Continuing Tales

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 15 of 37

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Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

~: Isabelle :~

Isabelle woke groggily, sunlight already shining on her face, and glanced at the red lettering on the beside digital clock. It read 9:54.

Instantly she leapt out of bed, combing her hair into submission with her fingers.

She had planned on rising early, on making him breakfast, but she had been up late. He knew that she would be up late. It was his fault, she thought ruefully.

"Good morning, my dear," Mr. Gold said as she stumbled into the kitchen, his nose in a large packet of black and white papers. Her heart sunk. He really was awake.

"Good morning," she sighed, letting her hands fall from her hair as she made her way to the kitchen sink.

"You seem a little downcast this morning." She looked up at him but he was still behind the packet of paper. "I thought you would be more cheerful."

"I am," she smiled immediately, thinking of his gift. "I just wanted to be up earlier…"

"For what purpose?" he inquired half interested.

"I was going to make you breakfast," Isabelle made a face.

"We still have lunch and dinner, dearest. Don't fret."

She smiled at that. She also really liked that he called her dearest. "Where is Emma?" Isabelle asked, sitting down next to him, but wasn't able to see him with the paper in the way.

"She left, said she'd be back late," Mr. Gold answered.

"Alright," she smiled at that. Emma was fair wonderful, but she didn't like that she fought with Mr. Gold. "What are you reading?" she said, the title in ornate print. The Daily Mirror.

"The local newspaper," he spoke automatically, "It's a document that holds the recent news of the town, to keep everyone updated." She liked that he could explain things so simply. The others found themselves stumbling to explain things, and it wasn't very coherent.

"Can I read it?" she asked excitedly.

"No," his voice was sharp.

"Why not?" she was confused.

"I'm reading it." But that wasn't the real reason. He flipped the paper down, so he could look at her seemingly for the first time that morning, "Don't you have your own books to read?"

Isabelle grinned broadly at that. "Yes, I do!" She shot up and went to her room, remembering with zeal the stack that had greeted her the night before. Books of all shapes and sizes- there were books about how things worked in this world, about the history of this world, about famous people of this world. There were fictional novels, about mysterious and one about horror, which she had put aside. She'd had enough horrors in her life to not want to read anymore. There was a science fiction book, which she planned on starting, but she had finished several small books on this world through the night before she had found the fairy tale book. She had read through it steadily, until the digital beside clock had read 4:16 and her eyes had drooped. Along with these marvelous books there was a small red rose that had been laid on top. She had put the rose in with the other flowers, and there it stood out, bright and red. She'd always been so fond of roses, and here he'd given her one.

She closed the door when she decided that it was proper if she got dressed first, instead of staying in her night things, since he was dressed for the day and reading his newspaper. She donned breeches that clung to her skin, Emma's, so she had to roll up the bottoms to walk, and pulled an undershirt over her head. There were so many layers. She had been used to her shift in the basement cell, but here she was forced to wear frilly under things that were difficult to put on. "Better than a corset," she muttered under her breath, pulling on a blue button up shirt that mirrored Mr. Gold's. She had remembered that she had worn corsets and dressed before, and could remember wearing anything much different before escaping the dungeon.

She didn't wear shoes. She was so used to not wearing shoes that it was odd having them on at all. And before she hadn't cared what she had worn- she wondered why she cared so much now. It was obvious though, she decided, picking up a few books and heading to sit on the sofa.

"Thank you," she smiled at him as she curled up.

"For what, my dear?" he asked, flipping the newspaper down again so he could see her.

"For all the books. I haven't seen so many new books in all my life. It's wonderful," she pressed one of them to her chest in reminiscent joy. He went back to reading, and she cracked open a fresh book. This one was about how men of old in this world had made huge three dimensional triangles, pyramids, out of stone so that their great leaders could reach their destinations in the afterlife.

They sat there that way for a long time, both of them reading silently, Isabelle finishing the pyramid book and moving on to the next book about something called DNA, while Mr. Gold got out a book of his own after he was finished reading the newspaper. He stayed over at the kitchen table while she moved whenever her body needed a stretch, rolling fully onto her stomach when she wanted to. It was something that breeches allowed her to do without worrying about who could see up her skirts. She was happy with it.

