AN: Here's the latest chapter! Thanks for all the great feedback! You're in for a quite a ride with this chapter too so enjoy and please consider leaving a review. They are very much appreciated.
Also, check out my new story, Dreaming Out Loud. Premise:
"If you could have heard our voices, would it have made a difference?" Based on Snow's comment to Emma in season 5. What if Emma had been able to hear her parent's voices? What if she'd been able to see them in her dreams each night? How would things be different? This is that story. Snowing, Charming family, Swan Believer, Rumbelle, eventual Swanfire, and Golden Mad Charming BroTP.
In present time, six months have passed since the Shattered Sight curse. It's late August 2013 in the story at this time.
Here are present day ages:
Leo and Eva: 20
Roland Hood: 7
Thanks for all the great reviews. Here's individual responses:
Barratta Jennifer: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the chapter.
Izzypirelli: I know, poor Leo can't catch a break. I'm glad you like the story so much and it's a bright spot in your Mondays. It's nice to hear that I manage to balance the family, romance, and action.
Magicalxprincess: I know, I feel bad for Leo too right now. I know it's rough watching him suffer, but I promise he'll eventually find his happy ending. So glad you enjoy everything, even if you have to wait until Monday. I've been known to do the same with a new chapter of a great fanfiction. I've often used that as a reward for "adulting". Glad to know my chapters are your rewards. :)
Austenphile: Glad you liked protective Snowing, there's more of that to come. Cruella is fun to write. I always felt there might be something there with Tinkfire too. As for Luka, you're right, Leo can do better and I think you'll find he's starting to see that.
Number Ten: I know, poor Leo. He is having a rough time. As for the events in the show, honestly it's been a while. I skip a lot of 4B on my re-watches.
Beth1980: I know, Rumple just can't help himself. Yep, this is the second time he's used Summer against her parents, indirectly anyway. It's Luka. My word processor replaced Luka with Luke. I thought I fixed them all, but probably missed a couple. Leo is definitely on a journey find what will make him happy. Who that will be with remains to be seen. Glad you like Ella running a daycare. I agree that it's a natural thing for her. I know, both Blue and Rumple are shady and hate each other, so I figured Blue wouldn't approve since he's the son of the Dark One and Rumple wouldn't approve cause she's a fairy. :)
Guest: Snow is not out of character, you are wrong. It is not out of character for her to be scared that Leo might get hurt. Luka can still hurt him even if they are not in a relationship. It happens to people all the time when there are feelings involved. The Chernabog works here, because I have changed it so it does. My version of the Chernabog is different. It's a Titan and I explained why it works in the back story. You will see that in what's to come. Sorry, I don't mean to be short, but you were a little condescending. As for Camelot, the reason they will go to Camelot actually has nothing to do with Rumple and a different reason entirely. Hope you can continue to enjoy.
Guest 2: Glad you love the story! It's no secret that 4B is my least favorite arc. I promise you a better story than we got on the show. And you're right, Leo deserves better than Luka or Penny.
Andria: Glad you liked the fluff moments we had before all the danger. Summer is okay and Leo has a bit of self discovery to do, before he can really end up with anyone. I will say that you will see him start to realize that Luka probably isn't the one.
SaviorEmmaJones: No worries, glad you're still able to enjoy when you have time. I wouldn't count Leo and Elsa out just yet. She may be in Arendelle, but there was definitely something there. I may or may not go that way in the future, I haven't decided yet. Leo/Elsa seems to have a lot of support though. ;)
sexystarwarslover: I know, poor Leo. He's going through a lot and I'm afraid I put him through even more in the chapter. I'm really not trying to torture him, but that's what's happening. Glad you liked the fluff scenes and Snow with the camera. Cruella is really fun to write and no, she and kids don't mix. Yep, I had to keep the "sea bitch and pound puppy" line. :) Yep, Maleficent is back and Esme isn't being very fair at all. Glad you're enjoying so much. I always look forward to your incredible reviews. :)
Finding You Always
Chapter 96: Bad Connection
Cruella huffed and paced around the cabin.
