A/U Keep following and favouriting! This is the last chapter in Storybrooke.
Chapter Four: There's Change in the Air
The shrill ring of the phone contrasted starkly with the silence enveloping the apartment. Mary Margaret and David sat at the table, making more plans for the journey that would begin tomorrow. After Killian and Neal had finished laying out plans to traverse Neverland – since they were the only two people having actually experienced the realm – both had left. In their designs, the group as a whole had decided that Mulan, Aurora and Phillip would remain in Storybrooke since their presence would only negatively affect their progress. The trio agreed and Neal had taken them to settle in at one of Granny's rooms. Killian had left succinctly following the man, mumbling something about preparing his ship for voyage.
With the apartment now empty – save for Mary Margaret, David and Emma's lifeless body – and silent, the sound of the phone ringing made the former woman jump. David moved to stand but was stopped when his wife put a hand on his shoulder and made her own way to the phone. He returned his gaze to the papers littering the table; maps and lists that outlined what they would do, where they would go, what they would need.
Mary Margaret picked up the phone, "Hello?" she asked softly.
"Mary Margaret," Regina answered stoically. The princess stiffened and waited for the Evil Queen to continue. "I called as soon as Henry fell asleep. I might have a way to save Emma." Her tone was brisk and conveyed just how much she disliked being on the phone to her sworn enemy.
"W-what?" Mary Margaret replied in a mixture of confusion and shock.
"My mother told me there was a way to save souls and I've been looking through some of her old spell books and records. I know how to retrieve Emma's soul."
The pixie-haired woman felt momentarily surprised before she realised the underlying kindness to the Evil Queen's actions. She felt a soft smile tug at her lips and hope blossom in her chest; hope that sins of the past might someday be forgiven. It was premature and it was unspoken, but nonetheless the small woman felt it as she clutched the phone.
"We already know," she said lightly, "some friends from the Enchanted Forest arrived this morning and they've done it before… but thank you." Silence answered her gratitude and she waited for the mayor to reply. When she didn't but the line stayed connected, Mary Margaret chose to voice her line of thought.
"Regina… why would you still want to help? After everything…" her voice drifted off, no explanation necessary. There was a lot of bad blood between the two women, actions having been perpetrated that would never be undone.
Regina took a moment to reply, "I may not possess any special affinity for your daughter and I certainly don't intend on forgiving your indiscretions, but my son is the most important thing to me. And he needs Emma to be happy; that makes her life something of priority in my eyes."
Silence encased them once more and Mary Margaret nodded before she realised the woman on the other end wouldn't be able to comprehend that response. "I understand," she said quietly, expressively less optimistic.
"We're making the last of our plans in the morning if you'd like to join us?" Mary Margaret suggested uncertainly and was surprised when the mayor voiced her agreement. As the exchange ended, Regina was the first to hang up and the young woman held the phone for a moment longer before putting it down and heading over to her husband. He looked up at her approach and gave her a look that questioned the identity of the caller.
"It was Regina," she answered, sitting down next to him and staring straight ahead. He immediately did a double take and grabbed her hand.
"What did she want?" David asked in concern.
"She called to tell us there was a way to save Emma… her mother told her and she thought we should know." The prince nodded in understanding and let go of his wife's hand so he could continue organising their plans into some semblance of order.
Mary Margaret turned to him as he shifted and announced, "I invited her to join us tomorrow."
David reacted almost immediately, dropping the paper he had picked up and turning back to his wife with disbelief. "You what?" he breathed in question, his eyes burning into hers with a look that questioned her sanity. The woman shook her head and ran a hand through her cropped hair.
"I… I figure she might as well be involved. We need all the help we can get and we don't really know Gold's stance on this yet. It's probably best… she'd be coming anyway if Henry's coming – don't look at me like that," her last words punctuated an incredibly sceptical look from her husband. She paused before continuing, grasping both of his hands and holding them with hers as she looked into his eyes with a naïve hope that was characteristically Snow White.
