A/N: So I've been trying to resist jumping into OUAT fic, but this particular idea won't leave me alone. It's one part Emma/Graham fic (partially because I'm still in denial about his death, and partially because I obsessively wonder what would have happened between them if he hadn't died), one part Royal Family fic (because since Graham died, any and all combination of David/Mary Margaret/Emma/Henry is my favorite part of the show) and one part Curse Plot/Mythology/Regina Scheme fic. Lot of angst, lots of characters pop in, lots of stuff happening. For the beginning, it goes AU post-1x07, but I think later on actual events will be incorporated.
I say, give this prologue a try…it touches on all elements that will be present. See what you think. And let me know, too!
Prologue: City of Devils
Find somebody to learn
Boy you gotta love someone more than yourself
I can feel the fire of the city lights burn
It's hard to find angels in hell
Flying along, and I
Feel like I don't belong and I,
Can't tell right from the wrong, why,
Have I been here so long
A gunshot cracks through the silence, and for the second time in a week, their lives slice neatly into Before and After.
It's so fast Graham feels frozen. One second the barrel of a gun was pointed at him (at him, he's almost certain), and in the next Emma is falling against him, a soft gasp of surprise escaping her as she slides to the floor, his arms barely shooting out in time to cradle her fall.
There's blood. For a brief, panicky moment it seems to be everywhere, on her hands and his hands, but it's pumping from her stomach, her white shirt going crimson with sickening quickness.
Emma's eyes find his and, bizarrely, she seems to relax. Her face is ashen, eyes unfocused, but still she almost smiles when she sees him. Because this time, Graham is okay.
Just a week ago, he was dying in her arms. Now, their positions are reversed.
"Emma…" He breathes her name involuntarily. All thoughts of their assailant have left him; all Graham can think is that there's too much blood, he has to stop it, he has to save her.
She tries to speak, but all she can produce is a liquid, rattling breath, and her eyes go wide with terror. There's blood in her throat, and Emma seizes a handful of Graham's jacket, looking up at him, eyes silently pleading: Please.
"I've got you. You're going to be okay." His throat is tight, his heart slamming in his chest, but somehow, out of necessity, instinct kicks and Graham remembers protocol. He moves one of his hand from Emma's wound, going for his walkie talkie, and barks out orders for an ambulance.
Somehow those words don't quite cut it
He shrugs off his jacket and wraps it around Emma's waist, tying tightly, murmuring reassurances the whole time. She whimpers slightly, and Graham surrenders one hand to grab hers, squeezing gently. "Stay with me, Em."
His walkie talkie is ominously quiet in spite of his orders, and finally Graham says, "I'm gonna get you out of here, okay?"
Emma's eyes are closed.
"Emma!" For the first time, his tone betrays the full extent of his terror. Desperately, Graham nudges his fingers against her cheek. "Emma, c'mon stay with me, please."
Her eyes flutter open, pained and lidded. She swallows a few times, then manages, "Graham…"
He pulls her against him, and Emma weakly wraps an arm around his neck so Graham can lift her. Her head drops against his shoulder, and for a moment, hidden from Emma's gaze, Graham closes his eyes and draws a ragged breath.
He knows, now, the implications of this. Emma is the savior. Storybrooke cannot lose her.
But right now, his thoughts are more selfish. In that moment, she is simply Emma, a woman he can't bear to lose.
His lips brush her hairline. "You're going to be fine, Em," he tells her, just as much for himself as the limp woman in his arms.
"Don't let…Henry…see me…" she whispers against his neck.
Graham nods. "I'll try."
Then he carries her out of the Mayor's house.
There is an ambulance arriving when Graham emerges onto the yard, behind a small crowd that's gathered to watch. He tries to get Emma straight to it, but he's barely stepped onto the sidewalk when a small, terrified voice rings out, "Emma!"
The boy is sprinting forward, pale and wild eyed. Regina grabs his shoulders, uselessly attempting to steer him back. "Henry, turn around." Her voice is sharp and impatient, rather than sympathetic, and Henry merely ignores her, staring in horror at his birthmother's lifeless form.
"What happened to her?" Henry demands, the pitch of his voice climbing into hysteria. "Is, is she going to be okay?"
"We've got to get her to a doctor, Henry," Graham says quickly, inwardly cursing himself for not being able to follow Emma's one request.
"I wanna go," the boy states forcefully, but Regina is more firm this time, pulling her son away from Graham, away from the ambulance.
Graham doesn't stay and listen to the argument. The paramedics meet him halfway, and soon his arms feel empty without her in them.
Emma's awake again, and her eyes search desperately for his during the transfer. Graham hurries to stay by her side, reclaiming her hand, their fingers slipping together, skin rough with drying blood.
"Don't leave me," Emma begs, and the voice is small and fragile, so unlike her that tears rise unexpectedly in Graham's eyes.
"Never," he promises, climbing into the ambulance beside her.
"Excuse me, Sheriff."
Graham freezes at the voice, the cold purr that's always been far too familiar. He turns. Regina is standing in the doors of the ambulance, her expression utterly calm.
"I'm sure you're not planning on leaving an unsecure crime scene. As far as I can tell, the intruder could still be inside." Regina's eyes flash, her lips curling into a smirk. "I wouldn't want the whole town to see you acting…unprofessional."
Graham clenches his jaw, hatred choking him. She has him, and she knows it.
