In the same light as the Rapunzel story I posted back in August, I’m fixing some of the plot mistakes, holes, or just bad story writing we were subjected to in Once Upon A Time. Yes, it’s my favorite show but there are flaws. Today, in particular always bothered– not having Killian and Milah meet in the Underworld. Killian/Captain Hook spent over a century avenging Milah’s death and in the last moments he never got to see her again and she was banished into the River of Lost Souls. None of that was right, in my opinion, so I fixed it.
As always, a lot of the dialogue was taken straight from the show – which I DO NOT OWN.
The Underworld: Milah’s Story
Red sun shone dimly through the curtain in Milah’s room; the alarm ringing out a moment later. It always happened that way. Purgatory, The Underworld… whatever one called it, constantly stripped one of the small joys of daily life away little by little, like sleeping for that extra minute in the morning.
Climbing from bed, the dirt floor under her feet was cold and gritty, uncomfortably lodging between her toes. That only meant one thing, it rained last night; not enough to flood the place, but just a bit softening the sturdy ground even inside. One of those drawbacks of being forced to live in the woods and not in the town setting nearby which compared to the year it was on the living earth, 2016.
Awful, vivid memories bombarded her all too well of the life she lived up there. She dwelled in the same rotting hovel, with the same dreary walls, and the same bleak outlook for the future. At least he wasn’t around. Rumpelstiltskin. Her cowardly ex-husband. The man who killed her. Hades was a cruel god, making her free from Rumple’s clutch, but still trapped. The least he could’ve done was to give her a view of the ocean like she had on the Jolly Roger for nearly a decade, but no. Hades took pride in keeping her miserable, as if he sided with that dark imp ex-husband of hers. All Milah ever wanted was peace from him and the life Rumple had sidled her with… was that too much to ask?
Tying her long, wavy hair in a thick ponytail, she dressed for work. She’d shower when she got to the bus company, for there they actually had hot, running water and a clean floor. Looking around the room, she sighed. None of the items inside were hers, even after living here for over one hundred years. Her world was forever incomplete and unsatisfying. She had no one and nothing. Those days when she was alive seemed like a dream, rather than a real life that had truly existed, especially those days she took her freedom and sailed away from Rumple.
“Killian,” she let herself say softly aloud, sitting at her small table, boiling water for breakfast.
Not often did she allowed herself to think about him and their time at sea together. It hurt too much to remember those gorgeous days full of sun, adventure, and yes, love. When she thought of Captain Killian Jones, though, Baelfire—her young son—crept into her mind alongside the roguish pirate. His precious little face, dirty with the day’s dust and whatever he ate from the forest, berries and the like; big brown eyes always greeted her smiling. He had no idea of the hell she’d gone through with his father, dealing with his whining and lack of help, which eventually led to Rumple weaseling into a deal where they couldn’t have any more children together.
Baelfire also never knew how torn she’d felt every single day she sailed the seas without him with the right man by her side. Killian would’ve been the perfect stepfather to him, so strong and bold, unafraid of authority. He might have been a pirate, but he wasn’t thieving scum. Rumple and his slimy, cowardly ways of getting out the right thing to do was crummier than a devious pirate any day.
She used to dream of Bae running toward her, searching for her, but no matter how loud she’d yell or how close she’d make it to him, they never could reach each other. More than dozens of times had she woken up in Killian’s arms screaming and crying for her little Baelfire.
“We’ll go back for him,” Killian would say. “We’ll take him in the night. No one will know.”
“But what if he hates me? What if that spineless, little man has poisoned him against me?”
Killian would kiss her forehead and guide her back to the warmth of his chest. “Shh, love. Let’s not think about that. Sleep now. We’ll make a better plan later.”
The day they finally had returned to Middle Mist, she and Killian had split up hoping Rumple would hear of the pirate’s arrival and head for the docks, so Milah could make her way to Baelfire. Their plan had worked, Rumple was gone, but so was Bae; the hovel was empty. The same dirty home she lived in now in the damned Underworld.
