A/N: Hello everyone! I loved all the feedback! This chapter goes all over the place between angst and light fluffy humor to angst again...mostly Bae/Rumple angst though. This is the final chapter of this story but there will be a sequel, picking up where this left off, involving Neal's decision to go to Storybrooke.
On another note, I switched from calling Neal, Neal to Bae in the last paragraphs because it's seen from Gold's POV and he'll always see his son as Bae.
They took a cab to Central Park and the whole five minute ride was incredibly awkward. Emma was silent as she stared out the window, watching passing buildings and tourists. Neal sat on the opposite side of the car, tapping his fingers anxiously against his thighs as once every minute or so stole glances over to Emma. Henry sat between them, his eyes shifting back and forth between them the whole ride, occasionally meeting Neal's eyes as he looked to Emma.
Neal let out a small sigh of relief as the cab finally pulled up in front of the park. Emma was the first to get out without a word and Henry scooted out after her. Neal paid the driver and followed behind them.
He found them both looking at him, Emma, her expression unreadable, and Henry, inquisitive. "Is this it?" He asked.
"Yeah." Neal answered with a smile as he walked over to them. "Come on, I'll show you around."
Emma made sure that Henry was between them at all times and when Neal would wrap his arm around Henry to show him something specifically, she took a side step away which did not go unnoticed by Neal.
After a few minutes of pure silence, Neal decided to break it by talking to Henry. "So, are there any parks in Storybrooke?"
Henry shook his head. "No. Not like this. I used to have an old castle that was me and Emma's spot. But..." He frowned and gave a lighthearted shrug. "A storm came and destroyed it. My other mom built a new one but it wasn't the same."
Neal faltered in his step, furrowing his brow as he tapped Henry's shoulder and beside him, Emma's eyes widened. "Woah, kid...your other mom?"
"Yeah." Henry answered simply. "Regina. My adopted mom."
Neal gaped at him for a moment and then looked over at Emma. She stared back at him coldly, her face hard. "Adopted?"
She swallowed thickly, keeping her eyes stern. "You can't raise a baby in jail, Neal."
"Emma-" He whispered, his tone full of regret. She only scoffed and shook her head. "It was my only choice...to do what was best for him."
He slowly shook his head, stunned and heart broken into silence. All those years ago, he had only tried to do what was right for her and he ended up making things so much worse than he ever intended to.
Emma shook her head in return, lifting her shoulders lightly and then turned to Henry, placing her hand on his back and continuing to walk down the path.
Neal bowed his head, mentally cursing himself for all the hurt he had caused in the past and even all the hurt he was causing now. This day was supposed to go as smoothly as it possibly could and so far...it wasn't.
He shook his head to himself and then turned to catch up with Emma and Henry.
They walked around for a little while, Henry asking questions here and there to keep things going and things slowly started to loosen up again between Neal and Emma. Neal wasn't sure where his brain was today but he vowed to at least try not to bring up their past again and just focus on their day with Henry.
Despite it being a slightly warmer day for the season it was still a little bit chilly and they got to an area where a few homeless people were huddled together, some sleeping against each other.
A small, bittersweet smile took over Neal's lips as he watched them, remembering a time when he and Emma were in a similar position.
It had been a hot day and was an even warmer night and even with the windows cracked open the bug was too stuffy for two people to sleep in.
Neal parked the car near an abandoned building, only a block or two away from the city park. He grinned over at Emma through the darkness as they walked quietly down the streets, two blankets strung over their shoulders.
"Neal." She whispered as she squeezed his hand, smiling back at him. "We're going to get caught."
"Babe." His dark eyes twinkled in mirth. "When have we ever been caught."
"Well we never actually slept outside the car before." She retorted.
"There's a first time for everything." He shot back. "And besides, hobos sleep in this park all the time."
"Oh so we're hobos now." Her lips curled up in a light, teasing smile and he grinned down at her.
"Sort of, yeah." He chuckled before looking around the vacant street and then pulling her across to the park.
