|It All Comes Tumbling Down
Author: Bad Faery PM
In which Rumpelstiltskin makes a rather different deal with Regina- Novelist Izzy French isn't sure what to make of the escaped mental patient who stumbles across her secluded cabin, claiming to know her. She's certainly never seen him before, but somehow he knows exactly how she takes her tea.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Belle & Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold - Chapters: 11 - Words: 27,812 - Reviews: 232 - Favs: 114 - Follows: 171 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 01-01-13 - id: 8863205
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
His Belle had called the thing a shower, but it was nothing like what the man from the basement had called a shower. The man had stripped him and held him beneath an icy spray of water. This water- Belle's water- was warm and made his body relax even as it stung at his cuts. After a while even those stopped hurting, and he just stood under the warm spray and let it soothe him.
He had his Belle back, and that was good. Belle was what he needed more than anything in the world- Belle and their boy. Their boy wasn't here though, and Belle didn't seem to know where he was. That was a problem. First he had to make Belle remember him. Once she remembered him, they could go find their boy and be a family again.
Some part of her must remember him. Why else would she have treated him so kindly? He was warm for the first time he could remember. Even in summer his basement was cold. She'd fed him and called him sweetheart, so she must remember him a little. He just needed to remind her.
He picked up what she'd said was soap, although it was smooth and hard instead of slimy like he expected, and it didn't smell right. It smelled good though, and he enjoyed rubbing it over himself, starting to feel clean for the first time in... in... ever. He needed to be clean for his Belle. That was important.
He rubbed the soap over his hair, tangling it further. Her hair was soft and pretty, and it had been so hard not to touch it. His Belle was still wary of him though, and he couldn't frighten her.
When he started, he thought he could stand under the wonderful warm water forever, but soon enough he found himself growing lonely for Belle. He couldn't remember the exact sound of her sweet voice, and he was impatient to hear it again. He played with the silver handle Belle had used to make the water start, and briefly doused himself with cold water before he made it stop. Shivering, he dried himself off with the fluffy towels she had given him, then turned his attention to the clothing. The trousers were loose like his basement clothes but of a soft, heavy fabric. They were too big and too long, but there was a string to tighten them.
Even with the string pulled tight, the trousers spilled over his feet, and he rolled them up as best he could before tugging the loose shirt on over his head. A glance in the mirror made him flinch. Had he always looked this old and worn? He was very lucky that Belle didn't seem to mind.
The thought of Belle made him move faster, and he tucked his newspaper article into his new pocket and lurched back into the bedroom, holding onto the wall for support. She was already there, sitting on the bed, and he paused for a moment, letting himself bask in her presence. Belle was here, close enough to touch. After so very long of having nothing but her pictures to look at, she was here.
She giggled at the sight of him, and he closed his eyes, whimpering. How could he have forgotten her laugh? Her laugh was as beautiful as the rest of her, a magical sound. How could he have forgotten?
"I'm sorry," she said, and he sighed as the laughter faded. "Tomorrow we should have some clothes that actually fit you."
He didn't mind the clothes. If seeing him in them made her laugh, he would wear them happily. They were clean and warm, and he couldn't remember ever being clean and warm before. Belle made everything perfect, but even if he had to be cold and dirty, it would be worth it if he was with her.
Not quite perfect, they still needed to find their boy. Before he could find the words to ask again, she beckoned him closer, and he sat down eagerly at her side, her warm body pressed snugly against him. Leaning closer, he breathed in the scent of her, committing it to memory. No matter what happened he would never again forget Belle's laugh or the sweet scent of her skin. He would never allow himself to forget anything about her.
Soft fingers stroked his hair, and he groaned at the touch. "We need to get you taken care of," she murmured, and he whimpered when she left his side.
Belle didn't go far, just retrieved a box filled with gauze and ointments and things he didn't recognize. With tender hands, she bathed his wounds in something that stung, but she crooned to him, her comfort soothing away the small hurt as she carefully covered his broken places with gauze and cut off the plastic bracelet that had always been around his wrist.
