Author's Note: There is a scene in here that I have been waiting to write since chapter one.

TRIGGER WARNING: I can not stress enough that there are triggers here for sexual child abuse. Not details, but the references in this chapter are harsh ones. Also trigger for self harm and mentions of suicide.


It was seven, when Gold parked his Cadillac and reached over to the passenger seat for his cane and the bag of muffins. He'd been making a habit of coming in an hour earlier, ever since he'd found out about Belle French's cutting and molestation. Part of it was the fact that an extra session every day added more time to an already full calendar, but mostly it was a feeling that he needed to be there if she needed him. The fact that he'd found her in the lobby two days ago only reinforced the need to arrive early. Any success they'd been able to make in attaining a more healthy sleep cycle had been at least temporarily ruined by this current upheaval. He suspected there were nightmares as well, but he didn't push her to tell him.

It was strange to see Regina's car in the parking lot. He wondered what reason she would have to come in early, and if it meant poor Henry had been dragged out of bed an hour earlier than usual as well. He felt sorry for the boy, always at the whims of his mother. At least he had a few extra muffins, and could offer one to the boy.

Spring had arrived, finally, but mornings were still bitterly cold. He moved a little slower, until his knee warmed up. The half a dozen steps up to the front door were inconvenient, but he refused to walk up the ramp instead, especially as Regina could be watching.

Intent on opening the door without dropping his cane, briefcase or pastries Gold didn't notice at first that the lobby was occupied. When he looked up it took everything in him not to swear. Or yell. Belle was looking more like a scared rabbit than she had since that first day in Regina's office, and the reason why was obvious. Her father. Son of a bitch. The bastard's hand rested on his daughter's shoulder. Gold wanted to swat it away. He wanted to punch the man in the face.

What he really wanted involved the dullest knife in the kitchen and some impromptu surgery involving a body part Moe French should never be allowed to use again. And not a drop of anesthesia.

Belle's head was bowed. Submissive. He doubted she'd even heard him come in, or was listening to the conversation between Regina and her father. He hated to think about what was going on in her head right at this moment. He'd promised himself that he would keep her safe. He'd failed her, but he would make up for it now.

"I'm sorry, but it's too early for visiting hours Mr. French." He wanted the man gone with the least amount of fuss possible. Later he could make sure it was permanent; now he just needed to stop Belle from breathing in the same air as her father.

"Mr. French is here to make arrangements to take his daughter home. He no longer thinks that Storybrooke is the right place for her." There was a gleam in Regina's eye, and Gold felt a knife twist in his stomach. Inpatient therapy at Storybrooke was not cheap. There was no reason for the Director to be pleased to lose that money, unless there was something else at play.

It was seven in the morning and Regina was already at work.

She'd planned this. He didn't give a damn what her motive was, though he suspected it was to hurt him for some perceived wrong. It didn't matter; she'd planned to send an innocent woman home with a monster. That made her every bit as evil as Moe French, in his book.

"I need a word with my patient, if you don't mind. We'll be in my office." He brushed past Moe, forcing him to move his hand. He didn't want to have to touch Belle at all, not when it wasn't her choice, but expediency was a factor. He pressed his hand to the small of her back and guided her to his office, knowing that French and Regina were watching but not giving a damn. He shut the door behind them, and for good measure locked it.

His first order of business was to call down to the Sheriff's station and have someone dispatched. Belle was not going anywhere. Once what was taken care of he turned his attention to Belle, who was curled up in the corner of the couch, taking up the least amount of space she possibly could. If she could have made herself invisible she probably would have.

"Belle, dearie?" He sat on the couch next to her, careful to keep a few inches of distance between them. When she didn't respond he spoke again, gently. "You're safe, Belle. I promise you that you're going to be safe. I won't let him near you again."

At first he thought she wasn't going to speak, that she was too traumatized and he was going to have to find another way to reach her. He hated, considering her history, to have to use drugs but there were options. She spoke, finally, after taking a deep breath. "I dreamed of this."

