Chapter 3 – Stresses of the Sheriff

Edward entered his small apartment. Closing the door behind him, he stretched his arms, yawning as he did so. He took off his suit jacket, leaving him in his waistcoat, shirt and tie. He threw his jacket over his desk chair, before loosening his tie and undoing his top button. He walked into his kitchen, reaching for the bottle of whiskey on the side, and pouring himself a glass, before going into the freezer, and adding some ice cubes to the drink.

He walked towards his armchair, situated in front of the TV. He sat down with a sigh, taking a sip of his drink, before leaning back and closing his eyes. He felt so tired, and he had been sat at a desk all day.

He imagined that his life would have been similar, had he decided to take the CEO position of Stark Industries. Doing all the paperwork, before having to jet off to a business meeting, only to be presented with more paperwork, and then to be talked to death by a bunch of people who only cared that you followed their opinion like a Christian follows the Bible.

Tony was better at putting up with people than he was. That was why Edward knew he would make a better CEO than he ever would.

He hadn't even realised he was falling asleep until the whiskey glass fell from his hand and smashed onto the floor.

"Shit." He mumbled to himself. Ever since he had learnt about Fabletown, he had been in a state of never-ending exhaustion. He started to pick up the glass with his hands, not really paying attention, and ended up cutting himself on the glass. He sighed as he saw red liquid ooze out of the cut on his thumb and mix with the alcohol.

He walked into the kitchen, putting the glass into the bin, and getting some kitchen roll for the drink. He folded it, and placed it on the floor, allowing it to soak up the liquid. When that was clear, he used the rest of it to clean the blood off his thumb.

Finally resting back in his chair, Edward untied his shoes and took them off, relaxing back into the comfy fabric. Being Sheriff was more draining than he thought.

Cinderella had told him that it would be tough for the first few days, and after all that he had done today, he couldn't help but believe her. It would take time for him to get used to the workload that he had been given, and no doubt even longer to get used to the odd looks that were often sent towards him when he walked past the line that always seemed to be outside the business office. Either Crane didn't do his job properly, the system was broken, or people simply abused said system. Probably all three.

Edward knew the hardest part about him being Sheriff was earning the respect of the Fables in the community. No doubt many thought him inferior. Mundies were, after all, easier to kill, and didn't live nearly as long. Edward was fighting an uphill battle the moment he accepted, more like forced into, the position. His authority didn't matter if no one respected it. The previous sheriff made people fear him. It worked, but people resented him. Edward knew the best way was to get them to like him, but he had it admit, getting them to fear him could be so much easier.

It would be easier to simply hate the fables for how they looked at him. But right now, Edward wanted to reserve judgement. So far, actual interactions with fables had been mixed. He had gotten along with Snow and Cindy, but not with Crane, and whoever the hell he had threatened outside his office door. It appeared people at the Woodlands would probably be easier to get along with, but no doubt even they would still look down on him, despite his wealth or intelligence.

Most fables had an 'us vs them' attitude, something that he couldn't really blame them for. But ultimately, he was here to help them, and if they wouldn't realise that after he continuously helped them as Sheriff, then Edward could very well see himself becoming bitter and harsh towards them. He didn't have as much patience as Snow did. Then again, he wouldn't live forever. He didn't always have time to wait for someone to like or respect him. It didn't mean he wouldn't try at all, though.

Edward had a lot of things on his mind when he woke up. The first was the fact that he had woken up late, meaning he had half an hour to get dressed and out the door, meaning he would have to skip breakfast for the second day in a row.

The second, was that he didn't even remember fixing himself the drink that he hadn't drunk on his bedside table, which probably wasn't a good sign of his health

Third, his thumb had bled over his bed-sheets, which were white. He wasn't getting those stains out anytime soon.

He got up out of his chair and quickly jumped in the shower. It only took about ten minutes.

Quickly rushing to get dressed, Edward didn't even had time to dry his hair properly. It was still slightly damp.

Dressed in a grey suit with burgundy tie, he left his apartment, cup of coffee in one hand, and his keys in the other. Opening the double doors to the corridor that harboured is office, he noticed that the line was at least not as long as the day before. Then again, it was a Tuesday, perhaps the least eventful day in the world.