"Are you in pain? Do you want an aspirin?" He recoiled at the sight of the small white pill in her palm, memories of the man cracking his jaw open and shoving pills into him making him tremble.
"No pills," he begged. Belle surely would never do that to him. He'd comply if she did. He didn't want the memory of her forcing him.
She froze, looking at him carefully, then she put the pill away. "No pills," she agreed. "Did they make you take pills at the hospital?"
"All the time," he rasped. There had always been more pills, more needles, more shocks. "Fought," he admitted, rubbing a jaw that ached at the memory.
"You're safe now," his Belle murmured, and he pressed against her desperately, needing her touch. He moaned when she put her arms around him, holding him close. "No more pills," she promised, and tears stung his eyes.
He would have happily spent the rest of forever in her arms, but she pulled away after a few minutes. "Let's take care of your hair, then you can get some rest."
She moved to sit behind him, her legs on either side of his hips, and she scolded him gently when he tried to lean back against her. "Sit up, sweetheart, otherwise I can't reach."
Her hands were gentle with his tangled hair, and she apologized profusely every time she pulled. He didn't mind. His Belle was touching him, taking care of him. They were together again, just like he'd dreamed for so very, very long. Everything she did was a joy. "You didn't use conditioner, did you?" she sighed as she worked. "Remind me to show you that tomorrow."
That was a word he didn't know, so he filed it away. She wanted to do something with him tomorrow. He wouldn't let her forget.
There'd been something he wanted to tell her, he remembered. There was something he was desperate to tell her, but he couldn't remember what it was. The feel of her hands in his hair centered him, and his mind didn't feel quite so tattered and bruised with her near. Everything was better with Belle near. What did he want to tell her?
"There we go," she murmured, combing through his hair in long strokes. "Much better."
The words appeared in his mind, and he gasped in relief, blurting them out before he could forget them again, "Love you."
Behind him, Belle went still, then she gently kissed his cheek. "Get some rest," she coaxed, easing off of the bed and guiding him to lie down. "Do you need anything?"
As long as he had her, he needed nothing but their boy, but this wasn't the time for that discussion. She had to remember him first. He shook his head, and she patted his hand. "I'll leave a light on for you," she promised, turning off everything but a small lamp, then she left the room with a soft "Good night."
He looked around the room with interest as he waited for her to come back. It was a small room, no bigger than his basement, but it was cheery and warm with comfortable furnishings and heavy quilts. His cot had been hard and narrow, but he felt like he'd sink into this bed and never emerge. It was glorious.
He'd never been so comfortable, never been so happy. He had his Belle, and there was no sign of the man he didn't like. They belonged to each other again. Smiling senselessly at the ceiling, he stroked his hand over the soft quilt. Her scent clung to it, and he wrapped himself tighter, longing to wrap himself around her and hold her close. He would as soon as she came back.
Eventually he realized that Belle had been gone a very long time, and his heart quickened its rhythm. He'd heard nothing. No one could have taken her. The dark-haired woman couldn't have stolen her from him.
Worried, he slipped out of bed, leaning against the dresser and then the wall as he made his way to the door which opened at his touch. Maybe only basement doors were locked. He slipped through noiselessly, looking for his Belle. Upstairs there was only the bedroom and the shower room, so he took the stairs, finding the room with the couch at the bottom of them.
The room was dark, but he could make out the outline of Belle wrapped up cozily in a quilt and curled up on the couch. Frowning, he glanced at the stairs then shrugged. Perhaps Belle didn't like to sleep in the bed. He'd thought it was very comfortable, but if she preferred to sleep down here, they would sleep down here. Awkwardly, he lowered himself to the floor beside her couch. The fire made it warm, and although it was harder than his cot, Belle's presence made it very comfortable indeed. Resting his head on his arm, he reached up to clutch at the edge of her quilt, slipping into an easy sleep.
When he woke, Belle's quilt was wrapped around him, and Belle was sitting on the couch beside him, looking worried. "Did you spend all night on the floor?"
