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The Heart Won't Lie, Part 12
Continuing Tales

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 12 of 25

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First Truths

It was strange, but everyday Mr. Gold was beginning to feel like his old true self that the other realm had known. He was still ruthless when it came to business and deals; never letting his iron fist relent upon a late payment or a month where people were a tad short, but when he came home he felt a nervousness bubble up in him that he could barely mask. He felt akin to two different people; the one the citizens of Storybrooke saw, and the one that unwittingly bloomed before Belle, as she slowly, but unintentionally, coaxed him out of his stony walls he had so fastidiously built up around himself over the years and centuries of his life.

Just like in his castle ages to ago, many here termed him monster, beast, trickster, or used his name like a curse under their breath. But in his home, to her, he had always simply been 'Rum', or Gold as she knew him now. It was a refreshing memory of the past that he enjoyed.

"Good morning, Miss French." Gold greeted as he limped into his kitchen.

The air was thick with the scent of bacon hissing sharply in a skillet, and the mulled pleasant aroma tea steeping in two ceramic cups as Gold entered.

Anna turned to him, a knife and a piece of freshly toasted bread in her hands. She offered him a warm smile that he liked to fancy she reserved just for him. "Morning, Gold." She replied before swiping the bread with a bit of butter and putting it on a plate.

Averting his eyes, the wealthy business man drummed his fingers on the gold handle of his cane trying to think of something else to say to her. He should be at ease around her, but he wasn't, in fact she was the only person that made him nervous. Gold found it supremely ironic how every one else in town was wary of him when he was nervous about one maid down on her luck. But in his heart he knew that she was more than that, oh so much more.

"I'm going to speak with Gus and Jaq today." Belle continued, filling in the silence that had become so painfully obvious around them.

"Alright." Gold replied lamely as he took up one of the cups of tea.

He couldn't help but crack a faint grin as he looked at the white and blue cup. The chip so plainly visible on such a small little trinket stood out like a beacon. Anyone else would have thrown it away as a ruind piece of porcelain, but not him, not when he knew what it represented.

Taking an appreciative sip, he heard Belle sigh in frustration. "I'm sorry, Mr. Gold, that's the third time this week I've given you that cup."

"No need to apologize, Miss French." Gold assured her, a warm memory resurfacing as he felt the tendrils of steam brush past his face in a warm caress, and took another sip. "It's just a cup…"

~8~8~

Anna knew some thing was wrong the moment the plump fellow Gus opened the door to the cleaning company headquarters. The normally ruddy, cheery faced man was frowning, his somber expression nearly radiating off him.

"Is something wrong, Gus?" Anna asked worriedly as she entered, and placed her jacket over a hook.

He let a huge, sorrowful sigh pass his lips that rumbled through his frame; nodding once. "I'm afraid so, Anna."

"What's happened?" She quirked her brow upwards as Gus led her into the cleaning services rather dumpy and poorly lit office.

Jaq was sitting in his usual beaten armchair, looking even dourer than his usual countenance allowed. In front of him rested a small manila folder filled with papers that made Anna's heart drop into her stomach.

"We've a problem, Miss French." Jaq stated, his tone laced with determination to tell her what was so wrong, but also with some thing she didn't quite recognize; pity perhaps. "I'm sorry but we have to let you go."

Anna's eyes widened slightly, as she turned from Gus to Jaq in confusion. "What? Why?"

Jaq grimaced before picking up the unmarked folder to hand to her. Forcing herself not to snatch it from him, Anna threw the unadorned folder open looking at lists of neatly filed names of others who worked in the company and clients names on a few other pages.

"Some people don't appreciate the employer, employee…interaction going on between you and Mr. Gold. Our other employees think you're giving the company a bad name, and others have claimed they've been dismissed by other clients simply because you work here. In a word, Miss French, we are losing customers and others are losing their jobs because of this…news." Jaq finished some what awkwardly, a hand rubbing the back of his neck.

Anna's brow knit worriedly as she suddenly realized what Jaq was dancing so poorly around. "B-but this is all I have?"

"I'm sorry, Miss French. You understand our perfectly logical and neutral reasons for the decision, I hope?" Gus replied quietly, averting his eyes away from her in shame and trepidation.

In that moment Anna placed what she had first thought to be pity in the pair's voices. It was fear; fear of what might happen if she told Gold what had transpired, or fear for their business if they didn't give her the boot.

With a small nod, she choked back the shame and embarrassment that threatened to claw out of her throat in a sob. "I understand." She stated quietly.

In her mind she could see why they had fired her, and she certainly didn't want to risk another's job simply because of a lie. She knew it had to be this way, but that didn't take any of the sting out of the fact she was being fired because every one in Storybrooke believed she was Mr. Gold's whore.

Walking out of the headquarters, Anna couldn't help but feel like a brand was on her that read: "I'm sleeping with the most hated man in Storybrooke." In bold bright letters on her forehead.

With every passing face that scrutinized her as she walked down the sidewalk, she desired to scream the truth at them all. It was a lie; she wasn't Mr. Gold's slut. They hadn't done anything despite what people belived about the hard hearted Mr. Gold. He was a gentleman, courteous, with feelings just the same as them all even though he hid them behind his coldness. Rum was not a beast!

Rum. Anna inhaled sharply at the name came so suddenly unbidden to her thoughts. Gold, she had meant Gold of course.

