A/N So apparently I really liked the Once Upon a Time premiere. This will be a quick collection of one-shots - I'm not sure how many - set during 'Broken', and focusing on the changes the characters have to embrace as the curse is broken. The idea of the title is that in a split second - between breaths - everything changes for those who were under the curse and suddenly know who they are, and what the other people in town mean to them. This first one actually doesn't go with the theme I wanted for this set, I realize now that I'm writing this introduction... oops. Technically, this sort of counts. Kind of. Read it anyway. (Oh, and all of them will be 500 words, exactly. A mega-drabble, if you will).
James had been a father for less than an hour before the curse. Somehow, it hadn't given him the skills he needed to take care of a ten year old boy, alone. Add in his worry for Snow and Emma, the fact that both Rumplestiltskin and the Queen were living within walking distance of his house, and that he wasn't sure whether he should go by David or James (or why the decision worried him) and it had already been a difficult evening.
"Do you have cereal?" Henry asked, eyebrows raised, as he watched James trying to make dinner, their first evening together.
"That I do have… well," he said, digging through his sparse cupboard and seeing just how little attention he'd paid to things like food since Kathryn had moved out, he corrected himself: "I have wheaties." He held up the box.
Henry made a face as he sighed. "It will do, I suppose," he said, seriously, "but if you're going to keep me around, you've got to buy something with sugar in it."
"Noted," James said, pouring Henry a bowl. They sat across from each other at the table. Henry stared at him as he spooned cereal into his mouth, his attention never wavering. James felt unnerved. How much did the kid know about what had been happening in Storybrooke recently? James hadn't exactly been role model material. Was there some kind of trick to this whole caregiving thing that he, so new to the parenting world when his child was snatched away from him, wasn't aware of? What if this wasn't the right thing to do? But who else was there, with Emma and Snow White… gone? Who would keep Henry safe if James couldn't?
The boy chewed his wheaties slowly and swallowed with a grimace. "I think this milk is bad," he said. James jumped up to check the expiry date on the carton. He blanched at the date.
"Yea, hey, Henry? Don't eat anymore of that. Seriously, just… give it to me." He took the bowl of compromised cereal away from the kid and put it in the sink. He rested his head against the cupboard door, berating himself.
"You're not very good at this, are you?" Henry asked from behind him.
James laughed without taking his face away from the door. "No. No, I don't think I am."
"That's okay. Emma wasn't very good at it at first, either, but she got better. Can we talk about the other world?"
James turned around to face Emma's son. Henry smiled up at him, undaunted by everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours.
"Yea, of course we can," James said. "What do you want to know?" He searched the cupboards again, digging up a can of tomato soup and putting it on the stove as Henry asked his questions. And as he told the story of his meeting with Snow and watched as his grandson laughed, he thought that maybe… he could do this.