PLEASE READ.

Author's Note: Hi, everyone! This is a story for everyone who's feeling a little frustrated with recent OUaT events, and wants to get back a little of the "good old days."

So, a few important things to know before you read this. I wrote this for a class, which means...

1. This is in script format. I've done my best to keep the formatting intact while transferring the story onto this site, but I'm not sure what the overall effect will be.

2. I wrote this as a spec script. And one rule of spec scripts is that you cannot make real changes to the narrative. Ergo, while I myself might ship Swan Queen (although I also ship Captain Swan to some extent), I couldn't just overhaul canon and do whatever I wanted. So the canon pairing in this story is indeed Captain Swan.

3. That said, this story is definitely Swan-Mills family centric. I wanted to get back to what we all loved most about the Swan Queen relationship, the trust and respect and bonding over magic, not to mention, of course, their shared love of Henry. I absolutely feel that this story is safe, friendly, and supportive of all ships.

4. On top of that, I wanted to get back to what we all loved about the first few seasons. Ergo this story will feature a "monster" of the week (whose motivations might be deeper than we think), a Charming & Snow White subplot (back in the Enchanted Forest, pre-the 1st Dark Curse), and Rumpelstiltskin being the meddling, conniving, yet likable semi-good guy/semi-villain we all used to know and love.

5. This story takes place sometime around the beginning of season 4, but it ignores the Frozen storyline in favor of focusing on the Author storyline, aka Operation Mongoose.

Any questions? Only about a dozen? All right, then jump right in!

Story summary: We all know that Henry is willing to do whatever it takes to help his mom get her happy ending. But what happens if Operation Mongoose puts Henry in mortal peril, and the only way to save him is for Emma and Regina to work together?

When Henry's search for answers leads him to a powerful witch, Baba Yaga, Emma and Regina must team up to get him back. But complications along the way will lead to a few hard choices for the two mothers, that ask the question, How far are you willing to go to get what you want?


TEASER

FADE IN:

INT. MR. GOLD'S PAWN SHOP – DAY

The bell RINGS as the door is pushed open. HENRY steps inside, backpack slung over his shoulder. He approaches RUMPELSTILTSKIN behind the desk. Rumpelstiltskin sets aside the papers—perhaps bookkeeping—that were occupying him.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Henry. This is a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you this morning?

Henry drops his bag to the floor, reaches in, and hefts out the FAIRYTALE BOOK. He places it on the counter.

HENRY

I wanted to ask what you know about this book. Where it came from. Who wrote it.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Intriguing questions. But, I'm afraid I don't know.

Henry is disheartened. He begins to take the book back.

HENRY

Okay. Thanks anyways-

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Though I may know of someone who does.

HENRY

(excited)

Really? Who?

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Her name is Baba Yaga.

HENRY

I've never heard of her.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

No indeed. She never appears in your book. One might wonder why that is. Perhaps she knows something.

HENRY

Do you know where she lives?

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

For a school project, is it?

A bland tone and expression make it clear that Rumpelstiltskin does not believe this is the case.

HENRY

It's for my mom. She's... conducting an investigation.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

I see. Well, I'm only too happy to help our noble Sheriff.

Henry smiles uncomfortably.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN (CONT'D)

Here. I have something that might help you.

Rumpelstiltskin reaches beneath the counter and pulls out a map of Storybrooke. He unfolds it. He picks up a black sharpie and circles a spot out in the forest.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN (CONT'D)

I believe this is where she lives.

Rumpelstiltskin hands the map to Henry.

HENRY

Thanks, Grandpa.

Henry stuffs the fairytale book back into his bag and slings it over his shoulder. He begins to leave.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Henry?

Henry turns around to face him.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN (CONT'D)

If you do find her, tell her that I sent you.

HENRY

You know her?

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Oh yes. We go way back.

HENRY

To be totally honest, I'm not sure if I find that reassuring.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

I can't blame you for that. But I would not have suggested it if I thought she might do you harm. Trust me.

Henry smiles and nods. With a wave, Henry exits the shop. The bell RINGS on his way out. Rumpelstiltskin watches him go, a thoughtful expression on his face.


EXT. THE WOODS – DAY

Henry walks through the woods, folded map in hand, cell phone by his ear. The phone RINGS. A mechanized voicemail message plays, followed by a loud TONE.

HENRY

Hey, Mom. Update on Operation Mongoose. I got a lead from Rumpelstiltskin. Don't worry, I didn't tell him what it was for. He thinks a woman named Baba Yaga might know something about the author. On my way to check it out now. I'll see you later. Love you.

Henry hangs up and puts the phone into his pocket. He unfolds the map, checks his direction, and adjusts his course.


