It was a dreary little place, with starched white walls of cracked paint, sticky concerte floors, exposed pipes running the length of the ceiling. The atmosphere already sends waves of foreboding through him. It has been approximately two minutes since he entered the building. Between the stairs, the nurse's desk, and the long, long hallways, he has taken his time. No need to rush. After twenty-eight years, the situation wasn't likely to alter. That is, provided Emma did not aggravate the circumstances.

The Chosen One. Their Savior. Emma Swan. So far, she'd brought about floods of change. Some good. Some more…troublesome. Nevertheless, he'd rather deal with her than Regina. And now, thanks to Emma, he wouldn't have to deal with the witch for much longer.

His cane makes resolute taps every few feet as he hobbles down the hall, descending deeper and deeper into the single-person ward. Upon nearing the painted metal door, he quickens his pace, though his leg protests loudly with shocks of pain. The ache radiates beyond muscle deep into bone. No matter—-he was close.

The pawnbroker stops just before the imposingly simple grey door. He sees the hooded slot. His heart clenches. True, he'd once locked her in a room of a similar design. However, that had been prior to when he-when he knew.

Quivering. He cannot prevent his hands from shaking, quivering. As though he was an old (older? He was already quite old) man. Long and lean digits simply wouldn't stop quaking. Closing his eyes, Gold takes in an unsteady breath. At this rate, he would be nothing more than a pile of Jello by the time the door was opened.

It must be opened. All doors should be opened. They've been closed far too long.

So, Gold opened his doors. And, then, and only then, did he take the handle of grey door and force it open in one graceless motion, the hinges squealing frightfully. Light seeps into the corners of the room like breath of spring air, cutting one white beam across the cold stone floor.

And there she is. Waiting.

She isn't the princess he remembers. Matted hair, wild eyes…ha, she resembles his formerly unkempt self. For a brief moment, he is amused. Then, he recalls what he ought to be feeling, what he cannot help but feel when around her; scared.

Oh yes, she frightened him as no one could. Delicate and bright, he could never earn the grace of her companionship. And yet, he would try.



Her eyes are stuck on his thin shadow, but when he enters the cell, they instantly train on him. He can see fear reflected in their blue depths. Of him? Of the situation? Of what?

Once fully in the room, he finds an inability to move further, or even speak. It's as if she were a timid woodland creature, a deer, perhaps. He must be careful in his approach. Or, at least, that what he keeps telling himself. Slow. Careful. Gentle.

They stare long and hard. After a lengthy moment—second—minutes—days-a century-she shifts on the pallet to lift her skinny arms, followed by thin white hands. An offering. He crosses the cell in a flash, far too quickly for a cripple. The dam is broken.

He falls to bury his face in her knees. Gentle hands stroke his hair.

"You had her love-" he had screamed to French that night in the cabin. Well, he, Gold, did as well. And he was no better than French.

Had it been the florist he had focused his yells upon that night? Or had he perhaps been crying to himself, punishing himself for the last twenty-some-odd years of misery and guilt?

"-and you threw it away!"

Against her calf, his fists tighten. Never. Again.


He what? He does not deserve to speak to her, let alone taint her flesh with his most unkind hands. But her strokes do not cease. She is calm.

He tries again. "I-"

Nothing comes out. Must he always stumble before her? Like a fool?

The young woman slows her caresses to lift his head, sliding fingers from the base of his neck to the edge of his jaw carefully. Slowly. Steady. Cautious. Nothing like him and his fumbling figure.

When he finally dares to lift his gaze, she is not-quite smiling. The pert red lips quiver -as his hands still are prone to do-and he is forced to marvel over how one girl has effortlessly reduced him to a trembling boy kneeling at her feet.

"I missed you, too," she says, every bit the princess she was born to be. The princess she continues to be, even when locked away in an asylum. There is a smile in her tone. She is…amused. Charmed by his flaws.

He can, of course, say nothing in return, except a low sigh. Pressing his brow to hers, Gold closes tired eyes, knowing that for once the wicked would receive their happy end. All doors were open. His, hers, theirs. She'd inadvertently pushed and pushed and pushed for give. And here they were. Doors wide open.