Characters: Emma Swan, Rumpelstiltskin|Mr. Gold, OMC, OFC
Genre(s): HC, Drama, Angst, Adventure
Timeline: Season 3 AU. Diverges from canon during S3;E15 (Quiet Minds)
Warnings: Canonical character death
Word Count: 1634
Story Summary: Instead of leaving Gold in the Woods after Neal's death, Emma decides that the wisest course of action is to get him out of Storybrooke and away from Zelena's control.
Chapter Summary: Sometimes what happens in Storybrooke doesn't stay in Storybrooke
Notes: All Pete's Dragon references are to the 1977 film, not the 2016 remake.
Disclaimer: Disney owns OUAT and Pete's Dragon.
Neither spoke as they made their way along the faint hiking trail. Gold moved like a man in a fog, barely paying attention to the way. He stumbled over a large tree root and Emma seized hold of his upper arm to steady him.
She had to force herself not to recoil. The woolen fabric of his suit jacket was greasy to the touch and when Gold nodded to her that he was all right and shrugged free, Emma was shocked to see grime coating her fingertips. She'd thought that Gold must have tripped a few times in the woods to look so disheveled, but now she realized that she'd been mistaken—or fooling herself, not wanting to think about how long he must have been wearing that suit. Emma remembered her time in both the Enchanted Forest and Neverland; how after the first couple of days in the wild, hot showers and clean clothes had become obsessions. For a man as fastidious as Gold, a man whom she'd never seen in casual clothes, a man who wore a full apron over his habitual suits to go digging in the woods, something like that had to be a torture all its own.
Hot fury roiled up within her, a rage she hadn't felt since that day almost two years ago in the Storybrooke hospital, when she'd finally realized that Henry had been telling the truth about the Curse all along and she'd been too stubborn to see it.
She realized that she'd fallen back and that Gold was now looking at her expectantly, waiting for her to point out the direction to take. She jerked her head to indicate the path and quickened her pace. "It's not much farther," she murmured. A moment later, she caught a glimpse of her yellow Beetle through the foliage and headed toward it.
As they broke through the cover of the trees, Gold's eyes darted nervously in all directions. "It's not safe here in the open," he whispered. "She has spies everywhere."
Emma nodded and hurried to unlock the passenger door. "Sorry," she muttered. "Old car. No remote for the doors. Gold said nothing, barely waiting for her to hold the door open before he practically flung himself into the seat. By the time Emma got in, he had his seatbelt on.
"Hurry," he urged, as she put her key in the ignition. "Now that Bae…" His voice broke. "When we shared a mind, I could sometimes resist Zelena's commands. Now that he's gone, if she summons me before we can cross the town line…"
Emma nodded and put her foot on the gas. "One good thing about being sheriff," she muttered. "I don't have to worry about speeding tickets."
She fought not wrinkle her nose. It hadn't been as noticeable out in the open, but enclosed in the car cabin, she couldn't help but be aware of the odor coming from the seat next to her. She said nothing, though, guessing that Gold would probably be mortified by the subject.
Emma's eyes widened, as she saw the town line approaching, and three flying monkeys circling in the air above it. "I see them," she said through clenched teeth. "I don't suppose you know how fast they can fly?" When Gold didn't answer, she gripped the steering wheel with both hands. "Let's hope it's less than ninety miles an hour," she said. "Hang on!"
The next thirty seconds seemed to stretch forever. The monkeys dived toward them. One landed on the hood of the car and immediately spread its arms wide, blocking most of the windshield. Emma heard Gold cry out, as she fought to keep driving. She knew that the road ran straight ahead for at least three miles past the line. She just had to keep going straight. The monkeys were magical, they couldn't cross the line. They couldn't…
One monkey leered at her through the driver-door window, another slammed into the opposite side. Gold gasped and bent over, tucking his head to his lap. He didn't scream, and Emma was glad of it. She closed her eyes—it wasn't as if they were helping much and if this didn't work, she didn't want the last image in her mind to be those teeth and blood-red eyes—and took the speed up to one hundred. The monkeys veered off shrieking as they crossed the line. In her rear-view mirror, Emma saw the back of the 'Leaving Storybrooke' sign shimmer and disappear, leaving nothing but an empty road behind them. She slowed down to sixty and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Gold?" She glanced at her passenger. "We made it. We're clear."
