Work Header

Navigational Error

Work Text:

They're tromping through the woods in silence, trying to put a decent distance between themselves and the beanstalk before anyone has a chance to follow them.

It's not the most comfortable silence ever.

Mary Margaret's aiming an air of outrage at Mulan for almost cutting down the beanstalk while Emma was still up there, and radiating fierceness with a side of hurt at Emma for asking her to. Mulan's got her whole stoic-warrior thing going on, but there's quiet indignation in the precision of her movements. Aurora's smart enough not to get in between them.

And yet Emma's grateful for the lack of small talk, anyway, because it means she doesn't have to talk about anything that happened, any--choices that she made--at the top of the beanstalk. She did what she had to do. All that matters is that she got the compass.

And all she has to worry about now are ogres and monsters and somehow finding and getting the drop on a crazy evil sorceress, all of which feels like a walk in the park by comparison.

Or--in the forest. Whatever.

She kind of hates this place.

The light's all but gone when they reach a small clearing that Mary Margaret and Mulan agree will make a good campsite, and while they're scouting for water and defensible positions (with a weird sort of competitiveness that seems to be about who can be more businesslike and efficient), Emma and Aurora start dragging together the frame for a lean-to shelter.

Emma's trying so hard not to think about--things that have been dealt with and don't need dwelling on--that she forgets herself for a moment and takes all the weight of one of the support logs on her left palm. She promptly drops it, narrowly missing her boot, and swears sharply as she tries to shake out the pain.

"What happened to your hand?" Aurora says, staring at the dark cloth wrapped around it.

"Oh," Emma says, dropping her hand to her side (she's not really hiding it, she's just--not making it the center of attention). "Uh, it's nothing."

But Mary Margaret's suddenly right there--maybe she can smell blood, too, or maybe it's that freaky hyper-vigilant mom thing she's got going on right now. "Let me see," she says, in a tone that means she's chosen this hill to make a stand on. But the words make Emma freeze for a second in eerie déjà vu.

Eventually, Emma holds out her hand, because she just doesn't have it in her to fight. She climbed a beanstalk today (twice!), almost got killed by a giant, had to deal with--other people--and now she's just... tired.

Mulan shows up as Mary Margaret finishes carefully unwrapping her hand, exposing the jagged cut, and while Mary Margaret grimaces in empathy, Mulan examines it more clinically. "Did Hook do that?"

"What? No," she says, a little sharply. She presses her other palm flat against her thigh. "No, it turns out giant magic beanstalks have sharp edges. Who knew."

"I may have something that can help," Mulan says, and starts digging around in that bag of hers.

Mary Margaret makes Emma sit down near the fire, even though it's her hand and not her legs, even though she did climb back down the beanstalk with that cut. It's so not a big deal.

But it seems to be a community project, now. Aurora brings a bowl of water and tears a strip off her already tattered cloak, and Mary Margaret starts to gently wipe away some of the dried blood.

"What did you clean this with?" she asks, almost too casually.

"Rum," Emma says, keeping her eyes down. Mary Margaret's hand stills, just for a second, and Emma knows she's thinking the same thing, that Emma damn sure hadn't been carrying booze on her.

"Ah. The pirate thing" pops into her head, unbidden, and she stares fiercely at the toes of her boots.

He would have done the same thing to her, if she'd given him the chance. She did what she had to do. All that matters is getting back to Henry.

She did what she had to do.

Mulan kneels in front of her, breaking her train of thought, a small jar with a broken wax seal in one ungloved hand. "This salve should help prevent infection."

It stings when she rubs it in, but Emma doesn't mind. The pain gives her something to focus on.

"There might be a scar," Mulan says, quietly. Emma shrugs with her unoccupied shoulder.

"Yeah, well," she says. Her right wrist itches, where she'd been wearing the magical cuff, and she rubs it against her jeans. "It won't be my first."

When everyone's done making a big damn deal over her and there's a new white bandage wrapped around her hand, she takes the wadded black cloth back from Mary Margaret and stuffs it in her other jacket pocket, opposite the compass. She feels Mary Margaret's eyes on her as she gets back to work, but doesn't look back, because there's really nothing to see here, and nothing anyone needs to talk about.

The salve works quickly; by morning, the cut's closed up, and it hardly bothers her at all after that.

If it twinges later when Aurora says, "I think he may care for you," well, that's no one's business but hers.