Chapter Seventeen

"Grown up's are weird," Henry whispered to Paige as Jefferson and Emma were directed out of the hospital by Dr. Whale. "But they both want to help you. I guess that makes up for it." He sighed, and grabbed onto her hand. "I can read you stories, if you want. I'll bring my book next time, and I'll tell you about the progress on the curse. Emma believes. Jefferson did it."

"Henry," a voice said, and the boy turned to see it was Dr. Whale. "The hospital will be closing for the night, and you should be heading home."

"All right," Henry said, and kissed Paige's hand gently. Dr. Whale gave him a small smile before letting him pass. Henry took small, slow steps away from Paige's bedside, tears growing in his eyes.

. . . . . . . . . . .

"You two are back?" Ruby asked happily as Jefferson and Emma entered the diner.

"Sorry about the hot cocoa earlier," Emma said, while they took a seat at the counter.

"It's alright," Ruby replied, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. "Now what would you both like?"

Emma told her, "I'll have a cup of coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich."

"And you?" Ruby asked Jefferson. He sat silently, staring off into space.

"Jefferson?" Emma said, nudging him. He snapped back to life.

"What?"

"What do you want?" she told him.

"I'll have the same as her, except with tea," he said, looking at Ruby.

"She's getting grilled cheese. Is that alright?" Ruby asked, smiling. Jefferson nodded, and so did Ruby as she went back to the kitchen to start on their order.

The bell rang above the door and Mary Margaret and a man entered. "Oh hi Emma," Mary Margaret said, her and the man coming to sit by them. "Who's this?"

"Jefferson," Emma replied, and shook her head at Mary Margaret, who raised her eyebrows. "This is Mary Margaret and…"

"David," she said.

"Nice to meet you both," David said, waving slightly with one hand.

Jefferson leaned towards Emma and whispered, "They're your parents."

"Don't be stupid," she replied, turning back to look at David and Mary Margaret. "They're my same age."

"That's your curse," Jefferson said, the smile obvious in his voice. "To be the same age as your parents."

Emma couldn't help but laugh. "Shut up," she said, jokingly.

Mary Margaret and David stared at them awhile before turning to face Ruby when she came to take their order. "They're becoming close, aren't they?" the waitress said, smiling as she glanced at the two.

"Yes they are," Mary Margaret responded, grinning, before reciting her order to Ruby.

. . . . . . . . . . .

I raced through the woods, ignoring as my dress snagged on the branches. I had to get away, that was the only thought on my mind. I jumped over a log, and soon I could hear someone running after me.

I could feel a shriek rising in my throat as I sped up. "Grace!" A familiar voice called and I whirled around to find Jefferson there.

"Papa!" I cried, rushing into his arms.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" he asked, sitting down on a log and cradling me in his arms.

"I heard a twig snap, and I didn't know what it was, so I got scared and ran," I explained, as I began to cry. "I should have waited for you. I'm sorry."

"It's alright. I shouldn't have left you," Jefferson whispered, laying a kiss on my forehead. "Let's promise to stick together from now on."

I stuck out my hand and said, "I promise."

"So do I," Jefferson smiled as he wiped away my tears with one hand and shook my hand with the other. We stood up and walked deeper into the forest.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Jefferson stepped into Mr. Gold's pawnshop. "Ah, Mr. Maddigan," the man said.

"Let's not play games," Jefferson said, before quickly adding, "Rumpel."

"So, you're coming as the Hatter?" he asked.

Jefferson sighed. "I want to know what sort of favor you want."

"Why would you owe me a favor?" Mr. Gold asked, though he knew the answer.

"You want me to quote what you said? Really?" Gold nodded. "Fine. I owe you a favor because you're always 'cleaning up my mess'."

"Yes. Now I remember," Gold said, and Jefferson rolled his eyes. "I'm not sure I know what I want yet." He began to pace as he thought, and Jefferson tapped his foot. "I think I know now."

"What is it?" Jefferson asked, placing his hands on the counter.

"A piece of Miss Swan's hair."

Jefferson drew his eyebrows together. "Why would you want that?"

"That's my business, not yours," Mr. Gold said. "Anyways, that shouldn't be too hard for you to obtain, considering your relationship with Miss Swan."

