Characters: Emma Swan, Rumpelstiltskin|Mr. Gold, Pete, Elliot, 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: 1425
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: A little bit of unexpected help goes a long way
Notes: All Pete's Dragon references are to the 1977 film, not the 2016 remake.
Disclaimer: Disney owns OUAT and Pete's Dragon.
She couldn't get a clean shot at this range. By now, there was one monkey perched on the hood and another on the passenger door handle. Each had hold of one of Gold's arms and his head and shoulders were sticking out of the window. He was struggling to break free, but even as she watched, the monkeys pulled him forward another inch.
"Nora!" Coleman was shouting behind her. "Go get your great uncle. NOW!"
"Now, Nora! Go!"
Behind her, Emma heard running feet, but she didn't look back. She kept her eyes and gun trained on the car, hoping for a clear target. One monkey's eyes locked on hers and he let out a mocking cackle. Then he deliberately turned his back on her and hopped over to the other side of the Beetle, out of her view. In a flash, she realized that he was trying the driver-side door and remembered that she hadn't locked it. Evidently, though, Gold had, because the next thing she heard was the sound of something battering against the window glass.
The fourth monkey alighted on the roof of the Beetle. Emma set her jaw grimly. She had a clean shot at that one. As she took aim, though, she hesitated. Was it Little John? Bashful? Someone else she knew? As if it were reading her mind, the monkey jeered at her and took to the air again. She adjusted her aim, but held off on pulling the trigger.
She heard Gold cry out and realized that the other monkeys had managed to haul him through the open window. Each had a tight grip on one of his arms. As she watched in horror, the other two monkeys each took hold of an ankle. As the clawed fingers closed around his injured leg, Gold screamed.
That was it. She was taking the shot. But even as she adjusted her aim once more, she realized that they were already too high. If they weren't out of range yet, the risk that she'd accidentally hit Gold instead was still too great.
Get in the car and follow them, Emma, she ordered herself. You know where they're going.
But if she could just wing one of the monkeys, then, from the look of it, three of them probably wouldn't be strong enough to haul Gold all the way back to Storybrooke.
And then, she heard a loud roar and a gust of wind knocked her to the ground. The monkeys shrieked again, but this time they sounded neither mocking nor triumphant. Instead she heard terror in their screams, as an invisible force seemed to lash out at them, flinging them away from Gold. Meanwhile, Gold appeared to be hanging in the air, in no danger of falling.
For a moment, Emma wondered whether he'd somehow been able to call on his magic, even outside of Storybrooke, but the expression on his face showed that he was as confused by the change in his circumstances as she was. And then, he floated gently to the ground, landing in a seated position next to her and Emma heard a sort of whuffling sound. Something cool and leathery brushed her cheek and she caught a whiff of charcoal and baked apples. There was a light touch on her shoulder and an unintelligible grunt. Another gust of wind tore at her and she pulled her leather jacket more tightly about her.
And then, as she watched, the monkeys took off howling as something seemed to buffet them, driving them further and further away until they vanished over the horizon.
Emma looked wildly at Gold. "What was that?"
From his bewildered expression, she didn't think that she was likely to get an answer, but after a moment, he shook his head. "I believe it was… No. No, that's not possible. Not here, anyway."
Emma tilted her head. "What isn't possible?"
"They were rare enough back in our land," Gold was muttering. "But to find one here? It can't be."
Just then, a young girl's voice called, "Hurry, Uncle Pete! They…" Then, disappointedly, "oh, they're gone! But they were just here, honest! Flying monkeys!" Emma glanced over her shoulder to see that Nora had returned, and was leading a man who looked to be about Gold's age—which, she reminded herself, proved nothing—in their direction.
"She's right," Coleman said, stepping forward. Emma wondered whether he'd been standing on the gas station's cement curb the entire time, or whether he'd retreated back indoors after sending the girl off. "Not sure where they came from, but they were harassing a couple of customers until something ran them off."
"Did it?" 'Uncle Pete' sounded interested. He directed his attention toward Emma and Gold. "Name's Peter Eddystone, but most people in these parts just call me Pete," he said, holding out his hand. "Are you folks okay?"
Emma and Gold looked at one another and nodded cautiously, each clasping the hand in turn. Introductions seemed called for, so Emma gave their names quickly.
"Flying monkeys," Pete remarked.
Emma tried to smile. "I know it sounds hard to believe."
"Well, it would," Pete admitted. "Except that Leonora and Hiram both saw them and, while Nora's got an imagination I can only envy, Hiram Coleman's never been able to spin a tall tale worth a wooden nickel." He shrugged. "Besides, it's been my experience most people wouldn't come up with a story that farfetched if it weren't true. Most," he added. "I'm not saying I haven't met a snake oil salesman or two, but…" He broke off, frowning. "Uh... What did you say it was that ran them off?"
"We didn't," Gold said, narrowing his eyes.
"Where're you folks headed?"
"Calais," Emma said quickly, remembering the name Coleman had said earlier. "We… had to leave home in a hurry and we need a few supplies."
Pete was silent. Emma realized that he was looking, not at them, but at a fixed point in the sky overhead. And he was grinning openly—which made him look about twenty years younger.
"Uh… Mr. Eddystone? Pete?"
Pete blinked. "I'm sorry. I got distracted for a minute."
"Is that…?" Nora asked excitedly.
"Leonora," there was a warning note in Pete's voice. "Later."
He turned back to Emma and Gold. "Well, if you folks are just passing through, I'll let you get on your way. But, if you don't mind my saying so, you've sort of the look of folks who aren't sure where they're headed and if that's the case, here's as good a place to stop as any." He smiled apologetically. "I'm not being completely honest with you. I run the local motel and tourism's been down this year. Now that the season's over, I probably won't have any more customers until June. And I wouldn't mind a bit more business, even if it's just for a night or two. I'll even cut the rate in half for you."
Emma hesitated. "Uh… could you give us a minute to talk it over?"
Pete nodded, wrapped an arm around Nora's shoulders, and steered her over to Coleman. Emma leaned closer to Gold. "What do you think?"
"I think these people are taking certain things in a far more casual manner than I would have expected," he said. "There's more going on here than meets the eye."
"I get that too," Emma admitted. "They're not lying, though. I don't need my superpower to tell that they're keeping a few things back, but we'd do the same if they were coming through Storybrooke."
"You want to take him up on his offer," Gold translated.
Emma sighed. "I don't know this area and it's going to be dark soon. I thought we'd be safe once we crossed the town line, but if those monkeys can attack us out here, then maybe it makes sense for us to stop someplace where there's something that seems to be on our side that can run them off."
Gold snorted. "Something."
"Their word, not mine."
"You know what it is? Or who?"
Gold shook his head. "I have an idea, but it's rather farfetched."
"Going by what Pete said, it's probably right, then."
"I wouldn't be so quick to jump to that conclusion," Gold remarked tartly. "But we won't be able to come to any verdict if we leave now." His shoulders slumped. "I'm exhausted," he admitted. "Today has been…"
Emma clasped his hand and he squeezed it fiercely. "I know," she said. "Okay. I'll tell him we'll stay the night."