"David, she… I know the woman who saved me is still in there. She tried to kill Emma once and she only serves to benefit from her being gone. But… she put all that aside and called to let us know there was a way. She can change – I know she can," she said. David watched his wife carefully and finally nodded in understanding.
"Okay… but you do bring up a good point about Gold. We'll need to know his stance on all of this.
The Dark One polished the glass cabinet absentmindedly, letting his musings stray far from the white cloth in his hand that he was methodically wiping the surface with. Belle wasn't around to keep his mind occupied; she'd left after he'd tried to salvage the situation following Bae's departure. Apparently, referring to her as the woman he'd once loved and claiming she wasn't who she thought she was had proved too much for her to handle. Or as she'd so eloquently put it, "I'm sick of you trying to mould me into your ex."
Gold let his hand drop and he sighed; he really needed to find a way to return her memories. Of course, Lacey was fun, and interesting, and dark, and desired the side of him that no one else liked. But he missed the woman who read books all day and had an unwavering sense of righteousness. He missed his conscience and his true north – he missed Belle. More importantly, he needed Belle.
The sound of the little gold bell above the door drew him from his reverie with a sharp tinkle. He turned around, ready to shoo away the customer when he realised who it was.
"Good Evening Bae," he said politely, putting the cloth down and walking around the counter lining the perimeter of the shop.
"There's a way to save Emma." The man's words hung in the air as the Dark One looked at his son in a mixture of shock and disbelief.
"There's a way. And we've started making plans… we're leaving tomorrow night on the Jolly Roger for Neverland. I want you to come with us," Neal said quickly, as if he were trying to get all of his words out before he could doubt himself. A smile tugged at Gold's lips and he took a step closer to his son.
"Why would you want me to come with you?" he asked honestly, maintaining eye contact with the man.
"We'll need all the help we can get and I'll consider it as your way of redeeming yourself after your role in her death."
Gold genuinely considered accompanying them for a moment, before he realised two very important facts. It seemed that his son read the emotions as they flitted across his face and he sighed in disappointment. Before he could turn around and leave though, the Dark One had his hand out – a movement that implored his son to wait a moment.
"Wait, Bae – I… you mentioned the Jolly Roger. For one thing, I don't think the pirate will allow me to board and the temptation of ending the feud between us – it will only interfere with what needs to be done. And besides, someone needs to stay behind and ensure the dynamic duo don't strike again in your absence."
Neal surprisingly nodded in agreement and silence filled the shop. As the situation became awkward, the young man made the decision to leave, nodding once in salute before departing – the little gold bell ringing in his wake. Gold watched him go and played idly with the gold end of his cane as he wondered how long the trip would take. He wasn't sincerely worried about Tamara and Greg; they were inconsistent and sloppy and when he caught them he would skin them alive for their involvement in the entire debacle. Just because he wasn't concerned by them, it didn't mean he wasn't murderous about their actions towards his son. Especially the woman – false love was a sin Gold deemed unforgivable.
The heavy wooden door to his own room swung open and he walked leisurely in, letting the door close of its own volition. Neal still had his eyes downcast when he heard the shift of the wooden floorboards under new weight. His head immediately snapped up, eyes landing on the figure in the middle of the room.
"Tamara," he said, almost immediately looking for something to restrain her.
She smiled in response, though it didn't reach her sharp eyes as she scrutinised him.
"Neal… long time no see," she said with mock fondness. He winced and glanced at his hand, remembering the last time they'd seen each other; when she'd unrepentantly given him the wraith's mark. The glimpse didn't go unnoticed by Tamara and she stepped closer to him. Neal immediately put his hands up and stepped sideways – he had only recently found out about this woman's skill in martial arts.
However, she didn't move with precision the way she had the day she'd marked him. No, she was moving like a feline; swift and leisurely with undeniable grace. Her eyes stayed trained on his and she continued to close the distance between them despite his defensive stance. Tamara stopped when his outstretched arms would permit her to go no further.
"What do you want?" Neal asked, watching her carefully. The woman put her hands over his and shoved them down and he couldn't help but allow her. This was a woman he'd loved for a decade – she had helped him deal with his feelings for Emma. They'd started planning a life together.
