Emma laid on her mat, exhaustion finally setting in as her body forced sleep to overcome her.
That's when she heard it.
She sprang up from her mat and grabbed the cutlass Hook had given her on the ship. She began to look around, but could only see the small clearing they'd made camp in exactly the same as it was when they layed down.
The noise was beginning to grow – it wasn't loud, just barely recognizable. She looked over to see Mary Margaret and David still asleep on their mat.
"Guys, wake up!" she whispered, but they didn't move. She had no idea how they could sleep through the noise, but she didn't have time for that. They could be in danger.
She continued forward into the forest toward the sound. As it grew louder, she recognized it as crying – like a child's cry. Except it was far in the distance, and it sounded like there were a lot of different voices.
"You hear that, too?"
Emma jumped at the voice, spinning around and arming her blade toward the owner, surprised to see a boy a few years older than Henry leaning against a tree.
"You're Emma, right?" he asked. "I wonder why they can't hear the crying."
"Who are you?" Emma asked, still holding her cutlass forward as he began to move toward her slowly.
The boy rose his brow, "Oh, did I forget to introduce myself? I'm Peter. Peter Pan."
Emma lunged forward, spinning the sword until its blade was pushed against the newcomer's neck as she held him against the tree. "Where's Henry?"
Pan smiled, "You've got fire. I like fire –"
"Where's my son?!"
"Henry's still alive, if that's what you're worried about."
"Why the hell did you take him?"
"He's a very special boy, Emma –"
"I know. That doesn't answer my question. What do you want with him?"
Pan smiled, "I came here to see who I was up against, The Savior," he said, mockingly. "Gotta say, I'm not disappointed."
"What are you gonna say now? You're gonna tell me how I'm never going to see Henry again?"
"No," his brow creased, "I'm going to help you find him. I'll give you a map."
Emma considered him, but couldn't spot a hint of a lie. So, she released him, and moved into her former position, with the cutlass still between them. She watched as he reached into his shirt and pulled out a piece of paper.
"A map that will lead you straight to your son," he proclaimed, holding the paper up.
"If this is some kind of trap –"
Pan chuckled. "I may not be the most well-behaved boy on the island, but I always keep my promises. The path to finding Henry is on this parchment."
Emma lowered her sword. "Why are you giving it to me?" she asked, still distrusting.
"See, it's not about finding Henry. It's about how you find him. And Emma," he paused as she rolled her eyes, "you are the only one who can."
She grabbed the paper he handed to her and began to unfold it. "It's blank," she responded, unimpressed and not slightly surprised.
"You'll only be able to read that map when you stop denying who you really are."
Emma looked back down at the piece of paper. She could tell it was old and worn from the color and how soft it was. The only thing that gave it any kind of resemblance of a map was the outline around the edge, but there wasn't anything inside the border.
She was about to give him one final crack about being cryptic when she looked up to find him gone. Unsurprised, again, she walked back to the camp to tell the others.
The next hour was spent waking everyone up and explaining what happened. Mary Margaret and David ran off to see if they could track Pan down, to no avail. Regina tried to convince everyone to use magic to hack the map, but Emma wouldn't allow it.
Now, Emma sat on a rock with the map in her hands as she tried to do what Pan said: figure out who she really was.
She took a deep breath and began.
"My name is Emma Swan."
"I'd wager the solution to Pan's riddle is a bit more complicated than that," Hook added.
Emma shot him a look before turning back to her parents, who were both sitting in front of her. Staring.
Mary Margaret smiled and shook her head, "Don't hold anything back."
Emma nodded, and looked back down at the paper and tried to think of something more. "I'm Henry's mother. I – uh – used to live in Boston, and I was a Bail Bondsperson. I'm now the Sheriff of Storybrooke –"
"That election was a sham," Regina pipped up as she pushed herself off the tree she'd been leaning against. "Are we really doing this?"
"Don't you think maybe you're -" Mary Margaret interrupted, "leaving some things out?"
Emma cleared her throat, "I'm the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, which… apparently makes me the product of True Love."