TIME CUT TO:

EXT. THE WOODS – DAY

Henry is still walking. Then, through the trees, he spots:


EXT. BABA YAGA'S CABIN – DAY – CONTINUOUS

The cabin is just what you'd expect to find in the woods. Built out of logs, a front porch with a swing seat. A wooden fence out front has a sign that reads: KEEP OUT.

Henry unlatches the fence gate and approaches the house. He KNOCKS. For a few seconds, everything is eerily silent.

The front door suddenly swings open. In the doorway is BABA YAGA, a stern-looking woman in her later years, wearing a worn-down dress and apron.

HENRY

Are you Baba Yaga?

BABA YAGA

(severely)

Are you here of your own free will, or were you sent?

HENRY

Uh. My name is Henry.

Baba Yaga has a visible reaction to this.

HENRY (CONT'D)

Rumpelstiltskin sent me.

BABA YAGA

Wrong answer.

Baba Yaga GRABS Henry by the front of his shirt. She yanks him inside and SLAMS the front door closed behind them.

FADE TO:

TITLE:

"ONCE UPON A TIME"

(A house on chicken legs walks across the screen.)

FADE OUT.

END OF TEASER


ACT ONE

FADE IN:

INT. SNOW WHITE'S CASTLE: ROYAL BEDCHAMBERS – DAY

CHARMING and a pregnant SNOW WHITE enter the room, both wearing hooded cloaks. Charming shuts the door then removes his cloak and tosses it aside.

SNOW WHITE

I just don't believe it. There has to be something we can do.

Charming helps Snow off with her cloak.

CHARMING

My dear, I'm afraid there isn't. You heard what the Dark One said. Nothing can stop Regina's curse.

SNOW WHITE

I don't accept that.

CHARMING

Snow-

SNOW WHITE

No. We have always found a way to fight Regina in the past. I'm not going to start giving up now.

CHARMING

Then what do you suggest?

Snow hesitates. Then-

SNOW WHITE

I want to find Baba Yaga.

CHARMING

(disbelievingly)

The witch? The evil Baba Yaga? She lives in seclusion for a reason. Those who disturb her peace are said to suffer very unpleasant fates.

SNOW WHITE

But she is also said to be very powerful. Perhaps the only one powerful enough to stop Regina's curse.

Snow's posture says determined and unrelenting, but in her face is a flicker of worry. Charming sighs, and gently takes hold of her arms.

CHARMING

Then we will find her.


INT. REGINA'S HOUSE: MASTER BEDROOM – DAY

Regina exits the adjoining bathroom in a robe, toweling her wet hair. Her outfit for the day is laid out on the bed.

She picks up her cell phone from where it sits on the dresser and sees that there is One New Voicemail. She dials and puts the phone to her ear.

As she listens, she grows more attentive, and soon tenses up anxiously. By the time her thumb hits the END button, she is frantic. She immediately returns the call-Henry does not answer.

Regina drops the towel and rushes towards her bed.


INT. MARY MARGARET'S APARTMENT – DAY

EMMA and KILLIAN are seated at the kitchen island, sharing a cozy, romantic breakfast. A loud, impatient POUNDING at the door interrupts.

Emma rises and crosses the room then unlocks the door and pulls it open. A messily dressed Regina storms past. She quickly scans the apartment.

REGINA

Where are David and Mary Margaret?

EMMA

Having brunch at Granny's, why?

Before Emma has finished speaking, Regina disappears in a cloud of purple smoke.

EMMA (CONT'D)

Wha- Regina!

Two seconds later, Regina, MARY MARGARET, DAVID, and baby carrier (in Mary Margaret's hand) all materialize inside the apartment amid another burst of purple smoke. Regina is holding Mary Margaret and David by the arms. She lets go.

EMMA (CONT'D)

(to Regina)

What the hell?

MARY MARGARET (SIMULTANEOUSLY)

Hey! Regina, you can't just do that to people.

DAVID (SIMULTANEOUSLY)

What was that for? We weren't done eating.

REGINA

I was speeding up the process.

Emma opens her mouth to say something.

REGINA (CONT'D)

Henry's in danger.

Everyone grows silent and grave. Killian steps closer to Emma and touches her arm in a grounding gesture.

EMMA

What happened? Where is he?

REGINA

He left a message on my phone while I was in the shower this morning. He said that he was on his way to see Baba Yaga.

Mary Margaret, David, and Killian react with similar horrified expressions. Emma looks at each of them, lost.

KILLIAN

Why would the lad do that?

REGINA

I've tried calling him, but he isn't answering.

MARY MARGARET

Oh no.

DAVID

Baba Yaga is in Storybrooke? How did we not know that?

EMMA

Hold up. Who is Baba Yaga?

