A/N: So this is just a collection of scenes and side-stories from my Lynchpin universe that either got added after the fact or were left out because they interrupted the flow of the main story. The Lynchpin universe is an in progress AU where Bae was taken from Neverland by the curse and found by Rumple right after Emma arrived in Storybrooke.
This collection will focus more on backstory and characters other than the Golds (because they dominate the main storyline).
Tales from the Lynchpin Universe
Part 1: A Cursed Christmas (takes place during chapter 5 of Not According to Plan)
"So," Emma asked Mary Margaret over lunch on Christmas Eve, "Do you… do anything for Christmas?"
Mary Margaret frowned. "No, not really. I usually watch It's a Wonderful Life on TV and have a glass of wine. Why? Do you want to do something?"
"No! Christmas isn't really my thing. You just seem like the type, is all. And I know Regina hasn't banned it or anything; she and Henry do a tree and presents and stuff."
"Oh," Mary Margaret said knowingly, "So you do want to do something. You want to have Christmas with Henry."
"That's not what I said. He fell down a mineshaft yesterday; maybe I'd just like to see him. But I can't because of Regina's stupid Christmas thing. Christmas sucks," she huffed.
Mary Margaret looked wistful. "It doesn't have to."
Emma pointed a finger at her. "Ha, I knew it. You're a Christmas sap. You do something. What is it? Caroling? Volunteering at the soup kitchen? Both?"
Mary Margaret shook her head. "Storybrooke doesn't have a soup kitchen. And we don't have caroling either."
"Really? You have a actual convent in town but no caroling?" Come to think of it, Emma really hadn't seen much of anything in the way of Christmas stuff. The Five and Dime had a small selection of ornaments and lights, but she'd barely seen any up around town. She'd put it down to small-town rejection of Christmas commercialism - or maybe local ordinances - and been grateful for it, but this was just weird.
"There will be services tonight and tomorrow, of course, but I don't usually go. I'm not actually Catholic, and I haven't really celebrated Christmas in years." She looked sad.
Emma felt a cold pit in her stomach when she realized where this was going. Mary Margaret had already mentioned that she had no family left, but Emma had never asked for details on because she didn't want to pry (or have to answer questions about her own past - Mary Margaret knew she'd been a foster kid, and Emma wanted to leave it at that). But Mary Margret was such a cheerful, relentlessly optimistic person (Emma could see why Henry thought she was a Disney Princess), that it hadn't occurred to her that she would do something so jaded as give up the holiday entirely after she'd lost her parents. Stupid, Swan, stupid. "I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have assumed."
"No, no, it's fine. I did love Christmas as a kid, but after my father died… there just didn't seem to be anyone to celebrate with." And then her optimism reemerged and Emma regretted ever asking about Christmas in the first place. "We should do something!"
"Oh, no, no, that's not necessary. I was just curious."
"No, you weren't," Mary Margret said. "You have a child you want to be with, but can't. And I can't be with my parents either. But we're not alone; we're together. We should do something."
"Fine," Emma sighed. "Will Granny's be open? We can get hot chocolate."
Mary Margaret waved a hand dismissively. "We do that all the time. We should do something special."
"TP Regina's house."
Mary Margaret laughed. "That's Halloween!"
"I'm not getting a tree. They're a lot of work, and they make a mess. And no presents, either; I refuse to support the commercialization of America." And there wasn't enough time to pick out something good. Emma had received a few Christmas presents as a kid, but most had either been clothes or school supplies that she would have been given anyway or toys she had no interest in (like a Ballerina Barbie when she was eight). They had all just proved what she'd already known, that none of her foster parents had ever really cared to get to know her as a person. It had been all about the empty gesture; Emma had had enough empty gestures for a lifetime.
"I know," Mary Margaret said, nodding, "You don't like to accumulate stuff. We could go caroling, just the two of us? Or I could find some other people who might like to join?"
"Absolutely not. I can't sing."
"No, seriously. I'm completely tone-deaf. Think of something else."
Mary Margaret sighed. "Fine. What do you want to do?"
"I like the wine idea. But a different movie; I hate It's a Wonderful Life." It assumed the viewer had a family. It pissed Emma off.
"A Christmas Story?"
"Better, but not really my speed."
"How about something less traditional?" They all had the same problem: happy families (even if they were dysfunctional). If you didn't have a family, Christmas wasn't for you.
"Oh! The Nightmare Before Christmas!"
"…I can live with that."
When they went to the video store, Emma also talked Mary Margaret into renting Die Hard.
Clothes, books, and educational toys - Christmas as usual for Henry. It wasn't that he wasn't grateful (his haul this year included a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Marvel characters that actually looked really awesome), but what Henry really wanted this year was to have Christmas with his family - his entire family. But he knew that asking his Mom if Emma could join them for dinner would just start another fight.