"Your father coming?" He winced, wondering if it as the nightmare from two nights ago. Graham had said she'd been restless and pale, when he'd first seen her, and it had taken her some time to be able to relax.

"My father, and Director Mills being there. In my dream you're gone." She held a small pillow to her chest, and looked down at her lap. She looked almost like a small child.

"I'm not going anywhere. And neither are you." He'd camp out on his damn sofa, if that was what it took to make her feel safe. "We're both staying here."

"He wants me at home. He said he's found a psychiatrist to come and do daily sessions at the house, but he thinks it would be better for me to be in my own home. He misses me." Her voice was flat, as if she was mimicking what she'd heard. She'd been paying more attention to Moe and Regina than he'd thought.

"Belle, I'm going to ask you one very important question and I want you to answer me honestly, alright?" It was a struggle to keep his voice calm. "I don't want you to think about me, or your father, or anyone else. Just you. Can you do that?"

She looked at his shoulder, which was better than her own lap, but still worried him. When she nodded he still waited, needing more than that. "Yes," she finally whispered.

"Belle, look at me." Her blue eyes were dry, when she raised them to meet his. He took a breath, his training and professional obligation warring with his need to just get her as far away from Moe French as he could, and damn the circumstances. "Belle, do you want to go home with your father?"

"He wants me to come home." When she tried to look away he reached for her hand, but stopped, instead holding it open and palm up. A silent offer for support. She had a lifetime of conditioning to fight against, if she was going to do what was right for herself and not anyone else.

"This isn't about what he wants, or what I want. It's about you, Belle. What do you want?" He knew the answer, but she needed to say it for herself. This was her life, and for the first time she needed to be the one to control it.

"I think I'll die, if I go back there. I don't want to die." Her eyes closed, before she was done speaking. Her lower lip was almost white where she bit into it. But she was holding tight to his proffered hand, as if it was the only thing keeping her anchored.

"You're not going to die." Rules and propriety be damned. She was shaking, and scared, so close to the precipice. He wouldn't let her fall and he wouldn't let her be alone. Gold wrapped his arms around Belle and held her tightly, whispering nonsense until she stopped trembling. Even then he was reluctant to let go, but someone from the sheriff's station would be there soon and they needed to go over a few points.

"I want to stay here, please. I don't want to go." She still held onto his hand.

"You're going to stay here. I have a temporary protection order, remember, from Judge Dove. We only have to have it served to your father for it to take effect. I was going to wait until you were ready, but we can't wait any longer. The door is locked, and no one can come in here. It's going to stay locked until someone from the sheriff's office arrives, and I'll have to talk to them but you can stay in here, alright?" The papers had been on his desk for two days, but he'd been reluctant to bring the subject up to her.

"I don't want to be alone." Her nails dug into his skin, but he did not flinch.

"You don't need to see him again, Belle. I promise you'll only be alone for a few minutes, and I'll only be just outside the door."

"No one will get past you?" She reminded him of Bay, when he was younger, just after the divorce. He'd needed constant reassurance that his papa would be home for dinner and to tuck him in. Every morning he promised to see him at dinner, and every night he promised they would have breakfast together.

"Not a single soul. They wouldn't dare." He'd just like to see anyone try, right now. Those knives in the kitchen weren't out of the question yet.

"He didn't really bring me here to get better, did he?" She looked at the closed door almost as if she could see the man on the other side.

"I think on some level he must have known what he was doing was destroying his child, and no real father wants that. That's why he brought you here. Maybe that's the reason he kept trying to push you and Gaston together as well; to get you somewhere safe." He couldn't believe that he was defending a single action of Moe French's, but this was about Belle, not anyone else. "But he's sick, and he's weak. What he's done is a crime, and it's a craving, and he's not strong enough to fight against it. He's not like you. You're going to get better, Belle. One day you're going to walk out of here, and you're going to have a good life. A life you chose for yourself. It's not his life anymore, Belle. It's yours."

The knock on the door was ill timed, but he had to answer it. "Ten minutes at the most, and I'll be back in here. I'll clear my calendar for the day and if you need to stay in here you can. Or we can take a walk to the lake; I'm sure there's some bread in the kitchen we can steal for the ducks."