She let out a soft yelp as he grabbed her around the waist and they tumbled to the ground, both erupting in peels of laughter.
"Neal." She lightly thwacked his chest, her voice slightly scolding but unable to keep the smile off her lips. "Someone is going to hear us."
"Who? The bats? There's no one here, Emma. Look," He adjusted his position so his hands were on either side of her head and he was hovering over her. "I've done this before. We just get up before anyone else does."
Emma raised her brow. "And that's going to be easy?"
He smirked. "For me, yeah." He laughed as she gasped and thwacked his chest again. He swooped down so his face was only inches away from hers and the charming smile that made her weak at the knees spread over his face. "Don't worry babe," He whispered huskily. "I'll wake you up."
"You better." She whispered, her eyes locking onto his and his smile widened as he closed the remaining distance between them with a sweet kiss.
He was roused from his memory at the sound of a small child screeching in the distance. His heart dropped into his stomach as he realized he was now eleven years older, on the opposite side of the country and the same woman who had looked at him with such love could now not even stand him. He swallowed thickly and shook his head, turning away and sneaking a glance over to Emma. To his surprise he found her staring at the small group of the homeless, her expression just that much softer and a distant look in her eyes and he wondered, if at that moment she was remembering the same thing.
Slowly her eyes trailed upwards and locked on his for a short second before they widened slightly and she jerked her head away.
Neal wasn't sure what to make of her reaction but there was a twinge at his heart and a small smile playing at his lips.
Somewhere along the road, Henry ended up a few feet in front of them and he and Emma were left to walk next to each other. Much to Neal's surprise and relief, Emma didn't try to walk away but kept a slight distance between them and kept her eyes forward.
Neal shoved his hands into his pockets and watched Henry's back as he walked happily ahead of them. After a few more minutes of total silence, Neal licked his lips and turned to look at her. "Emma?" He started a bit hesitantly.
Emma shut her eyes for a second and then turned to him in annoyance. "What Neal?"
He smiled sheepishly. "It's not about us, I promise."
Emma let out a sigh, her face softening only somewhat before she nodded for him to continue. Neal bit down on his lip for a moment before asking, "Why do you call him Gold?"
Emma's brow lifted, surprised that Neal would want to talk about his father at all. "Your father?"
He nodded quietly, eyeing her questioningly.
"Well," She let out a breath, "That's his name...at least in Storybrooke. Everyone there, who was cursed, had a different identity under the curse. My mother, Snow White, was Mary Margaret, my father was David...though I'm pretty sure that's his actual name. Anyway," She shook her head, "Rumplestiltskin was Mr. Gold. I personally refuse to call him Rumplestiltskin and quite frankly, Gold is much easier to say, especially if you're yelling at him."
Neal let out a breathy laugh as he looked down. If there was anyone who wouldn't be afraid to stand up to the Dark One it'd be Emma.
Emma's lips twitched slightly in a smirk as she watched him, just a bit glad that he could find a laugh in discussing his father. And though she was furious at Neal, she disliked Gold that much more for putting Neal through hell as a boy.
"Did he do anything to you?" Neal asked, the smile fading from his lips. "Hurt you in any way?"
"He needed to break the curse." She said softly with a shrug. "He was a little creepy but no...he never hurt me. At least not until the curse broke."
"What?" Neal's eyes widened in horror. "What did he do to you?"
"Nothing, nothing." Emma shook her head. "He threatened my family but now...I don't think he'll go through with it."
Neal's brow twitched in confusion and Emma sighed. "You're his son, and he's your son." She motioned to Henry. "I'm sure Gold is smart enough to figure out that if he hurts Henry..."
"I'll kill him." Neal hissed, his eyes darkening.
Emma eyed him warily. "Exactly. If Gold ever had plans on following through I doubt he does now. I think...he wants your forgiveness more than anything."
