"You say anything like that again, I'll take that hook of yours and use it to hook you," Neal growled underneath his breath as he pushed Hook against the wall beside the room he was occupying at Granny's. "As far as you're concerned, Emma is off limits. You got that?"
"Is that so?" Even at the disadvantage, the pirate was cocky. "Don't take this the wrong way, my boy, but, from where I'm standing, it doesn't look to me like she's much interested in you these days."
"You have no idea what's going on between us, and frankly," Neal pushed Killian's hook a bit closer to the pirate's face, "it's none of your business. Emma is the mother of my child, and I'll be damned if I let you continue to treat her like she's some kind trophy to be won. You're not going to pick her up and take her away like you did my mother."
"Still touchy about that, are we?" Looking only slightly off-put by this supposed breaking news, Hook shrugged. "You know," his voice held an odd lilt to it, "one of these days, you're going to have to let me tell you what really happened between me and your mother."
"Like I'd believe a word you said to me." Neal gave a final push and then stepped back, straightening his close as he did so. "I mean it, Hook. Leave Emma alone or, the next time, you'll get more than just a warning from me."
"Right," Killian looked over his hook with a disinterested expression. "I'll try to keep that in mind. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's getting late, and I'd like to actually make it into my room for the evening." Shoving Neal to the side with his hand, Hook, opened the door to his room and stepped in, slamming it behind him.
"Bastard," Neal muttered underneath his breath as he strolled away toward his own room.
From around the corner, Henry stuck his head out and watched his father walk down the hall. With a look of concentration on his face, he stood and watched until Neal was inside his room.
"Henry?" Mary Margaret's voice caught him by surprise. "What are you doing up here? I thought you were going into the diner while your grandfather and I spoke with Granny?"
"Oh, um, I was, but then I thought my dad might be in his room, so..."
"You really need to tell us if you decide to do something different than planned." Mary Margaret frowned deeply. "Don't worry us, okay?"
"Yeah, sorry." He let his shoulders drop. "I'll remember for next time."
"It's okay. No harm done." She looked down the empty hallway. "Do you want to go check on Neal?"
Henry glanced at the clock on the wall and shook his head. "Nah, it's okay. It's getting kind of late anyway, and we'll see him tomorrow at dinner, right?"
"Of course." Tilting her head and narrowing her eyes, the pixie brunette seemed to consider her grandson for a moment, sizing him up. "Well, then, we better head to the diner before David eats all the food."
The shop bell rang out and the door closed with a soft click. From behind the counter, Gold looked up and smiled. "Henry, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Hi," the young boy glanced around, clearly uncomfortable. "I was wondering if I could talk to you about something?"
"Of course you can." Curious, Gold stepped from behind his counter and offered to walk into the backroom with his grandson. "You know you're always welcomed to speak with me about whatever you'd like."
Henry stuck his hands in his pockets and scowled, giving Gold a sudden flash to a young Regina. He ground his teeth and tried to hold his irritation at bay. The fact that fate had decided it would be marvelously hilarious that is grandson would be raised by the Evil Queen was something he was still trying to work through. Of course, he was also still trying to work through who his grandson's mother and grandparents were.
There was a lot to work on.
"I overheard something I probably shouldn't have last night," Henry replied as he followed the older man into the back room and hopped up on stool in the comfy feeling nook that served as a break room for the shop.
Gold listened attentively as he began to make a pot of tea. "Oh?"
"Yeah, it was between my dad, um, Neal." Henry squirmed in his chair. "And Hook."
That fact caught Gold's full attention, and he stopped moving to listen harder. "What happened?"
"Well, I was at Granny's with Gramps and Grams, and I sort of overheard Neal telling Hook to leave Emma alone." The young boy's mouth twitched down into a frown. "Like, you know, he wants Hook to stop hitting on my mom. I think Neal still loves her, and I started thinking about it last night," he was on a roll now, "and I started thinking that maybe Emma still loves him. Maybe they're each other's true loves, you know? And I was wondering if there was anything you could do to keep Hook from hitting on my mom so that my dad could actually, I don't know." He glanced away from the intense look Gold was giving him. "Have a chance to make things right with Emma, and she'd stop being mad at him, and maybe they could be happy?" Henry shot his grandfather an uncertain look. "I know that I usually say that magic is bad and we shouldn't use it, but..."
