Disclaimer: I own nothing but any unrecognizable characters and dialogue.
I had the hardest time writing this chapter. Especially the parts that included Emma and Neal - I had an easier time writing the scenes with Tamara and Greg than with the other two.
I am going to have so much fun with the next chapter... Tamara's about to find out just how dark magic can be, courtesy of Lilith.
Chapter Playlist: 'Moon Runes' from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey OST'
Leaving the portal was just as violent as entering it had been. Panting furiously, Baelfire laid in the dirt for several heartbeats, shaken by all that had just occurred. When he finally managed to muster the will to stand up, he was immediately on the defensive.
The land in front of him looked nothing like the one he had left. From what he could see of the people, they wore strange clothes and, in the distance, there was a strange tower with a circle that had numbers on it.
"What is this place?"
Sadly, it didn't take Bae long to figure out that he had to struggle to survive. He didn't have any skills, not even as a spinner, as his father refused to teach him the craft, claiming he would never have to work.
Within six months, Baelfire had been forced to live on the streets, wearing little but patched together rags. Passing through the street, he began to scour a nearby trash bin, groaning in disappointment when his search turned up a lone apple core.
Turning his head, he stilled at the open window nearby, clearly belonging to a wealthy family. Seizing his chance, he clambered into the dining room. On the table across the room were several loaves of freshly baked bread and he rushed towards them. Shoveling handfuls of the still warm bread into his mouth and pockets, he stumbled back in fear when a large dog jumped from under the table.
Drawn into the room by the dog's barking, a nicely dressed girl gasped at the sight of the poorly dressed intruder. "Stop!" She ordered, grasping the nearest heavy object and holding it defensively. "Right. Who are you, what do you want?"
"Please, I didn't mean any harm." Bae held up his hands. "I was just…" He trailed off as a piece of bread fell from his open hand, ashamed that he'd had to resort to stealing.
"Oh." The girl paused at the sight of him, sympathy softening her already kind eyes. "You're hungry." Returning the statue to its place, she walked to the table and picked up the tray of bread. "Here," she offered the entire tray. "Take as much as you like."
"Well, I'm not about to let you starve to death." The girl laughed kindly, putting his lingering fears that it was a trick to rest. "What's your name?" She asked as he went to take some of the bread.
He stopped, meeting her eyes. "Bae."
"Bae?" She repeated, head tilted to the side. "How unusual." Her expression warmed with her smile. "I'm Wendy," she gave a little curtsy. "Wendy Darling."
For Tamara, it was easier on some days to pretend to be the doting fiancee. She never loss sight of her goal, never wavered her focus from what was important. Even though Neal was an affectionate, caring individual, one any girl would be lucky to have, Tamara couldn't bring herself to feel anything but a kind of disgusted pity for him. His very presence in their world was an affront, given where he was from and who his father was.
Since her arrival in Storybrooke - and her subsequent reunion with Greg - it was getting harder and harder to keep up the charade. Somehow, she wasn't sure when or how, Neal had begun to pay more attention to her coming and going. On high alert, it was a relief that she had the excuse of her upcoming marathon to leave him for a few hours.
Neal was jostled awake when Tamara sat on the edge of their bed at the Inn, tying her running shoes. Clearing the sleep from his eyes, Neal appraised her quietly, swallowing thickly past the pain that threatened to overwhelm and swallow him. The fact that Tamara was playing him, that she had always been playing him, that what they had was nothing more than a means to an end for her, hurt more than he wanted to admit.
Lillian knew, but she was tactful enough not to mention it until he did so first, and for that he loved her even more. She had suggested that, until they figure things out, they all continue to act as normally as possible where Tamara and Greg were considered. Her eyes had been soft with sympathy, and that was what Neal kept with him when he forced himself to share a bed with his soon to be former fiancee.
Tamara shifted, and he glanced over at the clock on the bedside table, unable to smother a groan at the time. "How about you sleep in just this once?" He rasped, wrapping the blankets more tightly around himself.
"Marathon's in three weeks," she replied, a smile in her voice as she stood and stretched her arms upwards. "I have to train."
"Come back to bed," Neal cajoled, inwardly struggling to hide his revulsion at his next words. "I'll give you a workout."
She gave him a faint, affectionate smile before she leaned across the bed and brushed her lips across his scruffy cheek. "I'll see you later."
Neal watched her slip from the room, eyes narrowing and fingers rubbing at his cheek when the door closed. His phone rested on the table, and he reached for it, scrolling through his contacts. Lillian's sleepy voice answered within two rings, and he quickly made plans to meet her at Granny's within the next half hour.
Turning to burrow back into the blankets, he was stopped from dozing off when he heard an audible, familiar shout from outside the window. Groaning, Neal rose and twisted his head around to peer out the window, eyes widening at what he saw outside. Scrambling out of bed, he threw on a hoodie and shoes before making a beeline for the door.
Standing outside, between the Inn and the Rabbit Hole, Gold applied more pressure to Whale's cheek. Lacey watched, a sadistic smile twisting her once gentle features.
"Wait, wait, wait," Gold cooed maliciously when the doctor made to get up. "No. If you don't kiss it, you are gonna taste it anyway."
"Come on Gold," Whale tried to groan, wincing when the pawnbroker increased the force. "I didn't do anything."
"You stared at her," Gold snarled, tightening the grip on his cane. "And I know how you think. So kiss… my… boot."
Before he could do more damage - with either his cane or his foot - he was wrenched away from the sniveling doctor. Whipping to face the interloper, he faltered at the sight of Baelfire, staring at him like he was a madman.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Neal demanded, increasing his grip when his father made to pull away.
"Stand aside." Gold spat through clenched teeth, mindful of the way Lacey was watching. "This doesn't concern you."
"No, go!" Neal ordered the clearly terrified doctor who was cautiously climbing to his feet. Without hesitation, the other man hurried to his feet and ran off without daring to look back.
Scowling at the departing doctor's back, Gold wrenched his arm from his son's hold. "Let go of me, sir!"
"I'm surprised you didn't turn him into a snail," Neal began, puzzled when the panic flared in his father's eyes.
"A snail?" Lacey snorted, looking between them with an amused smirk. "What are you talking about?"
"Lacey," Gold said at last, turning to his girlfriend and holding out a key. "Why don't you go and wait for me in the shop? I'll be along shortly," he added when she looked like she was going to protest.
"You're unreal, you know that?" Neal said once Lacey, after pouting mulishly, had wandered off toward the shop. "You spend years looking for me, I come to town, and you disappear. You haven't even bothered to meet Tamara."
"Why should I concern myself with her?"
Despite the revelations concerning Tamara, Neal bristled at his father's dismissive tone. "I'm getting married!"
"Oh, that's never gonna last," Gold maintained scornfully. "Not as long as you carry a torch for Emma."
Jaw working furiously, Neal could do little more than stare at his father in angered disbelief. "You know, you haven't changed a bit." He muttered at last, with a finality in his words. "For a second, I thought you might have. I started to think, maybe, you were worth my time." Neal threw his hands up in defeat. "I guess I was wrong."
