A/N: I know, not the next chapter of Made a Fortune and Counted It. I'm sorry, but this little AU wouldn't leave me alone. And anyone who follows me on tumblr can probably guess fairly quickly what directions it's going to go in. Nevertheless, it's proving a lot of fun to write, so I hope you enjoy.
Many thanks to killer-elephants for being my beta!
Chapter I: The moon is out and there's a chill tonight
In her dream, she was running.
She knew it was a dream, knew for a fact that the beast who hunted her was dead- long dead, and would never be hurting her again. She'd made sure of it herself, with a well-placed bullet resulting in a puddle. She knew this; she even knew how the dream would end, as it always did. She was still powerless to stop it. It would unfold as it always did, end where it always did, and she would wake, panting and sweating and crying and possibly screaming, alone in her apartment, and she would get no further sleep that night. But only after it ended.
She was always running. Through dark, twisting alleys and dim-lit streets, hearing nothing but the haggard sounds of her own frantic panting and her shoes crunching over shards of broken bottles. The neon of the Chinese take-away colored the night a dull red; it flickered intermittently, broken. Darkness and redness bled into one another, causing her eyes to play tricks on her as she ran, wobbling, to the door of the restaurant. She tried the handle, banged on the door, but no one came to save her. A swath of the dark blurred slightly differently than the rest, and a quiet whoosh of movement passed, too fast to be seen. Her pursuer was getting closer- almost to her now. Playing with her. She could not, she knew, present all that much of a game, in her state. Still she ran, attempting to propel herself from the side of the building, hoping the brief moment of contact with the brick would lend her some of its strength. She was tiring.
Muscles screaming with exhaustion, she was forced to pause, just to catch her breath. She'd rounded the corner of another building- empty, like all the others. Or the owners were doing what any sane person did at this time of night- holed down in their own little bunker of safety, ever-watchful and alert for the very thing that chased her now. Where she should be. Where she'd had every intention of being, tonight.
Running was foolish, but she didn't know how to do anything else.
Hers was not the only life at stake.
She'd gotten held up at the doctor's office- some last little damned tests they'd had to do, before the final month was completely over. "Just to be sure." With wide eyes she'd eyed the setting sun, and the bland, empty smiles of the doctors were unconcerned as they assured her it was all for the best. It would all be fine, once they were done.
Huddled in the shadow of the building, she did not feel fine. Another spike of pain was shooting up from her stomach, and she bowed over, covering her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Placing a hand to her pregnant belly, she hissed silently, praying to whoever would listen for the baby to just stay inside where it was safe until she could get them out of this. Just until sunrise. It didn't seem too much to ask. Allowing herself one tiny moment of pity , her eyes closed, tears dripping down the sides of her cheeks in stained lines as her head fell back against the wall. Another whoosh of motion, and her eyes opened, revealing another blur of the darkness. She swallowed, and gave a shuddering, sobbing breath. She was not going to survive this.
Neither of them would.
Hobbling, shuffling, she forced herself into motion again, each step forcing another wave of agony coursing through her. She kept moving. She had to keep moving, get somewhere safe. Anywhere, just until sunrise.
When the whooshing next came, it was directly in front of her. And then Itstopped, staring at her with a slight incline of its head. Acknowledging the end to the game.
She screamed, but nothing came out, a hand shooting out around her mouth and pinning her to the very wall she'd taken shelter against. Shutting off her screams. Though no one would have heard, anyway. She bit at the hand, scratched and kicked at the body, but it didn't matter. Her attacker was unfazed. She could only watch as eyes gone black with death raked over her body, penetrating to her very core.
Deep, dark lips pulled back in a deadly smile, and white points glistened behind them. She fought again, and this time the hand released her mouth, entwining in her hair instead and yanking her head cruelly to one side. Exposing her neck. Another shooting contraction from her belly, and she screamed again, in agony this time. The baby wasn't waiting.
Itonly laughed, seeming to enjoy her screams. She felt a hand not her own reach down, pressing cold fingers against her stomach and then applying pressure. Hard. She screamed again, eyes squeezing shut, and the tears that came now dripped from her cheeks onto the other cold hand. She felt a long, pointed fingernail trace a fine line of fire across her cheek, but it was negligible to the pain below. Her eyes cracked open, the spikes of pain now more akin to endless spirals, flaring white hot with every breath. She watched as that finger dipped between dark lips and across its tongue, leaving a streak of something redder- her blood, along its length.
Itnearly purred in satisfaction, and the rumble of its approval against her chest made her heave violently. Though that could have been the pain. She was fully in labor, now, she knew. Her face was contorted with it, vision gone so blurry she could barely see. Which was fine with her, really. Better to not watch as those red lips parted again, as gleaming white bared toward her throat..