The atmosphere was content. She glanced over at Mr. Gold frequently, just to make sure he hadn't left, even though she would have felt it if he had left, she was sure of it.

There was a knock on the door, startling her out of her different world about genes, and called, "Coming!"

She opened the front door to find, "Archie!" wringing his umbrella in his hands. She smiled broadly at him, "Come in."

~: Mr. Gold :~

He shut himself in his room, listening to Archie speak to a raptured Belle. He hadn't been able to stand it anymore. The man had been over here for two precious hours, babbling at her while she nodded, making lunch together as he had sat there. Idiot insect.

His leg was killing him today, and he hadn't brought medication up with him. After all the exertion, the driving, the running up the mountain, carrying her around, he should have known it would all add up. He needed a rest, and the grasshopper was buzzing so much it was deafening. He sat stiffly on the bed, and slowly relaxed himself into a laying position, placing his cane besides his bed. The newspaper from earlier he stowed under the bed. He could see Isabelle going through the trash to find it. She always had been nosy- but he couldn't let her see her mug shot with the caption "Criminal Still At Large" in print above it.

He hadn't slept much the night before he realized as he stretched out on his bed. He had thought about Belle in the next room reading the books he had given her. He didn't know how he was going to tell her that they weren't hers, that they had to be returned, but he was sure that she would love the fact that there were more where those had come from. Lots more.

He found himself dozing off, trying to drown out the annoying chirps that came from the outside room. So he was surprised that when he opened his eyes to what seemed like maybe seconds later, that Belle was sitting on the chair in his room next to the window, one of her legs folded underneath her, reading peacefully.

He glanced at the clock, which read 3:13. He'd wasted time asleep when she had been here, awake, in his room no less, reading a book. He quenched his self frustration and focused. He peered closer at the title.

"You're reading Jane Eyre, I see," Mr. Gold's voice didn't startle her as he had hoped, but she kept reading, flipping a page.

"Yes- it's very good so far," she said, still in her different reality.

"How far are you?" he asked, sitting up, noticing that she appeared to be almost half way through the book.

"I'm on chapter eleven," she replied.

"You always did read too fast," Mr. Gold muttered under his breath. She saw her mouth twitch upwards at that. Out loud he said, "How many of the books have you finished?"

She smiled. He did know her. "Well, I started several last night, but I've polished off the four smallest ones," she listed out loud, and Mr. Gold pictured the small children's informative books that he'd picked out for her to read, "The fairy tale book I think I'm saving for last. I like it immensely."

"I'm sure you do," his voice was almost too quiet to hear again. "Did the good Doctor leave?"

"Yes about an hour ago," she said, turning another page. How she managed to read and speak at the same time was still a mystery to him. As the Dark One it had been even more annoying. He couldn't multitask like that to save his life.

Something else occurred to him. The doctor had been gone for an hour and she'd crept into his room to read by his side. She continued to read, but asked him, "I was worried that you were sick. You aren't are you?"

"No I'm not." So she had been worried about him, explaining why she was in his room while he was asleep. She had been looking out for him. Unnecessary, but he could not help but let the thin smile spread across his face.

She bit her lip, now worried she'd overstepped her bounds by coming in here, but he didn't mind. "It's just that I've never seen you take a nap before."

Ah, yes, well, he hadn't gotten a lot of sleep because of her these last few nights, but he was not about to mention that.

"What about your shop?" Isabelle questioned, the changing the topic. His shop? What about his shop? When he didn't answer she continued, "Your shop has been closed for three days now. Are you worried about customers?"

Mr. Gold laughed darkly, "Customers don't come to me unless they have to. I'm sure they're all relieved I've suddenly disappeared."

"Are they though?" she wondered, "I wouldn't be."

"That's because you don't know me very well, my dear," he sighed, sitting back in his chair. "When you do you'll understand."

"I don't think so," she was determined, and put her book down to prove it.

They sat in silence, her blue eyes trying to figure out the puzzle that were his thoughts. She had been better at it before, but, in her defense, she had a shield up in her mind to keep from thinking of him, a fog there that she could not lift. He'd never hated, or liked, his curse more.

"So," he asked as the silence spread too thickly for his liking, thinking grimly that they only had a few more days, "About those lists that you had for me."

