"Chess!" Henry waved through the window of Granny's diner.
Dina chuckled and waved back, pointing at Gold's shop. He gave a thumbs up and she continued on, knocking on the door even as the entry bell rang. "I have that little bell on the door to prevent knocking." Gold mused from his place behind the counter.
"I know, I...can't help myself." She muttered, stopping before him, anxiety riding high as it usually did when waiting to be told to do something. "I wanted to thank you… for yesterday."
"It was no trouble at all, Ms. Cheshire. I do hope you're feeling better, though?"
"No, uh- well, yes. I- I'm fine." She stuttered.
"Are you well? Should you…?" He asked, doubtful of her.
"No, I- I'm fine. I just.." She shook her head, clearing it of cobwebs and fuzzy edges, even as the small migraine radiated from just above her right temple. "I'm fine. Promise." She went into the back for a broom.
"You didn't get much sleep last night, did you?" He mused, watching her progress even as the curtain swished shut behind her.
"Oh, about the normal amount, I should think. Hey, did you notice the clock started moving?"She asked as she went back to the front to begin sweeping.
"Is it?" He asked, letting his eyes fall back to the ledger before him. How interesting some of these items were now that he was looking at them afresh.
"Yeah, it is. Who'd have thought, after… Geez, how long has it been?"
"Twenty eight years." He whispered, a small smile on his face as he flipped the pages.
"No! That long? No!" She denied, disbelieving. "I'm not that old, am I?"
He chuckled, "You don't look a day over three hundred and six."
"Oh, thanks a lot!" She rolled her eyes with a scoff. "Makes me feel loads better. You should work for hallmark."
"Well, if someone wasn't overworked and sleeping like they should, someone wouldn't look so old and tired." He mused, eyes flicking over her form as she bent at the waist to reach under the cases with the broom.
"Well, I could always turn tricks on the corner." She chuckled, wistful. "More money, less hours. Sleep during the day, all that jazz."
"You shouldn't demean yourself so, Dina." He scolded.
She turned her grin towards him, surprised as to the sharpness of his gaze. "I was joking. A poor joke, but a joke." She shrugged, going back to her task. "Do you think everything's going to be ok?"
"Well… It's just…" She sighed, pausing her sweeping again to rest her weight on it for a moment as she pondered her words. "The whole thing with Henry yesterday. And the clock's fixed now, so Thomas is kind of out of a job- unless he's allowed to stay on for maintenance."
She allowed, going back to her sweeping. "Not that he seems to mind one way or the other."
"Oh, those sorts of things usually have a way of working themselves out." He shrugged, only to look up once more at the sound of a pained hiss. "Dina?"
"It- it's nothing." She attempted to wave him off even as he approached.
"Doesn't sound like nothing."
"It's just a headache. I'll get some advil from my purse and be right as-"
"Right," He said as she winced again and with one arm wrapped about her waist and the other at her hand for balance, he guided her towards the back room where he set her on the cot. A bed he had when his own insomnia caught up with him. "I've got some in the first aid kit. Stay right there."
She winced, holding her head with her hands, trying to massage the pain away. He came back to her fairly quickly, a glass of tap water in one hand and a couple tablets in the other. "Thank you." She sighed, accepting both.
"Rest for a moment, wait for those to kick in. The sweeping can wait."
He'd nearly made it to the curtain when the shrill ring of her cell phone broke the calm quiet of the shop. He turned sharply. He'd not even thought about that damn phone. "Hello?" She asked with a wince, fingertips of her free hand pressed firmly to the knot at her temple.
"I need a shift covered: three to close." Granny barked at her.
"Three to- why?"
"Ruby has a thing." She dismissed.
"Oh, I-" Dina opened her mouth, but the phone was snatched from her hand. A stern look from Gold had her ducking her head.
"Hello, Granny. I apologize, but Ms. Cheshire is previously engaged. As you know, every Tuesday she helps me clean the inventory. But today, I need some help in the back. I've accrued quite a bit of backlog." He said, not entirely untrue, he did mean to go back through the inventory. "Ah, yes, well, you know how she is. Can't say no, can she? Poor dear, so you'll just have to have Ruby cancel her… What was it? Ah, yes, well. As I said, Ms. Cheshire is previously engaged. Good bye." He snapped the phone shut and, leaning on his cane, he looked down his nose at the woman before him, watching as her breathing escalated, her eyes staring, unfocused, at the phone in his hand.
