Archie could hear Mr. Gold yelling as soon as the elevator doors opened. He winced.
"Nobody breaks deals with me, dearie. Nobody! Ah, yes, yes, I'm truly sorry for your recent misfortunes—"
It was very clear from the snarl in his voice that Mr. Gold was anything but sorry. Archie didn't have to see Mr. Gold to imagine his lip curling with scorn.
"—but need I remind you of the contract you signed with Mills and Associates dated the ninth of March, 2008? Let's read it, shall we? Refresh your memory a bit?"
As Mr. Gold proceeded to read the contract out loud, loading every syllable with more disdain than Archie thought possible, he approached the secretary's desk. She was an older, plumpish woman with white hair pulled up into a bun. Very much the grandmotherly sort, and Archie couldn't help but think that she seemed out of place.
Make a note: why would Mr. Gold keep such a secretary?
"Bad day?" Archie asked, giving her a shy smile and gesturing to Mr. Gold's office. When he'd stepped out of the elevator, Archie had assumed that Mr. Gold was verbally thrashing someone in the hallway, not in his office behind a closed door. It was surprising how clearly the man's voice was carrying throughout the hall, and it was an even greater wonder that no one in the vicinity seemed to mind.
Note: his associates appear to be used to him yelling.
"No, not really," she said, returning the smile. Her voice was warm and touched with an English accent. "As normal a day as ever."
Note: tempers appear to be daily occurrences.
"You could even say that today has been a good day," she continued. "This is only his first, uh, discussion—" she emphasized the word meaningfully "—with a client today."
Note: make that several times a day.
"So what can I do for you?" she pleasantly asked.
"I'm here to see Mr. Gold," Archie said.
"Brave," she said with a teasing smile as she looked him over. Frizzled red hair, round glasses, polka-dotted tie tucked into a vest, tweed suit, black umbrella—
Odd, she thought. It wasn't raining today.
—and an overall painfully sweet demeanor. Like a little boy in a big body. Not Mr. Gold's usual client type, but she knew security wouldn't have let him on this floor unless he had a reason to be here. "Name?" she asked, turning to the computer and pulling up the scheduler.
"Dr. Hopper. I was actually hoping to see him now, if that's okay." He heard Mr. Gold shouting, and added, "And after he's done with—with whatever he's doing now, of course. I don't wish to intrude."
"Dr. Hopper?" she repeated, sitting back as things fell into place. So she'd been right: not a client.
"Yes," he said. "Mr. Gold missed our meeting this morning, and so I thought that I'd—"
"He missed your appointment?" she said, her eyes narrowing and lips pursing up.
"Why he keeps me around when he doesn't even follow the scheduler, I'll never know," she grumbled. She stood up and gestured to the waiting area. "Please sit, Dr. Hopper. Can I get you some tea while you wait?"
Archie saw a silver platter with porcelain tea pot and assorted bowls, cups, saucers, and spoons on the edge of the secretary's desk. "Uh, yes, please, that would be lovely. Thank you," he said.
She poured him a cup, added one sugar and some cream per his request, and handed it to him. "I'll see what I can do about squeezing you in," she said as she bustled to Mr. Gold's door. She lightly knocked three times and waited.
"I have no more time to listen to your drabblings, dearie," Archie heard Mr. Gold saying. "If you have further desire to voice your inane complaints, you can take it up with Ms. Mills. Good day." There was a slam—the phone, Archie assumed—then Mr. Gold called out in full Scottish brogue, "What is it, Mrs. Potts?"
The secretary—Mrs. Potts, he now knew—walked into the office, and Archie heard them speaking but it was too indistinct to make anything out. So instead, he turned to his tea and took a sip. It was the best tea he'd ever had. Remarkably good. He'd never been one for tea or coffee, preferring a good hot chocolate, but if he had Mrs. Potts around to make it, he would convert. Maybe that was why Mr. Gold kept her around. Archie surely would.
As he waited, savoring the taste, he thought about why he'd come. Ms. Regina Mills, CEO of Mills and Associates, had been forcing Mr. Gold to come to him for evaluation for the past month. Apparently, complaints about the infamous temper of Mr. Gold had been on the rise of late, and Ms. Mills, backed by the board of trustees, had finally given Mr. Gold an ultimatum: meet with a behavioral psychologist and get a positive recommendation or else. But as far as Archie could tell, the threat was rather hollow and that was the problem. Mr. Gold and everyone else knew that they would never—could never—get rid of him. When he had arrived twenty years ago with all his raw genius and shrewd cunning, he'd turned Mills and Associates from a mildly successful business to one of the most thriving companies in North America with sights on expanding overseas. He was Mills and Associates, and had no intention on dancing to the board of trustees' tune. Much less Ms. Mills'. Mr. Gold knew his worth so behavior be damned.
