Neal and Emma meet in Portland when they are both trying to steal the same car. They quickly fall in love and begin traveling through the country together, all while running cons to make money. Planning to retire from their life of crime, they choose to build a life together in Tallahassee, but Neal gives Emma the bad news — he is currently wanted for stolen watches that are now hidden in a train station. Emma retrieves the watches, and they decide to meet up at a specific location after Neal finds someone to buy the watches. While doing so, Neal is confronted by August, who claims Emma is meant to do something greater rather than live a life of a thief. He shows knowledge of Neal's past life as by opening a typewriter with the words, "I know you're Baelfire" written on them. Afterwards, August tells Neal about Emma's magical history and convinces him to turn her in to the police so she can fulfill her destiny.
Eventually, Emma is arrested, and Neal runs away to Canada where he sells the watches. He asks August to send all the money plus their car to Emma, and asks August that if she ever fulfills her duty, to let him know by sending a postcard. Unbeknownst to him, Emma is pregnant with his son.
Eleven years later, Emma reunites with Neal when Mr. Gold asks Emma for a favor, in which they must try and find this son. However, Emma had no idea at the time that it is Neal. Per her obligation to fulfill a favor for Mr. Gold, Emma goes with him to Manhattan to find Baelfire. She brings along Henry because she does not trust her son to be in Storybrooke while Cora is on the loose. They arrive via taxi to Manhattan in front of an apartment complex building, and enter the building to find a locked gate with a call box listing all the residents and their room numbers on the wall. Searching through the list, Mr. Gold does not recognize any as a possible name for Baelfire. Emma steps up to the call box and picks apartment room 407, which she notices has no name on it, and has a hunch it is a person who does not want to be found. She pretends to be delivering a UPS package for room 407, but no buzzer rings for the apartment complex door to open.
They hear someone coming down the fire escape, and rush outside in time to see a hooded person jumping down and running away from the building. Mr. Gold tells Emma that he is sure that person is his son and that she must get him to talk to him due to the favor she owes him, which he is using now. After tailing the hooded person through the streets, Emma eventually tackles him to the ground. They both get up at the same time, and she is shocked to see it had been Neal all along.
Neal, not wanting to have a confrontation in the middle of the street, pleads for Emma and him to go somewhere private so he can explain what is going on. He succeeds in getting Emma to a nearby bar where he reveals that he is, in fact, Baelfire and they discuss their past. Neal makes note of the fact she is still wearing the necklace he gave her, but Emma takes it off just then and hands it back to him. He suggests that they go their separate ways and that she tell Mr. Gold she lost him.
Although Emma agrees, Neal decides to go back to his apartment as he knows what his father does to people who break deals with him. He stops Mr. Gold from threatening Emma and commands him to leave, but feels confused when he sees Henry, who he does not recognize. When Emma states Henry is her son, Neal adamantly demands to know how old he is. Henry shouts back he is eleven years old, which is the exact amount of years since he and Emma were together. He realizes the boy is his son. Mr. Gold blackmails Neal into talking with him as that is the only way to fulfill Emma's bargain. Neal tells Mr. Gold that since he himself as an abandoned boy never got closure, neither will his father. Emma allows Neal to get to know Henry, but warns not to break his heart.
In New York City, Neal and Henry walk around, and stop at Neal's favorite pizza place while Emma and Mr. Gold wait outside. After some small talk, Mr. Gold tries to get Emma to convince Neal to come back to Storybrooke. Emma reminds him that she was in his debt to fulfill only one favor and no more. He presents her with the alternate scenario that Henry will run away to New York to stay with Neal, which will be problematic. Emma admits to lying to Henry about his father, but stubbornly insists she did it to protect him, to which Mr. Gold compares her akin to Regina. Speechless, Emma is unable to respond and the conversation is cut short by the reappearance of Neal and Henry coming out of the pizza store. Henry asks Emma if they can go back to Neal's apartment to fetch a camera and take photos at a museum. She agrees to his request, and asks him if he likes his pizza. Bluntly, Henry says it is, "delicious, cheesy and doesn't lie", showing he still has not forgiven Emma for not telling him about Neal.
Awkwardly, Emma and Neal walk side by side on the streets. She tells him that they must go back to their home, and he should come with them, too. Neal has something important to reveal to her, though Henry cuts into the conversation by asking if they can go get the camera now. When the group returns to Neal's apartment, he and Henry go back up to the apartment room to retrieve the camera while Mr. Gold and Emma wait for them in the lobby. Mr. Gold asks her about Neal coming with them to Storybrooke, and Emma responds he might need some time. From behind, the apartment complex door bursts open, and before either of them can react, Hook runs into the lobby and stabs Mr. Gold in the chest with his hook.
As Hook raises his hook to inflict the final blow, Emma grabs a garbage can and smashes it over his head, rendering him unconscious. Neal hears the commotion and runs down from his apartment. He sees Hook and notices the blood pouring from his father's chest. They take Mr. Gold up to the apartment room to try and stop the chest wound from bleeding. Emma mentions locking Hook in a storage room until further notice. After finding Hook's map, they realize that he sailed his invisibility-cloaked ship to New York. When Henry walks up to Mr. Gold, he expresses concern for the older man. Even so, Mr. Gold blames Henry for bringing them to New York, and pushes him away. Confused, Henry backs away, and then is tasked by Emma to find a charger. Neal and Emma notice blood oozing from Mr. Gold's chest as well as something else, which Mr. Gold himself says is poison. The only way to save him is to go back to Storybrooke as soon as possible with the fastest route being Hook's ship. Neal agrees to captain it, to Mr. Gold and Emma's surprise.
In New York, Neal and Emma walk swiftly through the streets, and she asks him about helping Mr. Gold. He is unwilling to sit by and leave his father to die. When they find a car, Emma believes he is going to hotwire it, but he grabs the keys. He says it belongs to a friend, who coincidentally runs up to greet him. She introduces herself as Tamara to Emma, and Neal tells Emma that he is engaged to her.
In this episode, Neal jokes around with Emma, saying that he did not know she could use magic. Emma responds that not only did he not tell her about Tamara, he never mentioned being the son of Rumpelstiltskin.
Henry Daniels Mills is the Biological son of Emma Swan and Neal Cassidy. Emma gave henry up for adoption(he was adopted by Regina Mills) and Neal didn't know about henry for 11 years.
On AO3, the pairing is the third most written for Emma, most written for Neal and the seventh most written ship in the Once Upon a Time (TV) fandom.