Fic: Patchwork Sanctuary
I’ve had to delete and resubmit this three times now because the tags weren’t working. It’s driving me crazy! Anyway, this is part 2 of my Mad Swan series ‘Skeptics and True Believers’, and it follows on from ‘Like Bites of Poisoned Fruit’
(full chapter listing at my master list)
She lets him stay.
It was his smile that did it, when she said he could stay the night so long as he let her handcuff him to Mary Margaret’s bed, so he couldn’t get up and kill her in the middle of the night.
It’s the most stupid, dangerous, pointless thing she’s ever done, but she does it anyway.
She adds this to the list of reasons why she’s been spending too much time with Mary Margaret: she’s started collecting strays. Mary Margaret took her in, and then Ruby, and while Jefferson is indeed a potential psychopath who kidnapped them both and is convinced he’s the Mad Hatter, he’s also stuck in her apartment.
He leaves, and then he’s back at midnight, like clockwork.
They test it the second night: she drives him deep into the woods in her bug, and arrives back at 12:05. And there he is, stood in the living room, waiting for her.
Impossible. But empirically proven, and Emma trusts her own eyes if nothing else.
It makes sense for him to just stay there.
He seems calmer, at least, than he was when he kidnapped her. She keeps her eyes on him at all times when they’re at home, and her gun is always on her person. But his face seems lighter, less drawn and severe, and his smiles are a little less manic.
It is awkward, though, sitting and eating Chinese takeout with the man who drugged her and held a gun to her head. At least, when she goes to the door to collect the food, she knows that her carton is separate from his. He doesn’t touch a morsel that passes her lips: this is the rule.
“Why do you keep coming back?” she asks, on their second night in her home, swallowing a mouthful of kung-pao chicken.
“I don’t. I’m pulled back.” He eyes her for a moment, then sighs, as if he’s made a decision, “It’s magic, whether you like it or not.”
“No, you’re blacking out, or sleepwalking, or… I don’t know, being chloroformed and dragged back here every night without your knowledge.”
“And after all that, magic is the craziest option.”
He doesn’t mention Henry; she doesn’t talk about Paige. This is another rule.
He has to come with her to work.
Mary Margaret flinches, and hides at the back of her cell when he comes inside, “Hey, princess, how’s it hanging?”
“Emma…” she whimpers, looking at her friend with wide, panic-stricken eyes.
“Yeah, I know, he’s with me.” Emma breezes in, throws her jacket over the coat hanger and frowns at Jefferson.
He’s settled himself on the couch under the window, and propped his feet on the end, ankles crossed. He’s smiling, and it’s less manic than before, but it’s still almost a smirk and it’s still infuriating.
“I have work to do, and I don’t trust him at home.”
“One day, you’ll believe me when I say that I’m not going to drug you.”
“One day, I’ll spend twenty-four hours without your stupid face, but today is not that day.” She counters, and he just smiles at the ceiling.
“You’d miss me.”
“Like I’d miss a brain tumour.” She shoots back. Mary Margaret watches with fearful eyes and a pounding heart.
“Why is he here?”
“Princess, if I knew, I’d tell you. But I don’t.” he looks at her, meets her eyes, and the smile on his face is almost sane, almost normal. Emma’s a little bit impressed. “If it would help, I can apologise.” He jumps to his feet, and gives a low bow, “I am deeply sorry, Miss Blanchard, for any and all suffering caused.”
“You’re completely deranged.”
“For apologising to a distressed young woman? Chivalry was obviously murdered in its sleep.”
“For kidnapping two people and raving about magic and Wonderland!” Mary Margaret almost shouts back, “Stay the hell away from me!”
“Fine,” Jefferson raises his hands in surrender, “But you might want these.” He reaches into his coat pocket, pulls out a small photo frame with two pictures inside.
He stretches his hand through the bars; Emma watches as Mary Margaret grabs the pictures with vicious speed and throws herself to the back of her cell. “Where did you get these?”
“Emma is letting me sleep in your room. I thought you’d want them.”
“Emma?” she sounds so betrayed that Emma wants to kill herself.
“I’ll give you two a minute.” Jefferson smiles, and Emma wants to smack him as he walks off to the side, to browse around her office and steal one of her doughnuts.
When they’re alone, Emma approaches the bars, eyes wet and pleading, “He keeps arriving back at the apartment… and I believe that he doesn’t know why.”
“You believe him?” Mary Margaret gasps, incredulously, and she looks like she’s about to cry. Emma wants to destroy anyone who gives her friend that look, like she’s just watched a puppy get murdered; it’s the worst thing in the world to know that she’s the cause.