He doesn't spare Regina another look. "Em…" He touches her cheek. "I've got to secure the scene. I…I'm going to meet you at the hospital." Fear clouds her vision, but she just nods. Still trying to be brave. Still trying not to need him. "I'm so sorry…"
"Can you…get…Mary Margaret." Again, the tone sounds nothing like Emma, even in the most vulnerable moments he's seen her in thus far. She sounds like…the truth hits him and breaks his heart. She sounds like a child asking for her mother. Except she has no idea.
Suddenly, Graham notices blood trickling from the side of Emma's mouth, and a dizzying wave of fear crashes into him. He grips her hand tighter, suddenly aware of how quickly she needs to get to a hospital.
He kisses her knuckles. "I'll be right there. I promise."
Then he's outside, watching the doors close.
Mary Margaret. Graham scans the crowd; apparently the whole town had heard about the commotion in at the Mayor's house, minus the school teacher.
Graham heads toward the crowd and grabs the nearest person to him, David Nolan, who had been there when they arrived. "Can you call Mary Margaret?"
David doesn't answer him, doesn't even appear to hear. He's staring after the ambulance with a horrorstruck expression, as if the whole world had just fallen out under his feet.
Emma's father, Graham remembers, the realization still mind boggling. Graham stares at David, transfixed by the look on the other man's face, and the fact that he probably has no idea why he's reacting so strongly. Graham's hatred for Regina hardens; he wouldn't be surprised if she'd asked David and Kathryn over for dinner just for this purpose.
"Miss Blanchard!" The voice, tearful and frantic, cuts through Graham's daze. He turns to see Henry running toward the street, where Mary Margaret is just emerging from her car.
The ten year old slams into her, sobbing. Fear crawls the length of her spine as her arms automatically embrace the boy. "Henry, what is it, what happened?"
His voice is unintelligible, muffled against her stomach, but somewhere in the jumbled mess Mary Margaret hears her roommate's name, and her chest constricts painfully.
Her eyes survey the scene over Henry's head, searching in vain for the familiar head of blonde hair. Instead, she sees Graham, and his face tells her too much.
Gently, Mary Margaret pushes Henry back, keeping an arm around him as she walks forward, already sick to her stomach. "What happened?" Her voice is shaking, but she determinedly meets Graham's eyes. "Where's Emma?"
"The hospital." His voice is hoarse, and thick with the tears that are suddenly threatening him. "She got shot, she…she's bleeding." The word breaks in the middle, a sob rounding in his throat. So much blood.
Mary Margaret bends forward, doubling over slightly as if his words are something physical, crashing against her. "Oh, God…" It's fast; the news settles over her and in the next second she's blinded by tears. Questions rise in her throat, but her how bad is it? gets lost in a sob, because Graham's face has told her how bad it is.
Then she's really crying, and it is this that seems to snap David from his trance. His arms go around her in seconds, and Mary Margaret can't be bothered to remember why they shouldn't be.
"She was asking for you," Graham manages to get out before he turns away from them. He heads toward the house, leaving Mary Margaret crying in David's arms, leaving Henry bawling beside them. He leaves them to figure out transportation to the hospital, leaves them without warning that Kathryn is approaching the group, dread on her face.
Securing the crime scene is a formality, and Regina knows it. But he will play her game, just for these few minutes. Just so he can get back to Emma.
"You don't seem to be in much of a hurry, Sheriff," her voice curls around him as soon as he enters the house.
"And you don't seem to be worried about danger," he retorts, turning a cold gaze on Regina, stepping out of the shadows like the evil being she is.
The air is thick between them, the Truth filling the spaces. He remembers, and she knows it, but she also knows there's nothing he can do it about it.
"You did this," he growls. "You set us up, you set her…" His voice falters, and Graham lowers his eyes, stomach lurching as he notices the amount of blood on him, staining his heads and streaking up his forearms.
"Now, now," Regina chides mildly. "The mayor staging an armed robbery at her own home. That all sounds awfully paranoid. Not what people want in a sheriff."
His whole body is tense, and he feels an old, old instinct swelling in him. The wolf's instinct to attack.
"Although it's funny…" Regina brushes past him, her voice affecting an offhand tone. "Though it solves many more problems, I wasn't quite ready to resort to killing her yet. Wasn't quite ready to do that to Henry." She laughs. "I'm sentimental that way. I told the man to go after you." Regina turns again, narrowed eyes locking with his. "I wonder what went wrong."
Graham seizes her arm, roughly. "You won't get away with this."
"On the contrary, I'm sure I will," Regina replies, unruffled. "Most of your evidence comes from theories about…curses and magic. And that all sounds like the ramblings of a mad man." She winks. "Of course, there's also my confession but…I think you'll find it difficult to catch me so forthright again. Just a hunch."
She leaves him, then. Leaves him with a dark, empty house, with blood on his hands, his ears echoing with a gunshot and Emma's voice, begging him not to leave her.
His legs give out beneath him, and Graham sits down, hard, in an undignified heap in the Mayor's house, puts his head in his hands, and cries.
A/N: So. Hopefully some of you are intrigued. Some blanks need to be filled in, of course…so next chapter will go back AND forward…filling in the week before this happened, then pick up right where we left off. Reviews make my day, so leave your thoughts if you can! Hope you enjoyed.