|Falling into Entropy
Author: WritingRum PM
He wants her to remember him. It's all about custody. Can they work it out together? Desperate Souls; Rating up. Mr Gold x Emma SwanRated: Fiction M - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold & Emma S. - Chapters: 16 - Words: 49,171 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 05-07-12 - Published: 03-07-12 - id: 7903183
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 2: Fragmentation
Protecting the Nest
Emma had barely paid attention to Gold's farewell, for her mind was on other things. She knew she should be ashamed that she couldn't remember the father, but somehow she found it didn't matter to her. If he was a person who was meant to stay in her life, he would've found a way to do so. But thus far? All men were MIA in her daily routine, and somehow...somehow that was just fine by her.
Arriving home very late (she'd taken a pit stop at Granny's Diner for a drink), Emma wearily threw her soaked coat onto the kitchen counter and plopped down onto a stool. With her chin cupped in her hand, she shook her head and groaned. Her head was beginning to spin (perhaps she'd had one drink too many), and her inner wars weren't helping in the slightest.
Should she trust Gold and allow him to help? Because the last time she'd let him assist her, she and Regina had nearly ended up in a morgue. Smug bastard... Who did he think he was?
But then, what good could possibly come of a custody battle for Gold? What would he have to gain? Perhaps, undoubtedly, another hefty favor?
Resting her forehead against the counter, she gave a grunt and found herself being taken under by the throes of sleep.
Emma had had a surprisingly dream-less night, which was a miracle in itself, but somehow all seemed right with the world again when she found herself in Henry's company the next morning.
He was trying to show her his latest theory (something about Belle and a magical book), but Emma was only half-listening. She was far too busy smiling and studying her son's face. He was so clever and bright, and she couldn't help but be proud of what she'd created. Such a beautiful boy...
"Emma!" Came his impatient cry. "Were you even listening to me?"
"Hmm?" She asked, now wearing a deer in the headlights expression. "Uhh, yes, of course I was! Something about fairytales..."
Rolling his eyes, he muttered, "Gee, what gave it away? C'mon, Emma, you need to focus if you want Operation Cobra to work."
With a nod, she assured him, "Yep, sure thing, kid... I promise I'll pay more attention." As they walked, she realized (to her slight horror) that they were heading toward Gold's pawnshop. Sending Henry a questioning look out of the corner of her eye, she asked, "Uhhh...kid? Where are we going, exactly?"
"I'm hoping if I lie and say I need a book, I might be able to finally tell who Gold is," Henry confessed. "I would've thought he'd be one of the Evil Queen's helpers, but none of those titles seem to fit..."
Wincing, Emma begrudgingly found herself following her son toward the one place she did not want to be that morning. Granted, she and Gold had had a fairly civilized conversation (for once), but that didn't mean she wanted to grace him with her presence yet again . Being the first and last person for her to see, after all, wasn't exactly what she had in mind for Gold.
Mr Gold stood sipping from his mixture of coffee and something stronger when he saw his boy approach and seconds before entering the shop he had his cup down on the counter and his smug smile back on his face.
As Henry entered the shop with his typical childlike exuberance, Emma hung back a moment before reluctantly following suit. Clearing her throat, she locked eyes with Gold behind the counter and couldn't help but grimace. "Uhhh, hi...miss me? Henry came by since he wants to ask about something."
'Good god, please get this over with...' she inwardly begged.
Mr Gold leaned on both hands as Henry darted forth and allowed his eyes to meet Henry's before drifting to Emma who had greeted him clumsily. She clearly felt uncomfortable around him and he wasn't sure whether to regret it or take delight in the fact he seemed to repulse her.
"Hello Henry, Hello Em-Miss Swan." He smiled at the both of them.
Emma cringed a bit at the way Gold had tripped over her name, she didn't exactly want Henry to think they were on a first name basis, yet she remained silent and gave a stiff nod in response. If anyone else were with her, she would probably be a bit more congenial, probably. But Henry was the only person she genuinely loved, so she automatically felt her guard go up. If Gold so much as looked at her son the wrong way, she'd repeatedly smash his skull into the counter.
"Is that so?" Mr Gold faked surprise and leaned over the counter again to face their son with a surprised smile.
"You wanted to ask me something, Henry?"
He stood there in silence, ready for the question to fall and smiling with such sincere kindness that it felt to be out of character for him. The genuine expression of concern, love and willingness to help proved a great contrast to the man he was known to be.
With her hand on Henry's shoulder as if to show this maternal side, Emma ushered him forward and stood over him like a sentinel. Finally noting the way Gold was unabashedly admiring the boy, she suddenly felt as though she were in the Twilight Zone. Why the hell was Gold being so nice ? Was that even in his vocabulary?
Henry suddenly seemed nervous, his hands gripping at his book of fairytales as he stared up at the older man. He knew his reputation in town - who didn't ? - but he somehow had assumed he'd be able to stand his ground against such a big adversary of Operation Cobra.
