Another long wait between chapters and I apologise! Someone needs to kick me off Tumblr, because despite having crazy busy weeks I seem to find enough time to reblog everything in sight on there and not write. Oops ;)
Thank you for those of you who have reviewed! And thank you to those who are reading :) Hope you're all continuing to enjoy the story.
The Spark and the Void
She knows she had been away a year, so she didn't expect her old place to still be there and ready for her to live in, but within a week she has herself set up in a little one bedroom apartment situated above a 24 hour mini-mart. It's not ideal, but the thrum of the city that she has called home for the last couple of years welcomes her and she loves it.
Falling back into her routine of work and not much else comes naturally to her and while she had found a Sheriff's badge in her belongings, she can't imagine being anything other than a bail bonds person.
Yes, slipping back into life in Boston is easy for her.
Except that sometimes, late at night, when she's trying to catch a few hours sleep and her room is lit up like the day from all the city lights, she feels a yearning for something she doesn't know. She wants a bed in a quiet apartment that overlooks the docks of a town she can't even remember. She wants to curl up in the arms of a man who smells of leather and salt. She wants her mother to rub her back and hand her cocoa with cinnamon and tell her everything is going to be alright.
She shakes her head. No. These are just dreams from her childhood. She doesn't have a mother. This is her life. This is what is right.
"Henry, it's time for school," Regina's voice carries up the stairs to her son's bedroom, "Come on, we need to go now."
The sound of his footsteps makes her smile. It's the first time he's stayed with her in… well, she doesn't even know how long. With Emma out of town, Neal has been handling most of the parenting duties, with Snow and David helping out when they can. But when the circumstances had shifted, Regina had been their port of call.
She turns around, "Have you got everything?"
Henry holds up his backpack in one hand and shoes in the other. "Yep," he says simply.
Regina frowns at his demeanour. He's usually bursting with stories and smiles, but this morning he just seems a little flat. She finishes fixing her earrings and bends down to his level, placing her hands on his shoulders, "Hey, I know it's been hard lately, but we'll get through it."
He nods, but she can tell he isn't buying into what she is saying. She feels a niggling guilt settle in the pit of her stomach at what she knows has been done. But as she drops Henry off at the gates of his school, watching him run towards his friends, she reminds herself that this is what she wanted. This is the reason all of this has to happen. She loves having her son to herself; everything in Storybrooke is just as it should be.
Still, that uneasy feeling sticks around and she realises that she hasn't seen or heard from Gold in the last week. Resolving to check in on him on her lunch break she turns away from the school and plants a fake smile on her face, carrying herself as though her happy ending is truly happening.
"I have missed this, you know?"
Hook smiles at Neal as they roll up some lose ropes and tidy up the deck. They'd taken the opportunity that morning to head out on the ocean and give the Jolly Roger a bit of a sail as she'd been sitting in the docks with no attention being paid to her for a little longer than Hook liked to admit.
"Aye lad. You were always a pirate at heart."
Neal places his coil of rope over a hook on the side of the ship, taking a seat at the helm, "I used to wonder what it could have been like if I'd stuck it out with you."
The pirate bows his head, "You couldn't have liked me very much. I was a different man then, bent on revenge and malice."
"But for a while you were family."
Hook takes a seat next to his former crewmate, "And you were mine, boy."
They sit in silence for a moment, the gentle sound of water lapping at the sides of the ship keeping them company before Neal speaks, "I'm happy that you've changed. You and Emma, you guys are good for each other, but you couldn't have been back in Neverland."
A dark chuckle escapes Hook, "I only wish she would remember me now."
"She will," Neal says with conviction.
"I fear that," the pirate pauses, gathering his thoughts, "I fear that she will fall in love with her old life and forget her new life forever." He fiddles nervously with his hook, "I fear it for her family and of course she is of great importance to this town, however I rather selfishly fear it for me most of all."
Neal nods, "I know. And if I had my time again I would never listen to the words of another person about why I'm no good for her. So I'm going to give you the advice I never got." He looks up, making sure Hook is listening, "Go after her. If she's going to fall in love with her old life back in Boston, you make sure you're a part of that old life."
Henry's eyes scan the playground as everyone scatters across the swings and grass, eating their lunch and running around without a care in the world. He unzips his backpack and pulls out his book, opening it to near the very end. There are so many stories in this book, so many people's lives all laid out from beginning to end. There are tales of long, long ago and then there are stories from more recent times, the time of Henry's grandparents, Snow White and Charming.
But nowhere in those pages lays the answer to the only question he's got right now. How does he make his mother remember him? How can he break her curse when there's no curse to be seen?
He feels someone sit down beside him, but remains immersed in his book until a small hand reaches across him and tilts the old pages toward her, "Hey Henry," she says sweetly as her eyes slide across the words on the paper, reading the story of Pinocchio.
He glances up at his new company, "Hey Grace."
When he doesn't offer up much in the way of conversation, Grace gently closes the book and asks, "How come you won't come play with us anymore?" she nods her head towards the swings where a few of Henry's classmates are playing.
"It just doesn't feel right."
Grace tilts her head, "You know, my dad told me that when I was cursed and he wasn't he never gave up hope, just like you're doing."
Henry frowns, "How do you…"
She smiles, "We all know about your mom, Henry. Just don't go mad like my dad did."
His frown deepens, "I'm only eleven. I'm not going to go mad, I just miss her."
