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from the sea

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It’s only when Emma officially becomes sheriff that she meets him.

She didn’t know Storybrooke even had a town treasurer until maybe a week or two into the job when Regina casually mentioned that her treasurer would be dropping by to make sure Emma understands what funds the sheriff’s department does and does not have access to. Her intent was clear in the dark gleam to Regina’s eyes, the gleam when the mayor is gleefully flaunting her authority in someone’s face: this will be another hurdle Emma will have to deal with while she remains sheriff in Storybrooke.

But even if this treasurer is nothing but another of Regina’s cronies, Emma’s completely fine with dealing with an intermediary – the less she sees of Regina the better.

The woman has been unbearable ever since Emma reunited Ava and Nicholas (the sibling duo who ‘framed’ Henry for stealing from the drugstore) with their estranged father. For whatever reason, her not taking them to Boston infuriated Regina, and she has become so increasingly strict on when she gets to see Henry that Emma is about to scream in frustration.

The main station door opens with the usual creak, heavy footfalls coming her way, Emma swivels around in her chair to greet whoever this town treasurer is.

The man who walks into the main part of the office is handsome enough to make Emma (who likes to pride herself on the fact that she has never once swooned over a man in her life) take a beat. He is astoundingly good looking: bright blue eyes rimmed by dark lashes and messy, mussed black hair that looks at odds with his otherwise pristine image of a town executive in a regal grey suit, complete with file folders held against his chest by his left arm and a briefcase in his right hand.

He looks similarly taken aback by her, eyes wide and mouth parted, but recovers faster than her, shaking his head ever so slightly, face quickly schooling into a polite, querying gaze.

“Sheriff Swan?”

He has an accent too, Emma registers, but English instead of Graham’s Irish. It’s enough of a difference from the general American in Storybrooke to rattle her, and she snaps back to reality, swallowing hard to force the thoughts of Graham from her mind.

“That’d be me,” she says, rising to greet him.

He nods, setting down his briefcase and reaching out his hand to shake hers. “Wes Newport. Storybrooke town treasurer. My apologies for not introducing myself earlier, especially during the election. It was bad form of me, but – well, the mayor deemed it unnecessary.”

Emma doesn’t even try not to roll her eyes; yes, because why would Regina think that a candidate for sheriff had any use of knowledge about the city’s departments?

“Of course she did.”

There is a glimmer of humour in Newport’s eyes, and he releases her hand. “Nevertheless, it is very nice to meet you, Sheriff.”

“Emma is fine,” she says, the term she still associates with someone else stinging. “I’m … I’m still not quite used to the title yet.”

He smiles, a sad look crossing his face. Quietly, he says, “I was very sorry to hear of Sheriff Graham’s passing. He was a good man.”

Throat clenching painfully, Emma looks down to her desk, avoiding his eyes. Her fingers subconsciously rub her wrist where the shoelace of Graham’s boot is wound snugly.

“Did you – did you know him well?” she asks, unable to keep the tightness from her voice. She may not have known him for very long, but still. A man who dies in your arms just moments after you kiss him for the first time ... well, Emma thinks she’s allowed to be a little unhappy about it.

“Not very well, no. Just from city council meetings, and budget discussions. He and I worked in different departments, but his was a face I was always glad to see.”

A quiet silence descends then, but Emma clears her throat after only a few moments. “So, Mr. Newport –”

“Please, call me Wes,” he interjects quickly. “Or even just Newport. Mr. Newport makes me feel at least three hundred years old.”

Emma grins. “Alright, Newport it is then. Those files for me?”

He nods, shifting his arm holding the file folders, and Emma catches notice of his other hand for the first time. It is, peculiarly, in a leather glove, but as Emma stares harder at the stiff edge to it, how he manoeuvres rather awkwardly with it, she realizes it isn’t a hand at all, but rather a prosthetic.

“Sailing accident,” he says quietly, noticing her gaze. Emma looks away, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare–”

He waves it off with his real hand, shrugging. “Don’t fret, love. It can be jarring at first.” He moves away from her to take a seat at one of the desks in front of the jail cells, somewhat awkwardly setting the file folders down. He flips open one of the folders, thumbing through it thoughtfully until he finds the page he is looking for. He looks up, ready to hand it to her, but instead quirks an eyebrow at the sight of her still standing. “Shall we begin?”

