much to his surprise, her car is parked on the side of the road.
The worst thoughts fill his mind. What if Regina has already found her? What if something happened to her? What if something happened to Henry?
He leaves his motorbike on the ground and rushes to her car, only to find it completely empty. He feels like his heart is going to explode in a million of tiny pieces when he hears a familiar boyish voice.
The little boy looks up at him and smiles. "Hi, August!"
Emma, on the other hand, remains silent and sets a hard glare in his direction. After a tense moment, she turns to Henry. "Kid, why don't you wait up in the car? It'll only take a second."
Henry nods and makes his way to the car. She only waits until he's right out of earshot. "What do you want? If I recall correctly you promised to stay away from me."
"No, I promised to never talk to you again, unless you wanted me to. If you're asking me questions, I take it you want me to answer them."
"Cut the crap," she retorts, folding her arms in front of her chest. "All I want to know is what you are doing here."
He sighs. "I was worried."
"Why? You didn't seem so worried when you tried to test my sanity by fabricating that lie, last night."
"For the last time, Emma, I wasn't lying." His frustration is growing by the second. "Ask your son, he can see the truth in that book, why can't you?"
"Because those are fairytales!" she exclaimed, matter-of-factly. "They aren't real!"
"Except they are! You just don't want to see it."
"August, you're a grown man, how did Henry…" she starts, but he guesses what she is about to say and he interrupts her.
"Henry has nothing to do with this. I didn't even know he was your son until I came to Storybrooke." He pauses for a moment, recollecting his thoughts. "How many more proofs do you need? And let's not even talk about those two kids that you've helped reuniting with their father, or that girl that has now a baby girl thanks to you, or the obvious connection between Mary Margaret and David, because you'll say those are all coincidences."
"How do you know all that," she asks in a mutter.
He ignores her. "But you've had me, the Mad Hatter and the Huntsman telling you they remembered another land, another life."
She looks at him wide-eyed and he knows he's probably said too much. "The Huntsman?"
"Sheriff Graham. Do you honestly believe that a healthy, thirty-something year-old man falls dead just like that?"
"How do you know that?"
"Storybrooke may be different in many ways, but in the end, it's just another small town where people talk and rumors spread."
"You're delusional if you think Graham's death had anything to do with a fairytale."
"Fine. You refuse to see what's right in front of you and I've ran out of arguments to win you over," he says, defeated.
There are beads of tears at the corners of her eyes, much like the night before, and he feels like crying himself.
"Why is it so important that I have to believe what you're saying to me," she inquires with a broken voice.
"I already told you, Emma. The town's fate is in your hands."
"Yes, but… what happens if I don't believe?"
He scratches the back of his head. "I don't know for sure. I guess we stay stuck here and time keeps moving forward, and people keep aging, and there will be the day where you'll find me on my bed at Granny's, in the form of a giant wooden puppet."
"It's not fair," she whispers. And she's right. It isn't fair that she alone has to save a whole town. That's why he's there; to help her.
"I'm here for you, Emma. Maybe it's too late now, but I'm here to protect you."
The pain in his leg is now a constant agony, which troubles his sleep. So, he lies awake, staring at the ceiling, pondering whether or not to call Emma. Maybe she's as insomniac as he is.
At that moment, there's a soft knock on his door. He gets up, wondering who could that be, and winces when his leg squeaks a bit. Then he opens the door to find Emma staring at him, with a mix of sadness and exhaustion, and his stomach churns. She looks so broken.
"Hey, can I come in?"
He steps aside to let her in and closes the door behind her. "What are you doing here?"
Instead of answering, she asks him another question. "Why were you trying to find me?"
He takes a deep breath. "I was worried. Someone told me you had kidnapped Henry and ran off, and I was worried that Regina could catch you."
"That was the original plan, you know," she admits, smiling a little. "But Henry asked me not to and, I don't know why, I just can't say no to that kid."
He chuckles. "I'm glad he has that power over you, then." And he's only half joking. "What's your story, then? For keeping him out of Storybrooke all night, I mean."
"He's covering up for me, saying he was the one who went to my apartment and asked me to take him out of the town for the night."
A comfortable silence dawns upon them and they just sit there, on the edge of his bed, enjoying the moment. At some point, she leans her head onto his shoulder and his heart leaps inside his chest.
"You kept saying that you are here to protect me." It's not a question, so he waits for her to develop whatever she was about to say. She leans back again to look him straight in the eye and he holds her gaze. "Why?"
"Someone has to."
She nudges his side with her elbow. "I want a real answer. And don't forget that I can spot lies, Pinocchio."
He can't help but smile at that, because hearing his name – his real name – fall from her perfect, inviting, pink lips makes him all warm inside. Before he even knows it, the words are coming out of his mouth, with no control whatsoever. "You always protect the ones you love."
"You don't know me. You can't love me," she whispers. As her words are saying one thing, her body is saying something else entirely and she keeps inching closer and closer.
He raises a hand to touch her cheek and keeps his eyes locked on hers, blue clashing with blue. "You made quite an impression on me as a baby."
And he pulls her to him and closes the distance between them and their lips finally meet. And it's new and refreshing and they feel like they've known each other since forever; like they've never been apart one single minute.
Her lips are soft and taste like coconut lip gloss and soon he's brushing his tongue across her lower lip, begging for an entrance that she concedes. The kiss grows passionate and he doesn't process that she's straddling him up until his leg shoots a wave of pain through his entire body and he almost throws her off the bed. It has never been this bad before.
She looks at him, concerned. "Is it your leg?" He nods. "Can I see it now?"
He responds by revealing the leg, hopeful that she can see it for what it really is. She still has that concerned look on her face as she examines, brushing her fingertips across it ever-so-gently.
"What… what exactly is wrong with your leg?"
"You still can't see it, can you," he asks, softly. She shakes her head no and his shoulders slump.
"August, I'm trying," she confesses. "I really am. And sometimes I feel like I'm close to believing, you know? But… then I think 'this is really stupid' and I go back to square one. I just… Give me some time, okay?"
He nods, pecks her lips, pulls her into his arms and they both fall backwards on the bed. They'll wait. She'll get there. He only hopes she doesn't take too long, because his right foot is getting a little tingly.
So, was it good or bad?
Let me know!