DISCLAIMER: I do not dare claim any ownership for the fabulous characters, situations, plots and/or spins on old stories that ABC's geniuses have given us on Once Upon a Time.
This is a what-if story: The way I figure, something DID jog his memory that night in the pawn shop…but it wasn't the windmill…
In the shadow of the toll bridge…
David walked down to the pawn shop as the mayor had instructed him to do, but there was no fork in the road. There was no trail. Had he heard her wrong? Did she not actually know the way to the toll bridge? He let out a frustrated sigh and glanced up at the great town clock gleaming ominously against the darkened sky – 7:52. He was running out of time. If he was late, he might miss her. She might worry something happened to him and go looking…or worse – she might think he'd changed his mind. That would devastate her…and the thought of breaking her heart? Well, he couldn't explain it, but somehow he knew that he'd rather die than hurt the beautiful, ebony-haired Mary Margaret. Nervously, he glanced at the door of the pawn shop above which hung the name of its proprietor, Mr. Gold. Perhaps this gentleman knew the way. It was still open, so he hastily pushed inside.
An array of sights and smells overwhelmed his senses immediately upon entering. He felt something. Something…familiar. A sensation he'd only ever experienced whenever Mary was around. But how? He surveyed the curious collection of treasures, each one-of-a-kind and all foreign to him. And yet, he couldn't shake the feeling.
He walked down a narrow aisle of trinkets and antiques. There was an old set of china teacups, an assortment of jewels and diadems, an ancient-looking lamp in desperate need of polish, two rather ghoulish puppets perched atop the counter – nothing beyond what one would expect to find in the pawn shop of an eccentric small town run by (if what he'd heard was true) an equally eccentric little man. David continued taking a mental inventory of everything – odd pieces of furniture, a beat up rocking horse…and then he stopped briefly in the corner as he came upon a miniature windmill. It was old, rotting and looked about ready to fall apart if handled, but there was something about it. He felt he'd seen it before. Was this it? Was this what drew him to –
"Sad, pathetic-looking thing isn't it?"
David whipped around, jumping at the sound.
"Excuse me?" he said, clearing his throat as he spun around. But the sight of the man whom he presumed to be Mr. Gold was no less startling than his voice had been, and David glared into the beady eyes of a face he knew he'd seen before.
"The windmill," Gold pointed to the old vanes, creaking slightly as David's hand slipped and set it lightly spinning despite the sudden stuffiness in the air. "Been collecting dust for years."
David continued to stare at the man through the revolving blades as it came to rest once more. But the moment passed and whatever realization had almost dawned vanished just as quickly.
"Do you know your way around here?" he asked, finding his voice again. "I've uh – " he glanced down at the tattered and mangled up town map in his hands. "I'm looking for the toll bridge?"
Gold let out a humorless chuckle. "And you ended up here?"
"Well the mayor sent me this way and…I dunno, maybe I heard wrong."
"It seems she led you astray," Gold said with another staid grin.
"Yeah," David shook his head. "You'd think the mayor would…" but he trailed off as something glimmered into view. He hadn't noticed it when he'd walked in but there it hung like a beacon in front of him. Almost in a trance, he approached it, cautiously as if he were afraid it might disappear if he went too quick. It was beautiful. Delicate. Pristine – unlike anything in the entire shop: a child's mobile from which hung dozens of exquisitely crafted glass unicorns.
"Marvelous isn't it?" he heard Gold say, but the voice sounded far off. David stood mesmerized by its form and its sapphire hue. It seemed to be singing to him, though he heard no melody. He inched forward, reaching out his hand tentatively, as if testing for a mirage. And then…
"You're thinking about the queen again aren't you…"
David grasped at the ends of his hair, tugging and pulling like someone in the throws of a violent migraine.
"I can't keep having this conversation. We're about to have a baby!"
"I haven't had a restful night since our wedding…"
"Are you all right?" the broker said, now moving from behind his counter, but David didn't hear him.
"That's what she wants, to get in your head but they're only words. She can't hurt us…"
"Mr – " the now agitated Mr. Gold reached out to steady David from stumbling into countertops full of valuables but David shoved him off.
"Don't," he snapped, his eyes still slammed shut as he reeled back from Gold and stumbled up the aisle back toward the doorway. He had to get out of here. He had to get free. Something…something wasn't right…nothing was right…
"It's too dangerous."
"He sees the future."
