A/N: Soooo, this is the first fanfic I've written in a few years, and the first OUAT fanfic I've ever written. It's just a drabble; a warm-up, so to speak. There might be more. I do find myself shipping Archie/Ruby quite hard.
No one expected Archie Hopper to drive the leading car out of Storybrooke. A few hours earlier, he had seemed to be resuming his old place, standing alongside other former royal council members as they tried to hold the community together. The former leaders back together again, offering advice and comfort to the dazed residents. Archie hadn't missed a beat, hadn't seemed phased at all. He had even had the courage to attempt distracting Regina as the town pulled together - and the compassion to actually care about her well-being.
But his attempt had failed, and Regina had stormed into the town hall, setting a fire - literally and figuratively - that sparked fear in the hearts of the townspeople. And it occurred to them all that they had a choice. They didn't have to live in fear of this woman's power. They didn't have to live with the guilt of who they had once been. They could forget. They could finally escape.
Archie Hopper was a good, plain man with a good, plain life. A little dull, perhaps, but good. And the good, plain man who was Archie was overwhelmed by his former life. Jiminy had known what real sorrow was. What real guilt was. Jimmy looked at Gepetto , at Marco, now, after years of only being Archie, and he remembered with vivid clarity that he was forever responsible for the death of that man's parents. Jiminy might have learned to live with that pain, but that didn't mean Archie had. And now Archie had a choice to forget this awful, awful thing that Jiminy had done, that he had done, once and for all. So he led the way. And if it hadn't been for who was there to stop them, he might not have turned back.
The Prince's words were inspiring. He did what he was best at: he filled his people with hope. He was a powerful speaker, and he calmed them all. He gave them a moment of clarity, made them stop and think for a moment about just what they would be losing. Archie listened to every word, and took those words of hope to heart. But for Archie, the real hope was Ruby.
He knew what she truly was and what she had done. He had memories from another life, from when they were all working together. They had talked, late into the night sometimes, and she had told him exactly what she had done. Peter. Her own mother. He knew exactly what guilt lay in her past. If she had the courage to stay, the courage to face those memories...how could he live with himself if he ran?
As Jiminy, he had refused to let himself love her. How could he? They weren't even the same species. As Archie, he had refused to let himself love her; although he found her physically attractive, she was not more than a secondary character in Archie's story. Now, all of a sudden, he had two stories. David - Charming - had been right. They were all both. He was Jiminy and Archie, now. He had all Jiminy's memories of Red, and all of Archie's of Ruby. And to see her standing by that truck, brave enough to stay, overwhelmed him. He wanted to be that brave, for himself if nothing else.
And maybe, at least partly, he wanted to be that brave for her.