She hated this. She absolutely hated this. Suddenly she wished that Dean were here. Not that she hadn't been wishing that since the moment he fell through that damn portal, but right now she was wishing it extra hard. No one who surrounded her right now knew her the way he had. Since the moment they'd met, she'd been an open book to him – despite her best efforts. And she knew it was because they were so similar. Because she was able to read him just as easily. He'd have such a better perspective of this whole matter and help her understand herself in order to save her son.
But Dean was gone, she reminded herself. He was dead for all she knew, and she had to go on without him. So, she kept going.
"I was born in the Enchanted Forest and I was sent through a portal in a tree so that I could break a curse."
David began to rise, "And you were able to break the curse because…" Emma stared up at him. "You're the…"
Emma dropped her head to the side, sighing.
"Come on," Mary Margaret rose up as well. "You don't need to be embarrassed to say it."
"Say what?" Hook asked, obviously lost.
Regina rolled her eyes, "The 'S' word."
Emma sat up straight and took a deep breath before looking back down at the parchment. She readied the paper to work as she finally let the words fall, "I'm the savior."
Everyone around her moved closer to see if it worked.
The paper remained blank and Emma could feel everyone's disappointment.
"I don't get it," Emma groaned. "I said I'm the savior. There's nothing I've denied more than that!"
"No, it's okay. We'll figure it out," Mary Margaret reassured.
"No, you won't." Regina reached forward and grabbed the paper, despite the protests. "But I can. I'm beginning to think there isn't a map on here. That doesn't mean it can't lead us to Henry."
Regina began to lift up her hand.
"I thought we decided that using magic was a bad idea," David added.
"For once I agree with the Prince," Hook added, echoing David's earlier declaration of his agreement with the pirate. David looked over, surprised. "Well, I told you we were getting along."
Regina ignored them all as she began to use her magic, making the map glow.
"What the hell are you doing?" Emma asked, her heart racing a mile a minute as she watched the only possible lead they had to where Henry was get played with like a toy.
"The locator spell," Regina replied. "This parchment belonged to Pan. It'll lead us to him."
The map began to rise from her hand and move through the air and into the forest.
"So it appears we will be venturing into the Dark Jungle after all," Hook responded, dryly.
"You mean the place you told us never to set foot?" Emma asked.
Hook nodded, "That's the one."
Regina moved forward, "Well, Emma. You said you wanted to be the leader. Lead."
Emma and the group returned to their camp from their quick – failed – fight with Pan and his Lost Boys. Emma was still shaking from her encounter as she gripped the map tightly in her hands. She just wanted to stand alone as she tried to figure out the damn riddle.
Pan had insisted again that this was the only way to find Henry. That she cheated and she couldn't get around this one.
Mary Margaret and David approached her instead. "Don't let him shake your confidence. We've all had moments where we felt we couldn't prevail."
"She's right," David reassured.
"Guys, not now. Please," Emma shook her head, her persistence to argue with her overly positive parents beginning to exhaust her.
David reached out, "Emma, wait –" But Mary Margaret held him back.
Emma could feel her mother walk over to the tree stump she'd sat on and join her quietly.
"Please talk to me," she finally said to her daughter.
Emma swallowed the lump in her throat. "There's nothing to talk about. We had our chance and we lost – I lost."
"Then you have to keep fighting."
"You heard what Hook said. Pan is a demon –"
"And you are a –"
"What? A Savior?" Emma shook her head, gripping the piece of paper in her hands. "Because if that were true, this map would've shown us the way already!" She slammed the paper down on the log between them.
Emma was just so tired of this. So sick of everyone trying to tell her who she is or what she should be. All she wanted was Henry to be safe.
She kept thinking about that moment when she saw Henry's jacket, pants, and sweater – and then when Pan turned around to reveal it was him wearing her son's clothes. The mix of emotions from relieved to terror to anger flooded over her body so fast she felt like she was still trying to catch up.
Mary Margaret sighed, "Maybe who you think you are isn't who you really are."
"What do you mean?" Emma asked, being pulled from her thoughts.
"Sometimes we think we know ourselves, but we need a push to show us the reality. That boy with the knife – you stopped fighting him. Why?"
But she shrugged, "Because he was just a boy."
"No," Mary Margaret shook her head. "There was something else. I saw it in your eyes. Why did you stop?"
