Mise en scène
Author says: Against my better judgement, I decided to write this. Even less advisedly, I decided to share it. This is what happens if you watch "Candyman" and OUAT in the same weekend. Urban legend meets fairytale: the body on the roof of the car. Also known as Emma meets Rumpelstiltskin: AU drabble, direct end of Season 1.
...I am probably going to end up deleting this one. But as that great man Einstein once said: "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Right?
Fairyland. It's really not nice. The only real surprise about this is that people are still surprised to discover this fact.
Emma starts as the roof of her yellow car jolts with the impact, the noise ringing through the metal frame. Thump. Then, almost immediately: tap-tap-tap.
("Surprise," he grins. For the record, he thinks it's funny.)
Not nice is the fairytale stock-in-trade: not nice is the only thing that makes them work. It's that contrast that makes a fairy story truly part of the human experience rather than just a story. It's the dark side that really makes that happy ending sparkle. Coal and diamonds - just different ends of the same substance, and you can't have one without the other.
Of course, the metal roof of the car isn't really bending under the weight: it just feels like it is when you're sitting directly underneath it, listening to the slight tick-tick-scrape of something moving unseen a scant few inches away from your head. Tap-tap-tap. And it's that difference between perception and reality that makes fairyland so dangerous.
("Which one would you rather have, dearie?")
Of course coal's very useful. Practical. Burns well. Makes a damn good fire. But fire's pretty hard to control, and almost impossible to stop once it gets out of hand. On the plus side, it's also sustaining to families in winter, keeps the wolf from the door, keeps you safe in your lonely house when the pack is prowling in the flickering shadows. Coal is dark. But coal in its own way is honest.
("Of course you can rely on me," the creature says. "Poor old Rumpel, he's in your cage, isn't he, hm? In your cage, at your mercy, and thankful because you're so very truly and really merciful? Rely on me, your majesties."
He's also covered in blood. Under no other circumstances would Snow have found this comforting. Possibly the Queen's?)
Tap-tap-tap. Other women would have become frightened and locked their car doors, visions of rapists, murderers and newspaper headlines flooding their minds. Emma Swan is not like other women. She becomes angry, pulls her gun, and gets out of the car into the damp, windswept dark. The sky is boiling purple and unhealthy. Unnatural night.
Diamonds, on the other hand, are hardly practical - unless you're a burglar or a precision scientist - and certainly not warm in winter. They are compact, brilliant, bright, pure and fascinating. People kill for them. People fall under their spell. Simply owning a diamond can be dangerous, not for their intrinsic value, but for the powerful emotions they inspire in the people around them.
Emma takes a single step back from the bonnet of her car, the headlights flaring into her face and half-blinding her. The hangs loosely in her grip. Beyond the artificial halogen corona, she sees the figure crouched on the car's roof. A familiar silhouette, rimed in watery purple light. Familiar, but with something subtly wrong about the lines of the hair, the cut of the suit. More ragged, perhaps. There's a rattle as a walking cane, released, slides down her windscreen and clatters woodenly onto the tarmac. The bruised rainclouds above shift and roil.
"Gold?" she says, aloud, raising a hand to shade her eyes. The other hand, sensibly, brings up the gun. "Crap. Wait. Rumpelstiltskin?"
"Which one would you rather have, dearie?"
"Seriously? At this point, I really don't care. No, screw that. I want the one who's going to help me figure out what the hell's just happened around here."
There's another thump of boots, onto the road this time, a swift movement of leather and feathers. And it could be Gold sauntering out from behind the headlight glare, had Gold recently taken to being dragged through a hedge backwards and wearing a grin that ought to have canary feathers caught in it. Rumpelstiltskin is a Scottish wildcat in man's clothing: his skin like decaying bronze, his eyes feral and huge.
The suggestion of Gold's suit still hangs around his body, glittering, ragged, changed into unrecognisable sartorial elements in places. He's also covered in blood. Somehow, Emma doesn't find this comforting. Especially as it's almost certainly someone else's.
She raises the gun. He raises his hands.
"Surprise," he grins. Emma's expression is a study in disbelief.
For the record, he thinks it's funny.