A/N: I'm so sorry it's been so long between updates. I was in an accident and I had to have a couple of operations done on my eyes. Super fun and sexy right? But I hope that I can get stuff up quicker! Thanks for being loyal readers! I'll try not to let you guys down!
Gold made sure that Belle was comfortable on a blanket in the back yard before going into his office to go through his files. He made sure to open his window so he could keep an eye on the girl as she read.
He had introduced her to his small home library with the promise of enlarging it as soon as he had the time. She had picked out a few classics and was pouring through them at that very moment. He smiled at the sounds of her giggling at the wit of Rabelais or Twain or whichever book she had moved on to.
He re-read all of the torture she had gone through, gritting his teeth the entire time. He wanted to slowly kill every person who'd had a hand in shocking her, drugging her, and starving her until she was nothing but skin and bones.
After hours of studying her files he was ready to rest his eyes and quell his rage-if only for a moment. He wandered over to his window seat and sat down to study the little flicker of sunlight that had entered his life.
She was wearing a yellow and white striped shirt with a pair of blue linen shorts that Mrs. Potts had picked up from the store that morning. She'd gone above and beyond-as always-and got sweet Belle almost an entire wardrobe and everything she'd need to be comfortable.
She was so absorbed in her book, that her nose was only an inch away from the pages. He'd learned through observation that she liked to enjoy things with as many senses at a time as possible. She liked to smell books, especially older ones, as she read. At the same time, she ran her tiny fingers of her free hand over her dress as though she was trying to get used to the brand new material.
"She really is a darling girl." Mrs. Potts' voice startled him out of his observations. "Every time she sees me she thanks me. I'm not sure what she's so grateful for, but it's almost a little heartbreaking."
Gold smiled softly and continued to watch Belle enjoy her book. "She's just happy to feel safe I guess." He pondered out loud. Turning to his housekeeper, he gestured to the tea set that she had just set out on his desk. "Could you set this up for us in the back yard?" He didn't wait for a response before he headed outside to join his Belle.
"Now this, you'll really love." He told her as he took another book out of the box he'd brought outside with him. He was currently laying out on the blanket with her. It was going to hurt his ankle like hell when he stood up, but he didn't care. "This is called a pop-up book."
She smiled as she admired the hard cover with all sorts of different types of flowers on it. It was thicker than a lot of the books she'd been used to. 'Flowers of the World' was written in a beautiful script across the top. She slowly opened it and let out a tiny gasp when a large bouquet of bright violets jumped up an inch from her nose.
She hesitantly reached out and touched them, but pouted a bit when her fingers made contact with cardboard. "They're not real." She observed sadly.
Gold chuckled and turned the page to reveal a spray of daffodils. "No they're just pictures. There are different facts about all of the flowers too." He pointed to the little paragraphs that surrounded the raised flowers. He noticed the disappointment in her blue eyes as she turned to the next page. "But soon we'll have the real thing throughout this whole garden." He gestured to the barren area that surrounded them.
"I can't wait." She smiled as she went back to admiring her new book. Gold smiled and rubbed her back as she read every word on each page. He loved to watch her every little move. It used to be from a professional viewpoint, but now he just enjoyed observing her.
After a few minutes, Belle closed the book and rolled over to lay on her back. Rumforde didn't lift his hand, so it was now rested on her stomach. He caressed the soft material of her shirt and smiled down at her. "I'm glad you're here." He told her sincerely.
"Me too." She agreed, reaching up to run her tiny fingers through his hair. He was surprised by the gesture, but he naturally leaned into it. "I feel safe here." She continued, her gorgeous eyes boring into his own.
"You deserve to feel safe." He lowered himself, resting his elbows on either side of her, so she wouldn't have to reach up too far. "And I like knowing that you're safe." He wasn't making sense, but he didn't care. With her dexterous fingers massaging his scalp, he was bound to start speaking gibberish in no time.
