Someone asked if I would ever do the Moments Series from Rumple's POV, and I got sad because for the moment I can't for a number of reasons. However, I do occasionally write a one shot from Rumple's POV. So this is for you reader! I'm sorry I can't do more at the moment, but I hope you'll enjoy this all the same! It's my first time writing something based even loosely on a request so I hope ya'll will review and let me know how I did.
And, as I always feel compelled to say, this is NOT part of the Moments Series. But who knows, his story was originally something I planned on writing for Belle so if it fits and you're a reader of the Moments Series it might show up again in some capacity in the future. Peace and Happy Reading!
He liked when she was close by. Even if they weren't talking, just being in each others presence was enough to put him at ease, even on the darkest of days. It had been that way when they'd been in the castle together. He'd tried to ignore it then, maybe even been successful enough not to understand what she'd done for it. But now, years later, he could recognize it for what it was: comfort. Peace. There were clues, of course, the way he'd looked forward to tea time, the way he'd enjoyed it when she started eating in the same room as him and then boldly moved to the opposite side of the table, and how he'd let his guard down when she asked him personal questions. But it was only after he'd let himself admit that he felt something for her that he'd really understood the strange power she had over him.
Now that they were back in Storybrooke, back in their house again, in the time between disasters, that feeling hadn't changed or disappeared. He enjoyed just being with her in the same room. Feeling comfort and peace. Every night. After dinner. They cleaned up together, he retired to one of the rooms where he could keep busy playing with the little knobs and gears on some broken machine or intriguing object, she'd follow him in, make herself comfortable in a chair or couch and read a book before one of them informed the other that it was late and they should go to bed…another calming activity he enjoyed for a completely different reason. But that intimacy was different from this intimacy. They were two different kinds of peace.
Tonight he was working on a record player. It had seemed fine originally, but further investigation revealed that it was broken. It wasn't playing. He'd had to take the entire thing apart, nuts, bolts, springs, and needles before he found the one part that had probably fallen out of place when someone picked it up or moved it too suddenly. Not surprising. It was old and delicate. Now that he knew what the problem was he was aware that it probably wasn't a good idea to move it again after it was fixed. The part would only come loose again and he'd have to take it apart to put it back together all over again. That was alright with him. It fit into his house perfectly…so long as he could get it to play again!
Putting the last part back into place, he looked the seemingly perfect piece over and found no flaw, at least nothing visible to his eyes. But then again it shouldn't be visible to his eyes, the problem hadn't been to begin with. It was audio not visual. The only way to know it was really working was to test it. He pulled a thick envelope that he had sitting on the table closer to him and slid the etched black disc free. It was probably just as old as the player. The white of its sleeve was yellow, and bent, and cracked, but the record, aged as it might be was perfect. Saxophone. Some generic jazz melody he didn't recognize the title of but was beautifully performed just the same.
He turned the machine on, settled the disc into place, and with anticipation put the needle in place. There was silence for a moment, not long but just enough to make him think that maybe he hadn't discovered the problem. But then the slow graceful tones of the instrument began playing loud and clear over the speaker, breaking the delicate silence in the room. He watched the disc whirl, then sat back and smiled proudly. Perfect. Stunning. Beautiful.
He raised his eyes...and there she sat, at the other end of the room, quietly reading her book in the lamp light. She was still strewn across the same arm chair she'd landed on. Sitting so that her back was pressed against one arm and her knees hung over the other end, ankles crossed, bare feet swinging lazily. Perfect. Stunning. Beautiful. And completely oblivious to the music filling the dead space between the pair of them. She was in the room, but she'd learned long ago, maybe even when they'd been in the castle to tune out the sounds that he created, no matter how big or small. Her body might have been there but her mind was deeply focused on wherever her book had taken her. Any other night he might have found it endearing in her own way, and been happy just to listen to the music and watch her read her book. Tonight it just seemed like a shame.
She didn't notice him stand, didn't pay any attention to the way that he moved around the couch and over to the chair she was draped across. It wasn't until he stood by her side and offered his hand to her that the motion distracted her. She blinked, suddenly aware of her surroundings. She looked from his hand, to his smiling face, confused for a moment until she notice the music, then looked back to his hand again, and beamed, finally putting two and two together. Happily, she marked her place and left the book to fall among the cushions before grabbing his hand and unfolding herself from the clutches of the chair.
"We've, uh, we've never danced before," she pointed out with a blush as she used her free hand to nervously straighten the already wrinkle free skirt she wore. Of course they'd never danced before. In the castle? When he'd tried to put distance between the two of them? Absolutely not! Before Neverland? When he'd barely been able to stand without the help of that menacing cane? Hardly! And when had they really had a moment just to dance when they were together between those times? Almost never.
"Well, there is always a first for everything," he muttered reaching out and drawing her closer to him with a hand at her waist. They played for a moment, smiling gleefully and making ridiculous great grand strides across the tiny room, and holding a hand out so she could do an extravagantly uncalled for twirl, before losing her balance and falling back into him with a joyful laugh. He righted her with a chuckle of his own before they finally settled and took a slower, more modern, turn, more appropriate for this realm instead of theirs. He wrapped his arm around the small of her back, so that his fingers brushed against the side of her waist. She returned the close gesture by hooking her own arm around his back, laying her head gently against his shoulder, and letting him hold her hand against chest as they moved in smaller, gentler steps.
"You can be incredibly romantic when you want to be," she commented softly a few moments later.
"You just caught me on a good day," he rebutted automatically. Him? The beast? The Dark One? Romantic?! To the world it was probably laughable, it was laughable to him! Except for moments like this, when he couldn't tell who was holding who and who, and there was no place in the world he'd rather be. But he wouldn't call it romantic, at least not purposefully so. It hadn't been his intention when he'd offered his hand, he wasn't really sure what he intended, other than to have a few minutes with her when they could feel normal for once in their life. Just a man sharing a dance with the beautiful woman he loved.