Emma continued to look forward, failing to find the strength to respond. She finally swallowed hard because she knew exactly why. She hadn't been able to stop thinking about it. She suddenly understood why she'd been the only person who'd been able to hear the crying earlier. A noise she knew all too well after years in the foster system. Kids laying in their beds, trying to cry quietly under their covers so they weren't picked on by the bigger kids. Crying because they missed their family, or because they never had one. Crying because they weren't chosen again, or because they knew they never would be.
"Because when I looked at his face, I saw me."
"That look in his eyes," she inhaled sharply as the look kept replaying in her mind. "The despair. I had it back when I was in the foster system. Just a lost little girl who didn't matter and didn't think she ever would. A little girl who cried herself to sleep at night because –" her voice began to break as the tears finally started to fall, "because she wanted her parents so bad. And could never understand why they gave her up."
A tear fell from Mary Margaret's eye as she listened to her daughter. "And then you found us. But it was too late."
"It's just – on this island. I don't feel like a hero, or a savior. I just feel like what I've always been." Emma took a deep breath. "An orphan."
There was a pause.
"Look," Mary Margaret whispered.
Emma looked down between them just in time to see the blank paper reveal the map Pan had promised. A map of the island with a compass, landmarks, and beautiful script.
"What happened?" she asked in disbelief as she grabbed the parchment.
Mary Margaret answered, "You accepted who you are."
Emma took a breath of relief as she held the paper close to her. Then it hit her – what she said… and who she said it to. She finally looked over to Mary Margaret as another tear fell down her cheek. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," she replied. "It's the truth. You were an orphan. It's my job to change that."
Emma sat on the ground as she picked the berries on the bush while everyone else did similar acts as a means to prepare for their next trek through the island. With a better plan, this time.
"Don't eat the blue ones."
She turned to see Pan standing behind her. Instead of getting into a defensive position like the last time, she simply turned back to her task.
He seemed to chuckle at that. "Congratulations. You did it, orphan. You don't mind if I call you a Lost Girl, do you?"
"Call me what you like. It won't stop me from finding Henry," she responded, still picking the berries.
"Oh, I'm counting on that. There's a reason I tested you."
Emma rolled her eyes, "Really?"
"You haven't forgiven your parents for abandoning you. Don't deny it, you haven't. That's good. Really good. Because when you find Henry, you'll understand him."
Emma stood up, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"He hasn't forgiven you either. By the time you get to him, he'll never want to leave this island."
"We'll see," she responded before bending back down to pick up her bowl of berries and walk away.
"And as for you, Emma," Pan called after her, "when we're finished, you won't just feel like an orphan. You'll be one."
"Don't tell me to calm down, dammit! I'm trying to find a portal!"
Dean all but growled as Neal continued to search through his father's cabinet. "Sure when Men in Tights over here tells you to explain, you calmly tell him that you need to find a portal. But the minute I ask a question or tell you to cool it, you beat me over the head!"
"Are you sure you two aren't enemies?" Robin asked.
"Henry is trapped in Neverland with Peter Pan, and you want me to calm down – that's what my problem is!"
Mulan stepped forward, "Tell us why that's so terrible."
"Yes, please," Dean pushed, getting frustrated with the way Neal was acting toward him. It's not like he was exactly where he wanted to be either – and who's fault was that? Oh yeah, his fiancée's. He was tired of being bitched at for this mess. "Isn't Neverland supposed to be every kid's fantasy?"
Neal took a deep breath and finally turned toward the other three. "Peter Pan is, hands down, the nastiest person I've ever met."
"Wait a minute," Dean shook his head. "You're telling me Peter Pan, the little boy who flies around and hangs out with Tinker Bell and mermaids, is the nastiest person you've ever met? You have met your father, right?"
Mulan interrupted, "I saw Emma in that ball, not Henry."
"Yes, trust me, Pan is worse than my father. I was in Neverland, and Pan was looking for a boy – a specific boy. I know he had some pictures of him on a scroll. He called him the 'truest believer'."
"And you believe that to be Henry?" Mulan asked.
Dean nodded, "I wouldn't put it past him. Kid's faith is like a rock."
"That's the only reason Emma would be in Neverland," Neal added. He took a deep breath. "Help me look – lots of things make portals. Beans, magic mirrors, uh, ruby slippers, some kind of ashes."
"A hat –" Dean added to the list as he and Mulan began to look through the mess.
