Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon A Time and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
Warnings: Mentions of torture.
James, Snow White, and the dwarfs finally discovered Emma's location on day four and talked over a plan to rescue her, not that they followed it very much. They meant to sneak in, but instead, the group rushed in and found Cora preparing to kill Emma. A furious James responded by grabbing his gun – a weapon he loved very much in this world – and shot her multiple times.
A worried Snow bolted to her daughter's side. "Emma, stay awake, sweetheart. Somebody call an ambulance! Are you listening to me, Em? Don't go to sleep."
"Hurts." Emma's entire body was on fire with pain and she couldn't think straight.
"I know it does, but you're going to be at the hospital soon. It's not good if you close your eyes. You want me to tell you a story?" Snow ignored all the background noise and only focused on Emma. She choked back the sobs because Emma needed her to be in charge, and her daughter was her only priority at the moment.
"Wanna sleep." She wanted to ask about Henry and August, but didn't have the energy to do so.
"Emma, don't! Please. You want to hear about the day I learned of my pregnancy with you? I don't believe I've told you that story yet. Just stay awake, Baby." But her daughter didn't listen – Emma's closed and no matter how much Snow tried to revive her, she wouldn't open them. James tried to hold his anger and worry in check as he comforted his wife.
Luckily, the ambulance arrived within ten minutes. They loaded Emma into the back, and Snow got in with her. James had to deal with Cora's body and he hated himself for not going with his family – They needed him more than the dead witch lying on the floor. He wanted to deal with this situation as quickly as possible.
Once they arrived and Emma was whisked off into a trauma room, a now crying Snow dialed Granny's with shaky hands to inform them of the rescue attempt. "We'll be right there," Ruby assured her best friend. She also promised to call August and Henry since both were going out of their minds with worry. After informing her grandmother of what had occurred, the diner was closed for the day and they picked up Emma's boyfriend and son on the way to the hospital. This all took place in less than twenty minutes.
Snow was sitting on one of the uncomfortable chairs and staring into space when Ruby sat down next to her and pulled her in for a hug. "She was hurt so badly, Red."
"I know, but they'll be able to fix her up here and she'll be back to normal in no time." Ruby doubted it, but she'd try anything she could to calm her down. She hadn't seen Snow this upset in a long time.
"I should have been with her." August had been blaming himself for days – They had been planning on meeting up, but Geppetto had kept him busy. He texted her that he'd meet her at a later time, but she hadn't been there when he arrived.
"It's not your fault, so stop saying that. Cora would have found way to get to her eventually, and you know. She's been planning this for a long time." Ruby stared at him until he backed off.
Henry sighed. "I just want her to be okay." The eleven year old wasn't sure what he'd do if his mom died. He had barely managed to hold it together when she and his grandmother were in the Enchanted Forest.
James arrived just as a doctor came out to update them. "Right now, she has numerous bruises and contusions. Her left wrist is broken, set we have to set that and she also has a concussion. Sheriff Swan will recover, however." He smiled at them and then turned around and left.
About three hours later, family was allowed in to see Emma, and August went in with them. She gave them a nervous smile when she saw them. "Hi!"
James stared at her for a second. "You seem pretty chipper."
"I think it's because I'm all drugged up. Morphine is my new best friend." She smiled at them again.
August laughed and hated himself for it. "I bet it is. You rest up and get better so we can take you home soon. I love you."
"I love you too. I know I never say it, but I should. You 'serve to know how I feel."
Snow parked herself in the chair and refused to leave. "I'm staying right here with you until you're discharged. I'll just get a sub to take over my classes for the next few weeks."
August leaned over and kissed Emma on the forehead, in a small spot where she wasn't bruised. "I love you, too, and I've always known how you felt. Don't ever doubt that." He just hoped she still felt the same way once she figured out he was the one at fault for her kidnapping.
Within two days, Emma was complaining every which way and finally convinced her doctor to discharge her from the hospital. The haunted look in her eye concerned everyone, and Snow wanted to suggest that she visit Archie, but held back. Now was not the time to tell Emma that she might need therapy – There would be an opportunity later.
"You guys are going to drive me crazy." Emma put her good arm around her son – mindful of the various injuries adorning her body – and gave him a small hug. He had been stuck to her like glue when he wasn't in school. Luckily, James and August – who also visited often – were taking care of him. Snow hadn't left her side at all except when she had to.
"That's what we're here for, Mom." Henry grinned at her and opened the door for her to get in. Emma rolled her eyes, but complied with his wishes. She fell asleep on the trip home, and only woke up when August gently tapped her. He was close to just picking her up and carrying into the house, but she refused his numerous offers and limped in herself.
