I walk from the jail cell Monday morning, holding the chipped cup in both hands. How Regina knew, I cannot begin to guess. But the cup must be placed more securely, in case there is a next time.
Sheriff Swan tells me the father is having trouble breathing through his broken face. If I have done any good in these few days, it has been to give him a dose of the pain he gave me.
The pain he gave her. The torture he imposed. The agony. The shame.
If he had only let her go, thrown her to the great wide world and left her at its mercy, there would have been time to act. I could have changed things, set them right.
She told me my heart would be empty.
It is not so.
It bursts to hold this china in my fingers. There is so much inside. Fury. Regret. Despair...
The cup is brimming with magic. I have felt it, even in this mortal cocoon to which the Queen has us bound. It didn't feel this way before, on its plinth at the castle.
There it was empty, and so was I.
Here, things are different. The cup is the key. All I have to do is find the lock.
From the station I turn away from home, from the empty castle dressed as a townhouse. Instead I walk the streets, searching for the boy. The fact that he knows to fear me is enough. He is the Queen's own private curse, and he knows both she and I to be evil. Such rare instinct does not happen by chance.
It is afternoon before I find him, skipping school at the woodland playground. He sits alone, clutching a tender parchment page. Henry is crying. The power of the Dark One calls to me from a remembered world. Pain is weakness. The time to strike is nigh.
I wipe off the tears with my sleeve, but I know he's already seen them. Just when you think you have a moment alone. Red eyes shining, I hang my head.
"Shouldn't you be at school?"
Again with the lectures. I could do without another one today.
"I guess so." I manage a trembling squeak of a reply. Pathetic. But to the point.
"Oh," he says, and his voice is different somehow. "You're upset."
And now I look at him. Mr Gold looks tired, more tired than I've ever seen him. I guess I never really thought about how old he was before, but now he looks old and sad. And kind of human.
"I'll not tell Mary Margaret that I saw you." He starts to get up. "I'm sorry I disturbed you."
As he moves, I see the cup in his hands. Thin china, the chip in one side.
"What is that Mr Gold?"
I can't help myself. It looks so much like a drawing from the book. I close my eyes for half a moment, and see it on the page. The chipped cup. The empty heart. A beautiful lady. A vicious beast.
"This?" He asks, standing crooked, holding the cup. "It's just a-"
A moment passes. He looks as though he might just leave.
"It doesn't matter." Finally, a reply. "Why do you ask?"
Henry sighs, feels the tears from before coming back. "You wouldn't believe me. Nobody does." Emma runs across my mind, that stern look. I can feel the pink in my cheeks, and now I wish Gold had left, that I hadn't said a word.
He sits back down.
Everything seems to have gotten a little weirder. It ought to be Emma sitting here, asking for the story. Not him. But his face, that worried old face makes me feel strange. Like I should tell him. Like he might not think I'm crazy after all.
"I've seen that cup in a storybook, that's all."
"That would be quite some tale, the misadventures of a tiny chipped teacup..."
Henry laughs. I chance a glance at his tear stained face. I smile a small smile to him.
"No," he replies, as I had hoped, "it's part of a bigger story."
A pause there, as though he's working me out. I drop the smile a little, keeping my eyes on his. The boy looks away.
"Beauty and the Beast."
As I move to reply, a lump forms in my throat. What I want to say, what I need to say, is reluctant to come out. But if I'm going to see this through, find out what magic this cup holds in this mortal realm, I must go on.
"This belonged to a beauty."
The words are more choked than I'd like a ten-year-old to hear. But I stand by them, keeping my face drawn and sad. It isn't hard, once I start to see her dreamlike face creep into view.
"And she was almost mine."
I rise to my feet once more, this time to leave for real.
"Beauty and the Beast." I shake my head, give the boy that same small smile. "You might be onto something there."
Since Gold left this morning, I've been a little lost. My half-hour with Henry yesterday was a big plate of awkward, with a side of the poor use of the word 'delusional'. Classic mistake, just the kind I'm used to making. I know I've hurt him, but it's not like I can just walk over to Regina's and try to make it right.
A productive day of waiting for the phone to ring passes slowly. Until, at a quarter to three, the office doors burst open, and in runs a flushed-faced boy. My boy.
He keels over, leaning on a chair to catch his breath. I reach him in seconds, a hand on his shoulder, not-so-secretly pleased that he's back on my side so soon.
"I found a way to make you believe me," he says, gasping.
I can't help my reservations, but the hope in his eyes would be a sore sight to miss right now. He breaks into a huge smile, wraps his arms around my waist. I want to laugh at his excitement, but I hold it back to just a smile.
"So, what's this great scheme of yours?"
He pulls away, beaming up at me, and takes a deep breath.
"We're going to fix Mr Gold."