Disclaimer: Not even with our combined income do we have enough money to buy Once Upon A Time. So nope, not ours.
A/N Tinuviel Undomiel: Well I was planning on working on some lovely long one-shots for this show and then something happened. My evil twin sister came up with an idea for my favorite couple on this show and it turned into this multi-chapter story. So blame her, LOL. This story is going to fool with the timeline a bit on the show, but it's TV Land where time is meaningless anyways. We'll expand lengths between episodes mostly, rarely will we change time within the episodes themselves. I hope you all enjoy this one, I know I do.
A/N Nerwen Aldarion: My first foray in the OUAT universe and I'm a little nervous. It was really by sheer accident that this story is being made, I was just randomly talking to my sister about the various baby fics out there and I asked if anyone had done a situation like this? Well, here we are hehehe. This story is not another baby fic, it actually will fit in pretty well with the canon on the show with the addition of one adorable little character. Just wait and see how the folks in Storybrooke deal with this!
Only A Rose
Chapter 1: A Well Kept Secret
Ever since her talk with Mr. Gold at his house, Emma had been unsettled by a very bad feeling. She doubted he would have phoned in the robbery at his house. Mr. Gold handled things himself. That was what bothered her, she had a feeling his idea of getting justice wasn't the same as hers.
When she heard about the florist's van being seen leaving town and driving into the woods, she had a sinking feeling that she was too late. Still, she followed the path left in the muddy road into the forest. She only hoped Gold didn't do anything stupid.
The road ended at a cabin and she was relieved to see the Game of Thorns truck parked outside of it. Maybe she was wrong and this was Moe French just hiding out. She didn't know the man personally, but she bet that she could sort this out quietly, get whatever the hell it was that Gold was missing and this would all blow over.
The second she opened the door to her patrol car she realized that dream had just gone up in smoke.
Someone was screaming. It wasn't a cry of fear, this was pain, intense pain. Emma didn't even close the door to the car, she just ran towards the cabin. She had one hand on the doorknob when she heard something else, a voice that was unmistakably Gold's.
"It's your fault!" she heard him growl followed by a thud, "You hurt her, not me! It was you!" Another thud followed by a scream. "You!"
Graham probably would have kicked down the door by now, but Emma was still frozen where she was. What the hell was he talking about?
"She's gone because of you! Not me! You!" There were more thuds but no more screams. The silence coming from Moe French was enough to shake Emma out of her stupor. She opened the door, but Gold didn't seem to hear her. Again, she found herself shocked into immobility.
Moe French was tied up and lying on the ground, covered in blood and bruises. Gold had seated himself in a chair backwards. She watched him raise his gold tipped cane and slam it down hard on the—hopefully—unconscious man. "It's your fault!" he shouted again and again, "It's your fault!"
Emma wasn't sure what Moe had done to piss of Gold, but it certainly wasn't robbery.
She sprang into action, grabbing his wrist before he could deliver the next blow. "Stop," she whispered urgently.
Gold turned his head to look at her. His brown eyes were filled with anger, but more than that they were heavy with pain. He didn't even seem to see her for a moment, but was lost in some other place. Emma had never seen him like this before. He'd always exuded a sort of cold confidence, sometimes feigning a bit of warmth to draw someone in like flame captivating a moth. But here…he wasn't impassive or put together. He was a mess.
"Step away," she told him, "Go outside."
He actually obeyed her even though she didn't think she had sounded particularly fearsome. Once he'd left the chair, Emma hurried to Moe's side and assessed his injuries. He was alive, breathing poorly but she guessed that might be because of the nasty bruise forming at his throat. Had Gold tried suffocate him with his cane?
His arm and head were all bleeding and one knee was heavily swollen. She guessed he may have had a broken knee, definitely a broken arm and God only knew what else. Emma fumbled for her phone in her pocket and called the hospital.
"This is Sheriff Swan," she said, "I need an ambulance up in the woods…where the hell am I?" She muttered that last part to herself. "Uh, it's a cabin, past the Toll Bridge and go up this unpaved road. It's the only one around. Hurry."
She didn't think French was in much danger of dying, but a groan did slip from his lips and he only managed a few blinks before he faded again. He needed help.
Emma couldn't think of anything else to do with him but wipe the blood away from his face with a rag and try to apply pressure to the head wound. It didn't seem to do much good.
"Gold," French whispered once, "Don't know…didn't mean…"
"It's okay," Emma said to him, "He won't hurt you anymore."
That did rouse her to another problem. She'd told Gold to go outside where two getaway vehicles waited for him to use with their keys dangling in the ignitions. "Crap," she said in a breath and leapt to her feet.
The window showed her that both the van and her squad car were still outside the cabin. So was Gold. He was just standing there, leaning up against her car. His shoulders were slumped in defeat, but she could see he gripped his head in his hands so hard she suspected he was pulling his own hair.
Emma forgot about French for a moment and wandered over to the open door. She held her breath and listened.
Gold was crying. No, he was sobbing.
She might have thought it was guilt, but there hadn't been any remorse in his eyes when he'd looked at her before. No, this was something completely different. Gold was also in pain, it's just his injuries were entirely internal. And she had a feeling they had been self-inflicted.
This had to deal with that woman, whoever he had been talking about. Emma looked back at the wounded florist, seeing the depth of his injuries. Gold wouldn't have done this just for theft. He had enough power to ruin the man in a much more painful method: taking away everything but his life. Gold was clever, a schemer. These weren't the actions of a man who's favorite weapon was his own mind. This was the workings of someone who had harbored a grudge for a long time, someone who had lost something and knew he couldn't ever get it back. Someone who knew he had to live with that guilt and wanted to hurt the second half of the guilty party.
"What did you do?" Emma asked Moe French, but the man didn't hear her question.
The scream of sirens was a relief to Emma. French could be handed off to the paramedics while she dealt with Gold. One look out the door showed her that Gold had managed to compose himself back together. His mask of cool indifference was back on. One look at him and a person would find it hard to believe he'd almost beat a man to death with his cane.
The two paramedics hustled inside, carrying a gurney and other medical equipment. "What happened?"
"He stole from Mr. Gold," Emma explained, "I found them in here. Gold was beating him with his cane."
Both paramedic's gave her a wide-eyed look and then stared back at Gold who was still by her car. Apparently now they weren't just afraid of their financial welfare with him but their physical wellbeing as well. No doubt the man enjoyed that, but his eyes were focused on the ground. Where exactly was his mind at the moment, Emma wondered.
The paramedics put an oxygen mask on French to help him breath and loaded him up in the gurney. "He'll be all right?" Emma asked.
