There is a road, we must travel.
Emma`s eyes widened as the man came into view, his slumped shoulders oddly familiar and for a moment she felt like lowering the sword in her hand. She sensed Snow behind her left shoulder, the arrow still ready and pointed at the man whose face they couldn`t see. On the other side, close by, was Regina, the fireball in her hand warming, and oddly enough comforting, the blonde.
Had she not been so worried for Henry the moment they had boarded the Jolly Roger, Emma would have laughed at the bunch of misfits, so unlikely to ever be able to work together. But here they were. A royal couple, a pirate, a Fairy, a savior and an Evil Queen. And somehow they were managing. Hell, maybe they were doing even more than just manage. They had a plan to get to Henry. They had Tinkerbell’s help. The only thing they needed was a way off the island.
Emma saw how David and Hook approached from the sides, effectively surrounding the man they had come across in their wanderings. He seemed too old to be a lost boy. It was strange, the pang of recognition she felt, entwined with the pang of regret in her heart. For the man she had lost before she had a chance to… Before Henry had a chance get to know his father.
Exactly at the moment that thought had entered her mind the man looked up, and the sharp intake of air she took fell together with his gasp. Her heart pounded, rapidly, as if it was going to exit her chest any moment now.
She had dropped her sword and taken a tentative step before a hand, -rough and gentle at the same time- grasped her shoulder.
‘This is Neverland, dear, not all is what it seems.’
The deep timbre in Regina`s voice made Emma put the sword up again without hesitation. She was so used to the other woman right now, Henry`s other mother. So she didn`t find it odd that, even without as much as a glance in her direction, she could already perfectly describe her expression just by hearing her voice.
“Neal” held up his hands in defeat, his eyes focused on Emma. His boyish smile almost made her lower her weapon again. But the part of her upper arm, where Regina`s hand had shortly rested, still burned with the touch, reminding her of the brunette`s true words. This could be a trap. It must be one. There was no other way. She had seen Neal slip through the portal. She had seen him get shot.
Maybe it was the doubt in her eyes, or the many weapons, from sword to arrow, pointed at him, but he, softly and rapidly, started to talk. About how he had gotten to The Enchanted Forest. How he had found help. How he had found out Emma was in Neverland, and had guessed it was because of Henry.
‘This is Henry`s father?’
Tinkerbell, the only one not holding a weapon, had observed the whole scene from a short distance, but now seemed interested enough to approach.
Not lowering her bow, it was Snow who gave the description, maybe –no definitely- with more praise than he deserved. But then again, she was Snow White, and with recent events in mind, the picture Emma had painted of their history together might have been a little brighter than it had been in reality. But before she could say anything, -“Neal”’s eyes lighting up at Snow White words, and catching hers with an incredulous glimpse in them, which made her almost drop her sword again- Tinkerbell actually squealed in joy.
Emma blinked. Up until now, she hadn`t found the woman very Fairy-like. Maybe it was her lack of wings or tiny size, but she was quite used to that in Nova and Blue. No, more likely it had been the resentful gazes she had thrown in Regina`s direction. Regina`s smoldering look when she had said that they had had a complicated history, making Emma think of stolen kisses and hastily abandoned lovers. But now, when the woman`s shrieked, high-pitched and utterly joyful, and made her –and, she sensed with a slight smile, Regina behind her- cringe, there was no doubt about it. Fairy-material, alright.
‘Oh, I know just what to do, have just the thing! Where did I… Ah! There it is.’
Before Emma realized it, the woman –or Fairy, or whatever- had wormed her way in between Mary Margaret and Regina, and took her hand, holding a small pinch of what looked like some sort of powder in her fingers.
‘ What is that?’
Emma heard her voice pitch a little in panic, and she missed the warmth and comfort of the two women behind her, even though they were still there.
‘Why, Pixie Dust of course.’
When the Fairy placed the stuff in her hand, Emma found herself shrugging. She should have figured the Fairy wouldn`t chose this time to reveal some sort of coke or PCP addiction. The small intake of air behind her followed by a moan, made Emma think of Regina rolling her eyes at Tinkerbell`s antics. The mental image made her smile, and the powder –Pixie-dust apparently- in her hand instantly came alive.
When the Fairy’s hand finally let go of hers, she wanted to sigh with relieve. But when she felt it, instead, at the small of her back, she had to instead suppress a growl of protest.
‘ Just look at him.’
The blonde whispered the words in her ear and it made her shiver. Not in a good way. Not like when a lover would do it. But the shiver seemed to evoke a rush of wind, passing, tugging at their clothes. Plucking, quite efficiently, the powder, -that had now started to act like miniature fireworks in the palm of her hand- into the air.
She watched it, as it seemed to form an illuminated path she couldn`t take her eyes off of. A path, she knew, with every fiber of her being, she would have to follow wherever it went. And it seemed to rush straight to Neal.
