John headed down the sidewalk; it was far later than he usually preferred to be out, but Mary had begged him to do this for her. Emma hadn't come home in five days; from what Mary could tell she had probably slept little in that time. Bad enough that she had someone she was coming to care for die in her arms, but add to that he was someone she possibly was falling in love with. John really couldn't blame her for struggling with how to deal with it, but she needed to come home and rest.

He pushed the door to the sheriff's office open; he looked around the dim interior.

Emma's head lifted from where it was bowed over some paperwork. She let out a soft, half-hearted snort. "Mary sending you to do her dirty work now?" she inquired sardonically.

John stuffed his hands in the pockets of his coat. "She's worried about you and since you weren't listening to her…" he raised an eyebrow, shrugging.

Emma scrubbed a hand over her face. "You know, I bet Mary would give any mother a run for their money in the worrying department."

He laughed softly as he took the seat across the desk from her. "She has good reason. You look like hell."

She cocked a wry eyebrow. "Thanks, Prince Charming."

He grinned broadly at her. "I do have a reputation to uphold."

Emma gave a tired laugh.

He sobered, looking at her searchingly. "I know it's been hard, Emma."

She looked down at the desk.

He rested his forearms on the top of the desk, leaning forward. "But you have friends who care about you; who cared about Graham."

She rubbed at a corner of her eye, refusing to look at him.

"You're not alone anymore, Emma."

She finally lifted her oh-so-tired eyes to his. "Madam Mayor hates me as it is, Graham is gone, and she wants to take away my job…" She stared down at the report she was working on. "She's looking for anything to prove that I can't do this; ammo for the election coming up." She spread out her hands, palms-up in front of her, staring at them. "And she reminds me every day that I'm only the interim sheriff." She clenched her jaw; looking up at him. "I'm trying so hard to do this. I want to get this right," she told him fiercely.

John knew she wasn't only speaking of the job. He placed a hand on her arm. "You're doing a great job, Emma. Everyone can see it."

She clenched her hands into fists. "I've never had a place to belong; I know I don't really belong here, but it's the closest I've ever felt to belonging in a place."

"Then you just have to keep fighting for it." He squeezed her arm. "Keep using the Mayor's actions to motivate you to continue fighting. Keep defying her. Keep showing others that she can be stood up to. Even if you lose the election we'll work something out and you'll have made a point for others in this town."

The way she was looking at him pulling back and eyeing her warily. "What?"

She gave a short laugh and a half-smile, shrugging. "Nothing, just thinking that you actually make a pretty good leader, giving speeches like that."

He eyed her a little warily because of her expression and tone. "Thanks."

She began closing a folder. "How's the job search going?"

He sat back shrugging. "Slowly. There aren't too many openings around here."

She opened a drawer, pulled out something and closed the drawer again. "Here," she tossed the item to him.

He caught it deftly and looked down at it. A badge. He frowned looking back up at her. "What's this?"

Emma took a deep, tired breath. "A job – well, a temporary one at least."

He raised an eyebrow.

She leaned forward resting her forearms on the desk, lacing her fingers together. "I need a deputy to help me with this job; I'm trying to learn it as I'm taking over. I need someone I can trust to have my back."

John held the badge up. "I've got your back with or without this, Emma."

"I know." She said there was the slightest hint of wonder in her voice at that acknowledgement; he knew she was not at all used to having people to rely on. "But this makes it official; it visibly puts someone in my corner."

He looked down at the star glinting in his hand. "All right," he agreed. He looked up at her. "I'll take it."

"Great," she smirked.

"Now," he stood, clipping the badge to his waistband, "let's get you home."

Emma let out a resigned sigh and got up. "Right."

As they headed to the door John looked over at her. "I don't have to wear a uniform, do I?"

She cocked an eyebrow at him, giving him a look. "Do I look like the uniform type?"

So, what do you all think? I have no idea where the idea to have Charming/John being a deputy came from; I just had this strong image in my head of it happening. I had been wondering for a long time what his job was going to be since they still haven't revealed anything in the series and then after hearing about Graham's death I was hit over the head with this… Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think!

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