Desperate Souls

Chapter 2: Fragmentation


Mr Gold could very well understand her worry here for he too would be bothered by the way his child would view him by any of the more doubtful or less legal actions they could partake. But then again, the situation was different for him. People already viewed him with fear, all except Emma. His son most likely already despised him. If he had to win by foul means he would, for his son couldn't think possibly less of him. He was no angel, he was more like the devil and so he had been for the past thirty years of his life or so. And old devil, but still youthfully quick and blessed with unbeatable skills and wit.

He gestured for her to take a seat, then placed himself at the other side. The coffee machine behind him rattled, ready to make a cup if needed. "You want some?" He asked her, ready to hand her a cup before he took one himself. He finally sat down and nipped his drink. His brown eyes were now like pitch-black pools, feasting on her. Her radiance and beauty nagged for his attention like it had done so many times before and Mr Gold found himself slightly distraught by it.

Emma denied the coffee when it was offered - she'd always been more of a hot chocolate girl, but she wasn't about to ask Gold if he had something else. Her eyes followed him as he had a seat, and she positioned herself in her trademark stance as she stood in front of him.

Mr Gold had to tear his eyes away from her and quickly hid his actions behind a cough. The cup of coffee was set in front of him but not let go off as he turned to look at her again with a sweep of the hair when he looked up. The supercilious smirk he carried around on his face almost constantly had faded a while ago and surprisingly not returned yet. Not even when he held her here in his devil's hole, in his territory. He could so easily consume her with his darkness. If he were to overpower her here in his back room there would be no one to hear her cries, no one to come to her rescue.

A massively pounding headache started to emerge and he felt like rubbing his temples. But instead of doing so he remained seated as he was, trying his best to ignore the dull throbbing that increased. There was no need to think of crimes when they had agreed to play strictly legally.

"Start, Emma. What is your plan? What would you want to expect of me or would you rather not see? I've listed, mentally, the legal way and I agree with you." He raised a brow. "Of course, we would not want for Henry to think bad of you. You should be a heroine, a figure he can relate to, adore and idolize." His voice sounded husky but optimistic. "How any mother should be." He added.

His hand moved on the cup, but that was all.

For once Emma felt giddy, so she was completely unaware of the dark musings in Gold's head. All she could truly think about was the possibility of actually having a family – a legit family – and it was almost too much for her to process. It was a glorious thought, yes, but she was overwhelmed by the idea in itself.

With a soft smile on her lips, she finally came back to reality when she heard Gold's words. Cocking her head slightly, Emma's smile gradually dissipated as she thought of how to properly answer him. "Well, I…I'll admit I've never done anything like this before, but I'm pretty familiar with how the system works. Maybe not the legal aspects of it, but I know for a fact that I'll have to prove I'm the better parent. I can't just swoop in and expect to get Henry because he's mine by blood." Chewing on her lip, she lowly added, "I know that you helped Regina to get my son, so I guess I just expect you to do what you did for her. You seem like an expert in overriding certain legal issues, so that's why I'm turning to you…despite my better judgement." Emma ignored Gold's additive speech about heroines, because it honestly unnerved her. It was almost as if he knew about her conversation with Mary Margaret…

"But before I help you there are some terms you will agree to. I'm tired of talking our way around things. I'm tired of your, understandable, jabbering towards me and your accusations. From now on you will try to behave like a lady around me." He spoke to her in an all of a sudden fatherly tone and pointed a digit at her, that it would be hard for her to protest. Perhaps it was the authority he always carried around by age and by position that made him sound like so. But he knew how to use it.

With her hands on her hips, the blonde came to the realization that Gold was speaking again, and quite firmly. It wasn't his usual sly banter, which naturally caused Emma to listen out of shock more so than respect. Mouth agape, she allowed her arms to drop at her sides as she fought for a snappy comeback. When none arrived to her rescue, she gave a sullen nod and re-folded her arms. It was the only stance that allowed her to feel superior and self-preservative, so she used it whenever she wanted to show she was still in control of herself…even if it was far from the truth.

