A/n: And here's part two. Took a little bit longer than I anticipated. Yes, it's short, but it was also supposed to be included in chapter one, which would have made it a little too long. I'm trying to average 3000 – 4000 words per chapter.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who reviewed/alerted. Chapter 2 should be out sometime this week.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Hey," A voice urgently said in her ear. "Hey, can you hear me? Come on, wake up!" The voice grew more firm and insistent, and Mary Margaret dimly wished that they would just be quiet – she had a headache as it was. Slowly, reluctantly, she opened her eyes. Large, rough hands were cradling her face, but the hands were familiar; she reached up and covered one of them with her own, and felt the wedding band on the finger. Her eyes floated up to the concerned face of David Nolan – Prince Charming, or whoever he wanted to be that day – and she felt herself smile.
"Hey," She croaked, and began to cough as soon as the word left her mouth.
He helped her sit up as she coughed, and quickly offered her a flask. She took tentative sip, and felt the whiskey slide down her throat. She crinkled her nose and handed it back to him with a half amused look.
"It was the only thing I had on me," He defended softly, tucking the flask back into his pocket.
She squinted and looked at her surroundings, confused. "Is this… Neverland?" She questioned, frowning as she inspected the line of cliffs over the beach and the forest behind them. "I thought Neverland was more… tropical,"
Charming nodded solemnly, and took a moment to respond. "I… I couldn't be sure because I didn't want to leave you while you were still unconscious, but I think we're home."
"Home?" She asked, wondering if they had somehow rebounded in the portal and wound up on some beach in a different part of Maine.
"Home." He confirmed, looking at the forest intensely. "The Enchanted Forest,"
Snow's eyes widened, and she inspected the surrounding area more carefully. "How can you be sure?"
"I can't," He replied patiently, and stood, offering his hands to help her up. "I haven't been able to really explore yet. It's just a feeling…" She accepted his hands and pulled herself to her feet, wobbling a little on her shaky legs.
"Emma," She said aloud, and began to look at the beach in earnest. "Where is Emma?"
Charming shook his head. "She hasn't washed up. I've patrolled the beach a mile in each direction, and nothing. Last I remember, she and Hook were at the helm – he was still steering the ship when we fell overboard. I'm sure she's fine," He added firmly, and couldn't help but wonder who he was trying to comfort – her, or himself.
Snow took a deep breath and squeezed her eyes shut. Why, why couldn't this family ever stay together? She forced the tears back and shook her head, not allowing them to fall. This wasn't the time. "Alright." She said, accepting the possibility. "Step one, figure out where we are. Step two, figure out how to get back to Storybrooke – assuming that we haven't just washed up somewhere in Maine."
Charming nodded, and stepped forward to slide an arm around his wife's shoulders. "She'll be fine," He said, and kissed her forehead gently. "We'll find her, or she'll find us – this family has a knack for that sort of thing, you know," He said, teasing a small laugh out of her.
"I know," She replied, hugging him tightly. "I just wish this family didn't have knack for getting lost in the first place."
"If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire." Emma read aloud softly, her mind aflame with imagination.
"Wow," A small voice commented softly in the darkness, making Emma jump and snap the book shut guiltily. "You're a really good reader," The little girl complimented and stepped out of the shadows to sit by Emma on the window sill.
Emma knew the girl to be Lily, who was just a year or two younger than herself. "Thanks," She said shyly, and felt the unwavering insecurity creep into her mind.
"What book is that?" Lily asked, and inspected the book carefully.
"Peter Pan. It's my favorite," Emma replied, and caressed the book cover lovingly; her foster parents had gotten it for her – the first pair, the ones that Emma remembered being kind and loving to her in a way that no other foster family had been after that.
"What's it about?" Lily asked, having realized that there were very few pictures in the book itself and none on the cover.
"It's about the adventures of a boy called Peter Pan. He lives in Neverland – a magical island where you never grow up!"
Lily scooted closer and traced the title with her finger. Eventually, she lowered her hand and mumbled sadly, sheepishly, "I can't read very good,"
"I can read it to you, if you like," Emma offered, and opened the book to the first page.
"Won't we get in trouble for being up so late?" The six year old Lily asked, looking at the cracked door with concern.
"Only if we get caught," The seven year old Emma replied with a mischievous grin.
Regina dusted herself off, and used what was left of her strength to keep herself from collapsing. Everything had gone to hell when the ship came apart; the Charmings had gone overboard, which she had to remind herself not to take pleasure from, and Emma and the pirate were still missing. She and Rumplestiltskin had been protected by their magic. Initially, the spell had simply been to shield them from the weather – but when the portal began to collapse on top of them, the spell shrunk and solidified to protect them.
Rumplestiltskin stood a few feet away from her, inspecting their new location with dark, glittering eyes. Now, more than ever, Regina saw the Dark One in him – any semblance of his human self, or the good person he could be under Belle's influence, was gone.