"I can't believe this. Six months in the lap of luxury and here I am back in the damn woods!" she complained. Ursula rolled her eyes.
"So exactly where do you plan to get the magic we need to fill the hat?" the sea witch asked.
"The convent is full of fairies. They'll make an excellent addition to start. But we could really use someone with true love's magic flowing through their veins," Rumple said, as he waved his hand over the looking glass to observe various parts of town.
"Ugh…a convent. How dreadful," Cruella commented.
"So we need the Savior. If she's as powerful as you say, how are we going to get to her? Especially with those two idiots always hovering around," Ursula asked.
"We may not need the Savior...at least not yet. There is a more convenient target available," Gold said, as they spied Leo Nolan alone, driving home in his father's truck.
"Oh...that must be chisel chin junior," Cruella purred.
"Yes...also a product of true love. You want something to do, Cruella? I think this might be perfect for you," he said.
They sat in the living room, as Eva passed out the coffee.
"Thank you dear and may I say, you are as lovely as your Mother," he told her. She nodded and smiled at the elderly man.
"It warms my heart to know, that despite all my failures, that you have regained your happiness, Princess Snow," he said graciously.
"We were lucky. Fate smiled on us and somehow, Charming ended up outside the curse. It allowed Emma to find him when she was still a child," Snow said.
"I can tell you for certain that it was not fate that smiled upon you, but Merlin himself," the Sorcerer revealed. Snow and Charming exchanged a glance.
"Then it was him…" Emma recalled.
"Yes...the man that appeared to you when you just five years old and gave you the book was none other than the greatest Sorcerer ever to live himself," the apprentice regaled.
"I'm not sure I understand. What did we do to gain his favor?" Charming asked. The Apprentice smiled thinly.
"The Goddess Aphrodite chose the pair of you, because you have the most powerful love to exist in over a millennium. Merlin is not often impressed by mortals, but by a pair that creates light magic between them? He found himself quite intrigued, indeed," the apprentice said.
"When you made the heartbreaking choice to give your daughter up to save the Kingdom...Merlin decided to reward you and as a result, he nurtured Emma's belief from a very young age and set her on the path to find you much sooner than the Dark One predicted," he continued.
"His faith in you both and Emma was not misplaced. However, it was quite in me. I am afraid I have failed yet again," he finished regrettably.
"You mean the hat. They have it," Snow said. He nodded.
"Yes, but I am afraid it is much worse than that," he stated.
"Before they used my wand to create a doorway to this world, the three of them traveled to Bald Mountain," the apprentice replied.
"Wait...three of them? We only saw Ursula and Cruella," Charming said.
"Zelena was with them too. They needed her power to operate my wand and open the hat. The other two aren't powerful enough for that," the apprentice revealed.
"You didn't see my sister with them?" Regina asked.
"No…" Snow said.
"If Rumpelstiltskin is doing what I think he is...then it is very likely he absorbed Zelena into the hat once he had it," the apprentice replied.
"And what exactly is my papa doing?" Neal asked. The apprentice gave him a sympathetic gaze.
"He wishes to use it to cleave himself from the dagger. Doing such will allow him to retain his power outside of Storybrooke and he will never be controlled by it again," he explained.
"Then where exactly does my sister come in?" Regina asked.
"In order to cleave himself from the dagger, he must fill the hat full to capacity with magic, light or dark, it matters not. But that is not perhaps the most dangerous thing we are facing," he said.
"Then what is?" Emma asked.
"The Chernabog. They have brought it here, inside the hat. They plan to sacrifice a product of the truest love to raise this monster and use it to take control of everything," he revealed. Snow gasped.
"They're after Emma…" Snow cried, as Charming squeezed her hand.
"The Savior would be their goal, but any product of your true love will suffice," he warned. Snow and Charming glanced at each other, nearly breaking under the reality that one or all of their children were in the gravest of danger.