"Ten minutes," Belle repeated. The moment he stood up she pulled her legs up to her chest, a tight ball. He wondered if she'd cover her ears, too, once he was on the other side of the door.

"You're Gold?" The woman waiting for him on the other side of the door was dressed in slacks and a red leather jacket. It was hardly what he'd call professional attire, but there was a badge clipped to her waist and that was the only thing that really mattered.

"I'm Dr. Gold, Sheriff…"

"Swan. Dispatch said you needed some non-emergency but time sensitive help?" Everything from the tilt of her head to the way her hip jutted out said 'attitude' to him. In this case it might be more of a help than a hindrance, even if his professional opinion was that she'd do well to talk to someone about whatever it was that weighed on her so heavily.

"The gentleman standing over by our director is a man named Moe French. He's come to pick up his daughter, who is under his conservatorship. I have a protection order, signed by a judge, that will stop him. I simply need someone to serve it to him." He held out the papers.

"He have any idea this is coming?" She raised an eyebrow, but otherwise her expression stayed neutral.

"If he had a clue I'm sure the lobby would be filled to the brim with lawyers." He had no doubt there would be lawyers, and probably the judge Belle had mentioned being friends with her father. Gold had been very careful to make sure every technicality was taken care of. Moe French wasn't the only one who had powerful friends. He wouldn be able to fight the temporary order, or the more permanent one they had an appointment to get.

"This is going to be fun," the sheriff said with a roll of her eyes, but she took the paper. Gold stayed near the door, like a dragon guarding his treasure, and let Swan do her job. He could tell the very second Moe read the order and understood what it meant. He got very still, for a moment. And then he exploded.

"That bastard is not keeping me from my daughter with whatever fucking lies he's been telling." The order was ripped up and tossed on the ground, is if the action of destroying it changed anything. The paper was signed by a judge and delivered by an officer of the law. It was in effect and Belle was, for the moment at least, safe.

Regina was seething, and he could well imagine what she was wishing she could to do him right now. Not even when Henry ran to greet him did Regina look so angry. It was a good thing that his job was untouchable, or he'd be unemployed right about now. It really killed her that control over the board of directors meant she couldn't go over his head and get him fired. He flashed her a smile, until Moe decided to stop arguing with the Swan woman and came for him. Apparently his attempt to bribe her into 'forgetting' about the protection order had failed. He had to admire the woman who turned down a virtual blank check.

"I knew I didn't like you, you son of a bitch. I don't care what kind of filth have you been filling my daughter's head with, she is mine and she's coming home with me. You might have lied well enough to get some ignorant judge to sign your pathetic paper but it doesn't mean anything. Belle is mine and you're not keeping her from me." Moe's face was turning a florid shade as he came close and closer to the office door. Gold took two steps towards him to keep Belle's father that much farther from her.

"There's a hundred foot minimum distance in that restraining order, Mr. French. I'm afraid you'll have to leave now." His hand gripping his cane was white from the force of staying still and not calling French out like the miserable coward that he was. "And Belle is not yours or anyone elses. She is her own person."

"She's my daughter, and not only will she come home with me but I will buy this place and tear it down brick by brick. I will make sure no one will ever hire you. I will have your license stripped from you. By the time I'm done with you you'll be a broken shell of a man, sitting on a street corner begging for spare change."

"You mean as broken as your daughter is, because of you?" The threats against himself didn't matter. It was the idea of him taking home Belle that had Gold speaking in what some people might have thought was a calm voice. Those that knew him would have heard the sharpened threat beneath the words. Swan seemed to catch the danger, or at least recognized that having the two men in the same place was a bad idea.

"I'll walk you out, Mr. French," she said in a no-nonsense tone voice.

"I'm not leaving without my daughter. This place is trying to poison her." He dared to take a step towards Gold's closed office door. Swan shifted her hand to rest on her handcuffs.

"You'll have to figure that out with the courts. Right now the best thing for everybody is for you to leave now." She nodded towards the front door. "I can walk you out or I can take you for a ride to the station. Pretty sure you'd rather leave here on your own."