"Your father and I are giving up our room for the foreseeable future since it's on the ground floor." Snow was suddenly grateful that they had all moved out of her apartment shortly after returning from the Enchanted Forest.
"You don't have to do that. I can walk up the stairs." She didn't want to, but Emma would try her hardest to make it.
"Don't even try it – I am not taking no for an answer." Snow stared her down until Emma finally relented. And against her wishes, she was ushered into said bedroom for a nap.
"I'm not a little kid. I'm fine, Mom. I'm not even tired." She was, but Emma didn't want to give in. She hated that.
"Yeah, I'm not buying it. I'll make you some dinner so you can get that nasty hospital food out of your mind and that'll be it." Snow walked into the kitchen and searched through the cupboards to find something to cook. Emma fell asleep rather quickly, and in August's arms. He still felt guilty, but he was putting it aside to help her recover.
It soon became obvious to her family and August that Emma wasn't as fine as she said she was – Not that they believed her anyway. They appreciated the effort, though, but it only increased their worry.
August went to go into the bedroom to grab something about a week later, but the door was closed and locked. He could hear Emma crying through it and wished she would let him in. The nightmares she was obviously suffering from kept her – actually both of them – awake pretty much all night as a result. The crying had been happening a lot lately, too. "You should come back in a little while," he whispered to Snow when she showed up with a blanket.
"She's crying again?" Snow's heart broke for her daughter once more. She wished there was something else she could to help her through this.
He nodded. "This isn't healthy for her to bottle all her feelings up and only let them out in private. She needs to talk to someone."
"I think it's about time we suggest she go to Archie." Snow knew she'd resist, but she needed to tell someone what had happened to her.
"What are you two doing out here?" Henry stared at them in worry, suddenly scared for his mother. That feeling had been popping up a lot in the past two weeks, ever since she had been kidnapped. He hated feeling this way.
"Why don't we go watch TV, kiddo? Let your mom take a nap." August smiled nervously at him and ushered him out of the hallway. Snow put the blanket in front of the door and joined them a few minutes later. None of them mentioned Emma's crying jag – or the obvious red around her eyes – when she sat down with them shortly afterwards.
The doorbell rang just as Emma was starting to fall asleep. Snow cursed whoever had showed up, and went to answer it. She glared at Regina upon opening it. "What do you want?"
"I came to apologize." Regina knew it wasn't her fault that her mother had kidnapped Emma, but she still felt responsible. She should have killed Cora the instant she finally found a portal into Storybrooke. Her fear had held her back, however, even with her own powers.
Snow deflated. "You don't have to, but she's in the living room. Go right ahead."
Emma eyed Regina warily. "Why are you here?"
"I deserve that. I just want to tell you that I am sorry for my mother's actions. I would have done something sooner if I had known what she was planning. I understand if you don't forgive yet another strike against me." Regina had just needed to get this off her chest.
Emma was confused – Regina wasn't at fault here since it was all Cora. "You're forgiven. Whatever. August or my dad will drop off Henry tomorrow."
"Thank you." She turned around and left.
Emma sat there on the couch and got lost in her thoughts. She was sick of sitting around and not doing anything since it was driving her crazy and just making her think about those four day she didn't want to relieve. "I'm going back to work tomorrow."
James, who had just come home from the station, exchanged a worried glance with his wife and August. "You're still hurt pretty badly and shouldn't be doing anything like going back to work."
"I'm right there with him. It's too soon." August didn't want her to push herself too hard, and he knew her well – That was exactly what was going to happen.
Snow didn't like it, but she only knew that Emma was retreat into herself further if everyone disagreed with her. "I think that's a great idea. Just maybe start out small with paperwork, and let your father and Grumpy handle everything else. Does that work?"
Emma hated that idea, but she was desperate to get out of the house. She appreciated her mother for agreeing with her. "Yeah, that works. I'll be up bright and early to get started. Can't wait."
August went to grab her hand, but she flinched and he let go. Contact was only limited to their bedroom, and even then, it wasn't much. She just hoped that no one noticed the little slip. They all had, but didn't mention it. "I guess I'll support you then." August knew that if he pushed Emma, she'd only slip away. It was what she did. He didn't mind though – He'd be there for whenever she finally did fall apart. The little crying jags weren't helping much at all. He also realized that the meltdown wasn't going to be good when it finally happened.
"Great. Thanks. I'm going to go to bed now since I have a long day tomorrow." Emma kissed August, but it didn't last long, and then returned to their bedroom. She curled up in the bed and cried herself to sleep, just wishing that she didn't have to live with all the shit that was swirling around in her now.
