The night was oddly quiet. Every paramedic and law officer in Storybrooke was aiding the Deputy and the comatose Graham. At least two-thirds of the town was baring witness to event, giving the runaways decent chances to escape.

Gold's leg was murdering him from fighting and carrying Belle. It was a labor of love, but labor none the less that would have dire consequences for days to come. Ignoring the shoots of fire running up his leg, he opened the car door and paused momentarily at the beauty in an unmerciful sleep. She was whimpering, possibly from the pain from the dark bruise on the side of her head from his cane. He noticed also that there was a tear in her gown that was matted with dried blood. Damn Emma Swan must have shot her, or Graham one. He'd have to kill them another day, sadly.

"Belle?" Gold shook his unconscious love gently, praying that the knot he had to put on her head wasn't fatal. She groaned lightly and there was a slight movement under her eyelids. He smiled. "Wake up now Sweetheart, I need you to walk inside."

She shifted slightly, her eyes opening slowly. Someone was hovering over her smiling. Soft fingertips danced over her throat-

She screamed and threw him back, scooting as close to the-door as possible. She looked around frantically, immediately feeling closed in from the lack of space.

Gold crawled into the car with her trying his hardest to contain her trashing arms. Her nails grazed his face and he was forced to press her against the window and shake her violently. "Belle it's me IT'S ME!"

Belle's screaming ceased into heavy panting while her eyes searched his eyes. "R-R-Rum-ple?"

"Yes!" he breathed exhaustedly.

Belle looked around, clutching the bump on her head. "Where-What is this?"

"A car. But all the mechanics of this world can wait. Come now Sweetheart, let's get you inside."

She hesitated but grabbed his hand and allowed him to lead her into the strange house. It wasn't as large as the dark castle, but there was this power looming over it that made her quiver.

Her anxiety was instantly taken over by awe. This place was bigger on the inside than on the outside! The room the were in had objects of various descriptions, piled on top of each other in strange patterns. A great staircase led into a darker story of the house and Belle was not looking forward to going up it. It reminded her of the man who broke her out of the asylum, the "Jefferson" she just barely remembered. She recalled instantly the pain she inflicted on him and felt a bit heartless (no pun intended) for not asking his condition.

She told herself to calm down. This was Rumpelstiltskin's home. He was not going to hurt anyone here. Her beloved wouldn't let her.

Gold gently touched her elbow, bring her attention back to him. His eyes surveyed her gently, almost as if he were staring at a beautiful picture.

"First things first," he stated, "let's get you cleaned up." his arms circled her waist and led her the apprehensive staircase. The way he led her away reminded her a bit how he led her from her home when she first made the deal with Rumpelstiltskin-that day felt like centuries ago.

He led her into the hallway. There were doorways everywhere! So many empty rooms, so much darkness and dust and loneness. Suddenly what Regina had done to her seemed almost trivial to what she had done to him. At least she had the guard with the sad eyes and light conversations, not to mention "Henry's" mercy and encouraging smiles. She had company even in pain, Rumpel had pain and loneliness throughout it all.

He pushed open a door and Belle could only guess that it was a bathroom. In the middle of the room sat a large porcelain tub with a shelf with various bottles sitting next to it. Gold left her and turned a knob that caused water to spew out of a golden hole and fill the tub.

"Do you…" he gestured shyly at the tub, "need any help?"

Belle blushed and smiled gently. "Oh no, that much I believe I can handle."

He chuckled with her. "In that case, I'm going to go find you something to wear." he pointed to her blood-stained hospital dress, "you've spent enough time in those rags."

She nodded and watched him leave. "Thank you." she called before he closed the door to give her privacy.

Gold went straight to the bathroom connecting to his room. He practically ran a pharmacy in his cabinet and was sure he could find something to keep Belle sedated when she had another episode.

He pulled out his barely used bottle of sleeping pills, eyeing the dosage quickly. He then retrieved the rest of the pain pills. He really hated to, but doping Belle up may be their only way of surviving at the moment. And he would do anything to protect her.