Neal rolled his eyes. "He was threatening you in my apartment and then acted like it was nothing. Magic or no magic, he's still the same. Threatening anyone who gets in his way." He scoffed and shook his head. "I came here to escape that man and if he thinks he can just barge into my life again and be that same dark presence...threaten my family..."
Seeing Neal slowly bubbling up in rage to the point where Henry had stopped and was looking back at them in concern, and even a few strangers gave them looks as they walked past, Emma made a rash decision and took a few steps toward him, reaching out to touch his arm.
At Emma's touch, Neal froze and looked down at her, his wild brown eyes meeting her cool green ones. She frowned in slight concern and awkwardly rubbed her fingers against his arm. "Hey, Neal, calm down."
He swore quietly under his breath as he turned away from her, running his hand through his hair with a heavy sigh before turning back. "I'm sorry. He gets me so angry..."
"I know." She said softly.
He let out another heavy, deep sigh, closing his eyes until he calmed himself down. He reopened his eyes to find Henry standing right beside him and the deep concern and worry in his eyes nearly took his breath away. "Are you okay?" He asked in a small voice.
A small smile tugged at his lips as he reached over and placed his hand on Henry's shoulder and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "Yeah buddy, I'm okay. Sorry you had to see that."
An almost identical smile crossed Henry's face. "It's okay. You're mad at your dad."
Mad would be an understatement, he thought but he only nodded in response.
Keeping his hand on Henry's shoulder, he turned to Emma who had seemed to put her walls back up but kept a little bit of that softness in her eyes. "Alright, listen, I know I've had enough of this. I know you've had enough of this and we shouldn't be doing this in front of the kid. For the rest of the day, there will be no more talking about our past, no more talking about my father, or anything that will upset any of us. Today is a day to enjoy Manhattan."
Emma pressed her lips together and nodded in agreement. "That is fine by me."
"Great." Neal sighed and he almost felt the weight come off his shoulders.
"So," Emma crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him expectantly, "What's next?"
His brow creased in thought and he looked down at Henry, searching for any places he might be interested in. Then he looked up and Emma's eyes narrowed slightly as a sly grin spread across his face.
"I think I know just the place."
"You have got to be kidding me."
Neal chuckled and looked over at Emma. "What? You must have watched them as a kid."
"Yeah...before I knew who I was." She shot back.
He grinned cheekily. "That just makes it all the more fun." The tip of his tongue popped out between his lips in childish excitement as he raised his brow and nodded towards the entrance. "Come on."
"Ugh." Emma groaned and reluctantly followed Neal, rolling her eyes as they passed under the giant 'Disney' sign.
The only thing that made up for her complete dislike of Neal's sense of humor was Henry's face upon entering the building. The kid literally lived a fairytale, with both set of his grandparents being classic fairytale characters, and yet he still held that childlike wonder like any kid does on seeing anything Disney.
Looking around the store, Emma almost couldn't believe this was her life. They had plushies and dolls and T-shirts all plastered with mainstream versions of the people she befriended and loved.
And somehow she wasn't surprised when they ended up in the princess section of the store and Henry gasped as he ran over to one of the shelves stocked with Snow White merchandise. He took one of the Snow White dolls off the shelf and turned to Emma with a grin, "Can we bring this home to grandma?"
From the other side of the shelf, Neal snorted and Emma shot him a glare. His annoying, sheepish smile reached his eyes and she rolled her eyes before turning back to Henry.
"You think she'll like it?"
Henry nodded enthusiastically. "Totally!"
"Fine." She sighed and Henry grinned happily, clutching the doll of his grandmother to his chest before moving to explore the rest of the surrounding shelves.
Beside her she heard Neal chuckling and she turned to him. "Shut up, Cassidy."
"Oh come on. This is fun and you know it."
She turned to face him and leaned across the shelf to whisper. "You're just lucky you're not in the store."
His grin got impossibly wider. "You're not either. Although," He turned, spotting something out of the corner of his eye. Emma's eyes narrowed curiously as he reached behind him and turned back, presenting a Rapunzel plushie doll. "An argument could be made."
