The deck of the Jolly Roger was hardly what Cora would have picked for an ideal base of operations. Bits of splintery wood stuck of here and there off the floor planks, and the smell of rank sailors and their rum still carried in the chambers below, immortalized by centuries of existence in the unchanging realm of Neverland. But still, Cora could make do. Her youth living with a drunkard of a father who never lifted a finger other than to gorge himself on the little bread they managed to buy or to caress her thighs in a half lucid stupor had taught her to play the cards she was dealt.
And look what that had gotten her in the long run. Magical power equaled only by a select few, a daughter as a queen, and dominance over Wonderland. Though the last bit was only coincidental, seeing as she hadn't ever intended to be flung into the hallucinatory realm of mushrooms and madness.
As she carefully levitated the iron wrought cage onto the deck, she gazed upwards at the shimmering dome of light that encased the town. It's barrier fell just short of the harbor, keeping her confined to the our third of the waterfront part of town. Not much, consisting only of the docks, a few boats, and the salty lapping of the sea. No matter though. She still had her magic. And that was all she'd ever really needed. That, and a force field strong enough to keep her out could only hold so long. A few days at most.
The appearance of the armored sorcerer had her intrigued. Not frightened. Nothing truly frightened her anymore. But nonetheless, it was interesting. Her years of magical study had garnered little information on time magic. Of all the Arcane arts it was perhaps the most obscure, which was saying a lot when it came to magic. Most magic was obscure, revealing itself only to those with the ambition to seek it out. People like her who had tricked the great trickster himself into passing on the secrets of the Dark Arts.
Time was a sacred force, most contemporary magicians said as they twiddled their beards nervously, unwilling to take the risks inherent with gaining any kind of real power. Time wasn't meant to be meddled with. And yet it had been it seemed. Chronos Invictus, the boy had confirmed, referring to a ritual so ancient in origin it outdated a being as old as Reul Gorm.
It made sense in context. The boy certainly appeared to be who he professed to be. His features matched perfectly with the younger version of her grandson. Brown hair, insipidly kind and forgiving eyes that still burned with passion, and a rather large amount of raw magical talent.
That had to come from his birth mother, Cora decided. Emma Swan had managed to deflect her attempts at her heart without even trying, and had sent her flying with just the barest amount of intent. Power ran deep in that boys bloodline, it seemed. Also, the boy was prepared, and seemed able to either predict or recall from memory certain events. Such as the arrival of hit broomstick riding ally.
Yet concluding that the boy was a time traveler only raised further questions. First and foremost was his intent in using such a ritual. Time travel couldn't possibly be a simple spell. It had to be something he viewed of grave importance. To help his mother, perhaps, as he'd told her during their confrontation. But that didn't quite make sense to Cora.
She loved her daughter, of course. That was why she'd come to this strange land in the first place. But other people had never seemed to understand love in quite the same way she had. To them, love was this strange force that bound all things together, inspiring selfless, irrational actions of self-sacrifice for apparently no other reason that the good of the loves recipient.
That was ridiculous, Cora knew. Her love for her daughter was of course for Regina's good, after all what greater love was their than insuring that her offspring have access to the power and greatness that she'd been deprived of as the Miller's daughter? But Regina was also meant to be of use to her in her own strive for power.
The dagger's power in particular.
No, she decided for the thousandth time over the last three or four decades, love as a base attachment was a weakness. One that would drag you down and rip from you your potential. She'd seen that as a young woman, and thus had removed her heart and with it her weakness.
Regina would have to have the same done to her.
Remove the boy, both of them, time travel be damned, and with them her weakness would be gone.
The metal of the cage screeched as it came to rest on the wooden deck. Chest rising with each breath, the sleeping giant snored obnoxiously loud, windbag like cheeks filling and deflating rhythmically.
Strong as it was, a force field of this type was designed to keep a specific person at bay. Not whatever minions she may send through it.
No, time travel or not, she would get to her daughter one way or the other.
And should her giant fail, the magic beans potted in the soil below deck would assure she had quite the number of surprises to throw at Storybrooke's befuddled populace.
Mr. Adam Gold, or Rumpelstiltskin as the people of the Enchanted forest knew him, was in a peevishly bad mood that morning.
Obviously he had heard the commotion of the previous night, even isolated as he was in his basement with his experiments. At first he'd thought nothing much of the sound of a few explosions shaking main street. This was a town full of people from a magical realm after all. It was only a matter of time before a few rogue magic users had at it in some public space.
