Emma drove her Bug through the quiet streets of Storybrooke. She wanted to make one last patrol before heading home for an ice cream and movie night with Mary Margaret. All seemed in order, which wasn't a surprise. It's not like Storybrooke was teaming with lawbreakers. Apart from attempting to remain one step ahead of Regina, being the Sheriff of Storybrooke was the easiest job she had ever had. She was just about to turn around and go home when she saw a light on in her office at the Sheriff's station. Emma was certain she'd turned off all the lights before locking up and heading out. Maybe Regina was spying on her? Or more likely sending one of her lackeys to do it for her. Either way Emma needed to check it out.
Emma cut the engine and climbed out. She drew her gun and held it at the ready as she pushed on the door. It was locked, just as she'd left it. What the hell? she thought. She unlocked the door and pushed it open. The end of the hall was filled with light that could only be coming from her office. As quietly as she could, Emma made her way down the dark hall, gun pointed in front of her. She instinctively squinted as she came into the light, temporarily messing up her vision. A few seconds later, her eyes adjusted and Emma stepped around the corner to confront the intruder.
There sitting at her desk was Graham.
He looked just as he had the last time Emma saw him, in all his waistcoated, messy haired glory. Only this time he wasn't doubled over in pain. No, he was sitting there like Emma had seen him every day since he'd made her his deputy. Her heart constricted painfully in her chest. She didn't even notice that she'd lowered her gun. Her head was screaming at her that this couldn't possibly be real; she'd watched Graham die in her arms. Too bad her heart didn't listen.
“Graham?” she whispered.
He looked at her and smiled. “Emma,” he said. The accent was just as she remembered. She closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. When she opened them, Graham was still there.
“How? How are you here? I...I watched you die.”
“You sure about that, Emma? Because I don't feel dead,” Graham replied, as he stood and stepped around the desk. “Maybe Henry's been telling you too many stories.”
“Henry?” Emma asked. “Wait, you said you remembered. Just before you...you know...you said you remembered everything. What did you remember, Graham?”
“Is that really what you want to talk about right now, Emma?” Graham asked, as he took a step toward her. Emma backed up on pure instinct. There was something about this that wasn't right. She could feel it.
Graham held up his hands in mock surrender. “Slow down. Look, I can prove it's me. Kiss me.”
“You think I'm not real, right? Tactile interaction seems to be the fastest way to prove that I really am standing here in front of you. So, kiss me, Emma.”
Part of her desperately wanted to. His Irish brogue sounded so reassuring. But she'd been so torn up by his death, just when she'd started to let someone in. If it was some kind of trick or a figment of her imagination, she wasn't sure her heart could take a second beating. Still, she wanted him to be real so badly. Caution be damned. Emma threw her arms around Graham's neck and pulled him down to her lips. He felt the same. He felt solid. Unbidden, tears started to fall as she continued to kiss him. Graham's arms came around her and held her close.
Pain sliced through her. Emma staggered away from Graham, backing into the glass wall of the office. Slowly, Emma felt herself sinking to the floor. She looked down and saw a growing red stain in her now torn shirt. Emma pressed her hand to the wound and looked at Graham, horrified.
“Graham,” she said, weakly. And hating herself for her weakness and stupidity.
He laughed. But it wasn't Graham's laugh. This laugh belonged to someone very different. Someone who in that moment Emma hated more than she'd every hated anyone in her life.
“Regina,” she said.
Regina-as-Graham knelt down, brandishing a blood covered dagger. “Did you really think you could take the things that belong to me so easily? Did you think I would just stand idly by while you stole my life? Shame on you, Miss Swan.”
Emma wanted nothing more in that moment than to punch the monster in its smug face, but she didn't have the strength. Her arms felt like lead. She felt herself losing consciousness, falling further and further into oblivion.
Killian Jones wasn't asleep. It was nearly impossible to find a comfortable position on the cold, hard ground they'd decided to use as a campsite. It seemed no matter which way he turned there was a rock or a pine bough or a stray branch digging into his body. He fervently wished to be back in his quarters on the Jolly Roger. A captain belonged at sea, not wandering some forest. Unfortunately, his trusty ship could not get him to Storybrooke, where his Crocodile waited. There was little that Killian wouldn't sacrifice to come face to face with Rumplestiltskin. If that meant sleeping in the middle of a forest with a band of four women, then so be it.
Killian was startled when he heard a voice in the dark. In seconds, he recognized it as belonging to the Swan girl. From what he could make out, it sounded like she was having a nightmare. He was about to reach over and shake the poor girl awake when she sat up abruptly; her eyes were wide and afraid. Killian quickly snapped his eyes shut, pretending to be asleep. He didn't want to get involved in whatever drama the girl's subconscious had cooked up. He could hear her panicky breaths as she muttered one word over and over. Graham.
Who or what was Graham? Killian wondered. Then promptly scolded himself for wondering. The lives of his traveling companions didn't matter. All that mattered was getting to his Crocodile. But he couldn't deny that there was something about the Swan girl that intrigued him. It wasn't every day that someone got the better of Captain Killian Jones.
The next day he and Swan were scouting ahead of the others. Their group was fairly quiet, but one could never be too careful about ogres. Or the other things forest contained like trolls. The pair walked parallel with about ten yards between them. The silence in the forest was a bit unnerving and Killian was bored. And he was Killian Jones and if there was one thing Killian Jones liked to do it was talk. Besides, he might learn something important.
“So who's Graham?” he asked.
Swan turned her head to look at him. He saw the briefest look of shock cross her face, then she composed herself. “You an eavesdropper as well as a pirate?” she asked.
“I haven't survived this long by being unobservant, Miss Swan.”
She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him. “Just how old are you?”
“You wouldn't believe me if I told you.”
“I've seen a lot of insane things of the last few months, try me.”
He grinned. She wasn't easily intimidated, he liked that about her. “Three hundred years, give or take,” he said. “I must admit that I lost track some years ago.”
Whatever she had been expecting him to say, it wasn't that. But she didn't hesitate. “That's a really long time to hold a grudge,” she observed. “What'd Rumplestiltskin do to you? Besides the obvious.”
“That, Miss Swan, is a story for another day. You never answered my question.”
“Coy doesn't suit you, Miss Swan. Is it really such a secret?”
Swan looked down, avoiding his eyes. “No secret,” she replied. “He was just someone I knew.”
"But he was important to you?” Killian wasn't sure why he was so intent on getting an answer out of her. But for some reason, he needed to know what could make someone like Emma Swan wake up terrified.
She looked at him, clearly exasperated. “He was my boss. There was...we might have...It doesn't matter. He's gone now. Died in my arms actually.”
It was his turn to be surprised. He knew what it felt like to have someone close die in his arms. It was something they had in common. He found himself experiencing a feeling he hadn't felt in three hundred years: sympathy. He didn't dare act on the impulse though; he had a feeling that Emma Swan didn't want his sympathy. Clearly, the woman in front of him was stronger than he'd previously thought. It only made him more drawn to her.
“Have you avenged his death?” he asked.
She didn't ask how he knew that Graham's death wasn't an accident. She just smiled knowingly and said, “Not yet.”
“Might I offer my services when the occasion arises?”
“Careful, Hook,” she said, “I just might take you up on that.”
“I would be my honor, Miss Swan,” he replied, bowing formally.
She laughed, a much happier sound than he anticipated. He looked at her bewildered, but grinned in spite of himself. Maybe there could be life after vengeance after all.