Title: Baby Blues
Characters: August W. Booth, Henry Mills, Emma Swan; Emma/August
Summary: August came to town to find Emma and thinks nothing of Henry, until he does, and then everything becomes clear to him.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Notes: I enjoy August W. Booth. I will write all of the fics exploring every bit of him while I can. I also find Henry to be super adorable, deal with it. Big thanks to pandorasimp for beta'ing this for me. You're a gem.
The first time he met Henry, he suspected.
Up until that moment, August hadn't paid attention to the kid at the Sheriff's side. All he saw was Emma. Of course he knew it was her. He'd tracked her down once, years ago, and she still had the same eyes. Not to mention, with the exception of the hair, she was a dead ringer for her mother, the true Queen.
He gave the kid a small smile, knowing instantly he was Emma's and immediately took a liking to him. He had that curious air to him, something August appreciated in children, when it didn't get them into trouble like a young boy he knew once.
It wasn't until the next morning, when he broke down outside of the Mayor's house, and seeing him in the light of day that August knew.
It was all in the eyes.
The kid had Snow White written all over him, but those eyes…
August knew those eyes. They were the same eyes that had haunted him from the mirror for the past twenty-eight years.
When Henry pulls the Spanish Inquisition, August doesn't avoid his questions because he's trying to be evasive; he avoids them because the thoughts going through his head are all too crazy to be true. By the time he gains his bearings, the Evil Queen is headed in their direction and August can't make himself stick around.
August does his best to avoid interacting with Henry. Henry distracts from the mission. His innocence eats at August, reminding him of everything he should have been. August's guilt consumes him a little more each day. If turning back into wood won't kill him, the guilt will do it. It's painful to look at Henry because seeing him reminds August of how deeply he's failed Emma.
He needs to try to fix things, to help Emma become a believer. If he does, she can save them all, including Henry. Maybe then August can begin to make up for abandoning her.
August finds Henry's book after the storm and decides to add his own story. Not for Emma's benefit or for his own, but because he wants Henry to know the truth when this is all over. So that maybe, when everything comes out, one person won't hate him. At the very least, it is the beginning of what would become Henry's story. Just the beginning; the full story is too much for Henry to have to take on at his age. August wants to keep Henry innocent for as long as possible, in the hopes of making sure that the boy has everything he and Emma never had and more. To make sure that the boy doesn't repeat their mistakes.
When August finds Henry pouring over the book in the diner, a part of him hopes Henry's found Pinocchio's story and has put two and two together. He's not ready to speak the truth, but he wants someone, anyone, to figure it out.
August can't help sitting down and interacting with the kid. He's so much like Emma, it makes August smile. And the poor kid is so distraught over Snow White's false imprisonment, he needs to let him know that he isn't alone, that someone else knows the truth, believes in him, and to keep having hope.
Seeing the strain Snow White's jail stint is taking on Emma pains him. Not only that, but it distracts from his purpose of being in town. The more time August spends with Emma, trying to find a way to make her believe, getting to know her, becoming her friend, the more he finds himself falling in love with her.
Being around Henry is a painful reminder that things would have been different if August had bothered to stick around.
Emma wouldn't need to be convinced. She'd already be a believer. August would have kept her safe in the foster system. They'd have had the kid together and kept him for themselves and away from Regina. Once Emma realized her son had been in the Evil Queen's clutches, she'd hate herself.
In his fantasy, the three of them would have come to town, broken the curse, and been reunited with their families. As if things could be that simple.
Fairytales really were full of shit.
After the morning in the diner, August can't keep himself from bonding with Emma's kid. Even when you didn't want him to, he grew on you. It isn't long before his birth mother isn't the only one in love with the kid. He even goes as far as to conspire with the kid to get Emma to believe.
He's reminded of the short time he spent with his father and realizes that maybe he wasn't the only one who lacked a father in his life. August knows he's no father figure, but he's the only thing the kid has, so he rolls with it.
When Emma decides to take Henry back, August feels nothing but pride for her, because he's seeing that in spite of everything, she had become an amazing, strong, and fierce woman. And he's happy because it means Henry will finally be with people who love him. He doesn't doubt that Regina wants to love the boy, but she isn't capable of love, and the only one suffering for it was Henry.
But then his sickness gets worse and his focus can't be on Henry anymore, it has to be on Emma. When his attempt to control the Dark One backfires, he decides it's time to tell her the truth. Only, he still leaves parts out of the story. She already hates him. He can't bear to see more pain in her eyes.