So all he'd done as precaution was to call Belle's apartment, make sure she was alright, and then to move on with his own personal projects. He was nearly at a breakthrough, he knew it. Just another week, and he'd be able to cross the town line and be off on the search he'd been waiting three centuries to properly begin.
But then more details of the previous night had fluttered their way into his ears.
Talk of time travelling sorcerers doing battle with a shape changing sorceress, and of a town sized dome in the sky.
Apparently Cora had found a way through after all, and for perhaps the first time in several hundred years the feel of genuine fright crawled it's way up his less than perfect spinal column.
Of all the foes he'd made over the years, lords and ladies trying to use his powers in their political games, Regina with her own selfish motives, and the thousand others he'd crossed swords with, Cora was by far the most devious. The most dangerous. He'd been attracted to her by her ambition all those years ago. And that attraction had turned her into an incredibly ruthless of being capable of even less remorse than he.
His annoyance this morning came at being left out of the loop.
As the Dark One he'd grown accustomed to being in control. Many years worth of historical events had been shifted by his invisible strings, carefully creating the perfect environment for the curse to be enacted. He was the puppet master of an entire world.
Yet now, all that he knew of the situation had come from cursory details picked up from passersby in the street.
Amd that there was a town meeting this morning which he only knew about through Belle, who'd learned of it off a phone tree just before breakfast.
So now here the great Dark One was, limping down the street with the rest of town, on the way to a public event just to learn whatever tidbits of information he could about the situation.
Walking briskly at his side, Belle took note of his expression at once.
"Calm down, Rumple" she soothed him, rubbing his arm gently. "It's alright."
"Hardly" he said curtly. "Cora's here already. And probably inside this bubble, by now." He gestured to the dome with his cane, missing a step as a result and slowing considerably. "She's here for me. For my power, no matter what goals it is she proclaims to the heavens. I know her."
His gaze was drawn involuntarily to the clocktower, whose hands had been in movement for nearly a year now. Where his dagger was hidden in plain sight. Cora's ultimate goal, no doubt.
"What happened between the two of you?" Belle asked quietly. It wasn't the first time she'd asked.
It had come up in conversation before, and he'd always managed to skirt coyly around answering her. His past wasn't something he liked to talk about with her. Not the past that didn't involve her, anyway. He was trying his damnedest to be good for her, to change, but that was difficult when nine out of every ten pages of your story were inked in blood.
"A long time ago, I taught her magic" he began carefully. He'd tell her something, if not everything. "Tell me, have you read the story of the Miller's daughter?"
The brows shot up Belle's pale forehead.
"Yes" she answered.
Being the local librarian had given her access to an abundance of children's stories. Fairy tales, or as they truly were, the stories of their realm. She'd torn her way through most of them by now. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Hua Mulan. The last one had made her smile, and wonder what her one time friend would think of the way this world perceived her.
"You spun straw into gold for her…in exchange for her baby…." She trailed off uneasily. Reading that story had been rather hard. Mostly because she didn't know how much of it had been story, and how much had been truth.
"Yes" he confirmed with his gaze ahead. "That was the original deal we struck. She was a poor miller's daughter who'd gotten herself into quite the predicament with the local king, Xavier. You won't have heard of him. His kingdom didn't take long to dissolve, and his children were reduced to minor dukes and duchesses across the lands in just a decade or two. He taunted her about her heritage, and she boasted of spinning straw into gold. He called her bluff, and told her to either prove it or die. That was when I stepped in."
"Why her baby though?" Belle asked. It was an earnest question free of any judgment. That was part of why Rumpelstiltskin loved her. For some reason beyond his understanding, she didn't despise him for what he'd done in the past.
"What I wanted was an apprentice. Someone to shape and to mold. Someone to enact my curse."
"Regina" Belle concluded. He nodded.
"Indeed. She tricked my out of our deal, I won't speak of how, not now at least, but the chips still fell that way in the end, and I rid Regina of her mother's influence. Regardless of her origins, she's dangerous. Very dangerous. Similar as she and Regina are, they're threats for exactly opposite reasons. Regina's dangerous because of what she feels, because of her heart. Cora is dangerous because she has no heart. She removed it herself, citing it her only weakness."
Despite not looking at her directly, he could see his paramour go pale at the concept. His hand found hers. It went unsaid that he would protect her at all costs. Even if that meant dueling with Cora, or more pleasantly, murdering Hook in whatever hospital bed he was currently occupying. He'd have to look into that.