"You…." She tried to say something, but could only shake her head and put a hand to her mouth. He wondered for a moment if she would have another panic attack and sought to head it off before it could grow out of control.
"Your job is, as yet, unfinished. And is likely to remain so until you calm down and get rid of that headache. Until then, you are not likely to be able to help anyone as you are. Now, I did you a favor. Accept it, rest." He urged, adjusting the sleeves of his suit jacket with a gentle tug.
"Why?" She finally asked, wide eyed as he turned to go.
"Why what, Dear?"
"Why are you always so nice to me?"
Mr. Gold smirked. "Would you rather I treat you as everyone else does?"
She shook her head immediately. "No." Her voice was soft. "I'm…. I'm grateful you don't. But..."
"It… It scares me, too." She admitted, eyes falling to his hand again.
"There is nothing for you to fear where I am concerned, Dear."
"Don't- don't say that." She pleaded. "Please don't say that." She leaned away from him. "Everyone who says that… Lies."
I walk into Granny's, most seem to give me the typical weary glances and the woman in question still seems to want to be the first to light the fire of my stake but she does pay me a not quite insult.
"It seems you finally did your job." She said, how she managed to turn even that into a sneer I'm not sure.
"I can assure you that the clock is only the beginning of my job." I smile at her. "Sadly, for a lot of you it seems, I'm here to stay."
I manage to see Henry sitting in the corner and nod to him as I go take my own seat, waiting for the show to come to me.
[Enchanted Forest 28 Years Ago]
A tall castle stands in the mountains, its height paralleled only by the large body of water at the base of the cliff the very castle lays upon. A dreadfully cold and eerie place for most people, however, a man and woman seemed perfectly comfortable speaking with one another while standing by in a cold, unlit room.
"I wasn't aware I could still afford such pleasures, Howl." The woman greeted enthusiastically. "What do you want?"
"So cold, and here I thought dragons breathed fire." The lean, black haired man smiled. "I digress, you should probably be expecting company soon."
"Me? Compay? You do remember who I am, don't you?"
"Of course I do, Maleficent." Howl seemed to add something to his tone as he said the name.
The result was the shiver Maleficent felt run down her spine. "So who is it I'm expecting exactly?"
"An old friend I can assure you, not that you will want to be if this goes the way she hopes." Howl spoke in his ever cryptic way.
"I know I don't have many friends Howl, but you will have to be a touch more specific." Maleficent insisted.
"Where's the fun in that? Though, I can say you won't like the topic of conversation, after all, I was the one who talked you into the trade in the first place." Howl hinted.
Her eyes going wide, Maleficent did her best not to glance at the crystal ball on top of the staff she was currently carrying. "Why would she want something like that? She agreed with me back then and I've only thought more so with time. I may not have wanted to do it at first, but I've seen the wisdom in that deal."
"What other reason is there, she's desperate."
"What should I do?" Maleficent asked as a loud thud seemed to ring throughout the castle.
Howl gave her a mischievous smile as he began to fade away. "I'm sure you'll figure it out."
It wasn't long after that Regina appeared, approaching Maleficent quickly. "Long time no see, Maleficent."
"I could say the same." Maleficent replied as she tried to gauge the woman's mood. "Come with me, we'll go sit by a fire." She lead the way as the two of them walked through the castle moving through the halls in silence.
Once they reached the room Maleficent was looking for, the woman threw a ball of fire into the fire place, instantly warming the room. Two chairs stood close by and each sat of their own accord. "So tell me, Regina, how was the wedding?"
"I'm surprised you knew, I didn't think word could spread that quickly." Regina replied.
"Come now, I may not be in the game anymore, but that doesn't mean I'd let myself lose touch with the world does it?" Maleficent scolded gently. "So, how are you dear?"
"I'm doing fine." Regina said with a slight snip.