"There's a reason he's locked up...locked up….locked up—"
"No!" David cried out, his head pulsing now as he tumbled out of the pawn shop still clawing at his hair and collapsed to the pavement. What was happening to him? What was he remembering? Who was that voice? It couldn't be Kathryn. No face could be further from his mind. The mobile…something about the mobile…
"Can you promise me that our child will be safe? Can you guarantee it because he can!"
He hung his head in agony. He could feel the memories boring through his brain, trying to reach the surface, to break free, and then suddenly, the town clock started to chime. David's eyes flew up to the tower as the bells pealed 8 o'clock. The time in between chimes seemed to stretch as each one pinged a little heavier, a little lower…
"All right…for our child…our child…"
Our child, he thought. The man's heart was pounding, the echoes of the chimes still thrumming in his chest as he rose from the pavement…a changed man. 8 o'clock, he thought as his eyes darted up and between the strange buildings and curious architecture around him. He shot a look beyond the alleyway of the shop and spotted the path to the woods. Stalking up the pavement, as a curious Mr. Gold looked on from his window, the man rushed for the trail. After all…he was late…
The journey seemed to take hours, but he covered the ground in under 10 minutes. Leaping over brooks and streams, foraging through the dense but now familiar vegetation of the land, he followed the path he knew would lead him to her. Panicked, he wondered if he would be too late, if he would remember how to reach her new dwelling should he miss her and have need of finding her in town. But as he turned down the next ridge and spotted the tiniest bit of color amongst the oaks and willows, he knew such concerns were unnecessary. There she was…looking lovelier and more…innocent than he had ever seen her. More beautiful than she had been when they first met…here…by the troll bridge.
The young woman turned, hearing the sounds of his shoes rustling through fallen leaves. She smiled when she saw him, but in her expression he read relief. The nervous relief of a woman who had been certain she'd made a mistake. She thought he would not come. She thought he might betray her. His heart beat violently now. He meant to end any shred of that doubt in her. He meant to end it now.
"David," she said quietly, her voice so soft, so…fragile. Where was the fire? Where was her strength? What had she done to his beloved? She looked down at her hands nervously fiddling with something around her finger. He looked down too…it was the ring. She still had it. Of course she did. "I was um," she stammered, blushing like a schoolgirl under his passionate gaze. "I was beginning to think you—"
"My name is not David," he said, gruffly.
She shivered and looked up in surprise. "W-what?"
"It's true," he said, advancing on her now so intensely that she staggered back a few steps before he grasped both her shoulders and steadied her by the stream. "It's not David. And you're not Mary Margaret."
She barely had time to gasp – let alone protest – before he pulled her to him, nearly crushing her against his chest. Her arms tensed in his, bracing herself for the near ferocity he'd already demonstrated, but she did not move away. Something told her to stay. Something…so…right…She closed her eyes…and he kissed her.
His lips were soft at first, gentle for mere moments before he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her soundly. She melted into him, her knees turning to jello as his arms then trailed down the length of her own, slipped around her waist and caressed up her back. She clutched at the collar of his shirt, a soft whimper escaping her as she pulled him closer. She ran her fingers through his hair and snaked her arms around his neck, relishing in his warmth. The feel of his lips, the taste of him – why did she feel as if she'd done this before? Why did it seem so familiar? She was Mary Margaret. Sister Mary Margaret as some folks jokingly called her, and the nickname certainly had had some truth in it. And yet, here she was, in the shadows of the toll bridge…In the shadow of the troll bridge…shadow of the troll bridge that there love was born…
She winced in his arms and felt an urge to pull back. Something was happening…something felt…different…
"How could I let Prince Charming die?"
"David?" she cried suddenly, staring up at him. And then she saw it – those piercing blue eyes, like crystal. She'd noticed them before of course. What woman wouldn't have noticed? But they weren't the eyes of a stranger.
In spite of everything, he laughed. "I told you…I'm not David."
"I told you…I have a name…"
She shook her head, cringing against the sudden agony of too many memories all rushing back at once colliding with those that replaced them, those that had violated her. Her ears were ringing, her head was pulsing, and nothing but her lover's iron-clad grip around her waist kept her from collapsing to the forest floor as the waves of pain abated…and Snow White emerged. Slowly, her eyes came back into focus and met the gaze of a man she knew…all too well.
Feeling slightly fatigued (not unlike she had just finished a long and arduous swim) she looked up and gave him a wry smile. "James," she whispered, and the sound of his name from her lips was music to his ears. "You found me."
Tears stung his eyes as he pulled her to him once more, burying his head in her shoulder, and cried. "I will always find you."
***Sunday's episode was sooooooooo sad, I couldn't help writing this…will get back to "Filling in the Blanks" soon. Thanks for reading!***