Ruby watched as Emma’s expression grew from concerned to panic-stricken.
“What is it?! Is it Regina? Or Henry?” Emma questioned Ruby frantically.
Ruby shook her head at her. “No, Emma. Nothing like that, it’s – “
“Jesus fucking christ, Rubes! You couldn’t have led with that?!” Emma cut her off, completely furious with her.
Ruby snatched her jacket from her desk chair and quickly slung it over her shoulders. “Well if you can just let me finish, I’ll explain everything! We don’t have much time.”
Ruby waited a moment for Emma’s silent acknowledgement that she would let her continue without interruption. It did not escape the brunette’s notice, however, that the blonde was wound so tight that she may snap at any moment.
“That was Leroy. They’ve spotted an ogre in Storybrooke. They need us to go help. Now.” Ruby explained hurriedly.
“What do you mean, an ogre? How is that even possible?” Emma questioned her skeptically while Ruby ran to Emma’s office to grab the blonde’s coat. Emma had shown no signs of comprehending the level of urgency, so Ruby took matters into her own hands.
The brunette shoved the leather jacket into Emma’s hands and began dragging her by the arm out of the station.
“I don’t know, but we have to go help, before someone gets hurt.”
Ruby tossed Emma the car keys and they both jumped into the cruiser.
“Where are we going?” Emma asked as she turned the key in the ignition.
“The school.” Ruby replied, trying not to meet Emma’s gaze.
Emma’s heart sank. She now realized why Ruby had been so hesitant about explaining the situation to her. Henry.
“I have to call Regina.” Emma said as she peeled out of the parking lot and started speeding in the direction of the school.
Emma yanked her phone from her pocket and pinned it between her shoulder and her ear, as she needed both arms to maneuver at this speed.
After only one ring, the phone picked up.
“Emma? Is everything alright?” Regina inquired with concern, as she hadn’t expected a call from the blonde.
“No. There’s an ogre and I need your help. I need you to head to Henry’s school as fast as you can, okay?”
“An ogre? What are you talking about?” Regina asked, utterly confused.
“I don’t know, but somehow one ended up in Storybrooke. Henry may be in danger. I’m headed there now. I need your help. Please come.”
“I’ll be there right away.” Regina responded, and then Emma heard nothing but dead air.
She dropped the phone into the center cup holder and rounded the corner to the school. As they turned the corner Emma could see the ogre ripping through parts of the building and flipping cars in its rage. Most everyone had cleared the area except the dwarves. When Emma pulled the cruiser to an abrupt stop and hopped out with Ruby, Leroy ran over to them.
“None of us are equipped to stop it as we don’t have the right weapons here. We’ve been trying to keep him distracted, but I don’t think we can for much longer.” Leroy explained rapidly through gasps of breath.
“Go find Henry! Make sure he’s okay.” Emma ordered, taking off into a sprint towards the ogre.
“Emma!” Ruby yelled after her, realizing quickly that the blonde was just going to continue off on her own against all reason.
Ruby turned to Leroy. “Do as she says, and hurry.”
Ruby chased after Emma and Leroy started running as swiftly as he could into the school to locate Henry.
Emma skidded to a halt within striking distance of the ogre, which was currently tearing through a nearby storefront. Emma drew her handgun and pointed it at the ogre.
“Hey! Over here, you ugly bastard!” she shouted, trying to get the creature’s attention while waving her arms in the air.
Emma fired a couple of shots off at the ogre who failed to take any notice that two bullets had torn through its chest.
Emma’s eyes widened as she observed the lack of damage that the bullets inflicted, frozen helplessly as the ogre swiped her up from the ground and into its grasp.
“Emma!” Ruby shouted after her, unable to reach the blonde in time to prevent her capture. It wasn’t wolf’s time, so she was powerless to stop the ogre without conventional weaponry.
The ogre growled and squeezed Emma tightly, causing her to scream out in pain. Ruby could practically hear Emma’s bones crunching from the strain.