Forcing a weak smile to his lips, Henry finally spoke, "I...uh...I was hoping you maybe had some books I could look at? Mary Margaret said she got these fairytales from here, so...I guess I was hoping to find something else to read?"
Mr Gold nodded at the boy and said to him with a smile "You've come to the right address." He got his cane from behind the counter and took a few limping paces to get to the front of the shop. He passed Henry at a short distance, as if he was going to place his hand on the boy's shoulder, but instead he gripped a book from one of the cabinets. It was as if the book had been placed there on purpose, as if he had expected for the visit and the call on him.
"Yes, Miss Blanchard bought the book here when you were much younger, Henry. And fate happens to have it that I have another example. I just stumbled upon it the other day." His voice was breathy, low and had a form of hidden enthusiasm embedded.
"Here," He brushed the dust from the cover and turned back to the lad to hand him a book just as brown as the one Mary had given him. Only the title differed.
Emma watched this exchange with suspicious eyes, yet her gaze seemed to soften once she realized there was no real threat. Gold didn't seem up to his usual tricks. She honestly didn't believe in Henry's fairytale nonsense, but at the very least, his theories were entertaining.
"The History of Storybrooke." The title said, and Mr Gold read aloud. "It's supposed to be of the same writer. I've never read it myself and of course it's more of a history than anything else."
Surprised when she heard the title, Emma subconsciously leaned closer for a closer look, but Gold was already blowing dust from the cover. "Kind of ironic," she spoke up, smiling in spite of herself. "A fairytale author also wrote a book about history ? I can't even imagine how that'd work out."
Gold's eyes met those of Emma.
"I somehow felt you might like it. You're a smart lad." His words were directed at Henry but as he spoke he watched Emma. Only at the last two words he directed his gaze at Henry again and his smile returned.
"Well, what do you say?"
Looking to Henry for some sort of affirmation, Emma was surprised to find her son so hopelessly transfixed. Good God, what was he up to now?
Daring to reach out and experimentally finger the cover, Henry finally nodded and agreed, "Yeah, that'd be great. You mean, I'll be the very first person in Storybrooke to read it?"
Emma could tell by his expression that he was already plotting, and somehow...she was unnerved.
The toothy smile the man gave her and Henry was enough to confirm what the boy desired to be true. "Yes, I think that'd be right." Henry's eyes lit up at Gold's affirmation, but all Emma could do was scowl.
Mr Gold, now relieved from the heavy book, limped back to his counter and hid behind it again as was his usual custom. He took his cup of coffee for he hated it when it would turn cold, but upon sipping it had to conclude the sad fact had become reality. The coffee had lost its warmth and was now a disagreeable cold drink.
He placed it aside again and leaned his elbows on the counter.
For some reason or another he expected them to ask for its price, the value of the book. Of course it was priceless as it confirmed certain suspicions about the town's origins the boy might have (albeit them being between the lines. He would have to read carefully to get the clues). The book would also show some more about Regina building the town and Mr Gold's fair share in it (including nice black and white pictures). He wondered if the boy would look at them and think about what he saw, or if he would ignore them because he despised the characters.
Following the older man back over toward the counter, Emma lowered her voice and gruffly whispered, "Just what do you think you're doing? I appreciate that you're giving him a book and everything - I mean, what kind of parent would I be if I discouraged reading - but did you have to fuel his obsession? I'm trying to get him to forget about fairytales - it's unhealthy to think we're living in a fake world!"
Wincing with guilt, the blonde whirled around and plastered a fake smile on her face. "Yeah, kid? Whatcha need?"
"Can we get this? Pleeease? It's got all sorts of things inside that'll be helpful for..." Pausing once he realized he almost blew their cover, Henry instead settled on a wink since he knew Emma would be able to read between the lines.
Emma winked back, although she was less than pleased about their sudden predicament. Granted, she wasn't anywhere near convincing Henry that she wasn't the long lost daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, but what could she do? Giving the boy a history of Storybrooke would only service as a hindrance in the long run. Sending Gold a murderous glare, she coolly demanded, "Alright, how much do you want for it? Perhaps the skin off my back?"
Had they not asked, had she not asked he would have uncharacteristically have offered the book for free. Now that the question was posed he had to bite his tongue and force back a smile.
"How about you'll let me know what's inside." Mr Gold finally managed to say. His fatherly and good side had won and he could not get himself to ask a price for this. No matter how tempting it would sound to have Emma undress and pleasure him in the backroom, or politer; the idea of her having to have a drink with him. It would all rouse too much suspicion now that Henry was here, and money he didn't want from her. She was already struggling as it was.
Emma blinked, understandably surprised by Gold's response. "What, no deals? No strings attached? You're actually starting to scare me...who are you, and what have you done with Storybrooke's infamous snake in the grass?" It was a good thing Emma couldn't read minds, or else Gold would most certainly be a dead man at that moment.
Mr Gold merely eyed her with jest before he turned back to the boy. "How does that sound, Henry? You just come and visit me once you've read the book and tell me what's written inside."
His kind yet wry smile reached the boy, making him flinch and wonder about the old man's intentions.