Probably the thing that annoyed Emma the most was the whole "lady" comment, because she'd been hearing that all her life.

"Emma, act like a lady! Emma, ladies don't speak that way in public… Emma, would a lady go out with ten boys to a club? Emma, Emma, Emma !"

Unaware that her upper lip had curled in disdain, Emma took a deep breath and nodded. "Very, well, I'll be a "lady"… Although if you don't mind, I'll be determining what does and doesn't makes a lady, because I'm tired of being told the "proper" way to behave. I mean, I hope you're not expecting flouncy skirts and classy soirees out of this little agreement." One of her foster moms, after all, had been exactly what she'd just described…a true southern belle.

Ashamed that she'd allowed her poor experiences to get the best of her, Emma momentarily closed her eyes, then re-opened them as she muttered, "Sorry, I'll just…yeah, fine, whatever. I won't accuse you unless I catch you in the act… Sound fair enough? I can be accommodating when it's absolutely necessary."

In all honesty, what garnered Emma's cooperation the most was the fact Gold had admitted she was right to be accusative. If he'd completely dismissed his own faults, she would've more than likely gone straight for the jugular. Now turning so she could lean against a beam on the wall, Emma absently scuffed her shoe against the floor and softly added, "Now I know you've told me various answers before, but seriously, why are you so willing to help me? Especially since I've been a total bitch to you – believe me, I can admit that – so help me understand. Maybe then I'd actually be willing to listen and let you in, because I don't trust outside sources who don't give a full explanation. I just…I just can't. I've been that way all my life, and it's not exactly something I'm proud of, but certain experiences make people more street smart than others." Eyes now locking with Gold's, Emma persisted, "Were you once in a similar situation? I've found I'm more willing to help if I can relate to someone's plight…"

Mr Gold's dark eyes almost closed and he took a deep breath. Her rage had subsided, for now, and he was thankful that instead of scolding him she was now able to speak to him like adults were supposed to. He placed his hand on the table, the coffee cup left alone and at the side of him.

"Emma," He started, knowing that she probably despised the sound of her own name from his lips but to him it was a delicious taste that rolled off his tongue. Her name was like a drug, and always had been. "before I answer that question might I offer you something else to drink?" He had noticed the way she had refused a cup of coffee and was now slouching against the walls of his back room. Besides, it seemed to him to be a perfect distraction to give him some time to formulate his own words. Lying wasn't an option and to him never had been. He simply wasn't the type for it. And keeping silent when Emma so explicitly asked him to give her details was as much of a crime with the knowledge he possessed. There were two ways this could go, he thought sardonically to himself. Either his part of the story would make her accept him in her life or it would end any hopes he held for a future with his son. He took a big gulp of his own drink and discarded the empty cup.

The machine in front of him gave him the opportunity to make a new cup of coffee, but instead he decided to make a hot cocoa for the 'lady' first. He handed it to Emma. "Here you go," and then turned back to reach for a new cup but changed his mind. Something stronger would have to do. He didn't need the energy as much as he needed the courage and the strength to accept her rejection, and thus he reached for his flask of scotch and nipped from it before he sat himself down.

Emma was about to decline Gold's offer yet again, but when she held out her hand in refusal, she was momentarily stunned when she realized he'd placed a cup of hot chocolate between her fingers. "I...thank you," she stammered, still a little bewildered as she blew at the steam.

Although she and Gold were finally getting along (for now), she hated to admit that it felt more awkward being amiable than being at each other's throats. At least when she was angry, she had an excuse for her behavior. But when neither were talking, and both were being relatively pleasant to one another, she felt vulnerable and uneasy in the pawnbroker's presence.

Sipping at her hot cocoa, Emma's eyes followed Gold's movements and narrowed when he withdrew the flask. She had half the mind to ask him what he thought he was doing, but she then decided it was none of her business. Everyone in Storybrooke had skeletons in their closet, but somehow it seemed "off" for Gold's to be alcoholism. Perhaps she expected something more glamorous?