Saying goodbye to Henry is the hardest part of all of this. Especially since he has to admit to him that he's failed, he's dying, and he knows Emma really will leave town with the kid, because it's exactly the kind of thing the two of them did.
He knows it's too late. Emma won't believe in time. The pain in the kid's eyes makes him hate himself.
"So you're just giving up?"
Some father figure he was.
August has to close the door before the kid can see him cry.
He's failed everyone.
"I need you."
Leave it to Emma to finally believe as he's dying.
"You can save all-"
And then nothing. It was as if the entire world went dark. August isn't sure how long he's dead this time. As a boy, it was minutes before the Blue Fairy brought him back. But he does know that Emma's done it, because his lungs fill with air and he coughs, becoming aware of the world again. He lies there, thinking about all of his mistakes, the lies he's told, and the things he needs to make right when she finds him.
Emma flings herself into his arms and he embraces her, taking in the scent of her strawberry shampoo.
"I'm here, sunshine," he says with a smile, feeling disappointment when she doesn't react to her new nickname.
Emma cups his cheek, tears in her eyes.
"I was hoping, but I…after losing Henry, I wasn't sure…"
August sits up and grips her by the shoulders.
"You didn't save Henry? No…he…Emma, tell me she didn't actually kill him!"
August is ready to run out of the room and kill Regina himself.
Emma is too emotional to question the intensity of his reaction. She just shakes her head and laughs, overwhelmed by everything.
"No. I…well, yes, technically," before August can react, she cuts him off. "But I kissed him goodbye and he woke up! The Blue Fairy told me it was True Love's Kiss. It brought him back and it broke the curse and it saved you."
Emma's looking at him like he's the only thing in the world besides her kid that matters and August can't do it anymore. He can't keep lying to her.
Before he can speak, she's kissing him, and August is kissing her back, because this might be his only chance.
"Henry's worried about you," she whispers, after breaking the kiss. "I guess I'm not the only one in this town who likes you," she teases.
August pulls away and looks at her, trying to recall the memory he'd pushed away so many times before.
"Emma, do you really not…remember me? From before we came to Storybrooke?" Emma gives him a shrug and shakes her head.
"I was a baby, August."
He shakes his head at her sadly. "No, Emma. I went back looking for you, so many times, I've lost count. I didn't know your last name and it was years before I finally tracked down the first foster home we were in together and kept going from there. And I did find you, eventually. But when I first met you, I didn't even know it was you. I was just a guy in a bar and you were in this ridiculous looking yellow dress, looking like Sun-"
"Shine and daisies," she finishes for him. "August, that's what Henry's father told me the night I met him. How could you possibly know that?"
"Because I was there, Emma."
Pulling away from him, Emma blinks, trying to make sense of his words. Even with all she'd discovered today, this was too much. She wasn't even sure she could handle this after the day she'd had.
"I…but…," Emma scoffs. "August, this is insane. Are you trying to tell me you're the asshole who deflowered me in a seedy motel room after getting me so drunk that I forgot my own name and then abandoned me the next morning?"
August wasn't exactly proud of himself, but he was trying to own up to the truth. Emma hadn't been the first girl he'd spent a drunken night with and she hadn't been the last either. Most of them he couldn't remember the next day. Hell, he didn't want to remember them, but with Emma…it had been different.
"I finally found you, but by the time I got to town, you'd run away from the foster family you were staying with. I was feeling guilty, so I went to the bar looking to drown my sorrows and…well, you know what I was looking for. And then you came along and…"
"I wasn't planning on leaving you in that motel room, but I didn't know it was you there with me and I thought there might be a chance that you were still working at the diner your foster family told me about. I knew if I slept in and waited I'd miss you at work, so I decided to leave. Not that it mattered because-"
"I wasn't at work because I was in your bed; hung-over and ashamed. When I woke up and you were gone I couldn't deal with staying there alone, so I left."
Emma stares at the ground, looking sick to her stomach.
"Fucking irony, right?"
August watches her for a moment and then sighs, decide to continue.
"I went back to that diner, every day for a week until…it was too much, Emma. When I finally saw you there and I put two and two together, I couldn't live with the guilt. I'd been living with so much of it because I left you when we were children. I decided that you were probably better off without me there. All I'd done up until then is making things worse for you. What was I supposed to do? I tracked you down because of my own guilt. My presence wasn't going to fix your life.
So I did what I do best and I left.
But I swear, Emma, if I'd known you were pregnant-"
August buries his face in his hands, not bothering to go further.
He hadn't deserved to be saved. He should have stayed dead.
"How long have you known? About Henry?"
