I love you. I probably always will. But my secret is that I was hoping that this was a trick. I was hoping you were dead because it would be easier for me to put you behind me than to feel all this pain that we went through all over again.
Exiled by Queen Regina after her sleeping curse was broken, Snow White and her Prince Charming lived as bandits and fugitives, aiding their former kingdom and protecting them from the crown in any way they could, raising their daughter to do the same.
After escaping Neverland, Baelfire found his way to the Enchanted Forest, and once again in hiding from his father. Following an accidental run-in with the Merry Men, Robin Hood takes Bae under his wing and welcomes into his band.
Eventually, the two fugitives meet and fall in love.
He doesn't expect anything from anybody. Behavior like that (expectation and entitlement) is learned. You learn to just expect people to do thing for you or to feel a certain way about you because of your experiences.
Neal has never experienced anything like that. Nothing in his life would ever make him just expect something from another person. He’s constantly been abandoned by the people who said the loved him, who said they would protect him. The one time he expected something when he was young was when he thought his father would follow him through that portal. And his (perfectly legitimate) expectation was thrown back in his face. That’s the sort of thing that breaks you of expectations.
So any idea of Neal “pushing” Emma to choose him, of “expecting” her to just return his feeling and go to him reveal how little people understand that character.
He loves her. He knows they have issues that absolutely must be worked through for the sake of both their son and their own emotional health.
He doesn’t expect anything romantic from her at all after they meet again in New York. It’s not until she confesses she loves him twice that he does anything about how he (how they both feel). And it’s not asking her to return his feelings. It’s not asking for a kiss or some show of her affection. It’s not telling her that he is going to “win” her and that they will be together. He does two things: he tells her that no matter what happens between them, no matter what she chooses, he will always fight for her, and then later tells her if she really doesn’t want to be with him he will back off from romantically pursuing her.
Any kind of understanding of this character will quickly lead one to realize that this isn’t some kind of flippy floppy position. This isn’t him telling her he’s going to go after her no matter what she feels. This is him saying “I love you. That’s not something that’s ever going to change. But if you don’t want to be with me, I won’t push you. But I will always be here when you need me because I love you.”
So people need to get the fuck out with their shallow misinterpretation of Neal Cassidy