"Well" he said as the approached the town hall, given a wide berth by the surrounding people who gave him terrified and suspicious looks as they passed. "Let's see what it is Sheriff Swan and her parents have to say about the situation. And why they saw fit to leave me out of it."
"Easy" Belle pressed, squeezing his hand. "I'm sure they had their reasons."
"They don't trust me" he agreed. "No matter. I'll find out what's going on."
By the time they stepped inside, the hall was nearly full to bursting with uneasy looking people. Towns fold filled all the chairs and spilled into the aisles, talking idle gossip in great bunches. Most of them look scared. And why wouldn't they be. A mad sorceress they knew little to nothing about was on the loose.
At the front of the room near the podium, Emma Swan and her parents could be seen talking in hushed voices. Emma herself was dressed in full sheriff gear, with her badge pinned to her jacket and a handgun at her hip. Her father wore the deputies badge, and a sword as well as a gun. None of them appeared to have gotten much sleep. Regina of all people sat in a chair ten paces to the right, looking incredibly out of place and shooting glares at whoever happened to look at her oddly.
Periodically Henry moved between the two parties, sitting with each a few minutes before moving back the other way. That was an interesting family dynamic that boy had. One mother the messiah, the other a near universally hated witch queen with murder rape and tyranny under her belt.
In a group the nuns, or the fairies, sat in a square section of seats headed by Mother Superior herself. Her face was impassive and smooth as slate. Rumple knew immediately she was hiding something beneath that mask.
Jefferson the Mad Hatter sat near the back with his daughter Grace, hands occasionally pawing at the scar that circumvented his throat. Mention of the name Cora had no doubt sent ice into his veins.
From somewhere near the front, a group consisting of dwarves and Jiminy Cricket, Ruby emerged, and approached the two of them.
"Belle" she greeted with an out of breath smile. "So glad you could make it."
"Of course" Belle acknowledged her friend with a hug. "You sounded urgent on the phone."
"Things are getting pretty urgent around here" Ruby conceded. "Been up half the night trying to keep people under control. Stop them from panicking."
"What happened, exactly?" Belle asked. Ruby shot a lightly veiled look of suspicion Gold's way before answering.
"Cora attacked, but was stopped by some kid claiming to be Henry from the future. He smells just like him. Hell, their blood even matches. Had Dr. Whale check. Told us last night to call this meeting, and to get ready for war."
This piqued Mr. Gold's interest.
"This time traveler claims to be young Henry, does he?" he half asked and half mused to himself aloud. "How intriguing."
"This meeting's mostly so Snow can tell people how to get ready" Ruby continued, ignoring the limping man. "To keep their families safe and what not. She's good at handling social situations like this. Princess, and all that."
Whatever else their conversation might have entailed was interrupted by said Princess climbing to her feet and approaching the microphone, clearing her throat a few times to get everyone's attention. Wordlessly Ruby slips away to rejoin the ranks of Snow's compatriots, and the couple are left standing in the single aisle as the meeting proper begins.
"Hello everyone" Snow begins diplomatically. There's a firmness of authority in her voice that had been completely absent during her tenure as the demure, meek Mary Margaret. Today the true side of her personality was shining through enough to hide to sleepless bags under her eyes and the nervous twitching from her fingers.
"I'm sorry to have called you all here on such short notice, but as you may have noticed by the current state of main street, this isn't exactly a normal situation." At this a few people in the crowd grumbled their complaints of destroyed cars, bugs left over in the electrical system, and of the imminent danger. Snow continued.
"Last night Storybrooke was visited by two very strange guests. The first of which was a dark sorceress called Cora. The older among you may recall her as Duchess Mills, wife to Prince Henry of Xavier's kingdom, and mother to Regina." She paused as a rabble of older nobility, or at least those who used to be nobility in the old world, let out harsh whispers of fright and anger. "She is a very dangerous individual, whose presence here can mean nothing good. She craves power, and there's little she won't do to get it, including killing any and all who get in the way of their goals.
The second visitor is a little harder to explain. Those of you who were outside the diner last night may have already heard his claims, but I'm going to repeat them now. He claims to be a future version of my grandson, henry." She laughed, though there was little humor in it. "It sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth, I know, but there it is. Biologically speaking, he is who he says he is. His blood is a perfect match for Henrys. And he's recalled events and information that only Henry could possibly know" she glanced at her daughter and husband, who appeared just as on edge as she did. "That being said, he doesn't appear to be a threat to us. He claims to have knowledge of a coming conflict, one that involves Cora, and something he says is far, far worse."
