Before the First Curse
One day, while out cutting wood, he suddenly disappears, kidnapped by The Evil Queen. She tells him that his children refused to live with her, and asks him why. He tells her that they are a family, and family will always find one another. She lets him go, telling him that they can be a family if they can find each other. However, the Evil Queen makes it so no matter how long or hard the Woodcutter searches for his children, he will not find them.
During the First Curse
During the Curse, twelve year old twins Ava and Nicholas Zimmer are caught with Henry Mills attempting to shoplift from the Dark Star Pharmacy. Sheriff Emma Swan takes them home, only to discover that they have been living on their own since their mother, Dory, died. Emma vows to find their father, and promises that they will not be separated. However, shortly afterward, Mayor Regina Mills informs her that she needs to take the children to Boston, where they will be placed in separate children's homes, as all the homes in Maine are full. After realizing the twins possess a compass owned by their father, Emma takes it to Mr. Gold at shop, and learns that Michael Tillman is the man he bought it from.
Emma confronts Michael about being the father of the twins. He tells her that he does not have kids. Emma presses him, telling him that he has two children who have been living in an abandoned house, and he needs to take responsibility for them.
Michael tells Emma that he can barely manage the garage and there is no proof the twins are his. Emma shows him the compass, but it is not enough. He says that he knows nothing about being a dad and he cannot give them a good home.
Later, a distraught breaks the news to Ava and Nicholas. On her way out of Storybrooke with them, her vehicle breaks down and she calls a mechanic; Michael. He arrives and points out that there is nothing wrong with Emma's car. Emma expresses that she thought he should at least see the children before she takes them away. Michael gazes at his children, and agrees to take them, saying he will "try to be a dad."
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