In my Once Upon A Time fanfic, Mr. Jones, Killian Jones finds himself alone in a strange place, with no memory of his former life. When Emma makes it her mission to find him, she’ll have some convincing to do–and a big, big secret to reveal. In this opening chapter, we get a feel for what Killian’s new life is all about . . .
Killian Jones was not having a good day.
He stared up at the darkening sky from the bottom of the canyon, then back at the line of boys trailing behind him.
“Look alive!” he shouted, and their three heads came up in unison. Jack, the eldest, circled back as Will – who was right behind him – quickened his pace. Killian could hear Jack encouraging John, who was youngest, but John was having none of it.
“-dragging us out here when it’s a hundred degrees outside,” young John grumbled. “I hate hiking.”
“Come on,” Jack cajoled. “We used to hike with Dad, remember?”
“He’s not Dad.”
“No, he’s not,” Jack said tiredly. “But we’re gonna be out here all night if you don’t get a move on.”
Will made a rude noise from up ahead. “One night in the desert is enough for me with this clown.”
“Hey!” Killian called out sharply. “That’s enough lollygagging. Those are storm clouds overhead.” He pointed up, above the ridge. “We don’t want to be caught on the canyon floor when the rain hits.”
“It’s desert,” Will pointed out. “It would have to rain for ten hours before the ground would even get wet enough to make mud.”
“My point exactly,” Killian said, putting his hand on his hip as he surveyed the terrain. “The water will run first, and with great force and speed. A flash flood will take you down before you even know it’s upon you. Let’s get higher and find shelter before that occurs, shall we?”
“All the way up there?” John asked, looking up at the wall of rock in dismay.
“Come on butterball,” Will said snidely. “I’ll give you a twinkie if you beat me to the top!”
“Will!” Jack’s voice carried a warning note. “Lay off.”
“You make me,” Will bit back. “You’re not the boss of me. Or anybody.”
“I can kick your ass easy enough,” Jack promised.
“Bring it!” Will stepped forward, swinging, but found his momentum arrested as Killian pulled him back by the shirt, hard, sending him sprawling into the dirt.
“Enough!” Killian roared. “All you three have done for the last three days is bicker and complain! You might try acting like brothers and seeing to each other’s welfare! We’re all in danger, and none of you are going to die on my watch! Is that clear?”
Will got up without a sound, dusting off his jeans and shaking his backpack into place. “Come on,” he said to John. “Follow me up. I’ll show you where to step.”
Jack watched them go with troubled eyes. “They do look out for each other,” he defended to Killian. “It’s just that sometimes-”
“Sometimes you behave like squabbling brothers,” Killian finished. “I know.”
“Do you have brothers?”
Killian shrugged. “I don’t know. I feel as though I’m familiar with the feeling. The rapport between all of you – it feels like I’ve had it before, somehow. I just don’t know.”
“It must suck, not having your memory.” Jack gave him a sympathetic look that made Killian grit his teeth. He’d seen far too much of that look in the six months since he’d walked into town.
“It sucks,” he agreed, shouldering his pack again, just as the raindrops started falling. “Let’s go.”
He moved in behind the boys as they scrambled up the side of the cliff wall, shouting out directions from below.
“John, your foot! Don’t grab with your hand until your foot is seated!” A small tumble of rocks slid down behind the boy as he regained his foothold.
“Will, help him!” Jack shouted.
“You help him! I can barely get a grip up here!” Will shouted back.
“To the left!” Killian called out. “That overhang – we need to get to it!” His words were drowned out by an enormous clap of thunder as the rain began to fall harder, pelting them until their skin was red from it. Will managed to pull himself up to the ledge, reaching down to yank John up next to him, then they ran for the shelter of the overhang. The cliff wall was slick, and pieces of it were crumbling to mud between the rocks.
“Careful, Jack!” Killian called. “Don’t grab for any rocks smaller than your head!”
“Got it!” Jack called back, but his sneaker slipped, sending him sliding backwards. Killian leaned right, anchoring himself with a booted foot against a large boulder as Jack crashed into him.
“Got you,” he panted. “Come on, let’s angle over here.”
He pushed the boy toward the safer path, and in just a few minutes, they were levering themselves over the ledge and racing for the overhang. The four of them stood beneath the large rock ledge, shivering with cold but no longer exposed to the elements.
“Holy shit!” Will said, leaning out a bit to look over the edge. “Do you see that? Holy shit!”
Killian and the other boys edged toward the rim, and Killian laid a cautionary hand on John’s shoulder. “Not so close, John,” he said. “Careful.”
The canyon below them ran several feet deep with roiling brown water, rushing with such force that smaller rocks were torn away from the walls, shearing off and slamming into the sides as the water took them away. An occasional scrub bush floated by, torn from its roots. There was no doubt what that water could have done to human flesh.
“Wow,” Jack said. “We would have been goners.”
“We wouldn’t have had to worry about it if we weren’t out here in the first place,” Will pointed out.
“Shut up,” Jack said, rolling his eyes and thoroughly annoyed.
“You saved our lives,” John said, looking up at Killian.
But Killian wasn’t listening. He hadn’t heard a word since he’d stepped closer and looked down. The sight of the water raging, the waves slapping the rocks, the feel of the spray as it hit his face. . . the pull was so strong, he nearly dove in.
He looked down at John’s concerned face. “It’s all right,” he said. “Sometimes I think I’m getting a memory, but it never comes.”
“Sucks to be you,” Jack said, punching his arm lightly.
Killian couldn’t help but chuckle. “That’s the way of it. Sucks to be me.”