Feeling like a total jerk and sure her cheeks are matching the colour of her jacket, Emma pulls up another chair and sits beside Newport. He launches right away into what must be a carefully rehearsed speech. As he talks, explaining this and that, Emma realizes that the budget for the department is much tinier than she was anticipating. Sure, math was never her best subject at school, but even she can see that there is only enough money to cover the bare necessities, and even that is being generous.

“This can’t be all of it,” Emma says, interrupting Newport’s explanation as to the monthly dues. “Graham never could’ve hired me if this was how much he was given. There’s barely enough money for how much gas is per month, let alone anything else.”

Newport tenses, and that answers her question. She can feel the anger starting to boil under her skin, and she has to clench her hands into fists to stop them from shaking.

“Regina cut my budget, didn’t she?”

He still doesn’t answer, and Emma leans back in her seat, blowing air hard out her mouth in frustration.

“She expects me to do my job, but doesn’t even provide me enough money to do it. What the hell is wrong with her?”

“I’ll speak with her,” Newport assures immediately. “I told her reducing your funds would only create strife, but –”

“She is determined to make my job as hard as possible so I’ll just give up and leave.” Emma grits her teeth and rests her head on the back of her chair, glaring angrily up at the ceiling. “I shouldn’t even be surprised.”

“Don’t make it any easier on her,” he says, making Emma glance to him in surprise. “I’ll do what I can to restore your funds, but in the meantime, don’t let her know it bothers you. She’d like that, I think.”

Emma regards him, taken aback. That kind of statement isn’t one she’d expect from one of Regina’s cronies.

“Oh, I won’t,” she says, finally, and she smiles grimly. “I’ll be the best damn sheriff with no money that this town has ever seen.”

Newport chuckles. “That’s the spirit, love. But, I will do my best to talk reason into Regina. What she rationed you isn’t sufficient. There never seemed to be much need for a large budget for the sheriff’s department because, frankly, not much happened in Storybrooke prior to your arrival. Now there seems to be something going on at least every other day.”

His words are an eerie echo of Henry saying that time was starting again now that she was here, and she can’t help but feel a shiver up her spine.

“Trouble magnet, that’s me,” she says lightly.

Newport doesn’t notice her tenseness, and he smiles. “Seems like it. You created quite the workload for me when you took that chainsaw to the mayor’s favourite apple tree; she made me rearrange the entire budget so we could pay for its rehabilitation.” His voice drops to a whisper. “But between the two of us, that tree needed a good trim.”

Now Emma laughs. “Speaking ill of Regina; I like you already.”

Newport smiles back, and shakes his head. “The mayor and I have a … complicated history. I’m hopeful if I ask nicely enough about your funds, she may see sense and allow me to restore them to you, but I can’t make any promises.”

Emma wonders what kind of history the two could have, and can’t help the dark thought that Regina may have her claws in more than one department of Storybrooke, especially when the treasurer is as handsome as he is. She is almost tempted to glance back down to look for a wedding ring but then remembers the prosthetic hand in the glove and feels like a jerk again.

Newport carries on with the budget talk for a few more minutes, Emma getting more and more irritated as the reality of Regina’s budget cuts become more and more apparent. But there is nothing she can do now, and after a while Newport seems to sense that continuing to speak on the topic will only incense Emma more.

Luckily, he is spared from having to continue when a small figure – Henry – rounds the corner from the entrance at lightning speed.

“Emma, I think I know who –” he starts, excitedly, but then freezes at the sight of Newport, skidding rather hilariously to a stop, backpack nearly flying off his shoulders like a projectile. “Oh. Hey.”

“Hey, kid,” Emma says, with a smile.

“Hello, Henry,” Newport says pleasantly, politely ignoring Henry’s response to seeing him. “How was school?”

“Fine,” Henry says, nervously, shuffling slightly to press his back up against the glass wall leading to Emma’s private office.

Emma and Newport exchange a look, and he begins packing away his files. “Well, that’s my business done here, then, Sheriff. If you can write up some areas that you think will be improved by an increased budget, that’d be grand. I’ll talk to the mayor about it too, and let you know what she says.”