He nodded, wincing as he tried to get up. His body ached from yesterday's activities, and his knee felt like it was on fire. Never had he moved so much before his escape, and now he was paying the price. The sight of Belle's blue eyes made it more than worth it.
She sighed, the worried look on her face not going away as she helped him off the floor. "I'll make you breakfast."
He followed her into the little cooking place, looking in surprise at the shiny things that she used. Some part of his mind identified 'stove' and 'refrigerator' but they didn't look right. There was no fire to make the stove work.
Belle twisted a knob, and the fire suddenly appeared, sending him jumping back. "Easy," she soothed, and he peered closer, wondering if it was magic.
There were other things he did recognize, and he smiled when he figured out the silver handle that made water appear. He filled a kettle and placed it on the stove, playing with the dial. The fire didn't appear for him until Belle showed him how to turn it only a little way and wait, then it blazed merrily to life. Belle cooked eggs as he waited for the kettle to heat, and this felt just right. They must have done things like this before. He wondered if she remembered yet.
His hands knew how to make tea, knew exactly what she liked, and pride filled him at her approving smile. This was going well. Even if she didn't yet, soon Belle would love him again, and they'd find their boy and be a family. He'd never let the dark-haired woman hurt them or tear them apart again. Family was important. Family was forever.
Belle got him sitting down and put a plate of something that smelled delicious in front of him. In his basement, food had been cold and tasteless, but everything Belle touched was perfect. His stomach rumbled, but he ignored it, older memories making themselves known as he watched her anxiously, making certain that she had enough food for herself. Food was scarce, and he would eat only after she'd had enough. Belle could not be allowed to be hungry.
He whimpered with dismay at the sight of her plate. She had less than he did, and that wasn't right. As she sipped her tea, he tried to switch their plates, only to be stopped by her hand on his wrist. She was touching his skin, and he could barely concentrate on her words as warmth spread through him.
"What are you doing?" she asked softly, not letting him exchange his plate for hers.
"Need to eat," he tried to explain, nodding anxiously at her plate. He was used to being hungry. That was fine. Belle must not go without.
Her eyes softened, and she squeezed his hand tightly. "You don't have to worry," she assured him, getting up, and having her walk away didn't make him feel better at all. She opened the large shiny box to reveal an impressive amount of food. "Look, we have plenty. We can both eat as much as we want, and there will still be more. I have enough. Go ahead and eat."
The idea of 'enough food' didn't want to fit into his tattered mind, but Belle wouldn't lie to him. If she said they had enough, they had enough. He applied himself to eating the food she'd prepared, her care sustaining him as much as the meal itself.
"I wish I knew your name," she sighed once they'd finished.
He wished she did too. He'd been counting on it. No matter how much he'd worried in his basement, part of him had never truly believed that his Belle would forget him. She wasn't damaged like him. She should remember. Something nagged at him, an explanation, but he couldn't make any sense of it. There was something about a spinning wheel and a green light and snow, but he couldn't make the pieces fit together. With a sharp rap, he struck his temple, trying to jostle them into place, and Belle let out an exclamation of dismay.
"No, no," she said quickly, catching his hand in hers, "Don't hit."
The answer was somewhere in his mind, and he knew that if he kept trying he could force it free, but Belle was pulling him away from the table, her hand tight around his, and finding the answer suddenly didn't seem as important. "Maybe I can guess," she suggested as she pulled him down next to her on the couch, and he pressed as close to her as he could get. "We could make it a game."
A game sounded like a wonderful idea, and he nodded eagerly. "All right. Your bracelet said that your name starts with an R. Does that sound right?"
He made an R noise, trying it out. He wasn't sure that it sounded right, but it also didn't sound wrong, so he nodded again, more hesitantly this time,
"So, names that start with R," Belle said, studying his face. "Robert."
That was definitely not right. Wrinkling his nose in disdain, he shook his head, and she laughed. "Okay, so not Robert. Richard? Ryan?"
None of the names were right, and he kept shaking his head. Undaunted, Belle kept her guesses coming. "Roland? Ralph? Roderick? Reginald?"