"I'll leave, but I'll be back." Gold would bet good money that Moe French was on the phone with his lawyers before he left the parking lot. All that mattered at the moment, though, was that he was leaving, and Belle was safe. The man didn't even ask how his daughter was, or show a speck of shame as he strode out of the building. The sheriff followed moments later after handing Gold her card, in case of questions or concerns. He had many of both, but none that she could help him with.

"What the hell was that, Gold?" Regina had tried, and failed, to apologize to French before he left. her eyes when she turned around flashed dark.

"That was me, protecting my patient from the cause of her illness." His gut still churned from the idea that Moe French had had his hand on Belle today.

"What about protecting this place? Do you know how much money we stand to lose if…"

"Do you think I give a fuck about money? That man hurt his daughter in ways that would make even you flinch, Regina, and if you try a second time to undermine my authority with my patients I will tell you each and every thing he did, and you can have nightmares about what would happen if a bastard like that ever got hold of your boy." It was a cruelty that was normally below him, to even hint at harm to a person's child. Not even Regina deserved the nightmares he'd had this week, about Bay and Belle and a complete inability to protect them from monsters like Moe. Except that Regina had willingly given Belle back to her father. Regina had gone behind his back, and if he hadn't come in early they might have been gone before he could stop them.

He might have never gotten Belle back, or it might have been too late. He'd seen the despair in her eyes when she said she couldn't go back there. He'd seen the cuts she'd made when trying to escape pain, and had to wonder if she would have found a final escape, with no one else to protect her from her father. "I'll be in my office, trying to fix the damage you've done to my patient. Do whatever you need to to fix this, but stay the hell out of my way."

He was glad when he saw Mal coming through the door. Regina would either bitch to her about the morning or use her as an emotional punching bag; Mal could take it and return it with aplomb. Either way Regina would be distracted, and he could get back to Belle. He was pretty sure the ten minutes he'd promised were close to being over.

"Dearie?" He opened the door to the office, glad of the old building that meant solid wood doors; she couldn't have overheard anything more than the rise and fall of voices.

"Am I leaving?" She hadn't moved the whole time, still tucked into the corner of the couch, a pillow against her side and blanket across her lap as if she couldn't risk even the room seeing her.

"I promised, remember?" He would fight Moe, Regina, and anyone else necessary to keep her at Storybrooke. "Your father is gone. The sheriff escorted him out."

"He'll be back." It was the only thing so far she'd said with confidence.

"If he comes back we'll have him escorted away again. I'll get someone stationed here full time if that's what it takes to make sure you're safe." He sat on the coffee table, facing her. They'd taken a giant step backwards today, and he needed to make sure she remembered that she could trust him. He reached out to touch her, to make a connection. She flinched. "Belle?"

"I didn't mean to do it." She didn't take her eyes off the blanket that covered her from the middle of her torso down. Gold frowned as he took the edge of the blanket in one hand. When she didn't protest he pulled it away. There was blood dripping down her arm, drops of blood from four half moon patterns. She'd clawed her own skin with her nails, not unlike an animal in a trap trying to bite off its own leg. He gently turned her arm over and found another raw wound where she'd raked her thumb nail over her forearm until it bled. "I'm sorry. I know I promised. I'm sorry."

"It's alright, dearie. It's going to be alright." He led her into the bathroom to clean her arm, apply antiseptic and wrap the wounds. Tears shimmered in her eyes; when he was done with the bandage he used a kleenex to dab them away. Maybe it was because he'd been thinking about Bay, or maybe it was something else entirely, but he found himself kissing her forehead. It was unprofessional and not paternal, though that would have been a handy excuse. He shouldn't have done it. He didn't regret it. "I'm going to make us some tea, to start with. If you feel up to it there's muffins, too, that Bay made this morning."

"We can stay right here, in your office?" She didn't not pull away, as he escorted her back to the sofa.

"All day, if you like. This is a safe place, Belle. I promise." He'd be damned if he'd let anyone hurt her again.