"James, please keep an eye on Emma. I don't want her pushing herself too hard." Snow bit her lip, suddenly worried that Emma would cause a setback in her recovery by returning to work.
James hugged her. "Snow, I'm not going anywhere for the next few days. Grumpy's taking the other dwarfs out on patrol with him so I don't have to leave the station. Emma's probably going to figure it out, but let her." He was deeply worried about their daughter and how she was coping with the four days of hell she went through. He was going to be there as much as he possibly could for her.
Two more weeks passed before Emma started to get antsy about only doing paperwork, and despite the fact that she was still recovering, she forced herself to go out on patrol and do her job. James tried to talk her out of it, but failed. "It's been weeks and I'm sick and tired of only seeing the inside of those walls. I need to arrest somebody!"
James was wary of the sudden shift in Emma's mood. The crying jags were happening less frequently, but everyone suspected she was just getting better at hiding them. The happiness was not a good sign, and he had a feeling she was going to break apart soon. Snow and August agreed with him, and were ready to be right by her side when it happened. "Fine. But you better not injure yourself even more, or I'll catch hell from your mother."
"I won't, I promise." Emma was feeling happy for the first time in weeks and she was grateful. She didn't question the change in her mood – It wasn't a big deal. She was over her kidnapping and that was that. She could start to move on.
Emma went out and patrolled for the next few days and basked in the happiness. She tried her best to ignore the growing feelings of anger, hopelessness, and sadness warring within her, but it was hard. The crying even stopped, something she was thrilled about, and her nightmares weren't happening as frequently.
"The meltdown is about to come any minute now, I can feel it." August didn't trust this sudden shift in attitude at all and he was ready to catch her when she fell. He knew she was only burying her problems and that wasn't good in the long run.
"This happiness can't last for very long and she's scaring me. I actually went to Gold and asked if he gave her some kind of mood potion, but Belle said they haven't seen her in days." Snow was also ready to provide comfort for her daughter once Emma broke. She felt guilty for hoping it would happen, but it needed to so Emma could heal.
But when Emma finally did break, it wasn't in August or Snow's vicinity – It was in the station with James. She got frustrated over the stapler not working, and the next thing they knew, she was choking on the sobs. Grumpy got out of the chair and left them alone so the two could have privacy. "Hey, what's the matter?"
"Everything! I was fucking kidnapped and tortured for four days and I can't stop seeing it."
James nearly fell apart with her, but he refused to allow himself to. He opened his arms for his daughter and she burrowed in his chest. "I'm here, Emma. This is never going to happen to you again. I promise you that with everything I have." He kissed the top of her head and started rocking her back and forth.
Emma would normally be resistant to this type of comfort, but she honestly didn't give a fuck at the moment. She couldn't take it anymore. "Every time I close my eyes, I relive every moment. She threatened to take my heart so many times, but didn't. And when I asked her why, you know what she said?"
James shook his head. "What?"
"She said that I would suffer more with one and she'd take it when she was finally done having fun. And she wouldn't stop. I tried to use magic, but I can't control it and Cora blocked it anyway. I'm trying, but it hurts. Every inch of me does and I don't know how to get it to stop."
James continued to rock her back and forth, aware that she normally wouldn't allow this and she'd probably push him away soon. He didn't care, however. His daughter was currently his priority. "I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through, Emma, but all of us are here for you. You're not alone and you need to realize that, sweetheart. You need to talk to someone – anyone. You can talk to Archie if you want."
"Can I talk to you? I don't want to talk to Archie." Emma and James were close, but not as close as she was with Snow. Things like this didn't happen between them very often.
"Of course you can. I'll listen to anything you wish to tell me because I'm not going anywhere. I'm your father and I love you with everything I have. Don't you ever doubt that."
Emma slowly began to calm down and started to feel embarrassed for breaking down on her father. Once the sobs slowed and she started to sniffle, she pushed him away a little. He wasn't hurt by the action – He knew it was just a defense mechanism. "Thanks. Sorry for getting you all snotty."
"I honestly don't care that I'm all snotty. This is what I'm here for. And don't feel embarrassed either. It's fine. I do think you scared Grumpy, though."
She laughed. "I'm going to have to make it up to him somehow. And Dad?"
He froze at that – She had been referring to Snow by mom for once, but she had never once called him that. "Yeah?"
"I love you, too." She smiled nervously at him and then pulled James in for a hug. Emma let go after a few seconds, though because she was starting to feel uncomfortable.
Emma had a long way to go before she could recover from the horrors she faced at the hands of Cora. Luckily, she had support from August and her family. They would be there to comfort her. But for now, she was lost in the trauma of those four days. The good days gradually started to outweigh the bad, but it would take a long time to get there. It would haunt her for the rest of her life.