"Since my second day here. He looks so much like your mother, but-"
"The eyes," they say together.
By now, knowing the truth, Emma had finally been able to see what had been right in front of her for nearly a year; Henry was an almost exact replica of Mary Margaret. Except for the eyes.
"I thought I was crazy at first, but the more time I spent with him…I just knew. I didn't tell you because you'd think I was insane and I needed to make you believe. And Henry…he didn't need to know. I knew if I failed you yet again, I'd be gone, and then he'd be alo-…he didn't need to know," August repeated.
They sat in silence until August couldn't take it anymore. He reached out to Emma, not knowing what else to do. When Emma didn't pull away from him, he moved closer to her, trying to get a read on her.
She lifts an index finger to silence him.
"I'm processing all of this. Most of me really wants to kill you right now."
"And the other part?"
"The other part of me has spent the past few months falling for you and once again it occurs to me that you've done nothing but lie to me. What am I supposed to do with this, August? We have a son. Not just a kid that's ours and with another family. He's mine now. I have to be his mom now. How am I supposed to forgive you for this? I understand why you left me when we were children. You were young, afraid, and it was too much to ask of you to take care of a baby. But you should have told me the second you came to town. I know you were trying to help me break the curse, but I can't trust you.
I can't trust my feelings. I feel like they're not real. I know you weren't trying to manipulate me into falling for you, but not telling me about Henry? You manipulated our entire friendship by keeping that from me. And when we were in the woods and you told me about taking my mother's place? Why didn't you say something then? You should have told me everything, August, not just what was convenient for you!"
By the time she's done, they're both on their feet. And then Emma is yelling. And cursing at him. Using words that August, the writer, didn't even know existed. August takes her verbal abuse, knowing that he deserves every word thrown his way.
When Emma finally stops yelling, August doesn't look away from her. He doesn't feel shame or grief or anything else. He channels the man he hopes Henry will become some day and cups her face in his hands, deciding to man up.
"I didn't tell you because I fell for you too. I didn't tell you because I knew that if I did, you'd leave town. You and I are the same, we run from our problems, because it's all we know how to do. How we have survived for so long. And even though I don't deserve Henry or you, I love him. I couldn't tell because he needed you here to break the curse and to protect him from the Evil Queen.
And admitting the truth to you meant admitting it to myself and I didn't want it to be true because the kid deserves better. Our kid deserves better than me for a father. And he has it in you, but what good does it do him if the two of you left town? The curse affected him too, Emma. I had to give him his best shot of escaping this thing, which meant putting my need to clear my conscience aside."
He isn't sure what part of his speech got to her, because she isn't looking murderous anymore. Instead, she's looking at him as though she's trying to figure him out.
And then her hand is on his cheek.
"He really does have your eyes."
August closes his eyes for a moment before smiling.
"He has your chin and stubborn nature."
Emma steps closer to him, fighting a smirk and losing.
"He gets that damn imagination of his from you. It gets him into trouble. The kid is too cheeky for his own good, too. I suspect that's your fault."
"Really? I thought the trouble came from your side of the family. You Charming's always find yourselves in life or death situations. I hate to break it to you, but the poor kid got that from you. So the next time he dies or gets trapped in a mine shaft, it's your fault."
"Says the man who's died twice."
August doesn't mind pointing out that it was her mother with the poison apple, instead he leans down and captures her mouth with his before something else comes out of it.
He knows that things aren't okay between them, but they're both willing to work at this, because none of this is over. Things are just beginning. The curse was broken, but they were still stuck here, and there was Regina to deal with. No one could afford to do anything but stick with the ones they loved right now. They needed each other.
When Emma breaks the kiss, August is grinning. Emma presses her forehead against his and bites her lip, trying not to smile.
"He's a great kid. In spite of having shitty parents."
"No, in spite of Regina. He's a great kid because he has you for a mother."
Emma's eyebrow went up.
"I really wasn't the only one who fell for the kid?"
"No. I think it's impossible to be around our kid and not fall in love with him."
"Stop calling him your kid," she told him, poking him in the chest with her index finger. "He's all mine until I say differently. I never had plans to share him with anyone, let alone you."
But Emma doesn't mean it, because she's pulling him towards her lips again.
"Too bad, I remember there being two of us involved in making him. I figure the least you can do is not be greedy with him."
Emma's the one who starts the kissing, but it's August who keeps it going. He wants nothing more than to recreate the night Henry was conceived minus the alcohol, but what he wanted even more was to find Henry and make sure he was alive with his own eyes.
Just as soon as he was done kissing the boy's mother until her knees gave out.