A good half hour went by and Belle slightly at ease. The warm water was the best thing she had felt in…Gods it must have been years! It soothed her muscles and even the inhuman thumping in her chest…slightly that is. Her head was still spinning with fear and disbelief from the happenings. She did not ever want to be that out of control ever again, never wanted to hurt someone that harshly again.

A knock on the door brought Belle from her thoughts.

"Belle?" Gold called from the other side of the door.

Belle sunk a little deeper into the waters, only her head and knees sticking out. "C-come in!"

The door opened slowly to admit a very shy Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin. "Hey."

"Hi," she said with a evenly shy wave.

He stood there awkwardly, finding a sudden interest in the bathroom tiles. "You…need anything?"

She shook her head. "No, I'm…" her fingers clutched at the hole in her shoulder.

He noticed her discomfort and made a movement with his finger, "Sit up," he suggested. "I'll wash your back."

She hesitated as he neared but finally gave in. He hadn't done a thing to hurt her, he wouldn't dare try while she was at her most vulnerable state. Besides, what's a little flesh between ex-lovers?

She sat up, using her arms to cover her breasts, while he lathered her wash cloth with the sweet smelling soap and began to gently wash. She winced when he hit the sore spot from Emma's bullet but stayed silent. She didn't feel like being brave and starting conversation.

With his Belle back and the police department occupied, he did have a slight twinge of bravery in him. "Do you want to tell me what happened to you? How…" he motioned his hand over her heart. "this happened?" he questioned. It was a question, but he rather demand that she tell him. She shook her head as he had expected.

"Belle, I'm not going to-"

"Yes, you are." She laughed bitterly. "I might be losing it Rumple but I can still see the malice in your eyes!"

He clenched the rag and winced when a sudden wave of pain shot through his leg. He let the rag fall back into the graying waters and leaned his back into the tub. Belle glanced back, remembering from once upon a time how he did not like to surrender during an argument.

"Are you…"

"Sore." he sighed with a wince. "Saving you is becoming a lot more like manual labor."

She managed a chortle. Soon he was laughing with her and for that beautiful moment, there was something outside this nightmare of theirs. Belle wasn't being hunted and Gold wasn't a monster who didn't have a chance at a happy ending.

Belle's laughter halted with a wheeze and she gripped her silky chest. Gold shot up, wary of her nakedness but more concerned with her condition.

"Rumple I'm scared!"

He shushed her gently and searched for a towel. "It's okay Sweetheart; I won't let anything happen to you." He pulled the bottles from his pockets and unscrewed the caps, taking a few pills from each. "Take these."

Belle edged away. "What are they?"

"You're going to have to trust me Belle."

Belle reluctantly opened her mouth to allow him to give her the pills. They were bitter but within moments dulled the pain to a calming effect.


She smiled weakly, standing carefully and watched as her love looked away as he wrapped the towel around her. She chuckled despite the pain. Modesty was the last thing on her mind. It seemed to be to him as well when his eyes fell to her chest. She blushed and was ready to tell him to stop when she saw the cloud of darkness fall over his eyes.

"She did this to you?" he growled.

Belle looked down and noticed that he was staring at the large gash on her chest, the place where her heart should be.

"I'll kill her." he snarled, clutching her shoulders menacingly. "I'll rip out her heart and-"

"No!" Belle demanded. "If you go near her Rumple, I will walk out of this house and never come back."

His jaw tightened at her threat. He swore he would never lose her again. He had to keep that promise. "Yes. You're right. I'll leave her be."

She sighed. His eyes hadn't met her nor did he add "I promise". However, she was glad, in a very pathetic way. She didn't want to be the one to kill Regina, despite everything. She just wanted the pain to stop. Or at least spend what little time she had left with her love.

Gold led her into a large bedroom and pointed to some clothes on the bed. "Those are for you. They might be a bit big but..."

She nodded. "At least they're warm."

He smiled, his eyes averted again. "I'll leave you then..." he turned and came close to smacking right into the door frame. She laughed and saw the crack of a smile on his lips.

As soon as her laugher died out, Gold raced into his bathroom and piffled the mountain of pills.