"Call me Rum sweetheart. I'm not your doctor anymore, no need for propriety." He smiled softly as he brought his face closer to hers. He froze when he saw her eyes widen and felt her stiffen.
"I'm sorry." He whispered starting to raise. What the hell is wrong with you? He thought angrily. She's fresh out of the hospital. You're the first person she's trusted in years! And now you're forcing yourself on her. "Belle! I'm so sorry!"
"No. No." She put her hand on the back of his head to bring him closer again. "It's just...I've never...kissed anyone before." She admitted, biting her lip nervously. Rum released a puff of air that may have been a laugh if his body was functioning as it should have been.
"Oh, darling. I'm sure you'll do just fine." He rested his forehead against hers. "That is...if you'd like to...kiss someone." Belle nodded quickly.
"Yes! I want to kiss you!" She said matter-of-factly, as though this was brand new information—which it kind of was. Rumforde smiled and kissed her cheek softly.
"Close your eyes." He whispered. When she complied, he slowly dipped his face down and pressed his lips softly to hers. It started off a little hesitant on both of their parts. It wasn't so much a kiss as it was two mouths pressed against each other.
But after they both got used to it, they loosened up and put a lot more passion into it. Without breaking contact, Gold wrapped his arms around Belle's waist and flipped them around so that she was on top of him. His heart fluttered when he felt her giggle against his lips. He felt the laughter vibrate all the way down into his stomach.
When they broke apart to take a breath, her face was bright with an incredible smile. "Wow!" She gasped.
"Yeah." He agreed, reaching up to kiss her lower lip.
"Is it always so...?" She left the question open, mostly because she couldn't think of a proper adjective to describe what had just transpired between them.
"If done properly, yes." He replied, kissing her chin. He couldn't get enough of her. He had dreamt for weeks about kissing her and holding her like this, he couldn't believe it was real.
"Can we do it some more?" She looked at him with such innocence that he almost suggested that they wait and take it slow. But when his eyes shifted to look at her bee stung lips, he knew he was toast.
"All afternoon if you'd like!" He said with a small chuckle that was caught off by her sweet mouth on his again.
They came inside hours later only slightly disheveled from their little romp. For her sake it stuck mainly to kissing and cuddling. He kept his hands above her clothes—though the mostly roamed over some intimate place—and hers stayed mostly in his hair or on his back.
"Doctor, Mr. Neal is waiting for you in the study." Mrs. Potts greeted them with a bit of suspicion in her eyes.
Gold looked at his watch with a small frown. "He's a bit early." He observed with a murmur before turning to Belle. "Sweetheart, why don't you go on upstairs and get ready? I want to take you and Bae out somewhere nice for dinner."
"What should I wear?" Her eyebrows knitted together with a bit of worry, prompting him to kiss them.
" will help you." He said, looking to his housekeeper who nodded and quickly took the girl's arm.
"Oh love, I got you the most stunning little dress to wear!" The older woman prattled as she led his girl down the hall.
Rumforde smiled after them and straightened his tie before heading into the study. "Bae my boy how nice to see—"
His greeting was cut off when he saw a familiar blonde sitting in the chair across from his son. "Sheriff Swan." He cleared his throat and looked to Neal for a quick second. "How pleasant to see you again."
"Likewise." Emma said with a tight smile.
"Dad, Emma's here to take Miss. French's statement." Bae informed him. "We will need an official police report if you wish to proceed with your charges."
"Yes of course." Gold nodded and shook the woman's hand. "Thank you for your help Sheriff."
"It's no problem at all." Emma assured him, her smile a bit softer now.
"Is Belle around?" Neal asked, his eyes doing a quick scan of the room as though expecting the girl to pop up from behind the desk or something.
"She's upstairs getting ready." Rumforde said. "I was going to treat you all to dinner if that's alright." He made sure to look at Emma also when he said this, so she'd know the invitation was extended to her as well.
"Sounds wonderful, thank you." The sheriff said, trying not to show her discomfort. "I hope I'm dressed appropriately." She gestured her jeans and button down blouse covered by a red leather jacket.