"Yeah, he's hurt bad, but nothing life-threatening. He'll be in the hospital for a while though."
Emma nodded and slowly followed them out of the cabin. French was still pretty out of it, but she saw his blue eyes warily flicker to Gold as he was wheeled past him. No doubt the poor man was going to shiver every time he ever thought of him again. She couldn't really blame him.
Gold was watching Moe French then entire time, but his face was completely unreadable. Emma had no idea how he did that but she wanted his secret. "So I heard you managed not to break anything he needs," Emma said, finally gaining his full attention, "You're lucky, Mr. Gold."
She saw him let out a small huff. "You've got a funny definition of 'lucky'." His words weren't colored with sarcasm and she couldn't find any remorse in them. He truly didn't regret hammering French with that cane. This definitely had nothing to do with that robbery.
Emma crossed her arms, peering at him with interest. "You have a funny definition of justice." She saw one of his brows quirk up at that last word. No, perhaps it was a poor choice on her part. This wasn't about justice but revenge. "What did he really do?"
Gold blinked and then stepped forward a bit. "He stole," he reminded her.
Emma shook her head a bit. "That reaction was about more than taking a few trinkets." He looked away for moment, but returned his focused attention back to her when she continued, "You said something about how he hurt 'her'."
There was the pain again, for just a brief second. She might have missed it had she even blinked. Emma continued, "What happened to 'her'?"
Gold was staring at her again but this time she was certain it was her who he was seeing. She couldn't know who it was, not unless she could read minds. But maybe she could reach out to him somehow.
"Who was that?" she asked, "What did he do?"
"If someone needs help, maybe I can help."
Gold blinked and returned back to planet Earth from wherever he had just been for a second. Apparently he had been listening to her because he shook his head. "No. I'm sorry, Sheriff, I think you heard that wrong."
He said it to quickly, too impassively. It was an obvious lie, one he put no effort in hiding. He was just making it absolutely clear that he had no intention of telling her about this mysterious woman and why Moe French had deserved that beating.
Emma sat back on her heels. "You really don't want to cooperate." She let her disappointment in him show.
"Look," he said in a clipped tone, "We're done here."
He tried to turn and walk away, but Emma reached out and grabbed his hand. "Actually, we're not." She held up her cuffs to prove her point and he actually looked surprised. Had he thought she was going to let him go? "You're under arrest."
At the first click when the cuff encircled his wrist, Mr. Gold smiled at her. This wasn't his, "I've got you where I want you smile," one he'd given her when she'd realized he'd planned to make her sheriff all along. This one was different. He seemed to be saying, "You have no idea who you are dealing with."
Emma refused to be intimidated by that, just grabbed his other wrist and locked it too. "You have the right to remain silent…"
He immediately ignored that right. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?" he asked, still smiling.
Emma didn't bite back her own grin. "Oh just a…lot, yeah."
Gold just shook his head at her as she finished reading him the rest of his rights. She knew she didn't have to throw in the part about providing him an attorney if he couldn't afford one, but the law was the law.
"Come on," she said, "It's late, I'm tired and you've been a pain in my ass for weeks."
"This is the thank you I receive for getting you elected," he said as he opened the door and helped him into her squad car.
Emma leaned through the door to look him in the eye. "You didn't do it for me, you did it for yourself. You don't get any brownie points for that."
He just let out a chuckle, that irritating sound that told her she still had no clue about this man. It was enough to make her slam the door a bit harder than was necessary. He was watching her though the rearview mirror as she slid into the driver's seat.
She met those eyes through the mirror. She expected to see anger, hatred or something, but no. She saw annoyance and that was it. She'd thought he might use that favor she owed him and demand his release, but now she saw he had no intention of doing that. It wasn't a relief. It just meant he had bigger plans for her than just getting out of assault charges.
"Did you find it?" Emma asked him. He blinked at the question and then shook his head. "Maybe had you stopped pounding him for a second, he could have told you."
"He understood the rules, he just refused to follow them."
"Whatever that means," Emma said as she turned the car on. She reached to put the car in drive, but her hand stopped on the shift. He'd planned the whole thing to get her elected. He'd planned to burn Regina's office so she could save her. He'd even predicted that she would oust him in front of the entire town. Mr. Gold always thought three steps ahead of everyone else. This might not be the exception.
Emma whirled around in her seat so she could meet his eyes without the aid of a reflecting piece of glass. "Did you plan this?"
"Did you plan to have French owe you a loan he couldn't pay back? Did you want him to steal from you so you could do this him?"
He gave her a crooked smile and shook his head. "I never had any intention of letting him rob from me."
He wasn't lying, she could see that much. But she was beginning to understand something else about this situation. "But you did put him in debt on purpose," she said, "You wanted to take the van from him. You want to ruin him. That was a part of your revenge, wasn't it?"
Gold's smile had faded away. She saw that hard look was back in his eyes again. He didn't say another word. Instead, he looked out the window, wordlessly telling her he had no intention of answering that question. Gold was done talking for the night.
Emma sighed and sat back in her chair. "Fine. You can keep your secrets, I don't really want to know anyways."
She heard him laugh a little as she shifted the car into drive. "Now that, Sheriff, is a lie if I ever heard one."
While she did take satisfaction taking mug shots of Mr. Gold and then locking him in the holding cell, Emma was still exhausted as she stumbled her way up to the apartment she shared with Mary Margaret. She unlocked the door and walked inside, before she could take more than a few steps into the apartment, the light next to Mary Margaret's bed flicked on.
"Where have you been?"
"Long night," Emma told her with a sigh. She walked over to her friend and flopped down on the bed next to her. "Moe French robbed Mr. Gold."
"I heard about that."
"That's not all," Emma replied. "Mr. Gold kidnapped French and beat him half to death before I stopped him."
Mary Margaret let out a sharp gasp. "What?" She sat up, shifting the covers around her. "Oh my God, is he okay?"
"Well he's in the hospital," Emma said, "But he'll live." She smiled smugly, "I did get to put Mr. Gold in handcuffs which was satisfying."
Mary Margaret didn't take the same pleasure out of the situation that Emma did. Her face still somber and she cast her eyes downward. "I just can't believe he would do something like that, it's terrible."
Emma frowned as she thought back to the events of the day, more specifically on the violent shouts that Mr. Gold had proclaimed as he had brought his cane down on Moe French. More specifically, she kept thinking about this woman that was at the center of it all. What had happened to drive a man to such violence? She wished she knew.
"Mary Margaret," Emma began carefully, "Have you ever seen Mr. Gold with a woman before?"
