A/N: This is my first fanfic ever so I beg you, dearest readers, be gentle with me.

A huge thank you to my wonderful beta,
anomalyinthetardis (off of tumblr).


Prologue

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

(Psalm 43.3)

The sun was setting just as he entered the forest near his little church. Clutching a wooden rosary in his only good hand and wearing just a light black jacket he traversed the only clear path between the trees – deep, deep into his own enchanted forest. He liked to think of it as leaving one sanctuary for another – surely he, God's lowly servant, could find him anywhere he wished.

It was his little reprieve, his cherished time alone – everybody in this town knew not to trouble their charming, but often melancholy priest, after the evening mass. Most considered it quite understandable, really – wouldn't God's own servant need his personal time with his Master? Others grumbled that the only local priest should be available at any time of day, but Killian was firm. If he was going to spend the rest of his days listening to (seemingly) inconsequential troubles of local parishioners, they could at least give him this. A breather. A time to be true to himself.

The air seemed different today – somehow the winds from the harbour had brought with them a strange smell of sea salt (that deep into the trees? Surely not). Or was it his overactive imagination? Killian shook his head, trying to banish those thoughts from his head and instead focused on his prayers. It wasn't the only reason he came here, of course, but the woods seemed to calm him on most days – but today he sensed something different. Agitation was creeping in. He concentrated harder.

"Hail Mary,

Full of Grace,

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women…"

Quickly, as if afraid of other unbidden thoughts entering his mind, Killian recited the rest of the Hail Mary,only to notice that it was getting increasingly colder. If it was going to rain, he welcomed the possibility. Nothing like getting caught in a sudden downpour – feeling all of your sins and unsavoury thoughts gathered throughout the day being washed away with heaven's own water. It made him feel pure, if only for a little while.

And then the 'doubt-hour',as Killian called it (to himself, of course), and an endless amount of possibilities of another life ran freely through his tired mind. He gave up fighting the 'doubt-hour' a long time ago, justifying it (again, only to himself) by countless explanations. If he didn't have it now, it would return full force in another moment, but here he could control the extent to which it grew. After it was finished, he could go on with his life again, a perfect example of a faithful man of God. No one would suspect a thing, except, of course, for God himself. Killian battled with himself every day on this 'doubt-hour' and came to a conclusion that it was his cross to bear. If only it made his beliefs stronger.

And there was another particular aspect of this ordeal that confused and even frightened him at times – anger. Killian felt anger flow through his veins, poison his blood and wreak havoc in his brain. He couldn't fathom where the anger came from – as if there was another person hiding underneath all that he knew, all that he was. He was terrified of digging deeper – the things he would find might just be the tipping point and become his ruin. Best not dwell on that particular thought, decided the priest, and he continued to move at a brisk pace through the forest.

He was nearing the town's boundaries, he was certain of it. He always came this far – probably for that fleeting feeling of being almost on the edge of something, teasing himself with a possibility of leaving this dreamy, sleepy and slightly unreal place. He could have another life. He could be anything. He could take up sailing, for example, like he always wanted. Something called him to the sea – God help him, if only he knew why.

Killian promptly chastised himself for these thoughts, for there were so many people in the world with fates worse than his, so he couldn't complain, not about this. "Humble thyself," he repeated sternly.

Stepping on a path leading to the highway, he was on his second rosary when he began to feel the first heavy drops of rain. A few seconds later it was pouring heavily and he finally smiled, relishing the sensation of being almost cured and protected with it at the same time.

He was nearing the road leading out of Storybrooke when he saw the bright headlights of a small yellow car speeding out of town. The car's driver, it seemed, was very much intent on leaving this place as soon as possible, judging by its speed. But before Killian could register his surprise at seeing a newcomer's car leaving the town at all (strangers, as he well knew, never came to this town), he heard its tires screeching loudly as the car swiveled on the road and the driver apparently slammed on the brakes too hard, trying to stop the car for an unknown reason. He couldn't move – it was happening way to fast – and the next second the yellow Bug hit the 'Leaving Storybrooke' sign full-force with its driver's side. The passenger's door flew open and swayed a few times. Then everything stilled. No movement.

Killian finally came out of his stupor and ran to the road almost slipping on the grass in the process. He cautiously approached the car and peered inside through the open passenger's door.

He wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted him. A shock of blond curls sprawled on the steering wheel, a pale face, eyes closed with an almost serene expression on it. She (for it was definitely a 'she') was unmoving but, Killian hoped, still breathing and his heart lurched at the possibility of the girl being… dead. Still. Silenced for eternity.

That thought finally brought him to action – he ran to the driver's side of the car, opened the door and started to gently drag her unconscious body out of the Bug. Laying her on the grass, he knelt beside her and hurriedly took her right hand to check the pulse. He cried out with relief when he felt the steady rhythm of blood pumping through her veins underneath the pale skin. Killian then started to check her face and body for signs of damage, but besides a cut on her brow he found nothing. He took a shuddering breath and tried to steady his trembling hands. He muttered a quick prayer of thanks and it was the most heartfelt one he said in weeks or months, even. He thanked God again and again that she was alive. He couldn't ask for anything else.

But now he was drenched and now her form was drenched too and he just sat there under the pouring rain, like a child, without any ideas as to what to do with her. He then remembered that (thankfully) he had the presence of mind to bring his cell phone with him on this particular walk. He dug it out of his right pocket and started dialing the Sheriff's number.

He would take the woman to the hospital and Killian will probably never see her again, seeing that she was so intent on leaving. Perhaps, that was for the best. Her presence was so unsettling; he couldn't break out of this peculiar trance. He couldn't stop looking at her face.

How was she even real? Why was she here, of all places?

"Strangers never come to Storybrooke," he repeated, whispering the mantra from long ago.


A/N: Please review! And thank you for giving this a chance.