It was a deafening silence as they walked towards the beach. The castle, while no longer standing thanks to Regina, still had a place that spoke volumes that it was not forgotten. The foundation being one thing for starters. The next were the memories that were forever engraved in Henry and Emma's hearts as they came upon it.
They still did not say anything to each other, choosing instead to sit on the foundation and stare almost emptily out to the ocean. This is perfect, Emma thought to herself sarcastically as she stole a hesitant look at her son next to her. She hadn't felt like this since Henry discovering the truth about Neal; however this had felt worse. Of course it would, he thinks I really didn't want him, she continues to berate herself as she gazes back at the sea, the waves idly lapping the shore and the breeze coming off the water. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out, so she shut it and just sighed, not able to form the words that she wanted to say. After all, how can she say something without it sounding like an excuse or rather without it coming out wrong?
As Emma was in her own mental turmoil, Henry was experiencing his. He sensed Emma watching him and chose to stare out into the water, ignoring those stares. In truth, he didn't know where to begin, or what to even say. He wanted to discuss the stuff that Emma had made Regina sign, but at the same time he knew he had to apologize. Why is this so hard? He asked himself, trying to not let his expression or body language reveal what he was feeling. How did it become this hard? He changed his mental question, shifting his position a bit.
The waves were crashing on the shoreline were almost deafening, and Emma blurted out the first thing that came to her mind, "Do you know how to shoot?"
"What?" Henry asked as the sudden question was unexpected and startled him out of his own drowning thoughts.
"Shoot. You know with a gun? I know your grandfather was teaching you how to use a sword and your grandmother was showing you bow and arrow, I have no idea what exactly Regina or Gold was showing you but-"
"No, I never shot a gun before, nor would I know how." Henry said calmly cutting off Emma's rambling, which was uncommon for her to be rambling. Sure he had seen the abuse to common household objects, but never had seen or heard her ramble. It was unnerving.
Emma's mouth shut and she rubbed the front of her neck nodding. What the hell had possessed her to ask that question? "Are you…going to show me?" Henry asked as he had waited for Emma's response.
This startled Emma out of her own ponderings, "I…could." She answered in the same manner of Henry's hesitance, not knowing where this was headed although the lines of communication was now open so she would take what she could.
Silence loomed again for a few minutes, neither knowing how to proceed. Henry swallowed a lump in his throat now and said, "That would be interesting."
"Sure." Henry said shrugging.
"Cool." Emma finished. A pause, "Do you know where there is a shooting range here?" He looked at her now, and under his gaze she shifted her position a bit, "I mean I lived here for more than a couple years and never seen one."
Henry thought about this, "It never really occurred to me to think about this until you've just mentioned it."
More silence, and Emma couldn't stay seated much longer, "Well no time like the present."
"Wait what?" Henry asked startled as he stood up when Emma did and backed away from her.
Emma looked around, seeing and sensing no one was around, she waved her hand and a small target appeared 5 yards away from them. Emma then took out her 9mm glock, and with another wave of her hand a table appeared with two boxes on it, protective glasses and two ear muffs, "Ok Henry here is what is going to happen," he went over to her, still unsure about this, "I am doing what they show you at the range, always make sure that the gun is not loaded and pointing down range. In other words never point it anywhere that you are not aiming for." She unloaded the clip and then took out the magazine, before setting it on the table.
"Are you sure about this?" Henry asked looking at the gun on the table. He had seen his mother's collection since she had gotten back into town, and it still unnerved him a bit. However this black object on the table screamed something terrible in him, considering this was the same gun that he stared down one time previously.
Emma looked at him and saw his expression and mentally cursed herself for not thinking about how he would feel. She just needed to do something instead of sitting there in complete deafening silence, and in all honesty she thought better when there was noise, "I am." No, she really wasn't, but they needed a distraction and what better way to have a distraction than firing a gun at a target, "I have a silencing ward over the area, so no one can see or hear us." Truth.
Henry nodded, still unsure, but he decided to go with it, "Ok so this thing…" he pointed to the empty magazine on the table.
