Title: Made a Fortune, and Counted It
Rating: K+ for now
Summary: AU. Unbeknownst to the Evil Queen, there's a small stipulation of her casting the curse: its maker is the one who decides where and how everyone ends up, not the caster. Which means that the mayor of Storybrooke is decidedly not Regina Mills.
A/N: This chapter mirrors the first episode rather closely, so rather than write out the scenes which we all know happened, certain events have been merely alluded to. I hope this does not make the chapter hard to understand. Enjoy.
Against the protests of her recently re-discovered son, Emma Swan pulled her little yellow bug up to quite probably the largest house in Storybrooke. The light of her headlights gleamed and reflected back off of the 108 on the door of the immense, white mansion.
Emma gaped, and turned back to her s- ...to the kid. "You live here?" Henry just shrugged, grumpily. Still in awe of the house, Emma just shook her head at him, and turned off the car. Really, if ...the kid lived here, and seemed well-fed and well-dressed and provided for, it was all she'd ever wanted for him. More than she'd ever had, certainly. "Come on, then," she said, nudging his shoulder.
As soon as the doors of her car shut (slammed, in Henry's case), the door of the mansion opened. A man in a dark leather jacket with a slightly scraggly-looking beard came out. She blinked, confused. He certainly didn't look like a Mayor. Then she saw the Sheriff's badge gleaming on his jacket. That made a bit more sense.
"It's him!" the sheriff exclaimed, looking back over his shoulder to inside the house. Henry's adoptive parent (she assumed) came out a few seconds afterward, walking slowly, and then stopped just at the door to the house.
She expected, she realized, for the kid to be swept into a teary-eyed hug and squeezed tightly. That didn't happen, and Emma found herself oddly disappointed.
Instead, his parent merely looked at him, and Emma wished the expression on that face could have in any way been described as concern rather than anger. "Where have you been, boy?" Came the question, lilting and sounding vaguely disinterested.
Emma couldn't really blame the kid for just glaring before rushing past into the house. "I found my real mom!" he shouted, before disappearing up the stairs.
There was a beat, and Emma felt eyes descend on her. Uncomfortable, she shifted under the scrutiny, her hands slipping into the pockets of her jacket automatically.
The Sheriff glanced to the other two people, and cleared his throat. "I'll just... go check on him." And he went off into the house as well.
Emma felt oddly like she'd been left alone with a shark. Dark eyes ran over her and then neared as their owner approached, still at the same leisurely pace. "You're Henry's birth-mother?"
She felt like she was being sized-up, and could only nod, oddly tongue-tied. Realizing this was the part where she was supposed to introduce herself, she swallowed and shrugged sheepishly. "Emma Swan."
The corners of the shark's lips lifted in a polite but terse smile, the brow slightly furrowed in thought. "I'm Henry's father," he finally said, as if it wasn't obvious, "Mayor Gold."
An awkward silence descended.
Emma certainly didn't know what to say. Strangely, when the shrink they'd met in town had told her Henry was the mayor's son, she'd expected... well, someone very different than the man before her. Only slightly leaning on his cane, Mr. Gold continued to look at her, that same little smile on his face. "Well, Miss Swan," he finally said, his accent becoming much more obvious the more he spoke. "it appears I owe you a debt of gratitude for returning my wayward boy." A beat, and he turned slightly on his cane, a now-empty hand gesturing inside the large house. "Won't you come in?"
Really, really wishing she could say no and just high-tail it back to Boston, Emma knew that she should at least explain what had happened. The last thing she needed was for Mayor Gold to take it into his head that she'd tried to kidnap his son. "Sure," she said awkwardly.
If their meeting was awkward, the resulting conversation was more so. Gold insisted on having the Sheriff be present, which only put Emma on the defensive as she explained how it had most definitely been Henry's choice to seek her out, not the other way around. The Sheriff- Graham, she learned- seemed to accept this explanation early on. Gold needed more convincing.
As she went through the whole thing again, she only became more and more aggravated. Gold revealed little to nothing about himself or his relationship with Henry, which frankly, Emma felt odd. It was almost as if, now the kid was back, Gold didn't really give a damn about him. She found herself wondering why he'd chosen to adopt him in the first place, and was left overall with a sense of unease.
Finally, after the third re-telling and several reassurances from Graham, Gold seemed satisfied. "Well, Miss Swan, I don't think it fair of me to keep you from returning home any longer. It's a long drive back to Boston."
More than relieved, Emma stood up a bit too quickly, but she was desperate to be out of there, and realized with a start that this was probably how Henry had felt.
