The sun had risen high in the sky by the time the two got back to camp. Although it was still early in the day, Roland was tired. His eyes were heavy and every once in a while, Regina could catch his head droop like a bobble head doll.
"Come on, let's get you back so you can meet everyone else." Regina said in a small laugh, seeing his eyes blink a few times just to focus on her voice. She got a better hold on the four year old before hoisting him up with her, supporting his weight on her hip as she walked. As if on queue, Roland completely drifted off onto her shoulder.
Regina hoped she was going in the right direction; she only judged it by the little she remembered from her angry huff that got her there in the first place. Out of everything that was flooding through her mind during that time, finding a child was not one of them. She was somewhat impressed she had walked so far in such little time.
After a few minutes, they finally entered an area that was strikingly familiar- she knew that's where she left all the others just an hour or so before. Regina knew the reactions from everyone wouldn't be pretty.
She saw David first, he was with Hook and he seemed to be pretty happy with himself. He was subtly sticking something in his back pocket- pixie dust, maybe? Regina didn't care. As long as he wasn't dying the prince could have any secret relationship he wanted.
David averted his eyes towards her direction when he heard the sound of crunching leaves, but he didn't say anything. After double taking two or three times, both Hook and David came at her with questionable faces.
"Umm... Did I miss something, love? I thought Henry was twelve." Hook scratched his head, completely dumbfounded.
Regina found she was already tired of answering questions. She hated the attention. "I found him out in the woods by himself, he needs someone."
"Wait wait wait, so you just kidnapped a random child that was wandering out here?" David asked completely astonished. This was a new level of insane for her.Regina rolled her eyes. "No, I already told you, he was all alone."
"Where in the world did you get a kid?" Now it was Emma's turn to be surprised as she came to check out the commotion.
"He was hurt!"
"How do you know he's not a lost boy?"
"Are you kidding me, he's four years old!"
"You never know!"
"Guys why are we yelling?" Snow snapped, freezing in her place when she saw Regina.
"Uh, who's he?" Tinkerbell asked, following her closely behind.
"Look, he's asleep, quit yelling." Regina protested, walking past them irritably. Everyone that remained exchanged glances between one another. Nobody knew what to say exactly.
Emma turned to watch Regina lay the small boy down on her bed, watching in particular the look she had on her face. She was so calm, so peaceful- she hadn't seen her like this before. Nor wasn't sure about what could possibly come out of it. Regina tucked a small blanket around his body, keeping her eyes locked on him for a moment.Emma didn't want to tick her off any more than the rest of them apparently had, but she needed answers. She walked over towards the sleeping boy and took a seat down next to Regina.
"Look, I'm not mad at you or anything, you know that right?"
Regina laughed. "Well Miss Swan, that's sure a relief."
"Why did you run off during our discussion? You know none of us can go off by our selves around here, it's dangerous."
"If you want an honest answer," she began, "I left because for a moment, I gave up on everything. I thought there was no hope in getting Henry back. And because you guys get even more annoying when you're clueless- it's like taking a road trip with a bunch of farm animals."
Emma chuckled, though she knew she should be offended by her comment. Regina Mills was sure something else.
"So, he was just... There, alone, in the middle of nowhere?"
Regina nodded, taking the excuse to steal another sideways glance towards Roland. Completely conked out, he had his chin tucked into his body, his hair messy and disheveled- in other words, he looked absolutely adorable, Emma admitted to that.
"Well... I don't see any harm in keeping him here with us," Emma shrugged, "he's your problem though. I hope you realize that."
Regina smiled, tilting her head to the side. "I raised Henry, didn't I?"
She saw that one coming. There was no why she could insult her mother skills with that one hanging over her like a cloud. "Yeah yeah, just try getting more information out of him when he wakes up." Emma paused for a second before lighting up suddenly.
"Wait. Regina, did he say anything about meeting the Lost Boys?"
"Yeah, he said he ran away from them when the shadow dropped him off here."
"Do you think he remembers where they were at?" Her voice was getting excited now.
Regina knew the direction she was headed, and, quite frankly, it excited her too. "Maybe. Do you really think we would be able to find them before they move again?"
"If he saw them yesterday night, there's a high chance,"
"Does Tinkerbell have the whole portal thing worked out with the dust she got?"
Emma looked over her shoulder towards the blonde woman. "I'll have to ask her," she leaned in slightly, unable to keep a smile off her face. "Regina, this could be it. We could get Henry back soon. And it's all thanks to..." She drifted off, still not knowing the boy's name.
"Roland," Regina told her, "he's exactly what we needed."
They were both staring blankly into the darkness. Two sets hands gripped the hard iron railing, knuckles turning white with desperation.
He was gone.
Neal looked sadly towards the shaken father, a man who was once completely fearless and optimistic in his eyes just hours before.
"I'm- I'm sorry, Robin, I really thought it would work."
Robin didn't turn around when he spoke; he simply kept his eyes tilted upwards towards the bright star that had claimed his son. "But it didn't." His voice was hard as stone. "He's gone."