"Really?" Maleficent asked in feigned shock, "If it were me, I would be simply tortured, watching that flake of Snow being so happy." She paused only for a second as she followed up with her next thought, "Weren't you around that age when you were supposed to be married? Before she ruined it all?" Maleficent paused as if she actually had to give the idea thought, "Yes, you were."
A slight sneer threatened to grace the ex-queen's lips, but only for a second. "Yes, it was also about the same age you were when you let that Sleeping Beauty best you, Maleficent."
Maleficent smiled, clearly thinking of this as her win. "I soldiered on, and you will too. Hopefully."
"Enough games." Regina snapped, either her acceptance of the loss or simple impatience being the cause was unclear. "You know why I'm here. I want my curse back."
"So I'm told," Maleficent said lightly, a hint of disgust flashing across her face. "But, it's not yours anymore. A deal's a deal. I traded you my sleeping curse."
"Which failed." Regina said sharply, only just keeping from rising. "Undone by a simple kiss. Now return what's mine."
Maleficent gave her an odd look. "The dark curse, really?" The tone made it sound like an odd choice of lipstick rather than an item powerful enough to destroy a world. "You should know that not even its unholy power is enough to bring back your dead loved one. Have you tried a pet? They can be quite comforting." A black unicorn slowly clopped it's way into the room as if trained to do so on cue.
The Evil Queen seemed unphased by this, "The only comfort for me is Snow White's suffering."
Rolling her eyes Maleficent responded, "Well it's her wedding night. I highly doubt that she's suffering right now."
Regina seemed outraged, "I need that curse. I know you keep it hidden in the orb above your staff."
Unconsciously, Maleficent falls for the same temptation she had earlier resisted as her eyes swiftly fly to the top of her staff before refocusing on the woman in front of her. "Hidden for the good of all, my old friend. The monster who created that makes the two of us look positively . . . moral." Her thoughts went to her earlier visitor, despite his claims otherwise. "Who did give it to you?"
"Who I got it from is of no concern to you. Give it back." Regina threatened.
Maleficent sighed wearily, "Must we do this?"
"Alas, we must." Regina settle without care as she grabbed fire from the fireplace, throwing it clear across to the waiting Maleficent.
This was to little effect, however, as Maleficent easily blocked the spell, barely even lifting a finger. The next move was a little trickier as Regina began to summon countless weapons around her, first aiming them at the dragon sorceress.
Seeing her determination steel, Regina decided to aim for a more vulnerable target as all the weapons suddenly shifted from Maleficent to the black unicorn that had came out only so long ago.
"No," Maleficent shouted as she dove in front of the beast, barely managing to deflect the spell in time. This was at great cost, however, as, with the wave of a hand, Regina had the chandelier fall and capture the now distracted woman.
"Love is weakness, Maleficent. I thought you knew that." Regina taunted, her victory clearly won.
"If you're going to kill me, kill me." Maleficent nearly roared in anger.
Regina walked over and picked up the fallen staff. She turned to Maleficent and offered her these words with a smile. "Why would I do that? You're my only friend." In one swift move Regina slammed the orb into the ground and gently lifted a small scroll of a paper from the debris.
"Don't do this." Maleficent begged, "This . . . curse. There are lines even we shouldn't cross." She sounded desperate, almost enough to actually believe it, though that would require a heart that wasn't black as coal. "All power comes with a price. Enacting it will take a terrible toll. It will leave an emptiness inside you. A void you will never be able to fill."
Regina's smile only grew, "So be it." She left in a cloud of black smoke as she often tends to do.
With her disappearance, the castle grew quiet as Maleficent sat in despair. That is until a familiar, lean figure appeared, his stormy grey eyes showing no hint of emotion.
"I told you she would be coming." Howl said, had he let emotions show one might have found regret. As it was, he simply waved his hand, the chandelier returning to its proper place.
"You could have stopped her." She said as she glared at the man.
Howl gave her a look as if he was seeing not only her, but a thousand other times as well, "You might be surprised by what I can and can't do, little one."
"Ha." She laughed, "Is that some kind of joke? Who in the land has your power?"