"You want me to do something magical to make Hook stop and to help Neal?" Gold stood a bit straighter and smirked. "That's an interesting request you have there."
"Yeah," Henry chewed at his bottom lip. "What would it cost me?" He winced.
"You?" Gold actually chuckled. "Nothing. Neal's my son, and you're my grandson. I want you both to be happy, and I owe my son much. The least I can do is help him with his true love. Besides," he turned and walked toward one of the storage containers in the back of his shop, "Hook could do with being taken down a peg or two. That pirate often oversteps his bounds." Pulling out a box, he slowly made his way back to the counter where the tea was finished steeping.
"I don't want to kill him or turn him into a toad or anything," Henry said while he watched his grandfather begin pulling liquids of various colors from the box. "I just think that, if we could get him to leave Emma alone, then things would turn out okay, and I don't think threats or talking to him really work with him, which is why I'm here."
"I promise I'll do none of those things. In fact," Gold began to carefully mix the liquids into a vial. "All this will do is give him a little shock."
"What do you mean?" Henry narrowed his eyes, not trusting what he was being told.
"It's really very simple. You get your mom to drink this potion I'm making, and, anytime someone who is not her true love tries to kiss her, they get a little shock." He held up the now electric blue potion to the light, examining it to make sure it looked as it should. "Just consider it a little negative reinforcement, like bopping a dog on the nose when they're doing something bad." He popped a corked into the top of the vial and handed it over to Henry. "No one gets hurts or dies. I promise." He smiled gently at the boy. "I'm just trying to help my son, and my grandson." He ruffled the boy's hair.
"Okay," Henry looked at the bright blue potion. "This looks like Powerade."
"It's tasteless. Emma won't know she's drinking anything. You'll only have to slip it into her food or drink."
"And it won't hurt her, right?" Still, there was suspicion on Henry's face.
"Henry, I'm not going to hurt the woman my son loves and the mother of my grandson. Emma will be perfectly safe. I promise."
Pocketing the vial, Henry gave a nod and slipped from the stool. "Thank you," he said before giving Gold a quick hug and running out of the shop.
Gold watched him go, shaking his head and smirking as he did so.
"Hey, kid," Emma looked up from her desk to see Henry walking into the Sheriff's office. "What are you up to?"
"I thought we could have lunch together today." He held up takeout from Granny's. "I brought your favorite."
Emma narrowed her eyes. "What do you want, or what did you do?"
"Nothing!" He rolled his eyes at his mother. "It's summer break, I'm bored, and I'm tired of staying home with Grams. I mean, I love her and everything, but watching her talk to the birds gets a little creepy after a while."
"I know that feeling." She chuckled and motioned for him to take a seat next to her. "After lunch, do you want to go with me on my rounds? I'll drop you off at the house."
"Sounds good." He handed her a drink and grinned broadly as she took a long sip from it.
"Mother Superior, can I speak with you for a moment?" Emma glanced nervously around the church.
"Of course, Sheriff. What can I do for you?" The former fairy gave a welcoming smile.
"Something's up, and I don't know what it is, but I'm pretty sure magic is involved, and I don't think I'm crazy or making things up..." The blonde winced at her rambling. Running a hand through her hair, she took in a deep breath and tried again. "For the past few days, like the last two or three, every time someone touches me, they get shocked. At first, I thought I was just carrying around a lot of static electricity, you know? The dry cold up here does that to me, but, then, this morning I ran into Hook down by the hardware store, and he," she rolled her eyes. "he did that thing where you take a woman's hand and kiss it. Except, when he kissed it, her nearly blacked out from the shock he got. Now, I'm not expert on these things, but that is not static electricity. I don't want to go Mary Margaret or David about this until I know what's going on because, if it's my magic doing it instead of someone doing something to me, then I need to figure out and fix it."