Emma scoffed and shot him an exasperated look. "I hate you."
An hour ago he would have taken the words to heart, but standing here, in this atmosphere, the awkward tension lifting, it only made him smirk knowingly.
Emma groaned again, taking the doll from him only to throw it at him and then march off to catch up with Henry.
Neal watched her go, chuckling to himself, placed the doll back on the shelf and then strolled over to them.
They thankfully got out of the princess department pretty quickly, after Henry filled his Snow White satisfaction, there wasn't much there for an eleven year old boy. As he passed the plushie section with a plushie of almost every disney animal to ever be created he pointed to one on the third shelf. "Hey, it's Archie!"
Sure enough there was a Jiminy Cricket plush, lined up with its identicals, smiling at them happily.
"That is sort of creepy, actually." Emma scrunched up her face as she stared at them. "Come on, kid, let's keep moving." She steered him away and Neal smirked, his hands in his pockets as he followed behind them quietly.
They walked around the store for a little bit, Henry elated at finding the Marvel section of the store and he didn't have to do much pleading at all to get his new found father to buy him a couple things much to Emma's disapproval.
With his bag full of gifts inside, Henry happily walked back out onto the busy streets of New York, his parents close behind him.
Seeing the sky had darkened a little bit and the sun was just beginning to set, Neal stole a glance at his watch. "Are you two hungry? If we want to eat at a restaurant we should go now to beat the crowd."
"Henry?" Emma asked as she looked down at her son. "Are you hungry?"
Henry nodded and Neal smiled. "Great, I know a good place. Only several blocks from here. Best burgers in New York." He waved them on and Henry eagerly took off to stand next to his father and Emma let out a soft sigh before following them.
They arrived at a place called Juniors several minutes later and thankfully, just beat the rush and a table for three was available within five minutes.
They settled down to eat, Neal and Henry ordering the cheeseburger, Henry taking his father's advice in ordering it and Emma went for something a little less fattening, a grilled chicken sandwich.
Neal and Henry hit it off talking again and Emma was more than content to just sit and listen to them. Lately things had been off for Henry, losing her and his grandmother to another world for several days, thinking his adopted mother was the murderer of his therapist, dealing with the pain of losing that friend he had in Archie, and then leaving Storybrooke to find Mr. Gold's long lost son who then turned out to be his own 'dead' father. But as he sat there, completely relaxed and a never ending smile plastered on his face as he talked and laughed with Neal, it was a sight Emma wished she could see forever.
And Neal, though things between them had been rough since the day before, it was obvious to anyone that he was completely smitten with his son. He looked to be as happy as he was when they were together, all those years ago. A true, happy smile across his lips, his eyes bright with warmth and adoration every time he looked at the eleven year old. They shared an automatic, special bond and it was heart warming.
Every once in a while, Neal or Henry would try to bring her into their conversation but it always ended with them two solely focused on each other.
Just after she finished eating, Emma excused herself to use the ladies room. Henry watched his mother disappear down the hall and once she was gone, he turned back to look at Neal.
Neal's brow furrowed at the odd look on Henry's face and he reached over to gently touch his wrist. "Everything alright over there?"
"Yeah." Henry sighed and leaned forward. "It's just...I had a lot of fun today."
Neal blinked. "And that's...bad?"
"No!" Henry whipped his head up quickly, his eyes wide. "But..." He chewed on his lip softly as he played with his napkin. "I don't want it to end."
Neal pursed his lips and gently rubbed his fingers over Henry's wrist. "We've still got desert to eat."
"I don't mean today." Henry explained and Neal turned his head inquisitively. "I mean...I don't know when but we have to go back to Storybrooke soon. And..." He swallowed softly as he looked Neal in the eyes. "I don't want to leave you."
Neal felt the air leave his lungs in a slow release of breath as he stared back at the boy. He could hardly come to reason that this was actually his son, it was a whole other ballgame to know that Henry actually wanted him around.
