Desperate Souls

Chapter 2: Fragmentation

Birds

Mary Margaret shook her head in disapproval. "Oh, Emma...do you have to drink like that?"

"What, like a fish?" She shot back. "Nothing wrong with a little bit of liquid courage...eh, Gold? Since it is your wine, I'm just drinking it because you're rich, right? Because everyone's after you for your money."

Mary Margaret pinched the bridge of her nose. So much for being tongue in cheek.

Pouring herself another glass, Emma ignored Gold's dark gaze and momentarily wondered how she could've ever felt sorry for him. It was true, she'd felt rather guilty after the water fiasco, but now that he was implying she was some sort of financial leech, she was infuriated and sullen.

When Mary Margaret saw her friend reach for the bottle yet again, her hand quickly covered Emma's and she asked, "Don't you think you've had enough?"

"Not by a long-shot," the blonde spat, helping herself to a few more glasses until she finally felt herself growing warm and congenial.

Bending forward with her elbows on the table, Emma gave a wolfish smile and leaned toward Gold in an almost conspiratorial manner. With her voice in a harsh whisper, she announced, "I'm going to find out what makes you tick. I'm gonna find out what you're hiding."

"Emma," Mary Margaret warned, her lips pressing together, "Emma, please..."

"No, no, it's alright - I'm just making conversation," she coyly insisted. Now sending Gold another sidelong glance, she added, "I like puzzles... Gimme a clue, wouldja?"

"Emma Swan!"

Looking toward Mary Margaret in bewilderment, she'd sounded remarkably like a mother figure there, Emma began to wring her hands in her lap and swallow. Oh God, the room was spinning. Instead of one miffed Gold, there were three.

"Too many Golds," she murmured, now placing a hand over her eyes. "I'm sorry... What were we talking about?"

"About how grateful we are to our guest for coming," Mary Margaret insisted, her eyes firm as she hoped Emma would take this and run with it.

Emma, however, merely stared at Gold and tried to figure out why he was so silent. He had a beautiful dark-haired beauty to his left, so why wasn't he being more out-going? She never understood why men would look Mary Margaret over. She was by far the prettier one, in Emma's mind.

Mr Gold remained silent as he watched Mary glance at Emma. So far Mary was more interesting to watch than Emma, despite the alluring clothes the blonde was wearing. He had tried to ignore her complains about him but was now fed up and ever so thankful that Mary at least tried to subdue Emma's harsh comments.

"It's of no concern," He suddenly said, sipping from his wine. "I think you've stated it more than enough, Miss Blanchard. And I think it's ever so evident that Miss Swan isn't as pleased as you are. In fact, I think the topic I was called for to discuss here might only be discussable with you, Miss Blanchard." He eyed Mary with a dazzling smile, "As Miss Swan seems to have had a bit too much of a drink."

He placed his glass in front of him and fumbled his pocket for his phone. When he got it out he clicked a button, denying an incoming message from Sidney. He gave a wry smile and put the phone back in his pocket again.

"It might be better for you, Miss Swan, to be put to bed." There was a glint of mischief in his eyes as he remembered when she'd been drugged by him and they'd spent the night in a little hotel, producing Henry. How many times had this memory surfaced by now? It seemed to come to him more and more often as of late, taking up almost entire days and urging him to do it again. Again? Did he just think that? The thought became more accessible and the act less repulsive. It might be the only way for her to regain her memory, he figured silently. He took up his fork to play with it. He needed to stop this thought from distracting him. He had been called her for a certain reason.

"I think Miss Blanchard and I are perfectly capable of discussing matters."

Mary Margaret pursed her lips, then bowed her head as she pretended to dab at her lips with her napkin. She didn't know whom she should tried to appease more - Mr. Gold or Emma - but all she did know was that everything had gotten considerably tense.

Upon hearing Gold's suggestion, Emma's brows drew inward, and her bottom lip protruded like a petulant child's. "Excuse me, but I don't have a bedtime," she snapped, suddenly appearing to be more sobered up. "I haven't had a bedtime since I was...I was...yes!"

Ok, well maybe not that sober.

