She was happy for the first time since their argument two days ago. Her father had just visited and they had had a very heartfelt talk about Belle's future as well as baby matters that included a baby shower sometime after his birth.
Jefferson's heart still clenched each time he thought of having a son. It wouldn't be the same as it had been with Grace. He and his beloved Alice had everything ready for a girl: a name, a room with butterflies, and an assortment of pink toys that Jefferson had worked on into the night to create. But with Belle and her son, who he loved but resented, he couldn't think of a single title for their son, he could only stare at the white walls he was going to have to paint dinosaurs or rocket ships on, and he had ripped and burned all the creatures he had tried to create for him.
He watched her wash up the tea dishes, her humming rising over the sound of water. She wasn't just singing because of her good mood, she was singing because the baby inside of her needed a song to fall asleep to.
He tried not to stay sour at the idea for long. There was always this charm about her that made any dark feelings he had melt away. So yeah, she had stomped on his pride and spat on the one hope he had of having a daughter again, but she was still the Belle he had rescued under Regina's nose, the shy girl who had kissed in thanks on their first night under the same roof, the girl who excepted his proposal of marriage with tears of joy, the woman who whispered his name into the night on several occasions, the beautiful angel who loved him and their baby despite all threats and worry.
But at the moment, he still detested her.
Belle paused when she saw her husband stop beside her and roll up his sleeves, picking up a drying rag to dry the tea accessories with.
"That was a nice gift you're father left." Jefferson commented in reference to the ironic little pink dress Moe French had gifted a very pale Belle.
Belle stopped her scrubbing and closed her eyes to calm herself. "Yes." was all she could think to reply. She then added, "I can't imagine where he got the idea that his grandchild was to be a girl. He couldn't have possible noticed the jittery man raiding every store in Storybrook for pink accessories fit for a girls bedroom. Couldn't possible have."
He allowed a few seconds of silence to pass through them before picking up the butter knife Belle had washed. "Yes," he hissed, "What a very stupid man."
Belle glared at him, still threatening even when she was six and a half months pregnant and elbow-deep in suds. "We can burn the damn dress Jefferson."
"That would be very impolite." Jefferson growled, fisting the knife tightly. "I sure the man had to surrender a months rent for that garment and all the while knowing that your dear Rumpelstiltskin wouldn't give two shits about his reasons."
Belle gasped and bit back her sob.
Seeing her weakness lessened the anger in his heart only slightly. "But I'm more than certain when he sees it on his grandson that it'll all be worth it." he slammed the knife down, catching Belle's jump with glee. "After we dye it blue, of course." He walked up behind her, making sure their arms brushed against each other. His arms circled her pregnant belly, his palms rubbing circles into the material. "Peach can work in a boy's room, right?"
Belle turned in his arms, staring at him with unsure eyes. Jefferson had a habit of teasing her in the most cruel matter. His eyes seemed sincere though. Almost.
He kissed her forehead, smiling with confliction. "It's still our baby. Why would I ever hate something of yours?" He got down on his knees and pressed his ear to the belly swollen with six and a half months worth of their child, his thumbs creating circular patterns in the fabric of her dress. "Without good reason of course?"
She ran her fingers through his hair and tried to simulate some sort of smile. His caresses were once so much more loving when he thought Gracia was inside her. She had been too concerned over Jefferson's sanity that she hadn't thought of any names for her son. She hoped she could persuade Jefferson to let her name him after Rumpelstiltskin, or perhaps Rumpel's son; that'd be the ultimate comfort.
Jefferson stood and stared into her Dresden eyes filled with joy and hope. He knew instantly she was thinking of Rumpelstiltskin; she never held that kind of light for him. On that note, he pushed her against the sink and pressed his weight against her—against the baby.
"Jefferson!" she gasped. "Stop-please!"
He pressed his knees into her thighs and grabbed a fistful of her hair and arched her neck to meet his eyes. He wanted to yell at her, slap her, hurt her, but something caught in those orbs of hers caught him off. He would have her eyes. The baby inside her would be a copy of his mother. How could love something like that-of the woman who betrayed him by loving another?
He released her, too sickened to deal with her anymore. "I'm going to pick up the paint." He growled as he stormed to the door. "Keep the doors locked and get some rest," He glanced back at her with a half smile, "we couldn't want you to have an accident, now would we?"
Belle's heart jumped. He wouldn't-would he? She crept slowly after him, a protective hand on her belly. "You're a monster Jefferson."
He paused, the door opened halfway. "I know." There was no use in denying it. He was a monster who loved and greatly hated the woman carrying his child—a child that couldn't fill the heart of the daughter who he lost.