"Yea the magazine; that is where you load the bullets." She pointed to the two boxes, "However first put these on." She handed him safety glasses and the ear muffs, as he put his gear on, she put her own on (not that she needed to, but she was trying to set a good example right now), "Now, this is how you load up." Showing him the proper technique, she loaded five bullets into the magazine, "Afterwards, you slam the magazine back in with the pad of your hand like this, and then putting your finger on the frame, pull the slash back and release;" the slash locked into place and she made sure to show the movements to match.
Henry listened and watched closely as Emma explained every detail. She then showed him how to properly unload the gun and then made him reload. He swallowed and nodded, she instructed him along the way and encouraged him that he was doing fine, "Ok now you are ready to shoot."
"What?" He asked not knowing if she was serious, "You really want me-"
"Yup, now stand like this." She fixed his posture paying close attention to his foot stance and arm position, "Keep both eyes open and make sure the dot is green of the target and in between that little basket there." She let go of his shoulders and stepped back. Cocking her head to the side she said, "Shift your position to the left a bit more."
"Like this?" He moved just as she said.
"You lowered the gun, raise it a bit but do not tuck your chin. Watch your left elbow, there you go. Now take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax and fire when you are ready."
Henry took a couple of breaths and kept his eye on the target. Swallowing, he fired, "Whoa!" He exclaimed with a smile, "That was awesome! Did you see that?!"
"I did." Emma said smiling back as she approached him, "Keep going and then we will see how you did."
Henry turned to look at her and smiled even wider if that was possible. He turned back to the target and kept firing. Once the magazine was empty, he unloaded it just as Emma told him to do and allowed her to get the target, his smile faded a bit. Most of his rounds missed the target, "Hey kid, you did great." Emma said proudly.
"I missed the target a lot though." He said frowning as he took the paper from her.
"You'll get better the more you practice." Emma stated with a smile.
Henry beamed, "Really? You'll teach me again?"
"Of course. We can make this our new thing if you want." She offered.
"That'll be great." He said, however the momentary air of happiness faded as he remembered why they were out here to begin with as the real world set in, "Although I think we still need to talk."
Emma's own smile faded, "Right."
Silence settled in once more, "But can I see you…" He motioned to the area where his target was. Emma nodded and reloaded in a quick manner. Henry put his safety gear back on just as Emma had waved her hand, this time her own target was 25 yards away, "Can you really make it that far?" He asked.
His answer was a smirk and a comment of, "Oh ye of little faith." He watched as she took a deep breath and then let off ten rounds.
Once her clip was empty, she unloaded and waved her hand, target appearing on the table with ten holes deep in the center, "Wow."
"Eh it's alright." Emma said dismissively. Waving her hand once more, the set up vanished and the area was back to normal, "So I guess we need to talk now."
Henry just kept staring at his mother's target, "How long did it take you do that?" He asked knowing that he was the one now dodging the issue.
Emma sat down back at their spot, "A while. However now that I think about it, I inherited mom's archery skills somehow." Just because she lowered the wards and everything was normal, she still had the area magically secured to give her a sign of unwanted intrusion.
Henry smiled, "I hope I can do that someday."
"With practice you'll do fine." Emma said looking up at the afternoon sky, "This was partially selfish of me actually." Sensing his confusion she continued, "I think I did this for a distraction, but I wanted you to be able to defend yourself."
"So not totally selfish." He stated shrugging. There was a lingering silence again as he took a deep breath, "I am-"
"I am sorry." Emma said suddenly cutting him off, not looking at him instead choosing to look at the late afternoon sky.
Henry was startled as he was staring at her in amazement, "Why are you sorry?"
Emma looked down at the ground this time, finding the sand more interesting, "For everything, for bringing this mess home to us. I honestly do not know what else to say." Then she looked at him seriously, "However I will not, nor will you ever hear me apologize for doing what I must to protect you."
Henry held her gaze before looking away, "I know. I am sorry for saying those horrible things to you." He then looked at her once more, "Can you though at least try to see all of this from my perspective? I mean first you disappear unexpectedly for a year, now you appear and you are like a totally different person. Mom, can you give me a heads up before you go all unfeeling on me and say things to throw those guys off of who I am to you?"
