Good Morning, Miss Australia
Chapter 1: Mr. Scotsman
Mr. Gold's pawnshop was a dusty place, one of those shops that people on their average Saturday shopping day were reluctant to set foot inside. It was a place where darkness never really left and where real antiques sat next to worthless knickknacks on the shelves like brothers, sharing a fate in which nobody would ever come to collect them.
The Venetian blinds blocked curious views through the windows and filtered the daylight to slight and harmless beams that did little more than illuminate the specks of dust on their way to the polished wooden floor. It was how Mr. Gold liked his shop – peaceful, quiet and with only the echoes of the past surrounding him in the disjointed collection of objects on display.
Taking inventory was something he didn't have to do often. Well, that wasn't entirely true. As the people in this town rarely dared to set foot inside the shop let alone buy something, once every five years actually would be overdoing things. But taking inventory also provided him with an opportunity to check up on all the objects in the shop, to see if repairs were needed or a more thorough cleaning. If so he would remove the object from its spot and with painstaking care he would take it to the workshop behind the shop. There he would restore its brilliance, whether if it were an antique gold watch or a tin whistle.
Mr. Gold repaired things, things that were delicate, complex and which required unbelievable amounts of patience. And patience he had in abundance – patience and almost as much devotion to his shop as to his son. He had an eye for honest beauty and a nose for finding it in extraordinary items, the simple they might seem at first glance.
That same talent had helped building his reputation as a notorious businessman in this town as his brown, wide-set eyes seemed to register with frightening accuracy what was important to other people – that and his unperturbed attitude towards pleas and tears.
'Hm, let's see: a 19th century bicycle. Check. An antique Wedgwood tea set. Check. Two…'
A penetrating sound ripped through Gold's peaceful state of mind, harshly breaking his concentration. His fingers stiffened around the pencil in his hand and he looked up, annoyed by the intrusion but also confused that he couldn't immediately place the familiar sound. He knew it was familiar because his response to it told him so but somehow it sounded much closer than normal.
Slowly, as if someone had glued his instable feet to the ground he turned around, feeling as if his shop turned with him. But he managed to cast a gaze at the showcase behind him and belatedly realisation sunk in as he saw his cell phone perched on it. Oh, of course. His phone.
Someone was calling him. He lost interest almost immediately as he turned back around. Whomever it was they would have to wait. He was taking inventory now and he needed to concentrate.
'Two ominous dolls, one male, one female. Check. One Mickey Mouse collectible. Check. One unicorn mobile. Che…'
There was that blasted phone ringing again. Gold sighed inwardly. Couldn't he even go to the shop on a quiet Sunday afternoon to take inventory without any of those ignorant townspeople calling him?
'Seven lidded mugs. Che…'
Gold now cursed under his breath as the obtrusive ringing forced his concentration to slip from his grasp. Maybe he should ask Bae to install a less offensive ringtone. And make sure his son wouldn't get the chance to change all the other preferred settings like he did the last time he'd…
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The man in the antique mahogany bed sucked in a forceful gulp of air and his heart jolted painfully when the angry sound of his alarm clock beeping yanked him from taking inventory. All surroundings disappeared and his eyes flew open as he tumbled into far less dreamy dimensions. A peculiar melancholy gripped his heart when he understood that he had been asleep all this time.
His body needed much more time to wake up than his mind did. For a few moments, he had no choice but to let the alarm clock beep for another few seconds to collect himself before he was able to roll on his side and reach out to quiet his shrill alarm.
Oh, for heaven's sake!
Lifting his hand from his alarm clock Gold grabbed his prehistoric – as Bae called it – flip phone from his nightstand and with furrowing eyebrows tried to remember why it was there in the first place. He never took his phone with him when he went to bed. Despite the fact that the double morning call still had his pulse racing his still foggy mind came up with no explanation however as the ringing continued endlessly.
Gold let out a small sigh and he pinched the bridge of his nose as he flipped the cell phone open.
'Private number' the caller ID on the green screen said and he narrowed his eyes in displeasure. Those call centers had some nerve calling him at… his gaze traveled to the clock in the corner of the screen – 6:05 a.m.
Well, he would make sure they would never dare to do so again.
