We Can Love Again

You're Not Alone

She felt like she had just been thrown into a whirlwind, a spinning tornado that sent her into an alternate universe, one where everything was completely different. Not just different, but odd. In Storybrooke, more people seemed to communicate on their cellphones rather than speak to others face to face. Fashion was a critical thing too- apparently, it determined if one was considered popular or not.

"Why can't I just wear this?" Tinkerbell asked in an annoyed sigh, as Emma continued to pull out clothes from her closet and set them on her bed.

"Because, this is Storybrooke, and people aren't really used to fairies who wear green sparkly dresses- don't get me wrong, it's a nice dress, just not socially acceptable."

Tinkerbell gave her a disheartened look. She was beginning to rethink staying there for such a long time.

"Now, I'm more of a comfy shirt and jeans kind of girl, but I think this will look really good on you." Emma said, holding up a silver long sleeved shirt with beading across the middle.

"Are you sure I can just borrow this from you?" She asked warily, taking the shirt from her and properly examining it.

Emma shrugged. "Sure, why not. Mary Margret and I share clothes all the time, and when I'm feeling sexy I borrow Ruby's. We all just share each other's clothes. No big deal."

Tink couldn't believe Regina was even friends with Ruby- she didn't know her very well, but just from the experiences at the hospital, she knew she was spastic and flighty, two words she would use to describe the exact opposite of Regina Mills.

"You should let your hair down, too." Emma added, gesturing towards her blonde bun, flicking her wrist to release a small cloud of purple smoke. The fairy almost jumped in surprise when Emma turned her around so she was facing the mirror that was on the back of her bedroom door. Her hair was settled a couple of inches past her shoulders, in soft curls that framed her blue eyes.

"See, you look amazing," Emma remarked, feeling substantially proud of herself, "Neal will be speechless when he sees you here in about thirty minutes."Raising her eyebrow, Tinkerbell turned back around to face the savior. "So you want Neal and I to hit it off? You seem so excited to have someone want to spend time with him that isn't your son- and it's just coffee, not an actual date. I hope you realize that."

Emma let her shoulders fall slightly, her bright and sunny attitude fading. "Yeah, honestly I do. I know it's been hard for him to see Killian and I together, and I had no intention of getting together with him just to make Neal mad. I loved him once, and I'll always love him- I just can't love him the way I used to, not with everything that happened between us. It's hard for him to see most everyone in this town already have someone in their life. Henry's been trying to find him someone because he loves him, and wants to see him happy again. Neal keeps on telling him that he makes him happy, but he won't settle for that. He deserves a happy ending, just like all the rest of us. I'm not saying that I'm forcing you to love him, but just give him a chance."

Tinkerbell was quite taken aback by how strongly she defended him- he had broken her heart, left her with a child... Part of it didn't seem right. She was happy for Emma, and how she found the pirate and accepted him in her life, but she was right, leaving Neal in the dust was more than unfair.

"So," the fairy began, honestly nervous to see what Emma's reaction would be to what she had to say, "how do you think things between you and Killian will change in the future?"

The question made the savior furrow her brow- she was never good at being extremely open with people. The future was a terrifying thing to think about; Emma was more into living in the moment and going from there.

"I honestly don't know," she shrugged, giving a small laugh, "but I know that I love Killian. Being with him makes me happy. Now I want to keep this quiet, so don't tell anyone. He, uh, asked me to move in with him."

As much as she tried to keep her surprise dimmed down, Tinkerbell's eyes widened. "Really? He seriously asked you?"

Emma nodded, desperately trying to keep her emotions from showing. That is where she differed from both her mother and Ruby- she hated to make things a big deal.

"Will you move in with him then?"

Turning her head to the side, the blonde grimaced to herself. "I totally would, it's just... Henry. I don't want him to think we're, you know, going to get married, or be together forever just because we live in the same apartment. Things between Robin and Regina are set in stone; my relationship with Killian, however, isn't. I'm not saying we won't be together forever... I just... Don't know what the future has in store for me just yet. And then, there's the Neal problem. You know."

Tinkerbell listened to her intently, soon understanding where she was coming from. Neal was the father of her child, yet the fire died out between them. Henry fueled himself on optimism, believing that everyone had a happy ending in store for them somewhere. She knew Emma didn't want to give the boy false hope, but in doingso, she could be extinguishing hope of her own.

"Well, I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but you should really talk to your parents about it. And Henry too, when the time is right. Just... Take a chance, and see where it takes you."