"I want you," she said slowly, and took a calculated step closer.
He could faintly smell perfume at her proximity and it was as if the sensory perception snapped him out of whatever spell she'd cast. Neal had bought her perfume and he knew the scent and this wasn't anything he'd purchased her; suddenly, all he could picture was her and Greg. The bald man who was her ally and her lover – the same man she'd been having an affair with for at least half of their relationship.
Neal abruptly grabbed her shoulders and spun them around so she was against the wall.
"Don't try to play me, Tamara," he growled. Her expression stayed resolute though – still trying to sell the façade.
"I'm not… I left Greg after what he did to Emma. I never wanted to hurt you – you have to understand he's a very dominant person. I love you," she whispered, leaning forward despite his hands restraining her. Neal remembered something Emma had taught him and watched her eyes closely, waiting to see if she was being honest. Everything in his mind registered, from the growth in her pupils to the micro-expressions that crossed her face.
He paused and then fury took place of the hurt he felt at her deceit, "What are you doing here?" His words seemed to snap the act and her expression changed – taking on a mocking edge and her mouth shifted into a vindictive grin.
"I guess I can't play that card anymore," she said articulately.
Neal's temper rose and in his hazy mindset unwittingly found himself slamming her against the wall again. Her body jerked at the movement and the surprise on her face mirrored his own – he'd never been like this before. Tamara quickly concealed her shock with intrigue and her eyes raked over him.
"I wonder what Emma would say about this?" she taunted through her teeth.
"Why did you do it? After everything we've shared – how could you?" He could feel his voice rising and he leaned closer, his eyes searching hers for any signs of warmth. Tamara smiled coldly, her brown eyes uncharacteristically vindictive as they registered the emotions on his face.
"It seems I won't be getting any information out of you while you're like this," she said and paused before speaking again. When her voice broke the air it was filled with unprecedented malice and Neal found himself silenced by the foreign persona, "I never loved you."
He frowned as the words twisted in his gut like a blade and his grip on her loosened. His momentary lapse in pressure giving her the opportunity she needed – as she'd predicted it would. Using all her strength, Tamara twisted out of his grip; simultaneously knocking him to the ground in the process.
She looked over him, her boot on his neck, and smirked.
"Until next time," she said. And then she buried her boot in his side and walked away to the sound of him gasping at the pain. Neal heard the door to his room close and looked up at the ceiling, hands still clutching his side. He could feel tears behind his eyes and the lump in his throat while he tried to regain control of his breathing. The man swallowed the lump and looked at the ceiling until the additional moisture in his eyes dissipated. However, while he could eradicate any physical responses to the upheaval in emotions, there was no remedy to the horrendous pain he felt in his chest.
The smell of rum and seawater filled his nostrils and Killian took a deep breath in of the familiar scent. He headed straight for his quarters below deck on the Jolly Roger, leaning against the door once it was closed. The pirate closed his eyes and let out a deep breath – he needed to sleep because he would require all of his energy to make the last of their plans for Neverland. He only hoped his night wouldn't be plagued by unwelcome memories; seeing Swan die had dredged up old scars that haunted him the night before.
Killian took a step away from the door and shrugged off his jacket and vest before pulling off his black shirt and boots. The man headed for his bed in the corner, unwinding his hook as he did so. When it clicked, he pulled it away from the leather stump encasing his wrist and placed it on the nightstand.
He let himself fall back onto the bed and manoeuvred to pull up the sheets. When he was comfortable enough, the pirate felt the weight of the day collapse around him and fatigue quickly overtook his body. It wasn't long before he was under the heavy blanket of sleep and his thoughts retreated inwards.
His thoughts coalesced into a watercolour of ideas until the familiar feeling of dreaming moulded his mind's eye. His dreams soon took shape: Killian was in a room – that much was obvious. The only problem was the darkness that fogged every corner and made it impossible to discern much. And even though the unknowing irritated him, he felt no desire to divulge what was there.