II

He'd gotten Belle to eat, a few times during the day. Not as much as he'd have liked, but between the small meals and the high calorie supplement she'd drunk at lunch time he wasn't worried about her physical health too much. Her mental well being was a different matter. Every time they'd left his office, to eat in the cafeteria or take a walk amongst the roses, she'd scanned the area as if she was sure that Moe was going to be waiting for her. It didn't matter how many times he's reassured her that he was gone. He'd caught her, a few times, pressing on her bandages where her fresh wounds would have hurt with a little pressure; each time he'd gently peeled her hands away from her arm. She'd looked ashamed, but a habit of years was a hard one to break and pain was an ingrained part of too much of her life. The longest she'd been out of his sight was an hour; there was one session that couldn't, for the good of the patient, reschedule. Archie had watched both her and Ruby having a quiet conversation in the library. He hoped that the reminder that Belle had friends and people she could trust had helped.

It was after eight, when he left work. He'd waited until Belle was ready for bed, and had even walked her to her room. Astrid was already there; he wasn't sure if the girl's presence was a comfort of not, but isolating Belle by putting her in her own room wouldn't be a good idea. He'd lingered for just a moment, at her door; for some reason a simple 'goodnight dearie' hadn't felt adequate. He didn't know what else to say, though. He'd tried with words and actions to reassure her all day. Finally he'd simply squeezed her shoulder and left her with a promise to see her first thing in the morning.

The twenty minute drive from Storybrooke to home was one he'd driven thousands of times, and could do without paying much attention. Bach's Cello Suite number five was playing, and he let himself get lost in the music. Music had always been one of the ways he'd disconnected from his work. Psychiatrist all had their tricks, be it showers, a glass of wine, or some other ritual. For Archie it was a walk with his dog when he first got home. When Bay had been young time with his son had automatically drawn him away from his work and into the present. It was harder now, with only an empty house, but because of that it was even more important. A doctor who couldn't leave his work behind would make himself sick, either physically or mentally.

He hadn't been able to leave his work behind for a week, at least. Or at least one part of his work; he'd had patients he's worried about before, and times when he couldn't stop trying to figure out a treatment. Never, though, had a patient gotten past his defences. He'd dreamed about Belle every night, and each had turned into a nightmare where he was helpless to protect her. His nightmares had come too close to coming true, today.

Between the music and the thoughts he was attempting to free himself from, Gold didn't notice that the car following him shortly after he left work was still following as he turned into the driveway of his renovated Queen Anne's period home. It wasn't until he was reaching for his briefcase, the car door already open, that he sensed something was wrong. His grip tightened on his cane as he turned around and saw the black Lincoln slide into place at the base of his driveway, effectively boxing him in. He didn't have to wonder who it was; all he had to decide was if he got back into the car and made himself a sitting duck, tried to get into the house, or turned and faced the man. He'd never make it to the house, not with the steps and his knee. And he never was good at just sitting.

"Mr. French," he said, slipping his phone from his bag and holding it in his left hand. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"We're done playing games, Gold. You're going to undo this little protection order of yours. I've brought the paperwork." At the end of a street, his house standing on more than an acre of land, there weren't many lights. The single streetlight and the few from the house did little to illuminate Moe French, dressed as he was in a suit of charcoal gray. The dark red tie was the only color; in the dim light it looked almost like blood.

"You can burn that or rip it up, French. I sure as hell am not signing it." He had a gun in his house; for the first time in his life he almost wished he carried it with him. There was a look of determination on the other man's face that was unsettling.

"You are not going to keep my daughter from me. We can do this the easy way, or I can tear you apart, but by the end of the week my Belle will be home with me. We're going to the Hamptons for the summer. I'm sure all she needs is some rest and the company of her friends." He smiled, as he spoke of the Hamptons. There was nothing malicious about it. Gold had to wonder just how delusional that man was, to have convinced himself that everything would be so simple. The man needed help. Gold didn't give a damn; he could find therapy somewhere else. In hell, preferably.