"Leo...he's probably on his way home. He's alone…" David said, as he shot out of his seat.
"I'm coming with you. Regina…" Snow started to say, but the former queen put her hands up.
"I'll stay here with the kids. Go," she urged.
"I'll call Thomas. We'll start a full sweep of the town. We need to find these...Queens of Darkness sooner rather than later," Xander said. Regina nodded.
"I'll call Robin. He knows the woods. Ursula can adapt well anywhere, but Cruella is completely inept in the woods. She'll be easy to track if that's where they are," Regina said, as she took out her phone.
"Wilby...Graham….let's go," David called, as the wolf and the dog followed them out.
Leo drove home slowly, a little lost in thought about his encounter with Luka. He had done it again. He jumped in to help Luka and Esme immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was the one that had done something wrong. He had done exactly what Elsa had told him not to and she was right. Luka only wanted him when he needed a hero to save him. A flash caught his attention and he was startled, as he saw fire coming at him from the side. He swerved to get away and the truck crashed into a ditch. He bumped his head on the steering wheel and his vision blurred, as he heard an angry cawing.
"Firestorm…" he uttered, as the Phoenix shrieked angrily at him from outside the cracked windshield.
"What's gotten into you?" he asked in confusion, as he stumbled out of the truck.
"I think I'm what's gotten into him, dahling," Cruella said, as she blew on the bird and he watched her magic take control of him.
"Good little birdy," Cruella cooed.
"Firestorm...don't listen to her," Leo cried, as he held the wound on his bleeding forehead.
"You'll do exactly as I say, bird. Now carry him back to the place I told you so Mummy can absorb this handsome, charming boy into the hat," she cooed, as she pet Leo's blonde head. But an arrow clipped her hand and she yelped, pulling it away.
"Step away from our son, you psychotic bitch!" Snow growled, as she trained an arrow on the fur clad woman. David moved in and knelt beside their son and slowly pulled him back.
"Oh...I see you brought puppies for me to play with," she purred, as her magic swirled toward Graham and Wilby. But Leo was ready this time and a pulse of blue power nullified her own green magic. Cruella looked astonished, as her trance on the bird was broken. It cocked its head and cawed pitifully, as it landed next to Leo, nudging him affectionately.
"It's okay boy, it's not your fault," Graham howled and bared his teeth at Cruella.
"You can control animals too," she uttered.
"I don't control them...I don't need to," he spat, as he felt woozy. The Phoenix bird cawed angrily at her and rained fire down, as Cruella ran from him.
"Oh...you horrid beast! You singed my coat! It's ruined!" she ranted.
"Stay where you are. You're under arrest!" David shouted, as he aimed his gun at the woman. But Maleficent appeared in a puff of violet smoke. Cruella smirked smugly.
"Not today, Sheriff Chisel Chin," Cruella leered.
"Maleficent…" Snow uttered, as she put her arms protectively around her son.
"Take care of your child," the other woman said simply, as she and Cruella disappeared.
"Mom…" Leo said, as a wave of nausea swept him. David looked in his eyes.
"You need to stay awake. I think you have a concussion," David told him.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," Leo cried, as he rolled over and David rubbed his back, as he threw up.
"Definitely a concussion," he said.
"The ambulance is on the way. Eva and Paul are meeting us at the hospital," Snow said, as she hung up the phone and rubbed their son's back.
"Sorry about the truck, Dad," Leo groaned.
"Do you really think I give a damn about the truck?" David countered, as he ruffled his son's blonde hair. He hummed and started to close his eyes.
"No, no, no, baby, you need to stay awake," Snow cried, as she cupped his face in her hands. The ambulance arrived to Leo was loaded into it. Emma and Xander arrived, just as the stretcher was slid into the vehicle.
"Oh God...Leo," Emma cried.
"He's going to be okay. We think it's just a concussion," David soothed.
