A/N: I've been getting all kinds of ideas for Once Upon a Time, and I finally decided to try my hand at writing some fanfic. I've been a fanfic writer for years in other fandoms, but I hope my first foray into OUAT is a good one.
As usual, none of the Once Upon a Time characters belong to me.
Killian traipsed through the woods, moving with more certainty than he had earlier in the day. He and David had spent hours scouring the woods for any sign of Emma, wanting desperately to find her and bring her home. Their search had proved fruitless as they'd found no sign of Emma or her yellow Bug, forcing them to return back to the loft.
Snow had invited Killian to stay for dinner, but he declined saying he would get a bite to eat at Granny's and then go to bed so he could begin his search again at first light. She had given him a smile that was half sympathetic, half grateful. But he hadn't missed the worry in her eyes. They were all worried about Emma because while they knew she could handle herself through the night in the woods, she shouldn't be alone right now.
That thought was what led him to being out in the woods after nightfall. He'd eaten a quick sandwich at Granny's and then headed out again, pausing only to grab a flashlight to assist with his nighttime search. There was no way he was going to let her spend the night in the woods, not when he knew where he would find her.
When he and David had searched the woods earlier, they had split up which had allowed them to cover a lot of ground. There was quite a bit of woods they hadn't been able to search before the sun began to set, but Killian had passed a particular part of the woods that had generated a feeling in his gut. He would've pursued it earlier if he hadn't been on his way to meet up with David. That, and he was certain it would take some time to persuade Emma to come back to town with him.
So here he was now, steadily climbing up a hill as he did his best not to allow the fallen leaves and twigs cause his footing to slip. Even though he didn't have a clear idea where Emma was, he somehow knew she was in the area. He was nearly to the top of the hill when he heard a low rumbling sound. While he hadn't spent much time in this land, he'd been here long enough to recognize it as the idling of an engine.
Killian quickened his steps, knowing that the hours of searching for Emma were about to pay off. Sure enough, once he reached the top of the hill and made a right his flashlight clearly illuminated tire tracks in the ground. They led him through a sparse bit of trees before they opened to a clearing, and there was Emma's yellow Bug glowing like a beacon under the moonlight.
"Emma!" he called, pitching his voice loud enough so she would hear it but soft enough it wouldn't draw unnecessary attention to them. With the Snow Queen still out there somewhere, it wouldn't be smart to attract her to their location. Not when they weren't ready to face her.
Emma wasn't anywhere in sight, and he could only assume she was in the car as the engine continued its idle humming. And sure enough, the door opened and she got out of the car looking in his direction and squinting a bit.
He realized she was having difficulty seeing him since she was likely only seeing the light the flashlight in his hand was emitting. So he lowered it and walked closer so they were standing face to face. Though he forced himself not to crowd her, knowing that doing so would just make her run in an effort to protect him from her uncontrollable magic.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
Killian turned off the flashlight and put it in the back pocket of his jeans. The moonlight was more than enough to allow them to see each other. He gave her a look. "C'mon, Swan. You already know the answer to that."
Her lips set into a frown, worry lines creasing her forehead. "You shouldn't be here."
"Neither should you," he replied easily. "Your family is worried about you, and-"
"And they're safer without me around. At least until I get control of my powers."
"And you're going to do that here? Alone in the woods?" He shot her a doubtful look. "Come back to town with me. We can help you."
Killian reached out his hand, trying to telegraph everything he was thinking and feeling through his eyes. He wasn't afraid of her, and she didn't need to be afraid of hurting him. But she shook her head and took a step back. He knew better than to be hurt by the action, but it still stung.
"I can't risk something else happening." She looked down at her hands, holding them out in front of her like they were dangerous weapons. Then she looked up at him. "I nearly killed you and if it wasn't for my dad…"
Killian sighed, letting his hand drop. "It was an accident, Swan. You weren't trying to hurt anyone, much less kill. I know you're scared, but this isn't the way to deal with this. We can get through this. Together."
