This Budding Rose
Rating: T..for now
Disclaimer: Not mine. Seriously.
Summary: The baby is his. The problem is no one but him remembers that. Now Gold has to make the true love he once rejected fall for him again, and he is still a difficult man to love. Belle/Rumpelstiltskin baby AU.
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Chapter 1: The Road Not Taken
And when our baby stirs and struggles to be born it compels humility: what we began is now its own.
It happens because of forgotten keys.
Later, Emma will think of the sheer random chance of it all, and wonder at the capricious nature of fate. Surely, there is a universe where she leaves the keys, goes for ice cream with Henry and doesn't look back. Perhaps, even more than one.
But here, now, something –a feeling that she will never be able to truly explain- whispers for her to go back to the station for her forgotten keys.
And Emma, who's learned through a life of misfortunes, that one's gut is to be trusted, leaves Henry with Mary Margaret, and goes back.
Turns left. Takes the path less traveled by.
Naturally, it makes all the difference.
Fucking Robert Frost.
Emma stands, keys in hand, heart in her throat, hidden in the shadows of the station, all thoughts of ice cream gone, and tries to breathe. Tries to process what she's just heard, whispered in Gold's dragon drawl and Regina's snake whisper, and even as does she knows she will fail.
Tell me your name.
It's impossible; it should be impossible. Rumpelstiltskin and the Evil Queen are stories, a tale from Henry's book, and even if they weren't they wouldn't be duking it out in small town Maine, over a cup. A cup with a chip in it.
It would be crazy to even consider it.
And yet, if there are concrete truths in this world, than these are them; Mr. Gold, for all his faults and sharp edges, is unfortunately not insane.
And Regina, is lying.
She told Henry it was her superpower; this lie detection thing, and although that was a just a turn of phrase designed to make her kid smile at her, the truth is she really does a have sixth sense for lies. Honed through a life of hard knocks and taking care of herself, it's a skill that serves her well and hasn't led her astray yet.
It's also why she's covertly following Regina out of the station, when by all rights she should be storming into that cell and demanding that Gold…Rumpelstiltskin…whoever, explain what the ever-living fuck is going on here.
But Gold wasn't the one who was lying, Regina was, and Emma's sixth sense is strongly suggesting that something important is going to happen, and that it might be a good idea to see what it is.
Emma follows her gut.
It leads her, of all places, to the hospital.
This, naturally makes her covert shadowing of Regina much harder, because someone is definitely going to notice her, and in this place, she has the less than sneaking suspicion that that someone would likely report back to Regina. And if she wants to keep seeing her son-and it surprises no one more than Emma how much she really does want that-then she can't afford that kind of trouble.
And so she's about to turn, leave and come up with a plan later-preferably after she questions Rumpel-fucking-stiltskin; and how, exactly is this her life again-when something catches her eye.
Regina, instead of heading towards the patient wings of the hospital, as Emma might have expected, goes through a door marked Exit.
A keypad, passcode locked door marked Exit.
A keypad, passcode locked door marked Exit in the square middle of the hospital, that in no way can lead outside the building.
Emma's gut practically sings.
And so, Emma does turn and walk outside, but instead of heading back to the station, she heads towards the back of the building.
Emma doesn't know much about architecture, but a guy she dated for about six weeks once had, and she'd picked up a few things. Add that to her study of the hospital-because something had always seemed a little off about the fact that David's wife, who lived no more than five blocks away from the hospital, had never thought to look there for him-and Emma thinks she knows where that Exit door leads.
She hits the jackpot when, at the back of the hospital, nearly hidden by outgrowing ivy and bushes, she finds a row of tiny windows.
The first one is empty, and the second as well, and Emma is almost pathetically glad, because these are not hospital rooms, they are cells; cold and concrete and not fit for human consumption.
And then Emma gets to the third window, and she stops cold.
There's a woman there, in that little window.
This part isn't a complete surprise; nobody, especially not someone as self-contained as Gold, beats the crap out of a guy for just a cup, even if it's Royal freaking Dalton.
No, they do that for grief, or anger or love, and in this case Emma thinks it might have been a bit of all three, and she supposes she can see why. The girl is beautiful; general hospital disarray aside, she's all chestnut waves and blue eyes and red lips; the kind of easy, natural beauty that Emma always envied as a gangly teenager.
But then she turns, and Emma gets a good look, and the breath nearly freezes in her lungs.
Because beneath the shapelessness of the hospital gown, lies the undeniable swell of pregnancy.
And then their eyes meet, for only a second, before the girl looks away, and the terror in those blue eyes does steal her breath.
Emma stands, on legs that tremble, and walks, hardly aware that she is doing so, because she was that girl once; pregnant and scared and alone in a cell. She remembers only too well the icy, helpless terror it had provoked; the same feeling she'd seen in her glimpse of the girl's eyes.
Emma hadn't been able to help herself than, and she'd had no one to save her, but this girl will be different. This girl will have Emma, and she'll make a deal with Satan himself before she allows that girl to stay in that place for another second.
It makes her decision frighteningly easy.
With that in mind, she walks back into the station, takes the almost forgotten keys that started this whole thing, places them in the lock, and braces herself for whatever is to come.
Turns the key.
A/N: So, I was reading some of the truly fantastic baby fic that already exists in this fandom (and really, it is awesome check it out) and this idea came to me. And now, apparently, I'm going to write multi-chaptered partially AU-partially canon baby Rumbelle fic. Oh well, here we go! As always enjoy, and reviews and constructive criticism are welcome.