"We'll follow you to the hospital," Emma said. They nodded, as Snow and Charming climbed into the ambulance.
"Come on boys," Xander called to Wilby and Graham, as he put them in the backseat of the cruise. They got in and followed the ambulance.
Cruella and Maleficent appeared in the cabin.
"What in blazes was that?!" Cruella exclaimed.
"I'd watch your tone," Maleficent warned.
"You could have easily blasted those two idiots and taken the boy," Ursula stated.
"And he would have been a nice addition to the hat, but still not enough power. We need the Savior," Maleficent countered.
"Are you sure you still have the stomach for this, dearie?" Rumple challenged. She glared at him. She didn't trust him even a little.
"All I care about is getting my daughter back," she stated evenly. They didn't look very convinced though.
"And I'll do whatever necessary. But if absorbing the Savior gets us to our goal faster, than that's what we should be focused on," Maleficent added.
"Then we need a pretty good plan to get her without her parents and the others interfering," Ursula said.
"Then it's time to release him, which I can do if I focus the dagger's energy on the pen," Rumple surmised.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Cruella asked impatiently.
"Preferably for the town to be distracted with something else. For now...we stand down," Rumple stated.
The steady beeping of the heart rate monitor pulled Leo from his slumber and he opened his bleary eyes. His throat felt like a desert and he glanced around the hospital room. His parents were curled up together on the bench seat in his room.
"Hey...you're awake," Emma said, as she crept in with a tray of coffees. She set it down on the table.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, as she came beside him.
"Fine...thirsty though," he replied, as she got his cup and poured water from the small pitcher, before putting the straw to his lips.
"Slowly…" she warned, as he sipped.
"Have Mom and Dad been here all night?" he asked.
"Of course they have," she replied.
"I'm such an idiot," he lamented.
"Hey...no, you were attacked," Emma insisted.
"Not about that. But the reason I was even out in the first place," he said.
"Oh...you mean Luka," she surmised.
"I did exactly what Elsa told me not to. Luka called and I dropped everything to swoop in to save him," Leo spat, disgusted with himself.
"What exactly were you saving him from?" Emma asked.
"Aiden hit him," Leo revealed.
"What?" Emma asked in disbelief.
"Yep, but he wouldn't let me arrest him. He was passed out drunk. Luka broke up with him and just wanted a ride back to his Mom's," he explained.
"Okay, well that just sounds like you were being a good friend," Emma reasoned.
"Yeah, except then I walked him up to the apartment and we were talking. I found out he gave me the cold shoulder, because his Mom didn't want him mixed up with me," he revealed.
"Why?" Emma asked.
"Well...our family seems to find dangerous situations. I guess I can't really blame her for not wanting Luka mixed up with me," he replied. She shrugged.
"I guess...you're being way more mature about it than I would be. But you know, if you and Luka are meant to be, then it's going to happen no matter what she does," Emma reasoned.
"Pretty sure we're not meant to be," he muttered.
"Why do you say that?" she asked.
"I don't know...he said he broke up with Aiden, but that doesn't mean he won't go back to him. He only calls me when he needs someone to save him. And like the idiot I am...I rushed right back in," Leo replied.
"Stop...you are not an idiot. You want to help people...and animals. That is never stupid," she chided.
"I guess. But you didn't see the look on Esme's face when she saw me there and then the bruise on Luka's face," he said.
"She can't seriously believe you did that!" Emma hissed.
"No...but she was pretty sure I caused it. She'll never be okay with me, Em. Which means Luka would have to eventually choose between us and I won't let him do that," he replied. Emma felt her heart break for her little brother and put her hand on his shoulder.
"If Luka lets a guy like you get away, then he's not good enough for you," Emma said.
"You're my sister. You have to say stuff like that," he joked.
"No...I don't. And because I'm your sister, that makes it true," she said.
"Thanks," he replied, as Paul and Eva came in, just as Snow and Charming stirred.