Mary Margaret looked a little surprised and shook her head, "No."
"Really, no mention of a girlfriend or anything like that?"
Now the other woman looked a little confused…and horrified. "Emma…are you interested…?
"God no!" Emma quickly cut in after she saw where that was going and Mary Margaret looked relieved. "Ugh I don't want to imagine," and she gave a mock shudder. "No it's not like that." She sighed again. "When he was beating up Moe French he kept mentioning a woman. 'She's gone; it's your fault. You hurt her' and I wanted to know if you had any idea who she is."
Mary Margaret was quiet for a bit before she shook her head again. "No, I can't think of anyone that Mr. Gold has shown any interest in. He's always kept to himself."
"Yeah, I noticed," Emma said dryly.
But the other woman looked sad again. "It sounds like something terrible happened, I can only imagine what it could have been to drive him to do something like this."
Emma shook her head. "I don't know, but he blames Moe for it."
"I can't see Moe French hurting anyone."
"Well, Mr. Gold thinks otherwise." She was quiet and just lay there staring up at the ceiling for a while, just thinking about how convoluted this whole situation was. "I can't shake the feeling that there is more to this, more than anyone can see."
Mary Margaret was somber. "People keep secrets for a reason."
"Yeah," Emma said, "usually because they're too afraid to let anyone else see them." She had her own secrets, lies that she was telling Henry. She hadn't told him the truth about his father and she was keeping Henry a secret from his father. Secrets could be kept for good reasons…and bad. What Emma didn't know was which side of the spectrum this situation fell on.
She shook her head and let out a groan. "I have to go talk to Moe in the morning, get his statement."
"You should get some rest. That can wait until morning."
"It is morning," Emma reminded her.
"Later in the morning."
"Yes, mom," Emma teased lightly before hauling herself up off the bed so she could seek out her own for a few much needed hours of sleep.
Still, she had a feeling that something big was going to happen with the rising of the sun…she just couldn't shake it.
Emma pulled her car up outside of the hospital in the early morning hours, she was tired after the long night and she still only had three hours of sleep under her belt. It had been a while at the station getting Mr. Gold booked, she had to admit, she was exhausted but slapping the cuffs on him had been worth it.
Now she had to get Moe French's statement on what happened the night before. Emma wasn't looking forward to that part of the job, she had already seen Mr. Gold beating the man to a bloody pulp, she wasn't sure what else needed to be said. Her day was already starting off bad; there was only one thing that could possibly make it worse.
Regina was walking up to the hospital at the same time as her, in her high heels and professional demeanor; she looked like a gorgeous Cruella deVil. "What are you doing here?" Emma asked, she didn't bother to hide her frustration.
"Well I understand there was an incident last night," Regina said in a voice that was as sugary sweet as coffee sweetener…and just as fake. "I wanted to see how Mr. French was doing."
"Why am I not surprised?" Emma mumbled as she walked through the doors.
Moe French was looking terrible. His arm was broken; he had a brace around his neck, thick bandages around his head and cast on his leg, not to mention the IV that was in his good arm. But he was awake.
"Sheriff Swan," He murmured drowsily, "and the mayor…what a privilege."
"How are you feeling, Moe?" Regina asked, she could really lay it on thick when she wanted to.
"Better with the morphine."
Emma's lips twitched at that statement, she could believe that. "Mr. French," she began, "we have to discuss what happened last night."
"Just tell me what you can."
Moe sighed heavily and gave her the Reader's Digest version of the night before. Apparently he'd stepped outside of his home because of a noise when Mr. Gold had surprised him. He'd been knocked down and woken up in his old van before being taken to the cabin and beaten within an inch of his life. Emma could pick up the story from there.
"Well then, that should be enough," Emma said, putting her pen away.
"What's happened to Mr. Gold?"
"He's in lock up right now," Emma explained, "until he can be arraigned for the charges against you. The charges on you won't occur until after you leave the hospital, which won't be for a few weeks."
Now Moe looked alarmed. "Weeks?"
"You don't have to worry," Regina assured him, "I'm certain that the judge will be sympathetic to you after everything you've been through." It took everything Emma could muster to keep herself from rolling her eyes.
But Moe didn't calm down in the least. "No, I can't stay here for a few weeks, I have to get home now."
"That's not going to happen," Emma stated.
"But what about Rose?"
Emma had a feeling this was the morphine talking. "Look, I'm sure you can get a neighbor to look after your roses."
"No," Moe exclaimed, "not my roses. Rose! My granddaughter."
"You have a granddaughter?" Emma asked, her eyes widening and mouth dropping open. Out of the corner of her eye she could see that Regina had a very similar expression on her face, so it looked like madam mayor didn't know everything in her town like she thought.
Moe nodded meekly. "She's alone right now, I have to get to her."
"She'll be okay," Emma said, trying to assure him. "What about her mother?"
A pained look passed over Moe's face. "Her mother…my daughter, she…she left, not long after Rose was born."
"She left her daughter?"
He nodded. Regina stepped forward with a firm expression on her face. "What about her father?"
"I don't know who he is."
Well this was getting even more interesting. Emma sighed, it looked like she was going to have to find a place for this kid to stay. "All right, I'll swing by your house to get her. How old is she?"
That stopped her. "You mean a baby is alone in your house?"
It was a mad dash to Moe French's home with Emma breaking every speed limit but since she was the law then it didn't count. She ignored the fact that Regina was following her; she had more problems to worry about then Regina sticking her nose into her business. Still when she got out she stopped Regina at the door, "Don't you have mayoring that you have to get back to?"
"I am concerned about the welfare of that innocent child," Regina replied.
"You don't think I can take care of this?"
"I had no idea that Mr. French had a granddaughter," Regina explained, "forgive me for being concerned."
"Fine," Emma mumbled and took the key hidden under the mat to unlock the door.
The house was completely silent, filled with cheap knickknacks and a few family pictures. But Emma didn't stop to look at the scenery; she was concerned because there wasn't the sound of a baby crying. Oh God if something happened to that baby…
She ran through the house opening one door only to find the bathroom, she opened another to see it was simply the way to the kitchen. Where was the baby's room?
There was a door down the end of the hall, across the way from a separate room. She tried the door on the left and felt a rush of relief.
The room was decorated like a fairy garden; beautiful flowers were painted on the walls with painted grass and butterflies, bees, and ladybugs. Roses…tons and tons of beautiful red roses. And across the room next to the window was a crib. In a few steps Emma looked in to see that a beautiful baby girl with dark brown hair and perfect round features was fast asleep, clutching a stuffed purple butterfly. A light blue crystal in the shape of a teardrop hung just above her head, it's facets catching the sunlight softly.
