DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS/WARNING: From the Pilot up to That Still Small Voice. Character Death
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To daughter2artemis[at]yahoo.com

Deals Made in times of Darkness
By In-Betweens


They tell you that he's going to be fine.

You don't believe them.

The paramedics are there and they're rushing around like chickens without their heads. They don't know what they're doing. How could they? They look so discombobulated! Regina is watching, just like you, as an oxygen tank is taken from out of the ambulance and a mask put over Henry's face.

Dr. Hopper is sitting, still conscious, watching just like everyone else, his own oxygen mask on.

No one had expected you to come up from that elevator shaft with an unconscious child in your arms. They had all thought, believed, Henry was fine. Just like you.

Now you know better. You know that he was too small of a boy and had breathed in some kind of dangerous chemical down in that mine shaft. Enough to knock him out and…and…

"What's going on!" You call out trying to push past the crowd that's formed.

You hadn't moved. You couldn't. Not after Regina rushed to you, crying out Henry's name as she realized he was unconscious. The look in her eyes, the terror and the accusation, as if this was all your fault, had stopped you cold. You let her take the kid and rush him to the paramedics, Graham right beside her. The paramedics who were now busy doing chest compressions on your ten year old son.

He's yours, biologically if nothing else, and although you haven't been there for him his whole life a part of you is literally breaking in half as you watch helplessly as the paramedics do everything they can to save him. This is your fault. You let him continue on with his delusional rants about how Regina is the Evil Queen and Mary Margaret is Snow White and David Nolan her Prince Charming.

It was nonsense, and you knew that. Regina knew that, it was why she'd pushed so hard for Dr. Hooper to get Henry passed these delusions. Except, her plan didn't work. It only made Henry strive harder to prove himself, to prove that he wasn't 'crazy', that there was proof his mother was the Evil Queen and there was a curse on Storybrooke.

You can't imagine Regina being anything Evil. Sure she's strict and intimidating and more than slightly interested in seeing you leave town as quickly as you came. But now, watching her in the last few hours all you can see is a worried, frantic, beside herself mother desperate to see and hold her son in her arms. If she is the Evil Queen, then there's something in her that's good and decent and it all revolves around that kid. That kid that means so much to the both of you, that kid that connects the two of you in ways you both don't want to think about.

Regina is beside herself. Graham is busy holding her up from collapsing to the ground. The way her own arms are wrapped around her chest is similar to your own. You're both trying to protect yourself from the pain. You don't want anything to get passed the walls you've built up around you. They were built for a reason; reasons that aren't as clear to you right now as you realize that Henry slipped passed them all. The little rascal had gotten himself so deeply buried in your heart…both yours and Regina's…that neither of you will survive this if he doesn't.

"Please….please…" You whisper, chanting it as if hoping some higher power will hear your cries and grant you the wish your heart can't stop requesting. Clasping your hands together, squeezing with all your might, you watch, your vision blurring as the paramedic leans down to blow air into Henry's mouth. He's not breathing….your son isn't breathing and it isn't until your lungs start to burn that you see you aren't either.

Gasping you shake your head, trying to shake away the images before you like an etch-a-sketch. If you shake your head fast enough, will your eyes closed enough you might actually be able to wipe away the travesty before your eyes. Might be able to…it's unlikely. Still you held some hope inside you that when you let your eyes open the paramedics would be talking animatedly with Henry laughing at something the kid said—because he can be very funny when he wants to be—rather than leaning over his un-responding person.

"I'll do anything…" You say aloud, hoping that if Henry is right and all of these people are fairytale characters that maybe, somewhere just beyond these mines in the woods is a fairy or fairy god mother willing to take on your wish. There aren't any stars out, the sun is still shinning so you knows you can't wish upon a star, and no woman in a blue dress appears to grant you a wish, so that cancels out fairy god mother's too.

"Anything?" You turn your head, jumping a bit. When did Mr. Gold get here? And how long has he been standing behind you?