As if right on cue, and it probably was on cue, a cloud of dark blue smoke bloomed into existence high above the audience. When it cleared, there was Hank, floating in midair, white cloak billowing out behind him like a cape.
"Thank you, grandma" he called in a magically enhanced voice that could be heard by all. "I'll take it from here."
The crowd parted as he descended from the air, landing with a click of his metal boots.
He clapped his hands together, taking in the watchers.
"My name is Henry Daniel Mills" he began his introductions. "Son of Regina Mills and Emma Swan. But you people can call me Hank. It'd be much too confusing with two people called Henry around here. Even if one of us is twice the other's height and has a voice ten times as deep. Like my grandmother said, I am from the future, believe it or not. And I can tell a good deal of you don't believe me. With very good reason. I must sound like a crazy person right now, and flying, just a few second ago. No big deal though, I'm used to being called crazy.
Crazy or not though, the threat facing us right now is very real. That's why I'm here. Both to warn you of it, and to help you face it. But before I get into that, I want to cover something else." Turning, he pointed towards Regina, whose eyes widened alarmingly at the sudden attention. "Many of you may be, and I know who you are, I'm from the future remember, be considering armed retaliation against my mother for the crimes she's committed against you in the past. I can hardly blame you for your anger. She did wrong you. But that being said, any and all those who attempt to raise a hand against her, that includes pitchforks and torches by the way, I will personally put a stop to."
He paused, and there was a severity to his voice that showed just how serious a threat this was.
"The threat I speak of is not only Cora, who's a threat enough by herself, but is darkness itself. I can't accurately describe what that means, but you all have a right to know what's coming. You have to prepare. Be ready to face it when it comes. And I'm going to help you do it. With every bit of power I have. As I speak, my associate Liir is off consolidating the few allies and assets we've managed to acquire while in this time period. Now each of you has to get ready. Arm yourselves, get prepared."
"And why should we trust you?"
Attention whirred away from Hank to rest on Jefferson, who had stood up among those seated. A hand still rested at his neck scar, and his eyes glittered with some of the madness that had earned him his title.
"Why should we trust you?" he repeated, voice rising, oblivious to the concerned look growing on Grace's face. "You come here, claiming to be able to help us, to be some kid we all know from town. And you may really be that kid. I don't much care. What I care about is that you're going up against Cora. I know Cora, kid. She lopped off my head and kept me prisoner for years. She's rutheless. Merciless. And you come here thinking you can just lead us against her? We don't know you. You'll probably end up walking us all into a slaughter. I repeat, why should we trust you?"
"You and I have had a strange relationship over the years, Jefferson" he began, taking a few steps towards the Hatter. "A few weeks ago, from your perspective at least, I convinced you to go find Grace. You were worried she'd hate you. Recent events for me have our relationship….a little bit strained. Not gonna get into that though. That'd be spoiler territory. I know for a fact we're going to allies in this next conflict, I remember it that way. But you raise a good point. Why should you trust me? Well, I'd hope it's because of fond memories of me as a kid. You know, the quirky kid who went around town with a book all the time? But otherwise, you should trust me because of what I can offer you."
Turning away from Jefferson, he addressed the crowd at large.
"For anyone who wants it, I can offer them a way back to the Enchanted Forest."
That definitely got people's attention. All civility left the people at once, and the hall exploded in a way of chatter. Some turned to each other in whispers, others shouted at Hank for more information, and others demanded to know if such an offer could be made good on.
Determined to not let the situation turn into an all out riot, Snow seized the microphone and turned the attention back to her.
"I've been back to the other world" she told the crowd. "My daughter and I were sucked through a portal just after the curse broke. And believe me when I say there's nothing left there for us. The ogres have returned, the farm land has decayed, the cities have crumbled. All that's there is monsters and ashes." Her tone was harsh, convicted. Inwardly, hank sighed. That was perhaps the one major conflict that had ever come between his grandparents. Whether or not they should return, or stay in this world.
"You're right, grandma" said Hank. "The place is in disarray. But the ogres have been driven back before, haven't they? Several times in fact. Cities can be rebuilt." He smiled, that same smile Henry had flashed her countless times during class together. "Things can be made right." He turned back to the crowd, effectively cutting off his grandmother's reply.