He took three heavy-sedative pain killers for his leg and put the rest of the bottle in his pocket. He also grabbed the bottle of sleeping pills. He didn't know what would happen the next time she had one of her episodes, but he would not one any circumstances hit her again. He'd have to fight, be brave for her, like she was being for him.

He returned to the room and froze at the door. Belle had put on the incredibly loose silk pants he had provided for her but was being hesitant with the shirt. He used sheer willpower to not stare at the creamy orbs exposed to the world, all goose bumps and dark pink peaks-

He put a hand on his mouth and mentally chastised himself. Belle almost died to night and he was checking her out! Get a damn life! He knocked on the door frame and heard a squeak from Belle along with the rustling of clothing.

"Are you decent?" he called.

"Y-yes!" she called back.

He turned into the room and froze, a grin breaking out on his face.

"What?" she inquired with a blush.

He pointed to her shirt as he stifled a laugh. "You have the buttons mismatched love."

Belle looked down and found to her dismay that he was right. She had the buttons in the wrong holes, curiously of her hurrying. "Yes…I don't really know what I'm doing."

Gold shook his head and approached her, "If I may?"

She nodded with a shy grin and allowed his gentle spinner fingers to undo her mess. His fingertips stopped at her scar once more and he frowned.

"It doesn't hurt too much." She assured, "Just when the pain starts up."

"You wouldn't even have pain if I hadn't…" he stopped and shook his head with distaste. "Gods Belle I'm so sorry."

She shushed him and ran her hands up and down his arms. "I don't blame you."

"But I do." He said. His look of remorse melted into a snarl. "And I blame that witch. I sorry Belle but I don't think I can stay away from her."

She gripped his shoulders a bit desperately. "No Rum-No!"

"I will not let this stand Belle, I WILL NOT LET THIS STAND!"

She gripped him tighter, her eyes begging him. "Don't do it Rumple please! Don't stoop to her level, don't become a monster, don't be like me please!"

His eyes brows screwed downwards. "Like you?"

She blinked back a few tears. "That man I hurt tonight…the one from Regina's house and the woman that was with them…I hurt them Rum." A small sob left her lips. "And that little boy… Gods Rum I picked him but by his throat and tried to strangle him! A child Rum!"

"That wasn't you Belle. You were-"

"I'm a monster Rumple! I can't control it but you can! Please Rum don't be like me."

He soothed the tears from her cheeks and pulled her close. "Listen to me right now Belle. You are not what you think you are. You are Belle of Avonlea, strong, brave, wistful, and so many other things, but you are not a monster." He lifted her chin and smiled. "And I love you, no matter what you've done or what you may do, I love you."

She sobbed. "And I love you too."

His thumb caressed her cheek and he arched his head down. Carefully, oh so carefully, he kissed her. As soon as their lips met however, the kiss became more urgent and they were coiled around each other desperately. Her hands fisted in his hair, refusing to let him pull away, and his arms held her so close he swore she was seeping into his soul. Air was a virtue though and they had to pull away. They stared at each other, eyes alit with unholy thoughts and passion and love! Not pain, not fear, just unorthodox but entirely true love!

Belle released him for a moment and allowed the silk shirt to leave her upper body.

He froze at the sight of the perky breasts unfortunately overshadowed by an aching gap.

He slowly lifted his hands and ran them up and down her shoulders, his thumbs grazing the sides of her breasts and the gash lightly. He fought back and forth with his want for her and his need to keep her safe. He couldn't hurt her. It'd kill him long before it did her. If she wanted this he would give in to it in a heartbeat, but he was utterly concerned for her health. She could break again, and he would have to shove a bottle of pills down her throat to calm her down.

She lifted herself slightly to the point where her lips hovered just above his. Her "heart" was pounding and every inch of her body tingled with fear and excitement. Since her resurrection, and then her imprisonment, she had kept herself sane by pretending she was waking up in his home, or moreover his bed, where pain and loneliness didn't exist.

She didn't need the comforting fantasy any longer. She had him, not a pain induced illusion or one of the Queen's awful tricks, but him, her beloved Rumpelstiltskin. And she would never lose him again.

