Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I'm just hopelessly fascinated by Jefferson's character. ...And perhaps this Emma/Jefferson pairing, too...
Jefferson swears he hasn't been right since they reattached his head.
He stands in front of a full-length mirror, scarf discarded on the floor to reveal the angry, red scar running a jagged line across his neck. He traces it with his fingers, prods at the tender and marred pink flesh, and looks at his reflection. There's darkness in his soul, even he is aware of that. Somewhere in the depths of his mind, it scares him. Part of his face is hidden in the shadow cast by the hat on his head, but the unnerving expression in his light hazel eyes is still discernible. A twisted smile worms its way onto his lips as his fingers sweep across the hat's silky brim.
Jefferson is not the same man he once was. He smirks at his image and wonders why the hell he even owns a mirror in the first place. He hates mirrors. Jefferson's sly grin fades away, morphing itself into a scowl—the picture of a man who has lost it, lost everything, stares back at him with enough hateful anger to burn a tear a hole into the glass. He really, really hates mirrors. But the truth of the matter is, Jefferson just hates himself. He doesn't say it aloud, not ever, but he knows he does. His hands curl into fists at his sides and he can feel his fingernails cutting half-moon shapes into his palms. The pain gives him a rush of adrenaline. It makes him feel alive. More alive and less numb than he usually is.
His knuckles turn white, and before he realizes what he's doing, his fist collides with the reflective surface, shattering it. Shards of silver, jagged like a razor's edge—like the scar around his neck, he's suddenly reminded—tumble to the carpet and catch in the moonlight. Some pieces are clinging desperately to the frame and they make parts of Jefferson's image distorted. He doesn't look right; he's not himself, not at all. They say a mirror never lies. Before it was, Jefferson thinks, and now it isn't.
Blood is dripping from his fingers and Jefferson doesn't acknowledge the red pooling onto the carpet, nor the tears in his flesh. He can only think about how good it makes him feel to see something else besides himself shatter before his eyes. And, he decides fairly quickly, he doesn't want it to stop. The smile that isn't quite Jefferson but a man who has taken his place returns, an evil upturning of lips and a dangerous glint in his eyes. This isn't the man Grace knew, the little voice in his thoughts remarks. It doesn't matter anyway. She doesn't know him. They are nothing to each other here.
Jefferson removes himself from in front of the carnage of the mirror, daring one last glance at his new image. He moves with purpose from the living room to the wide expanse of cabinets and sleek, granite countertops and shiny stainless steel appliances that is his kitchen. Boots stomp across the floor, clattering on the hardwood like the ominous ticking of a clock. He walks as if on autopilot, as if this new person, this new Jefferson has now taken hold of his entire body. In a fluid motion, Jefferson pulls open the cabinets and sees the array of glasses and dishware glaring back at him. He wants to destroy all of it. He wants to revel in the ability to obliterate something with his bare hands.
He starts with the plates first. He picks up the first one and tosses it with a grunt across the room, where it collides with the wall and hits the floor in pieces. Jefferson likes the sound it makes once the shattered remains land in their final resting place. The clipped, hollow noise like hail skittering over the roofs of houses and cars. One by one, Jefferson throws the dishes and breaks them before moving onto the glasses. The third glass slips from his fingers and the silvery pieces shoot out in all directions at his feet, one shard digging into his already bleeding fingertips. Jefferson ignores it. He pauses only for a moment, chest heaving. His breath is the only sound in the room until his boots crunch across the broken remnants to the cabinet full of tea cups.
Jefferson has saved those for last. Whether intentionally or on purpose, he can't quite decide. With a desperate, strangled howl, the first one breaks against the counter. The porcelain claws at his palm, another line of crimson on his skin. He drops the rest of it onto the floor and stares at his bloodied hands for the first time. And part of him is mildly worried about how much enjoyment he gets out of watching his blood seep from the wounds and drip onto the floor. He studies bright red that ribbons down to the translucent shards under his boots. It lets him know he can feel something other than sadness.
He doesn't realize a shard has cut an angry groove into his face and is only barely aware of the pain that's there. Jefferson picks up the next tea cup and scrutinizes it, turning it around and around in his crimson-plastered hands. He finds it oddly fascinating. Dizzy from the adrenaline pushing through his veins and the pungent, metallic odor of blood, Jefferson takes two of the tea cups and slouches into the corner crook of the bottom cabinets. Again, he ignores the sharp pieces biting into his legs through his jeans, uninterested.