Emma didn't look at all convinced. In fact, she looked more vulnerable than he could remember her being. The fear on her face made her look much younger, and it made his protective side rise to the surface. If it was up to her, she would force herself to stay out here and isolate herself for as long as it took until she was sure she was no longer a risk to her family's safety. Something that would allow the Snow Queen quite the advantage, and he wouldn't allow it.
"Emma, please." He took a step forward and reached out for her hand. She tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her. He clasped her hand and then threaded his fingers through hers even as she struggled to pull away.
"Killian, don't," she pleaded, still trying to dislodge his hand. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't," he said confidently and gave a quick yank so she all but fell against his chest. Once there, he released her hand and wrapped his arms around her back, trapping her against his body. She was stiff and resisted at first, but he refused to let go and eventually she relaxed.
He felt the warm puff of air on his skin as she sighed. "How do you do that?" she mumbled into his neck.
She pulled away from him and this time he let her because she kept her hands locked together behind his neck. Her green eyes bore into his own. "You always know just what to say to make me feel like I'm capable of anything."
Killian stared back at her, his expression firm. "You are capable of anything. I know your magic scares you, but trust me when I tell you being out here alone is not the way to figure out how to control it. That is exactly what the Snow Queen wants."
Emma was silent for a long moment, and she nodded to herself like she knew he was right. Then she completely untangled herself from him, taking a step back. "Maybe instead of learning to control it, I should be looking for a way to get rid of it."
"The Snow Queen probably wants me because of my magic - because I'm the Savior. If I no longer have magic, I won't be special anymore and maybe she'll leave me alone."
Killian couldn't stop the rush of anger he felt at her words. Anger not directed at her but at the way she'd grown up so alone and unloved that she felt the only thing that made her special was being the Savior.
"Emma, your magic isn't what makes you special," he said firmly. "Neither is being the Savior. You're special because you're you." He paused a moment to let that sink in. "But your magic is part of you, and the sooner you embrace that, the sooner you can regain control over it."
"You really believe that?"
"I've yet to see you fail," he said, repeating words that he'd spoken to her back in Neverland. But they were just as true now as they were then.
She smiled at him and reached for his hand, threading her fingers through his. He couldn't help but smile back, happy that he'd been able to lessen her burden. The fear was still there, hidden behind her smile, but it wasn't controlling her anymore.
"Okay," she said, giving him a little nod. "Let's go home."
Killian grinned. Even though he knew she meant her home, it made his heart swell with hope that she would consider allowing him to become part of it. For now though, he was just happy he could return her to the loft where her parents and son anxiously waited.
Emma sighed. If it was up to her, they would all continue the relaxing morning they'd all had in the loft rather than be here on an endless search for the Snow Queen. Well, that wasn't quite true. They had all agreed that they needed to find the Snow Queen and stop her before she could enact the shattered sight spell Belle had warned them of. Still, it made her yearn for the peaceful feeling that she'd woke with to return.
When Emma had walked into the loft last night with Killian, she'd been nearly bowled over by Henry who had thrown his arms around her and held on tight. She'd hugged him back just as tightly, doing her best to hold back the rise of her emotions just in case it might lead to some accidental magic. It wasn't a solution, but it was the best she had for right now.
After Henry had finally released her, both of her parents had quickly pulled her in for a hug of their own. All the while they had apologized for reacting the way they had and reassuring her that they would do whatever they could to help. Emma had looked up at Killian and he'd given her a knowing smile. Elsa had looked on the whole scene with a sympathetic smile and said that maybe they could figure out how to control their powers together.
They'd all called it a night early. Killian had tried to duck out after the movie they'd all watched together, but Emma had asked him to stay, feeling more at ease with him there. It'd been a weird feeling, but one that she hadn't had the energy to fight for once. Her father had grudgingly let Killian sleep on the couch, but she had been able to see it was mostly for show. He was slowly growing on her parents, and the fact that he'd brought her back home had won him some major points.