Looking concerned, Graham blinked and turned to the Mayor. "...It's very late," he began. "And Miss Swan has had a long day." He looked back at Emma, kindness in his eyes. "Maybe you should sleep before heading home? There's a bed and breakfast in the main squ-"
"No," Gold refuted before Emma could reply. "I'm afraid the inn has no rooms available." He didn't even bother to look at Graham, who quickly dropped the subject, almost hanging his head like a scolded dog.
Surprised, she stared at him. At them both. She would have refused the offer anyway, of course, wanting very much to just head back to her life and forget this day had ever happened. But the same combative streak that made her a great bail-bondsperson rose up in her like a tide. She very much did not appreciate Gold making that decision for her. But this wasn't her town, and certainly wasn't her fight. Glaring down at him from her standing position, she turned back to Graham. "Thanks," she said with a little smile. He'd been kind to her. "But I really should just get going."
Gold nodded with a pleased and slightly superior-looking smile that Emma wished she could just wipe off his face. "Then let's not keep you." He rose from the chair he'd been using as a throne, and gathered his cane, ushering them both towards the door.
When she'd reached it, Emma smiled to Graham alone and said goodbye. The sheriff smiled at her, and she bet he'd have offered to walk her to her car if Gold hadn't been there, too. With another glare that could probably have wilted a flower, Emma walked past the mayor without a word, and headed to her car. Before getting in, she glanced at the upper level of the house, and saw Henry watching her from the window. She was tempted to wave, but a sudden lump rose in her throat, and her eyes moved back to the form of his father waiting on the porch. So she didn't. The exhaust of her bug flattened the grass behind it as it roared to life and then disappeared into the night.
She was biting the inside of her cheek the entire way out of town, trying desperately not to think of her son or his life. She'd only just noticed the book of fairy tales he'd left casually on the seat of her car when the wolf ran out in front of her. The car swerved, the wolf ran off, and then the sharp, shooting pain of her head was all she knew until blackness mercifully descended.
Waking up in the jail cell was unexpected, but at least a situation she was familiar with. Save for the throbbing of her head and the fact that she was still locked inside, she almost would have enjoyed the chat with Graham. Which is only part of the reason she frowned when Mr. Gold came in to tell him 'that woman' had run off with his son.
Seeing Emma, he paused, and looked mildly surprised. "Miss Swan," he nodded. "I was under the impression you'd left my town." The 'with my son' went unspoken, and Emma could see the wheels turning in his head.
His town. Interesting. Emma shrugged, "I have a pretty solid alibi." It was worth the pounding in her head, she decided, just to see that look on his face.
"Yes, well," Gold turned his attention back to the sheriff. "My son is still missing." It seemed interesting to Emma to note that his voice seemed far less concerned now that he knew Emma hadn't stolen Henry.
"Let me help you," she blurted out before she could think better of it.
Gold and Graham both turned to her. Graham looked hopeful. Gold was unreadable.
Bent over her son's computer, Emma felt more like herself than she had the entire time she'd been in this damn town. It almost made up for the fact that she was effectively spying on her own kid. And though she still didn't approve, now that she'd seen a glimpse of his life, she much more understood why he'd felt the need to run away. Twice.
The 'Who's Your Momma' website blinked into existence on the screen, and she felt a glimmer of triumph. At least now she knew how Henry had tracked her down. Resourceful of him, and the triumph became a much more unusual feeling of pride. It was a website she'd tried in the past, too. Though it appeared Henry had much more success with it.
"Henry has a credit card?" she questioned, and typed out a new command into the keyboard, not really waiting for an answer.
Gold's voice: "Don't be absurd." He wasn't even watching her. He was standing near the window, using his cane to hold back the curtains as he watched his town. His attention seemed focused on a clock.
Emma shook her head, and looked back to the screen. "Well, he used one." Striking a few more keys, she hunted down the transaction report and waited for the information to appear. "Name on the card:... Regina Mills." A beat, and beside her, Graham glanced at Gold with an expression of what could almost have been described as fear. Emma raised an eyebrow, and turned to look at Gold as well. He'd looked away from the window, his cane back on the floor as he leaned on it.
"Who's Regina Mills?" she probed.
The name itself seemed to cause a snarl to appear on Gold's lips. He looked past her, to Graham, who was already rising from his crouch beside the computer. Emma's arm reached out and held him, stopping him. "Who's Regina Mills?" she asked again.
Gold seemed to turn his attention to her fully then, and he looked, really, looked at her. The way he'd looked last night. This time, when she felt his eyes on her, she met them, and waited, not letting Graham go until she got an answer.
She got two.
"...Henry's mother," from Graham.
And at the same time: "The town whore."