"And yet, you're still here."
Eyes narrowing his the presumption, the absolute surety in Gold's tone, Neal leaned in closer. "For Henry." He muttered heatedly. "And for Lily. Not you." He stepped back in the direction of the Inn. "As far as I'm concerned, you can stay the hell away from all of us."
Emma and David entered Regina's office in tandem, guns at the ready. Lillian entered behind them, rolling her eyes at their behavior but saying nothing - everyone was on edge as it was and she really didn't need to add to it.
"It's okay," Emma called to the still open door where her mother and son waited, once they'd cleared the room. "She's not here."
"When you find her, you're not gonna hurt her, right?" Henry asked, face stark white against his dark hair. Something about the way his mother and grandparents were acting alarmed him and he wanted to make sure they wouldn't end up killing his mother. "Right?"
"No," Emma rushed to assure him, soothing a hand along his shoulder. "We just want the beans she stole from us."
"I don't get it," Mary Margaret addressed what had been bothering her since their arrival at the building. "Why would Regina leave her office unlocked?"
"Especially when she's keeping the beans here," David muttered, eyes falling on the small terrarium that took up a corner in the far wall. His heart sank when, as they approached it, they realized the stalks were empty.
"Was keeping them here, you mean." Lillian whispered, raising a hand to brush her fingers over the empty stalks. "They're all gone." She turned to face them, practically vibrating with rage. "Someone took them."
"Someone?" Mary Margaret repeated as she placed reassuring hands on Henry's shoulders.
"She's right," Emma glanced around the office. "Regina would never leave evidence like this behind - something's not right."
David arched a brow. "Maybe she already used them to portal out of Storybrooke."
"You really think she would have just left Storybrooke without at least trying to take Henry with her?" Lillian retorted. "Only an outside force could have stopped Regina from trying to grab Henry and leave."
"What if something bad happened to her?" Henry's face, if possible, drained of all color at the thought. He looked half sick with worry, though Emma was stopped from going to him when Lillian wrapped an arm around him.
Lips pursed, Emma stalked to the security system and began to sift through the logged times. "Security system says the last time someone was in the office was around six this morning." Pressing on the time, her eyes widened at the fact that an override code had been used. "They used an override code to get in."
That brought David up short. "Why would Regina need an override code on her own alarm?" He asked, dreading the answer.
"She wouldn't." Emma returned shortly.
Mary Margaret moved closer to her husband, looking faintly alarmed. "You think someone else broke in and took the beans?"
"Well," Emma drawled, glancing to the empty terrarium, we haven't found Regina anywhere and haven't heard from her." Her eyes fell on Lillian. "Have you been able to track her?"
Mutely, Lillian shook her head. In her arms, Henry stiffened. "So something bad did happen to her."
His mother approached, squeezing his shoulder tightly. "We're gonna find her, Henry. I promise."
"I don't know about you lot," Lillian began, glowering at where the beans had once been held. "But, last I checked, the only person other than me that can overpower Regina… "
"Is Gold." David finished, incensed at the thought that the pawnbroker had interfered with their lives once again.
Emma shook her head. "He's too busy with his old slash new girlfriend." She shook her head, nose wrinkled at the thought of the weird situation Gold and Belle were in. "No, this wasn't Gold. This was Tamara."
Her mother barely stopped herself from groaning. "Emma, Haven't you already gone down that road- "
"No, she's right. Tamara is playing Neal - she's playing all of us." Lillian interjected. Her expression was apologetic when David whirled on her in muted outrage. "I know, David, I know we promised we wouldn't say anything but Henry and Emma already know - Neal knows, for God's sake!"
"What is she talking about?" Mary Margaret demanded when David merely stared at Lillian and Emma in a perplexed state. "David?"
Wincing at the tone his wife had taken, David turned to spare her a charming smile that was clearly not having the effect he wanted. "Well, uh," he cleared his throat, moving closer to Lillian as casually as he could. "Lillian might have seen Neal's fiancee and Greg Mendell in a compromising position a few nights ago and…"
"And you didn't think to tell me?!"
"Hey!" Henry shouted before his grandparents could get into a screaming match. "We have to find my mom! If Tamara was the one who attacked August - who killed him - then we have to save my mom!"
Without protest, Lillian allowed Emma to gather Henry in her arms. He was trembling violently, so much so that Lillian was afraid he'd make himself sick. Worry crackled off him and the sorceress had to stop herself from flinching away from it. Shushing him softly, Emma turned to her contrite looking parents.
"Look, we can't drop everything on this and we cannot let Tamara know we're on to her. Go to Gold," she instructed, "I'm sure he has some kind of magic that can help locate Regina."
Somewhat hurt by her daughter's clipped tone, Mary Margaret forced herself to nod. "Where are you three going?"
Emma and Lillian were already exiting the office - Henry lodged firmly between them - when the blonde tossed an answer over her shoulder.
"Back to Tamara's room."
Glaring through the window into the other room, Greg withheld a scoff at the pirate chatting so casually with the former Evil Queen. The dark-haired woman was a murderer, a kidnapper - he doubted she even knew how many lives she'd snuffed out. When he finally managed to wrangle the truth of what happened to his father from her, he'd enjoy giving her the same treatment she'd given so many others.
Approaching footsteps brought him from his musings and he turned to see Tamara entering the room. She took his former spot before the window, gazing in with mild interest.
"Did you get into her office?" He asked as, needing to do something with his hands, he crossed his arms.
"Have I ever let you down?" She asked with a warm smile. Withdrawing a small pod of beans from her pocket, she held it out to him. "Look what I found."
Glancing down, his breath hitched at the pod of beans gleaming from within. "Are those what I think they are?"
"Magic beans," Tamara confirmed with a wide, pleased smile as she held one up. "Neal told me all about them - they open portals."
Glancing up from the beans, Greg scowled. "I bet he told you a lot, huh?"
Her expression sobered. "Don't be jealous," she rushed to assure him. "As soon as we're done, this -" She gestured to the modest engagement ring, "is coming off. Besides," she drawled with an amused smile, "I'm pretty convinced Neal's secretly in love with that little witch he grew up with, anyway."
Reassured for the time being - it wasn't rare he gave into the jealousy that ate at him whenever he saw Neal, but the last few days had been hard - he handed her a small bag of his own. "Yeah, well, you can have this one instead."
She peered in with mild curiosity that swiftly changed to confusion. "What the hell is that?" She drew the dark colored diamond from the bag, raising it to study it in the light.
"I don't know," Greg answered as he went to prepare the machine. "Regina had it on her."
Tamara slipped it back into the pouch. "We'll send it back with the rest of the data." Her expression filled with excitement. "I think the Home Office is gonna hae a field day with everything we've collected so far."
"I still have one thing to do."
She didn't ask what that was, she knew him too well to even have to ask. "Make it quick. We'll be getting our instructions soon."
"Oh, this isn't gonna take long." He muttered darkly, going to the machine they'd stolen from the 'hidden' psych ward beneath the hospital.