The light source was above him but even that was a foggy outline. It cast a warm yellow glow about his position and he could see that the floor was some sort of black mirror surface. The pirate raised an eyebrow to no one in particular and wondered what part of his subconscious had dredged this up. That's when he could swear he heard a voice and the vague sound of something hitting glass but nothing moved in his view. He shrugged it off as some creepy facet of his dream and continued trying to ascertain the purpose of this particular location; Killian had never actually dreamt of the room he was currently in.
The voice sharpened as it called out again and the pirate's eyes widened in recognition at who it belonged to. He looked down and closed his eyes, trying to ignore it because of the pain it would cause him to listen. But it was unrelenting, growing in intensity until it was an articulate whisper in his ears.
Killian felt cold sweat break out across the back of his neck and reached to wipe the perspiration away with his good hand. The movement was mirrored in reality and the pirate's eye snapped open as his hand touched his neck. He sat up almost immediately in his bed, breathing ragged as he shut his eyes and steadied the speed of the air entering and exiting his lungs.
That bloody woman got under your skin Jones, he thought angrily and fell back against the bed with a huff. His eyes trailed along the wooden boards lining the ceiling; his thoughts inadvertently returning to the blonde. He could have sworn he'd heard her voice, but then Emma had always gotten to him. Even in death she had an inconceivable hold over him.
The fields never ended, as did the road. It stretched on and on and the problem wasn't that she was tired but that the monotony was maddening. Emma sat down on the side of the yellowing dirt road and lay back in the grass, looking up at the grey sky dejectedly. She still didn't understand how she was there or how she was remotely… anything. Thinking about it too hard confused her and she expected a head ache but nothing came – instead she felt physically numbed to all significant sensations. Her muscles didn't ache from all the exertion, her feet weren't sore from all the walking; her mind didn't slow from the lack of sleep. There was nothing.
Emma watched the blank sky for any sign of clouds or birds or life. There was nothing, and yet she didn't want to sit up. Staring at the sky, it was almost like sleeping – blankness surrounding her being.
Without warning, the saviour felt herself falling forward and closed her eyes in natural response. The sensation of falling through air stopped and she tentatively opened her eyes to find she was in a black room. It was dimly lit and she pushed herself up onto her elbows to she could scan her new surroundings. The place was warm and she felt oddly comfortable – an emotion that was foreign in situations like this. As she looked around, it didn't appear that there was much around and she stood up to scrutinise her location. For an anxious moment, Emma worried she might be in the mirrored room David had described – she calmed herself though, reminding herself that she wasn't under the sleeping curse, she'd been… killed?
She let the thought go because brooding over it would make her go mad – this entire situation was mad. Where the hell was she and what was she doing in the room? Where had the fields gone?
Emma turned around and the sight that met her eyes had her stumbling for a moment. Standing about four metres in front of her, staring directly at her, was Killian. He was bathed in soft golden light too and his face indicated deep thought.
"Hook?" she asked, walking forward. The blonde was very nearly running when her body hit some kind of barrier and her hands stopped her from kissing the invisible wall. Emma's thoughts were suddenly consumed by the idea that he too had gotten his soul taken by the wraith.
"Hook, how are you here?" she asked loudly, concern tinting her voice against her will. However, when he didn't respond, Emma took a marginal step back and scrutinised him. His icy blue eyes were on her and yet they were unfocused.
"Hook!" she yelled angrily, banging her balled fists against the barrier. He didn't respond. So she tried something else.
"Killian!" she shouted, punctuating her cry with another smash to the barricade. When he refused to respond again, the blonde put her hands calmly against the invisible wall and slid them up and down and around – trying to ascertain if there was a fault in the blockade. Her eyes stayed glued to his figure as she moved, unwilling to take her eyes off him should he disappear.
It became very quickly apparent that she had no way to reach him and moved back to the spot directly in front of him. She took the time to study him and was relieved to see he appeared as healthy as before – although why she felt relief was lost on her. His eyes stared ahead into nothingness and Emma was unnerved by them – a desire to garner his attention gripping her fervently.
"Hook!" she bellowed, "You annoying son a bitch, listen! Hook! Jones! For God's sake, Killian!"
He looked down.