Emma smirked, turning back to her bed and picking up big fluffy coat, along with a pair of snow boots. "You're going to be late for your coffee date if you keep helping me with my relationship."

Tink slid the coat over her shoulders, giving her a modest smile. "It's kinda what I do. Now, are you going to make me ride in your horseless carriage or will I have to walk there?"

"I really can't with you," Emma giggled, putting her arm around her shoulders and leading her out of her bedroom, "you're so cute. I'm so glad you decided to visit."Like she had done since she had arrived, Tink smiled and nodded, mostly because she didn't know what else to do. The new realm was far beyond confusing, but she would never tell any of them that.

Being in a car made her feel so nervous she had to remind herself to breathe. The roads were still covered with snow, though Leroy promised he would be out with the plows as soon as possible. Emma took the pathway slow, ready to press on the brakes whenever she needed to. She found it slightly amusing how Tinkerbell clutched the sides of her seat; every time she turned a corner the fairy gave her looks of absolute terror.

"Don't you think it'll be a tad... Awkward, if Neal knew you drove me here?"

Emma stifled a laugh as she pulled into the diner, in what she presumed to be a parking space. Regina's Mercedes still lay abandoned in the parking lot, covered in about a foot of snow. Neal's worn down jeep was parked a few feet away, as well as a couple of other vehicles belonging to people who dared to leave their houses in such bitter weather.

"Neal and I are friends, Tink. There's nothing awkward about it- he knows I'm with Killian, and he's okay with that." Inside, she knew that wasn't true; the memories of Roland's party resurfaced in her mind. But she couldn't let her know that. "In fact, tell him I said hi, and that I wish you two the best of luck."

It took her a moment to fumble with the door before she got it to open. "For the last time, it's only coffee. But I suppose I can tell him that."

With a wink and a smile, Emma was soon off back down the street, leaving the fairy alone in the parking lot. She hesitantly started for the door, looking through the glass to spot Neal sitting alone in one of the booths, absent mindedly reading a newspaper.

She took a deep breath, gathering courage she didn't realize she needed as she opened the door, causing the bell to go off. Neal glanced up towards her and smiled.

Tinkerbell returned the smile, taking off her jacket and taking a seat across from him.

"Sorry I'm late," she said, soon realizing that she had no idea what else to say to him.

"You're fine, I just got here." Neal replied, giving her a reassuring smile as he folded up the newspaper he was reading.

"So, how are you liking Storybrooke so far?"

Tinkerbell couldn't help but sigh. "It's... Different, that's for sure. But everyone has been really nice. Somewhat disappointed on how I can't fly here like I could back home."

Hearing this, Neal found himself intrigued by the woman's personality. She was so incredibly sweet; she didn't even have to try to be.

"Well, would you look at this," Granny remarked, coming over to their booth with a pen and notebook in hand. "I can't take any more surprises in this restaurant. Now you two are seeing each other?"

Neal was quick to widen his eyes. "No, we're just having coffee."

His voice was convincing, but Granny could see right through his expression. She didn't even bother writing down their orders as she turned back towards the kitchen, a sly smirk soon gracing over her face.

There was a bit of awkwardness between them she left. The blonde began to turn her attention to her hands that were resting on the table like they were the most interesting things in the entire world.

"So, how'd you get here?" Neal asked, snapping her attention back to him.

"Um, well, the higher status you are as a fairy, the more privileges you have. I recently learned how to make a portal by raw pixie dust- only works for one person, but still an accomplishment- at least for me. I've been dying to see Regina for a while now, since the last recollection I had of her was after I saved her from being executed in front of an entire village. I didn't know that she and Robin were ever separated between realms, and I certainly didn't know she was pregnant."

Maybe it was just her imagination, but Tinkerbell saw his smile weaken upon hearing her name.

He drew in a breath. "She sure has gotten popular around here ever since she came back. I remember when Henry used to hate having to stay over at her house- now it's hard to get him away from there. With the baby here, I don't even know how often I'll be able to see him."

Her expression softened remarkably when she heard this. There was something in his voice that made her feel empathy for him.

"How often does Henry stay over at your apartment?"

"Well Emma and Regina arranged a schedule so he stays over at one of our houses every weekend. On school days, we all take turns picking him up and having some time with him. But Henry's getting old enough where he just decides where to go. There's no more fighting over him between Emma and Regina, so things are pretty easy going. But with the baby here and everything, Henry's been so caught up he hasn't been over for a while."