From the fire, Milah pulled her now hot kettle and mixed the steaming water with the packaged oats she’d bought the day before. The grains, water, and powdered milk coagulated together making a thick gruel in her bowl. She pushed it around the ceramic into a ball and choked down the bite, and contemplated the same things she mulled over every single day: where was Baelfire? How can she make amends with him? How can she get out of this place? Then again, she deserved her fate. She abandoned her child and came back for him too late. Had he gone to the Ogre’s War? Or was he dead from some kind of plague? He was a curious child, often getting into trouble when he should’ve been careful. Hell, maybe he’d he smartened up and left his wretched father too. Whatever the outcome of his life, Milah never knew it, never saw him in the Underworld… and probably never would. Her Bae was either lost to the fire or free to the light, or somewhere in this purgatory, hidden from her.
Frustrated like she always was, she stood and tossed her bowl in the basin, oatmeal and spoon included. She had to go. Slipping on her on her coat and scarf, she stepped outside and immediately was overcome by a heavy oppression weighing down the air. Oh no, she thought, that magical force only happened when the worst of the worst joined the realm, and lately that’s happened far too often. But this feeling was different; it was as if doom settled a heavy cloak of lead across her shoulders. She shivered, turned, and locked the door.
An hour later, after arriving at work and leading the school children to their bus, she found the source of the oppression. Standing there across the street, dressed in a debonair suit and long wool coat was Rumpelstiltskin – and not the one she knew, cowardly and pathetic. No, this man was dark, frightful, and cunning – a version of that slimy creature he’d become the day she was killed. Strength—her mental strength—had to be resolute when dealing with this Rumple.
She set her jaw in a hard, crossing the street, leaving the children. “What do you want?”
As slick and sly as those conniving businessmen who’ve been through the realm from time to time, he replied, “I have an opportunity for you to go on a romantic adventure to save the man you once loved.”
Add delusional to that list of qualities, she thought, and sneered. “You?”
Rumple grinned. “I’m talking about Killian Jones.”
No, she gasped to herself. Killian couldn’t be dead. If he’d lasted this long alive with the waters of Neverland running through his veins, then something dreadful must’ve happened to end his previous life. She swallowed the hard lump in her throat. “Killian? He’s here?”
Rumple’s left brow twitched toward his hairline. “He’s receiving some special attention from Hades. I need to retrieve him.”
Too many thoughts ran through her mind. If Killian was here, maybe Baelfire was finally here as well. And if that was so, then this was her chance to leave. She could see Killian one more time and apologize to Bae like she had wanted to for over a century. Her whole world was about to change and yet that heavy cloak felt no less lead-like. It was fear… fear of change. “I-I’m supposed to watch the kids,” she blurted out, not knowing how else to get out of his proposition.
“Well, they’re dead anyway,” he retorted, not allowing her to back away. “It’s quite simple really. Can you stand helping me, if it allows you to save him?”
Milah glared. He was still pathetic. “Fine. What do I have to do?”
Gesturing a path in front of him, Rumple said, “Follow me and I’ll explain. We’ll be meeting the third member of our party in just a moment.”
Third party? For Killian? The captain she once knew didn’t have many friends, especially not anyone who’d risk rescuing him from the Lord of Death. Killian Jones was a commanding pirate above deck and a quiet lover below with her. Only then would he reflect on a brother and mother he’d lost in the past, but that was it. Perhaps it was one of them searching for him. No, that couldn’t be it. They would’ve sought him out before now.
“Did he find another love?” she had to ask. Another woman who loved him like she once did could be the answer. Her heart clenched at the thought.
“You really think he held a flame for you all this time?” Rumple taunted.
“Of course not. I’ve been dead for over a century. I’d hope he’d found someone to love him.”
Rumple gave a long, slow eye roll in reply. “How heart-warming. Well, my dear, Milah, your wish has come true, for he has and wait ‘til you meet her.”
Sweeping his arm, Rumple motioned toward a woman walking their way. Blonde, beautiful, and quite young, she was not what Milah was expecting to be the newest love in Killian’s life. “Her?”
Rumple’s lips spread into a cad grin. “Yes, her. Come, let me introduce you.”
The woman stopped in front of him, familiar with Rumple as well, but showed no signs of recognition of Milah. Had this woman never heard of her? That seemed unusual. If she were Killian’s love, wouldn’t he have mentioned her in one way or another, Milah wondered.