Gold cleared his throat and finally pushed the reply button. "You better have a very good reason for calling me at this hour, Dearie."
His deep voice sounded soft, deceptively polite but there was an undercurrent of clear menace that would have any salesperson cower underneath his headset. The reaction was nothing he'd ever expected though.
"Good morning, sleepyhead! My, my, aren't you difficult to wake up? I think I had to redial your number at least three times."
A warm laugh reached Gold's ear through the speaker. It accompanied a female voice with a distinct accent on the other end of the line. Australian, he knew after a split second of listening, dumbfounded.
"Well, not directly of course. I've just been put through to your mobile phone. But I asked the volunteer to retry a couple of times, because you're new to this and I didn't want you to get disappointed right away. That would be a pity."
It wasn't often that people could render him speechless but at the moment Gold found that he could only sit up in his bed, cell phone glued to his ear as a stream of lively words dipped in this deliciously cheerful Australian accent danced over him. He must still be asleep.
The woman on the other side of the line seemed took his silence as a cue to go on. "You know it's quite funny if you think about it. These volunteers are like the telephone operators of old. You know, the women who would sit before a huge wall and plugged in all incoming calls manually."
Telephone operators? Why was she talking about telephone operators? His still clouded mind had trouble following her as his initial anger dispersed with the speed of the words washing over him, carried by her silvery voice.
"I'm familiar with the concept," Gold finally managed to respond and his reward was a soft, ringing laugh that went down to his toes. Yes, definitely still asleep.
"So," she continued cheerily, "how come you get up so dreadfully early?"
It seemed like a rather inappropriate question coming from a stranger and Gold lifted up an eyebrow.
"Actually you woke me up this dreadfully early," he pointed out. "If you hadn't, my alarm clock wouldn't have gone off for five minutes or so."
He conveniently left out it had been the alarm clock that had actually woken him, not his cell phone ringing. "But if you must know, I like to get up early so I can have breakfast ready for my son and go to my shop to get some things done before opening time."
"You sound like a busy man," the imperturbable woman on the other side of the line established interestedly. "What kind of shop do you own?"
He yawned behind his hand.
"A pawnshop, Dearie," he condescended as he allowed himself an understated flourish. "I'm a pawnbroker and antiquities dealer."
Who was not five minutes ago dreaming about taking inventory, he recalled with an inward grumble. Times like this he wondered if he shouldn't go on vacation for a while. Take Bae with him and leave behind the dusty half-light in his shop where none of the townspeople ever came to buy anything because they couldn't possibly afford it. If it weren't for his other businesses – as Storybrooke's legal adviser and main landlord – he wouldn't be able to feed himself and Bae. He knew the townspeople saw the shop as a hobby of his, as far as the town beast had hobbies, but it was a habit of his to first and foremost introduce himself as a pawnbroker as the shop was actually dear to him.
He expected the woman on the other side of the line to respond like people always responded to his line of work: with trepidation. Which suited him well, because it had proved effective in preventing them from trying to get too close to him. But to his surprise she sighed in a way he could only interpret as wistful and his eyes widened slightly in response.
"Oh, I love shops like that. They're always filled with these precious trinkets and you can wander around for hours and get lost in all the stories they tell…"
Gold couldn't help it. His heart softened toward this strange woman. Being a bit of a student of history himself he'd found that this was exactly why he loved his shop and everything in it. There was something magical about the place where all the collective history of this little town called Storybrooke was brought together. Sometimes he felt more like the devoted curator of a museum guarding over the town's memories than a pawnbroker. It was a shame the townspeople never seemed to understand that. But this young Australian woman (he took her to be about twenty years younger than him from the sound of her voice) he didn't even know, did.
"Do you like stories?" Gold had uttered the question before he knew it. It was not one of those inquisitive questions meant to probe a potential customer but genuine interest in the woman on the other side of the line. He was surprised to realize that he actually wanted to hear what she had to say with his mind just now clearing from sleep as he leaned back against the headboard and listened to the enthusiasm in her warm voice.
"Oh yes, very much. That's probably why I'm such a bookworm." She chuckled and he couldn't prevent the amused smile from appearing on his own lips in response. The Australian woman certainly had a contagious laugh.