Anger boiled in Snow's temple. This kid was a great political speaker, if nothing else. He knew how to move a crowd in his favor. And how to keep them there.
"Ogres or not, I think a demonstration is in order. I can make a portal now. Here. For all of you to see. But I'll require some assistance. Would my mother's please step forward for a moment? Emma, Regina?"
Both women stared.
Emma, on the one hand, was just a little flabbergasted. She despised public speaking, even if she hadn't quite fucked up when it had been required of her. Like in high school, or when she'd been running for sheriff against Sydney Glass. But now, she was nervous for different reasons. She didn't trust this boy yet. No matter what the blood work said.
Nevertheless, she stood up and approached him. She'd see what he could do. Assess the situation, then decide whether or not this guy really was the boy she trusted above all others.
Regina on the other hand, perhaps motivated by her desperate, almost clinging emotions, stood at once and paced to Hanks side. She believed without a doubt who he was. And though she more than disliked standing before those she despised like this, she would do it, if just to stand near him. She glanced back at the young Henry as she walked, who gave her an encouraging smile. He believed. Well of course he did. Believing was sort of his thing. She smiled back.
Just to have him look at her without hatred was worth anything the world could throw at her. Anything.
Hank began addressing the crowd once more.
"Before, creating portals to and from this world was a difficult business. Even with portal jumping magic" he glanced at Jefferson "one couldn't come to this land. That was only possible with magic beans, which have been though extinct for at least nearly three hundred years. The reason a portal jumper couldn't get through here was because this is a land without magic. A portal needs magic on both sides to open up. Usually portals require specially enchanted objects. It can be done with sorcerers alone, but it requires a very specific technique, one that hasn't been used for millennia. A Circle.
You see, though magic is the same from user to user with most spells, the way human beings channel magic is slightly different from gender to gender. Men channel magic differently than women, though the technique of most magic is the same for either sex. This spell, a Gateway between realms, requires a circle, a collaboration of magic users who pool their power together. To create a Circle, there must be at least three people, always with at least one more woman than man. That's just how it works. Allow me to demonstrate."
Both Emma and Regina could feel what he did next. Though no one else could see them, tendrils of faint magic extended towards each of them from his form. As each tendril touched them, similar tendrils formed between the two of them, creating a shimmering triangle of energy.
Emma gasped audibly as the power within her welled to the surface. She'd never felt anything like this. Never used the magic that ran deep in her soul. Barriers seemed to keep the energy flowing between the three of them, and she felt sensations that could only be described as Hank asking permission to use her power. Permission to lead the Circle. She could feel him in that instant. Feel his every intent, and she saw no deception in him. He was everything he said he was. And so she let the power flow.
Hank tensed his finger, the power dripping through him like an IV of raw magic. He stepped towards a wall. He needed a place where everyone could see his work, as Gateways only opened on one side.
Raising a hand, he made a cutting motion through the air, and with his armored pinky drew some sort of symbol before his face.
For a moment nothing happened.
Then, with a terrible hssing sound a cut in the fabric of space was slice just inches from the wall. Nearly five feet down, the cut rotated in the air, sparking with light as a circular doorway in reality was opened against the wall.
Nearly ten feet tall and seven feet across, the doorway opened onto a vast forest brimming with life. A few bird flittered in through the doorway, and the smell of damp soil and condensation drifted inside.
The peoples gaping at the marvel before them was interrupted by a horrendous roaring noise from the forest's depths.
"Excuse me a moment" Hank said. "There's something I need to do. Be right back."
He stepped into the portal, and the assembled onlookers could only wait and watch.
Nearly sixty seconds passed, and from within the portal all they could hear was continued roars, and the muffled sounds of conversations. Who could he possibly be talking to in the forest?
When the sixiteith second passed, a figure who wasn't Hank came dashing through the portal. A women garbed in oriental armor with a curved sword at her hip rolled onto the ground, turning as she did so to fire an arrow that just barely missed Hank as he led a second woman, wearing a tattered gown, out of the portal.
The arrow found it's mark on an ogre's shoulder. The beast roared in pain, though it wasn't hindered. Kneeling as it tried to enter the gateway, the ogre roared again, letting loose a mass of spittle and rank breath. People screamed, for obvious reasons, as the ogres arms came clawing through, snatching at anything it could reach.