Unaware of what Greg was prepared to do to her, Regina glowered at the leather-clad pirate standing at her side. While she had been imprisoned before, she would've much preferred a cell to the straps tying her down to the cold table.
"Whatever they're offering you, it's not worth it." She snarled in a low tone.
Hook arched a brow. "Well, considering they're offering to help me kill Rumpelstiltskin, I'd say it is."
Regina allowed herself a snicker. "And you actually trust them? You don't even know who you're working for."
Greg chose that moment to enter the room, wheeling in the electroshock therapy machine. "Good morning, Regina."
Inwardly rolling her eyes at his cheerful tone, she glowered up at him. "This part of your mission?"
"No," he replied brightly, connecting Regina to the machine as he spoke. "This, this is personal. See, this is about my father."
"I already told you," she swallowed thickly, refusing to give him anything. "He left town."
"Yet he never came to find his only son?" Greg demanded harshly, inwardly forcing himself to calm when he turned to Hook. "Look, would you mind lending me a hand? And," he chuckled faintly, "preferably your good one?"
"Sorry, mate." Hook denied him with disarming smile. "Gonna have to say no. When you're interested in killing Rumpelstiltskin and not torturing the Queen, find me." Without a backward glance he strode from the room, intent on scouting out the Dark One's location.
While disappointed, but not too surprised, Greg returned his attention to Regina. "Well, I guess it's just me and you." He continued, turning on the machine in an orderly, slow manner.
"Is that supposed to frighten me?" Regina scoffed, swallowing the faint stirrings of panic. With her magic, she could withstand anything, but without it…
"Well, it should. You see, this is how we deal with your kind." He told her in a kindly manner that was clearly meant to mock her. "And yes, it's going to be unpleasant. Now, exactly how unpleasant—well, that depends on you." Satisfied she was correctly strapped in, he stepped back to stand beside the machine. "Now, where is my father?"
As he flipped the switch, nothing could have prepared Regina for the pain she was soon in. As it was, she refused to give him an inch and kept her mouth tightly clenched so no sound escaped.
Taking food from her plate and hiding within her napkin hadn't been the easiest thing to do, but Wendy was proud she'd managed to carry on as such without raising suspicion over the last few weeks. Poor Bae though, stuck in the nursery cupboard like a forgotten toy, crammed in until their parents went to sleep.
Unwrapping the food, she entered the nursery and knocked quietly on the cupboard door. Bae peeked out, face falling in relief when he realized it was her.
"I brought as much as I could." She assured him, handing over the small offering.
His answering smile was so grateful it nearly brought tears to her eyes. "And your parents don't suspect anything?"
"They're grown-ups." She said with a roll of her eyes, smiling gently. "They can't see anything that's not right in front of them."
"We can't, can we?"
The man's voice startled them into whipping around to the still open nursery door. Wendy's mother and father stood, arms crossed with severe expressions on their faces.
Wendy moved first, half pushing Bae behind her. "Please, father. Let me explain."
George disregarded his daughter's plea. "How long have you been hiding in my house?"
"Only a few weeks, Father." Wendy answered, twisting her fingers anxiously. "He was hungry on the streets."
George held up a hand. "I was talking to him." He told his visibly upset daughter and forced his tone to gentle when he spoke to the boy. "Where's your family?"
Swallowing thickly, Baelfire stepped forward, refusing to cower behind Wendy. "My mother died. My father… he's dead too." It wasn't a lie, not really. "Look, I'm sorry. I-I'll leave right away, sir."
Mary spoke for the first time with a sympathetic expression. "You're not going anywhere. The streets are no place for a boy."
He felt his insides seize with panic. "Please don't send me to the workhouse."
"We'll do nothing of the sort." Mary sniffed, as if the very idea offended her. "You'll stay… right here."
George went slack-jawed at her announcement. "What?"
Mary smiled warmly when the children turned to each other in clear joy. Stepping forward, she offered her hands to the boy, squeezing gently when he took them.
"Welcome to our home."
Lowering his phone from his ear as Lillian's phone went to voicemail again, Neal glanced away from the window when a sharp knock came from the door. Sighing fondly, he swung it open and wasn't surprised to see Lillian on the other side. What did surprise him was the fact that she was flanked by both Henry and Emma.
"Uh, what is… what's going on, Lily?"
Though he addressed the dark-haired teenager, it was Emma that answered. "We need to search your room for real this time."
Startled, Neal glanced at Lillian, who looked anything but calm. "Wanna tell me what this is about, Sheriff?" While he had an idea, he wanted to hear it from Emma.
"She went on a run - what's this about?" Struggling to understand, he turned to Lillian for answers.
"Regina's missing." Lillian announced just as Emma ducked into the closet to look for clues. "And, given her less than stellar track record, we think Tamara's behind this."
His face fell. "You gotta be kidding me. I-I realize that Tamara's not who she seems, but I don't think she's a kidnapper."
"Bae, how well do you really know this woman?" Lillian snapped, refusing to coddle him. While she knew he was still struggling with the fact that he had a fiancee from hell, that didn't mean she had to treat him like a simpleton. "Everything she's ever told you has more than likely been a lie, designed to manipulate you into doing exactly as she wanted."
Taking pity on Neal - Emma had a pretty good idea Lillian had never even raised her voice to Neal - the blonde drew attention back to figuring out where Tamara was. "Where'd she go running?"
Stealing a long, searing glance at Lillian, Neal turned to Emma. "The same place she goes every morning - the woods."
"And how long has she been gone?"
"Couple of hours. Does it matter if she's running? She always said she was training for a marathon…" He trailed off, scrubbing a hand down his face. "Damnit. I'm such an idiot!"
"Bae…" Lillian grasped his arm, drawing him into her embrace.
Emma twisted her head, stiffening at the sight of the two of them embracing so intimately. Cheeks heating up slightly, she returned her attention to the shoes in front of her.
"Hey, Neal," she called once she hoped enough time had passed. "Where does Tamara go running every morning?"
"Uh, the-the woods." Neal scrubbed a hand down his face. "Why?"
"Well, for running in the woods, she tracks in a lot of sand." She brushed her fingers through the small collection of the stuff in the floor of the closest.
"Maybe she likes running along the beach?" Henry tried with a halfhearted shrug. He was practically wilting from the tenseness in the air and slumped when Lillian tugged him into her arms.
"Yeah, well, if lied about something as simple as where she likes to run, then that's gotta mean something." Emma groaned as she rose to her feet with an irritated scowl.
Lillian met her eyes and nodded. "Well, there's only one way to find out."
Excitement welled within Wendy as she sat on the window seat, gazing out at the stars. Behind her, Bae, John and Michael were sleeping, though she quickly called to them.
"Psst! Psst! Bae!" She cried in a whisper, unwilling to alert either Nana or their parents. "Come to the window!"
Rising from his makeshift cot - Mary promised they'd have him a proper bed before the week was out - Bae sleepily swayed to the window. Behind him, having been roused by their sister, John and Michael followed.
"What is it?" Bae asked.
John peered into the night, almost vibrating. "The Shadow? Is it coming tonight?"