"It isn't very formal. You should be fine." He assured her. "But while Belle is occupied, I wanted to show you something." He walked over to his desk and opened one of the files he had been looking at.
"There was an employee that was let go rather suddenly a couple of years ago. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I saw his name on a report in Belle's file so I decided to look into a little more." He held up an incident report that was—of course—signed by Regina. "Jefferson Madsen was an orderly that had been working in the basement while Belle was held captive. He tried to help Her escape and was caught."
"He knew what was going on was wrong?" Emma asked.
"I'm sure a lot of people will agree that what happened down there was wrong." Neal told her before turning his attention back towards his father. "Do you know how to get in contact with Mr. Madsen?"
"I'll have to check the directory tomorrow." Rumforde murmured, pulling out a large stack of paper. "This is a list of all of the medication she was taking on a daily basis. I'm assuming they used her as a guinea pig to try out new drugs and their side effects with one another. She got sick from them at least once a week." He cringed as he flipped through the detailed charts.
"What are the highlighted ones?" Emma asked pointing to the multi-colored lines.
"The yellow are the drugs that were illegal before she was given them and the blue are the ones that have been made illegal after." Rum's stomach clenched. Not for the first time, he was shocked—and grateful—that she wasn't dead.
"There's a lot of yellow." Neil stated the obvious uncomfortably.
Gold nodded and handed the file to Sheriff Swan when she held her hand out for it. "This should be enough to charge someone for negligence at the very least." Emma informed them.
A timid knock on the door turned all of their heads. "Come in." Rumforde walked over to greet Belle as she came in. She looked stunning in her dark blue sleeveless knee length dress.
"Hello." She greeted Neal with a smile before daring a nervous glance at the sheriff.
"Belle, this is Sheriff Swan—"
"Emma." Swan corrected the doctor, giving the girl a friendly smile.
"Emma." Gold continued. "She's here to help us." He rubbed her back gently as he led her to sit in his chair behind the desk.
Belle's eyes flickered over her file before Rumforde quickly closed it and slid it into his briefcase. "Is there something wrong?" She asked looking between the three of them.
"No dearest, we were just looking over what you went through." Gold squeezed her shoulder. "We were talking about how brave you are."
Belle looked unsure, but smiled nonetheless. "What else was I supposed to do?" She asked, her voice slightly shaky. "My only other option was to die, but then they would have just moved on to someone else." She shrugged as she spun the chair some.
Rumforde smiled proudly at her before turning to his son. "Why don't you two get your coats on and we'll head out?" He suggested.
Neal nodded and gave his dad a look before he led Emma out of the room. "Meet you guys outside?"
His father nodded and waited for them to close the door before turning to sit on his desk and face Belle. "I wanted to have a quick word with you before dinner." He rubbed his hands together nervously.
"Okay." Her charming smile encouraged him. He took her hand gently into his own and pulled her to stand between his legs.
"Are you okay? After everything we did this afternoon?" He clarified, rubbing his fingers over her cheek gently.
"You mean the kissing?" She asked bluntly. When he nodded, her smile widened. "Yes! I'm wonderful!" She reassured him by leaning forward to kiss him gently.
Gold placed his hands on her hips as she stepped closer to him. "Are you sure?" He asked breathlessly when they broke apart.
"Why wouldn't I be?" She looked genuinely confused by this. He sighed and brushed her hair back affectionately.
"I just don't want you to think that you're obligated to do anything in exchange for your staying here." He wanted to wanted nothing more than to flip her over and continue their make out session on the desk, but he wouldn't if he thought for a moment that she was hesitant.
"But I like kissing you." She nibbled on her lip, and though she didn't intend to be seductive with the gesture, he was about ready to send Bae and Emma to dinner without them so that he could have his way with her.
"Only if you're sure."
"I am." She kissed him sweetly before stepping back. "Can we go get dinner now?"
"Of course darling." He took her hand in his and led her to the door.