“Miss Swan, there’s someone I’d like you to meet,” Rumple said to the blonde. “This is Milah, my ex-wife… and Hook’s ex also. She’s also Baelfire’s mother, of course.” Milah’s felt her eyes twitch the more the woman’s jaw slacked open with each of Rumple’s details.
One look at Rumple and Milah saw the smug joy he was getting at humiliating not just the woman but her as well. Her eyes were wide and embarrassed even. But why? Milah had no clue.
Rumple faced her, continuing. “Emma knew him as Neal. They had a torrid affair, which resulted in a scandalous teenage pregnancy… in prison.”
Oh. That’s why.
“Yeah, well—,” Emma began, but Milah had had enough.
It was one thing to be in love with Killian but Baelfire. Her innocent, sweet, darling Baelfire tarnished by a woman young enough to be her three times great-granddaughter. “So you’ve been with my former lover and my son? Is that right?”
Emma’s stunned expression was enough to gain her a touch of sympathy. To Milah, it was obvious she’d never put the relations together. “Huh?” she uttered.
Barging back into the conversation, Rumple and his controlled grin, lavishing in both of their degradation, said, “I’m sure we’re all going to laugh ourselves sick about this one day. I suggest you follow me before this gets even more awkward.”
Awkward was an understatement; one could cut the stagnant air between them with a dull sword. Despite the feeling, both Milah and Emma fell into line behind a sniggering Rumple.
They arrived at a large, blue house outside of the downtown area in relative silence. It wasn’t until they reached a white picket fence did Emma reveal that this was, in fact, her house. “The way in is here? So, the gates of hell are in my house?”
“As was the stone of Excalibur. Let’s just say the pirate has a knack for real estate, targeting hidden value,” Rumple quipped.
Doing her best not to allow jealousy to consume her, Milah chose to be the bigger person. Instead, she doted on the fact that Killian had found a lifetime kind of love with this Emma, especially since she picked up that he had bought the house for her. Milah couldn’t get him to leave his ship, nor did she ever try. She loved the sea as much as he did. But for this woman, he’d left his boat for a house on a plot of land. Yes, that was a lifetime love if she’d ever seen one.
Inside, they paused.
“Basement door?” Emma asked, before a latched portal under a narrow staircase.
“Basement door,” Rumple repeated in reply.
Emma opened the door and reached into the empty space in front of her. A burst of magic repelled her touch immediately. “It’s a barrier alright.” She nodded toward Milah. “So what is she going to do?”
“Joining hands will be fine,” Rumple said, and reached for Milah’s hand.
Frightened and unsure of what was beyond this barrier, Milah took his small, cold hand.
He squeezed. “You first. I can extend the aura around us, making the living undetected.”
“Are you sure this will work?”
Rumple cocked an eyebrow of disdain. “Do you doubt the Dark One’s magic?”
“No,” Milah said, defiantly. “I doubt the word of a coward that he’s actually here to find, not fight, a man he couldn’t defeat over a hundred years ago.”
“The pirate and I have had our differences, but this isn’t one of them. We get him, and I get to go home to the wife I love and cherish, so let’s go.”
Emma stretched her arm taking Rumple’s opposite hand. “I’m willing to trust him this time, if you are?” she asked Milah. “I’ll protect you. I promise. You have my word.”
Kind green eyes stared into hers. This woman was a stranger to Milah, but she trusted her far more than she did her ex-husband. Milah nodded. “Thank you,” she said, and started for the door descending into the bowels of the Underworld.
“The spell’s gone,” Rumple announced when they could go no further below. “We’ll be able to pass through on our own now. Thank you, Milah. You can go back to protecting the dead children.”
Without so much as a good-bye, Milah was finished with him and turned on her heel to leave.
“Hang on,” Emma said, halting her. “Milah, we couldn’t have gotten this far without you. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She didn’t know what else to say to this woman. The one who took her place as a companion both of her loves – maternal and romantic.
“And there’s something you should know,” Emma continued. “Your son, Neal – Baelfire, when I was on my way down here on the river, I had a sort of vision of him. He talked to me.”
“Baelfire?” Milah delighted at his name. “What did he say?” she asked, her eyes filling with tears. After all these years, finally she had word of her son.