But even the burning spasms of labor weren't enough to block the feeling of fangs sharper than knife points digging into her exposed neck. Her eyes went wide, vision going almost completely black as she sunk against the wall, her body no longer able to keep her up. It did not seem to care as it drank, crushing her body to the wall with its own, one hand still resting on her stomach as the other twisted ever-tighter into her hair.
How long it lasted, she didn't know. She could feel herself being drained away, still conscious, still awake, but fading, and she knew when the draining stopped, sort of. When It was finished, she wasn't standing any longer. She could almost pinpoint the final burning sweep of agony, dulled and almost far-away now. She could just barely hear a faint smack and then the squealing, angry cries. Her baby...
She moaned at that, she was fairly sure, shakily tried to reach out a hand to take him. It was surprised by that, maybe, and laughed, but kept the crying newborn away from her. Just far enough so she could see, but not touch.
Only watch as It had risen, cradling her newborn in its glittering arms, and smiled down with wicked pleasure, her blood still dripping in dark lines down its chin.
She tried to stand, tried to reach after them. Even tried to scream. But Itjust left her there, in a cooling pool of her own blood, with nothing but its resounding laughter echoing in fading hearing.
A strangled, sobbing breath, and her vision went completely black.
Emma Swan woke in her room in a cold sweat, panting and shaking. She took a deep, sobbing breath. Counted to ten. And then twenty, and breathed again. She reached automatically for the bottle of water kept by her bed, and drank from it greedily. The scar on her neck, long since healed, was throbbing, as it always did when she dreamed. She rubbed it idly with the palm of her hand, sighing again, and glanced at the clock.
At least she'd managed to sleep through most of the day, this time. Wearily, she swung her feet out of bed, grabbed her boots and gear and clothes, and silently began going about her evening routine. She finished early, as always, and fixed herself a quick breakfast (for her) of eggs and cheese and toast and juice.
A few minutes before the final rays of the sun would disappear behind the horizon, she rose from her table. Time to get to work. Checking and re-checking her guns and the silver bullets with their wooden cores within, she strapped one of each to her hips, thighs, and two on her back, and slid a silver knife into each boot. She hated knives, swords, blades of any kind, really. She knew plenty of hunters who swore by them, but her own personal feeling was if you got close enough to use them, odds were you were probably almost already dead. But she kept the knives just in case.
Finally ready, she was just shrugging on her leather jacket when a sharp knock at the door threw her out of routine.
Warily, she pulled out a gun, and checked the door before opening it quickly, glancing out into the hall with gun at the ready.
A young boy smiled up at her, eying the gun but otherwise making no threatening move. He couldn't have been older than nine. "Uh... hi." he offered cheerily. "Are you Emma Swan?"
"Yeah..." she answered warily. "Who're you?"
"I'm Henry," he shrugged. "I'm your son."
Floored, she blinked, so thrown by his earnest smile that she didn't even register the barest tips of points on his canines. At least at first.
He brushed past her before she could notice much further, entering her home with no physical difficulty whatsoever. "Oh, hey, juice!" he noted excitedly, grabbing her half-finished glass and downing it instantly.
By that time his fangs had fully computed, she was already in motion, aiming the gun with motions honed from long hours of practice. "Hey!"
He turned just a little faster than she could see, still holding the juice glass. His lips were stained with orange pulp, clearly visible from the fading light pouring in through the window. Directly onto him, with no smoke or singing or even evident pain. She hesitated, extremely confused. Just a second's worth of hesitation, she told herself. Just enough to keep her from firing. "You're in the sun," she muttered, confused. "I didn't invite you in."
He just blinked at her and wiped his mouth with a paper napkin. "Do you have any more juice?" he asked quietly, eying the gun a little nervously, but looking at her more than it. "I don't get it very often..." She looked very, very closely at his mouth. Small, but very definite fangs. She was so caught up on how the hell that all worked that she didn't even bother to question how an eight-year old had managed to track her down.
The gun lowered just a little. "...In the fridge," she whispered, her own mouth suddenly dry.
"Thanks!" he beamed at her again, and opened the fridge door, pouring more juice into the glass and drinking it down.
Emma only stared, watching him uneasily, but the gun was now only loosely held in her grasp. He appeared to suffer no ill effects at all from the orange juice. Or, when he asked afterward and she allowed it, toast, cereal, or, oddly, broccoli. He seemed to love the stuff, and that alone made her instantly wary of him, just as a kid.
"...What are you?" she finally breathed, sliding down into her couch and swallowing roughly as she stared at him, eyes slightly glazing.
