Warning: this one is sad, too. I’m sorry. Also, it’s based in Storybrooke before Emma’s arrival (which, of course means a great appearance from SHERIFF GRAHAM!!). I don’t feel like this one is as good as the first. It didn’t come as naturally. But still…I hope you enjoy it! :)
There was a strange commotion going on in sleepy Storybrooke. The town which had so neatly passed just over two decades in a hazy blur was experiencing a “minor incident,” as Sheriff Graham would call it in his official report. A lunatic had escaped from Storybrooke General and was causing a scene outside of the boarded-up library. A distressed Ruby had been the first to call it in, followed by an incredibly angry Regina, who had threatened him with all manner of tortures if he didn’t get the escaped loony back into the hospital before 8am.
Graham had reluctantly rolled out of his messy bed in his dingy apartment, threw his leather jacket over his rumpled t-shirt, pulled on his jeans, and slipped his badge and gun into his pocket. He headed out the door and down the street, not quite knowing what he would be getting into but not expecting anything really dangerous. It was just a crazy girl roaming the streets? Really, what could make that so bad?
When he rounded the corner to the clock tower, he saw the small early morning crowd loitering around, not quite knowing what to do but unable to walk away from such a rare spectacle. There was Ruby, toying nervously with her dark red highlights, and Ms. Blanchard, fidgeting with her ring, clutching the collar of her sweater fretfully. He pushed through the crowd, muttering “Step aside, sheriff’s office, move aside, nothing to see here, just go to Granny’s and get your morning coffee, that’s right, go on now.” The onlookers dispersed slowly, staring back over their shoulders as he approached the figure outside the library.
Sheriff Graham didn’t quite recognize the girl seated on the stoop of the library, toying with her matted brown curls, but he knew there was something very familiar about her. As if maybe he had seen around Storybrooke but never spoken with her, never taken the time to know her before whatever calamity befell her that led to her stay in the psych ward of Storybrooke General. But that couldn’t be possible. He knew everyone in town. Why, everyone knew everyone else in Storybrooke.
“Excuse me, ma’am, excuse me,” Graham said patiently as he padded towards the girl on the steps. “Could you tell me your name? How did you get here? Is there anyone I can call for you?” He was trying not to ask too many questions or startle the young woman, but he’d never had to bring in a lunatic before.
“My…my name?” the girl asked timidly. “I’m not quite sure. Names have power. My name is…it’s…hm. People keep telling me it’s Bonnie, but I’m not sure I believe them.”
“Okay, Bonnie,” Graham said as he inched forward a little bit more. “How did you get out here? What are you doing here? At the library?” He thought by asking her questions, he could distract her enough that he could move in, grab her, and get her as peacefully into the quickly-approaching ambulance he’d called in.
“Why, I’m the librarian!” “Bonnie” exclaimed as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “Now that I’m free, I wanted to come check on all of my books!” Her bright blue eyes were alight with some kind of joy tinged with a painful sadness. “Or at least I was…before…” she drifted off, her voice sounding confused and sad. “You should know who I am, Sheriff Graham, even though I have been gone an awfully long time.”
Again, Graham studied the face of the young woman dressed in nothing but a dirty hospital gown and yellowed socks. She looked so dreadfully familiar, but he knew not where he’d seen before. Yet, she knew his name. But…he’d been the sheriff for…well, as long as he or anyone else could remember. Everyone knew him as Sheriff Graham.
Just then, the mayor’s car pulled up, and Regina came onto the street with a fierce slam of the door. “Thank you, Sheriff, for making sure this patient didn’t come to any harm or cause any harm to anyone else. I’ll take it from here.” She moved forward, he heels clicking angrily on the asphalt. Her red lips were curled into a smile Graham recognized as her attempt to be charming while trying to hide that deep, violent anger she sometimes possessed.
“Madame Mayor, good morning,” he said, squatting near the mad girl now, who had started quivering with fear and mumbling quietly under her breath. “I was just speaking with Miss…Bonnie here. She seems to be quite distraught.”