Their shared kiss was gentle but tantalizing, each of them trying to get a permanent taste of each other. When the slightest taste was established, their need to feel grew greater than what either of them could contain. He pulled her deeper, breathing harshly as the air around them became thin. They pushed back only for a second, lust-filled eyes gazing, before quickly closing that small gap.

He urged into a sitting position on the bed, kneeling on his knees, burning sore as they were, to unlace the worn blood-stained shoes from her feet. She intertwined her fingers in his waves, massaging his scalp gently as he rubbed up and down her legs, peeling the knee-high silk socks from her lovely legs.

Her fingers moved to his coat to shed it from his strong shoulders, down the arms that held and protected her so dearly, and to the floor where their clothes were slowly piling up.

He stood, smothering a hiss at the throb in his knee, and guided her gently into the silk. He wished they had more time, that he could do better than just a desperate need, that he could gift her with a lovely evening of scented lit candles and flowers instead of a cold, dark room reeking of loneliness and dust. Belle however wouldn't trade this moment away for the world. Just being with her love was more than she could ever want, ever ask for.

He planted his qualified knee between her thighs, sliding up until he grazed the silk of the pants and what was underneath them. Belle hissed lightly at the contact but didn't stop him. She would never stop him from giving her the love they both so badly wanted. She ran her hand over the smooth silk of his shirt and circled one of the bottons. He helped her undo his shirt and skim it off his shoulders.

"You're so smooth." she commented with a shy rub of his chest. "No scales?"

"I'm human now." he breathed into her ear. "Mostly." he kissed down the skin under her neck, paying an extent amount of attention to the gash, before moving lower and smiling with glee at the way she tensed under his lips. He hesitated at the pants before receiving a nod from her. The oversized material soothed down her bruises easily, leaving her bare to his eyes; he had many things in his shop and home but women's underwear just wasn't part of his collections.

She shivered in the knew much colder air and Gold stifled a groan at the goose bumps that suddenly flourished under his hands. He mentally kicked himself for not turning the heat up a bit. However Belle did not complain despite the obvious discomfort and he continued with more caution.

He lifted from her and she gazed at the shiny buckle of his pants. What a shame getting off a man's pants without making a fool out of yourself wasn't something deemed useful in all the prisons she had been in. Even during her times of freedom she was kept in the dark on such matters. Her ex fiancé Gaston was boastful and superficial, but he was a gentlemen and swore sanctity too her until their wedding night.

And now all she could do was lie there blushing like a new born.

Gold, who finally managed to pull his eyes from her bruised body and sooth his need for vengeance, noticed Belle's discomfort. "We can stop." he told her, pulling back some for emphasis. "We don't have to go past this point. We'll get dressed and forget this ever happened.

She gripped his shoulder tightly and pulled him down. "If I die tomorrow Rum, I want to know that I gave you the most precious thing I had." she swallowed and she felt a sting in her chest.

"Your life is the most precious thing you can give me!" he exclaimed. "You have the rest of your life to give me this."

Belle bit her lip to stop herself from revealing her inner thought. Something was happening inside her, something she knew that would end soon and take her life with it. All she wanted to do was spend what unknown amount of time she had left with Rum.

"I want to give it to you now." she shyly gripped his belt, discovering quickly how the strap on his waist could easily come undone. Her fingers nudged a silky material similar to the pajamas he had given her earlier.

"Belle..." he tried to protest despite the layer of want hovering over his resistance.

"Rum...I want you." her hands went his pants, her eyes never leaving his, and shrugged them down. He helped her when they met his knees and shrugged out of them, sharing his nudity with hers.

She stroked his face gently. "No scales?" she smiled gently

He ran his hands over every coverable inch of her, inciting moans and need from his beloved Belle. " No scales. I love you."

Suddenly she felt a pain worse than anything her missing heart could create. It wasn't the lost of her innocents; she barely felt that. It was the thought that her days of hearing him say that were numbered. Who knows, this may be the only time. "I love you too Rum..."