Before the Curse
The Woodcutter hands over his compass to his daughter. ("True North")
In the woods, an axe is seen hacking away at a large tree. A woodcutter is seen repeatedly hitting the tree with his axe, and eventually the long tree starts to tumble and falls to the ground. The woodcutter comments that it's a fine specimen, and his daughter - the counterpart of Ava Zimmer - shows up behind him, as her father says that the wood the tree will provide will keep their family warm this coming winter. The girl wonders if she can have an axe, and her father looks at her with confusion. She then reminds him that he wanted her there so that she could help. The woodcutter admits that he did, and gives her a task: to take the cart and go fill it up with kindling, the drier, the better. The girl agrees, and her father tells her to have her brother (Nicholas' counterpart) accompany her. Before they head off, however, the woodcutter stops them. He heads over to them and removes the compass pendant he wears on his neck, putting it around his daughter's. She stares at it with wonder, and he tells her she can have it so that she doesn't get lost. "A family always needs to be able to find one another," he says. He then gives her a little pat and tells them to go, and the two young siblings head out into the woods. The father tells them to be safe, and they smile at him. He picks up his axe to get back to work, and looks on as they leave, sharing one last glance with his daughter.
Regina wonders why kids don't like her. ("True North")
Later, when the Evil Queen clutches her shining, poison apple as she stares into her Magic Mirror and witnesses Snow White walking through the forest with seven dwarfs, the royal guard behind Regina tells her that the prisoner she requested is here, and so the Queen tells him to bring him in before waving her hand and causing the image within her mirror to dissipate. The Woodcutter is then pushed into the room by two knights whilst Regina places her apple back into its box and the former begs to be let free as his children are in the forest that she took him from alone and could be in great danger. The Queen turns to him and tells him that she knows all about his children, commenting that the compass he gave "sweet, little Gretel" didn't help her find him. The Woodcutter demands to know what Regina has done to them, but when he approaches the Queen, he is dragged back by one of her guards. He asks her where his children are and she simply states, "Gone." She goes on to say that she told them he abandoned them, leaving nothing but a compass to find their way. "But I didn't bring you here to answer your questions, you're here to answer mine. I offered your children everything, whatever their hearts desired, and they still chose uncertainty because of their blind faith in you. Tell me why. Hmm? Why did your children refuse me?" Regina asks in desperation. The Woodcutter replies by telling her that his children and he are a family, and family always finds one another. The Queen turns away from him sadly before composing herself and telling her guard to release the prisoner. He appears surprised that Regina's letting him go and the knight begins to remove his handcuffs. "You can all be together," the Queen tells him after walking away and turning back to him, "As a family..." The Woodcutter's cuffs are removed and her witnesses Regina add, "As soon as you all find one another." He stares at the Queen who stares back intensely, seeming in great rage. ("True North")
After the Curse
Emma attempts to persuade Michael to step up and be a father. ("True North")
At a mechanic's workshop, Michael Tillman is seen staring at a file containing photos of Ava and Nicholas before handing it back to Sheriff Swan whilst shaking his head, stating that it's not possible that those two children are his. "Actually, it is," Emma says, but Michael tells the sheriff that Dory, the children's mother - "It was just once." He then turns back into his garage as Emma tells him that sometimes, that's all it takes, and Michael explains that he met Dory when he was camping and they had sex, but it's not possible that he's the father of twins. However, Emma assures him that he is and that these twins have been homeless ever since their mother passed away and living in an abandoned house because they don't want to be separated from each other. She goes on to say that they're about to be shipped off to Boston unless he steps up and takes responsibility for them. Michael, who's trying to continue work on a car, hurts himself accidentally before telling Emma that he can barely manage his garage, let alone two kids. He asks her why he's so sure they're his, before turning back to his work. "Besides the timing," Emma says, taking the compass from out of her jacket pocket and asking Michael if he's ever seen it. He turns to her, recognizing the compass, and approaches it, taking it out of Emma's hands. As he fondly inspects it, he states that he had lost it, and the blonde points out that that was twelve years and nine months ago. As the truth dawns on Michael, Emma tells him that she knows it's a lot, and recounts the time that Henry, the kid she had given up for adoption, showed up on her doorstep the previous month asking for help with something, and she ended up moving to Storybrooke for him. Michael tells Emma that he heard about that, knowing that Henry's the mayor's son, but points out that staying in town is a lot different than taking him in. "I don't have my kid," Emma says, "Because I don't have a choice. You do. Those kids did not ask to be brought into this world, you brought them into this world. You and their mother. And they need you. And if you choose not to take them, you are gonna have to answer for that every day of your life. And sooner or later, when they find you, because believe me, they will find you, you're gonna have to answer to them." Michael remains quiet, merely staring down at the compass in his hand, before telling Emma that he's really sorry and handing the heirloom back to her. She appears saddened as he tells her that he doesn't know anything about being a dad and walking away, assuring the sheriff that if it's a good home she's looking for, it's not with him. Emma closes her eyes tight with sorrow as she clutches the compass in her hand.
Michael reunites with his children. ("True North")
Later, when Emma is driving the kids out of Storybrooke, her car breaks down and she calls for help. The blonde is seen resting up against her sheriff's car with, which still contains Ava and Nicholas, with her cell phone in her hands. Inside the car, Ava notices something on her father's compass and tells Nicholas to look, and the boy moves his head to see the needle within the compass going haywire, before settling on pointing in the direction behind the two children, just as a car arrives from that very same direction. Emma approaches the truck as it pulls over beside her and Michael Tillman proceeds to step out. He looks over to Emma's car where Ava and Nicholas stare out at him and he realizes that they're his kids. Emma confirms this and Michael steps closer, asking if the blonde's car is actually fine. The sheriff admits that she just wanted him to see them. Just once. And she goes on to say that she didn't think she could do it either, explaining that she gave up Henry so that she could give him his best shot, and when she saw that he didn't have it, she couldn't leave. "I was just as scared, more probably, but once I saw him, got to know him... I couldn't go back," Emma states. Michael stares at her as his two children stare out at him, and he turns to them before approaching the car. He turns back to Emma, asking if she's taking them to Boston, but she tells him that she doesn't have to. Michael stares back at his twin kids as tears come to his eyes, and he tells Emma, "No. They don't." The sheriff, too, tears up as smiles as Michael walks up the the kids' window. Ava rolls it down and Emma watches happily with a large smile on her face whilst Michael kneels down to talk to his children. ("True North")