REGINA

She's a—

Regina stops with a glance towards the baby. She makes a face.

REGINA (CONT'D)

Witch.

DAVID

And a nasty one at that.

KILLIAN

So what are we thinking? That she's taken the boy captive?

The silence and shared looks are answer enough.

EMMA

All right. Plan of action. Do we know where this Baba Yaga lives?

REGINA

(coldly)

Gold knows. We can ask him.

EMMA

Good. Now, how dangerous is she? Regina, can you take her?

REGINA

I'm... not sure.

EMMA

What about both of us together? That should be enough, right?

MARY MARGARET

We'd better hope so, or the town's in real trouble. Baba Yaga is...

The expression on her face is clear: the threat is serious.

EMMA

Then let's get going.

Emma makes towards the door.

MARY MARGARET

Uh, Emma?

Emma stops. Mary Margaret and David wear guilty looks.

MARY MARGARET

Your father and I can't come with you.

EMMA

What?

DAVID

The last time we saw Baba Yaga, she told us we could never come to her again.

EMMA

What? Why?

MARY MARGARET

That may be a story for another time.

EMMA

Okay, then... You two stay here, figure out a Plan B. The three of us will-

KILLIAN

Actually, Swan, as it happens...

EMMA

Not you too!

KILLIAN

Sorry, love.

EMMA

What's your history with her?

KILLIAN

Let's just say, she is none too fond of pirates.

REGINA

We're wasting time here.

MARY MARGARET

She's right, you should go.

Emma and Regina share a less than pleased glance.

EMMA

I guess it's just us, then. Come on, let's go find Gold.

Regina leads the way and they both exit.

MARY MARGARET

I'm going to call a town meeting.

DAVID

Do you want me to come with you?

MARY MARGARET

No. We don't know what Baba Yaga wants yet. Stay here with Neal. Keep him safe.

KILLIAN

I'll stay as well. I won't let any harm come to the boy.

MARY MARGARET

Thank you, Hook. Really. Well I'd better be going. The sooner everyone knows about the new Big Bad, the better.

DAVID

Be safe.

Mary Margaret and David share a kiss. She exits.

David turns towards Killian. A genuine smile creeps across his cheeks.

DAVID

Well! I guess now would be a good time for some parenting lessons.

Killian appears as though he has been ambushed.


INT. MR. GOLD'S PAWN SHOP – DAY

The bell RINGS as Regina pushes her way into the shop, followed directly by Emma. The two mothers make a beeline for the counter.

Rumpelstiltskin stands behind it, completely unruffled despite Regina's stormy countenance.

REGINA

I ought to fry you into fish sticks.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

My my. Why such hostility, dearie?

REGINA

You purposefully endangered my son.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

If you are referring to our brief interview this morning, Henry asked me a question and I answered it. He told me that he was helping his mother with an investigation.

Regina flinches guiltily. Emma doesn't notice. Does he?

RUMPELSTILTSKIN (CONT'D)

I take it now that he was not assisting Miss Swan on a case after all. I am truly sorry. Had I known he planned to pursue Baba Yaga himself-

EMMA

All right, just, shut up, both of you. Every second we waste is another second that Henry's life is in danger. Gold, just give us the same directions you gave Henry.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Of course. Anything I can do to help.


EXT. THE ENCHANTED FOREST – DAY

Snow White and Charming walk through the woods, dressed in simple attire to fit the occasion. Charming wears a sword at his hip and Snow White has her trusty bow and arrows.

CHARMING

I'm still not sure this is a good idea. Fighting dark magic with dark magic.

SNOW WHITE

We agreed. No stone left unturned.

CHARMING

I know. And I'll always support you, in anything. But this makes me uneasy.

It grows quiet between them. They keep walking.

CHARMING (CONT'D)

Are you certain we're going the right way? Maybe we should have stopped to ask for directions—

There comes a loud STOMPING noise, like a giant's footsteps, not far from them. They halt. Charming draws his sword and Snow White nocks an arrow.

The sound continues. They walk towards it. Through the trees they see a large, indistinct shape. They sneak forward and then LEAP into the clearing, weapons raised.


EXT. BABA YAGA'S HUT – DAY – CONTINUOUS

Snow White and Charming lower their weapons in shock.

The hut itself is unremarkable, but it stands tall above them on gigantic chicken legs, and around the hut is a fence of bones with human skulls perched on top. The chicken feet STOMP, turning the hut in a circle.

CHARMING

Do you think perhaps she doesn't like visitors?

The hut spots them, its windows acting as eyes. With a great CRASH, the hut folds its legs under itself and sits on the ground.

The door is thrown open from the inside. Baba Yaga steps out, a silver birch broomstick in hand.

CHARMING

Are you Baba Yaga?