A cloud of purple smoke appeared in front of Ruby, dissipating to reveal a panic-stricken Regina. She spun around to see what Ruby had been gawking at, revealing the sight of Emma having the life squeezed out of her by the ogre.
“No! Emma!” she screamed, conjuring a fireball within her hand and hurtling it at the ogre’s head.
The ogre recoiled from the burst of the impact, causing it to stagger back and temporarily loosen its grip on Emma.
“Regina - stay back!” Emma yelled while choking for breath when she caught sight of the brunette.
Regina only saw red as she rapidly sent fireballs straight at the ogre’s head and arms, careful to avoid striking Emma. Stunned from the barrage of attacks, the ogre dropped Emma abruptly and she collapsed into a heap on the pavement. Regina uprooted several fence posts with a flick of her wrist and then sent them hurtling towards the ogre who was violently impaled by each of the posts. The ogre finally collapsed, crushing a parked car and sending a tremor through the entire town with the impact.
Regina ran over to Emma, who was doubled over and trying to pull herself off the ground. Emma clutched her side as she stood, but overall it seemed that she was mostly unharmed. Regina pulled the blonde into her arms and unfortunately squeezed a bit too hard, causing Emma to wince slightly from the pain.
“Why didn’t you wait for me?!” Regina asked, choking back a sob while fighting back obvious tears and pulling herself away from Emma to assess her condition. She suspected that the blonde may have cracked a rib by the way that she was favoring her side. Regina was thankful that she hadn’t injured herself mortally, but that didn’t stop her from being furious with Emma’s actions.
“Regina…I –“ Emma said gently while reaching out towards Regina.
The brunette swatted her arm away in anger.
“You could have been killed, you idiot! Why would you risk your life like that?” Regina questioned her, obviously distraught. She was incensed that Emma would do something so careless. The blonde forced herself into her life, causing her to feel things that she didn’t want to feel, and then she was going to just leave her like that? The selfishness of the Emma’s actions was beyond infuriating.
“I don’t know! All I could think of was Henry and I just - reacted!“ Emma shouted back at her.
Before Regina could antagonize Emma further for her actions, Mary Margaret came bursting through the doors of the school with Henry and Leroy in tow. After catching the sight of a visibly disheveled Emma, Mary Margaret ran over and pulled her into another uncomfortable one-sided hug.
As much as it was nice and all that everyone cared so much about her well being, Emma could really use a little less squeezing after she had nearly been crushed to death by an ogre.
“Emma, what happened?” she asked, raising a hand to her cheek, only for Emma to pull away from her mother’s touch. Emma was still all too uncomfortable with the idea of this woman being her mother that she couldn’t bear the physical contact right now. For so many years she desired the warmth and comfort of a mother, but right now the thought of it made her skin crawl.
Mary Margaret was deeply hurt by being brushed off so coldly by her daughter and took a few steps back, folding her arms across her chest.
“Your daughter foolishly tried to take on an ogre by herself.” Regina snapped at Mary Margaret.
Regina turned back to Emma and reached out to gently palm her ribcage where she suspected there may be an injury. It was not lost on Mary Margaret how the blonde readily accepted and even sought out Regina’s touch, but wanted nothing to do with her own. It made her angry, and a little jealous even. What right did Regina have to her daughter when she was the one who separated them in the first place, causing this rift between them?
“You may have broken a rib, you should really allow me to have a look.” Regina explained as she ran her fingertips lightly over the area.
Emma squeezed out a reassuring smile, thankful that Regina had calmed down a bit.
“I’m sure it’s just a bruise, really.” she said, taking a deep breath and covering Regina’s hand with hers.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Emma?” Henry asked worriedly, approaching his birth mother with caution.
Regina immediately dropped her hand and stuffed it awkwardly into her coat pocket, realizing that they both had gotten lost in an overly intimate moment together. She took a small step back, fearing she imprudently revealed too much of her affections towards Emma to those around them.