No one in the loft was able to sleep once Neal had woken up early that morning, but Emma hadn't minded so much. Not when she was surrounded in the kitchen by her family, a new friend, and her…well, whatever Killian was to her. She'd nearly managed to forget about the Snow Queen until her father had mentioned they should try again to foil her plans to turn the people in the town against each other. And that was how she'd ended up out in the woods with her dad, Killian, and Elsa.
The group was forced to stop as the path they had been following split off in two different directions. "Which way?" Killian asked.
"We should split up," David said. "We'll cover more ground that way."
Emma wasn't too keen on the idea, but she recognized that it would be much faster for them to pair off to search two paths than have everyone stick together and have to double back later. "Okay," she said with a nod. "Hook, you're with me. Elsa, you're with my dad."
Emma was about to take a step forward toward the path on her right, knowing Killian would be right behind her. But before she could even move, her dad spoke.
"Actually…" he started, his voice hesitant. "I was thinking you could show me where you were last night. The path on the left looks like it leads to the part of the woods we searched yesterday when we were looking for you."
"So then we all should just take the trail to the right," Emma said.
"Well, we don't know the one on the left doesn't lead to the Snow Queen," David replied quickly. "Hook and I weren't exactly focused on her last night. By the looks of things the path on the right probably leads to where Hook found you, and if the Snow Queen was trying to get to you, she'd want to keep you in sight. So there could be signs of her nearby."
Emma frowned, trying to figure out what was going on with her father. She looked to Killian for some help, but he just agreed with David. "Your father's right," Killian said. "The Snow Queen probably was watching you, and there could be tracks that will lead us right to her."
That was exactly what Emma was afraid of. She wasn't convinced that they were ready to face off against the Snow Queen, but she couldn't deny that the idea to search around where she'd hidden herself made sense. The real reason she was hesitating was that she was afraid what would happen if they did find the Snow Queen, particularly if Killian and Elsa were the ones to discover her first. Even though Elsa had magic, Emma was nervous having the two of them go off on their own, especially when neither of them knew how to use a cell phone very well.
"C'mon, Swan, we're burning daylight," Killian said. She looked at him, realizing she'd been silent for too long. His words were light, but she couldn't deny the truth of them. When their eyes met, he gave her a little nod while the look in his eyes spoke volumes. They seemed to say: I'll be careful, Swan.
"Okay," Emma said at last. "But call if you find her. Don't just go charging in without backup."
Killian gave her another nod. "Same goes for you."
Elsa stepped closer to Emma, offering her a sympathetic smile. "It'll be okay. I have magic, and I won't let her use my fear against me this time."
Emma wanted to explain that it wasn't just Killian she was worried about. Elsa was quickly becoming a friend, and she didn't want anything to happen to her either. But she couldn't deny that the thought of something happening to Killian - of losing him - struck such fear into her heart. It was a big part of why she'd run after blowing a hole through the sheriff's station and knocking over the streetlight.
Emma gave Elsa a weak smile of thanks before stepping towards her dad and addressing the group. "Okay, we'll meet back here in an hour unless we hear from each other before then."
There was no argument and Killian gave her a soft, "See you soon, Swan" before taking the left path with Elsa. Emma watched him go, trying to shake the bad feeling that was beginning to twist her gut. She wasn't able to look away until a hand fell on her shoulder.
"You okay?" her dad asked, his blue eyes worried.
"Yeah," Emma said, and gently stepped out of his grasp. She turned so she was facing the trail. "Let's go."
David fell in step next to her, and Emma forced herself to push all thoughts of Killian and Elsa out of her mind. They would be fine. Neither group would find any sign of the Snow Queen, and they would all abandon their search in favor of getting lunch at Granny's.
Still, Emma couldn't quite shake the feeling that things wouldn't be quite that easy.