"Well, well, well," He muttered, and Regina resisted the urge to step away. She knew that tone very well.
"Where are we?" She asked him bluntly, eyeing the surroundings with extreme distaste. The ground was barren and dark, and the trees were blackened and singed as though a great fire had torn through the forest with a vengeance. A fortress stood in the horizon, a castle with high, thick stone walls and sickly green moat. If there was ever a castle suited to terrorize, it was this one.
"How should I know, dearie? I arrived with you, if you'll recall," He cackled cheerily, and Regina rolled her eyes. The semi-rational, partially sane Mr. Gold had disappeared – and the Dark One had been left in his place. What inspired the change?
"Yes, but you know," She replied firmly, and her heart panged uncomfortable as it finally occurred to her – this was most definitely not Neverland. Henry was in a completely different realm, at the mercy of two insane freaks. She hoped that Emma had made it – one of them had to save Henry.
Rumplestiltskin tutted, waggling his finger in her face. "Now's not the time to be worrying about Henry, dearie. He's got a much better chance of surviving his predicament, then you do of yours,"
"And what predicament is that?" She asked pointedly, her tone growing sharper and more insolent.
He smiled and looked back at the castle with glittering eyes. "You'd better bury Regina Mills very, very deep inside you if you want to see your son again. Only the Evil Queen will be able to come out of this alive,"
"Out of what?" She asked him for the last time, her patience with his antics worn thin.
"Hell," He replied in cheerfully. "The realm between realms - where the lost souls wander in eternal torment, and where victims of the sleeping curse dwell,"
"So we're asleep, under a curse?" She clarified, her eyes narrowing – whoever had cast the spell to tear the ship apart and break down the portal would have hell to pay when she escaped!
He cocked his head and looked her, his smile slipping just a bit. "No, dearie, we're not," He replied darkly, and began to walk towards the castle.
Emma and Killian had been walking without pause for over an hour, wading through the brush and bramble of the jungle. It seemed that the longer they walked, the thicker the jungle became – and the larger the insects.
"Do you know where we're going?" She eventually asked, making an effort not to trip over the fallen branch in their path; she'd had enough of this bullshit from the Enchanted Forest, and certainly hadn't intended on repeating the experience.
"Yes," He replied tersely, glancing at the compass in his palm.
She followed without comment for another fifteen minutes before asking again. "Are you sure? Because, not that I doubt your navigational skills, you said that we would be through this forest in an hour – and it's been over an hour. Are you sure we didn't take a wrong turn somewhere, or…?" She asked, swatting another mosquito.
He sighed and stopped walking, turning to face her. "Swan, I know where I'm going. I'd have been there already if I'd been traveling alone – but with you along," He stopped short.
Her eyes narrowed. "Am I slowing you down Captain?"
"To a point, yes," He replied bluntly, and looked down at her feet. "Those shoes you're wearing are not well made, and certainly not made for walking extensively in."
"We were on a ship," She hissed, getting angry. "I didn't expect the ship to come apart and have everything I own – including the appropriate shoes for hiking – to wind up at the bottom of the ocean!" She snapped, and shouldered past him to walk ahead.
"Swan, wait, no!" He cried out, and lunged, attempting to pull her back. She fell backwards into his arms, and felt confused about his concern for a moment, until she felt the net spring up around them and pull them into the air. She strewn across his lap, his arms around her waist, and they were hanging seven feet in the air.
He groaned and his head fell back against the net. "Wonderful."
Emma bit back a frustrated scream and shifted, attempting to get more comfortable. Hook grunted as she squirmed in his lip and gritted his teeth. "Can you please stop moving?" He asked tersely, already feeling uncomfortable warm with Emma pressed up against him.
Biting back a retort, Emma settled and asked "You have your sword, right? Why can't you just… cut us free?" She attempted to relax her neck and leaned back, and found her head tucked beneath his chin. It was awkward, but it was more comfortable than being stiff necked.
"At this height, we'd break something – leg, arm, possibly more depending on how we'd land. And they likely already know that the trap has been set off. We couldn't outrun them now."
"Why are we trying to outrun them?" She asked, confused. "I thought we were trying to get to the Indian camp. Won't this just sort of… bring them to us?"
"Not the Indians, lass," He said, his tone dark and tense. "The Cannibals."
A/n: And there's the end to chapter one. If it had all been in the same chapter, it would have rounded out to be about 5500 words. I could have left it in there, but to be honest – I'm just not sure if all my chapters will be that long. I don't want to give you guys 7000 words in one chapter, and then 3000 in the next. I'd rather just split the chapters up a little more evenly and have semi-consistent word counts.
But that could just be me. Thoughts? Would you all be okay with longer chapters, and then potentially much shorter chapters? Or would you rather just have it all be semi-even? Let me know what you thought!