Closing her eyes, the beauty pinched the bridge of her nose trying to clear her thoughts even though they felt akin to a whirlwind swirling inside her head. How had this happened, why had she gotten into this predicament? It was as if the hand of fate itself was guiding her through purposeful turmoil!

Opening her eyes once more, she was immediately met by curious stares all around that quickly turned away pretending not to stare at her. They all thought she was crazy, and why shouldn't they? Only a crazy woman would think about sharing a bed with the hated. Mr. Gold. Crazy and hated; Anna would have probably laughed at the odd match up if it wasn't herself caught in the sordid affair.

Trying to ignore the stares, Anna set of once more down the street, her mind reeling on how to tell Gold when he got home.

~8~8~

Back in the Headquarters of the Storybrooke Cleaning company, Jaq looked out the office windows plaintively, his black eyes narrowed to peep through the cracks of the blinds to the bright world outside.

The off white phone in his office rang harshly, as if impatient for him to answer. With a sigh he turned away from the window, an even deeper frown tracing his lips as he picked up the phone. His tone was completely neutral to hide the shame that was just lurking beneath his grim surface.

"It's done; she's gone." He stated simply, and then hung up the phone forcing himself not to slam it down.

His shoulders slumped as he sat heavily in his favorite chair. Head in his hands, he tried to remember just how much trouble he had been in to have gotten under Regina's thumb.

~8~8~

Her heart seemed to stop as she heard the front door open, and the distinct tapping of his cane against the wood floor. Her hands froze from the page of the book she'd been turning seemingly caught indefinitely in time. How would she explain to him that now not only did she not have a place of her own to call home, she didn't have a job either?

Thoughts of simply never telling him briefly ran through her mind, but she had immediately tossed the idea away. Mr. Gold owned more than half the town he was bound to find out at some point Gus and Jaq had fired her. And then what, would he be furious that she never told him? No, it was probably best to be brave and come out with. Be brave and bravery would follow as she always liked to say.

"What are you reading?" Gold asked as he walked into the room, brining Anna back from her wandering thoughts.

"Poe." She smiled waveringly, flashing the cover that had a raven imprinted on it in his direction.

Putting a dog ear on the page she had barely been reading anyway, she closed the book before letting a sigh pass her lips. "I lost my job today." She admitted simply, trying not to flinch even as the words left her mouth.

The look on Gold's face was completely neutral, something which Anna didn't know to be thankful or wary for. "What reason did Gus and Jaq give you for letting you go?" He asked tonelessly, his black eyes searching her.

Anna's heart constricted at his question. She knew it had to have come up at one point, but still it felt very shameful to admit. Twisting her fingers absently, she shrugged slightly, and kept her head down to hide the fact she was blushing fiercely. "They…um…they said, that others thought I was giving the company a bad name with our…interaction, and some people were quitting paying for their service. It was a matter of business of course."

Even though Gold didn't show it on his outward appearing, her words made him feel like he had been punched in the gut. Her words brought back an all too horrid memory from his castle in ages past. From the queen, he had learned Belle had been subject to agonizing scourges, flaying, and cleanses by fire all oversaw by her father who had demanded she be put through some sort of 'redemption cleansing' because they all belived Rumpelstiltskin had tainted her in some way.

In those times she had been outcast and feared by her association with him. Was it any different now? Somewhat, he knew, at least he could save her from a part of it, rather than sending her off to find a gruesome end as he had so foolishly done before.

Anna's hear sank as she mistook his long silence for his famous cold and tactical anger. She knew all to well that kindness had its limits, especially when the person that was being so kind was Mr. Gold.

"I'll just get my stuff then." She stated quietly, not daring to think he would stop her as she rose.

He looked to her quizzically before coming completely out of his unpleasant thoughts. "Don't."

Anna halted in the door way, to face him, her face alight with confusion. "But the deal was-."

"The deal has changed." He interrupted smoothly. "Come work in my shop, assist me in keeping things straight and organized, help customers, and our deal about living arrangements doesn't change."

Even though a part of him still screamed never to do these sorts of things for her, he had long ago stopped listening to that inner demon inside when it came to Belle. It'd never do any good anyhow; he wasn't letting her go again, and all the magic in the entire world couldn't change that.

"Why do you keep doing these things for me?" Anna finally blurted from her surprise. Why did he turn into a completely different Mr. Gold when it came to her?

He smiled faintly, giving his shoulders a small shrug. "You remind me of some one I used to know." He admitted freely.

"You used to know a crazy, brown haired dreamer?" She joked, relief flitting in her voice.

Gold looked at her searchingly, his eyes seeming to go straight to her heart though she did not know why. "I did." He paused with a slight nod, though his eyes never left hers. "Once upon a time." He added quietly.

"Thank you once again." Anna said gratefully. She knew a simply thank you could never be enough, but at the moment it was all she had. "I don't know where I'd be without you, Rum."

She stopped short, as he looked at her sharply. She could feel the heat in her cheeks rising at her awkward gaffe. That was the second time today she had termed him 'Rum'. She didn't know why, but it kept slipping out so easily.

"G-Gold…I meant." She stammered unsurely, before racing off as if trying to outrun the embarrassment of calling him that.

Gold stood there for a moment, his heart galloping at the sudden use of his real name. "You're welcome, Dearie." He replied out loud though there was no one around to hear. As he limped out of the living room he couldn't help but think it was just like old times.

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 12 of 25

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