"I told you," he smiled again, and his fangs gleamed just a little. "I'm your son."
She swallowed again, and closed her eyes. "I need a minute," she muttered. He seemed to understand, and left her alone, only disturbing her with chewing sounds of crunching vegetables as he continued to eat.
"Okay," she opened her eyes and breathed after a long minute. Or tried to. "Okay. You're my kid." He nodded, rolling his eyes slightly as if it were obvious. "The kid I gave birth to, eight years ago, while being attacked by a vampire, who nearly killed me and then stole you."
He nodded again, this time sans eyeroll, and swallowed whatever he was eating at this point. She thought it was a celery stalk. His gaze had lowered to the floor.
Emma continued slowly, taking a deep breath. "The vampire who I later hunted down, staked, and watched turn into a puddle of blood in front of my eyes, and there was no sign of you anywhere."
She ignored the reaction, though did notice with a tiny level of amusement when he finally stopped eating. The next question was hard for her, mainly because she couldn't decide what it was. "So... how... what... where... do you live?" she finally finished, settling on no question in particular.
"Storybrooke," he answered quietly. "It's in Maine. I live with my Mom."
She felt her heart clench a bit in her chest. "...Your mom?"
"Yeah. She's the mayor. You can meet her when you take me home."
"...When I do what?!"
"Take me home," he shrugged as if it were obvious, stifling a yawn. "You have to. Mom will freak out otherwise." He yawned again. His voice was trailing off, dropping in volume as his eyelids began to droop.
As she watched, she was beginning to get a little concerned. His fork drooped, then slipped completely from his fingers. "...You okay, kid?"
He continued on as if he hadn't heard, his words slurred, voice faint. "And trust me, that's scary," he muttered drowsily. "...Gonna take a nap now..." He pitched forward, his head flopping on the table.
She sprang off the couch and was at his side in an instant, hands braced out to hold him. "Henry?" she shook him by the shoulders, growing frantic when he didn't respond. "What the hell is wrong with you?!" she almost screamed.
He winced, cracking his eyes open just a little. "Too much sunlight..." the eight-year-old murmured, and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "...Mom..." he almost whimpered the word, and then his eyes closed again. "Mom will know..."
Emma froze, unable to even process. She took a few panicked breaths, not moving, hardly daring to breathe.
Okay, Emma, her brain finally began to kickstart into gear. Deep breaths. That would help. So the kid you'd given up all hope of ever finding is not, in fact, dead. He's conked out in your arms. She pulled him out of the chair completely, lifting and draping him over her shoulder. His mouth opened just a bit, revealing the fangs. And that was another whole cause for concern. Her eyes flicked to the map still open on her computer screen, covered with blinking red lines indicating possible locations of targets she was tracking. Vampire targets.
Her eyes moved back to those teeth, so near her neck. She had to fight to keep the bile from rising in her throat. He's not a vampire, she told herself. He'd been eating normal food. He'd been in the sun. He hadn't needed an invitation. He's... something else.
She took another deep breath, and held him. In his sleep, his head turned to one side, resting the weight of it on her shoulder. A wave of protectiveness she hadn't felt in years kicked its way through her. In wonder, the hand not supporting most of his weight slid up to lightly rest on the back of his head. He's my son. And he needs me. She sighed. But what the hell do I do?
He whimpered again, face contorted and his hands clenched for a moment. "Mom..." he barely squeaked out.
And she realized that he didn't necessarily mean her. 'Mom will know,' he'd said. Her eyes flitted back to the map on the computer screen, and, still cradling her... son... Her son... she cracked a small smile. Her son was alive. It was going to take some getting used to. But she shifted him slightly to get a hand free, and typed in the 'directions to' bar. Storybrooke. Maine.
The results were a little slow, as they always were, but within a few seconds, directions were found and automatically printed. By car, six hours and thirty-eight minutes away.
Six hours?! With wide-eyes, she stared at the clock on the computer. At the height of summer, sunrise was almost exactly seven hours from now. She shifted the kid in her arms a bit more. 'Too much sunlight,' he'd said. No wonder, if he'd spent the last seven hours on a bus, in the daylight, on his way here. If his... mother... knew what to do, she needed to get him to her. Soon. Before sunrise.
Which means they needed to leave now.
Groaning, she managed to finagle herself into grabbing her keys and heading out to her car, on the alert as always for prowling vamps. They wouldn't think twice about attacking her, even armed as she still was. Even carrying a child. She knew that damned well.
But the security measures seemed to be working, tonight. She got them to the car just fine, propping Henry into the backseat so he could still sleep.
