A/n: I was debating on whether or not to post this because I have so many other stories to work on but it is summer vacation for me now so I'll have time to write more (hopefully) and I needed to share this! I hope you enjoy!
Emma pushed the door to her apartment open, letting out a sigh as she trudged through the doorway. Sometimes she really hated what she did for a so called living, she ended up exhausted by the end of the day, with little money and no sense of accomplishment. Still, she made due and did what she had to.
She kicked off her heels and walked a few steps before leaning against the wall, relaxing her entire body just for a moment.
"Jesus!" She shot off the wall with a shriek, her widened eyes scanning her dimmed apartment for the source of the voice.
She finally spotted him standing near the dining room, a smirk on his handsome bearded face. "Not what you usually call me, but I suppose I could get used to the name change."
She heaved a sigh of relief and annoyance, dropping her bag onto the floor next to her shoes and glaring at him as she walked towards him.
"What the hell are you doing here?" She flipped on the light switch, illuminating the apartment. "And how did you even get in here?"
He grinned, his blue eyes sparkling with mirth and produced a key from the palm of his hand, holding it before her before flipping it through the air and catching it again and locking it in his palm.
She shot him a look, crossing her arms over her chest. "Where did you get that?"
He shrugged. "I have my ways."
She rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Whatever." She sighed quietly as she pulled out one of the chairs at the table and sat down. She leaned her arm against the table and rested her head in the palm of her hand, casting a tired look over at him. "You never answered my first question, what are you doing here?"
He furrowed his brow, smirking for a moment and then clicked his tongue, shaking his head. "Why Emma, you didn't think I'd forget my little sister's birthday did you?"
Emma lifted her head slightly. "You're here for my birthday?"
"Of course!" He grinned. "And I do believe someone is twenty-eight today."
"Wow, you've been keeping track? How thoughtful of you." Her voice dripped with heavy sarcasm as her eyebrows rose knowingly.
"Ha-ha." He sneered and she stuck her tongue out at him. He scoffed, shaking his head lightly.
"Look, there's nothing special about twenty-eight." Emma shrugged.
His lips twitched in a knowing smirk. "Well I wouldn't say that."
She glanced up at him in exasperation. "Really? We did absolutely nothing for your twenty-eighth."
"I'm not special." He answered simply.
"Oh and I am?"
She remained in silence for a long moment, raising her brow, staring at him skeptically. For twenty eight years her brother took care of her, or did the best he could to try and take care of her, and at times indeed made her feel special. However, she made so many mistakes at this point in her life that she felt not so special at all and no matter how hard he tried to insist it she couldn't believe it.
She let out a quiet sigh, breaking his gaze and shifting in her seat. "There is nothing special about me and there is certainly nothing special about this birthday. It's just another one I get to spend alone."
"Wow." He remarked after a beat and slowly she lifted her head. His lips were pursed and his eyes were just slightly narrowed appearing almost hurt as he nodded to himself. She sighed, rolling her eyes dramatically.
"Nicho, I didn't mean it like that."
"No it's fine." He held up his hands to her. "Really, I get it. I'm just your brother, the one who looked after your whole life, what good is my company?"
"Oh for God's sake." She muttered, pressing the palm of her hand to her forehead.
"I try to be nice, you know? I pop in on my sister's birthday and spend some time with her because we haven't done that in while and she acts like I mean nothing to her."
She placed her hand back down on the table and shot him a look. He stared back at her, his blue eyes shining pitifully, his bottom lip stuck out in a slight pout. She rolled her eyes and stood up from her seat, shuffling over to him with that same look in her eyes.
She paused just in front of him and met his stare head on, pitiful blue meeting willful green and then her lips twitched and she shook her head. "For a thirty five year old man, you are the biggest kid I have ever known."
Immediately his eyes brightened and that childlike grin spread over his lips and she scoffed lightly before leaning in and wrapping her arms around him. She buried her head into his chest and held onto him tightly snuggling into his warm embrace as his arms surrounded her.
Emma didn't often let her resolve weaken, especially not in front of other people but her brother was not other people. Despite being tossed from foster home from foster home and not having any clue what happened to her parents, her brother was the one constant, always there, always loving. He was the one person she knew she could always count on, the one person she could always believe in, the one person she let see her true self.
"You know I love you, Nicho." She whispered. "And I do appreciate you being here, more than anything."
"I know, Em." His voice was warm and comforting as he held her against him, smiling against her hair and then dropping a sweet kiss to the top of her head.
She pulled away mere moments later with a soft sigh, looking up to him and smiling slightly. He returned the smile with all the love and warmth he possessed for her. Then her smile dropped and she took a few steps away, shuffling across the carpet and staring down at her feet.