A quick glance at the man who sired that son, she saw a sneer across his face, as if angered at the thought that Emma hadn’t bothered to share this with him before now.
Emma shot a glare in his direction, she too sensing his disdain. “I owe you nothing for what you did,” she snarled, then faced Milah once again. “He said, he’d moved on and that he was happy. Whatever he had to resolve… he did it.”
Pride threatened to burst her unbeating heart. “Thank you,” Milah gushed. “Thank you so much.” Emma owed her nothing—nothing at all, yet she’d given her the best gift she could’ve ever received. Her beautiful son had moved on without unresolved hate toward her. A weight like that of a two-ton boulder left her shoulder. Tears spilled onto her cheeks. She was free. Free to leave and finally join him, her Baelfire. She could feel it.
Not yet, Milah decided, studying the determination on Emma’s face.
“I hear water this way,” she said.
“That would be the River of Lost Souls,” Milah supplied for her. “We can take it to where Hades will have Killian,” she slipped in there.
“I’m sorry, we can take it?” Rumple interrupted. “If you think we can get the pirate back, I doubt he’ll swap the blonde for the dead woman.”
“You might be The Dark One, but you are still an idiot, Rumple,” Milah insulted, rolling her eyes. Put in his place, she turned to Emma. “I have my reasons. Let me come with you.”
A smile bloomed on the young woman’s face. “Okay.”
The boat ride was a silent one, three people on their own mission toward the man who linked them all—Killian Jones. When Milah said she had her reasons, she meant it. Emma had told her she would protect her from Rumple’s tricks, but who would save Emma? She was needed for Killian, and since the doorway to Olympus wasn’t opened the moment Emma granted Milah’s reprieve for Baelfire, she knew then what the last bit of duty she had to fulfill—deliver love to Killian. She couldn’t physically give him the love they once shared, but she could bring him the love he was destined to have. She owed him for giving her exactly that when all her hope was lost while she was alive.
“Here,” Emma said, gliding the boat into a narrow slip. “This is it. He’s down here. I can feel it.” She hopped onto solid ground, wasting not a moment for the boat to stop, and Milah smiled. Emma loved her Killian even more than her own safety on an unsteady boat floating atop a poisoned river. Seeing her so determined, Milah remained in the boat, staring down the devious man she once called husband.
And like she suspected, Rumple called after Emma. “I’m not leaving the boat. It’s too valuable, especially if I’m to get to Belle by nightfall. You’re quite capable of getting the pirate on your own, I’m sure.”
A sickening feeling in Milah’s gut clenched tighter than it had the moment she first saw Rumple across the street an hour ago. No, she did not trust him at all. “If he’s not moving, I’m not either.” As much as she’d love to set eyes on the man she once loved so much, he was no longer hers. “If Rumple tries anything, I’ll give a shout.”
Dragging his eyes to the cavern’s ceiling, Rumple added, “And don’t even think of using magic. Hades would notice anything this close to his home base.”
Emma nodded and took off in a run through the archway that read ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER.
“I was serious, you know?” Rumple said turning slowly around to face her.
“I beg your pardon?”
“The pirate doesn’t love you anymore. He gave up the idea of you, the moment he met her.” He tipped his head in the direction of Emma’s path. “So if he’s your unfinished business, then you’re stuck here.”
A scowl set on her face. “Killian was never my unfinished business. It was Baelfire.”
“I’m not buying it,” he chuckled. “If it were, then why didn’t you disappear after Miss Swan gave you his news?”
Rolling her eyes, she gave into his persistence. “I could have. I felt the absolution of guilt leave me, but I stayed on because I don’t trust you with Emma.”
“Me? Not the pirate?”
He was hopeless. “No! For the last damn time, I have nothing left of Killian in my heart. What is there, is a debt of gratitude for the freedom he gave me. Without him, I was stuck in a hellish future with you. So what I’m here for is to give him what he deserves… a chance with Emma. And I will protect that with all my being.”
“As well you should, as cunning a minion of mine that he is.” Hades’ voice echoed in the hollowed cave.
“EMM—” A surge of magic and Milah was struck dumb and frozen. Rumple was taken—gone from her sight in a flash of blue. The water flowed, the boat bobbed; the bats, high above, flapped their wings leaping from crevice to crevice, still she couldn’t move—not even blink. Where were they? Rumple and Hades she meant. Hell or Emma and Killian.
