Realms is my take on Once Upon a Time featuring several original characters. It brings my theories to life on the page. It tells the story of Amanda Moore who is Rapunzel. She's the love interest for Jefferson. It develops Jefferson and Dr. Whale's past with the Pied Piper, the March Hare, and a female version of the Cheshire Cat. I also introduce Jeremy, a love interest for Archie, and Caterina, who is in love with Killian after he rescues her. In time, I will also explain what happened to Gerhardt, and how Pan is deeply entwined in the life of our favorite Hatter.

Storybrooke: Jefferson

The teapot whistled. Jefferson strode into the kitchen and clicked off the gas stove. Opening the cupboard, he took down two cups. One was his usual mug that somehow came through the curse from his Enchanted Forest home. Other cups filled the shelf. They were incredibly expensive just like everything else in this house. Like those items, he didn't want them. He only needed his daughter. He plucked the only other cup that was different from the rest. Well worn, it had been Grace's in the old world. It was the only item that belonged to her that arrived here.

With two lumps of sugar and a splash of milk, he made both cups of tea the way she liked it. It was too sweet for him, but it reminded Jefferson of his daughter. He absolutely refused to forget the little things she did. His curse was to remember her. He made sure he wouldn't forget.

The other cup never had a sip taken from it. He poured it down the drain every night. But the notion that any moment his Grace would hurry in for tea depressed and comforted him at the same time. There were moments he swore he could hear her voice or see her. Maybe he was going mad.

A low rumble sounded in the other room. It was quiet at first, but grew until the house was shaking. Jefferson gripped the counter for support and stumbled into the doorjamb. Maybe the end was finally here. Hopefully this entire town was collapsing on itself so he could go home. Moments later, it was over as quick as it started.

Jefferson warily stepped into the living room. A few items lay on the carpet, but nothing seemed damaged. He righted the cello in the corner he learned to play from boredom, the white lamp that sat at the end of the piano, and books from a small table. The last item he scooped up was the mantel clock and plopped it back up on the fireplace.

He froze and turned back to it. The second hand moved, was moving, still currently moving! He snatched the clock back watching it turned. It was 8:16. For twenty eight years, it had been 8:15. Time was moving again which only meant one thing.

"The savior has come."

He dropped the clock and dashed out into the foyer. Stopping short, Jefferson covered his mouth as his eyes filled with tears.

A door.

There was a door in the foyer. There had never been a door to his house. Regina designed the perfect curse for him. His old life was filled with doors leading in and out of worlds. Every day of his travels he saw new things, and nothing ever repeated itself. Within the first hour of the curse, he was bored. He destroyed everything in the house only to have it fixed the next day as the curse repeated. No matter how hard he tried to smash the windows or take an axe to the walls, he couldn't escape.

Maybe he was imagining it. He constantly heard his daughter in the hallway. Fingers quivering, he reached out and ran his hand over the solid wood panels.

Jefferson's throat tightened as he gripped the doorknob and ripped it open. He inhaled the first breath of fresh air letting the chill fill his lungs and expand his entire chest. A small sigh of relief slipped out as he gazed out into the town he never explored. He always watched from afar noting the people there: his best friend and brother in arms Victor, Grace, and her.

"Rapunzel," he smiled wide knowing he would find her and the others soon.

Snatching his coat, Jefferson leapt out into the night air. He needed his family, his friend, and his lover. He would be damned if Regina tried to stop him now.

Storybrooke: Victor

Dr. Whale parked his car outside The Rabbit Hole and shut off the ignition. God, people at the hospital were tedious. The stupid nurses cared more about gossiping than helping people and drove him to drink. Then when you have a patient die on the table, you're the worst person who ever lived. It's not like they tried to help. Every single one of them was in his way. He truly was alone in this town.

He climbed out of the car and locked it. At least it wasn't too late in the evening. Hell, it was never too late to start drinking. Whale lit a cigarette and strode towards the bar.

"Victor!"

Whale inhaled deep and leaned up against the wall.

"Victor!"

He glanced up as some stranger rushed down the sidewalk towards him. The loon had a wide grin on his face while waving him down. Whale turned to see no one behind him. Maybe this guy was drunk already.

But the man grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him into a hug, "Victor! You're okay. Of course you're okay, but I never thought I'd see you again."

"Whoa, whoa!" Victor shoved him off and held up a hand. "Hey man, I don't know you."

The guy's smile faded into a hurt look, "It's me, Jefferson. Please, I need you to remember me. I've been alone for so long."

"Join the club." Whale flicked his cigarette in the street. There was no way he was going to stay out here with this man. "Look, Guy, I don't know if you've had too many already-"

"Sorry. I thought you were someone else," Jefferson frowned like someone had kicked his puppy. He adjusted the fruitiest looking scarf around his neck and turned away. "I'm sorry for bothering you. Have a good night." The man crammed his hands in his pocket and stepped away.