"Maybe talk to my dad about it."
Henry nods and Grace hops up again, running back towards the swings.
He doesn't go back to reading his book but instead begins to plan just how he's going to get to Jefferson's without any of his family noticing.
Operation Bumblebee is all systems go.
She finds it bizarre that his shop is closed and the door is locked in the middle of the day, but it is Gold and he does hold all the eccentricities of his fairytale persona, Rumple. Still, that feeling in the back of her mind tells her that something is wrong.
Making deals with Gold always has a consequence and she worries that he has done something to implicate her as the culprit of Emma's memory loss. With that in mind, she makes the calculated decision to break into the shop.
She knows the back door will be less conspicuous, so she quietly ventures there, her hand reaching out to test the handle. Surprisingly she finds it unlocked and steps inside, her heels clicking loudly against the floor. "Hello," she tries.
A muffled groan can be heard from the front of the shop, her feet carrying her out to the counter quickly.
The sight that greets her is not one that she can say she expected. Gold his lying on the ground, an arm outstretched upward, facing a glass unit which contains the plant that holds Emma's memories.
"Gold," she breathes, rushing forwards to help him to his feet.
But he shakes his head, "No," he rasps, "Have to contain the memories."
Her eyes look up and even as she has begun to shift Gold, the silvery light has grown, "I thought it would be easier once she was gone."
Gold's hand shakes with the effort he is exerting, "I thought as much too. But alas, we were wrong."
She sees an opportunity in this, one that she can take or leave. She sees a chance to let the memories go. They'd never be caught; Emma would be back in their lives, but she'd have the chance at building a life with Henry free of lies. Her hands slacken their grip on Gold and she begins to step away.
But then she remembers the way she felt having Henry all to herself, the way she didn't have to worry about someone taking him away from her. She remembers having the sound of his laughter filling the empty hallways of their home, the patter of his footsteps running around the upper level, constantly tripping over and leaving his shoes everywhere. She can't let that go, she won't.
"What do I need to do?" she asks quietly, her hesitation shining through in her tone.
Gold throws a worried look at her, but she schools her features before he can see the doubts still swimming in her eyes, "Hold your palms against the glass, feel it. But don't let it settle, let it move within you, but don't become accustomed to it."
Regina's fingertips touch the glass and she gasps at the heat radiating from it. Remaining strong though, she presses further against it, letting her whole hand come into contact with the case.
"That's it," Gold prompts, already feeling the strain on him lessen.
"Now what?" she asks, her eyes closing as she feels the heat from the memories course through her veins, invading her cells and becoming a part of her.
"Force them away. Just push them down." His entire body is weakened and tired, but he knows how hard this job is by one's self, so he helps Regina, straining and sweating as the silver light finally begins to sink beneath the soil again.
They remain locked in their stance, bodies focussed on the task at hand, for a good few minutes until finally, the light disappears completely and the two fall back, gasping for air.
Gold's head is spinning and sore his fingers are blistered from the heat of the magic it has taken to keep the memories under control.
They stare in silence for the longest time at the fruitless plant, neither one of them willing to speak for fear of having to discuss the very clear flaw in their plan. Pulling the memories from the product of true love was simple, but containing them is becoming quite the task.
One that might just prove too hard to accomplish.
Killian lazily hooks a leg over the side of his hammock, swinging from side to side. The sun is setting outside and he's contemplating the conversation he and Neal had had earlier in the day. Going to Emma seems like the logical choice right now, but he also knows that something is afoot here in the magical realm of things and he wants to be here to be sure there is a family for Emma to come home to when she inevitably recovers her memories.
Because he's not giving up on her remembering.
He and Emma had only spent a night here alone, but his bed looks empty without her and he doesn't know if he can make his way to it without the prospect of her golden hair strewn across his pillows, her smiling eyes lighting up the room. He lets his eyes slide shut for a moment, but it's only seconds later that a shrill beeping emanates from the other end of the cabin.
He had asked David about the small black box Emma had given him and had since learned of its magical powers. Mary Margaret and David had ensured it had power at every second of every day in the hopes that Emma would contact them.
His feet find the ground, shakily running towards the contraption, picking it up and holding it to his ear just as he had been shown, "Hello, Emma, hello."
Her breath comes through from the other end, a short and sharp gasp. He wonders if he's done something wrong.
"Hello?" he tries again.
"Killian?" her voice is unsure and quiet, but it is there and he feels his heart beat harder than it has all week.
There's silence for a moment, then, "I'm not even sure why I'm calling. I'm just…I don't even know you."
"But you do, love. You know me very well."
Her breathing thickens, as though she's swallowing a lump in her throat, trying not to let tears overtake her, "I don't remember."
He doesn't know what to say to that, because there is obviously some part of her crying out to him, something within her reminding her of their time together.
"I miss you and I don't even know you," she whispers and he knows she's crying now.
But she cuts him off, "I'm sorry to do this to you. I'm sorry I'm putting you through this. I'm sorry."
"No, lass. I would prefer…"
But the answering sound of the engaged signal greets him as her voice swims away.
He hadn't realised it, but his heart is nearly beating out of his chest and it physically hurts him to know that she's in pain. The involvement of magic be damned, he is not prepared to leave her alone any longer.
As the dark descends around Storybrooke, the pirate prepares himself for the journey to Boston.