“The doors were locked, and then he was inside. I don’t know what happened, but I…” she took a deep, shuddering breath, “I think he’s innocent here.”
“He tried to kill us.”
“He’s alone, and he’s not well. He needs help, and if it’s not me, it’s going to be Regina, and is there anyone on Earth who you would wish that on?”
Mary Margaret’s looking at her like she’s crazy, but Emma knows her well, by now. There’s a little spark in her eyes, and it looks a little bit like pride.
He doesn’t miss home.
He can see it, from Emma’s office, while she tries to square her association with him with her knowledge of what he’s capable of. He watches her as she tries to convince Snow White to give the Mad Hatter a chance.
His house looms on the horizon, a dark, nightmarish chaos of dark stone atop the hill. If someone stood in his gallery, and looked through his telescope, they’d see his face, held in a mockery of curiosity and calm, staring right back at them.
It’s nice to be back in the world.
Everyone knows him in town, because Regina has done quite a number on this town’s collective memory. They think he’s an eccentric billionaire. They know nothing more, but their wild speculation is enough to answer most of their questions.
He can feel the curse tugging on the corners of his fractured mind.
It wants him to give in: to forget. His house had protected him from this, but out here, in this world of vicious, mocking half-truths and twisted lies, the urge to be Jeffery Capper is almost unbearable.
But Jeffery Capper is a bachelor; Jefferson is a widower.
Jeffery Capper is childless; Jefferson’s daughter’s face is forever burned and scarred into every facet of his mind.
He watches the women cry together, and sees the resemblance. Of course they’re mother and daughter. Of course they’re family. They’ve found each other, and yet neither one of them can even say the words.
And he hates them for it: at least they have the chance.
She calls the hospital.
Four days in, when it’s clear that Jefferson isn’t going anywhere and that something is seriously wrong, she calls the hospital.
She speaks for a while with Dr Whale, and describes the blackouts, the psychotic episodes, and the delusions. She needs her life back, needs some reassurance that she can trust the food in her fridge and go to work without hauling a madman with her.
She wants to help him.
Because he’s alone, and no one else is willing to step in. Because this town turns the weak and the desperate into pariahs, it judges on sight and lives in suspicion and fear. Emma receives every 911 call, every domestic disturbance report; she knows this town’s soul better than most who were born here.
And it’s rotten. There’s something poisonous, something wretched and ill festering at the heart of Storybrooke.
Dr Whale wants to lock Jefferson up for observation, put him in an asylum. He wants to transfer authority for his case to the mayor and have him sectioned.
But luckily, Emma gives no names, and couldn’t provide records for her charge anyway. She hangs up, a little disgusted, and is surprised at herself. Because Jefferson needs help, and she’s in no place to provide it: how can she think herself better qualified than a medical professional.
The answer is simple: Dr Whale is in Regina’s pocket. And while she doesn’t believe in Curses or Evil Queens, Emma’s been here long enough now to know that the Mayor brings suffering and trouble in her wake.
So she calls Dr Hopper, and asks him to make a housecall. He agrees to come over in five days, on his day off. The man is a saint.
She falls asleep on the sofa. Not in front of him, of course not: he’s been trapped in her home for a week now but she has no trust for him, not at all. She thinks he’s safely ensconced in Snow White’s room, fast asleep, dead to this world and all the screaming others.
She doesn’t know that he can get the handcuffs on and off easily enough: he was an escape artist in a past life. He comes to get a glass of water, and sees her sleeping. There’s an old movie playing on the television, an empty takeout container open on the coffee table, a cold cup of drinking chocolate abandoned on the floor.
She looks so different when she’s unconscious.
The planes of her face are softer, the lines less harsh. She looks more her age, more like a carefree young woman and less like a battle-scarred, war-torn old soldier. But she doesn’t look happy. Even in sleep, Emma Swan is sad, and lost, and alone.
She is Alice from their darkest moments. When she had no plan, and they had no hope, and the Knave of Hearts was played high on the table. When he’d turn to her in the hedge maze, and for just a moment he’d know that her straight face was just a pretence, and that her hot blood masked cold terror. When he was vanishing through that goddamn looking glass and she was watching him go, waving her family goodbye.
He figures Emma knows a little bit about that.
So he pulls the patchwork blanket over her sleeping form, and turns off the TV. He brushes her hair from her eyes, presses a kiss to her forehead as if she’s Grace, as if she’s his own flesh and blood.
Then he gets his glass of water, and tiptoes back to bed.
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