Whale rolled his eyes. Crap, he was too nice. "You have somewhere to stay, stranger?"

"Yeah, I do. Just make sure to take care of yourself." With that, Jefferson strode away and vanished around the corner.

This town always seemed to have weird ones crawling out of the woodworks. Now that the man left, Whale enjoyed a second cigarette thoroughly before stepping into the stuffy Rabbit Hole.

It might not be the fanciest place in town, but he could get a cheap drink, smoke, and be left alone. Whale gazed around the room. Sometimes the Sheriff was here. Graham had some of the better stories in town. He would talk about whatever shenanigans some dumb teenager would do, and Whale would swap the odd medical tales that walked into his ER. It wasn't a friendship in anyway. They never hung out outside of the bar. On the streets, there might be a head nod or a slight wave. But on lonely nights, the company was great.

Graham wasn't anywhere to be seen, but Whale's eyes narrowed on the only woman in the room. It was Amanda Moore, the local baker. She was a bit young for the woman he normally went for. She couldn't be older than twenty-one at the most. There was something about the way she hunched over her drink that peaked his concern. She had a reputation of struggling at her job. Plus, she wasn't the most kid friendly person. Graham spoke to her a few times about running out kids who wanted to stare at the tasty cupcakes and the teens who ogled her well-endowed cupcakes. Maybe it had been another one of those days.

Whale slid into the bar seat next to her and ordered a drink. He could see her subtly eyeing him, but made no move to look back. He picked at the borderline moldy peanuts in the bowl in front of him and tossed them one by one onto the counter until he found a decent one.

"Can I help you?" Amanda spoke in a low, timid voice.

"You can order a new bowl of nuts. The bartended never listens to me," he held up one for her. "Seriously, look at these nuts. They're dreadful!"

She smirked at him, "I wouldn't say that too loud."

"There's something of a smile out of you."

She frowned again, "Why does it matter to you?

Whale drank his beer and leaned back in his chair, "I usually drink alone, and I don't feel like it. You look miserable and in need of some words. So talk."

"Just like a man to think-"

"What do you know about men?" he raised an eyebrow.

Her mouth dropped open as she fought for the right words. Good, he flustered her. "I know a lot about men!"

"From what I hear only boys and oversized prats go into your shop."

A shade of red crawled up her neck into her face and settled in her ears, "That doesn't mean I don't know about men and dating and the penis. Stop giving me that judging look! I can tell you all about penises. Or is it pronounced pee-nye? Anyway, I know all about them. Stop laughing at me! I know they're long and, and, and can get hard, and feel nice!"

"Please stop before you hurt yourself. Now tell me what's made your day so bad."

She took a long breath and downed the rest of her shot. She fiddled with the empty glass, "Mr. Gold came to my shop today. He threatened that if I missed my rent again, he would shut me down."

"Ah, one of the common problems of Storybrooke. Are you having trouble turning a profit?" he waved his hand to order her another drink.

Amanda nodded, "No matter how much you love to do something, it doesn't make you good at it. My pastries suck, I suck at making icing look nice on stuff, and I suck in general."

"I wouldn't say that," he retorted. "It takes practice. Do you know how many years I was in medical school before I became a doctor?"

"No."

He went to answer, but stopped. When did he go to medical school? There was clearly a degree hanging on his wall in the office, but his days on campus seemed to flee from his mind. The harder he thought on it, a throb arose in his temple. He shook his head, "A lot of years. It takes time to learn a skill. It's not like you woke up one morning and went, 'I'm going to open a bakery!'"

"Maybe?"

"Oh my God, are you an idiot?"

"Yes," she hung her head.

He reached out and tussled her short brunet hair, "I didn't mean that to be taken seriously. I'm sure you're not an idiot."

She lifted her eyes to meet his. There was a deep seeded pain there. Whale's chest tightened seeing that. He understood what it was like to not be taken seriously. His work was often overlooked by his colleagues leaving him feeling cold and unwanted.

He leaned in smiling to her, "If we are idiots, let's go do something stupid tonight."

"You want to spend time with me?" she asked with a heavy tone of disbelief in her voice.

"I wouldn't ask if I wasn't serious."

After a long moment, a demure grin appeared on her face. She nodded and rose from her seat while snatching up her purse. Whale slapped a couple twenties on the counter to pay for both of their drinks. Feeling a bit brave, he slid his hand in Amanda's.

She didn't pull away.

Storybrooke: Amanda

Bacon. Yes, that was definitely bacon Amanda could smell. The lush fatty meat sizzling in a pan to crispy perfection made her mouth water. Slowly opening her eyes, she squinted against the sunlight filtering in the window. It blared on the white walls of the bedroom-

She shot up. The walls of her bedroom weren't white. They were definitely mint. Her sheets weren't black nor were her curtains grey.