But Archie had to deliver his evaluation to the Board in two weeks' time, and he still hadn't felt like he'd made any progress with Mr. Gold. The man had been antagonistic, at best, during every meeting they'd had. Antagonistic and manipulative. It was like he knew the Psychology Handbook front to back, and, Archie thought with a frown, Mr. Gold probably did. No man became as successful as he did without an understanding of what made humans tick. So Archie didn't know what to try next. He had hoped that under all the layers he might find something there, something more than the blazing confidence of a mastermind and the maddening drive for success. And Archie had to hope that there was something. It was his profession to hope. His nature. He couldn't believe that someone could be as entirely uncaring and anti-everything-good as Mr. Gold was. Then again, Archie never had been able to completely separate romanticism from science. He always had faith that people could change. And he had always been able to help his patients do so, at least in some small fashion. Until now, that was. And it was making Archie doubt himself.
I'm going through a midlife crisis, Archie self-diagnosed with a wry smile.
"Mr. Gold will see you now," Mrs. Potts said, drawing Archie out of his musing.
"Ah, yes, thank you, Mrs. Potts," he said. He stood up, grabbed his briefcase and umbrella, and handed the secretary his tea cup. "And thank you for the tea. It was—it was excellent. Thank you."
"You are very welcome, Dr. Hopper," she kindly said. "At least someone here recognizes my worth." That last bit was spoken more loudly, but there was no response from Mr. Gold's office.
Archie gave her a nod, thanked her again, and walked through the door.
What a sweet, stammering man, Mrs. Potts thought as she closed the door behind him, hoping he'd not wither up in front of Mr. Gold like a cricket on a sultry summer day. Then again, she was impressed for the man for coming. Maybe there was something more to him than polka-dotted amiability.
"What can I do for you, Dr. Hopper?" Mr. Gold asked without looking up from the work on his desk as Archie walked in, quickly studying Mr. Gold's work area.
Note: very few personal touches. Large. Uncluttered. No pictures of humans—only abstract art, angular and dark-colored. Blinds drawn even though it must have one of the best views of the city in the building. Modest liquor cabinet—scotch out. Desk facing door, visitor's chairs shorter than his own but not obviously so—establishes authority. Credentials not framed on wall—expects that everyone already knows exactly who he is and what he is capable of. Bookshelf is—
"A man once told me, Dr. Hopper, that a person's workspace is a window into their soul," Mr. Gold said, his Scottish accent thick and open.
Archie turned to see Mr. Gold looking up at him, observing how he had been looking about the room and having accurately guessed Archie's intention. Archie quickly smiled. "That's, um, very—very insightful," he said, taking a step forward. "I was hoping that we could discuss this morning's meeting which—"
"Yes, I missed it," Mr. Gold said brusquely, turning back to his work. "There was a meltdown in London which needed immediate attention, and I was quite sure that I'd be able to survive skipping our session without experiencing any negative consequences. And true to my analysis, I have suffered no psychotic breakdowns or rampages as of yet, so if you would please leave me be, you can schedule a make-up session with Mrs. Potts on your way out. Or—" he looked up "—you can acknowledge that our little sessions have no effect whatsoever upon my behavior and are a complete waste of everyone's time, you can give me my positive recommendation to the board of trustees, and we can part ways. Simple as that."
Note: getting a positive evaluation actually matters to him. Why does Mr. Gold care if they'd never fire him anyway? Something else must be at stake…
"A positive recommendation?" Archie repeated, clenching his umbrella. He could tell that Mr. Gold expected him to say yes. Mr. Gold was a gambler of people and he never lost his bets. Archie intended to be the first. His mid-life crisis was at stake.
"Yes," Mr. Gold said with one of his customary, sardonic smiles. "Please."
There was something in Mr. Gold's "please" that totally changed the intention of the word. Instead of putting Mr. Gold into a beggar's position, it elevated him. Archie could imagine how Mr. Gold could topple an entire corporation with that single word, and he couldn't help but marvel at the man's presence like he did every time they met.
"Mr. Gold, may I—may I sit?" Archie asked as he gestured to a chair.
Mr. Gold was silent for a brief moment, eyes cold, before he said, "By all means, dearie."
