In my Once Upon A Time Fanfiction, Pandora’s Pain, Pandora has come to Storybrooke in search of a certain box…
Along the way, she sends everyone back to a dark time in their lives, scattering them all over, taking away memories, and wreaking havoc all around.
In this scene, Killian Jones finds himself transported to Neverland, and manages to enlist the aid of a very familiar mermaid in his quest to return to Emma…
Killian started awake, rolling to his feet to face the danger and nearly sank his hook into Ariel. She fell backwards into the sand and he reached down to help her to her feet.
“Apologies, lass,” he said. “This place sets me on edge.”
Ariel nodded, brushing herself off. “That’s understandable. Have you seen anyone?”
Killian shook his head. “No, I’m quite alone. Did you make it to Storybrooke? How is Emma?”
Ariel’s mouth set in a grim line. “You’d better sit down.”
“Is she all right?” He looked at her beseechingly. “Please, Ariel – Is she all right?”
She plopped down on a log nearby. “How does it feel to wonder? To be eaten alive with worry?”
Killian’s jaw tightened. “I deserve that. But I still need to know. Please.”
She let out a sigh. “I don’t know.” She looked up at him. “I’m sorry, I really don’t. And neither does Henry.”
“Henry’s all right?” He asked, clearly relieved.
“He is, but there’s a lot that isn’t all right in Storybrooke. Henry took me to see Regina and they think they might know what’s happened – they just don’t know how it happened.”
Killian sat down. “Go on.”
“A strange woman has appeared in Storybrooke and moved into the place where Emma used to live with Snow and David. She’s taking care of Snow’s baby.”
“She calls herself Dora,” Ariel went on. “I got a glimpse of her, but she’s no one that I recognize, and so far, no one in town knows much about her. They don’t seem to care, either, because they’ve all resorted to their cursed memories.”
“They’ve been cursed again?” Killian asked, incredulously. “What about Emma?”
“That’s just it – they haven’t all been cursed. Some have disappeared. David has no memories at all, and Snow is under a sleeping curse. Regina is trapped in Marco’s house – he thinks he’s her husband – and she can’t get out. Some kind of magic is keeping her prisoner.”
“And Emma? What’s happened to Emma?” Killian’s hand curled into a fist as he fought the very real urge to shake the answer out of her, he wanted it so badly.
“When I told Regina where you were, she thought that confirmed her theory,” Ariel explained. “Somehow everyone in Storybrooke has been sent back to a time in their life when they were most troubled. For you, that’s Neverland. For Regina, it was trapped in a loveless marriage. For Henry, it was trapped in a town full of disbelievers when he knew the truth.”
“So that means that Emma is -”
“In prison. At least, Henry is pretty sure that’s where she’d be.”
Killian got to his feet pacing with agitation. “I’ve got to get off this accursed island!” he turned to look at Ariel. “Can you swim me to Storybrooke? Above the water?”
She shook her head. “No. The barrier is too far down in the depths. Even if you could survive the crushing pressure, you’d drown before I could get you through.”
“There’s got to be a way. A ship, perhaps? Something!”
Ariel got to her feet, reaching down for the pouch slung across her body. “I think I have something. A friend knew I was looking for Eric, but I’d already found him when she brought it to me. I think it might help you.” She opened the pouch, digging inside, and pulled out a beautiful shell. It was brilliant, iridescent blue on the inside and so smooth it looked like glass. Killian took it from her, turning it over in his fingers.
“I don’t understand.”
“The shell holds a wishing star,” she said. “Sometimes they fall to earth. This one fell in the sea.”
“A wishing star!” He broke into a wide grin, scooping her up and twirling her around. “Ariel, I could kiss you!”
She stepped back, smiling and raising a brow. “Save the kisses for Emma. I’ve got a man already.”
Killian’s eyes softened. “And he’s lucky to have you. You’re a far better soul than I am, Ariel.” His eyes widened, and his mouth turned down in a grimace. “And that’s why this will never work,” he said, handing the shell back to her. “Thank you anyway.”
“What do you mean?” She looked at him in confusion.
“A wishing star will only work if you have a pure heart,” Killian said. “Suffice it to say, I don’t meet the requirement – as you are well aware.”
She gave him a begrudging smile. “Maybe not,” she agreed. “But I might qualify. I can try to wish you to wherever Emma is.”
“You’d do that for me?”
“I’d do it to help Snow and Belle,” she said. “And for you, too. I think everyone deserves a second chance.”
“Thank you, Ariel. I don’t know if I can ever repay this. If you ever need anything from me, ever again…”
Ariel’s lip twitched. “Don’t go making rash promises, Captain. It’s not your style.” She held the shell up in front of her face and closed her eyes. “Hook,” she said. “I wish you could be wherever Emma is.”
And when she opened her eyes, he was gone.
Emma pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, then reached up in exasperation, pulling out her hair tie and fixing her ponytail again.
“Swan! No daydreaming!” The guard called out.
Emma gave him a dark look, then reached back inside the oven, scrubbing with the sponge before dunking it in the bucket of soapy water next to her.
“I’m pretty much done here,” she said. “You want to come check?”
The guard started to walk over when a ringing sound interrupted him, signaling the opening of the unit door. The female guard walked in, followed by someone in stained coveralls, and it was good thing the first guard had turned away because Emma suddenly squeezed every bit of water out of the sponge, splattering it all over the open oven door. From under the brim of a stained baseball cap with the logo of a local service company on it, bright blue eyes met hers…