Fear settled in her core, when suddenly she felt her muscles loosen and Rumple reappeared. Milah leapt to the stone dock. “What was that?”
“Nothing you need worry about.” He smirked and raised his hand, cupping it and rotating it sideways as if he were going to encircle those long fingers around her neck.
“What are you doing?”
He moved closer.
Bargaining was useless.
“EMMA!” she finally yelled.
Rumple’s magical grasp, clutched Milah’s neck, cutting off the air from entering her lungs. She scratched at the invisible grip, beating on the force holding her breathless. Her vision darkened, the pressure built in her head.
“Stop!” Emma’s voice bounced off the cave’s walls, followed by a whoosh of hot air. Rumple’s magic countered by hers.
Milah fell to the stone floor with a thud. She sucked in precious air, as her vision slowly returned in the shape of a man she’d only seen in her dreams.
“Milah, are you all right, love?” his deep, velvety voice asked.
She blinked and reached up, touching the bloodied face of her Killian. He was here, in front of her—beaten, but handsome nonetheless. “Killian,” she whispered.
“Aye, love. It’s good to see you again.” He smiled. Tears fell from her eyes.
From behind him, she heard Rumple continuing his fight with Emma. “Stay out of this, Miss Swan. This is between me and Milah.”
“Emma?” Milah questioned to Killian.
“She’s got this, don’t worry.”
“I’m not. She’s strong, just like you. She’s perfect for you,” Milah had to say it. Despite the two magical beings going against each other, none of this situation looked promising for her. Rumple was too powerful, especially with Hades on his side, something Emma knew nothing about. Milah had to say her piece now. “I loved you Killian, back then… but she loves you now and forever.”
He nodded tightly, overcome by the acknowledgement. His one good eye, glossing over with the sheen of an unshed tear. “I know.”
“I won’t let you hurt her,” Emma shouted to Rumple, an undeniable strength behind her voice.
Helping Milah to stand, Killian locked his arm around her waist. “And neither will I.”
“Well, isn’t this a happy reunion?” Rumple was surrounded. His angry face red and lined with the dark creases of a caged animal. “And one that will never continue.”
He spun and shot a whip of magic into Milah’s chest. She flew from Killian’s grasp, rushed backward in a crashing hit.
“No!” Killian shouted, scrambling and reaching for her with the tips of his fingers.
She struggled to keep hold. “It’s okay. Go. Get out of here,” she said and let go, with the image of Killian running to Emma’s side as she hit the water.
From the moment she sank into the river, lost souls enveloped her, taking her lower and deeper into the water. Despite wanting to panic, a calm took her over. After centuries of guilt for Baelfire and longing to see Killian one last time, she was finally free. Peace warmed her. No fear filled her. She trusted the peace inside.
A light suddenly came over her the further she sank, and what was below her feet became a swirling vortex of rushing water. What was happening?
Caught in the whirlpool, she was sucked through to the other side. She was dry over here, her clothes were the ones she was buried in; her hair in rich spirals, cascading down her shoulders over her white peasant dress. Looking to her feet, they were bare as she watched the muddy bottom of the river dissolve into a field of grass.
Lifting her head, she found herself in the middle of a field on a bright, and warm summer’s day. Wheat surrounded her and not too far in the distance between two towering cliffs, was the ocean, crashing blue waves and all.
“Mama?” A rich man’s voice came from her left.
Milah spun toward the sound, finding a tall and handsome, brown eyed man, complete with a cropped beard, and white, toothy smile. She knew those eyes; knew that smile. “Baelfire?”
He nodded. “Yep, it’s me. I heard you. I saw your selfless deed. I asked Zeus to save you.”
“Oh Bae,” she gushed, and threw her arms around her son’s neck. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Mama,” he replied with glee.
Milah leaned back, cupping his face in her hands. “Forgive me for leaving you when you were so young and helpless.”
Gathering her hands in his, he kissed them both. “Mama, I forgave you a long time ago.”
And he had, she felt the peace, felt the love exuding from him. From a lifetime of death without him, she finally had what she’d always wanted: a world without Rumple, and a love in her life she could trust and share for the rest of eternity.