Killian pulled the talking phone - no, cell phone he corrected himself - out of his pocket, hitting the button that would light up the screen like Emma had shown him. The screen displayed no new messages and only showed the time. Only about a half hour had passed since they had split up, but it felt like much longer.
"What are you waiting for?" Elsa asked, stepping carefully over a fallen log in their path. His steps slowed just enough so he could ensure she wouldn't have any trouble. She had to pick up the long train of her blue dress, but she made it over the log easily without getting her dress caught on anything.
"Nothing," Killian said, shoving the phone back into his coat pocket. He was over the log with just one giant step. "Just making sure Emma didn't try calling. From what I can tell, these bloody long range phones aren't reliable."
As astounded as he was by the things this realm had created, he'd overheard Emma complain about her cell phone on more than one occasion. That the battery died or that it lost its signal - something that seemed to happen in the forest more often than not. And it was a thought that kept pushing to the forefront of his mind, feeding into the worry he already had for Emma.
"She will call," Elsa said, breaking through his thoughts. "If she needs to."
Despite Emma's request that he call if they found the Snow Queen, he wasn't certain she would do the same. The only thing that kept his imagination from conjuring up a million terrible scenarios of where the Snow Queen got the best of Emma was the fact that David was with her. There was no way her father would allow her to jump into any kind of attack without some kind of strategy that would ensure none of them ended up victims of the Snow Queen.
Killian spared Elsa a brief glance before quickly returning his attention to the woods around them. They had to keep their eyes peeled for any sign of the Snow Queen. "It's not just that," he said. "I don't want her to feel like she has to protect me. I don't want her worrying about me when I'm more than capable of handling myself."
"Previous incidents prove otherwise," Elsa replied dryly. She glanced over her shoulder at him. "And even if nothing had happened, she'd still be worried. You've come to mean as much to her as she does to you."
Killian stopped, looking at her with mild surprise. Though, he wasn't sure which he was more surprised about. The idea that his feelings for Emma were that transparent when he hadn't even said the words to Emma, or that Emma apparently had the same level of feelings he did. If he was honest, he had to admit it was the latter because while Emma had let him break down some of her walls and he knew she cared for him, the true depth of her feelings were still hidden behind the remaining walls around her heart he'd yet to tear down.
"Emma said that?" he asked.
"She didn't need to." Elsa stepped closer to him, so her voice didn't have to carry as far and risk them being overheard lest the Snow Queen be somewhere nearby. "I may not have known her long, but me and her are more similar than I could've imagined. She hides her feelings because she's afraid of what might happen, especially now with her powers. But the way she responds to you says it all."
Killian opened his mouth to reply, but he stopped, snapping his jaw shut when a sound caught his notice. Elsa started to speak, but she couldn't get more than a syllable out before he cut her off, holding up his hand in silent request to stop talking. As quietly as possible, he unsheathed his sword, his eyes darting through the thick brush surrounding them.
He couldn't hear anything, but he couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched. After spending years as a pirate, he'd learned to trust his gut, and he had no doubt the person lurking just out of sight was the Snow Queen. He wanted to reach into his pocket for his phone, but he didn't dare take his hand off his sword.
"Elsa," he murmured, keeping his voice low. He didn't know how close the Snow Queen was, but he hoped by speaking quiet enough it would prevent them from being overheard. "Go find Emma."
Elsa narrowed her eyes. "No. I'm not leaving you here alone," she hissed.
"I'll be fine." She looked at him doubtfully, and he sensed she was about to bring up yet again the previous time he'd ended up on the wrong end of the Snow Queen. "I'm not the one she wants. You are."
"Which makes you all the more expendable," Elsa shot back. "I'm staying."
Killian heard her firm tone and recognized at once that no matter what he said, she wasn't going to leave. "Bloody hell," he muttered to himself. Though, he couldn't help the warm feeling that blossomed in his chest at the show of loyalty. Even if it was more for Emma than him, he appreciated it all the same. It appeared Emma had truly found a friend in Elsa.
