Disclaimer: Anything familiar to you does not belong to me.
AN: This is my first fic I've completed in a while, so be gentle. I had a plot bunny, and I could not let it go. Also, it's unbetaed, but I've reread it several times, so I think I've got all the typos out.
It had been a couple of months since the new curse returned the citizens of Storybrooke back to where they came from. In the time since, work had been started to repair the damage that had been done to the Enchanted Forest starting with the area surrounding Snow White and Prince Charming's palace. Because the ogres were back, many people couldn't return to their original homes, and the villages near the palace quickly filled with refugees from around the kingdoms.
Neal and Belle had become quite close in the time since. They supported each other during their mutual grief. There were a many sleepless nights spent swapping stories of their past. During this time, each learned more about the man they both loved as well as more about each other. Belle also shared what her life was like before she met Rumplestiltskin, and Neal recounted how he spent the centuries afterwards, including his pasts with the Darlings, Hook, and Emma. They discussed heading for the Dark Castle, but they chose to stay at the palace for now. Everyone was still figuring out everything that had changed in the Enchanted Forest as well as figure out how to get back to Emma and Henry. Thankfully, the palace had originally been built for many people to stay while at court, so Neal and Belle were able to stay in chambers in a wing separate from everyone else, but still close to each other.
One afternoon, Belle was walking through one of the palace gardens with Neal, Aurora, and Prince Phillip when, suddenly, she fainted. Neal quickly managed to catch her before she hit the ground. Alarmed, he gathered her in his arms, and the group rushed back to the palace.
While Doc checked on her in her chambers, Neal paced back and forth as the group waited in a sitting room down the hall from her chambers. Snow White watched him as she clutched onto Charming's arm from one of the love seats, she'd already tried offering words of comfort, but they had fallen on deaf ears. Across from them, Grumpy took a sip from his flask as Granny gave him a side eye. Aurora leaned against the window frame of the floor to ceiling windows looking outside as she absentmindedly rubbed her small, but growing, baby bump while Phillip stood dutifully near her. Hook had propped himself casually against Charming's armrest as he filed his hook.
As Neal was pacing away from the door, it opened, and Doc slipped inside. Neal immediately went to the dwarf's side as everyone turned towards them.
Doc gave a small smile. "She's fine," he said softly. "She just needs some rest."
A sigh of relief spread across the room. As the group started to talk among themselves, Doc turned to Neal and softly asked for him to come with him.
As they walked down the hall to her chambers, and Neal asked, "So how is she really?"
"As I said, she's perfectly fine…considering her condition."
"Her condition?!" Neal hissed coming to a halt.
"Well," Doc hesitated, "that's the reason I wanted to talk to you first." He paused for a moment, and Neal felt as though his heart was going to pound right out of his chest in anticipation. "Belle's pregnant."
Neal stepped back as his hands came up to his face in shock. His widened eyes started to tear as he looked up at the ceiling. This was the last thing he ever expected to happen. How was he supposed to handle this? He started to slowly pace as it sunk it.
"Neal," Doc walked over and grasped his upper arm, stilling his pacing. "She's in there alone. She needs you right now."
He froze in front of a window and sucked in a breath. He took a second to compose himself with a long, deep breathe. Then, he turned abruptly around, and silently walked the rest of the way to her chambers' door.
After walking inside, he closed it and rested his back against the door and glanced at the ceiling in a silent prayer as he took another steadying breath.
He walked down the short hallway leading to Belle's inner bedroom chambers. When he turned the corner, there was Belle lying at the edge of her large, four poster bed facing the opposite wall, shoulders shaking.
Neal grimaced in sympathy as he watched her. His father should be here for this. His father should be the first one told about Belle's pregnancy, not him. Hell, his father should have been by her side as they both found out. This should be a happy moment with cause for much celebration. This shouldn't be yet another event to emphasize the fact that he's not here.
As he stood there watching her, Belle must have realized she was not alone because she slowly sat up and turned to look at him.
Tears streamed down her face as she brokenly whispered, "B-bae."
Neal's heart broke for her as he rushed over to her, arms wide open, and encompassed her in a warm, solid hug. He felt her shutter in his arms as she began a fresh wave of sobs. Belle tightly gripped the fabric of his cape as her whole body rocked from the force of it. With the sounds of her weeping, Neal had to shut his eyes as tears began to build. He knew already that he had to continue being strong for both of them. She would need him now more than ever, and he would continue to be her rock during this new trial. She was his father's true love and was a big reason his father became the man Neal always knew he could be. As far as Neal was concerned, that made her a part of his family, and he refused to turn his back on his family.
Neal gently loosened his grip on her, and lightly placed his hands on each side of her face. He gently lifted her face and wiped the tears from her eyes and cheeks with his thumbs as he caught her eyes with a small, watery smile.
"Hey," he said, "It'll be fine. We're going to get to get through this. Okay?"
"W-we?" she sniffed, as her face crinkled in confusion.
Neal nodded, "Yes, we. You don't honestly think I'll leave you now when you need me most?"
Belle laughed humorlessly as her eyes fell, "What happened to finding a way back to Emma and Henry? I won't ask you to help me over seeing your family again."
"I will see Emma and Henry again. I have no doubts about that," Neal said confidently. "However," he paused as he moved his head to catch her eyes again, "you are my family, too. Emma and Henry have each other. You, on the other hand, need me. I will not abandon you, now, when you need me most."
Belle sniffed again as a grin spread across her face. She placed her hands on his, gently squeezed them once, and brought them down to her lap. She held both of Neal's hands between hers for a second before she looked back at him with another sniff.
"Thank you, Bae," she smiled softly.
His eyes softened as he returned her smile, "You're welcome."
They sat there in comfortable silence. Belle's left hand fidgeted slightly as Neal watched on. The wind softly blew in from the balcony behind him ruffling their hair.
"I miss him," Belle sighed.
Neal softly squeezed her hands letting out a sigh of his own, "Me, too."
She gave him a small smile before she leaned her head on his shoulder. He glanced down at her with a small smile of his own and gently rested his head on hers. He wrapped an arm around shoulders, and gently rubbed her upper arm. Another comfortable silence fell as they both let their thoughts drift to what the future could have been versus what it will be.