Gold walked down the corridor and into the hospital room, still affecting a limp. Bae lay on the bed, a bandage over his shoulder, another on his ankle, and half of his face red as if scrubbed raw. He walked to the side of the bed, and, as if on cue, nearly everyone else left the room. He sat on the bed and took his son's hand in his own. Bae's eyes met his, and he smiled. The corner's of Bae's mouth twiched, eventually morphing into a smile to reciprocate. "You're going to be alright, Bae," Gold whispered.
"The medicine man says I will," Bae replied. "I still smell like a corpse, though, and I probably will for weeks."
"Did they ask any questions?"
"They seemed to understand when I mentioned the wraith." Gold nodded. Bae licked his upper lip and glanced toward the ceiling before looking back at his father. "Papa, what do you think of the person I am now? Are you proud of me?"
"I've always been proud of you, Bae, and I've always admired your bravery. Sometimes I wish I could be like you."
Gold ran his thumb back and forth across the back of Bae's hand, and Bae's smile widened. Then he exhaled softly. "Are you going to go back to trying to be my magical protector?"
Something in Bae's eyes pulled Gold's response out of him before he could think about it. "Does it cause you pain?"
"People died when I recieved the smallest of injuries. I was terrified of what would happen if something serious happened to me, and now something has. Innocents could die, Papa."
"No," Gold whispered. "I'm not going to make that mistake again. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not going to let you go."
"Do I have your word?"
Gold held his hand out. Bae stared at it a moment, remembering the last time he shook hands with his father, struck a deal. "I've only broken one deal in my life, Bae. The one I made with you."
"That's the only one?"
"Do you swear to me that this time will be different?"
"You know I'm going to hold you to this."
"I expect nothing less." Bae shook his father's hand. "I never stopped looking for you, Bae," he whispered, pushing some hair out of the boy's face. "I missed you so much."
"We found each other again."
"And I'm not losing you." He pulled the rest of Bae's hair back and kissed his forehead. "I'm not losing you."
A knock at the door prompted Emma to walk over to it and answer. Henry gave her a quick 'hey' and walked in. "What are you doing here?" Emma asked, closing the door.
"The deputies that showed up at the house didn't want me to get into any trouble," Henry replied.
"The deputies? The ones I sent to search her place?"
"I think so." Emma nodded. "Emma, do you know what it means that Regina's in jail?"
"She committed a crime and-oh, yeah. Curse-wise. We're almost home?"
"Hey, Henry." Mary Margaret asked, breezing to the island. "What're we talking about?"
"We were just talking about the curse," Emma said. "Apparently we're closer to where we started because Regina's in jail."
"What's she in jail for?"
"She shot a kid in the shoulder. He's fine, of course, in the hospital, but she's got a lot of questions to answer."
"Oh, dear. Well..."
"Yeah, I'm a little unsure of this, too. Don't worry."
"I'm not. It's just...strange. After so long being stuck here. We could go home, and you're making it happen."
"Yeah, it feels weird to me, too." It feels weird to me, too, Emma repeated in her mind.
Long after Rumpelstiltskin left, Bae closed his eyes and tried to sleep. After all, that seemed to be what the medicine man in the white coat wanted. But his mind drifted away from sleep toward the strange new feeling that had taken over the town. There was a sense of closeness to something. A source of magic, perhaps? Home? Hope? Freedom?
The impression was too vague for a good identification, but it was there, all over. It seemed everyone could sense it on some level.
What was this world closer to that it wasn't earlier? He couldn't be sure, but he had his hopes. And his fears, no matter what his father said or what deals the two struck.
Bae swallowed, pushed these thoughts out of his mind, and tried to go through statistics. There were nine surviving Merry Men hiding in various places throughout Storybrooke. He was on the road to a full recovery, and Morraine was safe. The thought made him smile. So long as she was safe, he would pull through.
His face relaxed, his head rolled to one side, and his breathing slowed. Soon, Bae was asleep.