Ruby was the first to react.
Her reaction was to exclaim, "Holy shit!" while everyone stared at Belle. Even the nurse at the nurse's station was looking on in disbelief. Belle never used physical violence. Ever. It was unheard of.
"You heartless bitch."
She also never swore.
Apparently, it was a day for firsts all around.
"Bae was in the car with Killian," Belle snarled. "Bae, our son, in a car that crashed, and you ask about your boyfriend? You're worried about the man that kidnapped our son?"
Milah's face was flushed, with anger and the red mark left on her cheek, when she stepped towards Belle.
David rested his hand on the butt of his gun, shifting his weight to be ready to separate them if he needed to.
"Killian had my permission to go get Bae. He didn't kidnap him!"
"But you don't have the legal right to take Bae off school grounds," Gold bit out. "So you cannot give anyone permission. Therefore you and Killian both just committed a kidnapping. Enjoy jail."
"He took my son-"
"No," Belle said. It was just one word, spoken quietly, barely louder than the intercom that crackled to life. Her voice was steady, strong as steel. And full of so much venom that Milah had to swallow to wet her suddenly dry throat. "He took my son."
The tension coiled in the air, settling around the group. It was heavy and thick, and David wondered if he should be arresting Milah or locking her in a room for five minutes with Belle. Either would work.
It was Ruby that stepped forward, tugging Belle away. "Come on. Bae needs Mom right now."
David took out his cuffs. Milah swallowed hard, eyes suddenly filled with tears. "No," she pleaded. "No, I just wanted my son-"
"The couple that Killian crashed into. How are they?"
The nurse behind the desk blinked. "Uh. They, ah." She checked her computer. "They're fine. Minor injuries, came in in another ambulance just in case."
Belle nodded. One less thing to worry about. "Take her down to the OR viewing room for now," she ordered. "She can watch Killian's surgery from there." She locked gazes with Milah. "We gave you every chance. Bae gave you a chance. Now you'll never see him again, and it'll break his heart."
She took Richard's hand, took comfort and strength from the fingers that squeezed hers.
"Or maybe it won't." The thought choked her up. Bae might not even miss his mother. He could be glad she was gone, and no child should be happy they wouldn't see their mother ever again. "And I don't know which is worse."
The cuffs clicked over Milah's wrists. "Milah Spinster, you're under arrest for kidnapping. You have the right to remain silent-"
Belle turned away. "Bae's this way," she said quietly. Her voice was tired, the steel melting away into weariness. Gold pressed a kiss to her hair.
"I'm sure he wants his mom," he murmured. "Let's go see our son."
Ruby had a very large grin on her face when she caught up to them.
"You called her a bitch," she said, catching Belle's questioning look. "I'm so proud of you."
Belle frowned. "I also slapped her." She looked at Gold. "What was I thinking?"
"Clearly being around me has made you crazy," he told her, kissing her again. "But it made me love you so much more."
The stitches came out, the cuts healed, and months after the crash Bae barely had a mark on him. The scar from the stitches was only visible if looked for, and he proudly showed it off to anyone who asked. And Milah and Killian remained in jail, and would for longer still. It didn't affect them in the slightest.
Belle yelled over her shoulder. "In the kitchen!"
Bae peeled around the corner, his socks sliding on the floor and nearly sending him careening into the wall. He slid into the kitchen, bracing himself on the counter.
"Is it time for the wedding yet?"
Out of everyone, Bae was the most excited for Belle and Gold to finally tie the knot. He loved the whole idea, the weird arch in the backyard, the flower petals that were going to get spread over the grass, the chairs everyone was going to sit in, even the tuxedo he was going to wear.
He especially loved the tie. "It's just like one of Papa's!"
(Emma was kind of excited as well, but she had to wear a dress, which made her less happy and inclined to pout until someone reminded her she got to throw flower petals everywhere.)
Belle laughed. "You and Ruby are the most impatient people I've ever met," she told him, tickling his side as she passed. "It's tomorrow afternoon, rain or shine." She paused. "And it had better shine or Ruby might do something drastic. Now come eat your dinner."
"Where's Papa?" Bae wanted to know. He climbed into the chair beside Belle's, watching her dish up the pasta.
"He's with Uncle David, handling some last minute details. Mary Margaret, Emma, and Ruby are all coming over to spend the night here tonight, and you'll go with Papa to Uncle David's."
Bae took a bite of his pasta. "Is Aunt Ruby's boyfriend gonna be there?"
"I don't think so, but don't call him Aunt Ruby's boyfriend yet. They're still not official."
Bae put his fork down. "Mom? You're gonna be with Papa forever, right?"
The question made her still. Richard had asked this morning (for the thousandth time) if she was sure she wanted to be with him the rest of her life, and now Bae was asking for forever. These two men she loved with all her heart, hoping and happy, but still so unsure that she really was going to stay.