With a simple shake of his head Howl responded, "Is it ever that simple? Weren't you the one who, only a few moments ago, said that all magic comes with a price? My price is simply different than yours. Maybe learn a few things before you pretend to speak to me about power."
"So what? You're just going to let her cast the curse?" Maleficent asked.
"I'm not the one ask." Howl said, his smile slowly returning. "Goodbye, Maleficent. If you're lucky, we may just see each other again."
The night was brisk, the forest silent. A strangeness that might have been noticed if not for the gathering of dark sorcerers. I kept a distance between us so that the light of the fire wouldn't pick up the shine of my eyes and give me away. My mind roiling with the thoughts of the conference back at the castle. Blue's plan to separate David's family. Wasn't one enough? Hadn't she done enough? Why was it so significant to cause as much pain as possible? To save her own skin? To create a better story?
"Who among us is tired of losing?" Regina called, standing in the middle of the joining of like minded individuals. Her voice shoved all unnecessary thoughts aside as I felt my claws dig into the earth. "That's why I called you here. To put an end to our misery. Today, we claim victory and move to a new better realm." My eyes narrowed, surely she wasn't already ready to do this? Surely she needed more preparation? "A place where we can finally win." Would she really share her victory with them?
"And we'll be happy?" The blind witch called. My fur stood on end as I bit back a growl, my claws digging ever more into the soil. Ready to pounce at a moment's notice.
The Evil Queen grinned maliciously, "I guarantee it. But first, I need something from you. A lock of hair from those with the darkest souls. You must trust me, because if you don't… There are other ways." A sinister air seemed to take up space in the darkness.
My magic protected me as the trees surrounded her audience ominously. Slipping to a better vantage point- but still downwind from that child eater- I managed to slip into the branches undetected. They relented, giving up their hair a bit more easily than I would have thought they would.
"A wise decision." Regina nodded her approval as their hair was dropped into the bubbling cauldron. "All that remains is the final ingredient. The prized heart from my childhood steed. A glorious beast whose passing shall fuel our victory."
I nearly dropped from my perch with laughter at the thought of a horse's heart being the final ingredient to fuel such a powerful spell as the dark curse! What utter nonsense! How did she think this was going to play out? Out with a bang? More like a whimper. Idiot.
"Let my wrath be unleashed." She said, dropping the glowing heart into the pot. A smoke billowed up, and I might have been worried, save for the fact that it immediately seemed to wilt like a flower in summer heat.
Thankfully, my departure was hidden by a peal of high pitched laughter. "Yeah, you really unleashed something."
The laughter was cut short as my magic took me far from there. I had to report this failure. She would figure it out soon enough. And if she did, David's family might not have to be separated. David wouldn't have to weather this curse alone.
Damn that fairy for putting the thought in their heads. And of course Snow would go with it. She's no reason to doubt that blasted gnat. She doesn't know the cost. She would never know the lengths of magic that fairy was willing to go through to bury her sins. To save her own skin.
Damn that fairy!
Coffee in hand, I watch as Emma enters the dinner. I try my best not sigh, I had thought this might be easier, but it seems this world has really done a number on our little savior. I watch as she sits in a booth a few seats down from me. Out of the corner of my eye I see Henry, who seems to be awfully persistent in staying so late before catching the bus, call Ruby over. The boy mutters something in her ear before she shoots a quick glance over to Emma and looks back at Henry before nodding.
I have to admit the boy's got a knack for this.
I watch as Ruby takes over a mug of hot chocolate, giving some excuse about an admirer. A little funny if you consider the fact that she isn't entirely wrong.
I watch her walk over to poor, mistaken, Graham who just so happens to be enjoying his own coffee before the start of work day. "Ah, so you decided to stay." Graham flirts shamelessly, was he really an antisocial huntsman?
"Observant, important for a cop." She rebuffs as she places the hot chocolate in front of him.
I could see a big grin grow on the man's face as he says, "It's good news for our tourist season, bad for our local signage." I can tell that the look she gives him must be a nasty one. I have to admit, that does seem to be in rather poor taste given the Daily Mirror's hatchet job. "It's . . . it's a joke. You know, because you ran over our sign."
