Emma’s not sure when running away became Henry’s new response to everything, but she’s definitely sure it’s pissing her off.
It’s another argument with Regina that does it, of course. Regina wants to have a birthday party for Henry at her house, and Emma says no. So they get into what could possibly be described as a yelling match outside of City Hall. Not that Emma would describe it that way, but Mary Margaret does, so. There may have been a little yelling.
It wouldn’t even be that big of a deal, but Henry overhears and takes off, running away just like he did that day with Neal in the diner.
So they split up -- David and Mary Margaret heading down near the docks, Neal staying in town, and Emma and Regina searching the forest.
To Emma’s way of thinking, Regina's the only reason they're in this mess, so Her Majesty shouldn’t be a part of their search to find him. But Regina insists, and Emma’s not about to spend even more of her time bickering with her arch nemesis while her son is out there somewhere.
Which is how Emma finds herself spending her afternoon tromping through the woods on the outskirts of town, Regina close on her heels.
At first, Regina won’t shut up, making constant snide remarks about Emma’s lack of maternal prowess. Emma tunes her own as best she can, focusing on checking her phone for updates from David or Mary Margaret or Neal and keeping her eyes peeled for her wayward son.
By the time the sun starts to set, they still haven’t found him, and Emma tries hard to ignore the sick knot of anxiety forming in her throat. Regina’s stopped talking altogether, and she’s looking just about as anxious as Emma feels, squinting out into the growing darkness, a line of worry creasing her forehead.
They keep walking until they get to Gold’s cabin, which is about as far as they can go and still be in Storybrooke. The cabin looks dark and unwelcoming, but it’s possible Henry could have ducked inside for a while to get away from the cold.
“You think he’d go in there?” she asks Regina, nodding at the cabin.
Regina looks doubtful. “Perhaps...”
Emma checks her phone again. Nothing. She sighs, giving the ever-darkening sky a worried glance. The air smells like snow and it’s getting colder by the minute. They’re pretty much at the edge of town, and she doesn’t think Henry would actually leave Storybrooke, no matter how upset he is.
“Okay,” she decides. “Let’s check it out and then I’ll give David a call.”
“What a brilliant plan,” Regina mutters, already heading in the direction of the cabin, stepping carefully in her impractical high heels over a fallen branch. Emma glares at her back as she follows her to the cottage.
Inside, the cabin looks empty, but she and Regina head inside, both of them calling desperately for Henry.
They've pretty much determined Henry's not there when Emma's phone rings, making her jump.
“Emma,” David says, sounding relieved. “We found him.”
“Oh, thank god,” Emma says, running a hand through her hair. Regina looks over at her, and Emma gives her a thumbs up. They found him she mouths, and Regina closes her eyes, looking almost absurdly relieved.
“Is he okay?” Emma asks into the phone.
“He’s fine,” David tells her, and Emma leans back against the door in relief. It closes with a quiet click. “A little cold, but –”
Her phone goes out, cutting David off mid-sentence.
“Henry’s okay?” Regina asks.
“Yeah,” Emma says vaguely, staring at her phone. The display shows no signal, and it won’t connect when she tries to call David back.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know,” Emma says, shaking her phone like that will somehow make the signal come back. “David says Henry’s with him and that he’s fine, but we got cut off before he could tell me anything else.”
“Well, call him back and find out,” Regina orders, as though Emma isn't in the process of doing just that.
“I’m trying,” Emma snaps, staring at the lack of bars on her phone’s screen, willing just one of them to come back.
Regina rolls her eyes, like the lack of signal is just further proof of Emma’s maternal incompetence. She fishes her own phone out of her pocket, pressing the screen a few times and then holding it up to her ear before pulling it away and giving it a strange look.
Emma smirks. “You too, huh?” She turns around and pulls the door open. Or at least she tries to pull the door open. It doesn’t budge. It doesn’t move when she pushes on it either.
“Problem, dear?” Regina asks with mock concern.
“Yeah,” Emma says, pushing against the door as hard as she can, putting all her weight into it. “It’s stuck.”
Regina rolls her eyes and reaches for the door. But she can’t open it either, and the two of them spend a few more second trying to get it to budge, both of them pushing and pulling until Emma’s arms starts to ache.
Finally, Emma gives up with a sigh. “What the hell?” she says. “Did you magic the door shut or something?”
“Yes, Miss Swan,” Regina says sarcastically. “I’ve been trying to get you alone for months now, so I put an enchantment on the door so that—” she stops mid-sentence, her mouth still open.
“What’s wrong?” Emma asks, confused.
“Oh god,” Regina says, sounding legitimately worried. She reaches out and her hand against the door, closing her eyes as she presses her palm against the wood. After just a couple of seconds, she pulls her hand away and opens her eyes.
“What?” Emma demands. “What is it?”
Regina’s just staring at the door, wide-eyed. “Shit."
“What?” she asks again, glancing back at the door. It looks like a regular wooden door, except for the whole refusing to open thing.
“A curse,” Regina says, still just staring at the door. “Fuck.”
“A curse,” Emma repeats, incredulous. What is it with this town and curses? “What curse?”
“My mother...” Regina says, trailing off and looking strangely lost for just a second before she pulls herself together. When she does, she sounds as obnoxiously regal as always. “When we were looking for Rumpelstiltskin’s dagger, she put an enchantment on this cabin, so that if he came here, we’d have him trapped.”
Of course she did. Emma sighs. “Wouldn’t he just be able to magic his way out?”
“No,” Regina says, as though this should be obvious. “Because of the enchantments we put on it, no magic can be used here.”
It takes a second for that to sink in and then Emma’s stomach drops. “Wait,” Emma says, feeling panicky. Oh no, oh god. “Does that mean you can’t use magic either?”