The door closed and Belle went as far to still her breathing to listen for any sounds of his departure. She heard the roar of the car engine and finally the rushed scrapping of gravel against tire for there was the sound of utter silence, signaling that she was free from madness for just a while longer.
And she was going to take advantage of it.
She shot upstairs as fast as she could with the extra weight and locked the door to her and Jefferson's bedroom as she searched the closet for a suitcase of some sort.
"Okay Baby," she whispered with undertone franticness as she began to put a few things in the suitcase, "we're going to take a little trip to your Uncle Gold's. Don't worry, he only seems scary. He's a good man and will protect your mommy no matter what your daddy does."
She turned to the dresser to grab her hair brush and stopped when the site of the golden band on her finger caught her eye.
…Belle sat at the table sipping on a cup of tea, dried tears causing her face to itch.
The door to the kitchen opened and Belle held her breath as a hand brushed her shoulder.
"Hey." Jefferson greeted with remorse. He was much underdressed, going as far as to go without his scarf to reveal the deep scar on his throat.
"Hi." Belle retorted with a forced smile.
He sat across from her and grasped her currently fingerless hand. "I'm so sorry Belle. It's just-I-I thought you were leaving. If I'd known that-"
She squeezed his hand. "It's okay Jefferson." She reassured. "I should have told you first." Her free hand crept to her thigh. "It's only right for the father of their child to know first."
His eyes lowered at the mention of the baby. Most men rejoiced at the news that they were going to be fathers, after freaking out of course. But Jefferson had reacted by throwing his beloved down a flight of the stairs and leaving her in the basement all night before he asked an explanation of why she had been with Mr. Gold of all people. She had told him the news and his heart had not stopped screaming since.
"Are you okay with this?" she gulped. "I know…the very idea of children…have been a very sore discussion since…" she stopped at the twist of pain on his stolid face.
Grace, or Paige as she was known in this world, had died a mere week prior to Belle's rescue from the Storybrook asylum. She had left the world due to a careless event that only peer pressure from a group of very idiotic freshmen could bestow. Jefferson had been watched through his telescope, as he always did when ever his cursed little girl was nearby.
He had watched as she had steadied herself on one of the sides of the Toll Bridge, her small arms offering her little assistance as she struggled to resist the sharp winds and walk the twenty feet of concrete without plummeting into the icy river below.
Jefferson had only to watch five seconds before he racing through the woods, screaming her name, her real name, for her to stop.
He had dived into the river after her when she had swayed off the bridge into the very rivers that killed her in seconds.
He had carried her tiny body to shore; begging her to stay awake as she horrified teens ran into the town for their parents.
He had kissed her frozen body over and over again as she died in his arms.
He had cried for days until he gathered the thread of sanity to find Belle.
"Yes." He answered with a weak smile. "I think my heart can handle this one more time."
He stood and pulled her chair out so that he could crouch in front of her. "I miss her Belle, so much that I could scream." His shaky hands squeezed hers and Belle could make out the tears ringing his bloodshot eyes . "So in a way I need this. I need my little girl." He hugged her around her middle and pressed his ear against her stomach. "I need to be a dad again."
She hugged his shoulders. "Then you will." She lifted him enough so that she could wipe the tears off his cheeks. "We're going to have a baby, dad."
"We're going to have a baby, mom." he gasps.
This was the Jefferson she knew. The one filled to the brim with hope and love and overflowing with it. She would gladly ease his pain of his and have this baby if it meant keeping him like this. He deserved this small bit of happiness.
"Hey," he spoke after a moment, "I got something for you." He dug around in the faded jeans he wore before pulling out the golden band with a modest-sized diamond attached to it she hadn't put on that morning after she discovered the startling news of her pregnancy.
"I know I'm not truly the man you love." He stated as he rubbed her hand. "But I do love you Belle, and I swear I will be a great father to our baby." He slipped the ring on her finger, deciding her fate for her. "Please stay?"
She didn't have a choice. She was carrying his child and he was bearing his broken heart out to her.
Other images flashed before her eyes of the man she cared so much about. She saw him setting up Gracia's room, deciding on which animals would go where and where all the furniture would be located. She saw him swinging her in the air as she revealed the beginning bulge of their baby. She saw his lips wonder down her body, giving a moment of attention to the bump of four months before returning to her lips. Gods she missed that man. She wiped her eyes and proceeded to pull a few things out of the dresser. She looked up to straighten her hair and could have died right then and there.
There Jefferson stood, leaning against the door with his arms crossed—a gun poised ready to fire.
"Going somewhere darling?" he spoke so casually as if he were asking her what she was reading.
She couldn't move, didn't have the gall to move. She could only stare at the black orbs that would slowly transform to red once they started talking again.
He pulled the gun out and pulled the trigger, nailing her in the shoulder.