His memories before the Dark One were hazy but he did remember that he and his father did everything together. They were all each other had after his mother was gone. And when his father became the Dark One and ruined all of that, forcing him to this world, to live on his own without a father...well, he didn't have a very good perception of fathers. He simultaneously met his own again and learned he was one and at the time, it hadn't really sunk in. But now it had, he was a father, and his son is nearly the same age he was when he lost his father. Neal had the chance to give to his son what he never got from Rumplestiltskin. A father that truly loved him, that was there for him always, and would never, ever leave him.
"Henry..." He whispered and he moved his chair closer to him. "You don't have to lose me. I'm not going anywhere."
Henry looked up at him, his lips twitching for a moment. "Would you come to Storybrooke?"
Neal's eyes widened slightly. He hadn't actually thought about that. Emma would not stay in New York, she had a home, she had her family back in Storybrooke. So if he wanted to be in Henry's life, he would have to move to Storybrooke...with his father.
At his lack of response, Henry looked down at the table. "You don't want to."
"Hey, hey." Neal moved even closer so their arms were touching and he gently nudged Henry's side. "I didn't say that."
"I know you don't." Henry looked back up at him and the look in his eyes nearly broke Neal's heart. "Because of Mr. Gold."
Neal clenched his jaw and frowned. "Alright," He relented, "You're right, I don't want to go back with him."
Henry's face dropped and Neal's heart leapt into his throat. He slid his hand over a couple inches and grabbed Henry's hand. "I'll tell you what. I'll think about it, okay? And its not because of you. I don't want to leave you either."
"Really?" Henry asked quietly, a twinge of hope in his eyes and that was enough to put the smile back on Neal's face.
"Really. I just found you, kid. I'm not giving you up."
Henry visibly brightened and he sat up straight, sharing a grin with Neal. Neal gave his hand a small squeeze and then moved back to his original spot just in time for Emma to walk back.
As she took her seat, she saw the two of them sharing a secretive smile and she narrowed her eyes. "Were you talking about me?"
"No." Neal answered, turning to her with a smirk. "We were talking about...cars."
Emma shot him a look, clearly disbelieving that and Henry giggled as he grabbed a french fry off his plate.
"I don't want to know." Emma muttered, shaking her head and Neal and Henry shared another look.
They ordered desert after that, one slice of cheesecake to share amongst the three of them. Then Emma and Neal argued over who should pay the bill, ending with Emma paying for herself, half of Henry's and the tip.
When they finally got out of the restaurant, the sky was just beginning to fade to dark blue. Henry stared in awe at all the lights as they walked through Times Square and both parents watched him in adoration.
After about fifteen minutes of walking around they hitched a cab and rode it back to the hotel. After another small squabble about the money, and Neal practically stealing Emma's wallet just to get her to put it away, Neal paid the fare and they all got out of the cab.
"What are you doing?" Emma asked as Neal started following her into the hotel lobby.
He raised his hands innocently. "What? Am I not allowed to be a gentleman and walk you to your room?"
Emma rolled her eyes and turned away to keep walking, trying to hide the small smirk on her lips. She shook her head as she heard Neal chuckle and talk to Henry as they walked toward the elevator.
Rumplestiltskin sat quietly in his dimly lit hotel room, perched in one of the arm chairs overlooking the window. Miss Swan and Henry had been gone all day, he heard them leaving earlier and knew they had not returned. And though he was completely disheartened by the fact, he knew there was no use in trying to talk to Baelfire again. His boy had made it perfectly clear he did not want to see him. So he sat in that chair, staring out at the city streets, watching people go by.
He was pulled out of his deep state of thought that he'd drifted into hours ago by the sound of footsteps in the hall. It was nothing out of the ordinary, he was in a hotel after all, but it was the laughter that accompanied the footsteps that drove him back to reality.
The laughter was deeper but it was familiar. The sound had been burned into his memory for over three hundred years, the only happy thing he had left of his Baelfire.
