NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE – Now
The coffee shop was blessedly empty, too early for tea, too late for lunch. He got a table by the window, chair pulled into the corner, and nursed his cup of Earl Grey. Money was running low, and he'd yet to figure out a way to get more; not that he was above stealing, but everything was so different and he didn't know the lay of the land. He needed to sit and observe, learn, if he was going to survive. At least he'd managed to find a place to stay – a shelter they called it – somewhere they didn't press for too much information. None of what he could tell them would make sense anyway.
"Brooding so early in the afternoon, brother?" The chair slid out, and Vlad sat down, motioning to the server. "A cup of what he's having, please. Do you have any blueberry scones? I'll have one if you do."
"How can you be here?" Van asked, confused. When the medallion had activated, he'd found himself here with nothing but the ashes of Peter Quincy and a burned out magical talisman. That was only nine days ago.
"I've been waiting for you. Found a scholar who knew the properties of the magic who predicted you wouldn't arrive back in the same time you left, and she told me how to locate you when you did show up." Vlad sat back in his chair, long legs stretched out, completely at ease.
"No. How are you here? It's broad daylight outside." That was impossible, Van knew.
"Oh, well, it's a long story. Suffice it to say, science has advanced in the time you were gone. There's a pill for that." He nodded his thanks for the tea and scone, added some sugar and cream, stirred and took a sip. "Now you're going to ask me how I'm here, what happened … quite a list of topics to cover? Where would you like me to start?"
"Red? What did you do to her?" Van demanded, the image of the beautiful brunette first and foremost in his mind.
"Why, nothing. I left her and her friend, along with the children, in the hands of Snow White, who, by the way, became Queen not that long after," Vlad smiled.
"Since you're here, you must have a way to travel between worlds. Take me back there. To Red."
"Well, I imagine you could go back, but it would be fruitless. Red isn't there."
A shot of fear rolled through him. "Where is she?" he growled.
"Calm down. She's right here. In a strange little town called Storybrooke, Maine. That's in the United States. Safe. Sort of." He broke off a piece of scone and ate it, the offered the rest to Van. "Here, you look like you could use this more than me."
"Damn it, tell me what happened." Van pushed the plate away.
"Well, it all started with a curse …."
STORYBROOKE – Now
"Bye, Ms. Davies!" Peter waved happily as he climbed into his parents' car. The boy had been a real stinker all day and now was all smiles and hugs and rainbows. Figures. The parents would never believe her if she tried to suggest counseling for the little boy. But he needed it; suddenly remembering a whole different life, and that your mom and dad weren't your real mom and dad but a loving, if clueless, adoptive couple, made for one unhappy child.
"I have so much work to do tonight." Emily, the sixth grade teacher, shifted the straps of her loaded book bag. "I'd give anything for it to be Christmas break. You walking home?"
In the two days since almost drowning, it seemed that everyone was conspiring for Wendy to not be alone. Killian walked her to work, Red showed up to take her out for a sundae, even Regina had appeared at school and stayed in the hallway far too long to just be passing through.
"Thanks, Em, but someone's coming … oh, there he is." Wendy nodded to Dr. Whale who was strolling up the sidewalk. "He was nice enough to do my follow-up visit this way."
"A school call? Wow, didn't know Doctors did that any more. If you weren't already taken, I'd say he was sweet on you," Emily laughed. "Hello, Dr. Whale!" she called as he neared. "Lovely to see you outside of the hospital. Much less stressful, wouldn't you say?"
"Indeed, Ms. Gale, I would. Are you ready, Wendy?" He nodded to her.
"Yes." She started to pick up her tote bag, but he beat her to it, hoisting the filled-to-the-brim bag.
"What do you have in here?" He asked, surprised by the weight.
"Papers. And books. Tools of the trade." She was glad to not carry it, honestly. She was tired today; getting out of bed was a real chore this morning, and a very warm, very horny pirate didn't make it any easier for her. "That's why teachers always have one shoulder lower than the other. Book bags."
The walked down the block and turned for the marina; the day was chilly, but there was no wind so it was rather pleasant with the sun on her face.
"So," they both began at the same time, and then chuckled.
"You first," he offered.
"I was just going to ask what you wanted to tell me. I assume that's why you're here, unless you are part of the "Wendy can't be alone" conspiracy."
When he smiled, he was quite handsome, Wendy noted, wondering if he was dating anyone. Red needed someone to cheer her up, after all, and Wendy was feeling guilty about how happy she was with Killian. "Actually, it's both. We're all watching out for you and Belle. But I need to tell you something. About your blood tests that we took to check your oxygen levels."
She paused as they passed through the park, near the very spot where she'd discovered JM and his brothers; her stomach fluttered, a moment of worry. "Yes?"
"There's no good way to tell you this, so I'm going to sit you down and just go for it." He guided her into the gazebo to find a seat, lowering her bag to the ground.
"Now you're scaring me." And he was. What could be so bad? Was she sick? Dying?
The world slammed to a halt, and she stared at him, uncomprehendingly.
"What? No. I can't be. I mean, well, yes, I could be, but …" She trailed off; oh, god, they hadn't been all that careful lately, too caught up in the danger of their lives to worry about birth control every time.
"Here," he pressed a piece of paper into her trembling hands. "This is a prescription for prenatal vitamins. If you need to talk about your options, let me know."
"Options?" She looked up at him. "There's only one option."
"Then get that filled and start taking care of yourself."
"I see you've been drafted." Killian took the steps two at a time, JM scampering up behind him and pawing at Wendy's leg. "Everyone in town has enlisted in the Wendy army, it seems." His smile faded as he sensed Wendy's emotions.
"Go easy on her," Whale warned as he beat a hasty retreat. "Don't be an idiot."
"Wendy, love, what is it?" He sat down beside her, taking her cold hands in his, rubbing them to warm up. "Tell me."
"It's just, well, I mean, I wasn't thinking." Gods, but what was he going to do? This was the last thing they needed right now, with Cora still out there and the cold war with Mr. Gold. Options, Dr. Whale had said; there was no way she wasn't keeping this baby – dark haired and blue-eyed little boy or girl with a devilish smile and a charm to spare – but he didn't have to be tied down like this. She could … what? Not tell him? Storybrooke was a small town, and there'd be no hiding in a few months. Raise the child without his help? No. She was fearless Wendy Darling. Running away wasn't how she did things.
"Spit it out, darling. You're worrying me."
She took a deep breath.