“You catch on quickly, Miss Swan.”
“So we’re trapped here?”
“It would appear so.”
“For how long?”
“Until someone finds us.”
“You're kidding,” Emma groans. She's glad Henry's safe and all, but she's going to kill the kid the next time she sees him.
“Those are the rules of the enchantment,” Regina says, talking to Emma like she’s a slow child. “We can’t break the curse from inside the cabin, and the only way we can get out is if someone finds us and lets us out.”
Ugh, of course. Of course Emma would get stuck in Rumpelstiltskin’s enchanted log cabin with the Evil Queen. Because that’s just how her life is these days.
“Why the hell didn’t you say something before?”
“Excuse me for being a little preoccupied with the fact that my son had gone missing,” Regina snaps, as though their predicament is proof of her superior love for Henry. “Besides, the curse was only triggered because you closed the door.”
“Oh no,” Emma says. “No way. You’re not blaming this one on me. This is all your fault, Your Majesty. And you’re going to get us out of here.”
“It’s unbreakable from inside the cabin,” Regina says, speaking slowly, like Emma’s a complete idiot for not knowing about magic-proof-magic or whatever the hell is going on here. "I can't get us out of here. Only someone from the outside can."
“Okay,” Emma says, more to herself than Regina. That panicky feeling is still in her gut, but she takes a deep breath, forcing herself to relax. “It’s okay. I’m sure David and Mary Margaret will realize we’re missing before too long and they’ll come looking for us, right?”
“Right,” Regina agrees, rolling her eyes. “I have no doubt Snow White and Prince Charming will once again come to save the day. But until then, we’re stuck.”
“So what do we do now?” Emma asks.
Regina shrugs, walking over to pull the sheet off one of the chairs near the fireplace. When she does, a huge plume of dust puffs out of the cloth, making Regina cough a little. “Now,” she says, waving a hand in front of her face, trying to clear away from the dust. “We wait.”
Emma manages to wait for exactly six minutes before she gets antsy and starts trying to open the window next to the front door. Just outside, the curse glows, purple and shimmery.
The locks slide open fine, but then when she pushes at the pane of glass, nothing happens. It just sits there, mocking her with its immovability.
It’s almost completely dark outside, night falling quickly, and she can see both Regina reflected in the glass behind her. Her majesty is perched on the sofa, her legs crossed, and even in the blurry reflection Emma can see that she’s smirking. Ugh. She seriously hates her life.
She tries the window a few more times, but nothing happens. In the reflection, Regina’s smirk turns into a cruel smile.
Emma ignores her as best she can, focusing all her energy on getting the hell out of the cabin. It’s getting chillier inside and, outside, it’s started to snow, just little flurries drifting down past the window.
Finally, she gives up any pretense of calm and grabs one of the straight-back wood chairs sitting near the door, hurling it at the window. It bounces off with a dull thud, and Emma resists the urge to start sobbing.
Behind her, Regina sighs. “Are you quite finished, dear?”
Emma blows a strand off hair off her forehead and sighs. “Yeah,” she says. “I’m done.”
After that, there's not much left to do but settle in for the night.
The cabin is small, just a couple of mostly-bare rooms. There’s a kitchenette, and small bathroom off the hall, and one small bedroom in the back with a double bed and a tiny closet, empty except for a couple of plastic clothes hangers.
"Okay, well," Emma says. “I say we flip a coin to see who gets the bed and who gets the couch.”
Regina laughs, looking legitimately amused. “I’m sleeping on the bed, Miss Swan.”
“Says me.” Regina’s still smiling, but there’s a dangerous edge to it, one that speaks of decades of getting her way.
“No way,” Emma scoffs. “We’re only stuck in this hell-hole because of your curse-happy approach to problem solving. You don’t get to just order me around and take the bed.”
“And just how exactly do you plan to stop me? Are you going to fight me for it?”
Emma smirks, stepping closer to Regina, one hand already curling into a fist. “I thought you said magic wouldn’t work in here.”
“Oh, I don’t need magic, Miss Swan,” Regina says, taking another step towards Emma until they're practically nose-to-nose. Emma can smell Regina's perfume, something sharp and vaguely spicy.
Suddenly Emma laughs, this hysterical feeling bubbling up inside of her. Because, seriously? Is she really about to get into a fistfight with the Evil Queen over a crappy bed? Her life has taken some really weird turns lately.
“What?” Regina says, sounding legitimately alarmed by the fact that Emma might find anything to laugh about in their current situation. “Are you having some kind of a fit, Miss Swan?”
Emma scrubs one hand across her face and sighs. “It’s just...are we really about to fight over who gets to sleep on the bed? That’s totally absurd, right?”
“I’m taking the bed,” Regina says again, her voice hard.
Emma throws up her hands in defeat. “You know what? Fine. Take the damn bed. It’s one night, what do I care.”
Regina smirks like she’s won some kind of huge victory, before turning on her heel and heading back to the bedroom.
Emma watches her go, glaring at Regina’s suit-clad back as she walks away, before she turns back to the old, ratty couch with a sigh. Outside, the snow’s still falling, a little harder than before, the flurries sparkling a light violet through the haze of the spell.
When she pulls the sheet off the couch, a giant plume of dust puffs out into Emma’s face making her sneeze.
Once the dust clears, she settles in on the couch, wincing a little at the scratchy fabric and the aura of dirt emanating from the cushions. She can’t believe Regina just claimed the bed like that. Or, actually, she can believe it, but it just pisses her off.
Ugh, whatever. It’s just for one night, she reminds herself, turning onto her other side and trying to get comfortable. How bad can it be?