Chapter 1: To Believe
One would think that after everything that had happened to him, after everything he'd seen and done and learned, that he would be amenable to the idea that there was a land in which all the inhabitants were the equivalent to his world's fairy tale characters.
One would think, but Dr. Nicholas Rush was a stubborn man- and although he'd been to other planets, discovered and was stranded on an ancient star ship- he still couldn't let himself believe that the young girl they'd rescued and brought aboard the ship was actually a fairy tale character. It just wasn't possible.
But, everyone else believed her. She told them of her land, the Ogre Wars, her deal with Rumplestiltskin - And Rush noticed the longing in her eyes when she said the name - it was the look of someone who'd lost someone they held dear, and Nick knew that feeling all too well.
But, no matter what she said; no matter how many details she gave or how many questions she answered, Nicholas just didn't believe her. Couldn't believe her, because fairy tales were stories in which people always got their happy ending, and as far as Rush was concerned, happy endings didn't exist - at least not for him. And apparently not for her either.
As time went on however, he began to get used to her and her tales of a land with magic. Soon he was used to her presence and even began to look forward to working with her. She'd taken to this new world and all its peculiarities with an ease that was almost alarming, and when he asked her about it, she merely shrugged and said something about science here being a lot like magic back home.
She spoke of magic as if it were real.
He started to wonder, but he didn't believe.
* * *
They began to spend a lot of time together after that. After everyone else had gotten used to the fact that there was now a fairy tale princess on board their ship, they began to leave her alone, and she found herself spending more and more time in Rush's company. It was almost a relief to have someone who didn't care (didn't believe) about who she was, because she was so tired of explaining it to everyone. It was nice to focus on work, to learn and be productive and of use to someone again, and she relished the fact that he found her useful.
Apparently she was one of the few people who had that honor.
She never pressed the issue of her identity with Nick, deciding that if he didn't believe her, then she had nothing to prove. She could be whoever she wanted on this ship. It was true that everyone else knew her as "The fairy tale girl" or "Princess Belle", but to Nick, she was just "Belle" or "Hey you", and it wasn't quite "dearie", but it would do. She wanted to be just Belle, and although she wasn't quite sure who" just Belle" was, she was learning. And she had Nick to help her do it.
When she realized that she was in love with Nick, she wasn't as surprised as she thought she should have been. He reminded her so much of Rumplestiltskin at times, even favored him a little, that it was no wonder she'd been drawn to him. Apparently, she had a type.
She knew she should do the brave thing and let bravery follow, but the last time she'd been brave, things had ended horribly. So she settled for what she had, which was long hours in the console room learning and helping Nick work out algorithms and equations and running experiments and doing research. When they found a solution to a problem, he'd pat her arm, and she'd smile and they would both wish that the other would have the courage to make the first move, but they were both so comfortable with what they had they neither of them were willing to take the risk of trying to happy again. Happiness was overrated.
That was the thought that was running through Nick's head as he tried to focus on his work. He was working on a problem with one of Destiny's systems when Belle approached him and gently placed her hands on his shoulders. "You've been sitting here for twenty-seven hours, Nick," she said gently. "Why don't you go rest, and I'll take over."
Had it come from anyone else, he would have argued, but he knew that despite her gentle tone, it wasn't a request. If he didn't do as she said now, there would be hell to pay, and he was far too exhausted to engage in an argument with her. She was brilliant, this supposed fairy tale girl and he knew better than to ignore an order from her.
Nick went to his room and fell asleep almost instantly, his last thoughts of Belle and how he wished he could be brave and try once more for happiness.
* * *
Nick knew he was dreaming, but this felt all too real. He was standing in a large room decorated with all sorts of strange objects. He looked around and past the long table and saw a man dressed extravagantly in leather and silk sitting at a spinning wheel, a bundle of straw in one golden-scaled hand, and a string of gold in the other.
"It's not polite to stare, dearie," the man quipped and Nick jumped slightly.
"Who are you?" Rush asked, and the man at the wheel stood, and bowed dramatically.
"The name's Rumplestiltskin," he stated, rolling the 'r' slightly.
Rumplestiltskin. He knew that name. He knew that name because of -
"Yes, that's right." Rumplestiltskin continued as he walked toward Rush. "I brought you here because of Belle." Nick didn't miss the way he said her name. It was full of despair and regret and hurt.
"This is a dream," Rush countered, unwilling to believe that this was an actual encounter with a magical man in a land full of fairy tale characters.
"It may be a dream, but that doesn't make it any less real." Rumple said firmly and gestured for Rush to follow him to the table. "Now, it took a lot of magic to get you here, dearie, so do me the honor of at least listening to me. I can always
make you listen, but I'd rather be civil about this." He waved his hand and a tea set appeared on the table. Rumple poured the hot beverage into two cups before handing one to Nick. Rum added several cubes of sugar to his before taking a sip. When he placed the cup down, Nick noticed the cup.