Wearily rubbing at her eyes, Mary Margaret softly agreed, "Emma, Mr. Gold actually makes a decent suggestion. You're probably going to get very sick, and I do not want to be the one to baby you when that happens. How many times have I told you not to drink on an empty stomach?"

Emma stared at her in mute surprise. So much for not being the doting type.

Frustrated by the blonde's lack of response, Mary Margaret nodded and agreed, "Yes, I suppose we could. I can assure you we're not angry with you, Mr. Gold. In fact, we're quite grateful. Henry obviously loves and prefers Emma over Regina, so why not help the boy?"

With a wistful smile, Emma propped her chin on her fist and asked, "You really think so? You think Henry prefers me? I always wanted a little boy..."

"Well then I suppose you're in luck," Mary Margaret returned, smiling wryly since she never knew what she would say next. Returning her attention to Gold, she asked, "What would we have to do? We're willing to go through with just about anything, from what I can tell. Right, Emma?"

The blonde gave a nod that caused her to slide a little to the right, her face filled with an almost child-like hope as she asked, "You'll really help me get my boy back, Mr. Gold? Like...really? I'll be able to hold him in my arms?"

Mary Margaret smiled sadly. "Emma, you do know he's not a baby, right?"

"So?" she shot back. "He'll always be my baby."

Embarrassed since she felt as though Emma wasn't intending to be so personable, Mary Margaret cleared her throat and nodded. "Right...yes, he most certainly will be."

There was a small smile on Mr Gold's face at Emma's mentioning of Henry to always be her baby for in a way that was exactly how Mr Gold felt of their son too. And how Mary tried to calm her and keep the situation well between the two was remarkable.

"Then again," He suddenly chimed in, "the boy is growing and if we can't find an appropriate way to trick the boy's current mother he'll be an adult and the whole custody issue will not matter anymore."

Mary Margaret frowned, then assured Gold, "Well we won't let that happen. Henry's only ten, so to allow Regina to keep him for eight more years seems insufferable. I'll admit I usually like to try and mind my own business, but in this case? I think the poor kid deserves a fighting chance at happiness."

He wiped his lips with the napkin, placed it aside and rose from his chair. "We can sit and talk or walk and act." He smiled down at the clearly wine-suffering Emma and a glint of recognition passed his eyes. He was caught up in the past again.

Watching Gold rise, Emma nearly wilted from the dizziness it caused just from following his movements. With a frown, she asked, "Well why would we walk and act? Can't you act sitting down, too?"

"I don't think any talk will be fruitful today. If you'd excuse me I'd rather go home now." He gave Mary an apologetic look, knowing how impolite he was to skip pudding. The last of the meal usually was the best but he didn't want to risk Emma drinking herself into the hospital and into the arms of the perverted Dr Whale.

Mary Margaret hushed Emma, for she'd begun to speak over top of Gold - not that this was anything out of the ordinary. Returning her attention to their guest, she frowned and asked, "What, so soon? I really hope you're not upset with us, Mr. Gold. I promise Emma didn't mean anything by it. She means well, but sometimes her love for Henry gets her into trouble."

"Why are you talking about me? I'm right here!" Emma whined, only to scowl as she rose on wobbly legs. It wasn't the smartest choice in the world to wear high heels to dinner, but she decided she'd done more idiotic things in the past. Watching Gold leave, she demanded, "Wait, where are you going? Will we talk about Henry again soon?"

Mary tried to comfort her. "Emma, honey, relax. He said we'll talk at a later time."

Only mildly appeased, the blonde moved to take a step to her right, but miscalculated and collided headlong with the hardwood floor.

"Oh, goodness! Emma, are you alright?" Mary Margaret pressed, now scuttling over to her friend like a frantic mother hen. Helping the blonde up into a sitting position, she began to dust off Emma's dress before heaving her up to her feet. "There, now, do you think you can walk?"

"'A course I can...I'm not an invalid!" Emma raved, now wresting herself free of Mary's supporting arm. Sending her muddled vision over toward Gold, she squinted and realized he was returning her gaze. Although she was considerably warm from the alcohol consumption, she felt a distinct, and inexplicable chill bloom throughout her veins until she was forced to look away. It was almost akin to some sort of hypnosis, and at the moment she found it far safer to look at the floor.