A cup dropped to the floor just as the door to the room opened.
"Who are these people?"
"Stand down, Little John. We're fine," Robin commanded as his friends stood at the defense.
A little boy, a few years younger than Henry, ran from between Little John's legs toward Robin, who swooped him up.
"Who's this?" Neal asked.
"Merry Men come in all sizes," Robin explained, "This is my son, Roland."
Neal smiled, "I know how to get to Neverland. I know how to get to Henry."
"No! There's no way in hell I'm letting you do this. You heard Robin, the kid is only four years old!"
Neal groaned, "I already convinced Robin into this – why are you so against it?"
"Because you want to offer up this kid as bait to a shadow who, as you mentioned earlier, happens to belong to the nastiest person you've ever met."
"Well, it's not up to you, now is it!? Robin said he was okay with it!"
Dean continued on, "Yeah, after you go and guilt trip the dude. All because, what, your father decided not to kill him?! Oh, how gracious of him for being a not-as-terrible person as he could have been!"
"Like you're so upstanding! We need to get to Neverland! You may not care about Emma's safety-"
"Don't you dare tell me I don't care about her! Or Henry!" Dean snapped, gaining on Neal as he stared down at the man before him.
Neal finally looked at him and blinked. His mouth dropped slightly, "You love her."
Shock at the man's words blanked Dean's face as he took a step back. "Wha – what? I don't – that's, uh – That's not what we're discussing right now!"
A pause swallowed the room as both men stood there, trying to think of something to say.
"There has to be another way," Dean finally spoke, shaking his head.
Neal sighed, "Well, there's not. Unless you have some knowledge on portals and magic that you didn't happen to mention before."
Dean rolled his eyes.
"If there was another way, believe me, I'd take it. I don't like this any more than you do."
The group was finally able to track down Tinder Bell as she emerged from the cave she'd been hiding in.
"Where's Regina?" Emma insisted as she and David held up their swords and Mary Margaret readied her bow.
"Who the hell are you?" Tinker Bell asked, holding up her hands.
"A pissed off mother. Where is she?"
"I'm fine!" Regina announced, following Tinker Bell out of the cave.
Emma looked behind both of them. "Is Hook in there, too?"
They'd already been to the fairy's treehouse per Hook's suggestion of getting her help with Pan. But once Regina caught wind of the fairy's name, she let it slip to Emma that the two had a bad history and it was better off that they go without her. When they found the treehouse empty, they returned to find Regina gone, and then Hook.
"Captain Hook?" Tinker Bell questioned. "He's back? And hey, do you mind lowering those? You may stick me, but I'll take you down with me."
"She's okay," Regina confirmed, "She's not gonna hurt us. What do you mean? Hook was with you guys?"
Emma shook her head. "He disappeared, right after we found you gone. He's the reason we came to find you – he thought you'd help us."
"She's not gonna help us," Regina answered.
Regina shook her head, "She doesn't have any magic."
"No pixie dust?" David asked.
"Not even her wings."
Emma looked between the two, noticing the sound of guilt in Regina's voice. "How?"
"I guess people just stopped believing in me," Tink answered. "And even if I wanted to help you, he's too powerful."
Mary Margaret rose her brow, "But you know where Pan is."
"Sure, but it won't do you a bit of good."
"Let us be the judge of that," Mary Margaret countered. "Does he trust you?"
"Can you get us inside his compound?" Emma followed up.
Tink crossed her arms, "Maybe. Why should I help you?"
"Because I believe in you," Mary Margaret answered.
"Just get us inside, and we'll take care of things from there," Emma added.
"And what's in it for me? Other than a death sentence from Pan when you're gone with your boy?"
Emma nodded, "You can come with us."
"That's right," Mary Margaret smiled. "A home. That is what you want, isn't it?"
Tinker Bell considered them, then nodded. "Okay. Listen closely. Pan trusts me, he'll let me in. And maybe, just maybe, I'll leave a way open for you. But you've only got one shot. So you better have a good plan."
"Thank you," Emma nodded, "We will."
"Come with us to our camp, we'll figure it out," Mary Margaret offered.
They followed Emma as they made their way back. David stood back until Mary Margaret noticed, asking if everything was okay.