She smiled at his teasing, her expression shifting from frustration to delight, "Should I start now?" she closed the book.

"Certainly," he grinned, resting back against his bedpost and folding his hands in his lap. "Only if you haven't gotten anything like Umberto or Oswald for me today."

"Too bad," she cocked her head towards him, "No ordinary name fits you, you know. I've had to think hard." It was a true statement, and he liked that she recognized it.

"Let's hear them then," his smile was challenging.

She started shooting off names, which he denied each time. For some reason every time she guessed it wrong hurt him. He didn't understand what bothered him so much, but after listing off several hundred names (it was a very long list that she had come up with) he became more and more dismal. Until she tried to cheer him up with that bright spark in her eye. She liked to throw in names to tease him, such as Eugene or Humperdink, which he responded to by teasing her right back, and without mercy. He loved to tease her, as he had before, with quips and half giggles that made her laugh even more. His own chuckles were rare, and only occurred when she'd really startled him.

"Raphael? Julius?"

He liked it when she guessed Rs, but he shook his head to both with a smirk. They were obviously coming to a close on the guessing game, since she was running out of names now. He opened his mouth to reply mockingly-

There was a knock on the back door. Isabelle looked startled, leaned forward through the doorway to look to see who the visitor was. Mr. Gold swung his legs off of the bed, grabbing his cane as Isabelle went to answer the door.

"Hi Isabelle." It was Henry.

Mr. Gold glowered at the boy. He hadn't thought he would see the little prince in the near future he'd be so angry. Obviously he'd been wrong. "Shouldn't you be in school?" he demanded as he hobbled into the room.

"It's over," Henry replied tersely as Isabelle shut the door behind him. The little prince had not forgiven him for the argument.

"How was school?" Isabelle asked, obviously diverting the conversation from the antagonistic tones they were taking, "What did Miss Blanchard teach you?"

"We're learning about fractions and Greek Mythology," Henry informed her, slinging off his backpack like he was going to be staying awhile. He was pulling out his homework. His homework.

"Isn't your mother looking for you?" Mr. Gold snapped sharply. He couldn't believe the boy's impudence at turning up here. Didn't he know not to go poking an angry beast?

"Na, she's in a meeting until 8:30 tonight with the City Council," Henry explained with a shrug, "So I thought I would come up here with you guys and wait until Emma got back."

"Bloody terrific," Mr. Gold grumbled, hobbling to go sit on the high backed chair. Couldn't he just have these last few days with her without interruption?

~: Henry :~

He sat pondering over his almost empty mug of hot chocolate, which he had taught Isabelle how to make, waiting for Emma to show up. He still had to explain his new discoveries on Operation: Cobra, and tonight had been a perfect idea. Council meetings didn't happen very often, but when they did they were long. They used to happen more frequently when Graham had still been alive.

He just wanted Emma to come already. He'd waited here for ages for her. Not that he wasn't happy to talk to Isabelle, it was just that she wasn't Emma. She reminded him of Mary Margret a little, he thought. Well they were both princesses. It's why it was so cool to have Emma as his mom. She was a knight in shining armor, come to rescue Storybrooke from the Evil Queen. If she would just hurry up already! He had to tell her that he thought he knew who that Stranger guy was, and that he knew who Rumpelstiltskin was finally. Rumpelstiltskin was key in all this. If they were going to win they needed him on their side.

He did like talking to Isabelle in his mom's absence though. Isabelle was fun to talk to. She listened, she asked good questions, and he wished desperately that he could talk to her about Operation: Cobra. But he had made a deal, and he wasn't going to break it. Rumpelstiltskin was known for being vindictive when his promises weren't kept.

However, he did keep dropping hints. He even "accidently" called her Belle once, but she didn't seem to notice. Mr. Gold did, however, and his dangerous look had made him want to leave early. He stayed though.

Isabelle had helped him with his homework, helping him glue pictures and quotes onto his project about the myth of Hades and Persephone. She had been very fascinated by glue, asking what it could stick together, pasting unnecessary scraps of paper together just to test it out. She had helped him with his math too, though she seemed to have problems with fractions just like he did. The two of them managed through it together, and then Isabelle had made dinner for them all. She even put a plate in the microwave for when Emma got back.