"I don't make deals to give innocents back to monsters. There is nothing you can say or do that would induce me to sign whatever manipulative document you've gotten your lawyer to draw up. I will take care of Belle the way you should have, all these years. And since you obviously don't understand what that means, I'm referring to protecting her, not raping her." Moe's face contorted, as the almost dazed smile twisted into anger. Gold took a step back.

"Are you sure about that, Gold? I saw the way you looked at her this morning. If you're not fucking her already you sure as hell have thought about it." He held out the paper and a silver pen. "You'll make sure I get my daughter back, Gold, or I will not only make sure you don't practice medicine again, but I'll bust your other leg and make sure you don't ever walk again."

"Get the fuck off my property before I have you arrested for trespassing." Gold felt like he needed a shower. With bleach. He'd worried that he was letting Belle lean on him too much, that holding her as she cried might be close to a professional line. But the insinuation that he would even think about taking advantage of the girl in the same way her father did made him sick.

"You're going to sign this admission that you coerced my daughter into saying things that weren't true. False memory syndrome, my lawyer called it." Moe grabbed his arm, shoving the papers at him. "Sign them."

"What about your memories, French? There's nothing false about knowing that you crawled into your little girls bed and forced her to play wife for you." He knocked the papers out of Moe's hand and tried to pull away. Moe was taller, though, and had a good grip on him. His left hand was still free, though, and still holding the phone. Gold was glad for the single button that enabled emergency calls even when the phone was locked. He held it down, and hoped that there wasn't a cat in a tree on the other side of town, or some other mess that the Sheriff's department in such a tiny place would find important.

"Pick them up." Moe let go of him in order to try and push him down. It was just enough of a shift to let him take a half a step back and swing his cane.

"Fuck." The strike, somewhere near the man's thigh, made him stagger slightly. Only slightly, though, and only enough to make him angry. He swung one meaty hand at Gold's face, striking his jaw. The pain radiated through his head and down his neck. He barely kept himself from falling.

"Must be unusual for you, fighting a man instead of a defenseless girl." He swung the cane with both hands this time, and managed to hit the side of Moe's knee. A second time and Moe fell to the ground. He didn't stop fighting, though. A kick to Gold's leg almost felled him, if he hadn't gotten the cane down quickly enough to balance on. His leg was going to ache in the morning.

"She's my daughter. I never hurt her." Moe was trying to pull himself up. Gold aimed the cane at his arm. It was dark, but now that Moe was on the ground and not attacking him, Gold could aim better. He could stop Moe from getting up.

"She's your daughter. You had her love and you twisted it into something perverted. You hurt her." An image of Belle, head lowered, not even believing that it was worth trying to get away from her father filled Gold's mind. He lashed out, not knowing where he hit, only knowing from the dull thud that he did.

"She's all I have left. Her mother…"

"Would be sickened by you. Disgusted. You hurt her daughter." Another swing, this time followed by a crack.

"You hurt Belle." Belle, crying. Belle, blaming herself. Belle, puking in a toilet because just thinking about telling someone what Moe had done hurt so badly. Gold lashed out over and over again, as if each strike could erase even a moment of Belle's pain. "It's your fault."

"Stop." A hand around his wrist halted another strike with his cane. He struggled against it, but the hld was a strong one and he was drained from the day and the fight. It was a moment before his brain was able to make enough sense of what was happening to realize that it was Sheriff Swan who had stopped him.

He almost wished he hadn't called for help.

II

"You're lucky, Gold. Hospital says that French is going to make it. Apparently you managed to avoid hitting anything vital. Organs, that it. He has a fair number of broken bones." Swan entered office with a cup in each hand. When she got closer he could smell the coffee. She offered one through the bars.

"Lucky. Right. Not exactly what I would have called it." He didn't want the weight of a man's death on his shoulders, though he wouldn't feel any guilt over relieving the world of a bastard like Moe French. He was behind bars, though, and incapable of keeping his promise to see Belle in the morning. There was also the fact that his leg throbbed like a son of a bitch even sitting, forget standing for more than a minute, and his cheek when he'd glanced in the rear view mirror of the cop car was already turning purple. Even taking a sip of the coffee hurt. He hadn't realized that his cheek moved when he swallowed.