She breathed a sigh in relief. "Oh thank God, she's still asleep."
Emma turned around to see Regina looking around the room with an odd expression on her face, she looked a little…disappointed. "It looks like there is no reason to be concerned, he's been taking excellent care of her."
"Well it is a bit strange that nobody knew she was here," Regina pointed out.
But Emma shrugged it off, if Moe French wanted to keep his family to himself, then that was his problem. She sighed, "Looks like we'll have to get someone to come and take care of her until he gets out of the hospital."
"And then is arraigned for larceny."
Emma groaned. "So what do we do?"
"Well I would suggest putting her in social services but you were so opposed to that idea with the Zimmer twins," Regina replied smugly.
She rolled her eyes. "You said yourself that he probably won't get charged so all we have to do is find someone to take care of her for six weeks."
"You're right," Regina said and her smile brightened, "I'm certain you'll find someone capable, until then…"
"Oh no!" Emma stepped forward, "I can't take care of a baby."
"Ms. Swan, you took in the Zimmer twins…I assumed you would be willing to take care of this one as well." Regina looked down at the baby, "Of course I could call child services…"
Emma knew when she was being manipulated she also knew that she couldn't find a way out. What she didn't know was why Regina was so determined to keep Rose French close by.
None of that mattered; she was still suddenly responsible for an eighteen month old.
Emma wasn't sure how much stuff a baby needed but she packed everything that looked essential. That included several changes of clothing, diapers, sippy cups and many many toys. She figured what she missed she could come back and get back later. At least Rose was quiet, she didn't fuss when she woke up but did whimper just a little when Emma picked her up. The worst part was every so often she would say, "Gampa?"
That was pretty sad.
Emma picked her up out of the car and carried her up to the apartment she shared with Mary Margaret. Her roommate looked startled when she walked in, staring open mouthed at the baby. "Uh…wh…hello?"
"Mary Margaret," Emma said simply, "this is Rose."
The woman stepped forward and smiled at the little girl. "Hello there, you're a pretty little doll." Rose blinked and smiled before bringing the purple butterfly up to her mouth. "What is Rose doing here?"
"She's Moe French's granddaughter…"
"Moe French has a granddaughter?"
"A lot of people have been saying that today," Emma muttered. She handed the baby over to Mary Margaret who was definitely more equipped to handle this. "Apparently his daughter ran off not long after the kid was born, nice huh?"
"I didn't even know he had a daughter."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?"
Mary Margaret smiled and brought the butterfly up to Rose's nose, gently playing with the baby. "But why is she here?"
Emma sighed. "She doesn't have anybody, her grandfather's in the hospital for the next six weeks, her mother is gone and apparently there is no father so that means…I'm stuck with her."
By now the teacher's heart was melting. "Oh but she's so adorable," she cooed.
"I knew you were going to sound like that."
Mary Margaret looked up at Emma. "It won't be so bad, it's only temporary."
"That's not going to stop me from looking for someone else to take her in," Emma declared.
The teakettle began to whistle and Mary Margaret stepped forward and held out the baby for Emma to take. "Here, I was making some tea, would you like some?"
"No, I'm good."
But Rose apparently didn't like the loud noise. First she whimpered and then she began to cry, her face scrunching up and tears spilling down her round cheeks. "It's okay," Emma said trying to be soothing, "It's just a little noise, it'll be gone in a moment." But Rose didn't stop crying even after Mary Margaret took the kettle off of the stove. "What am I supposed to do?" She asked her friend.
"Bounce her a little, just try and calm her down."
"Bounce her," Emma repeated, "bounce her." She tried that, jostling the baby in her arms. Rose cracked open her eyes and looked confused, she hiccupped twice and then stuck her thumb in her mouth, her eyes kept a wary gaze on Emma. Well at least she wasn't crying. "I don't think she likes me."
Mary Margaret laughed lightly. "I'm sure it's not that bad."
"You'd be surprised." Emma walked Rose over to the sofa and sat her down. "Stay."
Rose looked up at her forlornly. "Gampa?"
"Ok, that again. No, Grandpa isn't here, but maybe we will see him later," Emma told her gently.
"Has she eaten yet?" Mary Margaret asked.
"No…what do babies eat at her age? Milk or…or mashed up stuff?"
"I think I can whip something up."
Well at least one of them was comfortable with the situation. Emma looked back down at the baby who was sitting on the sofa, still sucking on her thumb. Her eyes were on Emma as if she would hold all the answers. Well, she didn't have any.
She looked up to see her son standing in the doorway with a bright smile on his face. "My mom left early so I came to see you."
"Oh…that's great," Emma said hesitantly. She knew that the arrangement was for her to stay away from Henry but there was little she could do when her son was determined to seek her out anyways.
Henry set his backpack on the ground, "I have a few minutes before I go to school did you want to…who's that?"
Emma looked down at the baby on the sofa and then back to Henry. "You're little sister, she just came in the mail today." Henry gaped at her and Emma did take a little pleasure in his comical expression. "Just kidding. She's Moe French's granddaughter."
"What happened to Mr. French?"
Emma sighed, unsure of how much to tell Henry, "Well," she stressed out that word to several syllables, "He got on Mr. Gold's bad side when he stole some of his things and Mr. Gold kidnapped him and…hurt him a little bit." Henry gave her a look that said he wasn't stupid. "Okay, he hurt him a lot. So he's going to be in the hospital for a few weeks and that makes Rose here my responsibility."
Henry stepped over and sat down next to the baby. "She's cute."
"Yeah, she is," Emma had to agree with that one.
Rose seemed to like Henry, she smiled at him and crawled the few inches closer to him. She reached up and played with the buttons on his jacket and Henry seemed to enjoy trying to make the baby laugh. With both of them occupied, Emma took the opportunity to put Rose's stuff away in the apartment before checking on Mary Margaret in the kitchen.
Her friend some fruit out and was fixing up some toast. "You think the kid is going to eat that?"
"She has teeth," Mary Margaret explained, "We'll try a few things and see what she likes. Children can be picky at her age."
"Or any age."
That made Mary Margaret smile. "It's going to be okay, it might be nice having a baby here."
Emma just shook her head. "Give it a minute."
"Uh…Emma?" She heard Henry's voice from the living room, "Rose kind of…smells."
"And there it is."
But the woman smiled again, "Sounds like she needs to be changed."
"I got that message," Emma replied but she didn't move an inch.
Mary Margaret was no fool; she studied Emma for a second. "You've never changed a diaper have you?"
"I didn't have any friends with kids…or many friends."