He didn't know how to fix Mr. Gold. He'd been moodily in a corner all night long, staring blankly into space whenever Isabelle looked his way, but Henry saw him watching her. He loved her- and she loved him. She'd asked so kindly if he wanted hot chocolate too, and he'd said no so meanly. She'd turned away sadly, and Henry could tell Mr. Gold regretted it, but didn't say anything.

He was just beating himself up! Henry couldn't understand why. They could be happy! They could live Happily Ever After together. They needed to live Happily Ever After- if Mr. Gold was angry and bitter for forever, he would never remember how to use his -.

He glanced at the clock then.

And leapt to his feet, "I gotta go!" he yelled, taking the last swallow of hot chocolate before pounding it back onto the table. "Tell Emma I said hi, ok? And that I need to talk to her!"

Before Isabelle could even say a proper good bye he was running outside, through the trees, and headed for his bike. The clock had read 8:16. He'd have to book it to make it home on time. If Regina caught him out of the house again she might blame Emma, and that was a terrible thought. Last time Regina had threatened Emma with a restraining order. Those sounded bad and he didn't even know what they were. Probably some sort of torture device, he thought as he half fell down the slope, away into the woods as the dimly lit cabin disappeared behind him.

~: Mr. Gold :~

Belle waved after the boy, calling for him to "Be safe!"

Mr. Gold hoped that this particular excursion got him into trouble, and that he would be grounded for an age. Maybe two.

As Belle shut the door behind Henry, Mr. Gold stood. She had been doing dishes as Henry had had his regular mug of hot chocolate. Belle had had some herself, and had loved it. It was something he would put on his list of things that she liked. Chocolate.

He moved closer, watching her work. She simply smiled as she did so, being thorough. Her arms moved, making her back move, her shoulder blades slightly visible as she did so.. Graceful curls fell around her face, revealing her neck-

He stopped himself abruptly, for the hundredth time that day. All he needed was to be watching her like some demented fiend, and have Emma walk in on it.

"He knows, doesn't he?" she said quietly, finding him amidst his reverie and pulling him back to her. "He knows our past." Ah, she was speaking of Henry. He didn't say anything, letting her muse to herself. He was not going to be drawn out but her. She stopped washing, supporting her weight with the hands on the rim of the sink. "Why won't you just tell me?"

He felt himself speaking bitterly, "You don't like horrors, or tragedies."

She spun around to face him, her tone heated, "Our story wasn't a horror!"

"But it was a tragedy," his voice was laced with desolation.

"Why won't you let me judge that for myself?" she demanded, stepping forward angrily.

"Because I don't want to lose you again!" he shouted back at her, the shock on her face was apparent. He'd made her angry. He only had five days now. He could not burn his bridges not now, "Not yet."

"You won't," she vowed quietly, stepping forward, staring into his eyes, conviction there. "I promise that you won't," she leaned closer, and pressed her hand to his cheek. He felt his heart stop, his cheek ablaze with her warmth. He wanted to catch that hand, and kiss it, but fear paralyzed him the instant the thought crossed his mind. He watched the sadness fill her eyes as she realized that he was not going to tell her, her hand dropping from his face.

She made her way, shoulders hunched, back to the sink, picking up where she'd left off. He stepped forward, his mouth a straight line, afraid if he opened it everything he couldn't tell her would tumble out of his mouth.

"Would you dry?" she asked him, handing him a pan. He took it from her, and she smiled apologetically as he took it, and grabbed a drying towel. They did dishes in silence for a moment, her washing and he drying. Tension settled over them, choking him. No, no, no, no… he could not lose her this quickly.

"I hate it when we argue," she whispered, bending her head over her scrubbing. She was almost done. All she had left were the two mugs she and Henry had drunk hot chocolate from, along with a handful of silverware.

He wanted so much to say that he agreed with her, but he could not find it in him. He kept his mouth closed.

She sighed, her tone pained. He felt his heart clench. Why couldn't he just do something to make her happy? For once?

She handed him one of the mugs to dry.

It slipped through his fingers when she let go.

It landed on the floor, cracking.

Belle bent to pick it up with a gasp. "I'm sorry, I thought you had it-."

