Desperate Souls

Chapter 1:Rabbit Heart

Lanolin Oil

Watching as he flipped through a folder of some sort, Emma listened to his words and visibly stiffened. "What do you mean, it seems I belong here? Haven't you ever heard the phrase "Trust no one"? I'm not purposely trying to be cruel to you, it's just ... well ... I can't trust you as far as I can throw you."

Mr Gold did what he'd do best and ignored her insults. "If that'd be all can you leave me to my odoriferous lanolin." He took out the little can and headed for the back room.

Emma began to pick at a lacquered nail and had to stifle a laugh. "Odoriferous? Always good to know Storybrooke still believes in a thesaurus. Although I can't imagine what in God's name lanolin is."

As Gold retreated to the back room, she called after him, "And is this how you treat all your customers? You turn your back so you can bask in your "odoriferous lanolin"?"

"Trust me, Miss Swan, it smells."

As he went into the back room he got his ever so famous green and very fashionable apron and put it on gracefully. Only then he turned back to her, expecting her to follow him for he knew she was curious and wouldn't easily give in or be beaten in a game.

And their battle of words could be called just that: a game. He got out a little can of lanolin that seemed to be made of dead animals rather than living as it was reeking just so, and opened it. "Smell, Emma?" He grinned cheekily, knowing she would smell rather than see what he meant.

Emma quirked a brow. "Do I smell? No, I can safely assure you I'm a Suave kind of girl... I never leave home without it." When she caught a whiff of what he was referring to, however, she immediately made a face. "Oh, God...that's disgusting. I seriously don't see how you can stand it."

If anything, it reminded her of dissecting cats in her 10th grade anatomy class. The room was smelled with the sterile, bizarre scent of formaldehyde, and the odor of the deceased was far worse.

"This, I use it to preserve my things and-" here he paused, closed the lid and turned to put it neatly on the working table he owned in the tiny room. "I prefer doing it here. It means I don't have to unnecessarily drag antiques to my home and neither do I have to endure the smell at night."

He caught her eyes and wondered how exactly she had interpreted his last 'I prefer doing it here' sentence.

Watching him repair a knick-knack, she shook her head and was tempted to pinch her nose shut. The smell wasn't the worst she'd ever endured, but she certainly wasn't enjoying conversing in such conditions. Gold probably knew that, the smug little perp.

"You repair a lot of things? Why, do you get so excited you break the merchandise?" She gibed, not understanding why he was making such a big fuss. Last time she checked, he wasn't exactly owning a booming business.

He leaned against the bench. "Look, I didn't mean to insult you before. What I tried to say was; sometimes you remind me of all the people. All the people here who walk about and never wonder, never question their existence. How did we come to life? How were we born? Who was our father?"

He was hinting at the loss of memory all the citizens suffered from, and not as much implied Emma's lack of knowledge about her own parents as much as he was indicating that she had forgotten Henry's origins.

Who had taken advantage of her when she was a rebellious teen? Who was the mysterious man Henry didn't know of and who didn't know he had a son. Why was Emma trying so hard to keep this information from them?

Tempted to pick up a particularly odd item, Emma instead chewed on her lip and demanded, "Yeah? Well why should we question our existence? I know where I came from, so let's leave it at that... Most of us have pasts we'd rather forget about. I'm sure you do, too - most people who're "feared" didn't exactly lead cozy lives prior."

Mr Gold's gaze became intense now. Trying to ignore his intense gaze, she demanded, "Why do you care what the people of Storybrooke think so much? If anything, I wouldn't have thought you'd care at all."

At this the only reply Mr Gold could give was that wickedly crooked smile of him which only lifted the left corner of his lips. His eyes twinkled but he gave her no direct answer and blew against the item he was mending.

"What I wanted to say is," He started, "I feel flattered you decided to stay for a little longer, Emma. And as your benefactor and humble servant, " he bowed mockingly and left the chair he'd been seated on, "and as the gentleman I am I should offer you some refreshment."

If Gold had been trying to ruffle Emma's composure, he'd succeeded. She hadn't meant to stay so long, but she still had a couple hours until Henry got home from school. It's not like she had any friends in town, nor any immediate obligations that needed attending. For being a Sheriff, the job was a bit uneventful thus far... It seemed that nobody ever "misbehaved" except for Regina and Gold, himself.

Deciding to meet his barb with rancor, she coolly returned, "Don't get used to it - I make it a habit of familiarizing myself with my enemies."

She wasn't entirely sure if Gold was her enemy yet, but she didn't appreciate how he kept weaseling his way in and out of her business. For instance, why was he so concerned with her Sheriff position? It's not like she could offer him anything with her newfound power... But then, she couldn't think like a dirty crook. It wasn't in her nature to beat a nasty individual at their own game.