"I'm not going anywhere," she promised him, just as she'd promised his father. She pulled him in for a hug. "And I'll be your mom for as long as you want me to be. I promise."
Bae crawled into her lap to hug her tight.
"Then you'll be here forever," he whispered. "I want you forever."
Belle kissed his forehead and tried to fight the tears. Forever sounded perfect to her.
Bae wrapped the tinsel around his neck like a scarf and stuck a pose. "Am I pretty, Mom?"
Gold, busy untangling the Christmas lights, snickered and wished he had a hand free to take a picture.
"Gorgeous," Belle assured her son.
"Bloody lights. Every year they wind up entirely too tangled to work with, and half of them don't even light up once I plug them in." Gold scowled, trying to remove the lights from around his wrist. "Why do I even bother?"
Belle gently untangled him, setting the lights out of his reach. "Because it's Christmas," she reminded him, settling on his lap.
"It's December first. Hardly Christmas."
"You say that every year."
Gold sat back, arms wrapped around his wife's waist. "I'll just buy new lights."
"You say that every year too."
"This year I mean it."
Belle laughed and attempted to get up. Gold wasn't having it, and held on tight. Bae put the wreath around his neck and bent to examine the tangled lights himself. He put them over his head as he untangled what he could.
"I'm stuck," he said a few minutes later when the lights wrapped around the wreath and his hair.
Exasperated, Gold stood to remove his son from the Christmas cheer. "You're nearly nine. Surely you know by now to not stick your head in things."
"I untangled this," Bae said, holding up one strand of lights. "And this one too!"
Gold stared. "How did you do that?" he wanted to know. Children had some sort of magic in them. They had to.
Bae shrugged. "Know what I want for Christmas?" he asked, bouncing around the living room, his tinsel scarf still in place.
"Peace and quiet?" his father asked dryly.
"That would be what you want, dear," Belle called from the dining room.
"Aye, and I never get any of it with the two of you around." He grabbed the tinsel from Bae when he bounded past, draping it over the tree. "What do you want for Christmas?"
"A little brother."
The very air froze.
"A... what?" Gold turned to face his son. "What?"
Bae dug into the box on the floor, pulling out a light up snowman. "Or a little sister," he said with a shrug. "But a brother would be better. Does this go outside? Can I put it in the yard?"
"Ah, son. Son! Wait, why do-" Bae tore out of the room, nearly running into Belle, frozen in the doorway.
"Mom! Can I have a little brother for Christmas?"
Belle threw a wide-eyed look at her husband.
Gold tossed up his hands. "It's time for the adults to have some egg nog," he decided. "Bae, go play outside until you burn off some of that energy. And for god's sake, stop running in the house. You're going to tear the place down."
The golden Labrador panted happily, tail wagging in joy as he chased Bae around the yard. Bae tripped, and the dog was on him, licking his face until Bae laughed so hard he couldn't breathe.
Gold watched with a smile. Bae had finally gotten his puppy, which had almost grown into a dog, and loved Bae more than anything.
"Papa," he giggled. "He won't stop licking me."
"He just likes you, son. Come eat your lunch."
Kal, named after Kal-El in honor of Bae's favorite superhero, flopped to the deck under Bae's chair and promptly began snoring. Bae inhaled two sandwiches and a bag of chips before coming up for air.
"Is Mom gonna be home soon?"
"She's at work," Gold reminded him, heart swelling as it always did when Bae wanted Belle. When Bae wanted his mom. "She'll be home tonight-"
The front door opened. Kal streaked into the house, barking happily.
"Or now. You're early." Pleased, Gold stood. And stopped. "Sweetheart?"
Belle stood nervously in the doorway, watching the backyard. She was quiet, arms folded over her chest, hands fisted. Her bottom lip was in her mouth. "About that... thing Bae wanted for Christmas last year."
"I have a dog," Bae said, petting Kal.
"The other thing, sweetie."
Gold was on her before she could blink, hands framing her face. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Positive, absolutely-"
"Richard." She couldn't contain the smile any longer. "I'm pregnant."
Bae jumped out of his chair, fists in the air. "Yes!" he yelled. "Yes! I'm gonna be a big brother!" He turned to the fence that separated their back yard from their neighbor's. "I'M GONNA BE A BIG BROTHER!" he screamed.
"Congratulations?" came their neighbor's unsure voice.
Gold was smiling too wide to properly kiss her, and settled for a bone crushing hug instead.
"Am I gonna have a brother?" Bae asked.
"We won't know for a while."
"What if you have a sister?"
"But I want a brother."
Belle laughed. "It doesn't work like that."
Bae knelt to pet Kal, who was wiggling with excitement. "Well, a sister will be okay, but you could still have another one and give me a brother if I don't like her, right?"
Luckily, Bae liked his little sister just fine.
Some things never changed. And some things did.