His eyes darted around, trying to catch sight of the Snow Queen among the foliage. He couldn't see any sign of her, and the only sound he could hear was the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. It didn't fool him though.
"We know you're here," he called, turning his head as he continued to scan the area. "So you might as well come out."
Elsa shot him a dirty look. She was likely thinking he was stupid for forcing their foe to make a move when they had no guaranteed plan of success in subduing her, but he'd much rather an attack happen when he was ready for it rather than to be caught off guard later. Still, there was no movement from the woods surrounding them.
"Or are you so afraid you have to hide?" he taunted. It was reckless, but he was betting it would get a response out of the Snow Queen. And he wasn't disappointed.
"Afraid?" the soft voice said behind him. Killian spun on his heel along with Elsa to face the Snow Queen. "Of you? Please. You and your sword are no match for my magic."
"He has more than that with him," Elsa said, clenching her fists at her side. "And I'm not afraid this time."
The Snow Queen looked at her with that soft expression that seemed reserved for Elsa and Emma. "You're not going to hurt me."
Elsa boldly took a step forward. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because you want answers about your sister. Answers only I can provide." Killian glanced at Elsa and saw the way she tensed at the mention of Anna. The Snow Queen continued, "I am sorry though."
"For what?" Elsa asked, confusion evident. Though, there was also some wariness.
"For this," the Snow Queen said, and with a wave of her hand, a gust of icy wind whipped past Killian and carried Elsa off her feet. It only lasted for a moment as Elsa got slammed into a nearby tree, and she crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
It happened too fast for Killian to even try to stop it. But as soon he saw Elsa go flying, he raised his sword, prepared to lunge at the Snow Queen. He wasn't even able to take a step though before the Snow Queen sent a burst of icy magic at his hand, forcing him to drop his sword. He looked down at his hand, noting the angry red color and how bending his fingers sent shooting pain up his arm.
Then, before he could even react, both of his arms were jerked to his sides as icy cold chains wrapped around him. The suddenness of it caught him by surprise, and he might have lost his balance if it wasn't for the fact that his boots were frozen to the ground. He didn't have to look down to know it; the cold that encased his feet up to his knees was proof enough.
Despite the chains and the lack of dangerous icicles overhead, this scenario was quite familiar. It didn't take a genius to know what the Snow Queen was up to, and Killian was no idiot.
"If you think killing me will make it easier for you to get to Emma, you're wrong," he said. "All this will do will drive her further away."
The Snow Queen looked at him in amusement. "You seem pretty confident in her feelings for you."
"I know she won't stand for you killing anyone." He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Something I would've thought you'd know."
"Oh I do, and I never said I was going to kill you." The Snow Queen began slowly walking around him. "But you have gotten in the way of my plans for Emma."
Killian turned his head - the only thing he could actually move - as he tried to follow her movements. "What plans?"
The Snow Queen came to a stop in front of him. "That's my business, and something you won't have to worry about anymore."
Killian frowned. No matter what she did to him, it wouldn't stop him from worrying about Emma and the Snow Queen's intentions for her. The fact that the Snow Queen seemed confident he wouldn't be concerned told him she didn't know him as well as she thought she did...or she was lying about not killing him. Because short of death, he couldn't think of anything that would prevent him from doing his best to help Emma rid the town of this ice witch.
All he could do was watch as the Snow Queen conjured up her magic, it appearing like snow in the palm of her hand. She mumbled some words that he wasn't able to catch, but he tensed, sensing they were to activate some kind of spell. He tried to struggle against the chains, but he was bound so tightly there was no chance of him escaping.
The Snow Queen lifted her hand so the snow she'd conjured was eye level. "Enjoy your reprieve, Captain," she said and then blew on the pile of snow which at once turned to powder before hitting him square in the face.