No matter how many names she said, none of them sounded right, and a thrill of fear ran through him. He'd been certain he'd recognize his name when he heard it, but what if he didn't? What if she'd already said his name and he hadn't known it was his? What if his name really was Robert and he didn't know?
Eventually Belle's guesses slowed as she struggled to think of more names. "Randy?" she said hopefully, her shoulders slumping in dismay when he shook his head. For a moment, she looked pensive, then she giggled, "Well, if you're going to be difficult, I'm going to start calling you Rumpelstiltskin."
"Yes!" he shouted so loudly that she flinched back. He grabbed her hands with delight, recognition coursing through him. Rumpelstiltskin. He was Rumpelstiltskin. How had he forgotten that? Of course Belle knew his name. She did know him!
"Rumpelstiltskin," she repeated doubtfully. "Your name is Rumpelstiltskin."
"Rumpelstiltskin," he trilled, releasing her hands in order to make an extravagant gesture that somehow felt just right.
She stared at him in silence for a moment then shrugged. "Okay. Rumpelstiltskin it is."
Names were important. Rumpelstiltskin remembered that now. Names were very, very important. Now that his Belle knew his name, she'd soon remember the rest of him, and everything would be just right.
"Rumpelstiltskin is kind of a mouthful," Belle told him. "Could we shorten it a little? You call me Belle; maybe I can call you Rum."
He called her Belle because it was her name, but if his Belle wanted to call him Rum, that would be fine. Rum. He liked it.
"It's nice to meet you, Rum," she said formally, holding out her hand, and he took it in his, bending over it to kiss the back of her hand. She smiled at him fondly but took her hand back before he could kiss it again. "Can you tell me about what happened to you? In the basement?"
Rum didn't like thinking about the basement. "Bad," he rasped. "It was bad. Don't go there." The only thing worse than the thought of going back into his basement was the thought of Belle being there. It was very important that Belle be free. The dark-haired woman had threatened to lock her up, but he wouldn't let her. Nothing would hurt Belle.
"You're safe now," Belle crooned, and he pressed himself against her. Her arms went around him, cradling him against her chest, and he murmured in relief. Nothing could be wrong with Belle holding him. "I just want to understand, Rum. How long were you there?"
There were memories of other places, but they were vague and dreamlike. They weren't real like the basement was. "Always. Forever."
"Did they ever let you out? Did you ever go outside?" He snorted at the thought. He'd all but forgotten what the sun even looked like.
"No. No windows even. Just the basement."
Belle made a sound of distress, and he looked up in concern, but she tugged him closer until his head was resting in her lap, her hand stroking his hair. "You didn't have enough to eat."
That didn't sound like a question, but he nodded anyway. Before Belle he'd always been hungry, always been cold. The worst had been the loneliness. He'd been so terribly alone with only his memories of her and their boy to comfort him, and the dark-haired woman had stolen too many of them away.
"I'm going to do something," Belle promised him, still petting his hair. "I don't know what yet, but you'll never have to go back there again. You're safe here."
Her voice sounded odd, and he looked up, whimpering when he saw that she was crying. With shaking hands, Rum tried to brush her tears away. He'd upset her. He hadn't meant to, but he'd upset his Belle. "Wasn't all bad," he offered, hoping it would help.
"It wasn't?" she asked, wiping her face off with her hands.
"I had you." Careful not to tear it, he retrieved his precious piece of newspaper from his pocket, holding it up for her to see. He'd had his memories of her and their boy and his pictures of her. It had been enough to keep him together. Now he was free, and he had all of her, and everything would be perfect as soon as they found their boy.
Belle took the article from his hand, her face going blank. "Where did you get this?" she asked quietly, sticking one finger through the hole he'd made where the tall man's face had been.
"She gave it to me." Belle didn't look satisfied with his answer, but it was the only one he had. She placed the piece of newsprint out of his reach, but that was all right. He didn't need it anymore. He had his Belle now, and they'd never be separated again.