Emma sighed. "Can you help me?"
Mother Superior seemed to think it over for a moment and then nodded. "I think so. Let me see what I can do."
Pulling out her wand and waving it over Emma, she concentrated on the question, and, after a few moments, she appeared to have the answer. "It's a curse."
"Seriously?" The sheriff's face grew red with her anger. "Can't we go one week in this town without someone being cursed? I mean it, and why? Why curse me to shock people? Who would do that? And why would Hook get shocked so much harder than anyone else?"
"Perhaps the individual that created the curse has a stronger dislike for Hook than the others in the town?" The nun pushed her wand back into the folds of her robe. "I'm not really sure, and I can't say that I know who enacted this curse on you."
"Please, as if we need to guess." The blonde rolled her eyes. "I'm going to go over to her house, and I'm not leaving until she agrees to reverse this... this... whatever it is."
Before the Mother could get another word out, Emma was gone.
"Miss Swan, what are you doing on my porch?" Regina regarded the other woman with a quizzical eye. "Is something wrong with Henry?"
"No, everything's fine with Henry. I came because I want you to get rid of this curse you put on me." Emma crossed her arms over her chest and gave her best glare. "I've seen you do some childish things since I've been here, and I've seen you do something truly awful things, but this is just ridiculous, even for you."
"I really don't know what you're talking about. I haven't put a curse on you. And need I remind you that there is more than just me in this town that is capable of doing such a thing? Perhaps you should go check with the others?" The former mayor moved to step back inside her home and close the door.
The blonde moved quickly, catching the front door before it could close. "I'm not leaving until you lift this curse. I mean it, Regina."
"I haven't cursed you," the brunette replied, "though you're making it very tempting to do so."
"You really expect me to believe that?" Pushing her way in, Emma forced Regina to take a few steps backwards as she slammed the front door behind them. "Take it off. I'm tired of not being able to touch anyone."
"What are you talking about?" Regina closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose as she mentally counted to ten. "For the sake of getting you out of my home quickly and to keep the peace to keep Henry happy, I'm going to try and understand what's going on with you. Tell me what's happening."
"Every single time someone touches me, they get a shock. Normally, it's like a little static shock, but, today, Hook tried to kiss my hand and he nearly fried." Emma has having a hard time keeping the smirk off of her face about Hook. She really disliked that pirate. "Now, I'm not saying that I want Hook anywhere near me. I don't. He's greasy, but I can't go around shocking people all the time either. You have to make this stop."
"You nearly killed Killian this morning, and this is what prompts you to make this issue of yours go away?" Raising an eyebrow, Regina huffed. "Who did you go to first to figure out you were cursed? Gold?"
"God no," Emma visibly shuddered. "I trust him less than I trust you. I went to Mother Superior, and she figured out I was cursed."
"Did she also tell you I was the one to do the cursing?" Regina crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her weight to her heels.
"No," Emma admitted. "I just assumed..."
"Yes, I'm aware of what you assumed, Sheriff. Perhaps you should actually do your job and investigate before jumping to conclusions? I hope you don't run police investigations the way you run personal ones." The brunette sighed.
"It's not like you have a great track record when it comes to curses or trying to curse me, you know." Emma ran the back of her hand across her face, clearly agitated. "I can't go on like this, Regina. I can't touch anyone. I shock everyone, even Henry. I don't know what to do. I can't go through life not being able to touch people. It's been three days, and I'm already twitchy. I didn't realize how much I appreciate Henry's hugs until I couldn't have them anymore, and I..." She stopped and visibly winced. "and I'm sorry because that was incredibly insensitive."
"I doubt you encourage him to behave any differently," came the calloused reply. "Why should I help you, Miss Swan?"
"You know, you really have no idea what we tell Henry about you, and I know you're not going to believe me, but we actually tell him that you're trying." She rolled her eyes at Regina's look of disbelief. "Okay, fine, I remind him that you're trying whenever he has his moments. I know what it's like to try to redeem yourself. It's hard, and, before you say it, I'm not giving you my pity. I'm just saying I get it."
