A/N: Last night I was rewatching Hat Trick and that moment when Jefferson thinks that Emma actually believes him was giving me all the feels. So here you go. And as always, I take prompts!
Emma could pinpoint the exact moment that Jefferson allowed himself to hope. He looked away from her, clearly overcome with emotion. He swallowed as he tried to get a hold of himself; he didn’t want her to see him weep. His voice wavered just slightly when he spoke, and when he finally brought himself to look back at her there was an expression in his eyes so intense that it took her breath away. She felt a stab of guilt at her heart for what she planned to do. But what choice did she have?
“So you – you’re gonna help me? You can get it to work?”
Don’t listen to him, Emma, she told herself sternly. Don’t look at his eyes, don’t feel sympathetic. He kidnapped Mary Margaret and drugged you. You need to get out of here as soon as you can. You’re in danger. “I can try.”
Just for a moment, time froze. He looked as though he might kiss her for his gratitude. But then the moment broke and he fell to his knees, wrapping his arms around her hips and pressing his face into her stomach.
“Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you. I knew you would believe me. I knew you would help. Thank you, Emma.”
She didn’t know what to do. This was certainly not something she had been expecting. She suddenly realized her navel was wet. He was crying. And she couldn’t help it anymore. Despite the fact she knew he was off the charts insane, despite all he had done, and all her warnings to herself, she started to feel for him. She lifted her arms and threaded her hands in his soft brown hair gently, letting him get out all of the emotions he had clearly been keeping pent up inside. Finally, she had to speak. “Jefferson,” she said softly. “I do want to help you. I tried the hat, but I must have done something wrong. But I can’t stay here all night. I need to get Mary Margaret back to the station before eight AM. Please let us go.”
Jefferson looked up finally, his eyes red and still wet with tears, but his expression was no longer hopeful but fearful. “No,” he said, his voice breaking. “No. I can’t. You won’t come back.”
Emma dropped to her knees in front of him, her hands finding their way to his face, cupping it between them so that he was looking her dead in the eyes. “Yes, I promise I will,” she said firmly, and she found she actually meant it. “I swear. I will come back and I will make as many hats as it takes. You have to trust me.”
“Trust,” Jefferson repeated, tasting the word. “I’ve never met anyone worthy of it.”
Despite herself, Emma smiled. “You and me both. But just this once, please, take me on faith.”
He hesitated again, his pale brown eyes raking over her desperately, as if he were silently begging her to stay. After a moment, he found his voice again, though it was weak and pleading, “You won’t… leave me here?”
“Not forever,” Emma replied with a nod. “You can watch me when I’m at work. I just need to get Mary Margaret back before Regina, and then I’ll come back, okay?”
The silence stretched between them as Jefferson obviously struggled to believe her. Emma resisted pointing out the irony that he had asked her to believe in magic, and yet something as simple as this was giving him pause. Finally, he rocked back on his heels, his shoulders slumping in defeat. “Go.”
Emma didn’t get up right away, though she was flooded with relief that he was letting her leave without coming to a physical confrontation (as was her original plan). He believed in her… just about as she believed in him, which was to say not at all. It was the decision of a split second’s thought, but before she stood, she leaned in and kissed his forehead gently. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I’ll be back.”
And she would be, too.