"It's chipped." He whispered in surprise.
"You recognize it." Rumple replied.
Rush shook his head. "Yes. She... mentioned it. I overheard her telling some of the crew stories about..." he looked around disbelievingly, "this place."
Rum leaned back in his chair and looked down at the cup, his eyes haunted. "This cup," he said softly, "Is the only thing I have left of Belle. She's gone. And I cannot get her back."
"You brought me here," Rush countered. "Why can't you do the same for her?"
"Because this is just a dream. You aren't
really in my castle. I'm actually focusing extremely hard to keep us both here, and the price will be great."
"Because all magic comes with a price." Nick said, more to himself than to Rumple.
"I see you have been listening to Belle's stories."
Nick raised an eyebrow. "How did-"
"Mirrors are powerful objects," Rumple explained with a wave of his hand. "In this land, I can talk to others through mirrors, but in your land, since it does not have magic, I can only look. I spent quite a lot of time and energy looking for her, and when I found her, I discover she's on board some strange ship, traveling through the stars, and telling others about us." He smiled sadly. "The first time I saw the two of you together, I knew what would happen."
"What do you have the gift of foresight or something, too?" Nick asked sarcastically, and when Rumple merely raised an eyebrow in response, Nick huffed. "Son of a bitch," he whispered.
"Why didn't you believe her?" Rum asked softly. "Everyone else did."
"Because she's talking about fairy tales," Nick said. "And in my world, fairy tales means happy endings. I've had my happy ending stripped from me - twice now- and somehow the two of you got separated, so it seems to me that there is no point in believing in something that only brings more heartache. I've had enough of that."
"She never told you why we were separated."
Nick blinked. "Not to my knowledge. She only ever said that 'something happened' and you were separated."
"She kissed me," Rumple began. "She learned of my curse, and thought I would want it broken. True Love's Kiss and all that. When it began to work, I kicked her out. Abandoned her. Screamed at her and told her to leave. I refused to believe that anyone as wonderful as her could ever love someone like me." His eyes filled with tears. "And I was wrong. She
did love me. But I can't have her anymore. She's gone, and she won't be coming back. And that's why I brought you here." Rumple stood and walked over to his wheel and picked up a gold thread. He wound it around his finger then pulled it off and returned to Rush.
"She is in love with you. I can see it. And you love her." He held out his hand, and Nick saw a gold band lying in Rumplestiltskin's palm. "If you don't tell her how you feel, you will regret it."
"Is that a threat?" Nick asked. Rumplestiltskin shook his head. "It's the truth. Don't let her slip through your fingers like I did. I've lost my chance with her, but you still have time. Besides," he said, voice full of sorrow, "She deserves to be happy."
He offered the ring to Nick, but he was hesitant to take it. "Isn't there a price if I take that ring?"
"Not exactly." Said Rumple. "I'm offering the ring to you only if you swear that when you wake up, you'll find Belle and tell her how you feel."
Nick nodded in agreement and took the ring from Rumple. He slid it onto his pinky finger and then stood. "Why didn't you go to Belle? In a dream? I'm sure she'd want to see you."
"I already did."
Nick awoke with a start. Breathing heavily, he sat up and ran a hand through his hair, trying to calm down. Deciding that he needed to stop working so many consecutive hours, he went to stand, but froze when he noticed his hand.
There was a gold band resting there.
"It was real..." he said to himself, twisting the band on his finger. Suddenly overcome with bravery, he leapt out of bed and opened the door only to collide with Belle, who looked as wide-eyed and frazzled as he felt.
"Nick," she whispered, and before she could explain anything else, he pulled her to him, crushing her mouth with his. They stood there in the doorway, kissing for several long moments before they finally broke away and looked at each other, both out of breath.
"He talked to you too," She stated and Nick nodded breathlessly.
"He gave me this," Nick said, holding up his hand with the band on it. He let go of her long enough to slip the band off his finger and place it onto hers. "I think he wanted me to give it to you," he whispered.
"He wanted you to believe," she replied. He went to kiss her again, but she placed a finger over his lips. "We have a lot to discuss," she said seriously, and Nick agreed.
"Yes, we do. But, I made a deal, and I need to uphold my end." Belle went to ask what exactly his deal had been, but instead he kissed her deeply and whispered, "I love you, Belle."
She smiled at him, tears in her eyes. "I love you, too."
He had a lot to tell her. He would tell her everything Rumplestiltskin had said to him, and she would do the same. They would discuss Gloria and Amanda. They would talk about Rumplestiltskin. They would talk about their failures and hopes and dreams and expectations and how to make a life for themselves on Destiny. He would ask her to tell him all the stories from the Enchanted Forest again, and this time he would actually listen to her.
This time he would believe.
Chapter 2 will be posted soon!
Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or Stargate: Universe