"Thank you," Archie said, sitting.
Mr. Gold capped his pen and leaned back, fixing Archie with his most scornful glare. He sure knew how to be intimidating. Archie had felt more comfortable during a stint working as the psychiatrist for a high-security prison than he did in this office.
For several seconds, Archie considered his approach, and he could tell Mr. Gold was calculating out all the possibilities, planning his counter-attack ahead of whatever Archie could say. It was a chess match—the sort of game Mr. Gold played every day in this office. So Archie smiled and tried something different.
"What do you do when you go home every night?" he asked.
"Excuse me?" Mr. Gold asked, and though he concealed his emotions with impeccable finesse, Archie could tell that he had just scored a point. He had surprised the master.
"What do you do? Watch television? Cook? Order take-out? Do you ever spend time with people, women perhaps?"
"I usually work at the office until eight or later every night," Mr. Gold said, as though that answered the question.
"Yes, I know. We've already discussed how much you work," Archie said.
"And if you're asking whether I date or not, I believe we've already discussed my romantic life," Mr. Gold said.
"Yes, we have," Archie said, not adding that Mr. Gold had said next to nothing about it when they had discussed it. "But that's not what I mean. I want to know what you do. Tell me. Now. Hour by hour. What are you going to do the rest of today? Humor me."
Mr. Gold glared at him for a moment, sizing him up anew, then sighed and leaned forward. "Well, because of this meeting, I'll be behind schedule and not be able to leave the office until nine or later."
When Mr. Gold gave the briefest of pauses, Archie kept silent, realizing that the man was subtly trying to guilt him into giving up and leaving his office. But Archie refused to play into his hands.
"Then I will call my chauffeur, he will pick up take-out from Marcio's—"
One of the most expensive and premiere restaurants in town, Archie noted.
"—then pick me up and drive me home."
"And is the house dark when you get there?" Archie asked, and, again, Mr. Gold was thrown by the answer.
"No one else will be there tonight?"
"No, of course not," Mr. Gold all but growled.
Note: in the future, ask Mr. Gold how he feels about coming home to a dark house.
"What next?" Archie pressed.
Mr. Gold paused again but continued. "I will tell my chauffeur—"
Note: twice he has referred to his chauffeur without a name.
"—to pick me up at seven tomorrow morning. I will pick up my briefcase. I will pick up my dinner. I will step out of the car with my cane. I will go to my doorstep. I will unlock the door with my silver key. I will step through the threshold. I will enter the security code. Is this specific enough for you?" He had been spitting out the details before the question, trying either to bore Archie or irritate him. Archie just smiled.
"Perfect," Archie said. "So where will you eat tonight?"
Mr. Gold hesitated yet again. "At my desk. In my library. As I review information for a case I am handling tomorrow."
"Interesting," Archie said, pretending to write something in his notebook but really just wanting to further aggravate Mr. Gold. For the first time in their conversation, Archie felt in control. Point number two to him. "What next?"
"I will finish eating. I will write notes to Mrs. Potts so that she can have things ready for me by the time I come into the office tomorrow. I will brush my teeth, dress myself for bed—would you like more details here as well, dearie?" Mr. Gold was growing impatient.
"No, that's fine," Archie said. "Just tell me this: is there anything else you will do tonight beyond eating, working, preparing for bed, and sleeping?" He looked up from his notebook, pen dramatically poised over the paper.
"I might continue to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, but if I have more sessions like this to look forward to, I might choose not to anymore," he sarcastically said.
"And what about tomorrow night. Anything different of particular note?"
"Dinner will come from the Hausberghers." Another preeminent restaurant.
Note: always pick-up. Doesn't appear to sit down at restaurants.
"So pretty much the same?" Archie asked.
"Yes," Mr. Gold ground out. "Now, will you please leave me in peace until our next unfortunate meeting, or would you like to know what times I visit the bathroom and what I do in there as well?"
"I would like to suggest to you, Mr. Gold, that you do something fun in your life. Learn a new hobby," Archie said, purposefully trying to say something as platitudinal as possible because he knew it would egg Mr. Gold on. He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a flyer which he handed across the table. "Here are some of the crafts and hobbies being taught right now at the local rec. You should try something, spend time with people. They're not all so bad when you get to know them."
"Are you suggesting I learn underwater basket weaving with a bunch of old women?" Mr. Gold asked lowly, face completely devoid of emotion.
