-So this chapter is a little short because I'm splitting up a really long one. I'm sorry for the delay and I hope you enjoy. Hugs and love to all the dearies that have read my fic and the ones that commented.
"Take me back!" Gold bellowed. "Cricket! Cricket? Please." He stood up unsteadily and was rewarded with waves of nausea and vertigo. He barely made it to the bathroom before he lost the contents of his stomach. When he finished retching he closed his eyes and pretended what had just transpired was a dream or alcohol poisoning. Anything.
A female hand patted his shoulder reassuringly. "Feeling better?"
"Belle?" he breathed grasping the hand tightly.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Rumplestiltskin. But it's time to stop looking backward. Let's focus on the here and now."
"Ruby?" he asked eying her cloak. "Or are you going by Red now?"
"Neither really. I'm aspects of Ruby's personality. I'm The Spirit of Christmas Present."
"And I'm Mufassa of Pride Rock." Gold muttered.
"You are feeling better! Now I want you to brush your teeth and wash your face. I'll make you a little breakfast."
"Aren't you supposed to be going on about having much to observe and all that?"
"I'm the Spirit of Christmas Present and it's like 6 a.m. there isn't much to see at this point, so clean up."
Mr. Gold wasn't up to braving the stairs for a fresh suit, but he felt more himself after a bit of grooming. He was pretty sure what he had endured with the cricket qualified as mental and emotional torture and he had no intention of suffering Little Red Riding Hood's quest or company.
As he opened his kitchen door Rumplestiltskin's resolve was firmly in place. As he walked inside his resolved dropped to the floor with his stomach. The smells were oppressive and overwhelming. Bacon, eggs, sausages, and every other breakfast food known to man. "Rumplestiltskin, you're looking a little green. Sip on this"
"What is it?"
"The milk of human kindness," Red replied dead pan.
Gold shot her a look. "It's Granny's special egg nog. Think of it as hair from the wolf that bit you."
He took a reluctant sip and proclaimed it to be "not bad." Instantly the turmoil in his stomach vanished and some of the pain in his leg eased. Red ushered him to a seat at his kitchen table and sat a plate of Mickey Mouse pancakes in front of him.
"It's rude to stare." Red reminded him as she picked up the tea pot. "You do prefer tea to coffee, right?"
"I'd rather you not touch that cup, dearie." The Dark One growled.
"Those hot cakes won't stay hot forever; and you can wipe that look off your face. You aren't the only person in the world to have loved and lost."
Gold bit back the remark he could have made about how Red devoured her true love while in wolf form. He was all too familiar with the pain of destroying what he should have cherished. Instead he did as he was told and focused on his plate. "I don't usually eat breakfast."
"And that's why you're as skinny as a rail. You know, we still have some time to kill. Why don't you tell me about Belle?"
"Because it's none of your business." Gold snapped.
" I already know the basics, but I don't understand a couple things. Like, when you became the Dark One you ended the Ogre Wars. Right? So what were the ogres doing attacking Maurice's land?"
"Well, I find that ogres are like dandelions. Whenever you think you've obliterated them all a few decades pass and another bunch pops up. I would have mown them down even if there hadn't been a profit involved."
"So why did you bargain for Belle?"
"These pancakes are lovely, dearie. And with such amusing shapes."
"You know you want to answer me."
"What is it about you insufferable spirits that makes you want to dig into my past. Can't we just leave it at, 'You're a very bad man, Rumplestiltskin. You're going to burn and if you don't do such and such we'll burn with you.' At this point I would do just about anything to be left in peace."
"You can't change unless you've learned the lesson."
"And what lesson would that be? The only thing I learned from strolling down memory lane with the insect was that I've lived a life fraught with cowardice and tragedy. Then I discovered magic and destroyed the only ones I've ever loved. The end."
"I shouldn't have to spell this out for you, but you clearly missed the point. You were a good man and you managed to find love after you had been irreversibly touched by evil. You were supposed to realize that you need to foster that goodness inside you instead of wasting your time hating yourself."
"Pretty astute observation for a waitress."
"You learn a lot about people in Ruby's line of work. You get to see the way people interact with each other; you see what kind of manners they were brought up with. There's a lot to be learned about the study of human nature over food."
"You learn more about it in my business. True colors come out when people get desperate."
"He has more character than most."
"You have no idea. But you will. Grab your coat Gold; we're taking a little trip."