Emma sighed, "I'll try, but kid most of those situations I have to think on the fly, but you should trust me that when I say those things, I do not really mean them."
"Then your fox friend must have taught you those acting skills well, because you are really convincing." He tried to make a small joke, but he could see that it didn't work and that his mother was still frowning at him.
"The abandonment that poor child must feel. To know they are not wanted…just like you were. He is probably wondering why he wasn't good enough for his birth mother, I wonder, how many nights out on the streets you sat up at night thinking that same thing." Damien's words rang in her head louder than anything that she had ever heard in her life. She was watching Henry now, and she noticed how he had somehow shrunk at her analytical gaze, "Do you really feel that way?" She whispered.
"Did you really feel that you were never good enough for me? Do you still feel that way?" She repeated a little louder this time as she turned her body fully so he knew that he had her undivided attention.
Henry looked at her and then looked away, his gaze going to the water as it lapped the shore. To lie or not to lie? His mind rejected the notation knowing that Emma would see through it like a heartbeat, "Admittedly when I was growing up, I did. There were times I would wonder what had happened, if you had even cared about me…I guess whatever questions you had asked yourself, is what I had asked myself." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Emma flinch, and instantly felt bad, "But your situation was so much different than mine. I had the book, and you had no way of knowing the truth."
"It wasn't all that different though. You said it yourself that day, I had to give you your best chance, just like my mom did." Emma said as she turned her gaze to the water now, avoiding Henry's eye contact, "Look while we are on the subject of 'best chances', I need to tell you something." This time she did look at him and took another deep breath, "While you were upstairs, Regina and I had a talk." Henry tried to school his features as Emma recounted the scene that he had eavesdropped on, and he didn't know what was more chilling, the fact that he already had an idea, or the fact that Emma was willingly revealing her failsafe plan to ensure that he still had some type of future.
With Snow and Charming-
Snow was in the middle of feeding Neal, as Charming was preparing a small dinner for the two of them. They hadn't really had a moment to themselves in a long while, and quite honestly now that they were alone, they didn't really know what to say, "So open mic night…never heard of it." Charming stated wanting to strike up a conversation. Half true really, but he never really participated in it (not in cursed memories and of course they never had any real time to do anything after the curse broke the first time…or the other couple times).
"It's fun." Snow said lightly, "It's like the name sounds. Open mic. Sing, recite poetry, play an instrument, stand-up comedy. Whatever you want."
Charming nodded as he stirred the pot of soup, "I take it you've done this?"
"Mary-Margret did this from time to time if she was lonely and desperate." Snow said rolling her eyes, "Snow White never had the time."
"Ah ok." Silence lingered for a moment or two, "So Emma…"
Snow sighed heavily, not knowing if she wanted to talk about their seemingly troubled daughter or not, "Yes?" She asked as she got up to put Neal in his playpen.
"She never alluded to you about any of this?" Charming asked hesitantly.
Snow looked at him through narrow eyes and then a quirked eyebrow, "Seriously?"
He shrugged and held up his hands, one containing the spoon he was using, in a surrender like fashion, "Just asking. I thought that maybe since you two were so close and everything…"
She shook her head and took the spoon from him and stirred their late dinner, before turning the burner off, "No she never alluded to anything like this. Not even when I was Mary-Margret." Then walking around him to get out the bowls and cups, she adds, "I also never pressed her for anything either."
He nods, "Right. And her fight with Henry?" Regina had called them almost immediately after she had left Emma's house. She had filled them in on both Henry and Emma's side of the story, and how she had left Henry with Emma since he had wanted to talk to her.
Needless to say, Snow and Charming's already slightly broken shared heart from all this, cracked further for their daughter and grandson. Snow was lost in thought about this, especially since she had a nagging feeling Regina was hiding something from them; something important, "It was bound to happen sooner or later I hate to admit. Emma hasn't really been herself since coming back."
Charming nodded his head, knowing exactly where her train of thought was before she had answered, "Was she like this before the first curse broke?"