He gestured again, not happy with Emma's position against the wall, and making it clear by silent motions alone that she'd better sit down despite not being the type for it. He held his flask in front of him, elbows leaning on the table, and a wry smile wrinkled his face as he looked straight at her.

Startled when Gold motioned for her to have a seat, Emma felt half guilty for staring (it was almost as though she'd witnessed something private and not meant for her eyes). Hovering over an antique chair, she gave it a distrustful glance before hesitantly easing herself down against the seat. Pleased when it didn't give out from underneath her, Emma crossed her legs and placed her cup in her lap, wincing slightly when Gold took another sip.

After the much needed liquid courage, he began to speak. Although Emma tried to remain unreadable in her expressions, she'd be lying if she said she wasn't interested in what was coming out of Gold's mouth. All this time he'd remained a damnable enigma to her, so to think he was finally explaining his past rather enticed her. Maybe he'd let something slip, and she could use it in case he tried to double-cross her?

"Yes, to answer burning questions you've asked me now and blamed me of the past. You were quite right when you assumed I have no family, for in a sense it is perfectly true. I am a man with no wife, no parents alive, and a child deceased." His face contorted, showing a grim look that would fit on a cemetery. His whole posture changed from confident businessman to a repenting father. "I have nobody to wait for me at home, but that doesn't mean I don't know the value of a family, Emma. I once fought for mine, and I will do so again. I failed, I was no hero. Which makes it of even more importance to me that you should be one to the child. It is what I had wished for myself to be, but which I could not achieve. Instead I became a monster." He pinched his brow, rubbing his forehead as if his migraine had returned, and took another gulp of his scotch. The vision he now reflected was that of a man in agonizing pain at the memories of a life long since lost. He closed his eyes in regret and remorse and his voice, though still low and humming, carried a coarse edge due to his suppressed emotions.

"You asked me if I was once in a similar situation, Emma. I am in one right now."

As Emma listened, however, she gradually found herself less and less inclined to even think of blackmail. Her lips subconsciously pinched together, and her fingers gripped her cup as Gold spoke of his dead son. The very thought of losing Henry made her chin quiver, her gaze softening as she watched the pawnbroker's stance wilt into that of dejection.

Despite not thinking too much of Gold, Emma had always been the type to reach out and feel for the underdog. Gold wasn't exactly what she considered an underdog, but he currently looked as though he were being kicked in the ribs, and quite frankly, she could relate to that.

Placing her cup off to the side, Emma tried to mask the sadness in her eyes as she swallowed a lump in her throat. It'd be ridiculous of her to cry in front of this man – especially since she had no reason to do so – but something about his words were making her miserable.

Wincing when Gold insisted she should be the hero he never was, Emma jerked her eyes up to meet with his and swallowed. What if she couldn't be there for Henry? She'd failed him all his life, so it was a miracle he even loved her…

Lowering her gaze, Emma folded her hands in her lap and shook her head. Before she could even think to speak, however, she realized Gold was drinking again, and this time she couldn't stay silent. "Hey," she interjected, almost appearing stern, "don't you think you should take it easy on that stuff? I may not know what you're drinking, but I'm pretty sure it isn't coffee…" Gaze softening, she added, "I used to drink, too… Well…I still do when I'm feeling exceptionally lousy, but in the long run, I know it won't help. Do you really think your son would want you to drink on his behalf? 'cause I'm pretty sure he'd want you to live your life..."

Embarrassed that she'd just made an extremely hypocritical rant about drinking, Emma shook her head and muttered, "I'm sorry, I just…it makes me want to revert to old habits when I see people use alcohol as a crutch. Just ignore me…"

Absently rubbing at her thighs (a habit she often did when nervous and cornered), Emma looked up again when Gold made a rather astonishing admonition. "You mean…you have another son?"