She'd figure out the what she'd say to the Night Patrols when she had to.
Oddly... damned oddly, she managed to get almost all the way to this Storybrooke before being stopped. And it wasn't by a traveling Patrolsman. It was a wall.
Well, two watchtowers on either side of the road, between which spanned a gate. And silver, shiny wire suspended from the other sides of the towers, connecting to others. The wires sparked from time to time, making her eyes widen. Electric as well as silver? Gated towns, especially small ones, weren't unheard of, she knew. But she'd never seen anything quite to this degree...
A rapping at her window forced her to stop looking at the wire, and she cursed herself for her lack of attention. "Travel papers!" the voice demanded of her.
Slowly, she rolled the window down, hand surreptitiously moving to her gun. Just in case. Her other hand grabbed her papers, identifying her name as Emma Swan, profession: hunter. And oh, did the guy's eyes get wide when he read that. She was used to that, when people saw her papers. Used to the looks of gratitude and near-adoration and slight fear that came with it, too.
But this guy looked severely pissed. He practically threw the papers back into her car, gripping the window with white knuckles. "We don't permit hunters here," he announced, loud enough so that several gaps and cries of outrage rang out from the others posted to the gate. "You'll have to leave."
She raised an eyebrow at that. What town didn't allow hunters? "I've no intention of staying. Just need to drop something off and then I'll be on my way."
He eyed her warily. "Hunters are taking delivery jobs now?"
She knew it was meant to be a jibe, but she just shrugged it off. "That's what happens when you're too good at your job," she smirked, a dangerous glint in her eyes. "There's no one left to kill."
A low growl was the only reply. And for an instant, Emma could swear she saw the glimmer of yellow behind the man's eyes. Werewolf. She gripped the gun a little tighter. But the wolf-glow was gone, and the man sighed. "Look, I don't care what you're delivering. You can't go in. Leave. Now."
"Even when I'm delivering him?" Emma jerked her head, indicating the backseat.
Keeping a wary eye on her, he cast a quick glance into the back window. And then froze, staring. "Henry!" the man breathed. "It's Henry Mills!"
And suddenly, before she could blink, two other blurs of motion appeared from every side, completely surrounding her car as they stilled to reveal themselves as people-shaped.
A snarl rose, buried, in the back of her throat. Vamps. ...Oddly... worried-looking vamps. But vamps, all the same.
The man- werewolf,her mind corrected- was looking relieved. "The mayor's been worried sick about him! We'll take him from here," he offered, moving to open the car door with unnatural quickness.
But no quicker than she had raised her gun. "Yeah, I don't think so." She cocked it, aiming it directly at his heart.
The two vamps snarled, baring their fangs, but did not approach. Odd.
The werewolf swallowed, his eyes going wolf-yellow again. She didn't waver. "...You still can't go in," he growled.
"Watch me." She revved the engine.
He looked about ready to pounce, but just as the hackles began to raise, a tired voice sounded from the backseat.
"Emma?" Henry sat up, his voice squeaking just a bit. And that caused her to waver, eyes glancing back at him for a split-second. "Are we home yet?"
"Not yet, kid," she replied back, as gently as she could while in a stand-off. "Just lay back down. We'll be there soon."
"'Kay," he muttered, eyes drooping again, but not before briefly focusing on the figure outside the car. "Hi, Graham." His voice was nearly inaudible now, but the wolf, of course, would have no problem hearing it. "S'Emma," Henry continued, and she had to hide a smile. Even mostly unconscious, he still bothered with introductions. "She's my..." and then he was completely out again, unable to finish.
But it obviously had an effect on the werewolf. He paused, glancing nervously at the unconscious form of Henry before looking at the two vamps. And then at Emma again. "You're Henry's...?"
She raised an eyebrow, and nodded. "Yeah, I'm his-" But she stopped at the look on his face.
He seemed to be struggling with something. Finally, he gave a sigh, and nodded to the two vamps. They nodded back, and were gone. The gates began to open. Emma blinked, surprised, and slowly drew her gun back into the car, though she didn't lower it completely.
"...The mayor's house is 108 Mifflin St. ...Just take him in, drop him off, and leave."
Emma smirked, "That was always the plan. I knew you'd see it my way." As the gates opened fully, she dropped the gun, floored the engine, and sped into town before he could say another word.
The werewolf stood, watching her drive off, and then nodded to the two vampires manning the gates. He pulled out his phone and dialed.
"Regina? It's Graham. Henry's been found. …I think he's alright, it was hard to tell. He seems sun-exhausted, I think. ...Yes... He's on his way. …Yes, I understand. ...Yes, and... Regina, I think we have a problem."