Wendy smiled widely. "Oh, I hope so."
Bae blinked in growing suspicion. "The what?" He asked, dreading the answer.
"A few weeks ago," Wendy began in her 'storyteller' voice, "right about the time you got here, this… shadow, it came to the window. Only it's not attached to a body. And it can do so many wonderful things, like change its shape and fly and travel between worlds. And do you know why? Because it has magic!"
Alarmed, Bae reached out to touch her shoulders. "Whatever you do, promise me you'll never open that window again." He told her, voice quivering. "Promise me you won't talk to that shadow."
"Don't be silly!" Wendy chided, looking offended.
"Magic is dangerous. It always comes with a price."
John chortled. "You're just saying that 'cause you don't believe."
"No. I do believe. That's the point." Bae told them, trying to stress the severity of the situation. "I come from another land - a land where magic is everywhere."
Wendy leaned in eagerly. "Is that really true? Because that sounds wonderful."
"It isn't what you think." He protested. "Magic is the reason I left; I lost everything because of it."
Her excitement dimmed and she nodded. "Your mother and father."
"Magic destroyed my family." Bae swore, refusing to fudge the truth. "I don't want it to do the same to yours. If the Shadow comes back, promise me you won't go anywhere near it."
"All right, Bae." Wendy bit her lip, taking his hand in hers. "I promise."
There were many ways to keep Lacey happy, and while Gold was only too happy to unleash his darker side, he far preferred the quiet moments within his shop. Belle had never been shy to intimacy, but Lacey was truly a whole other person, he was coming to discover.
Still, sitting in his shop, drinking until they were both quite tipsy was fast becoming one of his favorite ways to pass an afternoon. So, when the Charmings intruded upon their interlude, he was less than pleased and it showed.
"Sorry to interrupt the party," David said without meaning a word of it. He similarly ignored the stormy expression both Gold and his girlfriend wore.
"Well, I certainly don't remember inviting you two." Gold snapped without preamble. Lacey grinned at his brusque, rude tone. "We're closed.
"Not to us." Mary Margaret announced. "We need your help. Regina's missing and we think she may be in danger."
"Hmm, just the way I like her." Gold retorted, with a sneering smile. "Now, if you'll excuse me-"
"I-no, I don't think so." David cut him off. "Whatever your feelings about Regina are, you still owe me a favor."
Aware he had been backed into a corner of his own making, Gold gave a small, wry smile before he turned to Lacey. She was staring at him, now wrinkled in clear distaste for the conversation. He'd never gotten around to revealing magic to her and didn't plan to do it today.
"Lacey, if you could excuse us, I have some business to attend to." He punctuated the offer by offering a hand to her.
Biting her lip in thought, glaring at the Charmings all the while, Lacey finally sighed heavily. "Make it quick," she muttered, somehow managing to make it sound like a threat.
Slapping her palm into his, Lacey allowed him to help her down from her perch on the table. Once she was on her feet, Gold handed her her glass without a word. Strutting past the Charmings, she spared them a side-eyed glare before slipping from the room.
"Ya know, I bet she and Lillian would get along great if she ever comes around you again." David muttered, flashing Gold a mocking smile that made the pawnbroker's eyes narrow.
Scowling blackly, Gold turned and began to rifle through his cabinets. "I'm sure I can whip up something to find Regina. But, tell me, why do the Charmings want to help the Evil Queen?"
"Because I owe her, after what I did to Cora."
Gold turned and exhaled sharply, amused by her answer. "Never underestimate the power of a guilty conscience." He placed a small box on the counter and removed the lid.
Mary Margaret peered at the vial of clear liquid. "What is that?"
"This is one of Regina's tears." Gold stood the vial up and removed the stopper.
"Why do you have one of Regina's tears?"
Gold chuckled at her question and plucked the vial from the box. "Because I do." He stepped closer. "This spell, however, requires two tears."
Mary Margaret stared at him. "You want one from me?"
"Well, just think of a dark moment, dearie, something bleak and hopeless." Gold's voice lowered. "I know you have a few." He held the vial up to her eye and waited for her eyes to fill until she shed a tear into the vial. The combined tears shimmered with a white light.
"Perfect. Now… when you drop this into your eye, your will be connected to Regina wherever she is." As he spoke, he stirred the tears with a dropper before gathering some within it. "Whatever she sees, you'll see, whatever she feels, you'll feel."
"How long does the spell last?" David asked in concern.
"Long enough to lead you to her." Gold handed off the vial to David's waiting hand. "And with that, I've fulfilled my end of the bargain." He gave them a sarcastic wave. "Good-bye."
"Always a pleasure." David sighed with the same sarcasm. Magical tear in hand, he and Mary Margaret left the pawnbroker to his day.
The moment the bell jingled behind them, Lacey peeked into the room and cleared her throat. "So it's uh, so it's true?" She sauntered into the room, grinning. "I-I-I heard everything. You, uh, you really can do magic."
Unprepared to have this conversation, but resigned, Gold gestured to the bottle of alcohol. "I think you might want to pour yourself another drink."
Back in the loft, seated at the kitchen table, David stared at the vial in his hand. Knees brushing his wife's, he sighed heavily and met her wide, focused eyes.
"You don't have to do this, you know." He told her, reaching out to clasp her hand. "You've been through enough already."
"That's exactly why I do have to do it." She told him, tears pricking her eyes at the thought of her heart. "My heart is dark because of what I did to Regina. If I can help find her, if we can save her, maybe it'll help let some of the light back in."
Sighing again, David stood and removed the dropper from the vial. Positioning it above her eye, he let a single drop fall into her eye. Blinking but fine, Mary Margaret was about to open her mouth before pain slammed into her, setting every nerve she had on fire. David grabbed hold of her when she began to scream in agony.
Kneeling on the cushioned window seat, Wendy pried the window open to peer out at the night sky. Searching the stars, her eyes widened with delight when she caught sight of the familiar, pitch black shape.
"Bae!" She hissed in quiet excitement, rousing Bae from sleep. "Look! It's him, the Shadow!"
Fuzzy-headed from sleep, Bae stumbled towards the window and abruptly found himself wide awake. As Wendy had claimed, there was a Shadow hovering in the open window with large, gleaming eyes.
"No, no. Wendy, get away from there!" He begged her, grabbing hold of her arm to pull her to safety.
She turned on her seat, grabbing his hands. "You don't have to be afraid. He doesn't want to hurt us." She assured him with a blinding smile. "He's from another land—a land with magic, but it's… different from where you came from."
The Shadow suddenly offered its hand to Wendy, who took it without a moment's hesitation.
"Wendy, please, don't listen to him!"
"It's called Neverland." Wendy continued, as if she hadn't heard him. Her eyes were bright with excitement. "And there are no grown-ups there, and children never grow old. And we can do anything we want, even fly!"
The Shadow began to rise, slowly drawing Wendy from the nursery window. Alarmed, Bae lurched forward, grasping hold of Wendy's free hand.
