15. Chapter Fifteen
Emma’s little yellow Beetle came to a stop out front of the cemetery. Jefferson’s heart ached as he climbed out of his car and met her on the curb. She had eaten her greasy sandwich in the car, and thankfully only had the paper cup of remaining hot chocolate in her hands. He could smell the cinnamon from where he stood on the sidewalk beside her.
“You think she’s here?” he asked her, before saying anything else. She let out a sigh and slapped her hand to her side.
“I have a hunch,” she told him.
He decided to humor her. He motioned toward the gate, and she stepped forward. He was silent as he followed her through the rows of graves. She looked around, and he wasn’t quite sure what she was looking for since he hadn’t actually told her the name of his wife. But she must have seen something in the cup that led her to believe the roses were here.
Finally, she caught sight of something familiar and hurried through the trimmed green grass, carefully avoiding stepping on the stones of people who he wasn’t even sure existed in Storybrooke. She stopped before a grave. The stone itself had been lost behind a bush of thick tangled roses that had grown from the head of the grave.
“I’m not sure,” she said as she motioned toward the grave. “I thought I caught sight of Regina’s mausoleum in the cup. That’s why I brought you here.” Jefferson looked up, where Regina’s mausoleum could be seen across the graveyard, hidden in the shadows of trees.
“Roses don’t grow wild,” he said as he stepped forward and knelt before the roses. “They have to be tended to. Maintained.” She didn’t say anything as he pulled a knife out of his back pocket. “They’re the wrong color,” he told her, cutting a large white blossom from its stem and tossing it onto the grass. He did it to the next one, and the next, until he had pricked his fingers enough to make them bleed, but the name on the stone was now visible.
“Alice Liddel,” Emma read. “Is that—the Alice?” There was a rabbit carved into the stone. He reached out and pressed his thorn scratched hand against the carving, but didn’t answer her question.
“It’s not possible,” he said.
“You never said your wife was Alice. I know about Alice. The book at least.”
“That wasn’t Alice,” he told her. “Wasn’t me.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear that. Wasn’t she like ten?”
“Twenty, when we met. Seven and a half when she fell through the rabbit hole.”
“Mm. There’s always something they get wrong. Alice though. That’s a bit of a surprise. I don’t think Henry’s book said anything about Alice hooking up with the Mad Hatter.” He sent her a glare. He hated when people called him that. He wanted her to stop talking.
“It’s not possible,” he repeated as he stood back and looked at the grave. Aside from the name and the carved rabbit—there was nothing else. Nothing personal. Nothing that said she was both a wife and a mother. No birth or death date.
“Why not?” she asked him as she sipped her hot chocolate.
“She died—if she died—in Wonderland. If there were a body—it would still be in Wonderland.”
“Yeah, but Regina did trap you here. You were one of the only people who knew.”
He was glad to hear her say that. He had to admit, there were times when he did question his sanity during that curse. It was nice to hear it verbally confirmed every once in a while. Or at least that Emma no longer thought he was insane. Even though he hadn’t given her any reason to believe otherwise. The curse had nearly made that statement true.
“I didn’t know it was here. If she wanted to torture me with it, I would have known. She would have dangled it in front of me. Like she did with Grace.” She sipped her hot chocolate.
“Well, someone’s been tending to these roses. Like you said. They don’t grow naturally. And they’re all fully bloomed. Someone loves them.”
“You don’t think its Regina,” he stated.
“Actually, this time I don’t. I can’t say I know who it is. The only thing I can say for certain is that—it’s not Alice.”
“Alice isn’t here,” he told her. He could tell that she didn’t believe him.
“Maybe the cup only shows you something from the land you’re in. Maybe it can’t show you what’s in Wonderland because we’re not in Wonderland. So it showed you the closest thing this world has to Alice.” He shook his head.
“There are plenty of things in this world that are close to Alice. Grace, for starters. She shares her blood.”
“I still can’t believe she’s the daughter of Alice. Man, it’s going to take me years to get used to this.” He ignored it.
“Thank you, Sheriff Swan. I think I’ve got it from here.” She put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“I’m glad I could help. Even if it wasn’t exactly what you were looking for.” He gave her a quick nod and watched her walk down through the graves to her yellow Beetle. No, it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for. But it was something.