"Emma, say goodnight to our guest," Mary Margaret ushered.

Good God, she really was like a mother hen.

Rather irritated with being coddled, Emma sourly pushed past her friend and found herself standing in front of Gold. She noticed he was gripping his cane rather tightly, and the odd notion that he might strike her with it suddenly came to mind. It was honestly hard to tell how he was feeling, and that was what unnerved her the most.

"Well...g'night," she returned, giving him a half-hearted, two-fingered salute. "Please talk with me about Henry later, ok, please?"

"Emma..." Mary Margaret began, a tone of warning in her voice. "Emma, I think that's enough."

Now gripping at Gold's wrist, Emma ignored her friend and sustained, "Please, please, don't forget, ok? I need him, and I'd like to think he needs me too."

The connection of flesh against flesh had made Mr Gold aware of the suppressed feelings. His anger and hatred toward her for her constant denial of his offered help faded and not just because she was in a way finally pleading him for something, but also because the small electricity at her touch reminded him of that faithful night that led to Henry, again. The memories kept haunting him, emerging more and more often when he was around her and almost willing him to have it all done again, to actually relive their intimate moment. Was he attracted to her still?

With a sigh, Mary Margaret came up from behind and pried the blonde away from their guest. "I'm so sorry," Mary apologized, yet smiled weakly with a small nod. "I hope you have a lovely rest of your evening, Mr. Gold, and I really am sorry for how things turned out."

A deep frowned took possession of his face and, relieved that Mary had dragged her roommate away from him so he could clear his mind, gave a nod to indicate he was leaving.

"I regret it too." He said, then stumbled his way out of the apartment. With the door closing behind him he let his shoulder sag and let out a dreary sigh. His hopes had been shattered and his dreams rekindled. Of all things Mr Gold had thought he could live without a heart and that any form of affection had left him. He knew he was wrong when he had seen Henry grow up so near to him, yet unreachable. But Emma made his feelings more complex for he thought she could never love him and he would never love her.

If this was so, why did he put on his best suit and go over for dinner? If so why was he upset by her constant rejecting him and denial of his offered help? If this was so, then why did he try to be kind without asking things in return for it. Was he merely selfish as he had thought in wanting a family, and did he think he could have it with Emma and their son. But that family had been broken long ago, and the boy didn't even like him. If he would to find out Mr Gold was his true father would he be able to handle it? The boy deserved a hero.

Mr Gold had reached the empty street and took a deep breath of the cool night's air. He closed his eyes and thought how ironical it was that he felt as if he was fighting back tears. He hadn't cried for ages. It was sad that both his targets of obsession didn't seem to remember him as part of their live. Emma especially, had done nothing but rudely scold him since the day she arrived and saw him. She believed the words of others too easily, he figured. It had been what he wanted, the status of most dangerous and powerful man in town. But to have Emma shun him he realized now was not what he had wished for at all. Perhaps when he'd been younger and when he had thought he wouldn't care about her ever. Things were different now and he regretted the wicked games he played.

With his cane in his hand he made his way homeward. The tapping echoing through the deserted alleys and the darkness surrounding him.


The following morning the elderly man was roused by the sound of birds chirping next to his window. The tree that blocked half of his view had become the residence of two cheerful birds and their nest of youngsters, and was a painful reminder to the secret hidden wishes Mr Gold kept himself. He closed the window and made his way down the stairs to enjoy a simple cup of coffee.

Not one small bite of food would want to pass his throat and head to his stomach that morning, so he showered instead and after dressing and grooming his hair he took a lunch box under his arm and headed for the shop.

Once he had arrived in his trusted pawnshop he set to work by groggily writing out new contracts and forms. As his stomach had started churning he found himself nibbling a rusk with nothing on it, just dry and unpleasant as people considered him to be. His brown eyes were fixed on the paper as his lust for anything in this world had temporarily disappeared after last night's disastrous dinner and this morning's teasing of the happy birds.