Emma picked up on Regina’s uneasiness and attempted to lead the conversation in a less awkward direction.
“Yeah kid, your mom saved me - she kicked that ogre’s butt!” she answered with a grin pulling Henry against her side into a tight hug. She did feel a twinge of pain shoot through her rib, and was pretty sure that she fractured it, but she did everything she could to mask all outward signs of pain. The last thing she wanted was to upset Henry or Regina any further.
“Awesome, mom! You’re like a real super hero!” Henry exclaimed after checking out the sheer size of the collapsed ogre across the street.
“Um, so…speaking of ogres…can anyone explain what the hell just happened?” Ruby asked after clearing her throat awkwardly.
“Well, an ogre could have only come from one place – the Enchanted Forest.” Mary Margaret answered, eager to take the attention off of Regina and Emma.
The potential significance of the interaction she just witnessed did not escape her. It further cemented her suspicions about the two. However, this was obviously a subject that would require a lot more discussion and this wasn’t the time, place or proper audience for that conversation. She was relieved that Emma was alive and relatively unharmed and that had to be enough for right now.
“That’s impossible. The curse destroyed the Enchanted Forest when it brought us here.” Regina explained in a condescending tone.
“How sure are you about that right now?” Emma interjected with obvious sarcasm, gesturing over to the dead ogre sprawled in the middle of the street.
Regina shot one of her best Evil Queen glares at Emma, but its effectiveness was starting to wane against the blonde.
“Then I think we need to pay Gold a visit. If anyone knows something about this it would be him.” Regina suggested.
She didn’t like the idea of having to confront Gold under these circumstances, but they weren’t left with very many options.
“What if there are more of them?” Mary Margaret questioned worriedly, looking over at her daughter and grandson, concerned for their safety.
Emma pinched the bridge of her nose between two fingers, trying to wrap her head around what the hell was going on. As the savior, everyone was going to be looking to her for the answers, and as usual, she had none – so she simply suggested the only think she could think of.
“Mary Margaret, why don’t you take Ruby and go see Mother Superior while Regina and go talk to Gold. Between the two of them we should be able to figure out how the hell that thing got here and how to prevent it from happening again.”
Mary Margaret opened her mouth to protest Emma and Regina going to see Gold alone, but she knew arguing wouldn’t get her anywhere with her daughter. She didn’t trust Regina, but the brunette had protected Emma against the ogre, so she supposed that her presence wouldn’t pose Emma any immediate danger.
“Ruby and I will go see Mother Superior but please be careful honey – and call me as soon as you’re finished.”
Emma fought the urge to antagonize Mary Margaret for having the nerve to act like an overprotective mother. As much as she wanted to forgive her for everything that happened, and as much as she was starting to appreciate why she and David did what they did, the years of pain and loneliness still ate away at her, preventing her from letting go.
“I’ll let you know what we find out.” Emma replied neutrally and then directed her attention to Leroy.
“Leroy – do you think you can get a group together to check around and make sure everyone’s alright?”
Leroy wasn’t keen on the Evil Queen’s presence or assistance, but remembering his promise to Mary Margaret, he agreed to help and this time offered no opinions on the matter.
“You got it, sister.” he replied.
Emma nodded and turned back to Ruby and Mary Margaret. “Would you guys mind taking Henry with you? I don’t want him anywhere near Gold.”
Henry hated when adults talked about him like he wasn’t there. If it weren’t for him, Emma wouldn’t have even broken the curse. They always underestimated him just because he was a kid.
“I’m right here, Emma! And I wanna go with you and Mom. I’m not just some stupid kid, I can help!” Henry protested angrily, pulling out of his birthmother’s grasp.