"Then you'll certainly like my shop, Dearie. There's a story behind each one of the objects in there."
Good grief, what was he saying? He sounded like he was trying to lure her in, or worse, like he actually cared about her opinion. Irritated with himself, Gold pinched the bridge of his noise and squeezed his eyes shut, but to his surprise the woman on the phone was actually quite enamoured with the idea.
"I'm sure you could tell some gripping stories," she mused in a dreamy way that caused a slight tingle in the pit of his stomach. "I would love to hear about them. Is there an object or story in the shop you love most?"
His eyes flitted to and fro in the dusky room as he leaned against the carved headboard. "A favorite object, you mean?"
"Yes," she confirmed friendly.
Nobody had ever asked him that before, not even Bae to whose teenage mind the possibility probably hadn't even occurred. And to be honest he didn't have an immediate answer but his thoughts dutifully went back to taking inventory like they'd done so many times before in search for a reply.
"I suspect…" He hesitated. "A tiny brass piece of the three wise monkeys. But it's actually one of the very few objects in the shop without a story to tell. Perhaps the absence of a story to accompany it is why I like it. It's a blank page."
Like so many other items in his shop it had been there for ages and he'd taken a liking to the roughly casted statue that seemed to represent his position among all the Storybrooke memories that slumbered in his shop.
"And those are the most exciting ones to turn, aren't they? They remind you of the journey you're about to undertake before the story actually begins," the Australian woman agreed in a peculiar tone that closely resembled gratitude though Gold couldn't fathom what he'd said that would earn her thanks. He recognized what she meant though so he inclined his head.
For a long moment they were silent, as an odd peacefulness descended upon Gold. It occurred to him that now was a good time to break off the conversation but he couldn't bring himself to say goodbye to her lovely voice yet.
A playful chuckle from the other side of the line pulled him from his reverie. "You had to think about what your favourite object is, didn't you?"
"You've never been asked before, right?"
His lips curled up in a melancholic smile. "Indeed."
"That's a shame," she found. "I always find the most interesting the story behind the collector himself. Can you tell me more about him? Was it you who brought the business to the States?"
For a moment, Gold didn't know what she meant until it dawned on him that she was discreetly asking him about his accent, slighter than hers, which shared with her a Commonwealth background rather than an American.
The question instantly woke the all too familiar wariness and subconsciously he sat up in his bed. He raked his hand across his face. "I'm sorry, but…who are you?"
There was a mischievous ring to her voice when she giggled in response. "Ah, that I can't tell you, I'm afraid. But isn't that the beauty of it all?"
Her evasive reply made some of the initial irritation return and Gold narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "I'm sorry but I'm afraid I don't understand, Dearie. The beauty of what exactly?"
Perhaps the sudden coldness in his voice betrayed the change in him because she remained silent for so long that he was starting to fear that she'd hung up on him. To his surprise he found that he would actually regret it if the conversation had ended here though, which was utterly ridiculous as this was a complete stranger on the other side of the line with apparently no other goal but to interfere with his morning routine.
Finally, Gold ran out of patience. "Hello?"
"You say you don't understand."
She was back and he blew out a breath he'd been subconsciously holding as he loosened his grip on his cell phone.
"Yes," he confirmed, noticing the sudden wariness in her voice. Waiting for her explanation he leaned back into the pillows.
"Do you mean you don't know about the wake-up service?" she almost demanded and her warm voice had turned serious all of a sudden. And did he even detect…worry?
"What wake-up service do you mean, Dearie?" His voice was soft, cautious as Gold countered her question.
On the other side of the line the woman with the Australian accent sighed. "Oh my, I'm really sorry about this. I think someone who knows your number signed you up for the WB&N Social Alarm Service."
"The what?" he repeated flatly, wondering if he'd heard alright.
"The Wynken, Blynken & Nod Social Alarm Service. It's a service for which participants can sign up on the Internet. The participants are woken up by a call from a stranger instead of their alarm clocks," the Australian woman explained.
For a moment, Gold was at a loss for words. He didn't know what he'd had expected but certainly not this. He'd never heard that such a service even existed and truly he had difficulty understanding why people would sign up for such a preposterous activity.