Neal hated the way he felt inside- awful. He shouldn't have made him use his boy for his own selfish reasons. "Maybe there's a way to make a portal back-"
"This is all your fault!" Robin hissed, spinning around to face him dead on. The expression on his face was indescribable; it was a mixture of pain, tears, and blazing anger. He raised his fist and he punched him hard, causing Neal to stumble back a few feet. He knew he wasn't going to fight back, he was right. He had caused all of this to happen.
Instead, he caught his arm before he could hit him again. "I'm sorry, alright? I didn't mean for this to happen. But my son's out there too, which means we both need to find a way back there. And if we work together, we can do that."
Robin gritted his teeth together, not wanting to accept the fact that he was right. He thought of his little boy, the only thing he had to remind him of his wife, out tree alone in Neverland, with absolutely nobody to take care of him like he did. What did he do to deserve all this?~*~
When he awoke, he could hear people talking nearby. He began to feel nervous- that wasn't Regina's voice. In fact, there were multiple voices he could hear. Roland's eyes fluttered open, adjusting to the intense sunlight. He could make out a man and a woman talking to one another about something. The man was wearing blue jeans and a navy t shirt with a holster while the woman wore a white jacket a dark colored boots. He didn't see Regina anywhere yet.
Slowly, he rolled himself into a sitting position and gazed around, still in a sleepy haze. Almost immediately after he did this, he got the attention he really didn't want.
"Oh look, the kid's awake!" The woman with the white jacket exclaimed, standing up and walking towards him. She was followed by many other unfamiliar faces, and soon, they were all staring at him like he was from another planet.
"Your name is Roland, right?" Emma asked first, putting a nice smile on her face. The boy, still sleepy, simply nodded shyly, eyes darting around at all the people he didn't know. There were lots of them.
"I'm Emma. And this is Hook, Tinkerbell, Snow..."
She began listing so many names to him he started to tune her out. By the time she was done, everyone was looking at him like they expected an answer from him. But it was he who needed answers.
"Where's Regina?" He asked in a small voice.
"Regina?" Emma repeated, "I have no idea. She left a few minutes ago. Probably went to the bathroom or something."
"Well if she has magic then why can't she just-"
"Snow!" David interjected, cutting his wife off.
"Just wondering," she grumbled, turning her attention back to the boy.
"Don't worry kid, she'll be back soon." Emma reassured, seeing the panicked look on his face. "In the meantime, why don't you tell us a little bit about what happened once you got on the island."
Roland didn't want to talk to these people, let alone answer their questions. "It was dark, the boys were older than me and really scary." He said, beginning to fiddle with his shirt sleeve.
"But you didn't see where you were?" Emma pressed, "no landmarks, nothing you can remember?"
Roland shook his head, feeling sick to his stomach. "No."
"Oh good, you woke up!" Came a familiar voice from behind, causing the boy to jump up to his feet and run towards her.
"Regina!" He shouted, hugging her legs, "you came back!"
Everyone else stared in shock as the lifeless lump of a boy turned into a bubbling ball of energy in a matter of seconds.
"Well of course I came back," Regina smiled, picking him up, "what've you been up to?"
"We, uh, just wanted to get to know him." Snow said, amazed in the expression that was on her stepmothers face- was that a genuine smile?
"Maybe you could ask him some questions?" Emma raised her eyebrows slightly, hoping she caught the innuendo. Regina rolled her eyes.
"Not with you people crowded around him like he's on display."
She flicked her hand toward the group. "Shoo."
Everyone slowly dispersed in every which way, leaving Roland and Regina alone after a few seconds. "I have to keep you around more often," she smiled, "they'll do whatever I say when I have you."
She tapped his nose playfully as he giggled. "They kept asking me things. I don't really like them." Roland muttered.
"Oh don't mind them, they're harmless." Regina answered, "they're just impatient is all. Do you want me to tell you why we need to know those answers?"
He nodded tentatively, and she began.
"Well, it's kind of a long story. But I have a son that's out here with those boys you saw, and we need to find him."
"You have another boy besides me?" Roland asked sadly, not believing his ears.
"Yes, but he's older than you,"
"Does he hug you like I do?" He squeezed her harder, causing Regina to laugh.
"He hasn't for a while. I miss his hugs." She said in all honestly, "but I like your hugs. They make me happy."
Roland smiled. He was glad he made her happy.
"Anyways, we have to find him so we can leave this island as fast as we can. You know the girl over there in the green dress? She found some pixie dust recently that can make a portal back to the enchanted forest."
"I want to get off this island. It's a scary place."
"So now that you know why we need to find the lost boys, is there anything you remember from last night?" Regina asked tentatively, watching his face scrunch up in thought.
"Well... There was this one thing," he started, "there was a huge tree trunk I saw, it was empty inside. One of them stuck their hand inside and then the clearing where they were at wasn't there anymore. I saw them do it when I was running away."
Regina tried thinking through what he was saying. A hollow in a tree... That's all they had to find. She should've guessed they had some form of magic. It all made sense.
"Thank you Roland, you have no idea how helpful that was."
He smiled, pleased with himself, and rested his head against her chest, listening to her steady heartbeat.
This moment, this simple moment, standing in the middle of a land filled with such misery and anguish, made her happier than she had felt in a very long time.
"Do you think your son will like me?" He asked quietly, slightly scared of the answer.
"I know he will. Henry will love having another boy to talk to."
That was, if they were able to rescue him.