He entered his office, this time not seeing any paperwork on his desk. He was both pleased, yet also confused. He placed his cup of coffee down on his desk and turned his attention to the filing cabinets in the corner of the room. Moving over to them, he opened the first draw, listed A-C. There were numerous files, listing many different fables. There were numerous, and he didn't even recognise most of them.

One that did catch his eye, was the file on Cinderella. Curiosity grabbed him and made him pick up the file. Opening it, he was not prepared for what he saw.

Black ink covered pretty much all the file, making him narrow his eyes. All it stated was that she had a nickname of 'Cindy', and that she had a shoe store next to The Woodlands. Edward narrowed his eyes. He knew there was something extra about her, but what was the previous sheriff so desperate to hide about her?

He was interrupted by a knock on his door. He quickly put the folder away, not wanting to risk anyone else seeing the classified folder. It was clearly covered in black ink for a reason. He didn't want anyone else finding out about it if they didn't need to.

He approached the door, opening it, only to be greeted with someone who he didn't recognise. The man before him had blond hair in a ponytail and wore double denim.

"Hey, uh, new sheriff, right?" The man asked him.

"Yeah?" Edward asked, feeling a bit awkward.

"My name's Jack, and I'm a pretty liked member of the community. As much as I LOVE the Fabletown government, and all the amazing work that Ichabod Crane does, I would like to know why the Business Office isn't open." Jack told him.

Even though the man had an annoying way of conveying his point, the point was still valid. The Business Office should have been open by the time that Edward had opened the door to the Security Office.

"Stay here. I'll sort it out." He told the man, locking the security office door behind him. Better to be safe than sorry in his mind.

He quickly made his way to the elevator. He didn't actually know where Snow lived, so he would have to go to the bottom floor in order to find out where she lived, to then go to her floor, to then make sure that she was actually in her apartment, to then locate wherever in god's name Crane was.

Pressing the button in the elevator to go down, his mind drifted to the princess that was the objective of his little trip. Snow was clearly doing a lot of work, more than an assistant should. She seemed to really care about the community, and he had to respect her for that. He doubted the people that queued up in the line outside the office thought highly of her. And yet she wanted to look out for their best interests. It was admirable to say the least.

He didn't really know her that well, having a total of four conversations with her, but he couldn't deny the physical attraction. She was incredibly beautiful, but also his boss and co-worker, so Edward knew it would be much better for him to get those type of thoughts out of his head.

Eventually exiting the elevator, he immediately realised that the security guard that was often asleep was not even at his desk. Shaking his head, he turned to face the board next to the elevator, and searched for Snow's apartment number.

601 – S. White

He walked back into the elevator, and pressed the button for her floor. He began to imagine her apartment. No doubt it was neat and organised, but also luxurious. Snow didn't seem the type of person to tolerate any cutbacks on her upholstery. She used to be a princess, it made sense for her to have a nice apartment. He imagined it to be old fashioned, too. Lots of solid wooden furniture, perhaps a fireplace, large bookcases, expensive vases and antiques. Snow was not a show-off, but she did seem like a classy lady, so he was certain that he wouldn't be walking into a shithole.

Her apartment wasn't far away from the elevator, and he found himself hesitating to knock on her door. He was nervous. He didn't like it. Edward Stark didn't get nervous.

Stark men are made of iron

Even though you've been dead for four years, you're still controlling my life, dad.

He finally knocked on the door. Three sharp knocks. He stood there awkwardly, waiting for the door to open. He could hear some shuffling on the other side of the door. Eventually, he heard the door unlocking, and then the door opened on the other side.

The door opened, to reveal Snow White, half asleep, and completely off guard.

She was wearing silk, black pyjamas, and her hair was down, and messy. She had clearly just woken up. And yet Edward couldn't help but realise how beautiful she looked like that.

"E-Edward?" She asked, one elegant hand on the door, and the other rubbing her eye.

"Good morning, sleeping beauty." He joked.

Snow gave a chuckle. "Wrong room. She's on the 19th floor."

"You checked the time?" He asked her. She shook her head. "I would."

Snow, out of curiosity, disappeared into her apartment, presumedly to see what he was referring too. There was a bit of shuffling, and then a pause, and then silence.

"Shit." Was all he heard from the other side. He felt both amused, and bad for her at the same time.