"If that's what interests you," Archie said, once again deliberately chafing him, and he could tell Mr. Gold knew what he was doing, just not why. "Now I wouldn't, as your psychologist, be urging so strongly that you should be doing something more in your life, if I felt that you had at least one hobby in your life that you enjoy. I wouldn't be as concerned for you if there was even just one thing which—"
"I spin," Mr. Gold said, cutting him off.
Archie smiled. Finally. Something new. Something personal. The first truly personal thing he'd ever learned about the notorious Mr. Gold. He didn't know what on earth Mr. Gold was actually talking about, but it didn't matter. "You spin?"
"Yes, I spin," Mr. Gold gruffly replied, realizing his misstep. Point number three to Archie.
Then something clicked in Archie's mind and a plot began to hatch. "Wait, you spin?" he repeated. "As in, a spinning wheel? Turning wool into thread? That sort of thing?"
"Yes. Is that adequately unique and engaging for you?"
"Are you good at it?" Archie asked, two things passing through his mind. First, why was Mr. Gold doing such a feminine and completely outdated thing? There was a story there. And second, would he take the bait? Archie knew he was now playing a game where his competitor was the master of all masters. But if he could just play it cool…
"Yes," Mr. Gold said, and Archie knew that the man must be proficient indeed to admit it. Mr. Gold was confident and proud, but only because he had a reason to be that way. He wouldn't ever lay claim to false pride. It wasn't in his nature.
"And how often do you spin?" Archie asked.
"Often enough," Mr. Gold said, patience finally run its course. "So now that we have established that I do indeed have something else in my life beyond eating, sleeping, breathing, and working, may I suggest that our meetings are no longer required and that you promptly leave me in peace." Mr. Gold stood up and was just crossing to the door when Archie made his move.
"How would you like to make a deal with me?" he asked, not budging from his chair.
Mr. Gold stopped in his tracks. "A deal?"
Archie caught a gleam of intrigue in Mr. Gold's eyes. Finally, they were speaking the same language. "Yes, I'd like to make a deal with you."
Mr. Gold hesitated then returned to his desk, sat down, and leaned back. Studying Archie, with steepled fingers resting against his lips, he said, "Okay. What's your deal, Dr. Hopper."
"How much do you know about Storybrooke?" Archie asked, knowing that now he had Mr. Gold's attention he could string it out.
"Twenty, thirty minutes east, small college town, nothing too special," Mr. Gold listed out the details. "Why?"
"SSU, Storybrooke State University, has a prestigious Medieval and Early Modern Studies program, one of the top ten or so in the nation, and Dr. Mary Margaret Blanchard—a history professor there—is holding a three-week seminar on the importance of weaving and other such skills on the social status of women before the modern era."
"Go on," Mr. Gold said.
"She's invited experts from many universities to teach on the historical and literary evidence, but she's also invited experts who can teach the students and other attendees how to actually weave and spin and whatever else. She wants them to actually experience what it is like."
Mr. Gold said nothing, and Archie took it as permission to continue.
"Such seminars are actually fairly common at universities during the summer, gathering together the foremost experts in a particular field and taking a month or so to—"
"And where do I fit?" Mr. Gold said, interrupting.
"Well Dr. Blanchard—Mary Margaret—she recently informed me that the person they had arranged to teach spinning has just pulled out, something to do with a medical emergency. Classes begin next week, and Mary Margaret is quite desperate…"
He trailed off, and the gleam in Mr. Gold's eyes quickly dissipated into scorn. "And you'd like, what? For me to go and teach a bunch of sniveling children how to spin?"
"Well, yes," Archie bluntly said.
Mr. Gold laughed. "I'm pleased you have a sense of humor, dearie, but if you would be so good as to leave now so that—"
"And in return," Archie interrupted, one of the only times he'd ever done so with a patient, "I will give the board of trustees and Ms. Mills a positive recommendation, and at any point down the road that they question your conduct again, I will again evaluate you positively. You participate in this seminar, teach this spinning, a couple hours in the evening three days a week for three weeks, and you will have my word that they will not bother you again."
It was a bit unethical, but if this is what it took to get Mr. Gold to do something with his life, Archie would take the risk.
Mr. Gold stared him down for a moment that seemed to stretch longer and longer. Archie wasn't sure, now, what Mr. Gold would do. Had Archie misread the situation? Misread that, for some reason, the positive recommendation had some greater importance than he had ever realized? That it actually meant something to Mr. Gold? That there was maybe something that Ms. Mills was holding over him or—
"Deal," Mr. Gold finally said, and Archie smiled.
He had just beat the master at his game.
Point number four to him.