Emma seemed to be unaffected. "Look, I appreciate the gesture. And I'm impressed that you guessed that I like cinnamon on my hot chocolate, because most people don't. But I'm not here to flirt. So thank you, but no thank you."
Graham lifts an eyebrow, looks from her to the hot chocolate and back again and says a single line. "I didn't send it." Though a look seems to say that he wishes he did.
I see Emma start to look until she sees Henry, a smile beaming on the kids face. "I did, I like cinnamon too."
Emma walked over, surprised was an understatement of how she looked. "Don't you have school?"
Henry rolled his eyes, I'm really starting to like this kid. "Duh, I'm ten. Walk me."
I watched as they quickly left and started to drink my coffee a little quicker, it wasn't necessary, but following them is about all I have on my plate right now. Or at least it was until I saw Gold walk into the shop.
With one swift look, he finds me and immediately heads my way. Ruby only just starts to come over when Gold waves his hand to dismiss her. I can't say she seems very disappointed. He takes the seat in front of me and levels me with a glare that catches my attention.
"I take it you need something of me? Mr. Gold." I ask as I set down my coffee carefully.
"Not so much need, as want." Rumple replied.
I smiled, "Well, a need I would have to help, but a want, well, we could want for the world and never get a reply."
"Oh, it's not a want for me, it's a want for her." He said, it wasn't difficult to know he meant Chess. "It seems that when the clock was fixed, something broke."
"Already? Well, I guess that's Regina's magic for you." I replied
"I take it you have something to deal with situation?" The way he said it would make you think I was less than reliable.
"That depends, are you ready to owe me another favor?" I asked him. It was our usual deal after all, one favor among many and when you have enough, it's time to cash in. "Last I checked you were coming awfully close to an I.O.U."
He replied with an annoyed grimace. "Yes."
I let thoughts run through my mind until a word escapes my lips. "Incense."
"Incense?" Rumble repeated.
I smiled and took a quick glance around the diner before doing a little magic under the table, what appeared was a long rectangular box similar in shape, size, and design to the type of thing one would find at a store when looking for incense, the only difference being that the description for the smell was labeled, "Essence of Magic." I took the box form under the table and presented it to Rumple for inspection.
"I'm afraid this is the best I can do for now." I began, "She already isn't fond of gifts, seeing as how that doesn't make things easy this will have to do. Burn them when she's at the store. I'll burn them at home, if we're lucky we might just get a full stick worth in her per day."
He turned the box over in his hands, "And you're sure this will work?"
"Short of pushing pure magic into her veins, yes. This is the best option you have right now." I told him simply.
"And on the off chance she misses a dose?" Rumple pushed, always so finicky.
"You take pain pills don't you? It doesn't come back all at once. Though if the impossible happens and her old memories steady themselves in her mind while the curse is still going. Well, you know where to find me." I reply.
"Indeed." He agreed, stuffing the incense into his pockets before standing, business completed. "You know, Howl, it's a shame we don't team up. We do share common goals, after all."
"Alas, our endgame remains ever different." I took a sip of my coffee, looking at him from the corner of my eye. "Should that change though," I allowed, "I'll let you know."
Dina was walking down the street, admiring the day, only for her eyes to land on Emma, heading straight past her, looking very determined. On a mission. "Oh, Emma," She smiled, getting the blonde's attention.
"Uh… Dina, right?"
"Right." She tucked a stray bit of hair from her face as it tickled her chin. "It's good to see you're still here."
"Yeah, I guess."
Dina nodded, bowing out of the conversation that Emma so obviously seemed uninterested in, ready to head to her next appointment.
"Actually, Uh… Dina?"
"What is it, Emma?"
"It's just… It's something that Henry said. I was just… Nothing. Never mind. It's dumb."
"Nothing that kid ever says is dumb." Dina chuckled, "What is it?" At her continued reluctance, she rose an eyebrow, "It's definitely not dumb if it's causing such a furrow in your brow."
"Well, it's just… Do you know what you did? I mean, before Storybrooke?"