Instead, he places the tea cups on the floor at his side. With a quick flick of the wrist, he sends one of them spinning. And as the first one goes around and around, he sends the next one hurtling after it. He knows something is wrong with him. He knows he's not all there. Jefferson knows he's not the person he used to be, the man his wife fell in the love with, the father his Grace adored and admired. Like the tea cups, his world has been spinning madly out of control for awhile now.
But all Jefferson can do at this point is laugh.
Emma arrives to the sound of his manic laughter coming from somewhere inside the large house. She sees the mess of mirror shards in the living room and her pulse quickens. There's a thin trail of blood that meanders its way from the broken mirror and down the halls to the kitchen. At first, she thinks there's been a break in, that someone has attacked Jefferson and her thoughts lead her to the worst of possibilities. But her fears are calmed, at least somewhat, when she realizes the laughter is Jefferson's and he's sitting fully intact on the floor amongst the massacre of blood-stained glass. It's not just by him, either, it's all over the kitchen. And yet there he is, spinning tea cups across the floor with the most insane grin she's ever seen plastered on his face.
It's unnerving, totally and completely. Emma takes a deep breath and swallows the lump in her throat.
"Jefferson?" she asks, voice soft.
Something is wrong with him tonight. She can see this clearly. It scares her. Emma tiptoes across the broken glass and steels herself against the sight of his blood all over his hands and oozing down the side of his face. He doesn't acknowledge her presence but Jefferson knows she's there; her bright blonde tresses are just visible out of the corner of his eye.
Emma jumps and lets out a startled yelp when Jefferson smashes one of the tea cups against the center island across from him. She pauses before crouching down beside him, well away from the dangerous graveyard of glasses and dishware.
"Jefferson?" she prods again. He doesn't lift his gaze to meet hers. The second tea cup is now in his hands. He keeps turning it over and over, studying every inch. Emma lets out another shaking breath. "Oh, god…you're bleeding pretty badly."
She leans over and tries to take the tea cup from him, but he wrenches it away. He throws it haphazardly with a groan, as far as he can, and it lands with a loud clink out in the hallway. He looks down at the mess of flesh and blood that is his hands. The frenzied smirk has disappeared, taking with it the last vestiges of his adrenaline rush. The pain has returned. The numbness follows.
"It doesn't matter," he says.
Emma finally takes his hands in hers, gently. "Of course it does," she answers. "Come on—I'll drive you to the hospital. I think you might need stitches."
"I don't care," he tells her. There's a roughness to his voice, and anger, but the dangerous spark in his eyes has left them. "It's the first time in months I've felt something."
Emma doesn't know what to say. She places his hands back into his lap and stands, walking gingerly across the floor. She grabs a towel from one of the drawers and runs it under the sink before taking up her original spot next to him. Emma presses the cool, damp cloth to his head where a gash has leaked more crimson down the side of his face and onto his shirt. Jefferson cringes, only slightly, but doesn't push her away.
"What happened?" Emma asks at last.
"This curse, that's what's happened," Jefferson chuckles derisively. "I don't think I can take much more. It'll kill me."
He knows she still doesn't quite believe. But, for his sake, Emma says, "I won't let it, okay?" Jefferson meets her eyes. "I won't. Tell me what I can do. To help you."
Emma removes the towel from his head and starts on his hands, dabbing at the dried blood and the red still leaking from the wounds. Jefferson flinches.
"Break the curse," he laughs. The sound is hollow and humorless.
"All right," Emma sighs. "Let me clarify, then: what can I do to make it hurt less?"
Before Emma can say another word, Jefferson's mouth is on hers, his soft lips capturing her own in a surprisingly tender kiss. She surrenders to the urgency of his mouth moving against hers, blue eyes fluttering closed. Emma kisses him back, and for the first time, she understands how much she's wanted this, how easy the answer has been all along. Her hands move away from his and she tugs the hat off his head so her fingers tangle into his hair, pulling him closer. Emma hasn't come undone like this in so long—not since Graham—and it feels foreign and terrifying and exhilarating all at once. The clumsy clash of teeth, the hotness of their breath, gasping for air in between kisses, the want and the need fueling their actions—Emma finds she never wants it to stop.
"Emma," he gasps, panting to catch his breath when they part. He leans his forehead against hers. This feels good, he decides. It makes him alive, in a better way than he ever could have imagined. The numbness dissipates, ever so slowly.
"Emma," Jefferson repeats. He likes the way her name sounds on his tongue. "I'm tired of being alone."
She places a gentle kiss onto his forehead. "Me, too."
It's the first time she's been honest in awhile. It's the first attempt she's made at trying to move on.
"Will you stay?" he whispers. There's a pleading tone to his voice. And it breaks her heart.
She answers with a kiss.