They were presented with two steaming mugs of coffee. Tinkerbell gave Granny a modest thank you, followed by a small nod of approval. Coffee wasn't something the fairy had in a long time; she took a sip and instantly loved the taste. The warmth coursed through her body, giving her a happy feeling inside.

"You're his father, I know he loves you more than anything," she told him, as if it were obvious.

Though Neal didn't seem so sure. "I wasn't a part of his life for almost twelve years; before that, I didn't even know he existed. And now, now he has Robin Hood for a dad. They're a real family- he has a brother, and now Caroline. Who do I have?" He suddenly stopped himself from going further, not realizing he had said so much.Tink was so taken aback by his words; she didn't know what to say. Never before had she portrayed Neal as someone who felt left out in a town where the contention seemed virtually nonexistent.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off like that," he admitted, giving her an apologetic glance with his brown eyes.

"Oh no, you're completely fine," she said, leaning forward and sending him a completely genuine look. "We all have baggage."

Neal sighed. He wasn't completely sure what would happen on their coffee date, but talking about his feelings certainly wasn't on his mind. Still, it felt nice to tell someone about everything.

"I have the Dark One as a father, people have always thought of me different because of it. None of that pain compared to losing Emma. After that, I thought there was no hope for me. Then I found Henry." There was a change in his time when he mentioned his son. It was bittersweet, and it made the blonde smile. She placed her hand softly over his, making the man glance back at her cautiously.

"I know I've only been here for a few days, but Robin, Regina, Emma, Snow... They're all one big family. You play an important role in their family- what would Henry do without you in his life? You're caring, sweet, full of adventure-"

"You mean, like the pirate?" Neal scoffed, giving her a light smirk, "we met when I was fourteen. Killian is a real nice guy and all, but it's still hard to adjust seeing them together."

Tinkerbell definitely didn't want to start up a conversation on Emma, especially with the secret of Hook's offer resting uncomfortably in the back of her mind.

"Everyone has their own story. We all just have to... Make due with what we have. I mean, look at me- after I lost my wings, all I had was anger. And that didn't get me anywhere. If I hadn't forgiven Regina, if I didn't take the Charming's plea to help get them out of Neverland, I would probably still be there in that damned forest."

Neal felt perplexed by what she was saying- she made being happy sound so easy.

"You know what, you're right," he admitted, watching her take her last few sips of coffee until her mug was completely drained. "I have Henry, that's the most important thing. Things are going better between my dad and I, and Belle and I have gotten closer over the last few months."

The woman smiled at his words, finally seeing a light begin to flicker in his seemingly hopeless eyes. "And you have so many friends always go to, including me. Roland never fails to make everyone happy."

The memory of Christmas Day came back to his mind almost immediately after, remembering how touched Regina was that he had helped paint her daughter's nursery. He never thought he and the evil queen could become friends, but apparently, it was possible. He also never thought he could gain Emma's trust back, even if they were just friends.

"Thank you, Tinkberbell," Neal said, pulling out a few dollars from his wallet and setting them on the table, before she could protest, "it's been a while since someone lifted me up."

The fairy blushed slightly. It was unbelievable to him how such a small woman could be capable of such powerful words. "Everyone had good in them. It's my job to see that good and turn it into something better."

"Well, we need to do this again sometime. Drinking my coffee here alone gets boring after a while."

Tink then pulled her coat back on, standing up in order to zip it up. "Yeah, I need more people to hang out with now that Regina's busy with her baby. It's unfortunate we never got to meet in the Enchanted Forest."

"Yeah, it is. Unlike everyone else in this town, seems like you've never got caught up in deals with my dad. You should count your lucky stars for that." He said, taking out his keys. "Do you need a ride somewhere?"

She shook her head. "I'm okay, there's a few things I need to do. Besides, the Charming's apartment is really cramped."

Before he knew what he was doing, Neal stepped forward, drawing closer to her. Tinkerbell panicked inside, thinking he was going to hug her. She saw the panic in his face too, probably from seeing the panic she tried to conceal. So she stuck her arm out in a futile attempt to stop the awkwardness that lasted at least three whole seconds. Neal accepted her handshake, giving her one last smile before starting for the door without another word.

Tinkerbell finally released the breath she had been holding. She swore she could hear Granny laughing from behind the counter.

What a story she had ready to tell Regina.

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