Gold peered out at her from the crook of his elbow, his brown eyes almost as wide as saucers. Then he slowly unlaced his fingers and straightened up. He was perspiring and his face, already pale from who knew how long he'd been in confinement, had a grayish tinge to it.
"Sorry for the rough exit. I think we're safe now. Uh, there should be a couple of granola bars in the glove compartment, if you're hungry." There should be a whole box of them. They came in handy when she was on a stakeout, and there had been the one time when the fugitive she'd brought in had been a diabetic in need of a sugar boost.
He nodded, but made no move to open the compartment. Instead, he leaned back in the seat, shut his eyes, and took several long, slow breaths.
"You okay?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wished she could take them back. After being Zelena's prisoner, after losing Neal, after the monkey attack, that had to be one of the stupidest things she could have asked and she braced herself for a blunt retort along those lines.
Instead, Gold drew a breath. "My ankle," he said in a low voice. "Magic masked the old injury in Storybrooke, but out here, I'm afraid it's going to be bothersome."
Emma took her right hand off of the steering wheel and laid it over Gold's. "We'll manage." She eyed her dashboard and sighed. "I'm going to need to stop for gas soon anyway. Maybe I'll just take the next exit." There was a sign coming up and she waited until it was close enough for her to read. "Hopefully there'll be a Walmart or a Walgreens in…" Oh boy. She blinked at the long string of letters and sounded them out under her breath. "…Passamaquoddy," she finished triumphantly.
"I should just be a minute," Emma said, as she pulled up to the pump. "I'll ask for directions when I go in to pay. You sure you don't want to get out of the car?"
Gold shook his head. "Even if my ankle wasn't an issue, I can hardly go out looking like this."
He had a point. "I'll ask about that, too. I'm not sure if we can find Armani around here, but…"
"That's hardly a concern at the moment," Gold replied, sounding for a moment not unlike his former self.
"Do you want me to pick you up anything inside?"
Gold shook his head.
"Okay." She had the door open and her feet on the asphalt, when Gold called after her.
"Emma? Thank you."
She smiled. "I won't be long." She shut the door behind her and set about filling the tank. As she did, she looked around. The gas station looked like any of a million she'd seen before in her travels. She didn't recognize the name of this one; it was probably part of a smaller chain. Or were there any independent stations left in this part of the world? She wondered.
She passed a girl of about Henry's age on her way into the station. She was sitting on a bench in front of the building and sucking on a grape popsicle. She smiled as Emma brushed past her and Emma grinned back.
Once she'd paid for the gas, she made her inquiries and the attendant, a sober-looking man in his late forties, considered for a moment. "Well, you know Ms… uh…" he glanced down at her credit card, "…Ms Swan, the tourist season's over now, so a lot of businesses have closed down or cut their hours. Now, the nearest Walmart's up in Calais, about twenty miles from here. But I'd hardly be a good neighbor if I didn't at least try pointing you toward some of our locals. Now…" he rummaged under his desk for a moment and came up with a tourism map. "If you'll just…Oh!" He looked past her for a moment.
"'Lo, there, Nora," he said, smiling.
Emma looked over her shoulder to see the girl from outside, holding up another popsicle.
"It's Leonora, Mr. Coleman," she said importantly.
"Ah, of course. Pardon me, Ms Swan," he said, turning back to Emma, "but would you mind if I just rang this young lady through before her snack melts? It won't be but a minute."
"Sure," Emma said, moving out of the way. "Go right ahead."
"Thank you. Now, then, Lee-oh…" Coleman's voice trailed off. "Oh… my… what in the world…?"
Emma spun around to look out the window. What she saw made her heart lurch. "GOLD!" she exclaimed, running out of the store, one hand reaching under her jacket for her gun.
There were four flying monkeys surrounding her bug. One of them was reaching inside—Gold must have rolled down the window to get some air.
As Emma raced toward them, she was wondering how she could have been stupid enough to think that the monkeys couldn't cross the town line. She damned well should have known better than that. After all, she'd almost married one…