She appeared back at the door and handed him a key.

"I need you to open the business office. Start thinning the line."

"What do you mean, 'thinning the line'?"

"Invite people in. Hear them out. Write down their complaints or wishes down, as well as their address, and tell them that they'll get a letter in reply in the coming days. I need to collect Crane from his morning massage."

"Wait, what? Can't you just open the office and I can collect Crane from his massage? You're more qualified than me an- hang on why is Crane getting a massage this early?"

Snow sighed. "I have to collect him. He likes to be informed on what occurred during the evening in the Business Office the night before. And I don't know he likes his massages so early. I stopped trying to figure out the man's reasoning years ago. Now, go, people will be getting angry."

Edward knew there was little time for debate, so with a quick nod, he left.

Back down at the Business Office, he received a lot of confused and curious looks from the people waiting in line as he opened the door to the office. He turned to the first person in line. He was a short and chubby man, with a rather bloated face, and was dressed in a sweater and slacks.

"Come in, you're dealing with me." He told him, holding the door. The man gave him a look but walked in regardless.

Edward closed the door behind him and moved over to sit in Crane's chair. He had to admit, it was pretty comfy. The business Office was large, full of bookshelves and other random artifacts he originally just assumed were for decorative reasons, but now suspected that several them had a magical purpose to them.

"Right, what's your problem, Mr…" He trailed off. Perhaps that wasn't the best way to be all diplomatic and to start the conversation, but, in his defence he was still exhausted, last night's sleep seemingly not done much to regain his energy, and he was more concerned with fiddling for the cigarette packet and lighter in his pockets.

"Toad. Mr Toad." The man replied, in a southern English accent, as Edward managed to get a cigarette out of his packet.

He remembered Mr Toad from one of the files he had looked at a couple of days before. Contrary to the file he had read, Toad was actually in his glamour for once. Also based on his file, Toad was probably here for money.

"What can I do for you, Mr Toad?" Edward asked, before lighting his cigarette.

"I'm having a bit of trouble scrounging the money for the next set of glamour I need for me and my boy." He told Edward, as the billionaire took a drag of his cigarette.

"You want a loan, Mr Toad?" Edward asked, holding his cigarette in his mouth as he reached for a notepad and a pen, before scribbling down Toad's name.

"Well… I was sort of hoping for more of a grant." Toad admitted to him.

Edward stared at the short man before him, one eyebrow raised. The Toad that was in the file had come out on full display. Now all he needed was for Toad to use his son as a tool to generate sympathy, and the file would be completely accurate. He didn't know the laws on giving out grants or loans in Fabletown.

"I know, I know. You lot normally don't give out money for stuff like that, but I'm begging you 'ere mate. If I don't get me glamour then I'll have to go to the farm. I can't let my boy be taken away from the only home he's ever known!" Toad resorted to pleading quickly. And he had used his kid as emotional leverage. The file was accurate.

Edward had half a mind just to tell him to fuck off. It was pretty cheeky just to ask for money blatantly. However, he also knew that most fables probably hated him. One act of kindness could help him out in the future. Taking another drag of his cigarette, he made his decision.

"Look, I have no real authority to give you anything, and I doubt Crane would give you shit either." He told him. "But, just this once, I'll do you a favour." Edward reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. The billionaire pulled out $200.

"Use that for your glamour, Toad." He told the man, putting the money on the desk in front of him. "Make sure you start saving. I won't keep giving you handouts all the time."

"Thank you very much Sheriff. I'll put it to good use." The man told him, standing up. Although he wasn't much bigger than the chair itself. He sort of waddled out of the door.

Edward took another drag of his cigarette as the next person came in.

Eventually, he had seen half the line himself when Crane finally entered. Edward watched as the old man stormed towards him, his face contorted with anger.

"What do you think you're doing, sheriff? Smoking in my office?" Crane demanded.

"I've just seen to half the line, and you're complaining about smoking?" Edward asked, getting up from the chair, looking at the deputy mayor in disbelief.

"If you want to be sheriff of this town, then you must respect the rules!"

Edward ignored him, walking past him, moving towards the door, and to Snow.

"Watch yourself sheriff. You know the alternative."