The man, widening his eyes, took a hesitant step back at the sparkling, crackling stars heading in his direction, and for a moment Emma felt like laughing at his ridiculous expression. But then, right before reaching the man, the tiny stars turned in midair and found their way back.
Now on the other side of the bargain, Emma did not find the sparks so tiny, or amusing for that matter. She felt her eyes widen and found herself unable to move as they raced towards her, threatening to collide with her chest. But once again, at the last possible moment, the lights changed of direction and missed her. But like JUST missed her.
The breath of relieve that was ready to escape her, was cut off by a sharp intake of air behind her.
‘ Miss Swan! What in the name of…’
But Regina never got a chance to finish that sentence, for the little sparks of Pixie Dust attacked her as a dog would its long lost owner.
Emma slapped her hand before her mouth, the man behind her momentarily forgotten, at the sight of Regina trying to fight off the tiny stars, which seemed magnetically drawn to her. Her eyes were wide with surprise and something that resembled fear, and the high pitch in her voice when she had uttered the name Emma had grown to love to hate (or hate to love, she wasn`t sure about that) had almost resembled the Fairy`s.
From the corner of her eye, she saw her mother, the arrow still ready, catch a glimpse of the Queen, trying to escape from the twinkling lights, and for a moment she saw something ungraspable pass through those hazel eyes, before the woman pressed together her lips and snorted, trying to prevent the inevitable giggle to escape.
Emma was glad that, when she looked behind her, she saw Hook and David have a good hold on “Neal”, because her mother doesn`t look particularly steady at the moment. And, Emma herself, the sword useless at her feet, was trying to use all her strength to not burst out in full-on laughter.
Maybe it was the unexpected question that did it. Tinkerbell (she still couldn`t think that name without smirking) with her eyes now big and innocent, asking her if, perhaps, she had a Lion Tattoo.
Maybe it was Regina, her head snapping up at the sound of the question, screaming something that sounded very much like ‘Tink!’ which coincided with her own answer which was somewhere along the lines of ‘Actually it’s a dandelion, but sure, close enough… Hey, how the hell do you know that?’
Maybe it was Regina, who had moments before been jumping around, hopping from one foot to another, obviously contemplating throwing a fireball at one of the bigger, more persistent of the sparks, freezing at the moment she heard Emma`s words, and catching her gaze right at the moment the little flames caught up with her.
Maybe it was Regina, throwing herself down and squealing and, it took Emma a while to recognize, giggling as if she was tickled by a giant hand (or multiple small ones).
Or maybe it was their combination that sent her over the edge, but she felt the joy explode in her abdomen when the deep sound of the laughter found its way out. Her body convulsing with the warmth of it. Her knees buckling with the force of it.
It must have been only a few minutes, maybe even less, but Emma already knew she would never forget this moment, the way the sparks enlightened Regina`s face, the way that face relaxed now its owner temporarily seemed to have lost control. And she sure as hell wouldn’t ever let Regina forget it. She kind of found herself wishing she had a camera, because this would make one hell of a You-Tube entry for her to bother the brunette with.
And, even though she still didn’t care for the squealing, she couldn`t do anything else than agree wholeheartedly with Tinkerbell`s next words.
‘This is just amazing!’
But then, it was over.
Regina, jumped to her feet and brushed of her clothes, the gesture so ‘ Madame Mayor’ that it made Emma inhale deeply, trying to hide her broad, broad smile.
And failing miserably.
‘I`m glad you find this so amusing, Miss Swan.’
There was something in the tone. In the pulling back of the shoulders. But it was only when she caught deep brown eyes that she captured what it was that made her feel as if someone had just thrown a bucket of iced water over her head.
Regina was hurt.
Genuinely, truthfully, hurt.
The brunette broke their fleeting contact quickly, as if she could not stand to look the other woman in the eye and marched, her long strides filled with confidence once more, to the man whose identity they doubted.
Snow was the first and only quick enough to respond, her exasperated gasp followed by a begging for Regina to stop, filled the silence. But the former Queen already had plunged her hand inside the man`s chest.
Emma saw Neal`s breathing halt, his eyes widen with fear, but by the time they had started to come to their senses, Regina`s hand already fell next to her body again. Empty. And Emma realized it had never been the brunette’s intention to take his heart, even before she heared the words.
‘ It’s him.’
The sound of the voice is heavy and deep, and as Emma watched the woman walk away from the clearing, as everyone around her welcomed Henry’s father in their midst, the blonde could not shake that strange feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Because despite the fact that she has just found out that someone she loves, someone she thought had died, is still alive… Despite the fact that now, with Neal, they will have a way to read the map of stars and constellations he created and actually get off this island… Despite the fact that now they have a lot more reason to be hopeful and happy... Emma felt like, suddenly, there was –really- nothing more to smile about.