"From your experience as a convict?" Regina rolled her eyes.
"I just want to be able to touch people again. Come on, you and I both know that it's killing Henry that he can't give me a hug. Don't you at least want to help me so that Henry's happy again?"
"I cannot tell you how much I loathe the fact that you use Henry as your argument for things you want from me. It's wrong, Sheriff. Henry is not a card to be played."
"So says the woman who used him as a pawn to get me to leave town when I first got here and then as a pawn to hurt me or get me to do what you wanted when you realized I was staying. We can both play this game. Now, are you going to help me or not?" Emma set a hand on her hip and pointed at the other woman. "You owe me."
"For being a total bitch to me from day one, for trying to poison me and accidentally poisoning Henry, for the many times I've saved your ass. You. Owe. Me."
For a very long moment, they stared at each other, neither wanting to stand down. Finally, Regina let her hands drop to her sides and took in a deep breath. "Fine, but this will make us even."
"Fine. Whatever. Just fix this." Emma gave a relieved smile. "What do you need me to do?"
"First of all, I need to see the curse in action, so I suppose you need to touch me." Regina held her hand out and waited.
Emma eyed the perfectly manicured fingernails and flawless skin before tentatively reaching out to touch the former queen. Upon contact, nothing happened. The younger woman was clearly dumbfounded. She touched the other woman again on the hand, and, again, nothing happened. "I don't understand," she mumbled more to herself than to the brunette. "Everyone, and I mean everyone gets shocked. This doesn't make any sense."
Shaking her head, she grabbed a skeptical looking Regina by the wrist and pulled her from the mayoral mansion and the street toward Granny's.
"Miss Swan!" Regina trailed behind the sheriff, attempting to keep up with Emma's longer strides. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Checking to see if I've finally lost my mind."
"Emma?" Red looked up from wiping off a booth and her eyes grew wide a the sight of the sheriff dragging a very resistant Regina Mills into the diner. "What's going on?"
"Ruby, I'm going to touch you, and I want you to tell me if you get shocked." Without any additional warning, Emma let go of Regina's wrist and reached out to touch Red on the arm.
Red recoiled. "Ow! God, that hurt."
"So, you felt it?" The blonde asked in earnest. "You felt the shock."
"Yeah, like a bad static electricity shock." The waitress rubbed at her arm.
Emma looked over her shoulder to Regina, who stood with arms crossed watching the events play out. Walking over to the bar where Granny was waiting on Leroy, the blonde quickly touched them both, and they both protested. "You felt a shock, right?" They both nodded with a scowl.
"See?!" Emma pointed around as she turned back to Regina. "Watch." She again grabbed the older woman by the wrist and dragged her into the other side where the rooms for the bed and breakfast were located.
"Whatever is going on," Granny said with a shake of her head, "You can be sure nothing good is going to come of it. I better go call Snow and Charming."
"Now where are you dragging me to?" Regina grumbled as they climbed the stairs.
"Hook and Neal's rooms." Emma grunted with the effort to continue pulling the other woman along. At Neal's room, they stopped and she banged on the door. When it opened up to a very confused looking Neal, Emma didn't even give warning. She simply reached out and touched his face.
"Hey!" He rubbed at his cheek. "That freaking hurt, Emma. What was that for?"
"I'm trying to prove a point," she said without any further explanation. Turning on her heels, Regina still in tow, she made her way back to Hook's room. Again, she banged on the door. This time, it opened to a very cocky looking pirate.
"Come to apologize for this morning, Love?" He smiled and then his eyes found Regina. "Oh, and you brought a friend. I do so love a..."
He never finished. Emma's hand shot forward and touched his shoulder, which caused a shock large enough to knock him off his feet. He landed, unconscious, on the room's floor.
"It was worth all of this inconvenience simply to watch that," Regina said with a smirk. "Touch him again and maybe we'll get lucky and he'll die this time."