"I know it's stupid but I wish that I did have someone, not that you're not good enough Nicho, because you are...but..."
"But...?" He pressed.
"I need something new in my life, someone new. And not some stupid guy that won't remember my name the next morning. Someone who will love me, for me. I know I don't seem like the settling down type but I'm sick of all of the bull that comes with not settling down. I need someone to look at me like I'm the light of their life because who doesn't want that? I don't want to be treated like crap anymore." She folded her arms over her chest, frowning deeply as she held onto her arms. "I don't want to feel like crap anymore."
"Oh Emma." He whispered and walked towards her, reaching out to pull her to him again when a knock sounded at the door.
Their eyes met, his curious and hers confused. His brow rose and then he smirked as he motioned towards the door. "Happy Birthday?"
She stared at him a moment longer and then her eyes narrowed and her mouth fell open in a gape. "What did you do?" She whispered harshly as she started for the door.
"Nothing!" He called after her.
"Nicho, I don't want to date any of your creepy friends!"
"They're not creepy!" He countered. "And I didn't send anyone!" At her look of skepticism as she stood near the door he continued, "Really! I promise!"
She rolled her eyes and pulled open the door, expecting a man, any sort of man but what she was not expecting was a boy. A brown haired, brown eyed boy no older than ten with a backpack securely on his back stood in her doorway.
Emma furrowed her brow and quickly looked out into the hallway looking for any signs of his parents and then looked back down at the boy. "Um...can I...help you?"
"Are you Emma Swan?" He asked suddenly.
"Yeah, who are you?"
"My name is Henry." He replied, his lips twitching in a slight smile as he bounced on his heels. "I'm your son."
For a split second she could almost feel her heart stop. Almost immediately a million different thoughts ran through her head. Its impossible. It's a joke. It's a trick. Who is this kid? Oh my God. No.
Before she realized what was happening, Henry was swooping down under her arm to walk into her apartment and paused at seeing Nicho gaping back at him. When Emma's brain finally caught up she let out a breath and whirled around, her wide, frightened eyes meeting her brother's from across the hall. He looked just as confused as she did and instantly knew that it was not a joke from him. Nor was it a joke at all. Oh my God...
She took a few deep breaths and then stalked forward, stepping in front of Henry and crossed her arms over chest. "Look kid- I don't have a son."
Henry stared up at her surely. "Ten years ago did you give up a baby for adoption?"
Oh my God...
Her silence answered his question enough and he nodded. "That was me."
Her eyes widened in horror and she held back a gasp as she slowly turned around, once again meeting her brother's eyes. He stared back at her, his eyes brimming with concern, his face uncertain. He remembered when Emma came running to him in tears announcing her pregnancy, he remembered discussing with her what she wanted to do, he remembered helping her with her pregnancy, he remembered bailing her out of jail when she was just days from giving birth, he remembered the birth and how Emma didn't even want to see the little boy she'd carried for nine months but he did. He saw him. He held him. He never thought he'd see him again.
He knew Emma's reasons for not keeping the baby and he understood them and he knew the reason Emma didn't want to see the baby, for fear that if she did, she'd change her mind. Emma was not ready to be a mother at eighteen years old but her heart would have told her otherwise. She had the heart of a princess, how could she not?
He didn't know what the boy was doing back ten years later and why he decided to show up so suddenly but what he did know was that he did not like to see that look on Emma's face. The look of total helplessness and horror. He even saw the beginnings of tears pricking at her eyes and he immediately took a step towards her but she froze and shook her head.
"I-I need a minute." She whispered and then took off towards the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Part of him wanted to run after her but he knew Emma and knew that at a time like this she needed her privacy so instead he fixed his attention on the boy.
Henry was staring back up at him with curious brown eyes. "Are you my dad?"
He almost chocked on the air that rushed to fill his lungs. Where of course it wouldn't be genetically impossible given he and Emma have no biological links, he in all ways considered Emma to be his sister. But granted, he could almost see how the boy could mistake him for his father.
"I- ah, no, kid. I'm not. I'm...Emma's brother."
"Her brother?" Henry echoed, his face scrunching up in confusion as if he knew that information had to be false. For a brief moment, his heart seized as he remembered the day. Emma's 28th birthday, the day that was foretold would be the day she would return to save their homeland. He wondered every day for twenty eight years how it would happen and even in a few moments of doubt and panic if it would happen at all. And now he wondered if this kid had anything to do with it and if so, how could he?