"Yeah," he smiled. "I just wanna get Henry back. How'd you know that would work, offering her a home?"
Mary Margaret shrugged and took a deep breath. "It worked for me. When I was a bandit, living alone, all I wanted was a home. And, the thing is, I never found it until you came along. Even now, when I'm with you, that's all I need."
David felt a lump in his throat as he listened to his wife, feeling the sharp pain of the dreamshade poison course through his wound on his side that he still hadn't told anyone about. Except Hook, who figured it out earlier before he'd been taken.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Mary Margaret asked when he didn't respond.
David smiled, grabbing his wife's hand before telling her he loved her and giving her a kiss. She seemed to find that sufficient as she smiled back at him.
"Come on. Last thing we need is to get lost in here."
Everything was set up. Mulan was stationed right next to the window, Robin was behind the table, Neal and Dean were behind the bed, right were they'd come up under the shadow.
"Thanks again, Robin," Neal mentioned as they moved the bed toward the window.
Robin shook his head. "Thank me when your family's back together."
"Well, uh, I'm gonna save them. But back together?" Neal looked over toward Dean, who was packing the small bag they'd brought with them. "We'll see."
"I thought you said you loved them."
Neal nodded, "I do. But I don't know if I can earn it back. A lot has changed since I left. I screwed things up the first time."
"Won't she forgive you?" Robin asked.
"I hope so. But I learned my lesson the hard way. When you love someone, you don't keep it in," Neal's eyes moved toward Dean before falling down. "You say it. She deserves someone who says it."
Dean could feel Mulan watch him as Neal spoke. He knew Neal was being genuine with what he was saying – it didn't take a genius to know the guy was still interested in rejoining his family. And he knew the last thing was a dig at him.
But as he looked over at her, he could tell there was something more on her mind. Something behind her eyes that had resonated with what Neal had said.
Before he could ask, the doors opened, and Little John entered with Roland. Robin bent down and explained to his son what was going on and where he'd be, reassuring that nothing was going to hurt him.
Dean suddenly got a flashback of one of he and Sam's earlier cases after Jessica died. The creature who absorbed the life out of all those kids and put them in a coma just to keep himself alive. He thought about the kid they'd used as bait at the motel, despite Sam's insistence otherwise.
He swallowed hard and knew Neal was right – he was no better.
"Positions," Mulan instructed after Roland said he was ready and remembered what he needed to say.
Dean cleared his throat, "Alright, let's second star to the right this bitch."
They all moved into their spots.
"Okay Roland, say it."
Dean had to look away at the sight of the little boy. He looked so small as he stood there, staring up at the window.
At that moment, he pictured Sam. Four-year-old Sam before he knew about monsters and evil – an innocent little boy who had know idea what he was mixed up in. His heart ached for the kid and he knew he'd do anything to make sure that whatever was coming for them wouldn't do any harm to him.
"I believe," Roland said, confidently.
The entire room held their breath as they waited. Waited for something to happen… but nothing did.
"Maybe if he says it again," Neal said, desperately. "Just once more."
Robin stood up from his hiding spot and walked toward his son. "I'm sorry mate, but that's it."
Suddenly, the window busted open, and Dean felt his hand reach for his non-existent gun again. He watched as a shadow-like creature flew into the window, straight for Roland.
Robin scooped the kid up in his arms, but the shadow still attached itself to his hand. Neal and Dean jumped from their hiding spot and tried to distract the shadow while Mulan used her sword to cut the arm away from Roland's.
The shadow looked to them, then turned around and flew out the window. Dean and Neal exchanged a look before running toward the window together and jumping through, grabbing on to the shadow with blind faith. Neal on one leg, Dean holding the other.
The shadow tried to shake them off, but gave up after a few nudges and continued to fly.
It seemed like a flash, and Dean began to wonder how these kind of portals worked, before the shadow began to fly over an island. Neal called out, identifying the place as Neverland. The shadow flew lower and Neal shouted to let go.
Neal and Dean hit the ground hard. Dean let out a hiss as the bullet wound stung a little, but jumped to his feet when he began to hear some rustling in the jungle around him.
"Welcome home, Baelfire."
A boy walked out of the brush and smiled at the two. "Pan will be so happy to see you. And you brought a friend, how nice!"