"It's a trick. Don't go with him!" He told her, clinging to her as tightly as he could. "You don't need magic! You have a family right here. That's the only thing that matters!"
When she looked at him with pity in her eyes, Bae knew he'd lost. "This is what I've always dreamed of." Wendy crowed, eyes sparkling. "You just don't believe."
Freeing her hand from his with a sudden jerk, she and the Shadow flew away from the window. Leaning out of the window, Bae stared after her in wide eyed horror.
Despite protesting, loudly and at high pitch, Henry had been handed over to the protection of Ruby and Granny on their way to the beach. Lillian felt terrible leaving him, as did Emma, but they both quietly agreed it was for the best. If things got dangerous, neither of them wanted to be distracted and fail to protect Henry.
For the first few minutes of their search down the beach, there was a heavy, tense silence that was slowly strangling Lillian. Half-tempted to suggest they split up and she go further along the beach, Neal stopped her by opening his mouth.
"So, ah, you think she's hiding Regina in a sand castle?" His joke fell flat, with both Emma and Lillian sparing him short, not amused glances. "I-I'm just trying to make sense of this, okay?"
"Well, they have to be here somewhere." Stomping through the sand, Emma tried to put as much distance between herself and Neal as she feasibly could. Emotionally, however, she was a mess. "We just need to keep looking."
"Emma," Neal paused, choosing his words carefully. He didn't want her to blow up or take things the wrong way; he knew her well enough to tell when she was on edge. "I know you wanna help with this, but I think you're letting your emotions get in the way of your judgement."
Emma stopped, head whipping around to glare hotly at Neal. "I'm letting my emotions get the better of me?! You're the one who keeps stalling every time we get somewhere with this Tamara thing!"
"I-I'll just go check the other side of the beach…" Lillian tried to get away, only for Emma to turn on her next.
"Oh, no you don't. I want a witness." Struggling to hold onto her anger, to not give into hurt, the blonde returned her attention to Neal. "W-what do you want to hear from me, Neal? Huh? That it killed me that you never came looking for me even once I was locked up?"
"That it didn't hurt? That you found Tallahassee with someone else?" She closed her eyes tightly. "That it doesn't cut me to see you and Lillian, acting like-like we used to?"
Red-faced and more than ready to throw Emma into the surf, Lillian was stopped when Tamara jogged up. Shooting a searing glare at Emma, who was pale faced and smiling a painful little smile, Lillian turned to give Tamara a welcoming nod.
Tamara drew her hood down. "Neal?"
"Hey," Tamara repeated breathlessly as she came to a stop and jogged in place. "What are you doing down here?"
"We were, we're just—I thought you go running in the woods?" He turned the question on her, trying to escape the tension she seemed unaware of.
"Yeah, I start in the woods but then I run along the beach." She looked between the three of them in concern, hoping they were still blissfully unaware. "Is everything alright?"
Emma forced a smile. "Regina's missing."
Tamara stopped moving. "Oh my god. That's terrible."
"I thought maybe she was down here but I was wrong."
"Well, I'm sure she'll turn up somewhere," Tamara encouraged, lips quirking. "Let me know if I can help at all. See you later." She placed a hand on Neal's elbow and placed an affectionate kiss on his lips before taking off again.
Eyes flashing, Lillian turned on Emma. "What the hell was that, Swan?" She demanded in a low voice.
"I think I should go." Emma muttered, cheeks pink with embarrassment.
"Emma… I wanted to go to jail for you." Neal confessed, eyes pained with regret.
"It kills me I let August talk me in letting you go."
"I don't want to hear it."
"Yeah, but I have to say it." Hands tucked in his coat pockets, Neal shrugged uselessly. "I wanted to look for you. I just… I-I was too afraid."
Emma paused at that. She finally met his gaze, head tilted slightly to the side curiously. She could feel Lillian's glare searing into the side of her head but focused on Neal instead.
He exhaled sharply. "That you would never forgive me. 'Cause I never forgave myself. There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I don't regret having left you." His hands clenched in the pockets as he struggled to keep from reaching for her. "I'm sorry, Emma, for everything."
Emma stared at him a long time, her expression lost. Lillian stood between them, eyes narrowed and mouth pressed into a thin line, but she didn't interrupt. Finally, just when he thought she was going to leave him hanging, Emma gave him a small, heartbroken smile.
Striding back into the Cannery, Tamara paused long enough to wipe the pleased smile from her face. While Greg would never discourage her from reveling in their successes, she thought it was better to put on a professional front. Satisfied that her expression was sobered enough, she strode into the room that led to their royal guest.
"Everything's taken care of." She announced before Greg could prompt her. He was staring through the window again, at the pitiful figure of the former Queen.
"They bought it?" His eyes never moved from the physically damaged woman on the table.
"As far as Emma, Lillian and Neal are concerned, I'm just running along the beach." Soothing a hand long his arm, she turned her attention to the window. "How are things going with the Queen?"
"You know, she's not exactly cooperative." He started back into the room, Tamara at his heels and turned the machine on again. "But that's all about to change, right, Regina?"
Given how high the voltage was, Tamara had to admit she was impressed with the pained groans Regina was making. Most people would have been begging for mercy or screaming in agony by now. As Greg turned the switch, stopping the current treatment, Regina visibly slumped onto the table.
"You have no… idea who you're dealing with." She managed to gasp out once the pain became somewhat manageable.
Greg loomed over her. "Actually, no, you have no idea who you are dealing with."
"A couple of fools in over their heads who go around stealing magic."
"Stealing magic." Tamara mocked with a predatory grin. "That's what you think we're here to do?"
Greg explained as Regina's gaze flitted between them. "We're not here to steal magic. We're here to destroy it."
"Magic does not belong in this world. It's unholy." Tamara nodded sagely. "We're here to cleanse this land of it."
Regina summoned a weak, raspy chuckle from somewhere inside. "You think you can destroy magic? Just the two of you?"
"Well, who said there's only two of us? Oh, we're everywhere, Regina." He fought the urge to grin at her clearly obvious discomfort at his words. "See, after I left Storybrooke, as a boy, I was babbling about magic, about what I had seen, and what had happened to my father." His expression hardened at the reminder, fingers twitching to turn the machine back on. "Most folks, they wrote me off. But some didn't. And they found me."
"Believers. People that know that magic is real."
"And that it doesn't belongs in this world, and are willing to do something about it." Tamara chimed in.
"This little quest of yours, to cleanse the world of magic, it's not gonna work." Regina sneered as best she could.
"No, of course it will. We've done it before, and we'll do it again." Greg's expression turned patronizing. "Do you think that Storybrooke was the first time that magic has crossed over?"
"Magic has been doing its damage for a long time."
"And people like us—we're here to stop it." Greg finished before turning the machine back on once more.
Cradled in the shelter of David's arms, Mary Margaret pressed her face against his chest. Swaying gently, her husband soothed his hands along her trembling arms before he pulled away enough to look her in the eye.
"Mary Margaret? Are you okay?"