"Worse actually." Snow said as they sat down to eat a bit, "However we still have a lot to talk about, and we keep getting sidelined."
Her answer was met with acknowledged silence as they focused on their meal. Charming lost in his own thoughts. He knew what Snow was saying was true, but at the same time he couldn't help but feel that it was sort or intentional. How did that saying go? The less they knew the better? He wanted to voice this fact, but he knew that Snow would say 'bull-shit' and proceed to tell him all the reasons why they should be in the know.
Then there was that thing with Gold when they had tried to cross the town line, about how Emma was still connected to the Dark Ones somehow, could that be also part of the problem too? "David?" He shook his head as he heard Snow calling his name rather frustratingly.
"I was talking to you, but you spaced out on me." She explained, then looking concerned, she asked, "Are you ok?"
"Yea." He responded, "I was just thinking."
He hesitated a bit further, but then explained his thought process and how everything seemed to connect back to Emma and the dagger once more. Snow frowned and put her spoon down, and pushed her empty bowl away from her, "I was actually thinking that myself. It is also something that I wanted to bring up to Emma."
"And how would we do that?" He asked her as he too pushed his stuff away from him and leaned back in his chair, arms crossed, "She hasn't been all that receptive."
Snow's frown deepened, "I actually think she has in all honesty. I mean guarded yes, but as far as talking with us and communicating, she hasn't been all that bad."
"True," he said in agreement as he leaned forward, "but she hasn't been in control emotionally either at times."
Yes that is a problem, Snow thought to herself as she thought of the times Emma's emotional attitude was thrown into question each time they broached a dark subject, "I guess that is another problem we have to add to the list then." Her eyes flickered to the microwave. It read quarter to six. She then looked at Neal and took a deep breath, "Well no time like the present."
"Wait what?" Charming asked surprised as she had gotten up and started clearing the table.
"We are going to clean up, and go see Emma." She said as he followed her lead, "We cannot keep doing this. Everything needs to come out in the open now. No more interruptions and no more beating around the bush." She spun around at his light touch of her shoulder, "No more Charming; I mean it."
"I know you do, but should we really encroach on Henry's time?" He asked slowly and deliberately.
Snow's blazing look dimmed slightly, "We'll call first. In fact while I clean up, you call her and see how they are doing. Then we will go over."
Charming still looked unsure, but seeing the fire back in his wife's eyes, he knew it was best not to argue with her. Not that he could anyway because she already had her back to him and already started cleaning. So taking a deep breath he went into their bedroom and picked his phone up and found Emma's number. His finger was ready to press send, when he had another thought. Stealing a glance towards the kitchen, he went to his text messages.
Choosing three people, he sent the message and waited.
The first response: I do not like this, but I was thinking that we'll have to talk to the crocodile eventually.
The second response: This had better be good. I am bringing Robin.
The third response: I am also not liking this, but alright. Be here in fifteen minutes otherwise deal is off.
He nodded and looked back to the kitchen and found Emma's number and hit send. The phone rang a few times, "Hey David, something wrong?" The usage of his name signaled that she was in a public place.
"Hey Emma, and no nothing is wrong. Look Mary and I want to talk to you. Can we come by a bit early? Like say seven?" He looked towards the kitchen again.
There was a pause, "Sure. Henry and I are at the beach right now. I'll text you when we leave. Talk to you later." The phone disconnected.
Charming sighed and put his phone away as Snow called out, "You get through to her?"
"Yea, but first we are going to make a detour. Grab Neal." He said.
"What are we doing?" Snow asked as she did what she was told.
They left the apartment and went to the car, "Before we see Emma, we have to see Rumplestiltskin."
"Why?" Snow asked alarmed, "I thought we agreed that trying to get him to help us over the town line was the last time we would talk to him."
Charming got in the driver's seat, and Snow climbed into the passenger seat after hooking Neal up in the car seat, "I know, but if we are going to talk to her about this Dark One thing, we might want to see what our illustrious Dark One has to say about this."
Snow nodded as he pulled away, however she couldn't help but think: how much is this going to get worse before it gets better?