Well, that was an odd question. "I'm not sure what you mean. I've… I've been here for... " Dina took a breath as she tried to think, "Oh, seems like… Forever?" A nudge at her temple had her fingertips reaching up to ward it away. "Why? Did… What did Henry say?"
Emma shook her head, disappointed- just a bit. "Nothing. It's not important. Forget I said anything." She dismissed.
"It's important enough that Henry's words stuck with you." She fished, "I can't help if I don't know."
"It's just.. He said that memories are hazy. Say, how long have you been working as Henry's babysitter?"
That gave the woman pause. "Uh…. Er….." She blinked. "Gee, since he was a baby."
"And how old were you then?" Emma's curiosity peaked at the question. Dina didn't look that old at all.
Dina had to think for a moment, past the growing headache. "Well… He's ten now… And I'm… How old am I?"
"Oh, that old, huh?" Emma laughed.
Dina joined her. "It's a wonder I even remember where I'm going sometimes, honestly."
"I've got an appointment anyways." Emma dismissed, playing it off with a wave. "But, uh… Can we talk more later? About Henry?"
"Uh.. Yeah. Sure. I'd like that." Dina dismissed, already seeming a bit better as Emma backed out of the conversation.
I manage to make it to Archie's office fairly quickly and happen to see Regina leaving. I suddenly feel much better about this decision. I walk in to the lobby of the building and knock on his office door.
He opens the door and seems to immediately have a surprised look on his face. "Mr. . . Mr. Howl, I th-thought you did- didn't like me, or.. my pro-profesion for that ma-matter."
I gave the cricket a nice, big smile, it didn't seem to help him calm down. "To be honest Mr. . . . Hopper." I really must find out who to punish for some of these names. "I didn't come to discuss my opinion about your practice. You on the other hand, I am much more interested in."
I pushed past him into his office and made myself at home in the guest chair. "D-Doctor. And please, come-come in."
"Mr. Hopper, if I might be so bold, I would like to make an assumption right now and assume that in your previous conversation with Madam Mayor, you were more than likely threatened, no?" He can call himself Doctor all he wants, that isn't going to change the fact that he isn't one.
"It's Doctor," the bug corrected more confidently, if only by a small margin, "and I'm not at liberty to-"
"MR. Hopper, we're both adults here. And we both know that Regina, while intelligent and determined, can be a bit of a one-track woman. I don't care for the general details of your conversation. What I want to know is if, at this present time, Regina has managed to change your view on how you should handle Henry's treatment."
I don't know if it's my insistence on not calling him Doctor, or the fact that I'm asking about something seemingly unrelated to me but Archie does seem genuinely surprised. "I didn't take you as the kind of person to worry about such a thing. But- but no, I still plan to treat Henry as I always have."
I felt a small wave of relief wash through me. The last thing I need is for the bug to have a weak will right now. "Very well then. I'll take my leave now, Mr. Hopper." I say as I stand up and make my way out of his office.
"It's Doctor, and you're welcome." Archie calls as I leave the room.
I make my way outside hoping to make a quick exit but find that my conversation was a little too long as I seem to run into Emma. I hope to still make my escape but it seems her determination wavers slightly as she sees me, almost as if recognizing me from somewhere.
"Excuse me." She calls.
I stop and turn to her, not terribly difficult as we were already walking towards each other.
"Yes Miss. Swan?" I ask her.
A slight shiver seems to go down her spine, "We've met, haven't we?"
"Well, not in the most strict of senses but, I guess if you mean to reference the night you brought Henry home, then, yes. I believe we have." I answer wondering where she might be going with this.
"Right," She realized, recognition in her eyes. "Is Dina… Alright? She's a bit…. Absent minded?" She offered with a wince.
"Odd," I mused, "I tend to find her rather well put together. Maybe she just has too many of her jobs on the brain."
"And Henry likes her?"
I couldn't help but chuckle, "Thicker than thieves on the worst of days."
She gave a small smile, "So, how long have you and Dina been together- if, if you don't mind my asking?"
"It seems Dina has been my ward for as long as I remember being in Storybrooke."