Edward could not describe the rage that filled him at that comment. He'd never wanted to hit someone as much as he wanted to hit Crane in that moment. Instead of voicing his anger, he turned to Snow.

"Do you have some work for me, Miss White?" He asked. If Snow could see the rage in his eyes, she didn't say, simply nodding and handing him a selection of files. He nodded.

Edward walked out, not looking back.

Edward spent a good five hours in his office. It was 16:00 before he managed to complete all the paperwork and reports. It had been the worst day since he had been involved in the community. Crane had brought up the reason why he had been forced into the role as sheriff in the first place.

It was tough, and after he spent a couple of hours in his apartment, drinking, showering and cleaning, he decided to visit the woman who had given him some clarity in his whole situation.

He entered the shoe store, the bell sounding that the door had opened. He heard a familiar voice saying goodbye to a customer, as a woman passed by him to exit the store. He walked towards the counter, watching as the blonde haired woman closed the till and then turned to him, giving him a warm smile.

"You look like shit, Edward." She joked, kind of. No doubt he looked exhausted.

"Before, I respond, I need to tell you just how much I hate Ichabod Crane."

"Bad day, huh?" She asked, leaning against the counter.

"The worst I've had for a while."

"Coffee?" She asked. She was about to close the store.

"I brought doughnuts." He held up a paper bag.

"You know the way to my heart, Dr Stark." She grinned.

Upon arriving upstairs, Cindy turned on the kettle, and got out two small plates. She placed the doughnuts that Edward had brought on one plate, and a few biscuits on the other, before moving over to the coffee table, and placing them down.

Cindy's apartment was fairly open. The kitchen, living room and dining room were all part of one room, with two bathrooms, one connected to the bedroom, and the other connected to the main room. The kitchen was in the corner left from the door, with the living room next to it, and the dining table adjacent to the kitchen.

"So, what's ailing you sheriff?" Cindy asked, as the both of them sat down on the leather sofa.

"You know how I got into this job, Cindy?" He asked her.

"No, not really. I just assumed you invested in the community and Crane brought you in."

"God, I wish." He chuckled. His tone then went serious." I… saw something in the Business Office. A monkey, with wings. I was so shocked at first, I had forgot there was someone else in the room. It was just me and Snow until Crane came along. He told her to use a spell to wipe my mind… but Snow fought my corner and managed to save me from getting hexed by convincing him to appoint me as Sheriff."

"So you never really wanted this?"

"Yeah. I've been put into this situation, and, I'm just constantly tired, and I know if I slip up, Crane has the excuse to fucking mind fuck me." Edward continued. "I don't want to give him the excuse, but I don't want to just be subservient to him. He's so fucking pathetic. I can't take an order from him without wanting to repeatedly punch him in the face, yet I can't do shit about it."

"I'm pretty sure everyone knows how much of an asshole Crane is. It doesn't surprise me that he would do something like that. Ultimately though, there was no way anyone who is a part of Fabletown would let you go with the knowledge that you had. We hide this community for good reasons and risking the reveal of Fabletown to the Mundy world is a serious crime with a large sentence. Ultimately, he kind of had to do what he did."

"I guess, but if he had just explained the situation to me, then I wouldn't have exposed them."

"Sure, I believe you, but put yourself in his shoes. He didn't know that. And he couldn't risk exposure of the Fabletown. That doesn't mean that he's right to hold the threat over you all the time, but that's just how he's dealing with it."

"Yeah, I guess. Still an asshole, though."

"Oh, believe me, no one's disagreeing with you there. Honestly I don't know why King Cole put him in charge."

"Maybe he knows Crane is too much of a coward to really enact any kind of change."

"Maybe. It's just… Fabletown has spent a long time under his jurisdiction, and it's all gone to shit."

"And now you have a mundy as a sheriff."

"Hey, don't put yourself down. You'll get used to the work, and when you do, you'll be good for the community."

"I think you and Snow White are the only ones with that opinion."

"What do you think of Snow White?" Cindy asked. Edward had a feeling what she was getting at but decided to feign ignorance.

"She's… very dedicated to her job. She cares a lot about Fabletown and she's…"

"Hot?" Cinderella finished. Edward turned his head to her then.

"Not what I was going to say."

"You don't think she is?"

"No, I do… but…" He found himself getting rather flustered at the insinuation.