You swallow, you don't trust this man. There is just something about him that puts you on edge. Everything in your body tells you to run away, and not look back. Don't even look him in the eyes, just stare straight ahead and…and…

You feel a sob escape your lips. You can't look straight ahead because right in front of you is the sight of Regina collapsing to the ground, her cries finally loud enough to pierce through the shell of silence that had surrounded you until Mr. Gold asked you a question. The paramedics are looking at Regina apologetically and all you want to do is scream. Tell them to keep going…but you can't. You can't move, you can hardly breathe or see straight. They're going to pronounce him. They're going to give a time of…of…

"NO…" you hear the wail and wonder who it came from, you or Regina.

"Woo…there…" Cold lanky arms wrap around you and keep you from falling to the ground. Your vision is blackening around the edges but you can still see it clearly. You can still see Regina fumbling her way up to grasp onto Henry's immobile hand. His hands are so tiny…he's so small and…and…you'd do anything to bring him back.

"No…no Henry no…" You feel the tears streaming down your face. You're not the type to cry in front of people. You haven't done that since you were thirteen years old and cried in front of who you thought was your best friend. She hadn't been, and she'd used your sob story to turn the entire school against you. You hadn't made one friend in that school, but thankfully you were sent to a new foster home within a few months and got a fifth chance at another school.

"Bring him back…god please bring him back…" You don't know who you're begging to revive Henry. You think for a moment you're actually praying to a God that you haven't believed in…ever. Or maybe you're asking Regina, because as you beg for Henry's life her eyes turn away from Henry's…Henry's…ba…body and meet yours. Maybe she is the Evil Queen, and maybe she can save him, so why isn't she? Why isn't she using her powers to save the boy that she loves! You know that she loves him, you can see it in her eyes! You can see the sorrow in her eyes and the pain and turmoil raging behind her brown eyes as she stares at you, almost unbelieving.

Did she really think that you would go away? That you would leave without seeing that Henry was…that he was…okay? Even if now you know that he's not, okay that is. He isn't okay and he never will be again, and it's all your fault. You should have been faster! You'd do anything to have saved him, to have been on time and gotten to him fast enough. You'd do anything to see him smile at you and just grin at you, watching you like he knows something you don't. And knowing him, yes, he probably did know a lot that you didn't, or at least didn't want to admit to aloud. You just, you just want him back so much.

"As you wish…" Beside you, you feel something, something dark and cold shift. It touches and moves across you like a breeze. You can't help but shiver. You pull away from the arms that were holding you and bump into Ruby.

Ruby who was on her way to save you from Mr. Gold…and offer her condolences. You're not ready for condolences. You don't really deserve condolences. You've only known Henry for a month. Regina has raised him for ten years. You only gave birth to Henry, but Regina gave him a life and loved him while you couldn't. You don't deserve condolences and you just don't want them because it's not fair. And it's not real. It's not. This is all just one big bad dream and you're going to wake up any minute now to Graham scolding you for falling asleep on the job. Yes, you will, it's all a dream. One big nasty nightmarish dream. Henry is fine. He's probably at school learning some neat little fact that you were probably never even taught.

Except…it's not a dream. It's not a dream because even in a nightmare you could never feel this kind of pain. It's like your whole person just wants to split in two, right down the middle. Starting from your stomach to your heart and then upward and downward. It doesn't matter which way first, because you just want to stop existing. You want to go back to a month ago when you didn't even know Henry's name and you could have gone on living the life you had been living for 28 years. Except…now you know that wasn't living. That was just existing, and you don't even want to do that anymore.

"Why are you smiling?" You ask him, how could he be smiling? Suddenly you're not depressed or sorrowful, you're just angry. So angry that you practically see red as you throw yourself at Mr. Gold. You grab him around the collar and pull him close to you before throwing him away too disgusted to have him so up close and personal in your face.