"Honey...how are you feeling?" Snow cooed.
"I'm okay, Mom," he assured.
"You had a concussion. Eva healed it last night and so if everything comes back normal on the exam this morning, you should be able to take him home," Paul said.
"Okay...we'll step out and be right outside," Charming said, as he squeezed his son's shoulder.
"We love you, baby," Snow said.
"I love you guys too," Leo replied.
I'm going to check in with my Dad at the station," David said, as he pecked her on the lips, before going to the lobby to make a call. Snow sighed deeply and took a long sip of the coffee Emma had brought for them, trying to take a moment to calm. Unfortunately, calm wasn't meant to be as she saw Luka and Esme approached. She may have pretended to be asleep when Leo and Emma were talking, but she had heard everything.
"Good morning, Madam Mayor," Luka greeted respectfully.
"Luka...Esme…" Snow greeted coolly and they definitely detected the iciness in her voice. She always tried to be nice, but there was only so much a mother would take until the pleasantries were suspended. Any anyone knew that Snow White was fiercely protective of her children.
"Is Leo okay?" Luka asked.
"He's going to be fine. Believe me, neither his father nor I will be letting him far from our sight while these witches are loose," Snow said. Luka smiled in relief.
"I'm glad. I know it's a lot to ask, but do you think I could see him?" he asked.
"Dr. Sakura is giving him an exam now and then hopefully we'll be able to take him home," Snow replied.
"Oh...well that's good," Luka said awkwardly.
"Honey, why don't you go get us some coffee," Esme suggested. He nodded, eager to get away from the obvious tension between the two women.
"Snow...I'm sorry. Last night, I jumped to conclusions," Esme said.
"To say the least," Snow spat bitterly. Esme sighed
"I'm trying to apologize," she snapped.
"And I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that you think my Leo could ever hurt another person in that way," Snow retorted.
"I would never think Leo would hit my son, but it is completely plausible for me to think some villain that was after your son and my Luka got caught in the crossfire. Look at where your son is!" Esme spat.
"You think I don't know? You think I'm not terrified for my children?" Snow spat back.
"Then you understand my hesitation in having your son anywhere near mine!" Esme defended. Snow sighed and lowered her voice.
"Your son asked mine for help, because the person you automatically deemed a safer choice than my son hurt yours," Snow stated, letting that sobering reality sink in for the other woman for a moment.
"Regardless of your feelings about Leo, he hasn't hurt your son. But yours has hurt mine...twice now so I don't think you'll have to worry about the danger prone, your words, Charming family causing any kind of calamity for him or you again," Snow said. It was a bit cold, but this was seemingly exactly what the other woman had bargained for. She turned away and went back into her son's room.
"Is he okay?" Snow asked worriedly. Paul and Eva smiled.
"He'll be fine. I'd like him to take it easy today, but you can take him home," Paul said.
"Thank you," she said.
"Charmings have heard heads. Between you and Daddy, I'm pretty sure our family holds the record for visits to the Emergency Room," Eva said wearily..
"Yeah, that's a record I'd like to see us not break," Emma commented.
"You and me both, sweetie," Snow agreed, as Charming came rushing in.
"Emma...we've got another body," he said.
"This guy is on a rampage. Who's the vic?" Emma asked.
"The biggest abuser in town...Stromboli himself. But I think we've got the killer, or at least, we will," David said.
"Who is it?" Snow asked. David hesitated for a moment, knowing Luka was outside the room.
"Aiden Slade. He was found by Stromboli's bouncers, passed out next to the body in the alley behind his club. He woke up next to the body, freaked out, and ran into the woods, before they could pin him down," David said.
"That's not possible!" Luka cried, as he burst into the room. David gave him a hard look.
"He woke up next to the body, covered in blood. When is the last time you saw him?" David questioned.
"Uh...last night around ten when Leo drove me home. But he was passed out!" Luka protested.
"Yeah...well, he got up," Emma commented. David kissed Snow quickly and they hurried out.