He slowly rose from the chair, the ache in his leg much more painful than ever and he hobbled over to the door, carefully opening it and peeking his head outside.
Down just several feet away, at the room next to his, Emma, Henry and Bae stood gathered around the door. The way Bae was smiling, genuine and full of joy and love, as he smiled down at Henry tugged at his heart strings. Another laugh escaped his lips and his face scrunched up in delight as he reached down and ruffled the boy's hair.
"Can I see you tomorrow?" Henry asked, looking up at Bae hopefully.
Bae adopted a small frown. "Tomorrow is Monday. I have to go to work, bud."
"Oh." Henry's face fell slightly and Bae reached out to touch his shoulder.
"I have an idea...how about before I go to work, I meet you downstairs and we have breakfast together."
"Okay!" Henry's face lit up again and Bae chuckled. "Seven thirty okay?" He asked, looking between Emma and Henry and Emma's head nodded once while Henry's smiled.
"Alright, seven thirty it is."
"Goodnight Dad." Came the sweet wish from Henry's lips and Bae's face lit up with a smile.
"Goodnight Henry." His boy wished back and squeezed his shoulder affectionately as Emma opened the door and let Henry in.
Bae turned his gaze to Emma and his bright smile became softer but sadder and his arm hesitated in the air for a moment before it lightly settled on her arm. "Thank you." He said.
"For what?" Came Emma's reply.
"For letting me spend time with him...and with you."
Emma bowed her head for a moment and then looked back up at him. "Goodnight Neal." She whispered so softly, he could barely hear it.
"Goodnight." Bae whispered back as she disappeared into the hotel room. He softly bit his lip as the door clicked shut and looked down for a moment, tapping his fingers against his thigh.
He let out a soft sigh and then turned to walk down the hall when he froze, his face dropping as he caught sight of him, standing in his doorway.
Rumplestiltskin could feel his heart break all over again with the way Bae was staring back at him, the warm expression he had just held for Emma and Henry completely faded to cold anger.
"I have nothing to say to you." Bae told him coldly and then turned to walk in the other direction. He walked a few steps and then paused, his back going rigid and his fists lightly curling at his sides. Then he turned back and walked quickly towards him and for a moment, Rumple thought Bae was going to attack him.
But he stopped just in front of the door, his dark eyes even darker with quiet rage. "Did you threaten Emma?"
His eyes widened slightly and he opened his mouth to reply but found words failed him under the intense glare of his son. Bae clenched his jaw and leaned in closer. "Did you threaten Emma and her family?"
He let out a quiet breath, indeed remembering the threat he made to the darling Charmings just before he left. "Yes. I was upset, Bae.."
Bae's eyes narrowed. "I don't care about the reason!" He growled. "You say you've changed, that you can change, but from where I'm standing you haven't. If I hadn't come into my own apartment yesterday, would you have hurt Emma?"
"Would you?" He stressed.
Inhaling deeply, Rumple looked him in the eyes, pressing his brow together meaningfully. "Of course not, Bae."
Bae narrowed his eyes and shook his head slowly. "I don't believe you." He said coldly. "See, that's the thing. You lie and you tell people what they want to hear. Manipulate them until they are your little play thing." He swallowed thickly. "I refuse to be that again and I refuse to let you do that to Emma and Henry. You want to prove to me you can change? Leave them alone."
Rumple steadied himself on his cane as Bae leaned in dangerously close. "Because if any harm falls to them by your hand..." Bae's body quivered but with anger more than anything and he looked him directly in the eye and the threat was so clearly written in his dark eyes, no words needed to be spoken.
Before he could get another word in, Bae turned away from him with a huff and stormed down the hallway, never looking back.
Rumple closed his eyes, his face falling in despair. He didn't know what he was expecting from their reunion but it certainly wasn't that. He let out a resigned sigh and turned back to hobble back into his room, leaving him once again to his regret.