That seemed to make her think, brow furrowing, "And how long is that?"
"Time and age does seem to affect one so, I do know we were definitely here before the mayor had adopted dear Henry." I allow, she's better at this game than I would have thought.
"That's not really an answer." She noted, eyes sharp.
"Well, you haven't really given me much reason to comply." I titted for her tat. "I mean, you haven't even asked me my name."
Emma stopped for a moment. "I guess I haven't, sorry. It's just, I'm not used to people knowing my name already."
"It's alright, it happens to the best of us. It's Thomas Howl, if you want to know. Most refer to me by my last name." I reply.
"Right, sorry, Mr. Howl. So, what do you do in this town?"
"I do a great many things, some of which are important, and many others of which that are not. Over all though, I like to keep my business fairly private. If you must have something though, until recently I was working on the town clock."
"Oh, so it's you who fixed the clock." Emma assumed.
"Not in the most technical sense, but if that's the way you want to think of it, sure." I reply.
A little confused she pushed on, "Well, how long have you been working here in general, if not just on the clock?"
I give her a gentle smile. "I can honestly tell you, Miss. Swan, that I have been living in this town for as long as it has been around."
This seems to give her no small amount of confusion and I can't help but wonder what's confused more, her or her superpower.
"I'm afraid I have other appointments to keep Miss. Swan, so it seems I bid you farewell for now. Do let me know if you need anything else." I tell her before moving past. It's only after I've turned the corner that I look back to see her heading to Archie's office.
[Enchanted Forest- 28 years ago]
"You think I don't know when you're spying on me?" I turned at the voice coming from my mirror. The Evil Queen sneering at me from the depths.
"Excuse me. I was in the middle of a bath. Do you nobles not have a concept of privacy?"
"Oh please, spare me." The Queen rolled her eyes. "I know you were out in the woods. What did I do wrong?"
"If you don't know that, you're dumber than you look."
"I don't know what Rumplestiltskin sees in you. You're useless."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
"I'm not useful to you. I am to him."
"I'm doing this FOR him, you imbecile."
"No, you're doing this for yourself. If you're so sure of my uselessness. Go. Ask. Rumple." I snapped, flicking my wrist to slam the mirror down on the vanity. I smirked, sure I could hear the Queen scream of frustration from her castle. "Ha. Idiot. Like you're the boss of me."
I then went back to my bath.
The ring of the phone had Dina stopping just before she entered the premises of the diner. "Dina Ches-"
"Dina, it's Graham, can you get to the office? I need some help with some files."
"Oh, sure, just let me-"
"Actually, it's kind of urgent. I'd really appreciate it."
Holding back a sigh, "I'll be right there." she said.
"Thanks Dina." Without another word, he hung up and she spun on her heel and went back to her car. Perhaps a quiet day at the office would be better than anything else she had planned, anyways. It didn't seem this headache was going to ease any time soon.
"You know the shrink is lying right?" Emma deadpanned.
"To the right please." Dina bid, working the camera for her mugshot. She still couldn't believe it. The woman had apparently stolen Henry's files from Archie's office.
"Why would he lie?" Graham added, filling out the paperwork and 'supervising'.
"The mayor put him up to this." Emma insisted, turning to the side. "She's got to have something on him. He's terrified of her like… everyone else is in this… town."
Dina snatched the polaroid from the camera and flapped it a bit to speed the development to put into her rapidly growing file… oh wow. She'd driven drunk the night she brought Henry back too.
Geez, this wasn't good.
"To the left." She said, slipping in a new film negative.
"Regina may be a tad bit intimidating-" He ignored Dina's scoff of derision, "but I don't think she'd go so far as a frame job."
"How far would she go?" Emma continued, "What does she have her hands in?"
Dina answered this one. "Well, she's the mayor. She has her hands in everything."
Emma motioned to her, "See?" she seemed to be saying. "Including the police force?"
No one had a chance to answer as Dina added the last picture to her file and Graham started to lead her to the cell, one of two that occupied the back corner of the Sheriff's office, and Henry ran in, Ms. Blanchard at his heels.
"Hey!" Henry called, running into the middle of them.