“Right. Thanks Newport.”

They both rise, and he shakes her hand again. “It was lovely meeting you.”

“Likewise.”

He smiles at her in parting, and nods at Henry as he passes him. Henry watches him with wide eyes, pressing himself even more against the glass wall as he passes, and the moment the station door swings shut, Henry bounds up to her desk like a firecracker.

“What was he doing here?”

Emma shakes her head with a sigh, gathering up the copies Newport left behind and wandering over to her office. “Nice to see you too, kid.”

Henry ignores her, rustling in his backpack and drawing out the storybook. “Don’t you know who that was?”

At the sight of the book, Emma’s heart sinks. Of course. Another Storybrooke citizen, another fairy tale character. “Henry –”

He slams the book down on the desk she and Newport had been sitting at, flipping through the pages until he finds a particular page. He points dramatically to the man in the illustration.

“Look!”

Emma, suppressing a sigh, drops the papers on her desk, and comes over to see. The picture is a wide shot of a large, old galleon style ship on a bright blue sea, a man in black leather at the helm. The man does indeed resemble Newport, with the black hair and general build, but from the far distance of the shot he also resembles about a hundred other guys Emma has seen in her life.

“And that’s supposed to be Newport?” she asks dubiously.

“Yes, but that’s not his real name,” Henry explains, his voice deliberately patient. “That’s his cursed name. He’s really Captain Hook.”

Captain Hook. Emma shakes her head. Of course, the infamous pirate with a hook for a hand and a fear of crocodiles would make an appearance in Henry’s book. What, the book’s now accepting Disney characters?

“It makes sense, doesn’t it?” Henry says earnestly. “Newport is the city treasurer – pirates love gold. He’s missing a hand, just like Newport, and here –” he flips the page over, to a closer shot of the man in leather, and Emma can see clearly that instead of a left hand the man has a silver hook. “He’s got a hook. I don’t think his real name was Hook, not like that Peter Pan movie, it said earlier what his actual name was, hang on –” Henry flips a couple pages, nearly tearing them in his eagerness, but Emma reaches out a hand to stop his.

“Henry,” she says, trying to be as gentle as possible. She is trying to be supportive of his fantasy world, she is trying to be supportive of him goddamn it, but she can’t let him call this man a pirate because he doesn’t have a left hand. “Just because Newport is missing a hand doesn’t mean that he’s Captain Hook. He’s just an ordinary guy.”

Henry instantly gives her the look, and slides his hand out from under hers. “Nothing is ordinary in this town.”

“Kid –”

“I know you don’t believe me,” Henry interrupts, his voice quiet, but his words loud enough to silence Emma. “But you need to know something about him.”

Emma resists the urge to sigh again, instead asking, as patiently as she can, “What?”

“Mr. Newport is not like Sheriff Graham.”

Emma stomach clenches uncomfortably, and she crosses her arms over her chest. “What do you mean by that?”

“Graham is – was good. He was controlled by Regina, and that’s why he was loyal to her for all the years before you came. But Mr. Newport … he’s not like that. She doesn’t control him like she did Graham. He’s his own person, and, Emma, he’s a villain. He was her ally in the Enchanted Forest. And he’s with her here too.”

Emma stares back at Henry, not sure what to say. Henry shakes his head sadly, pulling the book towards him and putting it back in his bag. “I’ve got to go to my session with Archie. I’ll see you later.”

“Henry, wait –”

But he’s already bounding out the door, and Emma is left standing alone in the middle of the station, hand still outstretched to where he had just been. She drops her arm, turning back to her office, and clenching her palm into a fist at the sight of Newport’s copies on her desk.

Her blood almost boils again at the indignation of Regina cutting her budget, but that is easier to focus on than trying to understand why Henry is so insistent on the storybook stuff. She grits her teeth and gets to work on writing up all the reasons she knows she needs more money for Newport, and when she’s sufficiently had enough, and made sure that every point is absolutely perfect, Emma throws the papers into her locked drawer and heads home.

