The seven of them pushed the empty wooden cart across the green field. A whole day of walking, delivering, and passing smiles left them all exhausted.
"Do you think we'll be ready for the next raid soon?" Robin proposed, though even he wasn't at all prepared for it.
Everyone gave him shrugs in return. "Why don't we just raid your girlfriend's old castle, she probably wouldn't mind." One suggested, gathering a few nods of approval among the men.
"Absolutely not," Robin said back, "there's probably nothing there anyways- just am empty castle."
"Who knows, there might be something good..." Little John pressed him, hoping there was a chance of him breaking. "And if we told people we were storming the queen's castle, they'd be ecstatic!"
Frowning, Robin turned around to face him. "And then what, the secret comes out about her and I? What would the people do then?"
Nobody had an answer ready for him.
"They'd probably try to kill me, that's what. And then they'll go after her, and it'll be a big mess."
Little John let out an irritated groan as he processed his words- he was right, it would be an awful mess, not to mention the ignorance of the people when it came to the former queen.
"Just... Think about it, okay?"
With that, they parted ways, Robin heading towards the house while the rest continued towards the home they shared.
He threw the thought out of his mind as soon as he was left alone.
Everything was just as they had left it. Every street, every shop, it was exactly the same. She was glad for this, yes, but the blonde immediately knew something was missing- or, more specifically, someone.
Being back was oddly calm; of course everyone was grateful and relieved to see them all back, Ruby threw them all a party at Granny's (in Emma's mind, another party). They all had fun in all, but the weighted feeling down in the pit of her stomach wouldn't leave her alone.
Hook was actually doing fairly well with the change. Not that she was comparing him to Neal, but Emma had to give him credit for finding his own place. He had gotten a job as a mechanic and was working six hours a day. Emma went over to his apartment every once in a while and taught him more about the odds and ends of Storybrooke (it took him three days to understand the concept of a cell phone) She always appreciated the fact that Killian never made any direct moves on her. Things between them could stay fun and lighthearted and not be awkward. She always had a good time with him- it was nice to have an actual friend to talk to.
Eventually, everything died down, and things were almost normal again. Much to everyone's surprise, it was Belle who had taken Regina's place as mayor- she seemed to be happy with the job. When asked about Rumple, she simply stated that she had no idea. He had came to visit her once, but he left back the Enchanted Forest a short time later. Emma regained her position of sheriff, it wasn't the most entertaining job, but at least it passed the time.
"Morning," Neal said, giving Emma a friendly nod as he made his way down the metal staircase of Snow and Charming's apartment.
"Morning." She replied, not nearly as enthusiastically. It had been a week and a half since they had returned, and Neal was still living in the crowded living space. Mary Margret insisted on Emma breaking the news to Neal- he had to move out. They were all sick of being herded together in a four walked confinement like cattle.
Emma blinked out of her trance. "Huh?"
"Do you want coffee," he repeated, slower this time.
"Yeah. Sure," the blonde muttered, pulling her bathrobe closer to her body.
"Tired much?" Neal mused, handing her a warm mug filled to the brim with coffee.
Signing, the blonde took a long sip from her mug. If now wasn't the time, she was sure it would never happen. "Neal, when do you think you're going to, you know... Get your own place." She started, watching his expression shift.
He gave her a look. "Why, do you want me gone or something?"
"No, it's not that," Emma clarified, "it's just... Do you really want to sleep on the couch for who knows how long?"
He took a seat down next to her at the bar- the seat Henry always used to sit in."Emma, as long as I'm with you, I don't care where I have to sleep."
There it was again. He was slowly stepping his way across the boundaries she had set. She bit her lip as she debated bringing up the next point.
"Hook got his own place down at Granny's... You could do the same."
Immediately, his entire demeanor changed to a defensive one. "You're comparing me to that pirate now?" He said the name like he was spitting poison out of his mouth.
"Come on, I'm just stating a fact." Emma rebutted.
Neal sighed. "Then I'll have to worry about paying rent, keeping the place clean... I'd be lonely too, Emma." He paused for a moment, looking like he had just gotten an idea. "Hey, I know- let's both stay at Regina's house for a while. She won't mind."
"Neal..." Emma groaned, rolling her eyes, "I'm serious. There's just no room here. You can get a place at Granny's, and get a job somewhere, and have a normal life."
Neal couldn't hold back a sarcastic laugh. "Normal? I can pick a thousand things to call us, but normal doesn't cut it."
The blonde rolled her eyes again. Neal was sure someone else.
"I'm gonna be late for work. You better have some ideas by the time I get back."
She ordered, setting her finished coffee on the counter and starting towards the door.
Before she could make it, though, she felt his hand on her arm. As she turned around, her thoughts of protest were silenced by his lips on hers. It was only for a moment, but it felt like so much longer. His soft and tender kiss made her travel back in time to when they were young, careless, and drunken by love. They were a ragtag team of thieves, only a yellow bug and a dream catcher to haul along with them. In that moment, all the wrongs that he had committed over the years dissipated- none of that existed. He was Neal Cassidy, the man she had fallen head over heels for twelve years ago.
Emma pulled away, soon realizing what had just happened. When she looked at him again, she remembered all the pain he had brought to her, she could see it right through his pleading brown eyes. She couldn't think of anything to say, so the blonde simply turned back around and walked through the open door.
The sky was well past dark by the time he arrived back at the house. Regina and Henry had finished their ride about a half out prior, making it so the both of them were completely exhausted. When Robin walked through the front door, the first and only thought in his mind was sleep.
"You're finally home!" Regina called towards him with a smile, seeing him for the first time in hours.
"Really long day down at the villages," he replied.
"You want any dinner?" She asked, gesturing towards the leftover ham that was still sitting on the table. Robin shook his head.
"I've eaten so many lunches today it isn't even funny."
And he wasn't kidding. Everyone wanted to talk to him.
"Were you outside a lot today?" He asked, noticing the tired look on her face.
"I took Henry out riding," Regina told him, feeling slightly prideful with herself, "and while we were out, Roland felt the need to completely get everything out in his room- so I made him put it all back. He's in there now."
Robin let out a small laugh. "Sounds like Roland. That's why I don't leave him alone that often."
"Hey Robin, you're back!" Henry said, coming out of his and Roland's room. "Did mom tell you I leaned how to ride?"
He smiled back at the boy. "Yeah, she did."
"So do you want to practice more? I can get harder targets."
"Henry, I'm pretty wiped out..." Robin started hesitantly, "it's late too. Why don't you start getting ready for bed?"
The twelve year old frowned slightly. Who was he to tell him what to do?
"What about my bed?" Henry stated, folding his arms crossly.
Robin sighed. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Come on Henry, go see what Roland's doing or something." Regina said, giving him one of her mother looks.
The boy gave her a look back that was just as menacing, but he obeyed and turned back around towards the room.
"Don't mind him, he's just tired," she told Robin, who hadn't seen her son truly angry before. "Why don't you lay down, you look exhausted."
He did, but he already knew he couldn't sleep. His double life was starting to come down full force on him; he ha a duty as the leader of the merry men, but he also had a job back at the house. It was tough to be in love with Regina- he knew her, what her troubles were, what her fears were, and he knew exactly how to comfort her. outside of the house, though, she was still the ruthless queen everyone was dying to get their hands on.