"Would you like some coffee or tea? I'm having coffee myself." He limped over to the coffee machine and with his gloves removed made a cup.

Only half-listening to his offer, Emma dismissively waved a hand and shook her head. "No thanks... Especially since there might be some odoriferous lanolin in that concoction. You must not be used to entertaining too many "guests," because I can guarantee this isn't the right ambiance... A simple Glade plug-in would've sufficed."

"You're right. I don't often have to entertain my guests as I don't often have visitors who stay over. Not during this time of the day though. The Mayor used to come but she doesn't fancy the thought of being here what with the smell and me supporting you and all." He smiled cunningly. His coffee was ready.

Rubbing the back of her neck, Emma asked, "What, no lanolin sleepovers with the Mayor? She struck me as the "dead animal-loving" type..." When she fully realized what he'd said, she demanded, "What do you mean, "not during this time of the day"? You actually entertain people at ungodly hours? Or did you and Regina just start some weird, twisted cult for the oppressors of Storybrooke?" Rolling her eyes at his comment, she grumbled, "Yeah, well...I can't really say I'm overly thrilled that you're my biggest supporter. That's almost like getting endorsed by Hitler, no offense."

Emma realized she was finally becoming a little relaxed, because her bitter humor always poked through when she let her guard down. Being a hard-ass 24 7 was just too tiring...

Mr Gold smirked, for he recognized her weakened position. She was slowly becoming vulnerable again. It wasn't exactly what he needed of her but he expected for her brain to process words better when she was less focused on insulting and denigrating the people she was talking to.

"I'll make you some tea then." He said with a bright smile that told her he would not accept a no. And not only for the mere fact he looked as if he would completely ignore any protests on her account. Thus he prepared her a cup of tea.

"Which taste? Or would you want me to pick?" He held out a small wooden box containing different flavors.

Emma quirked a brow. "And if I told you I'm hopelessly allergic to tea, and that my tongue will swell up and block my air passage, you'd still refuse to accept a 'no'? Nice guy... Although unfortunately for me, I can't say I'm allergic." Looking down at the offered box in distaste, she non-committedly urged, "Um...just surprise me. As long as it's not laced with arsenic, I won't complain. I'm not exactly known as a tea connoisseur around here."

"Your tea will be done in a moment, dear. Do sit down." He gestured for her to sit down and Emma took a glance at the antique chair behind her and paused. "If I break this chair, I'm not paying since you offered... It looks older than dust." Cautiously easing herself down, Emma tested the chair for support, then gradually relaxed herself so that she was seated. So far so good...

"Of course you won't be paying it," Mr Gold said with sarcasm dripping from each word, "I asked you to sit down there." He waited for her to sit and as he did so he started to polish a silvery cup.

Emma sneered at Gold's tone. Was he fed up with her barbs, or was he finally going to dish out some of his own? Watching him polish some sort of silver cup, she muttered, "I hope that's not the first time you've cleaned that thing... It looks a couple centuries old. I know it's a pawn shop, but don't you have anything remotely contemporary? I'd feel so lonely sitting in a room filled with nothing but yesterday's past..."

The water behind him started to boil and he spun round to hurry and make her cup of tea.

"I take it Regina wouldn't mind," Emma started, but didn't finish her sentence. She somwhoe thought yesterday was exactly the way to describe the town's proud mayor.

Mr Gold stood with his back turned towards her as he decided not to reply to her complains. First things first; She had the wrong impression of him. "In contrary to your little fantasies I am not Regina's type to hang out with."

Hearing Gold's assurances, Emma couldn't help but smile. "Fair enough, but I can't really say that anyone is Regina's type...except maybe Kathryn, I guess. You two probably have to get along because it's expected."

He snickered as he filled her cup. His sleeve hung slightly over it which could be rousing suspicion. "And I have been to parties, Emma. Though I do not tend to enjoy them as much as you young people do."

Tapping her foot against the hardwood floor, she watched him pour the drink and quirked a brow. "We "young people"? I'm at the age where I've had enough of silly get-togethers, quite frankly. If I recall correctly, it was one of said "silly get-togethers" that caused me to have a son. I thank God for him every day, of course, but he'll never truly be mine. If only I'd been older..."

"Older." Mr Gold murmured, "I suppose it is all related to age. Or perhaps in my case the hobble and trouble it gives me moving around." Another blow. He was attacking her mockery by referring to his own state of disability. He was making her the cruel villain and him the gent.

Shrugging it off, she ignored Gold's comment about his limp since she found it awkward. She hated talking about sensitive subjects, even if the man before her deserved to be taken down a few pegs.

Possibly four.

He handed her the cup of tea and smiled. "Here you are, dear."

When Gold handed her the tea, Emma took it with reluctant hands. Staring down into its murky depths, she gave it a sniff, then knitted her brows at the odd smell. "I'm beginning to think you have nothing normal in this shop," she confessed, now taking a tentative sip. "Ick...I mean...yum, thanks. Just what I need."