There was that sympathetic smile again for a moment but then that look of determination took over. "Well now's a good time to learn."
"Oh…I don't know…"
"She could be with us for six weeks, Emma."
Emma groaned in defeat. "It's going to be a long six weeks."
A few minutes later both women were kneeling on the floor with the baby lying down on her back in front of them, babbling a little to herself while Mary Margaret explained the steps to changing a diaper. "You have to use the baby wipes to wipe her clean, front to back so she doesn't get sick."
"Did you get any baby powder?"
"No," Emma admitted, she was just glad she'd actually brought the wipes, or rather that they had been in the bag with the diapers and she'd accidently brought them.
"Well that's okay," Mary Margaret said, "we can get some later." She laid the fresh diaper down and scooted the baby onto it. "Then you fold this part to the front and take these tabs here, and put them down here and there you go!" She held up the baby to show that the diaper stayed on firmly. "All done."
"Cool!" Henry declared.
"That's one way to say it," Emma said dryly. She carefully took the soiled diaper and put it in the trash, not bothering to hide her disgust. She quickly walked over to the sink to wash her hands. "You seem to have this handled, do you think you can watch her today."
Mary Margaret gave her a look. "I have to go to school in fifteen minutes."
"Oh…yeah," Emma said dejected. She groaned. "What am I supposed to do with her then?"
Mary Margaret shrugged. "I guess you'll have to watch her." She walked over and put the baby in Emma's reluctant arms.
"You're kidding right?"
"You'll be fine. Just bring extra diapers and some cereal for her to snack on, if you have any problems just run over to Granny's and she'll help." Mary Margaret said while simultaneously gathering her things. "Come on, Henry, I'll walk to school with you."
Henry rushed over to pick up her backpack and scampered to the door. "Bye, Emma!"
And then Emma was alone with the squirming baby in her arms.
For the second time in his long life, Mr. Gold found himself in a prison. Emma had left him locked up throughout what remained of the night with the delusional idea that he would sleep. Being locked behind bars was not something that relaxed him into dreams. Before, back in their realm, he'd hardly slept at all after Charming and Cinderella had thrown him into that miserable hole in the ground. At least this dungeon didn't have rats.
He heard Emma's footsteps coming from down the hall at 8:30. He thought she'd be there much earlier, fearful that he could have escaped somehow. If he'd had magic he would have, but alas he was lacking in that particular gem. He was sitting on the little cot, not even unmade, when she walked in.
"Wake up, Gold, I've got…" she stopped when she saw him sitting there, "Oh, you're already up."
"Indeed," he said, but any interesting return he had planned died instantly as surprise took over. Emma did indeed have a bag from Granny's diner in one hand, but the other arm was occupied holding a squirming toddler.
"Hope you like bagels," Emma said, tossing the bag on her desk. The child let out a squeal and reached for the cup that held an assortment of pens and pencils. "No, no, no," Emma said, pulling her little hand away, "You'll poke your eye out."
"I understand money being tight at these times, but babysitting seems rather juvenile for you," Gold said with a smirk.
Emma glared at him. "Shut up, this is all your fault anyways."
"Oh really, and how is that?"
"Well for starters, you're the one who beat her grandfather half to death."
All humor died swiftly. "What?" he said in a gasp. He reached for the bars to use to hold his weight off his bad leg as he climbed to his feet. "Sh-she's his granddaughter?"
"Yep, and apparently a big secret around here. Not even the mayor knew about her."
Emma set her down on the desk and the child let out a coo. She reached up and plucked the pink hat from her head and threw it on the ground. Emma let out a sigh and bent down to retrieve the hat, but Gold was utterly transfixed by the riot of chestnut curls that tumbled from her head.
Belle, he thought. She was unmistakably Belle's daughter. But how?
He remembered another dungeon. Her dungeon. He remembered throwing her in there and then storming off to let loose his rage. He remembered returning after he couldn't destroy that chipped cup. He remembered her pleading eyes, begging for him to believe her. He remembered ignoring her words of love since they couldn't possibly be real. He remembered taking her innocence, her willingness in giving it despite his coldness. He remembered walking away after to mull over what they had just done. He remembered returning and telling her to go. Most of all he remembered her walking away and how that crushed him because a small part of him did believe and only wanted to call her back.
Could it be?
"How old is she?" he asked.
Emma was too preoccupied with setting up the child's playpen to notice that her prisoner was now shaking and several shades paler. He was gripping the bars, straining to get a better look at the girl, but that was impossible in his position. His plans were further thwarted when Emma picked her up and set her in the playpen, setting a bunch of toys in there with her.
"There you go, Rose," she said, "You…have fun I guess."
Rose. That was her name, in this world at least. He couldn't possibly know what Belle had actually named her. Still, it was a lovely name and it suited her. Surely Belle's child was just as beautiful as the flower she was named for.
"Can I see her?" he asked.
"What?" Emma stopped short of her desk, giving him an odd look.
"I'd like to have a look at her."
"Why?" she asked suspiciously.
He couldn't exactly tell her the truth, that he was desperate to confirm his own suspicions that he had fathered that child. He just needed to see if he could see some of himself in her or if…he hated to think what else Belle might have endured while trapped in that tower.
"Idle curiosity," he said instead.
"Yeah well, I may not be great with kids but I know you're not supposed to hand them over with criminals, especially since you're the one who attacked her grandfather."
Emma sat down at her desk to prove the point that she wasn't going to give him his request. It wasn't unexpected, this just meant he had to be more creative.
"Where is her mother?" he asked as an opener. He knew the answer far better than she.
"Gone," Emma said simply.
"And the father?"
"Moe didn't know who he was," she said, "And since he's now in the hospital, our beloved mayor said either I hand her over to Social Services or she stays with me."
"How generous of you."
"Yeah well, I've been in her position and no one was willing to take me in, so I figured I'd do what they didn't." She took out his breakfast from the bag and walked around the desk to hand it to him through the bars.
"Are you expecting me to break out in applause?" he asked.
"Just take the bagel and use your mouth for something other than talking."
"Then I suggest you use your eyes for watching," he said, "Because children at her age have a habit of getting into trouble and that playpen is dangerously close to that electrical outlet."
Emma turned around and sure enough, the pen was next to an open socket and while she wasn't by it yet, her little fingers would probably find it soon enough.
She shook her head and groaned. "This is going to be more work than I thought."
Gold ate his breakfast and watched as she taped paper over all of the open sockets and moved things around in case Rose got adventurous and knocked something over. Rose amused herself with her toys, creating a game of throwing them up against the walls of her pen and laughing when they bounced back. This stopped abruptly when she hurled a block and it came back to hit her in the head.