She howled with pain and fell against the dresser, knocking several items off before she hit the ground. Her immediate concern went to supporting her stomach as she hit the ground and not to stop the gush of blood exiting her wound.
He crouched in front her, smiling as if it were a normal situation and not an attempt at murder. "Sweetheart are you alright?" he soothed with laced concern. "You're looking a bit…messy. Such unsanitary conditions aren't right for a mother to be."
She stared up at him, wide eyed and panting as each labored breath sent a spiral of pain down her arm.
Seeing that she was not going to answer him, his charming smile faded and he grabbed her by her injured arm and yanked her to her feet, causing her to reverberate so loud that his ears began to ring.
"You," He spat as he all but dragged her down the stairs, "need to learn a lesson or two about loyalty."
"Jefferson," she screeched, "you're going to-"
He snarled and shot around, his fist colliding with temple. "And how to shut the Hell up when you need to! God Belle are you trying to wake the baby?"
She gripped the banister as a form of resistance, however the pain shooting through the bullet hole of her opposite arm prevented her from fighting much. He was leading her towards the basement, the last place on earth she'd ever want to be. Last time he "punished" her, she had spent three days down there without a morsel of food and only drops of water she savaged from a leaky pipe as her water source. There was no way in Hell she'd survive that long while she was living for two.
"Jefferson please! Think of the baby!"
That only seemed to infuriate him further for the slide his hand up to dig into the ever flowing hole in her arm. They reached the kitchen, Belle was just a moment from passing out. Jefferson threw her against the sink as he searched through a drawer where he kept the skeleton key hidden, leaving the dying woman mere seconds to come up with a plan. Her hopeful eyes instantly fell on the knife Jefferson had embedded in the counter barely a hour ago-
When he was still sane.
Her head was spinning from blood loss and reaching for that knife was like running a marathon. But she had to protect herself and her baby, had to sustain Jefferson. Her shaky hand gripped it. She might as well have been lifting thirty pound weights with the amount of effort she put into picking up that knife and hiding it into her dress.
The door swung open and Jefferson turned to her, staring down at her pale form. He extended his hand for her to grab. "Come with me." He ordered in a softly gruff manner.
Perhaps it was the loss of blood or the unconquerable fear that gripped her like death, but something caused Belle to burst out laughing, and then sobbing. This was exactly how they met; the irony was in it. The first time he took her hand, he was offering her life and a slim chance of happiness. Now, he was offering to lead her down the stairs instead of throwing her down them.
She gripped the knife all the tighter as he lifted her from the floor and forcefully led her to the stairs. She was shaking and crying and hating him and loving him and wanting Rumpelstiltskin and wanting her baby to know what kind of loving man his father could be. She wanted so many things yet would only get them with one action.
"Forgive me." She sobbed, bringing up the knife and impaling it in his chest as he turned to yell at her. A shriek caught in his throat and he had to release her to gain some kind of balance. The blood from his wound poured quickly and the couple watched in memorization as it pooled around Jefferson's shoes. He looked up at her in awe at what she did.
"That," he growled as his astonishment faded into hate, "is not good influence for the baby." He ran forward with the intention of breaking her neck in mind, however a higher power was fighting for the broken mother and her child. Jefferson slipped on the pool of his own blood and fell back, tumbling repeatedly down the steps.
Belle cringed with each bump. She felt like screaming when the silence echoed around her. She had little time to embellish it however for a thick pain ran up her abominable and she could feel the baby inside her move.
"No," she sobbed as a generous amount of blood poured down her legs, "please baby hold on."
Despite the fatigue and shaking she felt from the abuse and blood lose, she slurped up every ounce of adrenaline she could manage in order to fight for her life and drag herself up the stairs.
She barely had the strength to close the door and crawl to the phone that had been knocked to the floor in her and Jefferson's early struggle. Her head was spinning and her tongue was dry and she couldn't feel the baby kicking any longer.
"No…please please please baby move." she caressed the bulge that once brought her many pleasant hours of laughter and cooing. Now there was only pain and a stream of blood oozing down her thigh. She sobbed hopelessly and angrily.
"No no no!" she screamed. He couldn't be gone; her beautiful mixture of insanity and perfection.
Damn Jefferson, and damn herself for not running when his madness reached it's climax! There might be a chance if she could just get her head to clear up enough so that she could make out the numbers on the glowing pad. She cursed herself for not taking mental notes when Jefferson had gone over the directions of the phone in detail months before.
She could remember the emergency number right off the bat and began to dial the number. She was shaking so hard now that she could just barely make out the sound of the ringing that signaled that she would soon be safe.
"911, what is your emergency?"
Belle was ready to scream her response but felt a sickeningly hot fire fill her throat and she had to place the phone down so that she could release it. A red mixture that smelled like blood left her body and she fell on her side in exhaustion.