"Sometimes it happens that someone is signed up without his or her knowledge or consent," she continued tactfully. "It must be someone who knows you well; otherwise they wouldn't have gotten past the entrance procedure. Do you have any idea whom it might be?"
He tried to control the anger flaring up as his mind went over the very, very few people in town who – despite what his dream had suggested – actually had the number of his cell phone.
Mayor Mills, obviously. But she was not a likely suspect in this. This prank was far too harmless to be attributed to her.
Mother Superior. Though he'd never actually given her his number he suspected she'd acquired it by using methods that weren't as high standing as her position would lead one to expect. Not a likely suspect, either.
Mrs. Potts, his elderly housekeeper who barely knew how to operate phones with keypads let alone use the Internet.
Which only left his son. Baelfire.
Gold turned over this last possibility and suddenly he knew for sure that he had left his phone on the side table downstairs last night like he did every evening. He didn't like sleeping with the device so close to his head. Bae knew this.
Now it was his turn to sigh. "I can think of someone."
The voice on the other side of the line had softened as she guessed correctly and he hesitated. Normally, when a conversation got too personal to his liking he would brush people off with a polite yet prickly remark, but not this time. He didn't actually mind talking with the Australian woman and it scared him less than it should.
Gold cast a look at the wall opposite his bed behind which Bae was still sleeping in his own room, amidst an assembly of knickknacks to match his father's passion for collecting things. By the time he would wake up his father would have his breakfast ready for him, such was their routine. That was as long as Bae didn't come up with brilliant ideas to keep his father from actually doing just that.
"My son, yes. Baelfire." His voice held a certain melancholic quality as he kept staring at the wall, wondering why the boy had gone through all this trouble to sign him up for this.
"Ah," the woman on the other side of the line mumbled understandingly. If he'd broken any rule by mentioning his son's name she didn't comment on it. "Your son for whom you're about to make breakfast? Will you tell me about him?"
There was an inviting tone in her voice, one that suggested genuine interest, which was something new to him as the people here in Storybrooke preferred giving him a wide berth. It wasn't until Bae's arrival six months ago that they'd began to show some interest, as the town stood amazed that all this time the town beast apparently also was a loving father. He'd seen through their clumsy attempts at conversation though, had known that their sudden curiosity was only rooted in a hunger for information and he had quickly and decisively cut them off.
But there was something about this strange woman with her warm voice and cheerful Australian accent that made him want to answer her question in honesty. Though the years had wizened him enough to still consider his words carefully, he somehow wanted to tell her about his son, about Bae. Perhaps knowing that she was a stranger made talking to her easier than to one of the people of this town. Perhaps that was why he was more willing to accept her inviting warmth. She didn't know who he was and hadn't had time to learn to loathe him.
Gold took a swift peek at his watch. Twenty minutes. Five more minutes and he could still take a shower, get dressed and prepare breakfast. He'd just have to be a bit quicker about it than usual.
He leaned back against the headboard with his cell phone still plastered to his ear and closed his eyes.
"My boy is fourteen years old and he means everything to me. He was lost to me for a very long time and I can't explain how grateful I still am when every morning I hear him padding between his bedroom and the bathroom and to be able to pour him his orange juice before he goes to school. He's a beautiful boy and a straight A student. He's also a teenager and gets grumpy when I don't feed him on time or tell him to go to bed. He's been living with me for six months now and I'm overjoyed to have him back with me, to see him sitting at the bar in the kitchen doing his homework when I get home and be there to see him grow up.
"As it appeared he was the first transfer student in about fifteen years in this town, which caused quite a stir in the community. But he got accepted remarkably well, considering…his background. But there's something charming about him that makes it easy for him to blend in. He hasn't got that from me."
His voice trailed away as he forcefully pushed the image of a smiling Milah to the back of his mind. Milah who'd betrayed their son and his love for her in such a bad way. He didn't need for bitter memories this early in the morning.
The voice on the other side of the line remained silent for a long time.
Clenching his cell phone Gold waited for some reaction, any reaction but when it failed to come his eyebrows knitted together as he cursed inwardly. It was obvious that he'd scared the Australian woman off with such a personal monologue. He gritted his teeth. He'd been sure that she had been asking about Bae but apparently he'd understood wrong when he'd interpreted her question as genuine interest in Bae.