Bewildered by this news, she glanced off to the side and tried to make sense of what she was hearing. He admitted to having no wife, so that would mean he'd met someone along the way, and that they'd accidentally created a little bundle of joy.

'Sounds familiar,' she thought bitterly.

Noticing Gold moving for his flask again, Emma irritably rose and closed the distance between them in a matter of steps. With her hand now forcing Gold's wrist against the table, she narrowed her eyes and gruffly commanded, "Cut that out, would you? If I end up finding you dead from alcohol poisoning later this evening, I will not be a happy Sheriff."

Suddenly embarrassed by her reaction, Emma released his wrist and took an awkward step back. She still didn't quite understand his explanation, but at least now she could at least find an ounce of respect for him.

Mr Gold looked up at her with confusion written in his eyes. When she had grabbed his wrist he had dared to swear she'd figured out the truth, but when he saw her startled gaze back at him he knew she probably hadn't. She had just tried to keep him from drinking himself under the table. He let out a low moan and rubbed his thigh.

"I'm toughened by the years," he excused himself. "I can stand a little alcohol. And this is scotch." He said, pointing at the flask with his free hand. He now finally rose from his seat and with help of his trusted cane brushed past Emma and limped to the shop front.

By the Gods he needed a drink, or something else to ease his nerves before he'd lose it all. His control, for instance, he could feel slipping away. Whether it was by her ignorance or by the anger that she knew nothing about him at all didn't matter. Both aspects irritated him right now as he felt his violent urges emerge. He was brooding, mind clouding with evil thoughts as realization dawned upon him.

Emma nodded once at Gold's admonition, for she knew scotch was a nice little pick-me-up in its own right. She'd spent many a day in the backseat of a car with said drink, and it honestly depended on her mood as to whether or not she was accompanied by a boyfriend. Shaking the thought from her mind, she realized with slight irritation that Gold was hobbling toward the front of the shop. "You know, you'd make this so much easier on us both if you'd stop running away from me," she muttered, following after him with her arms crossed. "It's kind of hard to carry on a conversation with someone's backside..."

Mr Gold stood in the front of his shop, shoulders shaking, as he tried to compose himself. With a deep sigh he found his inner rest, for now, and his voice. "Drinking will do neither of us good." He said, a plan forming in his mind.

"But yet I would like to invite you over for a drink in my house, tonight. A drink and something to eat. See it as a way to make up for our failed attempt yesterday. I'll prepare us dinner, and we discuss the way to gain back Henry." He genuinely looked compassionate as he spoke to her, turning half-way to face her and smiling charmingly. "I think we'll be making much more process now that the hostility between us is gone and we have a little more understanding. How about 6?"

When Gold had finally stopped moving, Emma stuffed her hands into her pockets and rounded about so that she was facing him once more. Her eyes were stern, but they widened in surprise upon his invitation. "I...what?" she choked out, unsure if she'd heard him correctly. The idea of being alone with the man in his own home was... unnerving , somehow. It wasn't that she didn't trust him - ok, so that was a bold-faced lie - but the thought of being on someone else's turf made her anxious. At least yesterday evening she had the comfort of her own home to fall back on.

Realizing that Gold was still waiting for her answer, Emma assured herself that an evening with Storybrooke's dealer was worth having her son back. In fact, just about anything was worth getting back Henry.

Gold's warm smile looked odd on him somehow, but Emma found herself agreeing in spite of her reservations. Hands on her hips, she nodded once and returned, "Yeah, sure, alright...I won't be on duty this evening, as far as I know." Hearing his little comment about their "lack of hostility," Emma smirked and agreed, "Maybe so, but just know this, Gold: if you fuck with me, I'll fuck right back."

Coming to the realization that she'd worded that quite horrendously, Emma felt her cheeks flush and she coughed. "Er, get the idea. Just don't double-cross me, because I won't be nice twice - I'm trusting you on this."

With one last stern glance in Gold's direction, Emma turned around and immediately appeared lost and anxious. As she exited his shop, she released a breath she wasn't aware of holding and shivered.