"Crap!" Emma shouted at the first wail, "Crap, crap, crap, crap!"
"I would suggest being careful with your words around her," Gold said as she scooped up Rose, "She's at that age where she'll repeat much of what she hears."
"Thanks, but I'll take my advice from someone who isn't being charged with assault," she said, bouncing the still crying toddler on one hip. "It's okay, you can stop crying now."
He couldn't help but find her failure vastly amusing.
"Please, Rose, please stop crying." Emma let out a frustrated sound and reached into the pen for stuffed butterfly toy. "Look, it's your butterfly. You like your butterfly, don't you." She waved it in front of her face, but that achieved nothing. "Okay, you don't like that right now."
Emma tossed it back into her pen and searched around for some clue. "I guess I can call Mary Margaret."
"Want my advice?"
"No." Emma held her cell phone by using her shoulder, but after a minute let it clatter down to her desk. "Damn it! She's not picking up."
Rose continued to wail, her face red and wet from her tears. It had been amusing at first watching Emma struggle, but that had faded fast. Rose could be his daughter and he could already feel those rusty parental feelings creeping up on him. It was frightening how quickly that happened.
"Turn on the radio," he said, "The music might soothe her."
Emma didn't argue with him now. She flicked the old dial and after burst of static some song sung by Elvis came on. The curse had supplied him with enough memories to where this song was supposed to be familiar to him, but he knew he'd never actually heard it before. It did work in capturing Rose's attention. After a few more bounces from Emma she forgot all about why she was crying and started babbling again.
Emma sank down into her chair while Rose toyed with her blonde hair. "Thanks," she said to him.
"It was no trouble," he said in reply. He didn't look at the sheriff as he spoke. He watched as Rose first played with Emma's hair and then became transfixed by her bracelets. He wanted to see more of her, to see what else of Belle he could find there. He had thought he'd lost everything of her when she'd died, but now a piece of her was there in the room with him. That alone was squeezing his heart into jelly.
After a while, Emma returned Rose to her pen. She played by herself for a while, but wisely without throwing things. Soon enough she fell asleep. Bae had done that too when he was her age after he'd cried. Now two painful regrets were warring in his head and there was nothing he could do to escape it.
He didn't offer up anything when Emma asked what he wanted for lunch. He just shot her a mutinous look. She ordered her own food and he didn't even glance up when Ruby arrived with her lunch. He was sure the little she-wolf smiled at the sight of him behind bars, but she didn't stay long enough to gloat.
"Pastrami," Emma called out to him once Ruby had left, "You want half?" He glanced over at her as she took a bite of her lunch. "You know I still owe you that favor," she said over a mouthful, "Nice fatty pastrami, delicious way to clear the books."
She was grinning at him from her desk. "While I don't need a reminder that you owe me a favor," he told her, "When the day comes that I make my request, it will be for more than half a sandwich."
She smiled back at him, clearly unaffected by the fact she still owed a debt to him. She could tease and ignore the point all she wanted, but one day he would use that favor. And he was certain she wouldn't like it.
The sound of footsteps caught both of their attentions. Emma looked surprised to see Regina there, but that was quickly replaced with joy when she saw Henry was with her. Gold wasn't surprised in the least.
"Sheriff Swan, I'm letting you have thirty minutes with Henry," Regina announced, "Take him out, buy him ice cream," she said as she turned around to meet Mr. Gold's eyes.
"You want me to leave you alone with the prisoner?" Emma gaped at her in shock.
"Twenty-nine and a half minutes," Regina threatened.
Henry beamed up at his birth mother. "Hi Emma."
"Hey," she whispered back, but then caught Regina's attention, "I can't leave Rose," Emma reminded her while pointing to the sleeping child in the pen.
"I can watch her," she said, "I have raised a child before."
Emma glared back at her for that painful reminder and then looked across the room at Gold. "Bring me back a cone?" he suggested to show he was perfectly fine with this situation. He knew he had business with the mayor that needed to be private.
"Just this once," Emma said to Regina. She reached behind her and grabbed her coat from the rack. "Come on," she said cheerfully to Henry, "Let's go."
Henry ran out of the room with Emma following hot on his heels. Gold didn't doubt they would fill up those thirty minutes with as much chatter as possible to make up for their lost time. He certainly envied Emma's ability to talk with her son. He knew the pain of being separated from a child all too well.
But at that moment it didn't matter. Regina was looking at him through the iron bars with that supercilious smirk on her face. "Well," he said, "You really wanted that little chat, didn't you?"
"Apparently this is the only way I could do it." He could hear the laughter in her voice. He knew just how to ruin it.
"Please," he said, taking pleasure in that word, "Sit." He pointed to the couch in front of his cell.
She remembered that order from their realm well. Her smile broke and she stalked over to perch herself on the arm of the couch so she was sitting directly in front of him.
"Now when two people both want something the other has a deal can always be struck." He met her eyes again to confirm what he already suspected. "Do you have what I want?"
Regina smiled that victorious grin. "Yes," she savored the word.
Gold felt himself drain with relief and at the same time fill his heart with hatred. "So," he said, "You did put him up to it then."
"I merely suggested that strong men take what they need."
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Oh yeah and you told him just exactly what to take, didn't you?"
"We used to know each other so well, Mr. Gold," she said, and he knew she wasn't meaning just those twenty-eight years here, "Has it really come down to this?
"It seems it has, yeah," he said, "But you know what I want," he pointed to himself, "What is it you want?"
"I want you to answer, one question." She held up one finger for effect. "And answer it simply. What's your name?"
He grinned a little. He knew exactly what she wanted, but he wanted to toy with her a bit first. He was always good at finding loopholes. "It's Mr. Gold."
She narrowed her dark eyes at him and leaned forward. "Your real name."
"Every moment I've spent on this earth, that's been my name."
"But what about moments spent elsewhere?"
He put on his most perplexed expression. "What are you asking me?"
Unfortunately, Regina wasn't falling for it. "I think you know. If you want me to return what's yours tell me your name."
Gold shook his head just a bit but couldn't help the smile that came over him. He couldn't trick his way out of it, but he could savor the moment as she waited for him to talk. She thought she was so clever. She'd never realized how he'd played her so well.
"Rumplestiltskin." He enjoyed the look of anger that flashed in her eyes as she realized she'd failed to keep him under her control, but only just a moment. It was her turn to hold up her end of the deal.
He grabbed the bars to pull himself towards her as he hissed, "Now give me what I want."
"Such hostility?" she asked.