"Please here me! Killian!"
Pain flashed in his downcast eyes.
Emma gasped at the suddenness with which he had evaporated and kept her eyes on the spot where he had been for a moment longer. But he didn't return and the blonde walked backwards away from the wall, her eyes stinging with unshed tears. Being so close to interaction with somebody only to be completely ignored hurt like a bitch. And she felt unreasonably angry at the pirate for not hearing her.
As she walked backwards, the saviour felt her surroundings fading into blackness and the falling sensation overtook her again. Bit by bit, the grey sky reappeared and she quickly sat up. Emma was back in the never-ending field.
Henry held his mother's hand tightly as they walked, uncaring as to the 'mommy's boy' sentiment that many of his school friends had warned him about. After everything, he really just needed something to grip onto.
She looked down at him systematically, always checking his expression for any signs of breaking down. The mayor couldn't believe his strength at a time like this – his birthmother having been killed only two days prior. They reached the apartment quickly and Regina felt momentarily anxious; perhaps Mary Margaret's invitation was simply out of politeness. David would definitely not be thrilled to see her.
The door to the apartment opened and Henry let go of her hand to run forward and embrace his grandfather. The prince held him gingerly and looked up to eye the woman on his doorstep. She held his gaze cautiously as she stepped past them, letting it go to glance at Emma's body on the bed behind the gauzy curtain.
Mary Margaret was standing at the head of the table, surveying their work. She looked up at the Evil Queen's approach and smiled tentatively in greeting. Regina nodded indifferently and moved to stand by her side and looked over the paper and maps.
"Would you care to explain all this?" she asked, motioning to the cluttered table.
"We're going to Neverland," David said, drawing Regina's eyes from the paper to watch him approach. Her eyes were immediately searching for Henry; finding him lying beside Emma's form as he muttered inaudibly. She let her gaze drift back to the prince who was standing on Mary Margaret's other side, indicating the map.
"That is all the places we have to go. We've started amassing supplies but we need an actual portal and since you're the one with magic here…"
"I have magic beans – the ones you tried to keep hidden from me."
"We gathered," David replied with a hint of bitterness in his voice. Just then, the front door opened to reveal Neal entering – exhaustion clear in his features. He shuffled in, letting the door swing back to close when a silver hook caught it before it could shut. The door creaked as it was opened again and Killian moved inside. Regina studied them amusedly, taking in the dark circles underneath their eyes and fatigue underlying their movements. She was further entertained when she noticed Neal turn around to watch the pirate enter, their eyes meeting with equal disdain.
"Hook, how long will it take to cast off?" David questioned, ignoring their silent duel. Killian's eyes snapped onto the prince and he smirked.
"The Jolly Roger responds to my every command so it won't take long to get going," he replied smugly. Neal rolled his eyes, taking a seat at the table and putting his elbow on the table to prop up his head. Killian walked until he was standing at the opposite side of the table.
"We were thinking of leaving this afternoon, will you be prepared by then?" David asked.
The pirate nodded in response, looking down at their carefully laid plans and smirking to himself. These people had obviously never been to the land – their plans would count for moot should Neverland decide to intercede. Killian was surprised Neal didn't make comment on it – the man knew as much about the realm as he did. The man sitting at the table pulled himself up, shoving his hands in his hoodie pockets and moving back towards the door.
"If we're leaving this afternoon, I had better go pack some things," he muttered, turning to catch Henry's attention. "I'm leaving to get ready, I'll see you this afternoon kid," he called to the boy who jumped up from the bed and gave his father a hug. The man returned the gesture and nodded to the rest of the adults, leaving immediately thereafter. Regina scanned the table once more, checking there wasn't anything of vital importance that she'd missed, before sighing and walking around the table towards Henry.
"I might do the same, Henry. I'll see you soon," she said, smiling and embracing him. She kissed the top of his head lightly before letting him go and following the same path that Neal had. As the door closed, Henry turned to his grandparents. Killian watched him curiously, noticing how he fidgeted on the spot – Emma's kid through and through.
