Henry scooted up the stairs, his Author pen in hand, and Emma hoped that whatever came out of his writings this time, there would be something helpful. Something to get them out of the Underworld.
It was the flash of light glinting off the pen as he moved that reminded her.
“Wait,” she gasped, grabbing Killian’s arm, as she was struck by a sudden thought. “The pen….”
“What about it?” her dad asked, gripping the back of the chair and then pulling it out to sit down. Elbows on the table, he rubbed his brow in frustration as he waited, and a wave of guilt hit Emma anew.
“It’s down here because Henry broke it,” she replied, trying to get her words to catch up with her brain.
“Aye,” Killian said. “What of it, love? Cruella said magical items ended up here when broken.”
“Yes, exactly! Jefferson’s hat,” she said, looking over at her father. “What if it’s down here too?”
Charming’s eyes widened in realization, his voice excited as he responded, “Then we could use it to get back home.”
“We have to find that hat,” Emma exclaimed, feeling the little bit of hope inside her expand at the possibility. She wanted all of her loved ones home and reunited, as quickly as possible.
“Who the bloody hell is Jefferson?” Killian asked, following Emma to the door, as she swung her jacket over her shoulders and pushed her arms through the sleeves.
“I’ll explain on the way,” she answered, then turned back to her father, telling him, “Killian and I will go look for the hat. You stay here with Henry.”
“Okay, just… be careful,” Charming replied, rising and pressing a kiss to the side of her head.
“We will,” she said, smiling and grabbing Killian’s hand, tugging him through the door and down the stairs.
“Jefferson’s house was on the outskirts of town, just beyond the woods,” she told him, kicking aside a rusted piece of metal on the sidewalk. She was getting very tired of the… well, decayed version of Storybooke.
“And just who is this Jefferson?”
“He’s the Mad Hatter,” she answered, glancing at him and frowning at his look of confusion. “You know, from Alice in Wonderland?”
“I’m familiar with Wonderland, love, but not this Alice or this Mad Hatter fellow.”
“Never mind, he’s just this guy who had a hat that could open up portals to other realms. It’s how I ended up in the Enchanted Forest when we first met.”
“Ah,” he said, looking slightly shamed at the memory of how he’d tried to deceive her.
“Hey, it’s all in the past,” she said, squeezing his hand. “But the hat got burned after that and there wasn’t anything left of it. At least not in our world. But we might be able to find it here.”
“Well, love, as far as ideas, it’s the best one I’ve heard yet. I’d never bet against you,” Killian replied, and she couldn’t help but smile up at him, just barely resisting the urge to stop for a kiss. His continual and consistent support and encouragement never failed to make her heart do things that were magical in their own way.
For the first time in years, Johnny ventured into some of the unused rooms in the house, touching very little at first, afraid the visual assault would be too much. Bruce trailed behind, chattering about something Johnny wasn’t really hearing.
He moved down the hall to the room his mom had used for sewing, and thought fondly of all the amazing Halloween costumes she made for him as a child, and the telescope he had occasionally used to spy on the neighbors from that very room. He ran one hand lovingly over the shelves built into the wall opposite the window, and suddenly he was thrust into the midst of a vision.
“This is where he kept the hats,” a woman said, long blonde hair flowing down the back of a red leather jacket. She stood next to the very shelves where Johnny stood, looking over her shoulder at a man in black, sporting a hook for a left hand.
“There’s not much here, love,” the man said. “Perhaps the hat is in another room.”
She turned toward the desk, and froze as Johnny watched.
“Who the hell are you?” she asked, hands raised as if to push him back.
“You can see me?” Johnny asked, gripping his cane and staring in shock.
“Who are you talking to, love,” the hooked man wondered, glancing around the room.
The woman ignored her friend and stared straight at Johnny, a challenge in her eyes and her hands still raised. “Yes, I can see you. Who are you? Are you working for Hades?”
“I’m not working for anyone,” Johnny answered. “This is my house.”
“Oh, well….” she looked confused, her brow scrunched up in thought. Her companion came to stand beside her, looking right through Johnny as if he wasn’t there. “This was Jefferson’s house, back… in our world.”
“Emma? Who are you talking to?” the man in black asked, and the look of worry on his face made Johnny think these two people loved one another deeply.
“You can’t see him?” she asked, turning toward the hooked man while gesturing toward Johnny.
“No, love, there’s no one there,” he said, pausing for a minute and then asking, “It’s not… the Dark One again, is it?”
“No,” she answered, turning toward her friend briefly. “It’s some guy with a cane and….”
“My name is Johnny. I’ve lived in this house since I was born. Who are you and what do you mean by our world?”
She seemed to assess whether he was a threat or not, and sighed. “You know,” she pointed up toward the ceiling and continued, “the uh… where the living are. Not the Underworld.”
This was shaping up to be the most bizarre vision Johnny had ever had. He shook his head and said, “Underworld?”
“Where exactly are you from?” she asked, ignoring the concerned glances from the man beside her.
“Maine,” he answered simply. “Uh, United States. Land of the living.” He looked at them to see if his words held any familiarity.
“We’re from Maine,” the woman replied, incredulous. “Storybrooke.”
“Never heard of it,” Johnny said. “This house, my house, is in Cleaves Mills, Maine.”
“What the hell?” Emma exclaimed, lifting her arm to touch Johnny, but her arm went right through him as if he were no more substantial than air. “What the hell?” she repeated, as her companion pulled her hand back and drew her closer to his side.
Johnny could make no sense of any of this. He was in his own house, and so, apparently, were these people, but they seemed to think they were in the Underworld. He had no idea if he could help them or not, but he wanted to try.
He started to speak, a thousand questions waiting to fall off his tongue, when he was abruptly pulled away, one moment looking into the woman’s face, and the next, Bruce’s hand on his arm, and his voice calling out to break through the vision.
And there was no pretty blonde woman in the room, and no man with a hook. Only Bruce and Johnny and Johnny’s memories.