Chapter One: The Awakening
Background Info: All the events up to 'And Straight On 'Til Morning' comply with this fic. This begins where Season 2 ends.
A/N: As usual a short chapter to start off with but they'll probably be longer than this in the future.
The Jolly Rodger lurched violently as they reached the edge of the portal which glowed green. Emma inhaled deeply. Hook turned back to look at her, catching her eye and sending her a grin. His eyes sparkled with the thrill of sailing. She found a smile rising on her face just before the ship tumbled over the side of the portal, hurtling into the sea. Water rushed towards them and as it crashed it against her face, Emma squeezed her eyes shut.
When Emma opened her eyes she was greeted by darkness and the earthy smell of rain on soil. However from what she could figure out she was wasn't anywhere near soil. An ominous blue light that echoed down the corridor she was in, allowing her to see the stone walls soaring over her with pipes running along them. They soared high into the distance, so far they disappeared into the black fog above her so she couldn't tell if they reached a ceiling or not. Her face was pressed against cold stone that was slightly moist from the rain she could smell. In her hand was a gun, pressed against her palm. She grasped it. If she had been given it, she was going to need it.
She pushed herself upwards onto her feet. Cool, damp air washed over her, causing a flush of goosebumps to rise along her arms. Her jacket she was now wearing didn't seem to be doing much good. She squinted into the distance and yearned for a flashlight or even better, some idea of where she was. Though she doubted this was Neverland.
After a minute or so of debating, Emma figured she had to get moving. She looked left; an endless corridor. She looked right; another endless corridor. She looked left again. Then to the right. She dug her spare hand in her pocket, hoping to find something useful in them. Her fingers clamped around a coin. A chill gripped her heart, whatever or whoever had caused her ending up here had prepared her perfectly. Was this some sort of test or game?
She held it out in front of her, barely being able to make out heads from tails in the dim light. 'Heads I go left,' she thought, 'Tails I go right.' She flicked it, the coin shone, reflecting the blue light, it landed in her hand, wet. A shiver trailed down her spine. What the hell? She looked at it nervously; the coin face had Hook's face on it.
In horror, she threw it away from her. The lights shut down the moment the clattering of the coin reached her ears. She was enveloped in pitch black. A moment of silence. Then she heard a click of a gun. Her heart leapt in her throat.
There was someone in the darkness. Emma desperately tried to listen to footsteps over the sound of her beating heart. She moved toward the left slowly, her gun gripped tightly. She was prepared but she felt dizzy with nerves. This would've been a lot easier if she had more light but unfortunately she didn't have that privilege.
She heard a small scuffle of shoes behind her and she spun around. She drew her gun higher, holding it in front of her as she inched forward. "Who's there?" she demanded.
"Hello, beautiful," came the familiar Irish drawl.
Without thinking, her gun hand fell limp, relief flooded her, "Hook."
The lights clicked on. Hook looked worse for wear since she had last seen him and she had to wonder when exactly she had last seen him. For her, it felt like only minutes ago but the clothes he was wearing were scruffy and splattered with mud. His clothes looked similar to what she is used to seeing him in except now he bore a red vest. His face was grubby, his hair damp and messy but his hauntingly blue eyes still glowed.
"You haven't been conscious long, I assume." he asked, echoing her thoughts.
"I just woke up a few moments ago," she replied, still startled at his attire, "And you?" She was almost afraid to hear the answer.
"I can't tell," he admitted, "More than a week perhaps? Time runs differently in this world, slower. I can feel it. Similar to Neverland but not quite."
More than a week. He'd been here that long? "So I'm right in saying we're not in Neverland?"
He barked a laugh, "Trust me, Swan, you should be glad you're here. Neverland is a lot worse than this maze."
"Maze?!" she screeched, the sound echoed off the walls. She felt something shift in the air, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up on end.
His eyes latched onto her as she looked from left to right, "You can feel it too?"
She nodded, "There's something in the shadows."
"I don't know if it's the maze playing tricks on us or there's actually something there. It's hard to tell," Hook said quietly as if he was afraid of being heard, "I think that's why I hate it so much because I just don't know what's going on." The words from a Batman film echoed through her head, 'And we always fear what we don't know.'
Emma swallowed, "What do you know about this maze?"
"Not much more than you," he admitted, "I woke up alone and I had this." He indicated towards his gun. "And I had that in my hand and in my pocket I had this scrap of paper which said 'forest' on it. I figure it's some sort of clue," he explained, "Then I had been walking for… awhile when lights shut off and I heard this clattering. I thought- well, I don't know what I thought. I just held up the gun and I was so close to firing at you but then I heard your voice," he finished.
She frowned, "I don't understand something. If this is a different world, why has it armed with weapons and objects from my world?"
Hook didn't look too concerned, "There must be some sort of magic which taps into our minds."
"That would explain the coin," she murmured, half to herself.
"Coin?" Hook asked sharply, "What coin?"
She walked over, picked it up and threw it at him. He caught it with ease. He gazed down at it, turning it in his hand, the space between his eyebrows creased. "What's so special about this coin?"
"First of all, it's an enchanted coin."
"I would ask if it can lead us out but that would be too easy." Was she really making jokes?
A ghost of a smile washed over his face as he continued to examine it, "No, but it shows you what your heart needs or requires or something along those lines. I can't be sure, I haven't studied enchantments for a long time."
"Well that can't be right," Emma snapped, snatching the coin out of his hands.
"Why did you see me?" he teased, his eyebrow quirking up and his lip curling up into his typical smirk.
"In your dreams, Hook," she replied, pushing the coin into her pocket. "So I'm the only person you've come across?" she asked, eager to change the subject.
"So the rest of them are scattered across the maze?"
"Or they successfully reached Neverland. There's no way to tell." What?
"What do we do? How do we find them? How do we get out of here without a bean? How are we going to get to Neverland now?!"A hint of hysteria had climbed into her voice.
"I…" his voice faltered for a moment, "I don't know how to get you back to your son. I'm sorry."
She inhaled and exhaled deeply but her breath came out unstable. "Emma..." he made a move towards her. The use of her first time made her tense. Memories of the beanstalk flashed through her mind. Guilt hugged at her heart.
"The paper you have. Show me it," she demanded, cutting off his advances.
He hesitated but pulled it out of his pocket and placed it in her hand, his fingers lingering on her palm for a millisecond too long. She scanned it, holding it up to the light. She could see where he hand creased it in his pocket. "Forest," she said quietly before turning to Hook. "You said you think it's some sort of clue?"
"It's the only logical conclusion," he confirmed.
"I think you're right," she told him, handing him back the paper. "I think it's directions."
"Directions?" he asked curiously, tucking it away again.
"We have to find a forest. That will get us closer to getting out of here," she explained, "I know you must think I'm jumping to conclusions but-"
"No, no," he cut her off, "I believe you. I think it's our best bet of escaping but how are we going to find a forest in all this maze?"
Eerily a bird started tweeting faintly in the distance. They met each other's gaze, his eyes contained surprise, excitement and a tiny shadow of fear. She knew her eyes held the exact same expression.
"Did that answer your question?" she asked.
A grinned crept up his face, "Looks like you and I are going on an adventure." Emma rolled her eyes but despite everything a grin was breaking through.
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