She looked up at him, bringing the mug into the light. "It's – It is chipped," she stuttered and he found himself staring at Belle the night she had broken the tea cup. The first night with the golden dress – he blinked, and she was crouching there in jeans, bringing the chip up along with the mug this time. "We can glue it-," she invented, looking at the mess in distress, "I'm sure you have glue here somewhere," she muttered, moving away, maneuvering around him.

One blink she was in the ball gown, the next she was back in her blue button up shirt. How could she not remember? How could she not remember?

He couldn't stand it anymore – her forgetfulness, the inability to recognize him, not being able to remember his name –

He followed her, stopping her abruptly, reaching an arm between her forward progress and placing it against the wall. The other he placed on the other side of her, fingertips brushing the walls. She looked around to find herself cornered. She looked at him from within his cage. Frightened, anxious –

"Mr. Gold?" she breathed.

Mr. Gold, he scorned. "What is my name?" he demanded, staring into her face, willing her to remember.

"I – I don't know – you've never told me your name," she stuttered.

His eyes bored into hers. "What is my name Belle?"

She seemed at a loss for words, her mouth moving in inexplicable trembles, "It's – It's –"

He captured her mouth with his, using up every inch of his bravery, his pent up frustration spilling out, longing with every fiber of his being for her to remember. He breathed in her life, her vivid light, tasting every bit as sweet and kind as she had in the past. Sweeter.

He hesitated, waited for her to pull away, to cry out in protest, but instead she looped her arms around his neck, pressing her lips to his, continuing, moving with him. She wasn't running, she wasn't hiding, one of her hands curling in his hair, the other hand still full of mug. With a shuddering sigh, he took control once more, moving closer, his hands flat on the wall, ardently perusing her until she broke away.

She took a deep, trembling breath, looking down at her feet, gasping. He searched for her response, watching the wheels turning in her head until she looked up at him, her face full of understanding, of recognition, of realization.

"I know," she peered at him, her gaze piercing his soul, "I remember your name."

He kissed her again, conflict burning through him. She wrapped her arms around his neck once more, pulling him closer so that he had to push against the wall to keep from crushing her. She was too far away- one of his hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her into him. She inhaled sharply, deepened the kiss.

His brain finally caught up with his body, forgotten somewhere back in the crescendo of the crashing cup. He pushed away from her frantically, banging against the counter when he couldn't go any further.

"No," she whispered, stepping forward, following him.

"How-," he stammered, swallowing, "How-?"

"Everything- I remember everything." She smiled, pushing his hair back from his face, "True love's kiss will break any curse, Rumpelstiltskin."

His name on the tip of her tongue. He drew her in and kissed her again, pulling her up onto her tip toes.

"How do you not-?" how could she not hate him? She should be screaming at him, throwing clean pots and yelling her hatred. But no. No she was there. She was there and whole again and fresh and truly alive.

"I told you," she assured him with a smile, a bright smile that made his heart swell, "I won't leave you."

He kissed her again then, and her hands full of his shirt. Somewhere she had put down the mug. He didn't mind. He felt her soft curls brush his cheeks.

"What happened?" he asked as they surfaced once more, pulling one of those stubborn curls from her forehead and folding it into the rest of her hair, "What happened to you?"

"Her Majesty the Queen was following me- I had to run, hide, in every place I could think of… I was able to travel," she smiled at him, trying to cheer him up, and he chuckled under his breath, kissing her forehead, relief and joy mixing in his chest. When she looked at him her eyes were searching, were miserable, and he knew what she was going to ask, "Why didn't you come after me?"

He felt his heart wrench, thinking of how close he had come to following her, spinning, trying to make up his mind, when her Majesty had come in, "She told me that you had died," the words choked him, cracking in his throat. "I thought you were gone, gone forever," he found himself touching her face, rubbing his thumb along her jaw line, "And then you appeared- appeared out of nowhere after so long-." He smiled, barely able to breathe, his heart so full again, his hands feeling along her neckline, feeling her pulse beneath his fingers so reassuring, until he wrapped his arms around her again, tightened her to him.

She kissed him this time, her thumbs stroking his cheeks. There were tears forming in her eyes- he felt her blink them away against his skin-

"What the hell is going on?"

Emma stepped into the room.

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 15 of 37

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