Instinctively he closed his eyes against the onslaught of magic, but it didn't make it any less effective. His whole body tingled, and when he opened his eyes he found his vision was limited and quickly growing darker. He stumbled and fell to his knees, his legs suddenly too weak to support him and the ice no longer keeping his feet rooted to the ground. His chest was tight, and the small sliver of the world he could still see spun dizzily. The sensations were too much, and the last thing he remembered before the world went black was falling backwards into the snow beneath him.
Emma checked her phone again for what felt like the millionth time. She and David had arrived back at the spot where they had split from Elsa and Killian. Her stomach had dropped when they found that the pair hadn't returned yet, though they'd still had ten minutes until the hour was up. Emma hadn't wanted to walk far and risk not turning back with enough time to meet back up with Killian and Elsa. Hence why she and David had been so early.
Now though, it was ten minutes after the time they'd agreed to meet, and Emma couldn't deny her feelings of dread any longer. She looked at her dad and said, "Something must've happened to them."
"Let's give them a few more minutes. They probably just walked farther than we did and it's taking them longer to get back."
Emma shook her head. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. Killian would've been just as anxious to reunite as she was, and he certainly wouldn't do anything that would delay him and Elsa returning knowing it would worry her. "I don't think so."
"Give them five more minutes. If they're not back, we'll go looking for them, okay?" her dad suggested.
Emma sighed, but she resigned herself to waiting five more minutes. That didn't mean she wasn't going to take advantage of that time to release some of her frustration on her dad though. "It was your idea to split up," she said. "I assumed because you wanted to talk to me, but then you barely said anything."
She watched her father's face, seeing the surprised expression on his face and how it quickly morphed to a sheepish one. "I'm sorry, Emma," he said. "You're right. I did - do - want to talk to you. I'm just afraid of saying the wrong thing."
Emma couldn't help but sigh again, this one more of an exhausted noise. Despite all the progress she'd made with her parents lately, they still had a ways to go before both sides were completely comfortable and open. And what'd happened the other day with her magic seemed to have taken them back a step.
"Just say what you want to say, Dad."
David nodded, straightening his back as he looked her in the eye. "We're sorry, Emma. We didn't respond well the other day. Your mother especially is beside herself with how she acted." He stepped closer to her, holding her gaze. "We're not afraid of you."
"But you're afraid of my powers," Emma said, reading between the lines.
He hesitated, and she wondered for a second if he was going to try to lie to her. So she was relieved when he admitted, "A little." He quickly rushed on though. "But I promise, Emma, we're not afraid of you. We know you would never hurt us. Not intentionally. It's just going to take some time for you to learn to control your powers, and we want to help with that in whatever way we can. Whatever you will allow."
Emma could tell he was sincere and knew that her parents truly did want to help her. Though, she could also see the fear that lurked behind his kind expression. He may not be afraid of her, but her powers did make him uneasy.
"You don't want me to find a way to get rid of them?" she asked. Even in spite of what Killian had told her the other night about her powers being a part of her, she couldn't deny that things would be much easier without them.
David shook his head. "Emma, the last thing we want is for you to change who you are. Because who you are is a fierce, strong, amazing woman, and we're so lucky to have you as our daughter."
All Emma could see on David's face now was love and pride, and his words made her misty-eyed. Sometimes it was still an adjustment having so many people who cared for her - having parents who loved her and wanted the best for her. It made her previous guilt for running after the accident with her magic rear its head again. How could she fault them for their fear when she felt it just as strongly, if not more so?
"Thanks, Dad," she said, quietly.
He smiled at her, and just like that, all the previous tension between them was gone. But with that out of the way, her worry took over once more. She glanced at the time on her cell phone, confirming what she already knew. Time was up, and Killian and Elsa hadn't returned.
She raised her gaze to David, and he nodded at her. "Alright, let's backtrack and see if we can find them. We'll probably run into them on the trail."
Emma knew he was trying to keep her positive and to have hope that they were fine, but she hadn't been able to shake the feeling that something had happened. It was the only thing she could think of that would keep Killian from returning to her.