Regina felt terribly about how Henry was always thrust into the middle of all of the chaos that seemed to follow her everywhere. Everything that Henry was going through was entirely her doing - and as much as she selfishly couldn’t regret adopting Henry, she should have known better than to bring an innocent child into a cursed world. She let her weakness get the best of her and her loneliness cloud her judgment, just as her mother had expressly warned her against.
Regardless of the pangs of guilt that shot through her, Regina agreed that it wasn’t wise to bring Henry with her and Emma to see Gold. He had already been exposed to way more than he should have been and it was her job to try and protect him from whatever she could.
“I know dear, but seeing Gold may be dangerous and I can’t bear to see you get hurt. Please do as Emma says and go with Ruby and Mary Margaret.”
Emma met Regina’s gaze with a look of unspoken thanks. The blonde still didn’t know how to deal with an 11 year old sometimes and Regina’s support with regards to parenting Henry was greatly appreciated at times like this.
“Fine. I’ll help Mary Margaret and Ruby then.” Henry said with a huff, plodding his way over to the women.
Emma frowned and bent down to pick up her handgun that she dropped previously during her encounter with the ogre. She wiped the dirt off of it with her tank top and secured it back into her holster.
Just hours ago Emma found herself feeling that things could maybe return to some type of normalcy. She should have known such a thing is almost certainly impossible to achieve in a town full of fairytale characters and magic. At every turn she felt that she was failing as both a savior and a mother. Panic began to rush through her and the sudden urge to run almost overtook her. It was then that her eyes met Regina’s and she began to feel grounded again. Everything in her brain told her to flee from the responsibility and the danger but something in her heart kept tugging back at her, keeping her here in Storybrooke.
“Okay. Let’s go.” Emma said, never taking her eyes off of Regina.
It only took them minutes to reach Gold’s shop as Emma blew through every intersection with lights and sirens, totally disregarding traffic regulations. Emma slammed the car into park and removed the keys from the ignition. She unbuckled her seatbelt and moved to get out of the car when a hand reached over to stop her.
“Let me do the talking. I know how Gold operates, and I do not want him to trick you into making any deals with him, is that understood?” Regina said sternly.
Gold was a businessman through and through, always looking to make the right deal to further his agenda. Deals with Gold always came at a great price, and he never let anyone back out without payment.
Emma rolled her eyes at the brunette. “I’m not that stupid Regina, give me some credit. We’ll work this together or you’re not going in there with me. Got it?”
Regina sighed and let go of Emma’s arm. “Fine – but please do your best to trust my instincts. I know Gold better than anyone else in this town. Don’t let him get under your skin.”
Emma recalled everything that Regina had shared with her about Gold. She was on edge and her patience was running thin, but realized that Regina was right and that Gold was a master manipulator and she should tread lightly. If anyone knew what he was capable of, it would be Regina as she suffered the most at his hand.
“Okay. Come on.” Emma agreed, exiting the vehicle with Regina following closely behind her as they entered Gold’s shop. The sound of the bell alerts Gold of their presence and appears immediately from the back room.
“I was expecting to see Miss Swan here much sooner – but you dearie – I didn’t anticipate having the pleasure of seeing you alive.” Gold greeted them, cocking an eyebrow and sneering straight at Regina, in an obvious attempt to push her buttons.
Emma stepped protectively in front of Regina and bit back curtly. “We didn’t come to play games, Gold. Regina just killed a goddamn ogre and something tells me you know exactlyhow it got to Storybrooke.”
Gold scrutinized the blonde’s defensive actions towards Regina and replied through a grin. “The Savior protecting the Evil Queen – what an unexpected turn of events.”
Gold always preferred to deflect questions rather than to answer them.
“We’re not here to make deals or play games. I know that you know something about what happened, so I suggest you tell us.” Regina interjected.
“And why should I help you, Regina?” Gold said, leaning both hands on the counter in front of him as he spoke.