"You underestimate yourself," she argued back. He shook his head, but didn't say anything. It was useless to argue with her. She would either win now, without a fight, or he could say something, their small disagreement would grow into a larger argument, which would only serve to break up their current peace with yelling...and she would still end up winning the disagreement. There was no reason to spoil the moment when the end would make no difference.
She sighed suddenly. He couldn't see her face, but he knew her well enough to know that it wasn't the happy, sigh he would have hoped to accompany this kind of peace. It was distant, mournful, maybe even a little upsetting and regretful. What on earth could cause a reaction like that? "Sweetheart, what's wrong?" he asked gently, without breaking the motion of their slow dancing.
"Are we only ever going to have moments like this on rare occasions? When the world isn't falling apart?" The words were strange for the sheer fact that they were coming out of her mouth and not his. He'd thought them himself a million times. He'd grieved over the fact! But it wasn't like her to voice something so pessimistic. That was his job. Hers was to lift his spirits when he voiced those kind of worries. How was he supposed to ease her, when he could barely convince himself that those words weren't true?
"I'm sure it won't be that way forever," he lied. If it was anyone else in the world they might have actually fallen for his reassurance. Unfortunately it wasn't anyone in the world…it was her, and she could spot one of his lies a mile away without even needing to look at his face. It was a mystery to him how she could do it, but he wasn't surprised when the arm she had at his back tightened.
"You don't believe that any more than I do," she accused quietly, calling his bluff. Her words were true. His...they weren't true, but that didn't mean they were entirely false either.
"Just because I don't believe it doesn't mean I can't hope for it," he responded. She couldn't refute that. It was the honest truth. Just because he didn't believe that they'd have a normal life, endless dull weeks of waking up going to work going to bed and waking up the next morning to do it all over again didn't mean that he didn't desperately wish for that unlikely outcome. This time it was him to heaved a sigh as he leaned his cheek against the top of her head. Strange how 'dull' and 'predictable' was something he longed for in their life. But how could he not wish for that kind of outcome, especially when they were like this? How could he not want something as quiet, simple, and outstandingly special as this to last? Forever?
Then again, maybe to look to the future, optimistically or pessimistically, and dwell on what had happened in the past, during a time like this was to cheat the present. Wasn't it just horrible that they'd conditioned themselves to fear the future in a time when everything was perfect? When they should be able to look to it hopefully? A brief flicker of light amidst an ocean of darkness. That's what she was to him, and, for reasons he couldn't possibly fathom, he was fairly certain that he was the same for her. It was the moments like this that he knew he'd look to when the world did start to fall apart again, when they didn't have time for tinkering or reading, or slow dances. When they found themselves in separate worlds or fighting for the lives of others as well as their own. Wouldn't it be terrible not to take a moment and allow the light to illuminate their lives? To celebrate it? Wouldn't it be unfair to focus on the darkness that seemed to constantly threaten to consume that illumination instead of the light itself?
"Maybe we need to stop thinking about the future for once," he suggested, giving voice to his thoughts. "Focus instead on the present, living in the here and now." He felt her give a small nod of agreement. But it wasn't happy, it was timid and still uncertain. "The world isn't falling apart now, and this moment does exist. Let's just enjoy it while we still can," he practically begged. Whether or not the request was romantic was debatable, but its motivation was certainly a selfish one. Was it really such a crime to just want to hold her for a while?
She pulled her head off his shoulder and looked him in the eye with a sad gleam, as if checking to make sure how certain he was about his statements. Then finally the smallest trace of a smirk touched the corner of her mouth before breaking out into a magnificent smile. He'd passed the test, and if he'd passed, then he really did believe it.
"I enjoy these moments even when the world is falling apart," she assured him, then stood on tiptoe, a silent reminder of her shoeless feet, and kissed him. His grip on her tightened, and he realized that they'd stopped dancing, even though the music was still playing. Later. They'd have time enough to kiss and touch later, for now he just wanted to enjoy a simpler action. He pulled away from her for a moment, letting the pair of the smile as they each gazed into adoring eyes, and was about to begin their slow steps again when the unthinkable happened.
Someone knocked on the door.
They both jumped at the sudden noise. It was like being doused in ice water after spending the day on the beach, and he saw her face fall immediately as she gave a tired, irritated sigh. "You spoke too soon," she complained.
"Did you ask Bae over?" he questioned hopefully. He wanted desperately for recognition to spark behind her eyes and for them to laugh that she'd forgotten, because he knew that if she hadn't, and someone had tracked him down in their home, something bad was happening.
"No," she responded predictably, "did you?" she asked hopefully on a second thought, sharing his own wishful expectations.
He felt guilty just saying "no." She nodded with sad disappointment, understanding as he did. The in between time was through, and it was time to prepare for another threat.
"I'll grab my shoes and your keys. We can be ready to go to town in a minute." Despite the terrible unknown that lay outside the door, he couldn't help but smile at her. As much as their life should wear them down, as much as being with him should wear her down, again and again she greeted danger with graceful courage, running into the fire instead of away from it.
"I love you," he told her, because they'd learned far too many times that if they didn't say it, the next time they could might be terrifyingly distant.
"I love you too," she confirmed, in the voice that told him that she believed every one of those four words. A brief flicker of light, indeed.
The knock sounded again in a harsher more desperate bang. Yes, definitely bad news. They released each other, understanding they couldn't put it off any longer. Without a glance back, he made his way into the entryway, toward the door and whoever was in need of them at this late hour. Behind him, he was sadly aware of the dissonant warping noise the needle made as it was pulled from the record and the music died.