Without a word, she turned and headed down the path Killian and Elsa had followed earlier. Everything in her wanted to run so she could find them faster, but she forced herself to settle for a brisk walking pace. She didn't want to risk missing something because she was moving too fast. It helped that she had another pair of eyes too as she knew without looking behind her that her dad was following her closely on alert and prepared for anything even in spite of his earlier assurances.
They followed the trail and with every foot further they ventured, the more Emma's bad feeling intensified. Then suddenly a soft noise caught her attention. Emma stopped in her tracks to listen for it, and her dad did the same next to her.
Someone was crying, which was odd by itself. But the pitch of it made Emma think it was a child. What the hell would a kid be doing out in the middle of the woods? Her mind flashed back to an old folklore book she'd read out of boredom in school about how certain mythical creatures would set traps for people, luring them in with the sounds of a child in distress. She'd never believed it, but she'd also never believed fairy tales were true either and look how that'd turned out.
"It's coming from over there," David said, gesturing off the path to the right. He released his gun from the holster at his hip, flipping the safety off as he cautiously moved forward. Emma was right behind him.
When they crested a small hill, the trees opened up and they were able to see a little boy sitting with his knees pulled to his chest in front of a tree. He was the source of the crying, and Emma glanced around, looking for any sign of the Snow Queen or anyone else. That was when she spotted Elsa nearby on the ground.
She quickly made it over to her side, leaving her dad to handle the little boy. Elsa was already moving by the time Emma got her, slowly coming around. Because Elsa was lying on her side, Emma could see the bump on her forehead just below her hairline. It seemed that whatever had happened had involved Elsa getting knocked out, likely by the large tree they were in front of. But what did happen? And where was Killian?
"Elsa, are you okay?" Emma asked, hoping her voice would help Elsa clear the cobwebs and focus more.
Elsa blinked and slowly began pushing herself upright, a hand going to the bump on her head. "Yeah, I think so."
Emma felt a little bit of relief at hearing that. Though, there was still a coil of anxiety in her stomach that was reserved for Killian. Before she could ask Elsa about him though, her father's voice drew her attention to him.
"Emma?" he called. "You better come over here."
Emma gave Elsa a hand, helping her to her feet. Then the two of them made their way to the other side of the trail only for Emma to stop abruptly when they came upon a sword laying in the snow. A sword she recognized at once as Killian's. Elsa stepped ahead of her and bent down to retrieve something. That was when Emma noticed a pair of black boots and jeans in a pile.
"These are Killian's, right?" Elsa said, holding out her hand to Emma. Emma's heart dropped further when she recognized the rings that normally adorned Killian's hand.
"Emma," David called again, glancing over his shoulder at them anxiously.
Emma nodded as she accepted the rings from Elsa, pocketing them for safekeeping. All the while she could feel her heart pound with fear, her mind racing as she wondered what happened to Killian. But she forced herself to move forward and see what David needed from her.
Her footsteps crunched the snow, and David turned at the sound. He was kneeling in front of the boy, but he got to his feet and stepped back clearly wanting Emma to see the boy for herself. When she finally got a clear view of him, she understood why.
The boy was younger than Henry had been when he'd first showed up at her door years ago. He couldn't be more than seven. His knees were still pulled to his chest with his arms wrapped around them tightly, but his head wasn't buried in them anymore. Instead, she saw the boy's youthful face looking back at her. His dark hair and pale skin made his big blue eyes pop - eyes that while filled with tears, she would recognize anywhere. And it was only then that she realized the boy was wearing a gray long sleeve t-shirt and an oh-so-familiar black leather jacket that were miles too big on him.
"Killian," she breathed, staring at him in shock.
Killian, her over 200 year old pirate, had been turned into a little boy. One that, if the way he was still curled into himself was any indication, had no memory of her or the rest of them. There was only one explanation for who did this - the Snow Queen. But the how and why was a mystery.
Oh, Killian, Emma thought. What did you get yourself into?