Her head felt full of cotton balls and pain trying to remember the night before. She had talked to Gold, went to the Rabbit Hole, had a few drinks… Amanda's eyes widened. This was Dr. Whale's room! She was in his house or apartment or whatever he owned. She slowly pulled back the sheets from her body and looked down.

Yep. She was naked.

Covering her face, Amanda flopped back and groaned. What did anyone do after a one night stand? Was that what it was? She remembered a lot about the night. He'd been sweet and surprisingly tender. Amanda didn't know that her fingertips could tingle like that, toes curling under, heat scorching her skin, or her voice would go out after that long. Whale had made sure she felt each of those sensations.

Amanda nibbled on her thumbnail taking in the previous night. She couldn't hide in his room forever especially with the smell of bacon luring her out. They would have to talk at some point. What did people even say after these things?

Rolling over the side of the bed, her clothes weren't on the floor where she was pretty sure she left them. Instead, they were neatly laid out on a nearby chair. She couldn't recall ever picking them up. Whale must have done it for her.

Amanda quickly dressed and snuck down the hallway to the living room. His entire apartment had a modern design to it. From the couch to the bookshelf, everything had been picked to be black, white, and grey. The only splash of color was the red pillows on the couch and a single painting of an anatomical heart hanging on the wall. The room was spotless and organized except for a small alcove in the corner. A desk had papers and notebooks strewn about it with sticky notes and pictures tacked up on the wall above. She stepped closer and picked up a book about dream analysis. She opened to a page with a piece of notebook paper sticking out of it. Words had been scribbled furiously across the paper.

Hat, green skin, hare, mushroom, desert palace, Queens, hearts, monkeys with wings, flying carpet, Chesh, Knave, Elliot, Sultan…

Under the list of words was a single entry. Amanda glanced over her shoulder. Whale was still in the kitchen cooking. She knew she shouldn't look, but so few people had inside access to the mysterious Doctor. What would it hurt? She sat at the desk and read.

"Gerhardt: Germanic origins. Variant from the Old English name Gerard. Meaning: Spear, Brave, Hardy. As my dreams become more vivid every night, nothing else arises more than that name. Who is this Gerhardt that plagues my subconscious? It seems like a far-fetched idea that as I dream about green witches, talking pink cats, and a kingdom in a desert that this one word ring with the most truth. It feels like someone that I'm searching for. In most of my dreams, I return to a world without color. As I open this door, I awake. Is Gerhardt on the other side?"

"Good morning"

Amanda jumped dropping the book on the desk. Whale leaned on the wall just behind her, but he didn't look upset. She straightened up the papers in a frenzy, "I'm so sorry for snooping. I know it was an invasion of your privacy-"

"It's alright," he stopped her hands and squeezed them with care. "It's nothing important. Just some research for work and such. It would have been a different problem if it had been patient files. Now come on, I made breakfast."

She followed him into the kitchen and stared at all the perfect food before her. Amanda grabbed the nearest seat and plucked up a fork, "You cook too?"

"I'm a single bachelor. I have to live somehow. It gets expensive eating at Granny's every day," he placed a cup of coffee in front of her before taking the seat across the table. "I'm sorry about last night. Are you in any pain?"

Amanda cocked her head. With a mouth full of eggs, she asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Taking your virginity. I wouldn't have done it if I had known."

She stared at him seeing only honesty there. After a moment to chew and gather her thoughts, she swallowed hard, "I didn't want to tell you. I didn't want you to think I'm some kid and kick me out."

"Please tell me you're eighteen."

"I'm twenty."

"Oh thank God!"

"You did that without knowing I was eighteen!"

"Are you eighteen?"

"Well, I could possibly maybe be."

"You're a terrible liar."

"Fine, I'm twenty. But that is not the point."

"I'm trying to apologize here."

She scoffed and shrugged, "What for? I wanted to come with you. Dr. Whale, I thought-"

"James. My name is James."

Amanda couldn't help but grin knowing that tidbit of information, "James, I want to know what this is. I've never done anything like this before. Are we boyfriend and girlfriend?"

He wrinkled his nose at that thought, "I don't really want that."

"Me neither. I'm not looking for that kind of relationship right now. But last night was really fun, and you're incredibly nice and made me feel nice and you're hot."

James laughed and placed another piece of bacon on her plate, "You earned that one. How about this? Let's be friends. You seem to need company, and I would love some. We hang out, grab food on occasion, and if we happen to sleep together great!"

"You described being friends with benefits."

"I tried to make it sound better than that."

She poked at her food thinking it over. He was a great guy, but she didn't know him. Though, she didn't really know anyone in Storybrooke that well. "Will you make me breakfast every time?"

"Unless I have to leave early for work or get paged in, yes. Will you make me breakfast at your place?"

"You've seen what I make at my bakery."

"I will bring Pop-Tarts with me."

They laughed together. Both a bit shy, but Amanda could feel that this was the start of something.

~End of chapter one~

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