Her fingers pressed painfully into his forearm. "It was awful," she whispered, voice weak as raspy, as if she'd been screaming for an extended period. "The worst pain I've ever felt. Wherever Regina is… she's powerless." Her wounded, frightened eyes seared into his own. "She can't fight back."
He hated to ask her, especially after the literal shock she'd just had, but he forced himself. "Could you-could you see where she was? Could you see who was keeping her there?"
"I just remember… pain… and screaming."
"Concentrate." He tried to soothe her agitated form with little success. "The smallest detail might lead us to her."
"I don't know." She shook her head, eyes welling with tears. "My hands were strapped down, and my legs… it was cold and… it smelled weird, like… sardines?" She met his eyes again, expression wavering. "I don't know. I wish I could remember more."
"She didn't see anything?" Lillian asked into the phone, listening intently as David reported the events of Mary Margaret's trauma to her. "Anything at all? Any detail helps, David."
"Uh, not much." Even over the phone, Lillian could sense his disappointment. Emma was practically stuck to her side, listening avidly. "She could sense Regina was in pain. It was cold, she was strapped own. She said she could smell sardines, but I don't know how-"
"I do." Emma whispered, eyes trained on the nearest building. Lillian followed her line of sight, grip on the phone going slack. Emma seized the device. "Get to the docks right now," she told her father before hanging up and handing the phone off to Lillian.
"You were right," Neal had followed their line of sight, eyes like ice. "Tamara wasn't here for a run, she was there with Regina."
Bae wasn't sure how long he spent searching the night sky over London, desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of Wendy or the Shadow. It wasn't until pink began to streak across the sky that he succumbed to his exhaustion and fell into a light, restless sleep by the open window. So, when Wendy floated down beside him, he sprang upright in a panic.
"It's all right," she soothed as her feet touched the floor. "It's just me."
Bae took one look at her pale, drawn features and drew her into his arms. "I thought I'd never see you again," he breathed against her hair before he led her to sit on her fourposter.
Wendy looked around the nursery, refusing to make eye contact. "How long was I gone?"
His skin prickled uneasily at her tone. "Just… the night."
"It felt like so much longer." She whispered, half to herself. "As though time works differently in Neverland."
"So… what was it like over there?" He asked, partly out of curiosity and partly to keep her talking. She was acting so strangely, so detached, and it worried him.
"It's an island, where there are no grown-ups to tell you what to do, but there are mermaids and fairies and all sorts of mystical creatures."
His worry increased at her flat tone. "Then why did you return?"
"Because, when night fell, that's when all the children started to miss their parents, and cried through the night."
"Well, why don't they go home?"
"The Shadow won't let them. There's a reason it's called Neverland." Her gaze went to the window before it swung back to him. "Because once you set foot on its soil, the Shadow never let's you leave."
"H-how did you escape?"
"He let me go. Because he didn't want me. He wanted a boy." Her tear-filled eyes went across the room to where her brother's safely slept. "He's coming back tonight to take one of my brothers in my place. You said magic was bad, and you were right, Bae. It's going to destroy my family."
"No." Bae denied with a shake of his head, reaching to grasp her trembling hand. "I won't let anything bad happen to you or this family."
The Cannery was dimly lit and smelt so pervasively of fish that even Lillian wrinkled her nose when they slipped through the door. Emma took the lead, gun out and ready, while Lillian to the rear, Neal wedge in between them.
As they crept through the shadows, past pipes that issued hissing steam, Emma glanced back at Neal.
"You sure you wanna be here?" The blonde asked, eyes determinedly fixed ahead.
Neal resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "I'm not gonna leave you two alone in this place."
"I'm pretty sure we can handle ourselves," Lillian muttered, slipping her hand into his went he held it out to her.
"If something does go down with Tamara, I need to know you've got my back." Emma retorted.
"Emma, Tamara manipulated me into putting everyone I care about in danger." He held back an exasperated sigh and Lillian squeezed his hand. "So, if Tamara is hiding Regina here in her evil lair by the docks, yeah, I got your back."
There was a faint clatter, one that sent them all on high alert. Inhaling faintly, Emma darted ahead, stopping at the end of pipe. Listening intently, they all reacted when another clatter - closer this time - came.
Cocking her gun, Emma raced towards the sound, rounding the corner with Neal and Lillian at her side, just as her parents rounded the opposite one. Slumping with relief at the sight of them, she exhaled sharply.
"What the hell, guys."
"Here," David panted, handing off one of their radios. "So that doesn't happen again."
"You and Mary Margaret take the basement." Emma ordered, slipping into Sherriff mode flawlessly. "We'll search the main floor." Her expression hardened.
"Regina's gotta be here somewhere."
Nodding at her instructions, David and Mary Margaret swept past her, the latter touching her arm as she went.
Glaring at the feed that showed their intruders from one of the cameras installed, Tamara finished gathering their things from the room. "Time to go," she muttered, raising her voice and tapping on the glass. Greg's head snapped up. "They found us."
"Who, Emma and Neal?" He demanded, looking up from his handiwork. "I thought that you took care of them."
"Yeah, so did I." Tamara shrugged on a backpack as he met her at the doorway. "We need to go."
As expected, he protested. "No, no. No, no, no." He gestured towards the still body of the Evil Queen. "I… I need more time with her."
"Greg, if you get caught, this whole thing is blown." Tamara reminded him, grasping his wrist tightly.
"We wouldn't even know about this town if it wasn't for my dad." He snapped, wincing at the look he received. "I'm not leaving until I find out where he is.
"Fine." She hissed through clenched teeth, able to rationalize where he was coming from. "Meet me at the rendezvous point when you're done."
Giving his hand a squeeze, she turned and left the room, leaving him alone with Regina. Fiddling with the knobs on the machine, Greg increased the voltage to the highest setting.
"I'm moving up the timeline," she told the panting woman. "Now, I'm gonna give you one last chance to tell me where my father is." The seconds passed slowly as he loomed over her, attempting to intimidate her. When it became clear she wasn't going to answer, he scowled. "Okay, time's up."
"Wait," she called weakly before he had a chance to switch the machine on again.
Greg leaned over her. "Where is he?"
"Dead. I killed him." She croaked out, gloating in the way his face crumpled. "The minute you ran away…"
"No, you're… you're lying to me." He practically whimpered, eyes burning at the very thought.
"Don't believe me? Go see for yourself." She goaded. "I buried his body at your campsite. I doubt he gets many visitors there." Her expression hardened and she bared her teeth. "Now go ahead and kill me. I just wanted to see the look on your face when I-"
Her words morphed into a loud, piercing scream of pain when, blinded with rage, Greg switched the machine back on.
Standing in the nursery, Mary smiled lovingly at the four children tucked warmly in their beds. "Good night, my treasures." She whispered, gazing down at Nana when the dog whined.
Satisfied all was well, she left the room with another cursory glance, switching off the last of the lights. The moment the door snapped shut and her footsteps receded, Bae threw the covers off him and sat up in his new bed.
"We have work to do."