"I don't think so." The sheriff let go of Regina's wrist. "It's tempting, but no." Despite herself, she found herself chuckling with the former mayor. "Anyway, do you see? I can't touch anyone without shocking them to some degree or the other." She looked down the hall to where Neal stood in the doorway watching the scene unfold. "Well, anyone but you. So, can you help me or what?"
When she looked to Regina, she found the older woman had paled. "What? What's wrong?"
"It's nothing. I think I may know what curse you're under," Regina actually swallowed down a lump in her throat, which caused all kinds of alarms to go off in Emma's mind. "However, if it is what I believe it to be, then you and I have much to discuss."
"Why do you look like someone just died or you've just seen a ghost or something equally bad?" Emma turned to see Neal approaching. "What's going on, Regina?"
"Yeah, what's going on?" Neal stopped at the open door to Killian's room and glanced in at the pirate, who was still on the ground. "Did your touch do that?"
Emma only nodded. "You're not the only one getting shocked when I touched them."
"Well, who else is?" He raised his eyebrows in question.
"Everyone in town except Regina." She answered with a sigh.
"Before you start, I did not curse Miss Swan." Regina held a hand up. "I suspect I know who did, and I believe your father has said that he would stop enacting or having people enact curses. Wasn't that a deal he recently made with you?"
"Actually, no," Neal's face hardened. "We haven't really been talking. He's been too busy doing whatever it is that he does."
"Regina, are you saying Gold is the one who did this?" Emma pulled the conversation back around. "Why? What purpose would this serve?"
"Besides tormenting the pirate?" The brunette looked over to Killian and sneered. "Not that I blame him. Hook's always been a pain. I really haven't the foggiest. Why don't you go ask him yourself?"
"Fine, but you're coming with me." Once again, Emma grabbed the other woman by the wrist and headed out of the bed and breakfast with Neal at their heels.
The bell to Gold's shop rang out and then his front door came slamming shut. From the back, where he was just finishing a cup of tea, he heard the commotion and wondered what was going to happen this time.
Emma's voice rang out, and he smiled to himself. He wondered how long it would take for her to make her way to him. Picking up his cane, he walked out to find Regina, Emma, and his son standing his shop.
"Well, this is an interesting mix. To what do I owe the pleasure of this set of company?"
"You put a curse on me, and I want to know why." Emma glared at him. "And I want you to remove it."
"Well," Gold tilted his head and glanced to his son. "I actually didn't place a curse on you, Miss Swan."
"You did, and you can remove it. I'm tired of shocking the shit out anyone who touches me," she spat back.
"Anyone?" Gold raised an eyebrow in question.
"A few minutes ago, she touched me, and I was shocked so hard that couldn't feel my face for a few moments." Neal crossed his arms. "You said you were going to try to stop doing this stuff."
"Wait a moment." The note of uncertainty in Gold's voice caught everyone's attention. "Emma's touch shocks you?" Neal nodded yes.
"I don't shock Regina," Emma stated flatly. "She's it. She's the only one who doesn't get electrocuted by my touch. This has to stop. Fix it."
Gold's eyes shifted to meet Regina's. She stood ramrod straight, a look of anger boiling over in her eyes. She was ready for a fight, but the shock of what he had just learned was enough pull him from his usual games. Instead of putting Regina on the defensive, he asked in a voice that almost sounded confused, "Do you know?"
"Tell them." Regina spat back.
"Well, Miss Swan," he turned back to Emma. "I'd love to be able to help you, but the curse that you've been put under can only be cured by true love's kiss, I'm afraid."
"How is that going to work when I get shocked everytime I'm near her?" Neal bellowed with his frustration. "At this rate, she'll never get this thing off of her."
"Bae," Gold's voice was soft with apology, "Son, I don't know how to tell you this." He stopped and considered. "The curse is a simple, relatively harmless one, though I will admit that I added a little extra something for our friend the pirate," he smirked and Regina nodded her approval. "The curse was designed so that anyone who touched you received a small, uncomfortable shock, Sheriff. The only person who wouldn't shock you," again he paused and looked from his son to Regina, "would be your true love, who, in turn, could kiss you and break the curse."