Despite her best intentions, her mind had wandered during the mundane task, drifting onto the town treasurer and Henry’s words about him. While Newport seemed fine to her, Henry’s insistence that there was more than meets the eye has her reluctantly intrigued and she wants to know more. Even if Henry’s theory about him being a pirate is clearly wrong, the kid does tend to have good instincts about people – Regina, Graham, Mary Margaret. And so, at dinner that night, in a lapse in the conversation with Mary Margaret, she takes her chance.

“I met the town treasurer today.”

“Wes Newport?”

“Yeah. You know him?”

“Not very well,” Mary Margaret admits. “He’s very quiet; likes to stick to himself. He comes to the school meetings sometimes if we have a question, and he’s quite close with Regina from what I know, but that’s it really.”

Emma frowns, her stomach sinking against her will; she really thought she had a pretty good read on Newport and his apparent disregard for the mayor. “What do you mean ‘close with Regina?’ Close as in friends or as ‘friends’ –”

Mary Margaret laughs. “Oh, God no, nothing like that. They just work together. I think he’s one of the only people she actually trusts.” A mischievous light appears in her eyes then, and she leans closer to Emma. “Would it bother you if he was involved –”

“No,” Emma says, quickly. “Well, only if it affected Henry, but no. This is work related. Regina cut my budget, and he said he was going to try to get it back for me. I don’t know whether or not to trust him, especially since you say he’s close with her.”

Mary Margaret purses her lips, fork halfway to her mouth. “He’s always seemed honourable to me, Emma. I don’t think his friendship with Regina would get in the way of his job. What makes you suspicious?”

She hesitates for a moment, but then decides to go with the truth. “Henry doesn’t like him. And, you know, he tends to have a good feeling about people in this town. And … I don’t know,” she admits, twirling her fork absently in her pasta. “He seems nice enough, but he is working for Regina. I wouldn’t put it past her to have told him to be nice to me, meanwhile he’s over there telling her everything.”

Mary Margaret’s smile is gentle and sad. “Not everyone is out to get you in trouble.”

Emma shakes her head. “It sure feels like it sometimes.”

That slips out before she means it too, and Emma can almost hear the gears turning in Mary Margaret’s head, trying to piece her fractured story together from the bare bits Emma’s given her over the months they’ve roomed together. Emma clears her throat and gets to her feet, dishes in hand, suddenly not hungry anymore.

“Want to watch a movie?”

She agrees, and hunts around her VHS collection to find a suitable movie. They are all old, the most recent from 1982. After severely criticizing Mary Margaret’s collection and saying they’d have to get more modern ones one day, Emma selects Grease, as it’s one of the only ones she even recognizes.

A few minutes into the movie, the title song just beginning, Mary Margaret sits straight up on the couch and looks over to Emma.

“Oh! Another thing about Newport is that he doesn’t like Mr. Gold.”

Emma snorts, still focused on the screen, and pops a kernel of popcorn into her mouth. “No one likes Gold.”

Mary Margaret shakes her head, frowning. “No, it’s more than that. You and I and the rest of the town don’t like Gold; Newport hates him.”

Emma looks over at that. Newport probably has a lot of business with Gold, the man who owns half the town, and she wouldn’t have expected the two men who controlled Storybrooke’s wealth to so vehemently hate each other; she would’ve actually thought they’d get along.

“Why’s that?”

Mary Margaret shrugs. “Don’t know. For as long as I can remember, they’ve had it in for each other. Cross the street when the other comes by, glare at each other at town meetings, disagree with each other’s ideas for no other reason except to irritate the other.”

Emma hums in thought, picturing all the scenarios as to why Newport could hate the pawnbroker so much. Did they get into it once over who had more money? Argue over town territory?

They lapse into silence again for the rest of the movie, though Emma’s hardly watching. Her mind is churning, trying to figure out this Newport guy, and when the movie’s finished, Emma calls it a night, heading upstairs to her bed.

Her dreams that night are restless, filled with hazy lights of an old tavern and a smiling man in a scarlet waistcoat and blue, blue eyes, with a bright gleam at the end of his left wrist she can’t seem to bring into focus. But, when she awakes the next day, the dream is gone and she is left only with the lingering feeling that she’s forgotten something very important.