Perhaps she'd only been asking about generic things like his age after all. Disappointment bucketed down on him like torrents of icy rain as he realized his mistake. After all these years of carefully protecting himself against the nosy gazes of other people he still hadn't learned. How could he have thought that she would actually be interested in him? How could she possibly? They didn't even know each other.
It was time to put an end to this nonsense, go downstairs, make Bae his breakfast and ask his teenage son what on earth he'd been thinking to sign him up for this before telling him that his PlayStation would be off limits for the rest of the month. With angry movements he pushed away the covers and swung his legs over the edge, while reaching for his cane.
"How long did you have to miss him?"
The question appeared out of nothing and Gold froze. He realized that he hadn't actually hung up the phone, which was still connected to his ear. Now, the warm, inviting voice had returned and to his annoyance his heart skipped a beat in happiness. Which was utterly ridiculous to begin with, since he'd only spoken with the woman on the phone for less than half an hour. Nonetheless, he remained on the phone as he stood up and limped his way over to the bay window to open the curtains.
"You're still here." His voice took on the lighter, somewhat husky tone he always used when he was being cautious.
"I am," the woman confirmed unnecessarily but with a certain edge he couldn't quite pinpoint. "You were telling me about your son. I can tell that being separated from him has been hard for you. How long did you have to miss him?"
He took in a deep breath as residual pain stung his heart at the memory. Also fear for it to happen again, which he had to suppress on a daily basis for Bae's sake. The boy must be able to live and breathe without his father suffocating him.
"Six years." His soft voice was deepened by his throaty accent growing heavier loading the simple words with a world of grief, loss and bitterness. It sounded like a confession and it felt like one because even now that he had Bae back with him he still felt shame over not having been able to prevent his disappearance.
It didn't go by unnoticed on the other side of the line. The Australian woman sucked in a sharp breath.
"Six years…" Gold heard her say in murmured repeat. "That's a very long time when you're only fourteen years old."
She sounded shocked and the corner of his mouth twitched as he looked down on the snowy front garden with a melancholic gaze. The clear sky promised a sunny winter's day.
"It is," he confirmed quietly. "When he disappeared on me he was still a schoolboy and I guess in my mind he always stayed that age when I was searching for him. Now he's a teenager and even now that he's been back with me for more than six months, I still have to adjust my expectations of him on a daily basis. It's hard sometimes, because I'm still the father he missed all these years, but he has grown so much that I sometimes don't recognize him."
He closed his eyes when for the first time he voiced his biggest regret and as the words came out it felt as acceptance of the helpless feeling he'd been fighting for six months. It felt strange to put his fears and grievances to words and to a complete stranger nonetheless. But to his surprise he found that he didn't mind that it made him vulnerable to her. Strangely enough, he actually felt strengthened by the woman's quiet attention on the other side of the line.
He actually blamed himself for feeling this way about Bae after finally being able to embrace him after so many years of missing him. The boy couldn't help it that he'd grown into a teenager with needs that were different from an eight-year-old schoolboy.
He also couldn't help it that under influence of the pirate who'd taken him he'd adopted some of that lowlife's mannerisms, whether it was in the tilt of his head when he was being mischievous or the Irish lilt that sometimes echoed through in the way he talked. It should not have been so many years and perhaps this was what was bothering him the most; that he had failed Bae by taking so long to find him.
"Is he glad to be back with you?"
Bowing his head Gold let his gaze rest on the snow-covered rosebushes by the fence. "I think so, yes. I was the one who has been taking care of him before he was…taken away from me. I was his mother and father while his mother sought more adventurous ways to live her life."
"Then you mustn't worry about it," she reassured him, ignoring the bitter remark about Milah. It wasn't important right now. "All you need is time to create some new history together and things will flow naturally from that. It sounds like you're both willing to do that and then the lost time will eventually fade to the back like a bad dream."
His mouth opened and then closed again. She was right. God, she was right. All those years he'd fought the time passing by overcome by fear that he would never see his son again. But now that he had found Bae time was actually on his side. He only had to spend it with his son. A wonderful, warm feeling washed over him while he was standing by the window, alone. The most beautiful winter morning he'd ever experienced.