"Not like that," Jefferson said, exasperatedly. "Why does everyone think that?"

Mr. Gold shrugged. "Anyways, can you get it or not?"

"I can," Jefferson replied, removing his hands from the counter. "I'll get it for you. You can count on it." He left the shop, and the door shut quietly behind him.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Henry opened up the door and saw Regina sitting in an armchair. "Oh Henry!" she cried, coming to hug him. "I heard about Paige."

"It's alright. She'll be fine," he replied, as Regina released him. She offered him a comforting smile, and Henry snapped, "You don't think it's true, do you?"

"What do you mean, sweetheart?"

"It's all your fault," he said. "You've cursed them. If it wasn't for the curse, Paige would be with her dad and she wouldn't be in a coma right now."

"I don't see how any of this is remotely my fault," Regina said, not even bothering to deny the existence of the curse.

"You're the one who cast the curse, and if anything happens to Paige, it'll be your fault," Henry said, running up the stairs. Once he reached his bedroom, he shut the door and locked it, falling onto his bed in despair. It seemed hopeless now, breaking the curse. Emma believed, but she had said she knew nothing about how to break the curse. She'll find a way, Henry told himself. It's her destiny.

Henry pulled his sheets off of his bed and tied them into a long strand. He hid it under his bed and climbed under his comforter, pretending to sleep.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Emma organized the papers into a pile on her desk, and in response to the sound of footsteps, her head snapped up. "Sorry to scare you," Jefferson said, leaning against the doorframe.

"You didn't really scare me," Emma replied, happy to see him, though despite her best wishes.

Jefferson crossed the floor until he was standing in front of her desk. "You know me from when I was in jail, so I want you to meet me just as myself." He stuck out his hand, "Nice to meet you. Miss Swan. I'm Jefferson."

"Pleasure to meet you," she replied, shaking his hand. With the smile on her face, Jefferson began to feel guilty about what he was going to do. He didn't know why Rumpel needed her hair, but he was sure it wasn't going to end well for anyone, especially the blonde standing before him.

Jefferson sighed and said, "I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself." Meeting Emma's expectant stare, he continued by saying, "I make hats, and I like tea, and story books, and maps." With each fact, he took a small step towards her, until her head was leaned at an angle, looking up at him.

"I've caught on with the tea part," Emma told him, smiling. Jefferson placed his hands on her shoulders, and felt her instantly stiffen.

"Don't worry, princess," he murmured, his green eyes boring into hers with a mix of menace and wistfulness. With a rough jerk of his arms he twisted her body around and forced her onto the desk, clapping his hand over her mouth to smother her shriek.

Through his hands, he heard her say, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I won't hurt you," Jefferson said, pulling the scissors out of his jacket pocket as she struggled. "I'm just holding up my end of the deal." With a quick snip, he chopped off jagged piece of her hair. He placed the scissors and the hair in his pocket before releasing her.

Emma whirled around and screamed, "What the hell was that for?" Before Jefferson had the chance to respond, she planted a hard slap on his cheek.

"I was just holding up my end of the deal," he said, wincing as he rubbed the spot where her hand had landed.

"What deal?" she asked, going around to the other side of her desk, creating space between the two of them.

"The deal with Gold," he explained. "He needed your hair. I got it."

Emma furrowed her eyebrows. "Why does he need my hair."

Jefferson shrugged in response. "He wouldn't tell me. Probably for some potion or spell."

"That's why you came to see me," she said, her voice low. "That's why, right?"

"Yeah. Why else would I come by?" he asked, stuffing his hands into his pockets.

Emma shook her head, walking to the window, then whirling back around to face him. "You're clueless. Just get out."

"Emma," Jefferson started, guilt overtaking him, "I'm sorry."

"Just go!" she cried, sitting down at her desk. He quickly exited as Emma bit her lip, blinking away tears.

. . . . . . . . . . .

A/N That's the chapter. I hope you all didn't really expect that. The big section in italics is Paige having visions while she's in her coma. I'm trying to keep from making it a Mad Swan, but I somehow couldn't, so hopefully that last section will cool them off for a while.

Please review.