BABA YAGA

Have you come of your own free will, or were you sent?

SNOW WHITE

We come of our own free will.

Baba Yaga glares at them. Then, seemingly reluctantly, she nods her head and ushers them inside. Snow and Charming walk through the gate and enter her hut.


INT. BABA YAGA'S HUT – DAY – CONTINUOUS

The hut is a mess, cluttered to the brim with knick-knacks and cauldrons and the like. Snow and Charming examine their surroundings as Baba Yaga closes the door.

Baba Yaga sets down her broomstick and goes over to a shelf, where she takes down a cup and saucer. When Baba Yaga does not speak, Snow clears her throat.

SNOW WHITE

There is something we wish to ask of you.

Baba Yaga ignores her and continues about her business.

SNOW WHITE (CONT'D)

The Evil Queen plans to cast a dark curse over the Enchanted Forest. We need a way to stop her. Anything-a spell, a counter-curse.

Baba Yaga walks past her. She opens a small metal container on the table and extracts a pinch of dried leaves. Snow and Charming look at each other.

CHARMING

Can you help us?

A shrill SHRIEK sounds-Snow and Charming both jump. It was a kettle. Snow and Charming relax, embarrassed, as Baba Yaga removes the kettle from the fireplace. She pours the boiling water into her cup and mixes herself the tea.

BABA YAGA

It is within my power to create such a counter-curse.

(she drinks)

But what are you willing to pay for it?

SNOW WHITE

Anything.


EXT. THE WOODS – DAY

Emma and Regina trek through the woods. Regina holds a map.

EMMA

Have you ever met her?

REGINA

No. I tried once.

EMMA

What happened?

REGINA

Her house kicked me clear out of the forest. The message was rather obvious, and painful.

EMMA

I'm sorry, her house did what?

REGINA

She lived in a house on enchanted chicken legs.

EMMA

Man. You must've really pissed her off.

REGINA

I didn't get the chance! Her stupid chicken-house attacked me before I could even open my mouth.

Emma tries, unsuccessfully, to hide her smile. Then, remembering the situation, she grows serious again.

EMMA

What I don't understand is why Henry was looking for her in the first place. Did he say anything to you in his message?

REGINA

...No, I'm afraid not.


INT. TOWN HALL – DAY

Many members of the community are present, including GRANNY, RUBY, LEROY, ARCHIE, and MOTHER SUPERIOR. Mary Margaret stands at the front of the room.

MARY MARGARET

I'm sure you're all wondering why I called this emergency town meeting. I'll get straight to it. This morning, Henry went on his own to seek out the witch Baba Yaga and we haven't been able to get in touch with him since.

Immediate PANIC is the response. Everyone talks over one another. They SHOUT, ask questions, demand that Mary Margaret protect them. Actors should adlib their lines.

The din shows no signs of quieting, and Mary Margaret grows increasingly tense.

MARY MARGARET (CONT'D)

Everyone, stop!

The townspeople shut up.

MARY MARGARET (CONT'D)

Panicking won't help anyone. Not you, and certainly not Henry. We don't even know yet if Baba Yaga is a threat to anyone but my grandson, so if we could all please get a little perspective here.

Mary Margaret slumps dejectedly. Everyone looks properly contrite. Ruby stands from her seat and goes to Mary Margaret's side, putting a friendly hand on her shoulder.

Mary Margaret smiles at her and stands up straight again.

MARY MARGARET (CONT'D)

The most important thing is that we have warning. We know exactly who we're going up against, and that gives us a headstart. So. Let's discuss strategy.


EXT. BABA YAGA'S CABIN – DAY

Emma and Regina arrive at the cabin Henry found earlier in the day. They walk through the open gate and up to the door. Regina raises a hand.

Before she can knock, it opens to reveal Baba Yaga.

REGINA

I demand the return of my son.

EMMA

We both do. Where's Henry?

BABA YAGA

You want the boy? I'll make you a deal for him.

Regina grits her teeth, almost snarling. She steps forward to shove her way past Baba Yaga and into the cabin.

An invisible MAGIC shield repels her, and Regina is sent FLYING backwards. She lands heavily on the ground. She gets up and brushes herself off angrily before joining Emma at the door again.

Some of Emma's ferocity has faded; she is more wary now.

EMMA

What do you want?

BABA YAGA

If you do three favors for me, I'll return your boy to you, unharmed.

Regina opens her mouth, likely to say something angry and rash. Emma quickly speaks first.

EMMA

We accept. What do you want us to do?

BABA YAGA

Bring me a bouquet of blue roses before night falls. Then we shall see.

Baba Yaga SLAMS the door shut. Emma and Regina share a heavy look.

FADE OUT.

END OF ACT ONE