The other three sprang into action at his words. Every light within the nursery was gathered and lighted once more. A wicked basket of possible weapons was pulled out, in case the Shadow refused to leave. They prepared the window as Bae instructed, hoping what little he remembered from his father's attempt at magic lessons was correct.
"Okay, don't worry." Bae promised once they were finished and gathered in a circle in the middle of the room. "The Shadow's not taking anyone tonight."
Wendy, who had been a nervous wreck the last twenty-four hours, sighed and slipped her arms around him. "Thank you, Bae."
"You can thank me in the morning." He replied with a halfhearted smile that fooled no one. "Okay, everyone to their beds."
No sooner had they scattered, reaching their individual beds, that all of the flames in the room guttered out. Startled that it was happening so soon, Bae rose carefully from his own bed.
"Bae?" Michael whispered in a trembling voice.
"Don't be frightened," Bae tried, wincing when Nana began to bark. "The Shadow… he's here." The window rattled violently before slamming open by a sudden gust of air. "Get in the crawl space! Come on! Let's go!" Bae ordered over Nana's increasingly loud barks.
Herding them into the crawl space, Bae turned when Wendy's terrified voice reached his ears. "Where's Michael?"
"Michael?" Bae whirled around to see the little boy collecting his teddy bear from the ground, the Shadow looming over him.
"Oh!" Wendy cried when Bae scrambled from the crawlspace toward her frozen brother. "Don't do it! Don't go with him!"
"Michael," Bae pushed the little boy behind him and glared up at the Shadow. "Michael, step back. You want him?" He demanded as Nana continued to bark. "Take me instead."
"Bae, no!" Wendy crawled from the hiding spot and ran to him.
"But you have to promise never to bother this family again." Bae said as Wendy grabbed his hand.
"No, Bae, you can't."
"I won't let magic destroy this family." He glared up at the Shadow, watching it tilt its head in, had he thought it could feel, what appeared to be amusement. "This is the only way. You have to let me go." Her expression fell, tears spilling from her cheeks as he took the Shadow's hand. "Thank you, Wendy, for making me part of your family."
Wendy whimpered when Bae's hand was tugged from her own and she raced to the window as they flew from it. "Bae!" She choked past the tears, her brothers joinging her. "Bae!"
Back arching off the table from the pain, Regina couldn't hold back her cries of pain any longer. Pressing down the switch, Greg watched in malicious satisfaction as the woman writhed in agony on the table.
"You feel that? Huh?!" He demanded once he turned off the switch for a few precious seconds. "That's the end of you." He flipped the switch on, watching as the life was sucked from her. "That's scary, ain't it?"
Moaning faintly, delirious from the pain, Regina didn't answer. Not satisfied with what he'd done, Greg readied himself to end it all.
"Now, you're never gonna hurt anyone ever again."
Before he could make good on his promise, David rounded the corner and fired four rounds into the machine. Arms up in surrender, Greg fell back against the far wall.
"Don't move!" He ordered, attention stolen from the other man by the state Regina was in.
Seizing his chance, Greg darted toward the other door, knocking over the machine on his way. Progress slowed by the object, David stumbled over it and made to follow.
"David!" Mary Margaret screamed, horrified by the state her former step-mother was in. "We can't leave her! She'll die if we don't get her help."
Growling faintly to himself, though he knew she was right, David doubled back and pulled out his radio. "We gotta get her to Mother Superior. Emma," he called over the radio static. "You gotta block the exits."
"I already sent Lillian to ward them. You guys all right?"
"Oh, we're fine." He replied as Emma reached for the gate above them. "We found Regina, with Mendell. He's coming your way."
Neal whirled at David's words to meet Emma's equally surprised gaze. "Greg Mendell," she said with wide eyes.
"So, it wasn't Tamara?"
Still surprised, Emma didn't hear the approaching footsteps until it was too late. Tamara swung the pipe, catching the blonde irritant in the back of the head. Emma slumped to the ground in a heap, leaving Neal to stare warily at his fake fiancee.
"Actually… it was." Tamara sighed as she picked up Emma's gun and pointed it at Neal. "I just had some help."
"What are you doing, Tamara?" Neal demanded, hands open to show he was unarmed.
"I have to keep magic out of this world, Neal. It doesn't belong here. You more than anyone should understand that. It's a poison."
"You've been lying to me. How long have you been lying to me?"
Irritated, Tamara brushed his question aside. "This is more important than any…"
Unfazed by his outburst, she gazed at him coolly. "Since the beginning. Since I spilled coffee on you."
Neal glanced down at the scarf he was wearing - the scarf he was wearing when he met her. "It wasn't an accident." He muttered, hating that this still hurt him, even after everything Lillian had told him. "You planned it all. None of it was real."
"Neal, you're a good man. I know that." Tamara tried to reason with him; she didn't hate him and didn't want him dead. "So, please try to understand. I had a job to do… an important one, one I think you can agree with."
"You never loved me." He said coldly, holding onto his anger. "Lillian was right. You and-and Greg…"
Her eyes were cold. "Yes."
"I can't let you leave here, Tamara."
"Neal," she said calmly as he carefully walked to her. "Please don't make me." Even before the last word left her mouth, she pulled the trigger.
- Several floors beneath them, searching for Greg, Lillian stopped and jerked back, eyes widening and mouth falling open-
Neal stumbled back, falling to the ground. Pain radiated from the bullet wound and when he touched it, his hand was covered with blood. Panting unevenly, he managed to sit up against the wall, glaring up at Tamara as she approached.
"I'm sorry, Neal." She said, raising the gun level with his head.
"You should be." Emma snarled, kicking the gun from Tamara's hand before she swung, fist connecting with the other woman's face.
They grappled wildly, throwing one another around, grabbing hold of limbs and hair until Emma gained the upper hand. Throwing Tamara to the ground, she ran to the gun and aimed it at Tamara's head.
Glaring from her place on the floor, Tamara reached into her pocket. "No," she taunted, pulling out a magic bean, "it's not."
Tossing the bean, Tamara watched, satisfied, as it swiftly formed a glowing green portal. Emma reached, shimmying her way up nearby pipes that line the wall while Neal crawled away from the growing vortex.
"Bye," Tamara sneered as she raced away, unaware of what she'd just set in motion.
Crying out in panic as the pipes bent under her weight, Emma hung over the portal.
"EMMA!" Neal managed to rise to his feet, offering his arms to her. She swung herself, stumbling into his arms and they backed away from the portal. "I got you."
Emma took one look at his chest and paled at the blood. "We gotta get you to the hospital."
The wood beneath their feet suddenly splintered as the portal widened within the narrow hallway. Screaming as Neal was pulled into it, Emma snatched his hand, holding him above it.
"Emma! You can't hold both of us!"
"I'm not letting go of you." She retorted, fingers scrabbling against the wood, unable to find a grip.
"You have to." He told her, teeth grinding against the pain.
"No, you're shot! If you fall through that portal, you'll die no matter what world you land in!"
"No, but, Emma, Henry needs you." Neal yelled, tears threatening to overtake him. "He can't lose both of us. Don't make him grow up like we did."
Sobbing now, Emma tightened her grip. "Then don't let go. I need you. I love you."