"Hello…is someone there?"
She had never noticed how glossy the light from the windows made the wooden floors appear.
"Mrs. French? What on earth are you doing here?"
"I'm…well…I know that…you and Jefferson have had a few bumps…but…I really think he'd want you to know…that…"
She smiled in salty remembrance. Oh how bright and sad his smile had been!
"Mr. Gold…are those tears?"
"Sorry dearie…I just…congratulations…"
If she had had her memories then, she would have known that those were tears were of hurt. God she had been so blind!
She was blind now by small black dots and white streaks of light that didn't want to leave her to die in peace. She focused, with what little she had, on his face. Her golden Rumpelstiltskin, her charismatic Mr. Gold.
Her eyes shot open and the visions faded. She turned her tired, pale face to the side and reached weakly for the phone. She could make out the mechanic operator's voice and wondered bitterly how the phone companies could allow that depressing tone to be the last thing someone ever hears.
She pressed the dial and began clicking the numbers to the man she wanted so badly. The ring was a comfort. She wasn't able to save her husband or her child, but she could at least say goodbye to the man she truly loved.
A thumping sound caused her to turn and she had just enough time to gasp before she caught site of a ghost.
"You," Jefferson growled as he kicked the door closed, locking it with a click, "are a terrible mother." He held up the bloody knife formally embedded in his chest. "And I'm going to spare our child from being raised by your hands!"
The phone fell from her hand.
The phone rang, an event that was more than common for midday. He allowed the required three rings to blare through the shop before he gave the wretched machine a moment of his precious time. Sighing, he brought the device to his ear.
Mr. Gold's eyes fell in a confused expression at the static-filled line. "Hello, who is this?"
Gold sighed, ready to hang up when a crash broke through the static, and then a sound that was glass clear.
His body went entirely numb at the sound of his old name. "Who the Hell is-" he stopped to hear the shouting over the feminine sobbing and buzzing.
"Get over here!" lowly echoed a loud voice.
Gold strained to listen, trying to despiser the screams from the static. "If this is some kind of prank…" a loud echo caused his eardrum to go numb.
Screaming and cries of pain and torment rang through his head. He should put the phone down, lock up, and go home and pretend he hadn't heard any of this. Yet, he was drawn to the feminine wails and beast-like grunts slowly plaguing his mind.
"Hello? Damn it who is this! What's going on?"
There was an utter silence after that, and for a moment, he heard nothing but clean, flawless silence. He thought then that it was indeed a prank; that some teenagers had put the phone up to the speaker of a horror movie perhaps and were relishing in their stupidity.
But he couldn't put the thing down. He was shaking. That voice, those screams, even while trembling with static, were so familiar.
Suddenly there was a moan, a simple cry, and then the sound of something moving, being dragged.
"Hello?" he spoke again. He leaned against the counter and dug his nails into the smooth wood, leaving crescents as a sickening thought came to him.
"Well darling let's see how far you get with two broken legs."
Cold. All he could feel was cold. He knew that voice, knew it like the back of his hand. And more horrifyingly, he knew who was associated with it.
"Belle?" he whispered half-hopeful. "Is that you?"
There were footsteps then, calm and steady, and another burst of static.
"Sorry," the voice spoke cheerfully, "wrong number."
The line went dead, and so did Mr. Gold's blood.
Those were her screams. She was in trouble, calling for help, and he…
"Belle! Belle! Belle answer me!"
He knew the other voice, knew it like a bad headache. Anger flew through him as he reminisced on all the times he had trusted the slime-coated words that had fallen from it, the false promises and half lies.
He pressed redial and hoped he could quickly get to the bottom of this.
We're sorry, the line you are calling has been disconnected, please hang up and try-
Mr. Gold hung up quickly, picking the device up and hurling it to the wall. His head was spinning. That bastard! He knew from day one that he should have never trusted him. But when desperate souls seek a leader in times of anguish, anyone would do. At one point, Regina would have been a more sufficient choice then…
He popped his neck roughly and preceded to retrieve his cane, walking as calmly as his quirky nerves and turning stomach would allow. He turned the sign and locked the shop, pausing. He didn't think of the man whose throat he wanted to tear out. He thought of the girl he had strayed him from. She was out there with a baby on the way…shaking…fearful…and what he heard, bleeding, and he had spent months trying to ignore it.
Not this time.
She remembered! How long and how she had obtained the memories he would have to find out later. Right now he had to take out Jefferson if it meant cutting out his heart and liquidating in a blender. He had to get Belle away from that mad man before he-
Hissing, he drove his curled fist into the wooden door and stalked to the sheriff's department, leaving the shattered glass behind.