"I need to pack too – I'll be in my room," he said, moving towards an open door to his left. The pirate assumed it was his room as the boy disappeared inside it and closed the door behind him. As he did so, Killian turned to Emma's parents.
"Well, I think that's my cue to leave you alone. Until this afternoon," he said, saluting them. Mary Margaret and David nodded in response and the woman said something to her husband unheard by the pirate. He seemed to agree and they started walking towards the staircase. Killian spun on his heel and walked to the door.
However, as his hand reached out to turn the doorknob, he noticed something in his peripheral vision. Killian let go of the handle, stepping back and turning to his left. He walked forward, eyes glued to the spot in front of him. He pulled back the filmy white curtain and entered the small sectioned-off room where the iron bed was. His ice blue eyes raked over her lifeless form, cocking his head to the side as he walked to stand right beside the bed.
"You look good, I must say – for someone who's had their soul torn from their body," he said quietly, studying her face carefully. He didn't really know why he was talking to her; the words had just slipped from his mouth.
Killian sighed, "Everyone is quite invested in saving you, love. You'd be proud – I'm even postponing my revenge for this." He stepped tentatively closer to the edge of the bed and lifted his hand to move a blonde curl from her shoulder.
"Bloody hell Swan…" he whispered, letting his hand drop. As it did, his thumb grazed the skin on her arm and it was like sending a shockwave through his arm. Killian felt a tightening his chest and a strange buzzing at the back of his head as he watched her. Infuriating woman still had a hold on him, even in… whatever this was. Death wasn't the proper descriptive word but she wasn't really asleep.
"I thought you left?" a young voice asked from behind him.
The pirate turned around abruptly, stepping away from the side of the bed as he did so. Henry stood in front of him, his head cocked to the side as he studied the man. It took him a second to maintain his composure; Killian hadn't much tolerated kids since the events in Neverland.
"Aye, I was about to leave."
"Why didn't you?"
Killian eyed the child and was impressed to see him unaffected by the obvious dissection. Definitely Emma's kid.
"I saw your mother and was curious to see how she's doing," he replied smoothly, glancing at the woman on the bed. Henry looked between the two and shrugged, walking around and jumping up to sit on the other side of the bed beside his mother.
"You're Captain Hook, right?" he clarified, raising his eyebrows. Killian smiled and felt himself stand a little straighter at the use of his full moniker – it had been a long time since someone had called him by his title.
"The one and only," he answered with a mock bow. Henry grinned and nodded.
"Did you really swordfight with Peter Pan?" the child inquired innocently. Killian's eyes darkened he shook his head.
"That boy was always too cowardly to face me. He always had his Lost Boys do his dirty work."
Henry's brows knitted together in confusion, "So, was Peter a bad guy?"
The pirate shook his head, "It's a bit more complex than that, lad." The child shook his head in reply, unfazed by the depth with which the man in front of him spoke.
"I don't think it could be that hard to understand," he said honestly. Killian smiled despite himself and scrutinised Henry; cross-legged beside his mother's body, eyes completely focused on the pirate in front of him. He shook his head and walked around the bed to lean on the end of it as he spoke.
"From what I know, Peter was abandoned and Neverland twisted him into a person capable of very heinous things. When a seer told him that a boy would be his undoing, he made her draw it and now spends his time searching for the poor child. When I went to Neverland, Peter hid behind his minions; the Lost Boys. But I wouldn't exactly say it was good versing evil when we were at odds. I wouldn't call myself good in any sense," Killian explained morbidly.
"I don't think anyone's purely good," Henry replied truthfully. The pirate watched him and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. The child had far too much insight for an eleven-year-old boy.
"I have to go back to my ship but I guess I'll see you soon," Killian said, walking back a couple of steps. When Henry nodded in reply, raising a hand as a half-hearted wave, the pirate turned around and moved back towards the door. When the door closed and the apartment was quiet, the child turned to his mother's form.
"I don't know why you complained about him so much. I don't think he's that bad."
And next chapter beings their trip to Neverland – reviews are that amazing feeling when you get into bed after you've shaved your legs (my pathetic way of begging for your feedback).