Her words set Neal's own tears off. "I love you, too." He replied before, giving her a wrenching smile, pulled his hand from hers and was swept into the portal.
"No!" Emma screamed, staring into the portal long after Neal had vanished. The vortex came to a sudden stop, leaving Emma alone in the hallway. Overcome, she lay down on the floor, weeping loudly.
"BAE!" Lillian's cry came from somewhere nearby, her voice choked with panic. "Bae!" She skidded up towards the hallway, eyes landing on first Emma, then the hole beside her as it clicked in her mind. "No, no, no, no, no. NO!"
Falling to her knees, screaming in sudden agony, she was unaware of the massive shock wave of magic she released, unaware of how a white, shimmering magic protected Emma, even as everything around them was destroyed.
Digging furiously in the clearing where he and his father had camped so long ago, Greg couldn't stop the angered, pained sounds from escaping his mouth. Grunting as he slammed the shovel into the dirt, he paused when a resounding thunk came from it.
Wide eyed, he tossed the shovel away and fell to his knees. Faintly chanting 'no' and digging through the dirt with his bare hands, he prayed he wasn't about to find what he feared.
"No," he continued when he found a ragged strip of cloth, tossing it to the side before digging further. His blood ran cold when his fingers grasped something solid, when he threw back the dirt to reveal a human skull.
Mother Superior ran her wand along Regina's pale, clearly exhausted form. If she was reading her magic correctly, the former queen would be fine now that they'd removed the block from her magic.
"Now that that awful cuff if off, she's gonna be okay." The head nun announced to the worried pair behind her. "Given time and rest," she added, hoping her prognosis wasn't too hopeful. "Her magic will return."
There was a violent gust of air from the room behind them, followed by a burst of magic. Startled, David and Mary Margaret turned to see Emma and Lillian appear in the room with a swirl of purple smoke. The latter fell to her knees, arms wrapped tightly around herself, while the former stood stiffly, expression empty.
"What happened?" David asked, leaning down to press a hand to Lillian's shoulder. She jerked from the touch with a low, keening wail that made everyone flinch. Aware he should leave Lillian be, David turned his attention to his daughter. "What is it?"
Mary Margaret's heart settled somewhere in her stomach at the way her daughter was acting. "Where's Neal?"
"He's gone," Emma whispered brokenly, eyes falling to Lillian. "She killed him."
After they'd gone past the second star to the right, Baelfire wasn't sure how long they were flying before an island became visible in the distance. An odd, distorted whispering filled his ears, followed by the sound if distant crying.
"Neverland?" He whispered above the whistling wind, fear seizing him. "No! No, you're not taking me there!" Struggling violently, he attempted to force the creature holding him to release him, with little success.
Panting, he rifled through his pockets, fingers closing around the matchbook. Remembering how the Shadow required darkness, he pulled out a match and lit it with trembling fingers. The Shadow howled at the sight of the flame when he held it up, its grip falling slack on the collar of his robe.
Screaming as he fell into the water with a splash, Bae succumbed to the oncoming darkness. Above the surface, the Shadow flew back and forth, attempting to suss out the boy's whereabouts. When it caught no sign of him, it flew off toward the island.
Unconscious, Bae floated limply to the surface, only to be spotted by a passing ship. The bell began to clang loudly, alerting those on board that there was a man overboard. Shouting to one another, the pirates shined a light on the boy before tossing down a rope to haul him to safety.
Drawn awake as he was dragged onto the deck, Bae began to cough up lungfuls of seawater.
"Good, lad." An unknown voice praised. "Get the sea out of your lungs."
Squinting past the sea water in his eyes, Bae turned to see a faint, warm light come over him. "Who are you?"
A tall man with dark hair, clad in black leathers that marked him as a pirate stood with another shorter, squatter man. Smirking faintly, his rescuer stared down at him.
"The name's Hook. Captain Hook." He clarified, smirk widening. "Welcome aboard the Jolly Roger, my boy."
Still water-logged, Bae only registered half of what was being said to him. Exhaling deeply, he turned his head, attempting to take more of his surroundings in, when the darkness overtook him.
Once they'd assured Mother Superior they had everything under control, which almost involved unceremoniously bundling her from the apartment, David and Mary Margaret turned their attention to Emma and Lillian.
Their daughter was the easiest to help, as she numbly allowed herself to be led to the stairs where David held her. Lillian remained on the floor, refusing to react to anything Mary Margaret said or did. Unable to help the young sorceress, the dark-haired school teacher instead turned her attention to her former stepmother.
"Emma," David said softly, tucking her against him. "I'm so sorry."
"How… am I gonna tell Henry?" Emma forced out past her numb lips. Unable to answer her, David pressed a kiss to the side of her head.
From her place on the floor, Lillian flinched. So much pain and rage was swirlign within her that her eyes went red, unable to find any other outlet. When she was done with them, they were going to beg for death.
Placing a cool cloth along Regina's clammy forehead, Mary Margaret glanced to her side when David approached. Just then, Regina moaned softly, eyes fluttering open.
"You… you saved me?" She asked weakly, lips barely moving as she turned to look at them.
Mary Margaret's expression was cool. "Yes."
"You really think we'd let you die?" David asked wryly, arms crossed. "Despite our differences, we're family."
"Where are they?" Regina asked with a shaky exhale. "Where are Greg and Tamara?"
David inhaled angrily. "They got away."
Regina's answering exhale was shaky. "So they still have it."
"Still have what?" Mary Margaret demanded.
Tamara came upon Greg just as he was reburying what was left of his father. Remaining silent as he grieved, she reached out to him only after he'd thrown the shovel aside.
"I'm sorry about your father," she whispered, hating that she couldn't offer him anymore comfort than that.
"Me too," he whispered, brushing dirt off his pants. Sniffling, he turned to see her holding out the diamond Regina had had. "Do the folks back at the home office know anything about it?"
"Yeah," she nodded, expression turning severe. "They did. And you're never gonna believe what it does."
"A trigger?" David asked, wanting to make sure he had all the facts before anything else.
"That will destroy Storybrooke." Regina explained in a raspy voice.
She ignored her former step-daughter. "I had a fail-safe built into the curse."
"Then why exactly were you carrying it around?" Mary Margaret asked quietly.
David's voice was hard. "She was gonna destroy us, Mary Margaret."
"I was going to use the beans to take Henry back to the Enchanted Forest."
"And in the process, kill all of us."
"You wanna discuss justification? You were going to abandon me." Regina threw their plan back at them, unable to even delight in their frustration. "Or shall we discuss the more pressing issue?" Her head rose from the pillow as she sneered. "Which is that I no longer control the trigger."
"What are we supposed to do with it?" Greg asked, holding them gem up in the light.
"They want us to move to the next phase."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Already?"
"Yeah." Personally, Tamara was as terrified as Greg sounded. While they had done things like this before, it had never been to this scale and the prospect was daunting. "There's only one way to get what we all want." She reached and took the gem from him, voice hardening. "We have to blow Storybrooke off the map."
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?