"Henry!" Graham chided. "Henry, what are you doing here?"
"His mother told him what happened." Ms. Blanchard answered as the child hugged Emma's waist.
Something… almost primal rose within Dina's chest. "She did what?"
"Of course she did," Emma rolled her eyes as she hugged Henry back and held him at arm's length to get a look at him, "Henry, I don't know what she-"
"You're a genius." His bright enthusiasm seemed to put a stutter in everyone's thoughts as he beamed at his birth mother.
"What?" Emma asked, confused as anyone.
"I know what you're up to." He chirped, grinning at her, "You were gathering intel for Operation Cobra."
"I'm sorry. I'm a bit lost." Graham spoke up, as Dina sat down hard at her desk. This kid. He just… believed the best in everything… everything but his mom.
"It's need to know, Sheriff." Henry assured, "And all you need to know is that Ms. Blanchard's going to bail her out."
"You are?" Emma turned to the woman in question, "Why?"
"Uh… I trust you." The two women stared at each other for a moment, Emma deciding rather quickly to just accept it.
"Well, if you can uncuff me. I have something to do."
Graham nodded at Dina to take Ms. Blanchard's information and quickly got the cuffs off of Emma's wrists. "Let's not meet like this again,
I have to say, when I foresaw Mary Margaret bailing out Emma I didn't think Emma's revenge would be so... chaotic. I stand now across the street, and slightly out of notice to both participants of this little display, as I watch Emma start a chainsaw while standing in the middle of Regina's lawn. I watch as Emma uses the chainsaw to cut down a quarter of the major branches on Regina's prized apple tree.
I have to say, for a Savior, this one is pretty destructive, there may be hope for her yet.
It's only as Emma is finishing her quick trim job that Regina suddenly comes to the window. "What the hell are you doing?" Regina asks.
"Picking apples." Emma replies as she pushes up her safety goggles. So that's where Henry gets it from.
Frenzied, Regina yells, "You're out of your mind!"
Emma stands firm however, "No, you are if you think a shoddy frame job is going to be enough to get rid of me. You're going to have to do better than that. You come after me one more time, I'm going to come back for the rest of this tree. Because, Sister, you have no idea what I'm capable of." I watch as Emma begins to storm away. "Your move." She shouts to Regina as she takes off down the street.
[Enchanted Forest 28 years ago]
I close the door behind me with a light breath, seeing Regina fail at the last step and it actually happening are two completely different things when Geppetto is still working on the cabinet.
As I sigh, I take a quick glance around the room and notice that a goblet I've placed near the bed is now foaming over with an oddly glowing green foam.
"Great, I knew this was coming." I quickly seal the room from both sight and sound with magic and walk over to the goblet. "Greetings brothers." I say in a none to friendly tone. I've never been close with the others of my kind.
A strange vibration echoes through the cup, an extra precaution that they always seem to feel is necessary. Though I don't know why.
"Yes, I know where this story leads." I answer
Another vibration this one slightly more violent.
"Of course I plan on going over with the rest of the cursed." I reply, "That's where the bulk of the story is."
They vibrate at me again.
"What do you mean we've never kept the stories of other worlds, we've jumped that gap loads of times." I protest.
It gives a curt vibration
"Wonderland for one."
The vibration seems to concede before making a staunch demand.
"What do you mean no magic, are you stupid? Of course I'm going to take it with me."
It seems to be vibrating a lecture at me this time.
"I don't care if it's a world without magic, there's precedent. Besides, I have investments in this world and I would like to be able to protect them."
Several conditions vibrate from the cup.
"Of course, I'm not an idiot. I'll not go looking to break their magic balance, just protect myself and my interests, I'll probably use even less magic than the last time."
The cup stayed silent for a moment before it vibrated with acceptance.
I sighed in relief, I could do it despite what they said, but it was easier if they agreed. "Good, I'm already set to go."
It gave a buzz of surprise.
"Of course, if I had waited for you to contact me, then I would have already been too late." I tell them. "Now we have to end this, if I go much longer someone may find something is amiss."
With that, they bid me farewell and left. That always was a good way to get them to shut the hell up.