He also felt guilty. What right did he have to a nice Christmas when the people of the Enchanted Forest were cursed to unhappiness? How many people in Storybrooke weren't with their families today? How many were but didn't realize it (like Emma and Mary Margaret)?
Hardly anyone in Storybrooke celebrated Christmas (or any other holiday), and Henry knew why - holidays made people happy. It was like the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where the witch had cursed Narnia to always be winter but never Christmas.
Later, when Henry and his Mom went walking by Mr. Gold's (Rumplestiltskin's) house, and they saw the decorated tree in his window, Henry realized that it really was just like that. And just like in the book, Christmas had started coming back, and that meant that witch's power was failing.
Back when they had rescued Ashley, Emma had said that Rumplestiltskin just wanted to be left alone with his son. Henry hadn't been sure, but after running into them at the grocery store yesterday, and now seeing the tree, Henry knew that she was right. Rumplestiltskin was giving up being a villain so that he could be with his son.
Henry looked at his Mom. Would she ever do it?
Maybe I can have them both next year.
In her resolve not to think about David today, Mary Margaret may have had a bit too much wine. "You really never had a good Christmas a kid? Not one?" she asked Emma.
Nightmare had ended and they had just started Die Hard. Her friend shrugged; she was a little tipsy too. "No, not really. Christmas is for family, and I didn't have one. The best Christmas I ever had was at a bar."
"Oh! Tell me about that!"
She sighed. "OK, fine. This was three years ago. I think. Let me count, one, two… yeah, three. Anyway, I was chasing this guy. He'd skipped bail on fraud and embezzlement charges, and left his wife and kids in the lurch. Took me three weeks to track him down, and I found him at Logan-"
"You found him with Hugh Jackman?"
Emma almost snorted wine through her nose. "No! The Boston airport. Anyway, he was getting on a plane with his girlfriend; was taking her to Switzerland for Christmas. Or, she thought it was only for Christmas, but I'm pretty sure he meant to stay. Anyway, when I cornered him, and I'm reading the charges, he tries to bribe me out of it, and the girlfriend is not having that!
"Apparently, he'd never told her any of it. Not about the charges, not about the wife and kids. She hits him with her purse and then dumps everything out of it - it was Chanel or some such thing - takes off all her jewelry and her fur coat shoves it at me and tells me to give it to the wife. Their accounts had been frozen, see, so the wife and kids are living on next to nothing, and I may have mentioned that the kids were getting no presents this year because Daddy decided to bail. She tells me to tell the wife to pawn it all and get the kids some presents."
Mary Margaret grinned. "And you did it? And they got presents?"
"No. Wasn't enough time before Christmas, and she needed it for electricity and stuff, but it helped them out a lot. Christmas day I got a text from the girlfriend and we met up at a bar and trashed our exes. A good time was had by all."
"Except the guy," Mary Margaret said, grinning.
Emma nodded. "Exactly. I may have also bought the kids some candy," she mumbled into her class.
"So they did get something!"
"Just candy canes and those chocolate coin things."
"I love those!"
"Doesn't everybody?" Emma looked at her glass like it was telling her something important. "You, ah, ever play dreidel?" she asked eventually.
Mary Margaret tilted her head, thinking. "No. Isn't that a Hanukkah game? Oh, Emma are you Jewish?" Why hadn't that occurred to her? It wasn't like everyone in America celebrated Christmas, after all.
Emma shook her head. "No. Not as far as I know, anyway. Just… there was this one teacher I liked. Taught us about different holidays. I've still got the dreidel. Used to play it with some of the other kids."
"Get it, we can play!"
"We need something to gamble with. Pretzels or something."
"That'll work; we're watching a movie anyway."
Mary Margaret made the popcorn while Emma retrieved the dreidel. It was a cheap, little, plastic thing, but Mary Margret had the feeling that it was the most cherished holiday present that Emma had ever received. Mary Margret thought of the toys, books, and jewelry from her own parents, and she was ashamed of how she'd taken them all for granted.
"Do you know how to play this?" Emma asked. Mary Margaret shook her head. "OK, so we each start with some popcorn. Ten, or something. And at the beginning of each round, we each put a piece in…" She explained the rules, and soon two grown women were drunkenly playing a children's Hanukkah game with microwaved popcorn while on the TV Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman traded one-liners and tried to kill each other.
It was the best Christmas Mary Margaret had had in… as long as she could remember.
"Hey, kid, how was your Christmas?"
Henry smiled at Emma. "I wish you could have been there, but you can be next year! Did you and Mary Margaret do something fun?"
She laughed. "Yeah, yeah we did. You, ah, ever play dreidel?"
"No, what's that?"
She took a little, blue top and a bag of M&Ms out of her pocket and sat down. "Well, it works like this…"
A/N: Happy Holidays, however you celebrate!