Turning on his heel, Hank made a hand gesture and the portal snapped out of existence, liberating the ogre of it's head and forearms in the process.
A splattering of blood dirtied the floor, along with the disembodied head and arms.
Standing, the oriental woman approached Hank and bowed.
"Whoever you are, I thank you" she said. "We owe you our lives."
"Mulan?" Belle said, stepping away from Mr. Gold. "Is that you?"
Mulan turned, and gasped at the sight.
"Belle!" she said almost disbelievingly. Aurora, however was far too winded to do much beyond slump to the ground in exhaustion.
"Allow me to introduce Fa Mulan of the Eastern Empire" Hank said as the two old friends embraced. "And Princess Aurora, also known as Sleeping Beauty to any of you Disney nuts out there."
It was then that Emma and Regina felt themselves being moved to the side by magic. Mr. Gold stepped towards the time traveler, menacing despite his obvious limp. He ignored the new coming women , his piercing gaze fixed pointedly on Hank.
"Who are you?" he asked in nearly a hiss. "Don't say you're the boy. Apart from that I mean. Who gave you this knowledge, this power?" He took another step forward, intimidatingly. Despite his own fear, which bubbled in the back of his throat, Hank could see that however afraid he was, Rumpelstiltskin was more afraid. By far.
He could tell already that he truly was Henry. And that was what frightened him the most. Before him he saw perhaps the fulfillment of the Seer's prophecy, that the boy who would lead him to his son would be his downfall. What else would he see in a teenager wielding such power and knowledge.
In a single fluid motion Hank removed his left gauntlet, revealing a marking covering the back of his left hand. A seven pointed star, encased in a circle.
Rumpelstiltskin stumbled backward, nearly shrieking as he tried to cover his eyes. Steam rose from his eyelids, and the smell of burning rose.
Not wanting to cause any further damage, Hank slipped the glove back on.
"You know what that symbol is, don't you?" he asked, ignoring the looks he was receiving from his family and younger self. Questions could be answered later. Now he needed to prove a point. "No one in your lifetime wore it, it's older even than you, but you still know it, don't you?"
"The Arcane Light" the older man grimaced, leaning heavily on his cane and wincing at the boys blindingly white cloak. "'Sigil of the Righteous'"
"I and six of my friend bear this mark and wear white cloaks. We are the seven pointed star. The Children of Light. You know what they used to stand for, so you know the laws by which I'm bound. That being said, when this meeting is over you're going to come with me, talk with me, and then do as I ask."
"And why is that, boy?!"
Rumpelstiltskin had regained his composure now. Wind picked up from nowhere as his magic flared unconsciously, making him all but oblivious to Belle's screamed protests.
"You think just because you bear a somewhat holy mark on your hand I'll obey you? That you have power over me?!"
"No" Hank replied calmly. "You'll do as I ask because of this."
He reached into his belt, and pulled from it a dagger.
Rumpelstiltskin's magic died at once. His jaw dropped. Fear became horrific terror.
Eighteen inches of curved steel, the dagger bearing the Dark One's name gave off a leering sheen in the early morning light.
Mother Superior stood up, aghast. She was prepared to stop him, Hank knew. She thought the naming would happen now. But that was for a later time.
To the astonishment of Rumpelstiltskin and all present, Hank gave no commands. Nor did he plunge the dagger into the cripples chest to claim his power. Instead, he turned the blade over in his hand, and offered it handle first to it's owner.
"Here" he said.
Hands shaking, the Dark One took his blade.
"Why?" he whispered.
"Because I want you to trust me" Hank answered. "I wanted to show you that even when I had complete and utter power you, even when I could've claimed your power for my own, I didn't. You're important to me, Mr. Gold, in a way you won't fully understand for a little while. And you're important to someone close to me. I want you on my side. Fate may have dictated that I play a part in your future, but it doesn't have to be in the way you think." He peered up at the viewing shimmering above the pawnbroker's head. A man drowning in a sea of blackness, only to be pulled to safely by two sets of hands. One set male, the other female.
Hank turned and began walking towards the doors. He gestured to his family and younger counterpart to follow.
"Belle, if you wouldn't mind would you make sure he gets to Regina's house in about half an hour? He should have calmed down by then. He has a lot to talk about with us."
The main cast like Emma and Regina didn't get much to do in this chapter, but don't worry, you'll get all their reactions next time. They are just as important to this story as Hank is. Just you wait.