Mr Gold thought about her comment about the get-togethers and the way it had resulted in their son. He was very well aware of these events, or particularly this one, as he had been present at the time. His body was prickly from head to toe as his soul ached to reveal the truth, but the darkness that shrouded him and burdened him did not allow him to be so open. Besides, it was much too dangerous. Yet, it befell him hard to keep completely silent, and as she had commented once again on the 'old' state of everything in his shop he sat down and wrinkled his nose, frowning at her. He could not help but retort.

"Perhaps if you'd owned a pawnshop you would have felt old enough to care for the boy." Darnit, again on the subject. He smiled mysteriously at her, as if he knew so much more, and put forth a shoulder charmingly.

Time to rescue to escalating situation, he thought, and quickly continued in an attempt to flatter her.

"But with your personality it is hard to imagine anything you couldn't do."

Mr Gold knew all too well it had been his very own fault Emma had been in jail at the time she had to give birth. It was one of the parts of his plan that would guarantee for the good-hearted girl to give up her baby. He knew he'd have his son nearby and please the queen, whilst at the same time he had the guarantee that their savior would come to town. Snow didn't get the fairy tale book by coincidence either. She had bought it from Gold's shop when he had suggested it to her.

Mr Gold had planned everything a long time ago when Emma had just been a baby Swan.

Emma's head jerked up in surprise. "Perhaps if I'd owned a pawnshop ? Excuse me, but how in God's name would that have made me feel more responsible and able to care for him? I've loved Henry ever since I held him in my arms, but I knew I could never have just wasn't meant to be."

Taking a cleansing breath, she tried to calm herself since she didn't want to make a scene. Gold's constant harping on her caregiving was beginning to bother her, because she couldn't fix the mistakes of her past.

He surprised her by showing concern. "Have you considered getting the boy's custody back?"

Biting her lip and turning her cup around in her hands, she gave a scoff and shook her head. "Custody? Are you kidding me? Regina would sooner have me killed than enter a legal battle... That, and I honestly don't know if I could give Henry everything he needs. I'm not exactly rich..."

With a roll of the eyes, she added, "And now that my being a jail bird has come to light, I doubt there'll be a judge in the world who'll let me keep my son. "

"Emma, you've had your reasons to be in jail but surely no mom should be condemned because of that. Perhaps I could have a look at your legal papers? I am your benefactor after all."

He smiled to her in such a way that he practically dared her to refuse him the right. Mr Gold's hand found his cup of coffee again, which had been forgotten when he had busied himself with the silver and the tea for his guest, and he took a sip, then smiled again. He leaned forward, bringing himself closer to her.

"If you really want to then all you need to do is say the word and you can have my support." With a mysterious smile he eased back again and glanced away.

"But you're right. Now would be too early for these sort of plans. Just keep in mind never to lose faith. I know you've it in you, Emma. You have what it takes to be a good parent. Already you're the mother Henry wishes for and you're making it true. You'll be a good parent."

Any other word could not come out. Mr Gold's memories troubled him and reminded him of where he had failed. And thus he opted for silence and a thoughtful gaze.

Emma quirked a brow. "Alright, I got why you wanted to help me get the Sheriff position, because of the whole deal and all, but why would you want to help me get my son back? I've done nothing for you to make you take my side in this, so if this is some personal vendetta against Regina, I honestly don't want to get involved. I've got enough on my plate as it is."

Tracing her finger along the rim of her cup, she added softly, "But if you're doing this because you genuinely want to help? ...I-I guess I can't really refuse. Henry is my only Achilles heel, and I'm not ashamed to admit it." Not seeming to notice his expressions or how he'd drawn himself closer, Emma kept her furrowed gaze on the floor and she anxiously jiggled her foot. "I guess that more than anything, I'm afraid to lose... I feel like I've finally been given a second chance, so I'd hate to just wake up and find out it's all blown up in my face."

With an inward groan, she realized she was getting sentimental...around Gold , of all people. She didn't want him knowing she had a soft side, because he wasn't her friend. Perhaps he was an ally of sorts, but she couldn't trust him yet.

Mr Gold, however, remained silent and in a pensive state. His eyes were averted, his lips tightly clipped, his chin resting on his hand. All in all he looked lost in thought as he pondered what to do or say next. He wanted to make her feel at ease but there was nothing he could say that wouldn't make him seem weak too.

Vouchsafing no reply, the older male brought his cup of coffee close to his lips again and blew against the hot surface. Small traces of steam escaped and indicated the coffee itself wasn't to go down without a fight. Mr Gold noticed thus albeit having his eyes turned to the floor, and instead of taking a sip he blew again and waited.

An awkward silence filled the room.