His three visitors stood quietly. Emma blankly blinked, trying to process what she had just been told. Regina stood with an angry and betrayed look on her face. Neal looked torn.
"Why?" Neal was starting to get angry. "Why would put this curse on her?"
"Henry came into my shop a few days ago and said he overheard you threatening Hook to stay away from Emma. He asked me to help him help you make Hook leave Emma alone." Gold held his hands up in a show of innocence. "I thought I was helping! I thought you and Emma were true loves. It seemed simple to me. Hook would get a few good jolts in, and then you'd kiss Miss Swan, and everything would go back. I would have never thought," he again looked to Regina. "I assume Daniel..."
"Don't you dare speak his name," Regina growled. "This is insane. I cannot be the Saviour's true love. The Evil Queen cannot be the White Knight's true love. That's not how these things play out, Gold. You've clearly done something wrong. You've messed this curse up in some way. You need to correct your mistake so we can all go back to how things are meant to be."
"I don't think I have," Gold replied, still not quite sure what to make of things. "Even if I had, the outcome for the ending is the same. It's true love's kiss or no breaking of the this curse will happen."
"Shit." Emma licked her lips as she closed her eyes to take a quick mental moment. "This is insane. Everything about this place, this town... you people. It's all nuts. Why can't one thing be normal or easy?" She turned to Regina. "You know I hate you, right?"
"I'm not very fond of you either, Miss Swan," Regina cooly replied.
"I can't stand you. You're a bitch. You're childish. You're selfish, and you drive me nuts." Emma crossed her arms. "Given all of that and the crazy shit that happens in this town, it seems about right that something like this would go down."
"You're not seriously considering this, are you?" Regina rolled her eyes once again. "He's clearly made some mistake with this curse."
"Okay, for the sake of argument, let's say he's right." Emma let her arms drop. "We still need to figure out if he is or not, so let's get this over with and do it the quick way."
The older woman scoffed. "If you think I'm going to kiss..."
Emma stepped forward and laid a kiss on the Regina's mouth, silencing her. In the stillness that followed, a surge of magic extended from them in a pulse. When they pulled away, Emma turned to Neal and touched him. Nothing happened.
"Shit." Emma rolled her eyes. She looked back to Regina. "What do we do now?"
"We could act as though this never happened," the dark brunette offered.
"You can't do that. You can't just walk away from true love," Neal protested with a wince. "I can't believe this is happening."
"Okay," Emma ran both hands through her hair as she stepped back to think things over. "I have no idea what to do with this information, but," she turned to Regina, "we should probably talk."
With a heavy sigh, Regina nodded her agreement. "It would be prudent."
"Neal," the blonde turned to the father of her child, "I don't know what to say. Give me a few days to figure out what's what?"
"Yeah, sure," he nodded. "Just let me know if you need anything."
Gold shook his head. "I'm sorry, son."
"You know, I'm not going to worry about it right now," Neal stepped to open the door. "Emma, when you're ready to talk, you know where to find me." He left, closing the door behind him.
Regina stepped closer to the blonde and placed a hand on the other woman's arm. "We should discuss this now, before your parents discovered what's happened." She turned to Gold. "We'll talk another time." With that, they two vanished in a cloud of purple smoke, leaving Gold alone in his shop.
Taking in a deep breath and letting it out, Gold stood and started out the windows and onto the street. Of all the possibilities that could have been for this scenario, this had been the least likely outcome, and, yet, here it was. He shook his head and turned to return to the back of his shop. Seeing into the future was a double edged sword. He knew Emma's true love was in this town. He knew that her finding it involved his son. He'd have never put money on those two things being linked in this way.
Flipping on the teapot to start more water to boil, he sat heavily down on a stool. The hardest part of this scenario, he thought to himself, was explaining to Henry that the curse he'd placed on his mother hadn't resulted in her falling in love with the Evil Queen. He frowned. That was an accusation he'd deal with another day.
For today, he would simply enjoy his tea.