As far as he could recall, the boy was adopted through a private agency, Gold something or other and he never did get a look at the name of the adoptee. But he and Emma were the only ones to come through the wardrobe that day, there was no possible way that someone from their world could have done it.
"Yes." He nodded, pushing his frantic thoughts aside briefly to concentrate on the matter at hand. "Her brother."
"Alright..." The boy still seemed skeptical but he soon shrugged it off and a smile returned to his face. "So you're my uncle."
He blinked. The thought had occurred to him multiple times during Emma's pregnancy even though he knew she had no plans of keeping the child. He enjoyed the thought of becoming an uncle just as he enjoyed the thought of being called brother and for that brief time, being called son. "I do suppose I am, yes."
"Cool." Henry grinned. "What's your name?"
At once a few different names popped into his head; his real name, the nickname Emma had called him all their life and the name the law had given him. He quickly decided, for now, to go with the safest. "August."
"Uncle August." Henry tried it out on his tongue and even though he felt no real connection to the name this world had given him he still felt a surge of warmth flood through his heart. "Cool name."
"Thanks." Finally, he smiled back at the boy. He knew Emma would send the boy back to wherever he came from once she fully composed herself so his time with his nephew was limited and he figured he might as well make the best of it. "And what's yours?"
"Henry." He answered happily.
"Well Henry," He sunk to his knees and extended out his hand with a smile, "It's a pleasure to meet you."
Henry glanced down at the larger man's hand and then beaming, reached out to shake his hand. The two shared a smile and then he released Henry and rose back to his feet.
Henry looked around the apartment, shifting his backpack straps over his shoulders and then looked back up to him. "Do you have any juice?"
For a second he was thrown, not expecting a question like that. But he quickly recovered and nodded, "Yeah, uh yeah." He walked towards the kitchen and Henry followed quickly behind.
He glanced over his shoulder at the boy as he opened the refrigerator. Henry stood by the table tracing over the small patterns in the wood with his fingertips as he waited patiently.
He blinked and shook his head slightly, here was this boy who had travelled from God knows where and stood completely calm in his birth mother's home. He knew that if he had ever found Gepetto again there'd be no way he'd be standing there as calmly as Henry was. Then again, he was a puppet, brought to life by magic alone. Henry was the son of the daughter of the greatest rulers to ever rule their kingdom. He was Prince James' and Princess Snow's grandson, he was royal blood, that made him anything but average.
He continued to shift through the refrigerator, frowning at the lack of juice and the abundance of alcohol. He never truly minded Emma's like for alcohol, he wouldn't consider her an alcoholic by any means however with Emma's son now standing just behind him, it put him a little at ill-ease having nothing but beer and milk in her fridge. Then, with relief, he spotted a carton of orange juice on the door of the fridge and snapped it up.
"Here we are!" He showed the carton off to Henry and the boy smiled appreciatively. He grabbed two glasses from the cupboard, set them down on the counter and poured each glass halfway full.
"Hope you like orange juice, kid." He handed Henry one of glasses and Henry took it with a smile.
Henry nodded, taking a sip from the glass. "It's much better than apple juice." He said.
"Really?" He leaned back up against the counter, cradling his own glass in his hand. "And here I thought little kids preferred apple juice."
Henry shot him a look. "I'm not little, I'm ten. And my mom has an apple tree in her yard."
It took him a lot longer than he'd like to admit to realize that Henry was talking about his adopted mother as opposed to Emma. "Ah, and you've grown sick of it?"
"Not exactly." Henry answered. "I don't trust it."
He lifted his brow inquisitively. "You don't trust an apple tree?"
"Not one from my mom." He shook his head and pursed her lips. "Hers are special."
"Special? Special apples? What are special app-" He paused as realization suddenly dawned on him. The whole kingdom told the story of how the great prince and princess met and how Princess Snow was poisoned by the Evil Queen's poisonous apple until she was awoken by her prince. In fact, apples were banned from the kingdom after they resumed the throne and he'd never even tasted one until he was in this world.
His throat tightened and his widened as he stared at Henry. Could his mom possibly be the evil queen that brought this curse upon them? He dreaded the thought of having his sister's son in the hands of her family's most hated enemy.
Henry was staring back at him, his little brow furrowed and they stared into each other's eyes wondering the same thing, Does he know about the curse?
He saw Henry's mouth open but he was suddenly cut off by the sound of the bathroom door opening and then closing again. They both fell into a deathly silence, both holding onto their glasses of orange juice watching the hallway for Emma.
She eventually slowly came into view, her hands pressed tightly into her side, still looking frazzled and panicked but considerably less so. She forced a tight smile to her face and stepped into the kitchen, leaning her body more towards her brother.