Regina recalled the last conversation she had with Gold in this very spot, before Emma had broken the curse. Gold had refused to help her get rid of Emma, claiming Regina had nothing left that he wanted in exchange for his assistance. However, it had become clear that what he intended all along was for the curse to be broken.
Before Regina could answer, Emma took a couple of steps forward, planting both hands firmly on the counter across from Gold.
“Because I’m willing to temporarily overlook the fact that you risked Henry’s life by double crossing us and tried to murder Regina by marking her for the wraith - if - you help us.” Emma threatened.
“Really, dearie?” Gold responded with a smirk, making his way around the counter to face Emma. “What makes you think you could actually follow through on such a ridiculous threat? It’s not in the nature of the savior – the product of true love and all that is good - to commit an evil act.” Gold taunted her further, testing her resolve.
Nothing made Emma’s blood boil more than the insinuation that she was the physical embodiment of goodness. She’s been a screw-up her whole life, and has done some pretty terrible things just to get by. It’s unfair of everyone to hold her to such an unreasonable standard – one that set her up for inevitable failure. This good person, at the core, she knew it wasn’t her.
Emma grabbed Gold by the front of his coat and smashed his back into the edge of the counter.
“I don’t think you know me as well as you think you do, Gold. I didn’t grow up with Snow White and Prince Charming in the Enchanted Forest where everything is either black and white. I grew up in this world, one where the line between black and white is thick and gray. I have and I will do whatever it takes to protect the people I care about.” Emma growled at Gold through clenched teeth.
Gold chuckled at the blonde’s aggressiveness. “You certainly have inherited your father’s temper, Miss Swan.”
Regina could tell that this conversation was moving quickly in a dangerous direction. Although Emma had softened up towards her over the last few days, she didn’t forget how erratic the blonde’s emotions had been towards everyone else. It was time to take back control of the conversation.
“Enough games, Gold. Just tell us what you know about what’s going on and we’ll leave you is to…whatever it is that you do.” Regina said in a mocking tone, gesturing around his shop.
“As you wish – Miss Swan?” Gold agreed, inclining his head, opening for Emma to release her grip on him and let him speak.
Emma shoved Gold slightly while releasing the fabric of his suit jacket from her balled fists. He attempted to smooth out the wrinkles and then addressed both women.
“I felt a shift in the magical presence in Storybrooke. Someone very powerful has crossed realms from the Enchanted Forest and it’s likely that the ogre may have come upon the portal while it was still open and mistakenly gone through.”
“How is that even possible? The curse was supposed have destroyed our land when it brought us all here.” Regina snapped back.
“The curse simply transported all of us to this realm, nothing more.” Gold explained.
Emma agreed to let Gold talk, but she was still extremely wound up and this conversation was going nowhere fast. She didn’t give two shits if the Enchanted Forest still existed or not. They needed to know who crossed realms and why, and if they posed any threat to the people in Storybrooke.
“Okay - so the Enchanted Forest still exists – fine. Who the hell would want to come to Storybrooke? And why?” Emma asked with distinct agitation to her voice.
“Regina made many enemies during her reign as the Evil Queen. Any number of those left behind during the curse may have cause to seek vengeance against her.” Gold revealed while leaning on his cane and jabbing a finger in Regina’s direction.
Emma groaned, shifting her weight to her other leg and running a hand through her hair. “Are you fucking serious? I thought everyone was transported here with the curse.”
“Everyone that Regina thought she neededto curse is here.” Gold explained, revealing the obvious flaw in their understanding of the curse.
Regina knew that Gold was taunting them by withholding pertinent information. He only ever revealed what he felt needed to be known at any given time, and they didn’t have the time to spare to stand here arguing with him all day.
“I’ve had enough of your riddles! You planned all of this, didn’t you? That’s why you won’t reveal the identity of your co-conspirator.” Regina snapped.
Gold moved deliberately towards Regina, with the clack of his cane echoing with each step.
