Author: Bad Faery PM
Belle's looking for a fresh start. Instead she finds Middlesbrough and a very familiar face.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Father MacAvoy & Belle - Chapters: 21 - Words: 93,188 - Reviews: 193 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 12-31-12 - Published: 07-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8317843
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Belle was not a coward.
She'd faced ogres and evil queens and the Dark One. She'd traveled through the void of space in a rusted hulk of an ancient vessel. She'd loved and lost and loved and lost again. Belle was not a coward. Belle was tired. And Belle was running away.
Once she'd wanted to see the world, and so she saw it. She traveled to Africa and Asia and saw things the princess she once was never could have dreamed about. Australia almost felt like home, but hearing the familiar accent made her ache for her father, and so she kept traveling.
Eventually some place would feel right to her. Somehow she would know that she was in a place where she could blend in and fade away, her story forgotten.
Belle liked England. The trees reminded her of the Enchanted Forest, but they were different enough not to hurt. She thought she was getting closer to finding her place.
She'd been in Middlesbrough for six hours, and while it didn't feel right, it also didn't feel wrong, and she decided to explore. The used bookstore she found was a point in its favor, and she liked how organized the town was. The cameras made her shiver; she'd been watched for too many years, but at least this time she couldn't imagine anyone looking at a nobody like her.
Still she felt them aimed at her back as she walked, and soon enough she was dying for a drink. Rumpelstiltskin taught her to appreciate wine, and she and Nick had been limited to whatever Brody could conjure up, but left to her own devices Belle was fond of a gin and tonic.
It was with this thought in mind that she walked into the nearest pub and very nearly turned around and walked right back out again. The man- the priest- wasn't looking at her, but he didn't need to. She knew that profile better than she knew her own name, and how many men in the universe shared that face? Morbidly, she wondered if she was destined to meet and lose them all.
She took a seat halfway down the bar, noting the empty shot glasses piled in front of him. He was unsteady on his stool, and she vowed not to approach him even if he fell to the floor. She could not do this. Not again.
He was looking at her, glancing from her to the glasses in front of him and back again, not quite daring to stare. Another coward then, she thought, and her heart clenched at the memory of her first love. She looked over at him, accidentally making eye contact, and she'd never seen such a hangdog expression on that face before.
He sat up straighter and tried to look pulled together, but she could see his hands shaking from where she was. His hair needed washed, and the aura of helplessness that surrounded him was palpable.
He was damaged, and she could not put another brown-eyed man back together. She wouldn't. She'd lost too much already. She looked away from him and back to her drink, and his shoulders slumped, his posture almost cartoonishly dejected. Cursing herself as she did it, Belle looked at him again and offered a small smile.
She thought he was trying to smile back, but he looked too shocked to manage it. Mostly what she was aware of was the hope- the desperate, all-consuming hope suddenly burning in his eyes- and she knew herself to be a fool. If she wasn't going to do this, she would have turned on her heel and left the pub. From the moment she stepped inside this was inevitable.
She drained her drink for courage and moved to take the stool next to him. He eagerly signaled the bartender to get her another drink then locked his fingers together so she wouldn't see them shaking.
The beginnings of other conversations floated through her mind. Why do you spin so much? Why do you work so much? She accepted the drink and ignored the look of disgust the bartender shot her companion. Taking a sip, she turned her body to face him.
"Why do you drink so much?"