"Be careful!" Snow called, as they hurried out to the cruiser.
"Trouble?" Killian asked, as he was just arriving.
"Yeah, get in," Emma said, as he hopped in the backseat.
The last memory Aiden Slade had was getting rough with Luka in his apartment. He'd been drunk, but he thought Luka was being unreasonable. He had immediately jumped to the conclusion that Luka was holding out because of seeing Leo Nolan earlier at the diner. Aiden wasn't stupid. He saw the way they looked at each other. He got jealous and punched his boyfriend, before stumbling to the couch.
That was why his next memory was so confusing and frightening. He woke up in the alley behind Stromboli's, covered in blood next to a dead body; that of Stromboli himself. He didn't remember anything, but it was all too clear the picture that was being painted of him, so he was running. He had to hide and then find a way out of town somehow. But that wasn't going to happen, as he felt someone tackle him to the ground.
The three of them met Xander by the toll bridge.
"He's heading up the ridge I think. He has no place to go and he's probably suffering from a hell of a hangover. He won't get far," Xander said.
"Drunk?" David asked.
"He was...I can still smell it on him. Plus, I know the symptoms of the morning after. But I got this from the scene," Xander said, holding up a ripped bandana.
"Come here boy," David called, as he gave Wilby the scent and the dog took off with them following.
They spotted him about half a mile from the toll bridge, stumbling along. Wilby barked and David lunged, tackling the suspect to the ground.
"I didn't do it!" Auden cried.
"And every shred of evidence suggests otherwise. You're under arrest," David growled, as he cuffed him and then yanked him to his feet.
"I'm telling the truth...I didn't kill anyone!" Aiden protested.
"Then how do you explain waking up next to the body covered in blood?" Emma asked.
"I...I don't know! I don't remember!" he pleaded, as they walked him back to the cruiser and put him in the car, before they headed back to the station.
Cruella huffed, as she drove her ridiculously flashy car through the rough terrain and back to Gold's cabin. She skidded to a halt, after almost barreling into a tree and got out. She grabbed the brown bag in the passenger seat and stormed inside.
"Always the damn woods! Why can we never hide out in a five star hotel?" she complained.
"Where the hell have you been?" Ursula demanded to know.
"Relax dahling...mummy just needed her nippy bottle," she replied, as she pulled out a bottle of gin from the paper bag and unscrewed the cap, before taking a long drink.
"You're supposed to be keeping a low profile! You went into a store to buy booze?" Ursula cried. Cruella rolled her eyes.
"Don't worry, I kept a low profile and as a bonus, I met someone that can help me with my fur problem," Cruella replied.
"What are you talking about?" Ursula asked.
"Well, that horrid feathered beast destroyed my beautiful mink coat, but I happened upon a young woman that knows someone good with a knife. I gave her a wad of cash and I'll soon have a beautiful, exotic new fur," Cruella explained excitedly. Ursula smirked and shook her head.
"You're an evil bitch," she commented.
"Thank you dahling, I do so love a compliment," Cruella replied.
David stood outside the interrogation room, while Emma talked to him.
"You're having doubts that he's our guy, aren't you?" Xander asked. David looked at his father and sighed.
"He just doesn't fit the profile...unless this cowering drunk visage is an act," David replied.
"I don't know...that would be a pretty good act. The person that did this, based on the way they were killed; the sheer violence of it, suggests that this person will proudly boast about their kills if caught," Xander said.
"Are we wrong on the profile?" David asked. Xander shrugged.
"Anything is possible, especially in this town, I suppose," Xander said. But something still felt off. This kid was a punk for sure, with a temper and a mean streak. But cold blooded serial killer was a hell of a leap from that," Xander added.
"Okay...if he's not our guy, then how did he get to our crime scene?" David asked.
"Well, Luka said he was passed out drunk. But that's doesn't mean he didn't get up during the night at some point," Xander reasoned, as Emma came out of the room.