"So, kid..." Emma mused, crossing her arms over her chest and flickering her gaze over to August who twitched his lips and then slowly brought his glass to his lips. "What exactly are you doing here?"
"I want you to come home with me." Henry stated bluntly and Emma's brow shot up to her hairline.
"Oh you do? Okay...and where exactly is home?"
A violent cough to her left startled Emma and she looked wide-eyed at her brother who now had his back to them, his hand covering his mouth, chocking over the orange juice in his mouth. He slammed the glass down onto the counter, coughing until he could breath again and then turned wide-eyed to Henry.
Henry nodded slowly, his eyes narrowing curiously at the older man's odd reaction.
"It's seriously called Storybrooke." Emma remarked dryly.
"Yes." Henry nodded again, turning to her.
"Alright..." Emma sighed. "So why do you want me to come with you to Storybrooke?"
"It's complicated." Henry said with a sigh. "I'll explain on the way."
Emma stared in exasperation at him. "You'll explain now."
"And why the h-...why not?"
"Because you won't believe me." Henry answered simply. "And you'll run but you can't run!"
Emma's brow furrowed and she cocked her head, quickly glancing over to August who was staring at Henry wide-eyed and slack jawed which only proved to increase her confusion.
"Let me get this straight...you want to take me to your hometown, called Storybrooke, for a reason that if you tell me about now, I won't want to come. Kid," She scoffed and shook her head, "I know you're a kid but you need to work on your negotiation skills."
Henry frowned, pursing his lips out into a pout and huffed quietly. "You have to take me home."
"No, I don't." Emma countered and then sighed. "Look kid, I'm sorry but you can't just suddenly pop up at my door, tell me you're my son and then expect me to leave with you. I don't know how you got from Maine to Boston but I'll call the police and they'll find some way to get you back home." She reached for the phone and Henry leapt toward her quickly.
"I'll tell them you kidnapped me!"
Emma's finger paused over the number pad and she turned to Henry, raising her eyebrow. She was almost taken aback by the seriousness in his face and her jaw tightened as she realized, "And because I'm your birth mother, they'll believe you."
Henry smirked in triumph as Emma sighed in frustration and tossed the phone onto the counter.
"Fine." She groaned. "I'll take you home." She threw a look over her shoulder at her brother who was still gaping at Henry. She scoffed and rolled her eyes, "Get ready August we're going on a road trip."
She then stormed out of the room leaving the two boys alone once again. Henry was grinning after her until she disappeared from sight and then he turned to August and his smile slowly fell to be replaced with confusion.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Henry asked, shifting uncomfortably.
August shook his head quickly and then paced towards Henry, kneeling down in front of him, his brow furrowed his serious concentration.
"This Storybrooke...your mother..." He paused trying to think of a way to phrase it where if he was wrong he wouldn't sound like a complete loon. Henry's brow shot up and he thought he saw a flicker of hope in his curious brown eyes. He cleared his throat as he reached out to gently take a hold of Henry's arms, "Does it have anything to do with Emma's parents?"
Henry's eyes widened and he gasped sharply as he grabbed a hold of the other man's hands. "Do you know?"
"Know what?" He asked breathlessly, waiting for confirmation out of the kid's mouth.
"About..." He paused and glanced over his shoulder, looking for Emma and then turned back to August, continuing in a whisper, "...about the curse."
August stared back at him in shock for a few brief moments and then he let out a joyous laugh and pulled Henry against him, hugging the boy tightly before releasing him.
Henry gaped at him in shock his eyes lighting up as he realized what was happening. "You do know!"
"Yes," He grinned, "I do know."
"But...but...how? I mean I thought that everyone from there was cursed and Emma was the only one to come through the wardrobe."
He smirked and shook his head. "She wasn't Henry, she wasn't the only one to come through."
Henry's eyes widened further and his jaw dropped at the implication of his words. "Does that mean you remember? You know who you are?"
He winked with a smirk, his blue eyes sparkling and Henry beamed back at him, now practically bouncing out of excitement, his mouth opening to, what August assumed was to ask who he was when Emma came back into the room now changed into a pair of old jeans and a T-shirt, pulling her favorite red jacket over her shoulders.
She stopped short, narrowing her eyes at the bizarre sight before her. Her brother, who claimed he had no idea about the kid and his untimely arrival, was now grinning like the cat who ate the canary matching the boy's almost exactly.
She suddenly got an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't know how but August knew what waited for them in Storybrooke. And she had a feeling that when she stepped out of her front door with Henry in toe, her life would never be the same.