Glancing at Henry when he was addressed, Emma immediately started searching his face for any sort of tell-tale reaction. She could tell the poor kid was nervous, and in turn that made her irritable. Although she desired to shake Gold by the collar and tell him to stop tormenting her son, she knew she couldn't lose face in front of Henry. She had to be strong for the boy.
Finally, Henry gave a soft, "Yeah, um...ok, I guess I can do that. But only if Emma comes with me."
Smart boy. Henry knew better than to go into the spider's parlor alone.
Finally Mr Gold's eyes rolled back to Emma and he retorted. "When will you see I'm not trying to be a fiend."
Hearing Gold whispering to her, Emma's eyes narrowed and she shot him a cold look. "Not being a fiend? Forgive me, but it's pretty hard to regain someone's trust when they try to set your ass on fire . How can I ever trust you again? I did once, and look where that got me - I may be Sheriff, but I'm constantly stressing over the "favor" I owe you."
He leaned over the counter. "I'm doing this for the boy. Next time you come and buy, you can pay the double price for it."
Taken aback by his words, she subconsciously leaned away from him and frowned. "Why are you being so nice to my son? If you're trying to sucker him into something, so help me God, I will hurt you. I'm not beneath jumping over that counter and making that limp worse ." Pausing, she added, "Why should I pay next time? I'm not ashamed to pay in front of my son - it adds character."
The smirk on his face alone was good enough to suggest a payment that could consist out of a long list of things ranging from undressing playfully to having rough sex on the counter. But by the look of Emma's squinted eyes Mr Gold felt it would be safer to take a different approach. After all he wouldn't want to inflict any sort of damage upon their son.
"Miss Swan, if you keep insulting me I will have you pay not two coins but four. Now off with you,"
He wanted to usher her out because quite frankly he was on the verge of ripping the clothes of her body or breaking down in tears at her rejection. It could go either way, but whichever way his mood chose to go Henry shouldn't be witnessing it.
"And how is four coins supposed to bankrupt me?" Emma spat, but instantly felt irritated when Gold demanded she leave. Oh, she'd leave alright, but she did not enjoy being bossed around, and especially not by the smarmy man behind the counter.
Placing her palms flat against the counter, and thus mirroring Gold's authoritative stance, Emma leaned forward and hissed, "Mark my words, I'll find a way to arrest you for something. You got me this job, so now I might as well put it to good use, am I right?"
"Emma, look at this!"
Jolting back to attention, the blonde turned her back to Gold and looked at Henry avidly reading. "Once we leave, I'll need to show you something important, ok? Just make sure to remind me." The boy said with a smile.
"As if I'd need to," Emma wryly returned, smiling as she made her way over toward her son. Placing a hand on his shoulder, the blonde, her metaphorical hackles raising when she heard Gold's voice close behind. Mr Gold led her to the door and showed her out by gesturing with his hand. His cane keeping him in balance. "I have business elsewhere to attend to and I need to close the shop for a while."
It wasn't truly a lie, for he was horrible at telling lies at all. He usually snaked around topics he wanted to reveal nothing about. And he would meet Regina and Abigail in a quarter or so.
"Business in town?" she asked, a skeptical look on her face as she and Henry were shown to the door. "Well if it's as invigorating as Regina's "business meetings," I'm sure you'll be very happy upon your return."
"You enjoy that book, Henry." Mr Gold told the boy with a genuine smile. The boy gave a cautious nod, but excitement was evident across his young face. This would help Operation Cobra so much!
Moving to follow her son, Emma found herself momentarily halting when Gold indicated for her to listen. Eyes narrowing, she allowed him to speak, but deep-down she didn't believe him.
"And Miss Swan," The pawnbroker said, eyeing her when he was certain Henry was too busy making his way outside and into safety again. "I've no bad intentions toward the boy. Even snakes protect their nests." He spoke through gritted teeth, snarling the words at her as if they contained poison.
The snake comment actually made her smile, yet she responded with a mere shake of the head. "A snake you are, I won't dispute that, but I have a feeling the "nest" that you're protecting is your own ass."
Pointing a finger at him, she hotly added, "And if you breathe a word of our conversation from earlier last night, I'll kill you. I may be Sheriff now, but never underestimate a mother's will - by this point, I'll do just about everything to protect Henry."
"Oh yes," Mr Gold answered to that. "Never underestimate someone who is acting for their child." But it wasn't as if the words were about her, it was as if they contained more than just Emma, as if they had something to do with Mr Gold as well.
Emma's eyes blazed at Gold's response, for although he meant it in a paternal way, she misread his tone and thought he was belittling her. Longing to slam the shop door shut in his face, she instead gave a soft, "C'mon, Henry, let's go home," and steered her son to the right.
The man watched the two walk off before he limped back into the shop to get a strong drink. After composing himself he forced himself to meet Regina and Abigail who were already waiting for him and together they discussed a little dilemma (something Mr Gold was reluctant to help with and only too pleased once they sent him homeward).
Needless to say he didn't sleep very well that night.