She eyed him for a moment and then opened up her purse. He watched as she reached inside. "Over this?" she asked, bringing the chipped cup out for him to see.
Gold felt his throat close up at the sight of his most valuable treasure. He reached for it, but she waved it out of his reach. She continued to toy with him as she said, "Such a sentimental little keepsake."
He finally grabbed it, glaring at her as he spoke. "Thank you." He plucked it from her hand, "Your majesty."
He carefully drew the cup through the bars and then sat down on the cot. Gold let out a sigh of relief to see that it was unharmed, at least no more than it already was. He turned it around and around while tracing out every inch of it with his fingers. Finally, he simply cradled it in his hands and looked back at Regina. "So," he said, "Now that we've been honest with each other, let's remember how things used to be, shall we?"
He smiled at her just a bit. "And don't let these bars fool you, dear, I'm the one with the power around here. I'm going to be out of here in no time." He leaned forward and said through gritted teeth, "And nothing between us will change."
Regina hooked her hands around the bars and pulled herself as close to his face as she dared. "We shall see." Her words were strong, threatening and completely delusional. She just didn't know about that last part.
She started to walk away, but her dark eyes landed on the little red playpen tucked quietly in the corner. They had both forgotten that they were not alone. "It appears things have already changed," she said with a smile, "She's lucky that she favors her mother."
"You knew," he hissed through the bars.
"I assure you, I had no idea," Regina said truthfully, "I actually gave you far more credit. I never thought you were a connoisseur of virgins." She grinned wickedly at him, tilting one brow up. "She was a virgin, right? Or had she already been touched by her tall, dark, fiancé?"
"Don't you dare speak of her," he growled low with caution.
"And to think I actually pitied her," Regina said. She'd never been one to take warnings from him. "I thought her father was wrong to call her the beast's whore. Now I see why he locked her in that tower, why he starved her, beat her." She smiled at her old nemesis as his eyes darkened with renewed rage. "Why he tossed her body in a ditch and let the crows pick her clean."
"You viperous witch!" Gold shouted, rattling the iron bars with his fists. He intended to hurl more insults at her, but the sharp cry coming from the playpen silenced him. Regina followed his gaze to the child who continued to sob from being rudely awoken. He knew what she was going to do just from her smile.
Regina walked to the pen and scooped Rose up into her arms. "There, there," she said soothingly, watching Gold the entire time, "No need to fret, little one. He didn't mean to disturb you."
Rose sniffled, rubbing one small hand across her eyes before laying her head on Regina's shoulder. It boiled his blood to see her holding Belle's child. What was worse was that she knew it.
Regina took a long look at the child in her arms while trying to coax her back into sleep. "I think I understand it all now," she said, "I couldn't believe that he would let your child live. And you know, I don't think he did." Her blood red lips curled up as she spoke, "I don't see you in her. Those clerics must have done more than flail that poor creature."
Gold wasn't entirely sure that she was speaking truthfully, but she was playing with one of his biggest fears. Had Belle been raped by those disgusting men? He had wondered that before when he'd first heard of her death. She'd had to have been beaten down and so broken to the point where she hardly cared about anything anymore when she threw herself off of that tower. Defilement could have been one of those ways.
Regina placed Rose back into the pen once she was asleep once more. "You should be grateful, Rumple," she grinned over her nickname for him, "You never struck me as the fatherly type to begin with."
She didn't know how much that hurt him. He'd been careful to keep Baelfire a secret ever since he'd lost him to this world. Partly because it hurt so much but mostly so no one would know about his own weaknesses. He'd made that mistake with Belle and this is what had brought him here.
Regina stayed by the pen to continue with her self-assigned duty of watching Rose. Gold chose to ignore her, but his hands continued to roam over his returned cup. Regina couldn't possibly know for sure that Rose wasn't his child. She might be right, but he knew her primary goal at that moment was to cause him pain. That was why she stood there humming an lullaby because she knew he burned to see for himself if Belle had given him a daughter. She would use her against him, just like she'd done with Belle.
He couldn't be forced from his task now, not when he was so close. Gold had no choice but to pretend disinterest. He would act like he believed Regina completely and so Rose meant nothing to him but more pain at what her mother had endured. But he would find out the truth. He had to because the question was too impossible to ignore. Even though either answer was sure to hurt him.
It was a blinding rage that Rumplestiltskin found himself in, he wasn't even seeing anything in front of him anymore, he wasn't feeling anything except memory. The memory of her soft lips touching his, the feeling of pain receding, power draining as familiar emotions crept back, looking at Belle briefly through eyes that were not clouded by darkness and power.
'It's working' she'd said.
And so it had.
But that was impossible! He'd taken a vow; he was the Dark One, the monster, the beast. No one could love him and he couldn't love, wasn't supposed to love anyone or anything.
'This means it's true love'
No, it couldn't be. He'd lost that when he'd lost everything else and to even hope for something like that was a betrayal.
He didn't even realize what he was doing until he saw the glass shattering as he pounded his old walking stick against the cabinet again and again. He was destroying all of the trophies he had collected over the years but they didn't matter. They didn't mean a damn thing if he'd sacrificed every step he'd taken towards his goal…for her, for love.
"I will do nothing else, I will love nothing else."
Love nothing else.
"This means it's true love."
He dropped his stick and leaned against the now broken cabinet in defeat. He'd failed. He saw that now, he hadn't even known it until now but there was no stopping what already was. He loved her.
But she couldn't love him, that was impossible.
Rumplestiltskin stepped over to the long wooden table where the tea set was. The one she had touched so often. He snatched up one of the cups and threw it at the stone column, it gave a delicate smash as it splintered into pieces. He threw another, and another and another and then the cream pitcher. He reached for the next teacup and stopped.
The chipped cup.
She had knelt on that floor wearing the long gold gown, looking both defiant and afraid. "It's chipped…you can hardly see it."
'Smash it' he commanded himself, 'It's just a cup.'
But his hand didn't listen to head…but to his heart.
He loved her…but he couldn't have her. She couldn't love him, not if she was turned against him by the queen, not when he was the wretched creature who only existed to destroy this world for the next. No, he couldn't have her, he couldn't love her. He had to stop.
He had to destroy her. It was the only way.
Rumplestiltskin set the cup down with a harsh thud before striding away with determined steps. He made his way down the long corridors, his goal set on the dungeon below where he would finish what he had started.
With a slight flick of his wrist the door to her dungeon room opened and he saw her sitting against the wall, her knees drawn up to her chest and her face buried in her hands. When the door opened she looked up startled and he saw fresh trails of tears down her cheeks. "Please," she began earnestly, "please listen to me."