“Well, Sheriff, she’s a sensitive individual,” Regina said with a voice like butter. Or blood. Smooth and honeyed and trying desperately to slide out of tight situation. “Now, please, I can handle this from here. You can go now.”
Graham hesitantly stood up and took a step away from the girl, who quickly grabbed his arm desperately. “Please don’t let her take me! Please. Not again. Not back to the dungeon. Please, anywhere but the dungeon!” She was sobbing now and rocking back and forth, her free hand running violently through her tangled curls.
“Now, look what you’ve done, Sheriff!” Regina cried, rushing forward and taking the girl’s hand off of his arm. The young woman struggled against her, but Regina held her arms firmly to her sides until she finally gave up and submitted. Regina’s eyes cut back to Graham, and her voice was filled with venom. “Now, please call ahead to the hospital, and inform them I’m coming with a very…delicate patient for Dr. Whale.” Graham stood still for a moment, unsure of what to make of the scene. “Do I need to repeat myself, Sheriff, or are you actually capable of following any orders this morning?”
Graham shook his head. “No, Madame Mayor, you don’t need to repeat yourself. I’ll call the hospital right now.” He hesitated. “But first…could you tell me if maybe you know her name? For the official report?”
Regina rolled her eyes. “Sheriff, I don’t pay you to keep accurate reports. Sweep this incident under the rug as much as possible, and never, ever speak of it again. For all intents and purposes, this girl does not exist beyond the hospital registrar. Do I make myself clear?”
Graham nodded, his brain spinning with confusion and curiosity and even fear. What was making this little insignificant incident so important to Regina? Who was this girl? Why did he need to cover it up? Graham wanted to ask, but after so long as sheriff, he knew never to question Regina in a time like this. He simply nodded and called the hospital.
Regina helped the mad woman into the backseat of her car briskly, despite several cries of protest from the girl. As she drove away, Regina’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel, her lips taut and blood red. The girl turned to the back window and waved sadly to Graham, who raised a hand vaguely to the girl who was called Bonnie but wasn’t even supposed to exist.
“You’re up early, Sheriff” said a familiar voice from behind Graham. Mr. Gold was standing just behind him now, leaning on his cane. “What seems to be the trouble?”
“Oh, uh, nothing, Mr. Gold,” Graham tried to cover, but he felt Gold’s penetrating stare barreling into him, trying to uncover his secrets. “Just…just a renegade mental patient. Nothing serious. It’s taken care of.” He felt like he’d said too much, but…what had he really said? What could an escapee from the loony bin really mean to Mr. Gold?
“Ah, I see,” Gold said with a nod. “Well, luckily, we have you and Madame Mayor to keep the streets of Storybrooke safe from lunatics.” Gold paused for a moment, wondering if he should press the issue further, try to extract more information from the hapless sheriff, but he decided against it. No need to rush his little games with Regina. They had all the time in the world. “Good day, Sheriff Graham.”
“Have a nice day, Mr. Gold,” Graham said. He walked off quickly, feeling like he needed a morning drink to get him ready for the day ahead. He didn’t know quite what made him feel so off-center. Maybe it was how the girl seemed so familiar yet he could not recall her at all. Maybe it was Regina’s reaction to the incident. Maybe it was just having to talk to creepy Mr. Gold. Regardless, Storybrooke was a small town, and trouble was rare, so the sheriff could afford a couple of drinks before 11am.
As the sheriff walked off, Gold took a moment to look around this central street Storybrooke. He took in the stationary clock face, the empty streets. He looked at the closed-up library. The place she had worked. The place where she had sat amongst the piles of books, happy as a clam. It was the only fragment of her in this world. Well, the library and the cup. Beyond that, it was like she didn’t even exist. Gold sighed and headed back towards the diner. It did not do to dwell on these memories. She was gone now, completely out of reach, even from someone as powerful as him.
Across town, in a dark cell, a girl with eyes like sapphires was pricked with another needle as she whispered the same name she always did as the drugs took over her body, “Rumpelstiltskin.” As the girl drifted back into oblivion, Regina told the orderlies to double the dosages of her medications. This girl was far too precious a pawn to risk her getting out again. Not until the time was right, at least.