"You ready to tell me why you almost beat a man to death, Gold." She perched on the edge of the couch, not looking unsympathetic.

"That wasn't a man, Sheriff. It was a monster, wearing the face of a man." He would make sure that the world knew just what he was. Tonight had, perhaps, put his job and license at risk, but if it meant that Belle was safe, as well as anyone else Moe might ever hope to get close to, it was worth it.

"This is about the girl." Emma Swan seemed to be strictly no nonsense, but she didn't blink at the idea of a man being a monster. He wondered, for the second time, about her background.

"This is about…"

"Pops?" The Sheriff's station was a small place; only moments after the slamming of the front door a third person burst into the office. Bailey, who went to bed early in order to be up to bake in the predawn hours, obviously hadn't even stopped to brush his hair after receiving his father's phone call. Gold suspected that the shirt he wore was actually his pajamas, and he hadn't done more than throw on jeans and shoes.

"I'm here, son. Sheriff Swan and I were just having a discussion over coffee." He held up his cup, aiming for a lighter tone. He had been reluctant to worry Bay, but more reluctant to stay behind bars any longer than necessary.

"You didn't say you were hurt. Why aren't you somewhere getting that looked at?" He glared briefly in the sheriff's direction before looking back at his father. "You should have a doctor, not a jail cell."

"I am a doctor remember? It's fine. Just some bruising." He tried to reassure Bay, though his son was a born worrier and wouldn't be happy with the answer.

"You say that, but you almost fainted when I broke my leg that time we visited the farm and I fell off the donkey." Bay reached through the bars, touching his shoulder as if not believing he was really there.

"I did not almost faint, and that's was different. I'm peculiar about not wanting my son to be hurt." Bay had been eight at the time. There had been blood, and for the first time he'd lost his cool head and panicked when it came to a medical situation. His boy was all that he had in the world; he tended to get a little irrational at times when it came to his safety.

"Sure, pops, you keep thinking that." Bay laughed, and though the smile hurt his cheek, Gold was relieved that his boy was looking a little more relaxed. "It's late and my father is obviously hurting, Sheriff. What do I need to do to take him home?"

"You're posting bail?" Swan watched them both with interest as they spoke. She looked a little confused at the byplay between them, but brushed it off.

"Of course. Can't let my old man rot in here."

"Watch who you're calling old, boy." He winced as he stood, though, and had to hold onto the bars with his free hand. He felt old.

"I have some forms for you to fill out, and Gold needs to write out a statement for me. I can't imagine I have to say anything about not leaving town." Swan unlocked the door of the cell.

"I'm not going anywhere." Gold stepped out, and tried not to look like he was inches away from collapsing. The coffee, quickly drained, did little to combat his exhaustion and the aspirin Swan had given him were about as useful for the pain in his leg as a steak knife would be in cutting down a tree. He gave himself a moment before heading for the chair in front of the sheriff's desk. He hoped a brief statement would do.

II

"Are you going to tell me what this is about?" Bay asked as he pulled up in front of Gold's house almost an hour later. It took Gold three tries before he was able to stand, and he didn't have it in him to object when Bay slid an arm around his waist.

"You know I can't tell you much when it involves patient confidentiality." They made their way slowly up the steps, one at a time.

"A patient did this? Pops, I really hate…"

"Not a patient." He'd been attacked once, shortly before he'd made the decision to move himself and Bay to Maine. It had been one of the deciding factors, in fact; the small town and private practice seemed like a safer idea when raising a son on his own. "A patient's father. He followed me home because I got a restraining order to protect his daughter from him."

"One of the bad ones?" Once they made it to the porch Bay let them both inside, and without asking led the way to the downstairs guest room. The flight of stairs to him own room was too much to deal with, at the moment.

"I hope you never have to understand just how bad, son." He'd done his best to protect his son from people like Moe. He would never stop. He would protect his boy. He would protect Belle.

Moe would not win.