"What more could you have to say?" he asked her coldly.
"I…I love you," she stammered, her eyes were slightly red making the blue stand out even brighter.
"Do you?" he began, stepping into the cold room. He sneered at her, "The beauty loves the beast? Who would believe that? No one has wanted me in all the world and I'm supposed to believe that you do?"
Belle stared up at him with hopeful eyes. "Yes."
Oh how he wanted to accept that. But she would hate him for what he was going to do, it was the only way.
Rumplestiltskin knelt down next to her so his lips were only a breath apart, enough to taste without actually touching. It wasn't a kiss; there could be none of that. But he heard her breath catch in her throat; saw the flush creep over her cheeks and sensed her heartbeat accelerating.
He whispered two words. "Prove it."
She looked up at him confused, the naïve little innocent. Well not for long, not if her love was real.
He reached over and let his beastly fingers touch the soft white skin of her throat, like he had fantasized about for these many months. Her pulse quickened once more under his fingertips and his other hand found her waist, molding her closer to him. That was when he heard her gasp and here eyes widened with realization of what he truly meant.
He waited for her to pull away, to break the spell and prove once and for all that she was nothing more than liar. He wanted her to, because if she did then he would have lost nothing, he would have hurt no one but himself and it would be so much easier to slip away and continue what he must.
But she didn't.
Instead she placed one hand over his and kept his grip firm, making it clear that his touch was welcome.
And all was lost.
He pulled her dress down over her shoulder, baring more skin for his touch, his lips. She didn't resist. Not when he began to undress her, not when he did the same for himself, and not when he laid her down on the small cot and covered her pale beauty with his disgusting form.
She never whispered a word of protest, she didn't fight him in the least. No, she welcomed his touch. He knew that from the way she sighed whenever he found a sensitive spot and the way she clung to him as she discovered this pleasure for the first time.
He was gentle when he hadn't intended to be. He wanted to prove to her he was a beast but his heart wouldn't allow him to treat her as such. Not when she flinched at the pain when he took her innocence, and not when he saw the pain recede to pleasure as he took her again. For a moment he forgot again, forgot what he was supposed to do and lost himself in the moment of loving the woman who had snuck into his soul like a thief and snatched away his heart.
But when pleasure was done the darkness crept back again.
She lay beneath him, running her soft fingertips over his back tilting her head up to look at him with a dreamy expression on his face. That expression changed to sadness when she began to see that he still looked at her with cold eyes.
He stood up and began to dress again, not looking at her again. He heard her sit up but she didn't reach for her clothes, didn't hide her naked body even as he could feel her eyes on him.
"Do you believe me now?" she asked softly, innocently and he felt the pain in his hardened heart once more.
He glanced at her once but not again. Then he fiercely stormed out of the dungeon and let the door close and lock behind him.
She had his answer.
Regina dropped Henry off at his weekly session with Archie. The cricket had yet to forgive her for the pressure she'd put on him weeks ago, but he continued to treat her cordially. She sometimes wondered if these sessions were actually helping Henry or bringing him closer to Emma, but for now she decided it was best to continue. Pulling him out now would only draw suspicion. She would deal with Emma eventually.
For now she had another problem. Rose.
Regina didn't know how she had missed that child and that boiled her blood. She would have had a great use for her had she known. She would have to concoct a new plan though. Gold would want to know the truth, she knew that. She would just have to steer him in the wrong direction. He already believed one lie. It shouldn't be too hard making him believe another.
With Henry in session, Regina had some time to make a visit to someone else. Someone she hadn't seen in a long time.
She strode through the hospital, careful not to meet anyone in the eye. She had a purpose and being seen glancing around would only attract attention. She walked past Radiology and saw Moe French sitting in a wheelchair out of the corner of her eye. How ironic.
There was a door simply labeled EXIT with a red sign, but a keypad was set to the side of it. Regina began to punch in the code, but stopped at the final digit. She glanced over her shoulder at French, but he wasn't looking at her. His eyes were heavy and seemed to be glazed with drugs. She pushed the final button and the buzz signaled that the door was unlocked.
Down a flight of stairs waited Nurse Matilda in her usual pristine white uniform and perfectly arranged hair. She stood up when she saw Regina coming towards her. Regina smiled at her, producing a long stemmed red rose to her as a gift. It was her own private joke.
Nurse Matilda accepted the rose. "Pretty," she said absently.
"Well, I know how hard you work," Regina said, "Has anyone been to see her?"
The nurse shook her head. "No ma'am, not today." A hint of a smile curved her lips. "Not ever."
It wasn't surprising news to Regina. No one even knew that this asylum was here. That's because the people in this place all belonged in her dungeon back in her home realm. That included the prisoners.
Regina walked through the dank, dreary corridor, tugging her sleeves down a little to ward off the chill. She passed Gregor, the janitor who cleaned the place. He was the mute back home who would feed the prisoners.
Cell number 11 stood unlabeled beside the other rooms on the block. But unlike it's brethren, it was not unoccupied. Regina stopped in front of the door and slowly lifted the viewing hatch. She smiled at who sat inside.
The girl who was once Belle was awake this time. She sat on the slab that served as her bed with her knees bunched up to her chest. Her head was bowed towards her lap. Her face was concealed by the curtain of her lovely brown curls. They didn't spring with vibrant life like her daughter's, not in this place.
She looked up when she realized she was being watch, eyeing her visitor with confusion. Regina smiled at her prisoner. It had taken too long to capture her back in their world. She had tried to use her magic to find her once she'd discovered Rumplestiltskin had turned her out. She'd had to resort to far more clever means to acquire her. Obviously something had been left behind.
"I knew you were hiding something from me," she said to the prisoner, "But I never dreamed it was something so…precious."
The girl, Alayna as the Curse had dubbed her, blinked in confusion. "What?" she asked.
No. She had no idea what she was talking about because her memories of before were gone. And here…well Regina had never seen the need to give her false ones. But Regina knew the truth and since she couldn't hold it over Belle's head then she would do it to Alayna.
"I don't know how you managed to hide her from me," she said, "but that doesn't matter. He won't get her, I'll make sure of that."
"I—I don't understand," Alayna said.
Regina smiled at her and shook her head. "No, you wouldn't."
Then she let the hatch door fall closed, slamming against the door with the satisfying sound of metal striking metal. She was sealed back inside from all prying eyes.
To Be Continued
A/N: Next chapter: Emma struggles to learn how to take care of a toddler, Rose is welcomed by the people of Storybrooke and Gold continues to wonder if he could be her father. Please review so we can hear what you think. We love reviews, they are like candy to us.