“I would be consider being more careful before making accusations, dearie. I don’t think you can afford to make any more enemies in this town, do you?” he said with a sneer.
Regina glared back at Gold as his words hung heavily in the air. The imp was right – she really couldn’t afford any more enemies or to burn any more bridges. Even if Gold had his own agenda, other than Emma, he was the only other person in this town who could be considered anything remotely close to an ally. He may be involved in whatever is going on in Storybrooke, but isolating their only source of information would be too risky for them to gamble on.
“Now, if you two will excuse me, I have my own business to attend to.” Gold said with a satisfied smirk.
As Gold turned away from them, Emma grabbed him and slammed him back against the wooden counter.
“I’m done with your bullshit, Gold. I’m going to ask you one last time - who came here to hurt Regina?!” Emma snarled as she pulled her gun out and rested the barrel against his forehead while cocking back the trigger.
“Emma, stop!” Regina shouted, breaking the blonde briefly from her fury. Emma’s hold on Gold temporarily loosened when her eyes met Regina’s.
“As much as I want to kill this worthless imp myself, it will not do us any good.” Regina explained to Emma in a soft low voice, attempting to calm her.
Before Emma could respond, Gold laughed maniacally while observing the interaction between the two women. “This really is quite an unexpected development.”
“How’s that?” Emma asked, forcing his back further into the edge of the counter and digging the cold steel of the barrel of her handgun deeper into his forehead.
Gold turned to Regina and addressed her in a cutting tone. “Do you honestly think anyone could possibly care for you after everything that you’ve done?”
Regina scowled at Gold in an attempt to mask the pain that his words caused her. He had always known exactly how to exploit her vulnerability. Her need for love and acceptance had made it easy for him to manipulate her into doing his bidding. It hadn’t taken him long to pick up on the change in dynamic between the two women and he was sure to find a way to monopolize on it.
The longer they talked to Gold, the more ammo they gave him to use against them, and it was clear that he was done providing them with useful information.
“Emma, let this worthless imp go. He’s told us everything that he wishes to divulge to us. We can figure the rest out on our own.” Regina urged her, tugging her by the arm away from Gold.
Emma resisted momentarily by leaning in towards Gold. Their faces were mere inch apart and Gold could feel Emma’s hot breath on his face as she spoke.
“Once we deal with this mess, you and I have more to discuss - so don’t think about going anywhere.” she threatened, releasing Gold from her grip and returning her handgun to its holster.
Gold grinned at Emma, reveling in her anger towards him. “Say hello to your dear mother and father for me, will you Miss Swan?”
Emma lunged angrily in response towards Gold but Regina pulled her back again with a forceful jerk to her arm.
“Let’s go, Emma.” Regina insisted, and they both left the shop without another word - the only sound being the bell against the door, as it slammed shut behind them.
Both women could be seen bickering with each other on the sidewalk outside of Gold’s pawnshop.
Across the street on a nearby rooftop two people were observing the altercation.
“This wasn’t quite the scenario you were expecting, I take it.” Hook said as he observed the two women who had moved on from arguing to kissing.
He collapsed his spyglass and turned to the woman beside him.
“No, but perhaps my daughter’s fondness for this woman will make what we’ve come to do much easier than I originally anticipated.” Cora said with a smirk.
“And then what of the crocodile? You promised me my vengeance in return for my assistance in getting you to this realm.” Hook persisted.
“Did you forget how my daughter dispensed the ogre that slipped through the portal due to your sloppiness? There is magic here, which means that the dark one also has his magic. We will need to play this carefully, especially now that we have lost the element of surprise.”
Hook sighed and stowed the spyglass away in his pocket. Unfortunately, Cora had a point. He needed her in order to get to the crocodile, which means he’d have to play along as long as she wanted.
“So what now, your Majesty?” he inquired as they watched the two women get into the police cruiser and begin down the road.
“First, we learn everything we can about that woman and the boy. Then I’ll be able to determine our next move.”