He realized that this was the first time in God knows how many years that someone, anyone had said something to reassure him and he felt his withered, stomped upon heart open up toward this person on the other side of the line.
"Thank you," he whispered as his whole body started to tremble and he had to tighten his grip on his cane.
"You're welcome…" Her voice was soft, almost had a melancholic quality to it. Then she fell silent, seemingly unsure how to continue.
This time Gold waited patiently, still glowing with gratitude and in the safe knowledge that she wouldn't hang up on him.
"You know, perhaps you shouldn't call your son to account about signing you up," the Australian woman eventually mused, sounding thoughtful as she made the suggestion.
Gold smiled at the sly change of subject, moving away from the intense emotions and he was grateful for her tact as his lips curled upward. She was stepping into the breach for Bae, whom she didn't even know. Her hesitant tone betrayed that she was unsure if he would accept it, but to be honest, he only found it endearing. If only Bae's own mother had been so considerate about him… It was a stray thought he abandoned quickly.
"He's obviously worried about you," the Australian woman continued in a soft tone when he didn't object. "Most people who secretly enter other people into the wake-up service are often doing so out of concern for them."
She hesitated for a moment. "I can imagine that searching for him all these years didn't leave much time to maintain relationships," she then added tentatively.
Unseen by the Australian woman his smile turned bitter as he thought about his isolated position in the Storybrooke community. "Indeed not. I'm a difficult man to love, Dearie."
To his surprise his wry words met with warm laughter though. "Somehow, I find that hard to believe."
He couldn't prevent his features softening at her spontaneous and disarming response as he shook his head indulgently. "Of course you would, Dearie. You don't know who I am."
Which wasn't entirely true anymore at this point. With the exception of his name he'd shared with her more about himself than he ever had in a lifetime with anybody else, except his boy. After thirty minutes or so she definitely knew more about him than the few facts the town of Storybrooke had to make do with. And he found that he didn't even mind. He enjoyed talking to this anonymous Australian woman. Though he could only hear her gentle voice, there was something so very warm and bright about her that he had become reluctant to hang up and actually wished he could speak with her again. He wouldn't mind to be woken by her voice tomorrow.
Limping back he cast a look at his alarm clock. Thirty minutes indeed. He really had to get going now.
"I'm sorry, Dearie, but…"
"Your son is waiting. I know," she offered understandingly. "I have to go too."
He quickly did the math. "So, you're not in Australia then?"
A sweet, tinkling laugh washed over him through the phone and he closed his eyes. Oh, God. Already he wondered how he would manage to get through the day without hearing that wonderful sound.
"Are you in Scotland?" she asked by way of reply and he smirked approvingly.
"Fair enough. So, how does this work from now on? Are you going to sing me a lullaby tonight as well? Or are you going to call me again tomorrow morning?" He fiercely prayed he'd managed to keep the hope from his voice but his heart sank when she didn't laugh again.
"No, no lullabies. Actually, the idea behind this is that you're called to be woken up by someone else every day." She sounded a bit dejected at the prospect but he didn't immediately register because disappointment settled in as he realized what this meant.
"So, you have conversations like this with all the people you call to wake?" His voice sounded resentful, almost accusatory as he was forced to face the truth about the scheme. It hurt. And it hurt more than it should. After all, here he was laying a claim on a complete stranger he'd spoken to for – about 35 minutes now.
"Actually, no. You're the first."
Gold froze when her words cut through his anger. Her voice sounded so small that he barely caught what she had said but as soon as the meaning of her words sunk in he went quiet. And his anger was dispersed by another tingle in his stomach while an intense relief as ridiculous as his anger took over.
"My apologies," he whispered and closed his eyes as the Australian woman on the other side of the line let out a long breath. "Will we ever speak again?"
The Australian woman hesitated. "Possibly. I could request to be put on your rotation list again. If I ask for it three times they will ask you if they can give me your number."
"I can give you my number now," he said tonelessly. The whole scheme sounded horribly time-consuming.