"It's fine to admit. Every man in Fabletown wants Snow White between the sheets." She continued to tease him.

"I'm not about to sleep with her just because I think she's attractive. She's my boss. It's weird."

"Not necessarily. Besides, Snow's not the type of person to just sleep with someone. She's… been through a lot."

"Charming?" He asked, referring to the ex-husband of both Cinderella and Snow.

"Partly. It was worse for her than it was for me. Charming fucked her sister. The rest is… not for me to say."

"I never once suggested I wanted to sleep with her."

"No, but I know you're attracted to her, even if you don't know it yet."

"Are you some sort of Oracle?"

"Call it feminine intuition."

"Can your feminine intuition tell me how to get through excessive amounts of paperwork without feeling like ass afterwards?"

"Don't think even my powers can help you there, Sheriff."

"Shame. Guess I'm relying on excessive amounts of coffee, then."

Briar Rose was having another shitty night. She had gone out for some shopping in the evening, and nothing had gone well for her. She had gotten the wrong size of clothing, the burger she got tasted like shit, and she had gotten her boots covered in dirt, and now it was raining.

She pulled the hood up on her red coat, walking quickly attempting to get home. The streets of New York were littered with Chinese food boxes and cigarette stubs, the streetlamps shining against the now wet, black tarmac of the road and the pavement.

She passed a bar as she walked down, attempting to find a taxi. The Trip Trap. It looked like a dump. She noticed someone standing outside, but, with the rain and the darkness, she couldn't make out who.

Her gaze didn't linger long, turning back to the street in front of her. The street seemed to go on forever. Houses and shops looked the same, and the rain continued to pour, dampening her black jeans. Her hands, covered in black leather gloves, adjusted her hood.

She cursed as her auburn hair that she had tucked into her hood became loose, becoming wet thanks to the torrent of water that fell from the sky. At least she was only going back to her apartment in the Woodlands. She cursed under her breath as she saw the clothes she bought getting wet as the rain fell through the opening in the bag.

It was then she got a strange feeling, as though someone was watching her, or following her. She turned her head, her body turning just enough to get a glimpse behind her in her peripheral vision. She felt her heart thump as she saw a hooded figure following her. She began to walk a bit faster, pushing the limit without breaking out into a jog. The figure was still gaining on her, the pace of his legs matching her, but his strides much greater.

Briar had lived for a very long time. She had been through quite a lot of shit, but the Mundy world was different to the Homelands. There was even less of a sense of morality in the mundane world than there was in the already brutal Homelands. There were more bad people in the mundane world.

She became desperate as she could hear him right behind her, and her resolve broke.

She broke out into a run, as fast as she could in her heeled boots anyway. The effort was in vain, she knew that.

She felt forceful, large hands grab her from behind, stopping her in her tracks. She managed to get part of a scream out before a hand clamped tightly over her mouth.

His other hand grabbed her handbag, trying to pry it from her hand. She used her other hand to grab onto it, attempting to stop the man from robbing it.

She pulled with all she could muster, desperately trying to get away. The hooded figure, which she could see had a fairly large beard, pulled even harder though, and pulled her towards him, despite putting her whole body weight behind it.

She attempted to let out another scream, but the man beat her to it, backhanding her across the face.

The power of the blow made her let go of her handbag and she went sprawling to the floor, hitting the cold, wet, tarmac.

When she looked, all she could make out was the figure of her attacker running off down the dark street.

A/N: Okay, so, the end of this chapter is naturally going to be the focus of next chapter.

I do plan on Edward donning the suit soon, probably by Chapter 6 you will see Edward kicking ass in the suit. But I don't want him getting it straight away. I feel like he needs something that proves to him that he A) is outmatched, and B) in dire need of something that will help him do his job. I imagine you'll probably know who the robber is, but Edward will have no idea without any direction.

Briar Rose is a character from the comics - you also see her apartment in the game - and while she won't have a major role in the story, she will pop up from time to time. I know most of the characters introduced like Edward, but that's only because they're either good people, or are simply willing to look past the fact that he's a mundy. Trust me, a lot of characters are going to hate him. He will have to earn their respect and trust, and that isn't going to be easy.

Thanks for reading :)

Also Crane is a dick.