Thanks for TinkerbellReturns to beta this chapter for me!
Note: Sorry, for people following my The Avengers' stories. I'll update them within this century. These plot bunnies have been gnawing on me for a month so I need to write them to get them out of my system.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to "Once Upon a Time". I only own a laptop with the QWERTY keyboard.
Summary: Neal tried to make Henry feel better. Henry asked why he chose the name Neal.
"Hey, buddy, what're you doing? Why are you alone? Where's Emma?"
"I always come here when I am sad or when I want to think. Everybody in Storybrooke usually comes here when they can't find me elsewhere. Emma is at the Sheriff station. Isn't she the one you want to talk to?"
"No, buddy. I want to talk to you, get to know you better. May I sit here?" Henry nodded then Neal sat next to him. "If you want me to say 'I will always find you', then you'll be disappointed as that's not my line. I think that line has been trademarked by your maternal grandparents." Neal saw a ghost of a smile in Henry's face so he was at least one-tenth successful in cheering him up. "More importantly, you shouldn't be alone while Cora and Hook are in Storybrooke."
"It's day time and there are a lot of people around so I don't think they're that stupid. Besides, I have Emma, Regina, Grandpa Charming, Grandma Snow, and Mr. Gold to protect me."
A small part of Neal felt hurt with the fact that Henry didn't include him in the list but it really was his own fault. He had not been around so Henry hardly knew him. A larger part thought how messed up their current family situation was. He just found out recently that his father was in this world looking for him and on top of that, he had a son! His poor child was related to almost all important people in the Enchanted Forest. That certainly made him a big target for any enemy. He really needed to find a way to protect Henry.
"Even if that's the case, I think it's best for you to have an adult accompany you at all times."
"Do you think any adult can protect me against magic? If Cora decides to get someone, I don't think having one or ten people around would matter."
Well, Neal conceded that Henry did have a good point. It really pained him that Henry might need magic protection. He must ask Regina or even his papa to help. He'd rather talk to the Evil Queen than his own dad. How messed up was he?
"OK, buddy. I'll ask if Regina or Mr. Gold can protect you."
"May I ask you something?"
"Why do you call your Dad Mr. Gold?"
"That's his name."
"That's not his real name. You know what I meant. Why don't you call him Dad?"
Well, on one hand, he was glad that his kid was smart. On the other hand, it was really difficult to parent a smart kid. 'How does Emma or Regina do that?' he thought.
"I still can't forgive him for creating the curse to find me."
"But he did that out of his love for you."
Oh, Henry. It must be really great to be so nice and naïve like he used to. "He destroyed a lot of lives in the process. He even brought magic to the world without magic."
"Despite that, you should really forgive him. Perhaps you can guide him like what Belle used to do."
Oh, he just remembered Belle. Another victim of his father's fiasco with Hook. 'When will the suffering end?' he asked himself, and then realized he was doing a bad job consoling Henry as he was more absorbed in his own baggage.
It was Henry who broke the silence. "I'm sure you will forgive him. May I ask you something else? Why did you choose the name Neal?"
Well, he already thought of a spin for this question so he answered readily.
"Do you know the QWERTY keyboard?" Henry nodded. Neal was surprised there was even a computer in this cursed town. How exactly did the curse know the technology and the working order in this world?
"You know that the keys 'b' and 'n' are right next to each other, right?" The boy nodded again. "Sometimes when we type in a hurry, we reverse the order of the letters. For example, you want to type the word 'and' but end up with the word 'nad.'"
Again a nod, although Henry looked a bit bored as he didn't know where this story was going. "Well, when a social service guy asked me what my name was, she mistyped my name to 'Nealfire' because of those reasons. Since I got a lot of teasing with my original name, I thought that 'Neal' as the shortened form would be great."
Henry chuckled the first smile that day. "Really, Dad? That's cool!"
He was surprised with Henry calling him Dad for the first time but he wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. He was a bit disappointed that Henry was easily duped though. Well, from Emma's stories, the kid believed in fairy tale stories way too easily. Still, he had hoped Henry had gotten the skepticism gene from Emma.
"Do you want to hear the story of how I got the family name?"
Henry smiled ('the second time!' Neal counted) and said, "No, Dad. Your story was good but I know that was not true. I may be naïve but not stupid."
Neal had never felt so relieved in his life. There was hope in Henry. 'Is this parenting?' he wondered. It was hard and he just started the day before yesterday. Perhaps he shouldn't be too hard on his Papa. 'Oh gosh, I started to try to understand him as Henry predicted.'
"Hey Dad, you smiled," Henry said with delight. "You should do that more often. I can see why my mom liked you."
Neal didn't like the past tense Henry used but this kid was really full of surprises. He was supposed to cheer Henry up but it seemed he himself was happier as well. Wait, had his kid just teased him? "Well, Henry, I'm supposed to make you feel better, not the other way around. What made you come here in the first place?"
"It's my mom. I meant my other mom, Regina. She's tried to change for me. She really has. However, it's very difficult for her. This morning, she had a fight with my mom, I meant Emma." Neal thought that was obvious unless Regina was schizophrenic but he chose not to comment. Henry continued, "She nearly used magic against her. I guess old 'Evil Queen' habits die hard… "
Uh oh, it was a difficult topic to discuss. He barely forgave his own dad for the same reason. It was going to be a long day!
-The next chapter will be about the comparison by Neal and Henry of who was more evil, Rumpelstiltskin or Regina.
-The origin of Neal's name was a joke as I know that's not the real case. I meant to write this chapter as a crack but it somehow ended up more serious.
-I plan to write conversation between different characters so any suggestion is welcome for example Granny and Hook. It can be serious, fluff, humorous, cracky, angsty, or combination. With my track record, it tends to end up as humorous but I can try others.
-Lastly, please leave a review to tell me what you think. I can stop the story if it is not popular.