"If you'll do that the computer will break off this conversation immediately. It recognizes telephone numbers and addresses, both postal and email. Those are all measures to protect your privacy. You might regret it afterwards."
Gold very much doubted this but couldn't do much more than sigh. His ear had started to burn and now he really needed to hurry up or Bae would be late for school.
"There's nothing for it then, I suppose. Apparently fate will decide when we speak again." He hated leaving things to fate. "Will you permit me one request though?" If he had no choice but to accept these ridiculous terms than at least he could try to bend what little he could influence to his own will.
"Of course," she acquiesced immediately, drawing another smile to his lips.
"If you'd decide to ask to be put on my… rotation list the next time I want to hear more about you."
She chuckled at this. "Deal."
"Be careful what you're saying, Dearie, because no one has ever broken a deal with me," he jested and Gold basked in that delicious laugh for one last time before she responded, "I think I'll take my chances. Bye, Mr Scotsman. I hope you'll have a good day."
It already is, Gold thought but kept this to himself. Instead he said, "Goodbye Miss Australia," which earned him an amused giggle, "wishing you a very nice day too."
Fifteen minutes later he arrived downstairs, immaculate as always in one of his well-cut suits with a dark blue shirt. He didn't wear blue much, actually preferred purples, deep reds and blacks, but today the blue shirt had been the only one to catch his eye before he hastily grabbed it from the hanger. The only roguish part about his conservative appearance was his half-long brown hair streaked with silvery grey that the old-fashioned barber here in town was just dying to cut off.
Bae was already sitting at the bar, spooning up a bowl of cereal with as much enthusiasm as a lion eating spinach. He had his elbow propped up on the bar and was reading his father's newspaper, his dark curls hiding his delicate features from view.
Gold smiled. His son had only been here for half a year and apparently he'd already spoilt the child rotten with Scottish breakfasts to lure him to the kitchen on time each morning.
The soft thud of his cane accompanied him as he went over to the fridge and took out a bottle of orange juice. Silently he poured the juice into the empty glass beside his son's bowl.
He was surprised to see that the teenager had put the glass out but apparently had waited for his father to fill it for him. He wasn't a lazy boy so perhaps Bae cherished the ritual as much as the breakfast itself, he thought as he filled another bowl with cereal and milk and sat down. The realization warmed his heart and it was with mild amusement that he took in his son's disgruntled features. The Australian woman was right. Even within half a year they were already creating history together.
He missed her voice already.
Gold didn't notice when Bae looked up and studied him from underneath his eyelashes before murmuring, "The site said wake-up service. Not whole day conversation service."
He swallowed and pretended not to have heard this. "Did you say something, Bae?"
He kept his voice absent-minded to not scare off the teenager and he felt Bae's searching gaze on him before his son stood to put the bowl in the dishwasher.
"Alright then. Get your coat and I'll finish up here."
The boy nodded and dashed out of the kitchen but froze in the doorway when his father's voice called him back. "Oh, Bae. Just one thing: when you signed me up for this anonymous wake-up service did you also commit me to calling up other participants myself?"
To Gold's satisfaction the boy's eyes grew wide and his face got red as a beetroot.
Bae opened and closed his mouth but when the angry reprimand failed to come he mumbled, "No, I unchecked that option," and fled into the hallway.
Mr. Gold shook his head and smiled. It promised to be a good day indeed.
A/N: Another story is flowing from my pen and it takes the form of Good Morning, Miss Australia, a Rumbelle story. I remembered reading about this social alarm service where people can sign up to wake up strangers and it put the idea for this story in my head (perhaps I was somewhat inspired by Sleepless In Seattle too..)
This is an AU where Mr. Gold lives in a non-magical Storybrooke. He has lived and built a life there since the early days of his search for Baelfire. The next chapter will review where the mysterious Miss Australia was calling from...
The brass statue of the three wise monkeys is actually Robert Carlyle's favorite object in the shop. I thought it a nice touch to incorporate in the story.
I would like to thank my beta Delintthedarkone who's actually bouncing in anticipation for the next chapter! She's a wonderful artist who creates marvelous Rumbelle fan art. Go check out her blog on Tumblr - you won't be disappointed!
I hope you'll enjoy reading and feel free to review!