"WHY ARE YOU SMILING! You sick son of a bitch…why are you…why are you grinning like that! No…no get off me…get off me…" You pull and yank and throw a god damn fit as strong arms wrap around your mid-section and pull you off of Mr. Gold. You kick and scream and claw at the very air around you until you're put down and Graham's face is in front of you and his hands are holding your shoulders.

"I know…I know…I'm…I'm sorry…" He says, his eyes downcast as he pants. It seems holding onto you as you rage wasn't an easy feet. "This, this isn't the place or the time, Emma. I'm sorry."

He keeps saying that he's sorry. He's sorry…what is he sorry for? Sorry that you had to just watch your son die? Sorry that you weren't fast enough in finding him? Sorry that he might have to arrest you for assaulting one of the most powerful men in this god forsaken town? What exactly is he sorry for? Because he couldn't be sorry that Henry was dead. He couldn't be sorry for that because…because…

"I…I…" Your tears are back. You wondered when they would be. They had taken a short break to allow you your show of anger, of rage, of frustration with the whole damn universe and why this world had to be so ridden with pain and death and unfairness.

"Henry? Oh my god…HENRY!" Your head twists so fast towards Regina's yell that you might actually have just given yourself whip lash.

You don't care, you can't care because there twenty feet away from you is Henry coughing and holding onto his mother's shirt tightly tears in his eyes. You can't hear the whisper, but you can read lips rather well and the fearful 'mom…' that leaves Henry's mouth as he is practically smothered by Regina is enough to make your legs give out.

Graham looks at you, once, twice, but then he's gone rushing over just like everyone else to see and make sure that they're eyes aren't tricking them. Henry is alright…he's alright.

Covering your face with your dirty hands, you cry into them, sobbing fully before wrapping your arms around yourself, rocking back and forth. Ruby is there, and you wonder if this means she really is your friend. Right now you're grateful for anything and everything she's offering. Which really consists of a shoulder and a gentle pat on your back as she just lets you cry. Telling you, what everyone now knows. "He's alright…he's alright…"

God, thank you, yes he is…but how?

You feel that shiver move through you once again and look up. Standing by the cordoned area is Mr. Gold leaning heavily on his walking cane, slowly turning to look at you. His eyes previously looking at Henry wrapped tightly in Regina's grasp even as the paramedics look over him, all shocked that he's fine. His levels are returning and any signs of the poisonous vapors he'd breathed in will have to be monitored to look for side effects. But he's alright, he's alive, and that's all that matters. That's all you wanted. All you'd asked for.

You watch, suspicious, as Mr. Gold looks directly into you as if seeing right through you, right into your soul. He dips his head, smiles and then turns his back leaving you to your breakdown.

Later on that night, with four beers sitting nicely in your stomach and the alcohol helping stem off your tears, you wonder. You can't help it. Henry is safe and sound in his bed at home with Regina. There was no offer for you to stay around and make sure he was alright besides helping tuck him in. You'd taken what you could get and you were grateful for it. How could you not be? Henry is alive and well and Regina was looking over him like a hawk afraid to take her eyes off of him, lest she, they, lose him again.

Mary Margaret went to bed. The dear friend that she is, she sat up with you until nearly three AM and let you rant and talk and divulge secret after secret—something you've never done before but felt you needed to more than ever tonight. You talked about Henry's father and the sham that affair had been, and how you hadn't even told him about Henry. Mary Margaret listened without condemning you for your choices or even thinking less of you for having an affair with a married man while you were only 17. She just sat beside you, and when you did cry, because you seemed to be doing that a lot today, she held you and you felt safe and secure in her arms. Something you hadn't felt in a long time, and after the day you had? You needed it. So you thanked her and let her go to bed. She had work in the morning after all.

Now though, as you sit alone staring at the empty beer bottles littering the coffee table in front of you, and are comfortable with the knowledge that Henry is safe and sound in his own bed being looked after by Regina, you wonder why it is you feel like you owe Mr. Gold far more than an apology come tomorrow morning.

The End

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