"He either really doesn't know anything or he's just not going to tell us," she said.
"Okay...I'll go canvas the Rabbit Hole and Stromboli's to see if anyone can put him out and about after midnight," Xander said.
"Okay, Emma and I will toss his place and get forensics to meet us there," David said, as they left the station.
Esme poured water in the trough and then started sweeping around the barn, as she helped Quasimodo at the stables, all while venting and telling him the whole story.
"You're very quiet, which means you think I'm wrong," she deduced, as she finished the story.
"Esme...you know I care for you, but yes, I think you misjudged Leo. I've spent a lot of time with him. He's a wonderful young man," Quasi told her. Esme sighed.
"I know...he's a perfectly...well, charming young man. But you've seen the insanity that surrounds that family. My Luka could have been in that truck with Leo last night," she fretted.
"Yes...but I'm not sure that other young man is being good to him. Do you really think Luka is safer with Aiden?" he countered.
"I know, believe me, I don't like Aiden either. I swear Luka started dating him to torture me...or prove a point," she muttered. Quasi put a hand on her shoulder.
"I know what you and Luka have been through and why you're so leery. But the Charmings aren't your enemies," he reminded. She nodded and they were interrupted when they heard Firestorm caw loudly in alarm.
"What's wrong with him?" Esme asked.
"I...I don't know. We better go see," Quasi replied, as they followed the bird.
David and Emma finished tossing Aiden's place and weren't having any luck finding anything incriminating.
"This guy have an impressive stash of booze. Whiskey, vodka, rum…" Emma mentioned, as she looked through the liquor cabinet.
"Well, that explains why he smelled like a liquor store since he has one," David quipped, as he rummaged through the desk, finding a family photo.
"Hey...he has a sister around his age, right?" he asked. Emma nodded and looked at the photo.
"Yeah...that's Angelica. She works at the grocery store. I saw her there the other day," Emma replied.
"Maybe we should talk to her. She might know something," he mentioned.
"Yeah...I don't think there's anything to be found here," Emma agreed, just as his phone rang.
"Sheriff," he answered.
"David..it's Quasimodo. I'm sorry to bother you. I know you have a lot on your hands right now," the hunchback said regrettably.
"It's okay...what's going on?" he asked.
"I'm afraid I have a situation at the reserve. One of the big cats...a white tiger was skinned," he said sadly. David sighed and closed his eyes.
"I'll be right there," he said, as he hung up.
"What now?" Emma asked.
"That was Quasimodo...one of the white tigers was skinned for its pelt," David replied.
"Oh my God…" Emma cried. He clenched his teeth, knowing instantly who was responsible.
"Wait...did Cruella do this?" she asked.
"Not herself, but she always manages to find someone who will and pays them handsomely to do so," he replied.
"God...this is going to kill Leo," Emma said, as his phone rang again.
"Snow...is everything okay?" he answered.
"Yeah...call me crazy, but I suddenly felt an overwhelming wave of anxiety and dread," she answered. He allowed himself a small smile.
"Wow...I'm not sure I'll ever get used to that, but in a good way," he said with reverence.
"What's happened, my love?" she asked.
"It's not good...have you taken Leo home yet?" he asked.
"Paul is getting his release papers right now," she replied.
"Meet me at the reserve and I'll explain everything," he said.
"Okay...I love you," she replied.
"I love you too, my darling," he said, as he hung up.
"I'll go talk to Angelica while you handle this," Emma said. He sighed.
"Dad…" she prompted.
"Just...after what happened to Leo, I'm not sure I'm comfortable letting you out of my sight," he admitted. She softened and hugged him.
"I'll be fine...I promise," she replied. He didn't like it, but he knew she could take care of herself.
"Okay...just be careful and call me at the first sign of trouble," he pleaded.
"I will. Hug Leo for me. He's going to need you and Mom the most right now," she said. They got into the cruiser and Emma drove off, with the intention of dropping him at the reserve...