Neal wrestled the fourteen year old to the ground, pinning her with expert hands and tickling her until she shrieked with laughter.
"Let me up!" she demanded.
"Never! The claw is not finished with you!" Neal cackled madly. Then yelped when his sister managed to flip him over and jump the couch, tearing into the kitchen to escape.
"Melody Grace, stop running in the house!" came their mother's voice.
"Baelfire Nealson you leave your sister alone," added their father's dryly. "Your wife looks irritated enough."
Neal winced, peeking around the corner to see if it was safe to enter. Emma did look irritated, but broke into a smile, and then began laughing when Andrew, Ruby and Victor's son, squealed and ran from his father's dinosaur impression.
"Gonna eat me!" Andrew yelled, running out to the back yard. Ruby swooped in to save her son from the T-Rex that was her husband.
Emma spotted him hiding and tried to glare. God she was beautiful and frightening all at once. "I'm pregnant, not evil. Come over here already."
Neal bent and gave Emma a quick kiss. "How's the kid doing?" he asked, rubbing her protruding belly.
"Freaking martial arts expert," Emma muttered. "Quit that," she snapped at her stomach. "You're not gonna come out doing cartwheels, so just sit still already."
"Wait until you go into labor," Mary Margaret warned. "Eight hours it took me to get you here, and the epidural almost didn't work."
Belle studied Emma. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." She winced and wiggled in her seat. "My back is just killing me. And my boobs are super sore."
Gold and David exchanged looks. "Time to light the grill," Gold decided.
"Right behind you."
"Coward," Emma muttered.
Neal threw a grin over his shoulder. "Love you!"
"Have you two decided on a name?" Gold asked once they were safely outside, fiddling with the lighter fluid. "She's past due."
"Almost everyone is past due," David added, remembering Neal's worry when the baby hadn't come on time. "Emma made us wait a week, and Melody was, what, twelve days overdue?"
"Thirteen," Gold corrected. He dragged the bag of charcoal over to the grill. "And then she decided she was coming right then. We barely made it to the hospital in time."
Neal rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah, about the name. We did decide, and-"
"Bae!" Melody yelled. "Papa! Emma's having the baby right now!"
David bolted, inside before Melody finished yelling. Neal was right behind him, nearly stepping on his heels.
David knelt before his daughter, bent over and panting. "Honey?"
Emma moaned, clutching her stomach. "I'm scared, Daddy. I don't know what to do." She looked at her father. "I don't know how to do this."
David smiled. "That's the first step in being a parent: admitting you have no clue." He smoothed her hair. "You're going to be a wonderful mother."
"Okay, nobody panic. There is a plan," Neal announced.
"The plan is you get me to the hospital so I can have your son, and we never do this again," Emma snarled.
"Yup, that's it exactly."
"I," Emma breathed through a contraction, "am going to kill you."
Neal took her hand. "Not part of the plan." He kissed her forehead. "But we'll work something out."
"You're dead when this is over, Baelfire. Dead."
"I love you too."
Henry David Gold came screaming into the world at eight-fifteen the next morning.
Richard Henry Gold and James David Nolan looked at their grandson, a tiny, small, helpless little thing, with wonder and awe.
Neal clutched his father's hand in panic. "I'm a father. Oh god, oh god, I'm a dad." He looked back at his son, safe in Emma's arms. "Papa, I have a son." And he threw his arms around his father and wept into his shoulder.
Emma kissed Henry's tiny forehead. "Hi, Henry. I'm Mom. The guy sobbing over there is Dad. He's not as bad as he looks. And this is the rest of your crazy family."
Ruby shifted her own son and snickered. "Poor kid. You'll never have a normal childhood."
Belle kissed Neal's cheek, letting him lean on her before he held his son for the first time. She reached back, finding Richard's hand with her own. She squeezed his fingers tightly when his hand shook.
"This is your grandma," Neal was saying. "She's my mom. And you'll never get hurt when she's around, because she's a superhero. She never told me where her superhero cave was, but maybe you can get it out of her."
Henry snuffled, then settled into his father's chest.
"And this is my dad, your grandpa. He's a good guy, and he'll spoil you rotten the first chance he gets. You've already got all kinds of toys. Then Aunt Melody here, she'll be the one to get you into all kinds of trouble. I know, because that's what I did to her. That's what big brothers do. Maybe one day you'll get to do it yourself."
Emma's tired answer whipped across the room. "Not on your life."
And Neal smiled, and took his son meet the rest of his eccentric, extensive, loving, absolutely crazy family.
Gold watched his son, and remembered.
He remembered a day years ago, a terrified five-year-old, a broken leg, and a beautiful nurse who'd kept them both from falling apart. A superhero more powerful than any hero in a comic, who'd become everything to them both. Their something. And now, eighteen years and two floors up from that first meeting, he held his grandson as his son hugged his mom, a woman who'd never stopped being that superhero.